Monday, November 13, 2017

Raw History: Episode #126 and Reliving Nitro: Episode #2

Raw History
Episode #126
September 11th, 1995 | Canton Civic Center in Canton, Ohio

For the first time ever, Raw and Nitro go head to head on September 11th, 1995. The Monday Night Wars have begun. I will be reviewing these shows and seeing which one proves to be better each week. The Nitro premiere beat every episode of Raw in 1995 by a fair margin.

A recap airs from SummerSlam, mainly focusing on the Shawn Michaels/Razor Ramon Ladder match. The two big matches for tonight, British Bulldog vs. Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels vs. Sid are hyped on the “Season Premiere”. Finally, Raw has a new intro video. It certainly has some odd music behind it but the rest of the video has the right idea. The song literally has a guy seductively singing “I like it raw”.

Oh no. After seeing how great everything WCW did last week was, the WWF opts to start with Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon in front of a horrible green screen.

British Bulldog w/ Jim Cornette vs. Razor Ramon
It’s officially been three whole weeks since Bulldog turned heel. He’s sporting a new haircut to go along with the heel turn. Like any heel in this era, Bulldog gets sent outside and has to regroup with his manager. Bulldog does his sweet stalling vertical, but doesn’t hold it long enough to get a pop. Smart heel work. He does press slam Razor which is rather impressive. Razor starts to rally following a commercial break. Commentary plugs the upcoming Razor/Dean Douglas feud that started at SummerSlam. We get a ref bump just before Razor hits the Razor’s Edge. With no referee, Dean Douglas shows up and comes off the top with an elbow to the back of Razor’s head. The 1-2-3 Kid rushes out to even it up but gets slingshot suplexed immediately by Dean. Running powerslam from Bulldog connects and Kid comes off the top with a splash. Bulldog moves and Kid lands on Razor. The now awake referee calls for the bell.

Winner via disqualification: British Bulldog in 7:12
Outside of one or two big moves, this felt like a house show match but at least the crowd was hot. **

British Bulldog and Jim Cornette put boots to both Razor Ramon and the 1-2-3 Kid after the match. When they leave, a commercial comes and then Vince is interviewing Razor and Kid. I don’t get to enjoy or understand this segment because the always awful Jerry Lawler is talking over the entire damn segment. He’s not even saying anything relevant, he’s just being annoying. I catch enough to know that Kid is tired of being treated like a kid and says that Razor cost him a match last week. He’s tired of not getting respect and challenges Razor to a match next week. Kid says he will beat him to earn respect. After Kid leaves, Razor says that he made the Kid famous and agrees to the match.

Next week, Yokozuna and Owen Hart take on Men on a Mission.

The Smoking Gunns vs. Brooklyn Brawler and Rad Radford
I’m pretty sure Radford finds himself on PPV in a few months. For those unaware, Radford is Louie Spicoli. This goes the way you’d expect. Commentary doesn’t care about it, focusing on People Magazine instead. Sidewinder ends the Brawler.

Winners: The Smoking Gunns in 2:47
The Smoking Gunns last about another year but already feel stale at this point.

Another Goldust vignette airs. He’s wearing a golden top hat this time around.

Isaac Yankem DDS vs. Scott Taylor
Before the match, a quick recap is shown of the bad countout finish to Yankem vs. Bret Hart at SummerSlam. Both of these guys would play prominent roles on Raw in about five years, under different characters. Hell, Kane would be around for more than twenty more. Yankem dominates, trying to get some heat back after losing his debut by countout. He wins with the DDS (DDT).

Winner: Isaac Yankem in 2:15
Fine enough big man squash.

Todd Pettengill brings us the In Your House Report. I wonder when they stop doing these. The next Pay-Per-View is on September 24th. The third In Your House card is starting to take shape. The main event of In Your House: Triple Header will see WWF Champion Diesel and Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels taking on Tag Team Champions Owen Hart and Yokozuna. EVERY TITLE IS ON THE LINE! Razor Ramon goes one on one with Dean Douglas, as well as Bret Hart vs. Jean-Pierre Lafitte. Yes, since wrestling for the title at Royal Rumble, Bret has been wasted on Bob Backlund, Hakushi (though the match was awesome), Jerry Lawler, Isaac Yankem and now Jean-Pierre (though that match ends up rocking too). Bam Bam Bigelow takes on the British Bulldog and lastly, Savio Vega goes up against Waylon Mercy.

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Sycho Sid w/ Ted Dibiase

Wisely, this starts with Shawn Michaels playing a cat and mouse game with his larger opponent. He bobs and weaves to avoid getting caught. Shawn skins the cat and nails a dropkick but when things pick up again, Sid takes control. He sends Shawn outside and stupidly tries to take the countout win. I hate when heels do that in a title match. There’s no point. Out of a commercial, Sid is working a bearhug. Sid calls for the Powerbomb but Shawn counters with a backdrop. This is unheard of to Jerry Lawler. Time for the HBK babyface fire. He ducks a clothesline and fires off three superkicks, one to the gut and two to the face for the clean victory.

Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels in 7:24
Hey, that was surprisingly good. It didn’t reach the level that their Survivor Series 1996 does but it worked very well and both guys played to their strengths. **¾

Vince McMahon has an orgasm at ringside as Shawn Michaels strips to celebrate. After a commercial, things go backstage where Shawn meets up with Diesel. Dok Hendrix interviews them about the Triple Header match. Shawn shouts a bunch in his promo, saying that he’s righting all of the wrongs in his career, including them vacating the Tag Team Titles last year. Diesel keeps it simple, saying they are “two dudes with attitude” and “two chaps with straps”.

They do a weird preview of next week, showing clips of the upcoming Kid/Razor match. Thank god they scrap that quickly.

Overall: 5.5/10. This was a relatively fine episode. I thought the main event was solid enough and, while the opener was slow and disappointing, it at least moved things along nicely and furthered some angles. It was the middle of the show, featuring mediocre squash matches that hurt. Points to the WWF for hyping the upcoming PPV after so much time off.

Reliving Nitro
Episode #2
September 11th, 1995 | James L. Knight Center in Miami, Florida

Of course, Nitro is live. Eric Bischoff, Mongo and Bobby Heenan are in the booth again. The official Nitro set debuts here. Bischoff hypes the main event as the “Match of the Century”. I mean, it’s a big match but whoa. They recap Luger’s confrontation with Hogan from last week. They then inform us that Vader is AWOL and is off of Hogan’s team at Fall Brawl. Vader would never show up on a Nitro and heads to WWF in the next few months.

Alex Wright vs. Sabu
Sabu is making his debut and comes out to La Parka’s future theme. They start fast and Sabu quickly sends Wright outside, following with a baseball slide and front flip. Sabu opens a chair outside and tries to leap off of it but crashes into the guardrail. It’s Wright turn to shine a bit, hitting a missile dropkick. Bischoff starts discussing shows from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Wrestling was a very different place in 1995. Wright now nails a superplex before Sabu comes back with a springboard leg lariat. Wright hits a German for two shortly before Sabu wins with a victory roll. Sabu isn’t content, continuing the assault outside. He splashes Wright through the table and the decision gets reversed.

Winner via disqualification: Alex Wright in 3:59
Knowing they had four minutes, both guys tried to cram a ton of stuff into that time. They did a fine job with that and Sabu was actually not in botch mode for once. Interesting debut. **½

Mean BAH GAWD Gene is in the ring and introduces Ric Flair. Flair is in complete shout mode, bringing up memories of the Four Horsemen and hypes Luger/Hogan. Lex Luger walks out, tells Flair that he hasn’t changed a bit and then just walks back out. WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THAT? At least we got to see some dude in the crowd change the “W” part of he and his friends’ WCW sign sideways so it says ECW.

They give a small plug to Fall Brawl. Hogan’s team is down a member, now only featuring himself, Savage and Sting. They could have probably faced the Dungeon of Doom down a man and still dominated. Also, Ric Flair faces Arn Anderson.

Non-Title Match
WCW United States Champion Sting vs. VK Wallstreet

Yup, one week in and Wallstreet already has a name change. VK. LIKE VINCENT KENNEDY. GET IT? While Sting makes his entrance, Bischoff infamously spoils the Raw results for the evening since that show is pre-taped. Mongo also disses them, joking that the show is named after uncooked eggs. Sting looks motivated here but Wallstreet, even in his debut, is the same old boring ass IRS that I remember. Sting makes a rally and wins with a cross body.

Winner: Sting in 4:15
Normally, I’d be disappointed in a new guy jobbing in his debut in less than five minutes. However, it’s just Mike Rotunda. He can lose until the end of time. No wait, that means I would have to watch him for that long. 

This Saturday, see Renegade vs. Max Muscle, Big Bubba vs. Dave Sullivan and the debut of Disco Inferno!

Randy Savage vs. Scott Norton
This came about because of their altercation last Monday. Norton attacks during Savage’s entrance. He shouts some trash talk to Mongo at the booth. Savage comes off the top with a double axe handle to the outside. Norton relentlessly goes after the lower back. Bischoff sells that Savage’s back is hurt pretty well. Norton powerbombs Savage for two. Savage continues to take a beat for a bit, making Norton look like a monster. Norton brings Savage in from the apron with a damn DDT. He goes up top, where Savage catches him and stops him. The former Earthquake, now Shark, runs out. Bischoff calls him Avalanche (another of his failed gimmicks). Savage sends Norton into him and Shark/Avalanche falls on Norton’s legs. Savage hits the elbow and, with Shark on his legs, Norton can’t kick out.

Winner: Randy Savage in 5:40
Overall, I rather enjoyed this. Scott Norton looked like a beast and Savage sold everything pretty well. The interference came off stupid, hurting the score. **¼

The rest of the Dungeon of Doom show up but Randy Savage escapes. Scott Norton gets in Shark’s face but nothing happens.

WCW World Heavyweight Championship
Hulk Hogan (c) w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Lex Luger

They basically have a battle of who’s jock is bigger, trying to outshine each other. Hogan hits a suplex but Luger no sells and pops right up. Luger gets one of his own and Hogan is instantly up. Hogan’s too much and causes Luger to bail. “Let’s face it, Luger isn’t used to this level of competition” says Bischoff. Ouch. He adds to it by saying the WWF Champion, Diesel, couldn’t make it past the midcard in WCW. He is not holding anything back. Luger applies the Torture Rack but Hogan stops the referee from ringing the bell. Luger lets go of the hold thinking he won because he’s an idiot. It’s that kind of stupidity that led to him failing in the WWF. Luger covers, Hogan kicks out and Hulks up. Hogan hits the Leg Drop but the Dungeon of Doom run in to cause the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Hulk Hogan in 5:28
Acceptable match that is what you would expect from these two. They mostly played to their strengths and kept it short. **

The Dungeon of Doom completely ignore Lex Luger and beat on Hogan only. Sting and Randy Savage run in to make the save and get rid of the Dungeon like they’re nothing. After a commercial break, Mean Gene is in the ring with the babyfaces. Hogan wants to know why the Dungeon of Doom didn’t attack Luger. Savage is with Hogan in questioning Luger. Sting, as always, backs up his buddy. Sting wants Luger to replace Vader but Savage is against teaming up with the unknown. Savage now questions why the Dungeon also left Sting and Jimmy Hart alone. Hart is appalled at these accusations. Hogan is the deciding vote and puts Luger on the team. Luger only accepts if Hogan will give him another title shot down the line.

Overall: 5.5/10. Nowhere near the level of the fantastic premiere but still a decent episode. One thing is clear so far and that’s the fact that Nitro is hellbent on moving along quickly. Things happen at rapid fire and even on a show like this where the matches aren’t very good, the show remains entertaining.