Monday Night Raw (02/20/95)
James Dixon: We are live in Macon, Georgia, as Raw returns from its dog show induced hiatus. Or high anus, if you are Randy Savage. Tonight it is champion versus champions as Diesel takes on Jeff Jarrett. In the pre recorded hype comments, Jarrett claims Roadie has an “extra shoulder” for the WWF title belt, and Diesel says the WWF will be unplugged tonight. What does that even mean? Are they going to run the show without any lights and music? How will anyone be able to see?
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Gary Sabough
This is the return of Bigelow after a “thirty day suspension” following his assault on Lawrence Taylor at the Royal Rumble. We spend the first few moments of the match in split screen, as we see comments from LT’s lawyers, basically pussying out of Bigelow’s challenge. Oh hey, Jim Cornette is sharing commentary duty with Vince tonight! Awesome! In a strange alternate reality twist, Vince shares some facts about Sabough’s past amateur career, while Cornette throws in a strange snippet of information about Sabough being able to eat a pound of spaghetti in 30 seconds without using his hands. Ok then! The match is ignored, naturally, as Vince and Jim focus on the LT situation. Cornette tries three times to get in some relevant storyline points, but Vince rudely talks over him, getting overly excited about the match when in reality nothing is really happening. After Bigelow gets the inevitable win, he cuts a promo on Taylor and calls him a punk and a wimp, and says he will take him on any time and any place. Cornette smells a lawsuit!
Final Rating: ½*
Adam Bomb vs. Rip Rogers
Bomb has reverted to his red and yellow garb following a stint in blue. Interestingly, Bomb claims that he was promised the WWF Intercontinental championship and a sustained push, but that it was quashed from above and he got annoyed, which is why he wound up leaving later in the year. I hear a lot of this kind of thing from wrestlers, which leads me to ascertain that they are either all liars, or that they were all promised various riches in order to keep them sweet, meaning all the road agents and bookers were liars. Either way, someone is fibbing. Rip Rogers was in WCW a few years prior to this, and even competed for them on the BattleBowl ‘93 pay-per-view, teaming with Roadwarrior Hawk to defeat Davey Boy Smith and Stevie ‘Kole’ Ray. He is now a trainer in OVW, so as far as enhancement guys go his résumé is pretty solid. He is also incredibly flamboyant, with pink boots and a glittery jacket. He looks like a Freebird. Of course, he doesn’t fare particularly well against Bomb, and after some Mike Sharpe-esque loud selling he falls victim to the flying clothesline. The crowd actually pops, which surprises me, because I don’t remember Bomb ever being over.
Final Rating: *
Video Control gives us highlights from Superstars of Bret Hart receiving an award, and he cuts his “memories outweigh your dreams” promo that he has done a few times.
Tangent: I like that the WWF has changed the Raw logo slightly, and that it is now blue. Sadly this doesn’t last long, but there is a definite different feel to things in 1995 than there was last year, and the same between 1994 and 1993. Unfortunately, modern Raw has become so over-produced and homogenized that you cannot differentiate between 2009 and 2013. Everything looks the same and has done for years. Even the arenas are the same, at least in the way they are set up. For example, WWE did a show recently in Boston Gardens which had me excited, because I love the uniqueness of that venue. However, they managed to destroy all of that and just make it look like any and every other show. Blame Kevin Dunn folks.
The King’s Court
Oh my god. Anyone who has read last year’s edition of this series will be well aware of my feelings towards this interminable and endless talk show segment. For those unfamiliar, let me reiterate: I HATE it. I cannot stand Jerry Lawler as an active performer in the WWF and I find his promos and matches to be beyond boring. It wouldn’t be so bad, but this talk show gets unreasonable amounts of airtime every single week. It is overexposed on John Cena levels. At least tonight’s show should be interesting, because Shawn Michaels is out to reveal his new bodyguard, so at there is a point to this whole shebang for once. Lawler manages to get a few words before Michaels comes out, and rips on Bret Hart for his award and makes wild accusations that he is a racist. This is all there to kick start the horrid feud the two had back in 1993, and the matches this time are even worse. Michaels comes out and rambles on for a while about being a marked man, before bringing out Sid. Jim Cornette loses his mind, before putting him over well. I love Sid; he just drips with charisma and intensity. He cuts one of his usual maniacal wild-eyed promos and says that he and Michaels will rule the world together.
The Blu Brothers vs. Leroy Howard & Mark Starr
This is the Raw debut for the Harris brothers, who are portraying “mountain men” in yet another of the WWF’s horrible 1995 gimmicks. The people running this company are so completely stuck in the land of simplistic stereotypes that it is embarrassing. So far this year we have seen Mantaur, Man Mountain Rock and now these, and over the course of the year it doesn’t get much better, believe me. The Blu Brothers are managed by Uncle Zebekiah, otherwise known in proper wrestling companies as Dutch Mantel. I am a fan, though not under this guise. However, I did enjoy his controversial yet entertaining portrayal of one Zeb Colter on WWE programming in 2013. The guy was a riot alongside Jack Swagger and he helped breathe life into a career that seemed dead and buried. Here he is just another generic southern yokel and this run achieved nothing of note. The Harris brothers are hard work to watch, be it in this gimmick or any other (they were also Skull & 8-Ball in the late 90s). Vince can’t be bothered with this either and cuts to The Toad in the studio, as we get split screen for the second time this evening. Todd tells us that Lawrence Taylor will be on Raw next week to respond to Bigelow, and he marks out like a goofball: “Isn’t this amazing!?” he squeaks. There is a match going on too. Well, it loosely resembles one. Vince gets excited at the prospect of cartoon gimmicks colliding if the Blu Brothers were to meet the Smoking Gunns. Wow, that sounds like a piss-break match if I ever heard one.
Final Rating: ¼*
Diesel (c) vs. Jeff Jarrett
Diesel doesn’t get the opportunity to “do a Warrior” here, because only his title is on the line. I am hoping that Jarrett will bring a little more enthusiasm and motivation to this than he does in the majority of TV matches I have seen him in. Diesel is the aggressor in the early going, and overmatches Jarrett with his size and power, but gets caught out logically by Jarrett’s speed. Jarrett gets his brief momentum curtailed by an over-enthusiastic referee pulling him down from a ten punch, and wouldn’t you just know it, it is Earl Hebner. You know, Hebner is often praised as one of the best referees ever, but he frequently went outside of his remit and did things that he had no right to do, be it changing the rules of how titles can change hands of putting his hands on wrestlers. While Jarrett is remonstrating, Roadie gets on the apron, but is drilled into the post by Diesel and sells it like a trooper. Diesel throws Jarrett over the top to the outside onto Roadie, as he continues to dominate what has been a very energetic match. Roadie tries to hold on to Jarrett and prevent Diesel bringing him back in the ring, and Hebner goes beyond his job description again by kicking Roadie in the stomach to get him off! What the hell does he think he is playing at!? I am outraged by his insubordination. Jarrett finally gets a period of control after some Roadie shenanigans, and Diesel bumps around for him, probably more than you might expect. Jarrett gets a near fall after a top rope crossbody and this serves to rile Diesel, who catches a sidewalk slam and goes into his comeback. Snake eyes is followed by the big boot, and Hogan, sorry Diesel, completes his routine with the Jacknife for the win. Pretty good show from both guys, but fairly formulaic and nothing out of the ordinary. Perfectly acceptable for a TV match though. Shawn Michaels and Sid turn up ominously in the aisle, but Diesel is not especially concerned.
Final Rating: **½
Michaels and Sid hang around in the aisle after the commercial break, yet Diesel somehow manages (off camera) to leave the ring and walk past them without a confrontation. Cornette, who is frightened, is forced by an amused Vince to interview Michaels. He rambles on as we go off the air.
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Diesel. He showed plenty of energy and fire and clearly being WWF champion has him enthused about his job. This is the Kevin Nash I like to watch.
Least Entertaining: The Blu Brothers are a chore.
Quote of the Night: “What has Shawn Michaels done” – Vince McMahon. Not a particularly memorable quote, but the way Vince delivers the line after Michaels introduces Sid, does a great job in getting him over as an unpredictable monster. It is the wrestling equivalent of pressing the nuke button to solve your problems.
Match of the Night: Diesel vs. Jeff Jarrett. The marquee usually wins this by default anyway, and this week it was a fun watch and worthy of the accolade.
Summary: Well thank God this week didn’t continue on from the last show, which was an all-time stinker. A lack of Million Dollar Corporation slugs (other than Bigelow, who is not a slug) combined with the welcome return of Sid and a decent marquee match, made this a breezy, if unspectacular, watch. A marked improvement.