Sunday, December 10, 2017

Raw History: Episode #130 and Reliving Nitro: Episode #6

Raw History
Episode #130
October 9th, 1995 | Grand Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan

The weekly Raw intro video is still odd. It’s as if they like the video but the music seems way off.

British Bulldog, Owen Hart and Yokozuna w/ Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji vs. WWF Champion Diesel, WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
Well this is about as star studded as it got in 1995, though Bret Hart is missing. Things start hot as the faces clear out the heels, culminating with a double big boot by Diesel and the Undertaker. For some reason, Yokozuna also walked into the ring post outside. Maybe they wanted to sell it as him being dazed but he just looked dumb. They give us a small preview of the upcoming In Your House main event as Diesel and Bulldog go at it. Undertaker hit Old School on Yokozuna but their exchange doesn’t last long. Waylon Mercy is watching from the aisle. HBK becomes the legal man and starts to take the heat. This lasts through a break and when they return, Dean Douglas is taking notes on Michaels. Bulldog is just having his way with Shawn. He highlights the beating with the stalling vertical. Shawn finally makes the hot tag to his big buddy and the WWF Champion cleans house. However, a cheap shot from Owen allows Bulldog to nail the running powerslam on the champ. Undertaker breaks up the count, so Yokozuna just drops a leg on Diesel. Bulldog rolls over and pins Diesel.

Winners: British Bulldog, Owen Hart and Yokozuna in 16:04
Sometimes, six man tag matches work really well. This was one of those times. It had a hot start, Shawn was great as the face in peril and the finish was unexpected in a good way. Bulldog pinned Diesel and came off like an actual threat to his title reign. ***½

King Mabel shows up and, along with Yokozuna, beat up on Undertaker. The future Camp Cornette, Mabel and then Dean Douglas all attack the babyfaces. Dean even hits Shawn with a front suplex onto the steel steps. Mabel and Yokozuna continue to hit leg drops on Undertaker, one of which puts the Undertaker on the shelf until Survivor Series with a legit fractured orbital bone.

LAST WEEK ~ Bret Hart’s win over Jean-Pierre Lafitte last week before he was assaulted by Isaac Yankem is highlighted. This leads to an announcement that Bret faces Yankem inside a Steel Cage next week. They show a fair amount of the first Hart/Yankem match at SummerSlam. It’s an odd time filler as they do show a lot. If Lawler tries to interfere next week, he gets hung in a smaller cage above the ring.

Fatu vs. Skip w/ Sunny
Skip is in an odd place. He’s not a full on jobber but he doesn’t win very often. He breaks wrestling rule #1 by going after a Samoan’s head. The success rate is about as low as powerbombing Billy Kidman. A Sunny distraction fails, keeping Fatu in the driver’s seat. Skip does manage to get in some offense, ensuring this isn’t a full squash. Vince gets to call him an idiot because, like an idiot, he keeps going after Fatu’s head. Fatu went into a flurry and won with a diving headbutt.

Winner: Fatu in 5:54
A decent little sprint that could have gotten a better score if it didn’t completely make Skip look like a fool. 

Dok Hendrix doesn’t interview the babyface team from earlier because they’re too hurt. Jim Ross interviews Jim Cornette, who is on another level of excitement. I’m talking like, he did a lot of coke levels of excitement. He hypes Diesel/Bulldog while Bulldog stands there and poses with a weird looking hat on.

After the promo, Vince and Jerry stretch the show out by hyping next week’s cage match and reminding us of the beatdown earlier.

Overall: 5/10. I wanted to like this episode way more than I did. The opening match was damn good and one of the stronger matches on TV this year. Even the Fatu/Skip match was decent enough but they didn’t seem to have enough to fill an hour. It was very obvious that they were stretching things out longer than they needed to be at times, hurting the show.

Reliving Nitro
Episode #6
October 9th, 1995 | Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois

LAST WEEK ~ The Giant snapped Hogan’s neck and the Taskmaster shaved his mustache. The mustache part was actually the more criminal offense.

The commentary team of Eric Bischoff, Steve McMichael and Bobby Heenan are all wearing their own Bears jerseys. Brain’s has a question mark instead of a number. Sting pulls a Ric Flair and walks up to the booth to cut a promo saying that tonight he will play peacemaker between Macho Man and Lex Luger.

WCW United States Championship
Sting (c) vs. Shark

Shark is billed from tsunami. No lie. He gets the jump on Sting and body slams him, followed by an elbow and leg drop for two. Sting dodges a corner splash, hits two Stinger Splashes to the back and a cross body to already retain.

Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Sting in 1:18
Yet another reason why nobody could take the Dungeon of Doom seriously. Their biggest guy not named the Giant just got beaten in less than 90 seconds. A bit too short to give a real rating.

RECAP ~ More footage from the Taskmaster and Giant attacking Hulk Hogan last week.

Mr. JL vs. Sabu
Sabu still has La Parka’s future theme. Mr. JL just happens to be future ECW Champion Jerry Lynn in a mask. High spots are in order almost instantly as Sabu does a front flip leg drop and a springboard leg lariat. JL comes back with a spinning forearm but is sent outside where Sabu dives out onto him. Things are moving at a very quick pace. For the first time that I’ve seen in WCW, Sabu hops off a chair for Air Sabu into the guardrail. Back inside as Mr. JL gets in control a bit. He ends up in a camel clutch but reaches the ropes. Up top, JL crotches Sabu and does the future Orton rope hung DDT, getting a near fall. JL blocks a top rope rana and leaps off the top but is caught in a powerbomb. The camel clutch finishes him off.

Winner: Sabu in 4:28
A really fun sprint. There wasn’t much selling or things like that but that’s not what it was meant to be. It was a showcase for two guys that could go at a fast pace and wow you. Having a mixture of styles is what helped make Nitro work so well early on. ***¼

Sting, Lex Luger and Mean Gene are in the ring. Sting calls out the Macho Man to settle things. Savage wants to fight Luger but Sting keeps the peace. Paranoid Savage questions why Sting hasn’t been attacked by the Giant yet. Sting calms it down a bit before saying that Luger has to face Meng, while Savage faces Kamala at Halloween Havoc. Yuck. Sting’s big idea to solve problems is that after Luger and Savage handle those clowns, they wrestle each other. Cowardly Luger is worried about wrestling two matches, so Sting calls him disgusting and says he’s not the “Total Package”. That’s what does it, as Luger accepts. Don’t you dare insult Luger’s nickname.

OUTSIDE ~ Chris Benoit arrives in a limousine. Shit is about to get real in WCW. He’s rocking a near full mullet but isn’t quite on Crush levels of mullet gold.

Big Bubba vs. Road Warrior Hawk
Disco Inferno shows up to dance in the aisle before the match. When his music gets cut off so the match can start, he brings out a boom box and keeps dancing. Bubba leaves him alone but Hawk intimidates him, so Disco steals a kid’s hat and puts it on one of Hawk’s spikes. Hawk doesn’t realize until he reaches the ring. The Road Warriors are one of those classic teams that look weird in singles action. The two men go at it with Hawk powerslamming Bubba and looking to be in full control. Disco gets on the apron to dance, causing Hawk to rip his shirt. SHIRT RIPPER! He beats him up in the aisle, getting himself counted out.

Winner via countout: Big Bubba in 1:41
I didn’t give a score to the first short match so I won’t give this match one either. This was worse though and it made Hawk look like an idiot.

Mean Gene is out to bring Hulk Hogan to the ring. He comes out with no mustache and is wearing all black, including a black neck brace. Of course, Hogan has to remind us that he defeated Andre the Giant so he can beat this Giant. He challenges Giant but gets told that Giant is barred from the arena. For some reason, he starts talking about a certain wrestling promoter whose ego got too big for the wrestling business. Someone shouldn’t throw stones while living in that glass house. Somehow, this all leads to Hogan saying that he’s immortal but will somehow beat Gorgeous George in heaven. I’m so confused. The Giant tries to drive his monster truck into the arena but cops are standing in the way. Hogan goes out to greet him.

Steel Cage Match
Arn Anderson vs. Ric Flair

Double A gets the jobber entrance unfortunately. Flair lights him up early and often. As Anderson tosses him into the steel, I realize that WCW cages are about seven feet tall. If Giant was in this match, he’s dwarf the cage. During a break, Arn nearly escapes but Flair chops him and it causes him to get crotched. They do a good job of using the cage as a weapon. I’m surprised Flair hasn’t bladed yet. Brian Pillman runs out and tries to enter the cage but Flair knocks him off. He’ll be okay, it’s a really short drop. Flair tries the Figure Four but Arn levels him with a foreign object to win. Schiavone complains and wants a replay though I’m pretty sure cage matches are no DQ.

Winner: Arn Anderson in 6:42
Not really bad, though I’d certainly call it a disappointment. They played it like two guys that didn’t like each other which was good, but it was never that interesting. It felt more like two guys working a house show match, much like their stuff from last week. **¼

Crazy Ric Flair screams a ton at the announce table but the gist is that he challenges both Pillman and Anderson next week. If he can’t find a partner, he’ll go it alone.

Bobby Heenan goes on a great diatribe about how he and the wrestlers in the back are tired of the Hulkamania stuff, saying there’s only so long you can take that crap. I mean, he wasn’t wrong.

Overall: 5/10. Like Raw this week, Nitro was highlighted by one really good match. The rest of the show was alright at best. The Hogan promo was insane but it was the first glimpse into a darker Hulk. The main event Steel Cage came across as a disappointment but again, furthered an angle. The issues I had were with the two short matches since guys came off looking dumb, but they were kept short.