Thursday, December 21, 2017

Raw History: Episode #131 and Reliving Nitro: Episode #7

Raw History
Episode #131
October 16th, 1995 | Grand Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan

It’s the end of a giant taping block in Grand Rapids and the go home show before In Your House. Bret Hart, Isaac Yankem and Jerry Lawler all cut short promos about the main event before the Raw intro starts.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Doink
Oh dammit. I thought I was done with Doink. Crazy how I loved him in 1993 but since the change away from Matt Osborne, he’s been terrible. Vince announces that Undertaker has a crushed face and both Mabel and Dean Douglas have been fined for their involvement in the assault last week. Doink does his cartoonish stuff for a bit before Hunter takes over. It’s a pretty dull squash that Hunter finishes off with the Pedigree. Also, Vince hypes Hunter vs. Fatu for In Your House.

Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley in 3:51
A nothing match that didn’t keep my interest.

Barry Horowitz is backstage trying to teach Hakushi how to be American. He wants him to say the all-time home run king, Babe Ruth. Hakushi is smarter than that and correctly says Hank Aaron. Well, there goes Hakushi down the drain.

Non-Title Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns vs. PG-13

Oh boy, you could tell this was early on in the taping block as the crowd seems to still be filing in. This may have been a dark match originally. Before the match starts, Gorilla Monsoon announces that Yokozuna will replace the Undertaker against Mabel at the PPV. The Smoking Gunns get their stuff in before PG-13 is allowed to do some of their heel tactics to gain an advantage. The outcome is never in doubt and you can tell by how the crowd reacts to this. Billy sends Wolfie into JC before Bart gets a mild tag and they win via Sidewinder.

Winners: The Smoking Gunns in 5:06
Originally, I thought this would be a squash but it was a bit more. PG-13 got to shine a bit, though this was never very good. ¾*

Next week ~ Bertha Faye vs. Alundra Blayze for the Women’s Championship.

World Tour de Force ~ Jim Cornette and British Bulldog are interviewed on a recent house show and it gets shown here. Cornette does all of the talking though none of what he says is anything special. They discuss Bulldog pinning Diesel last Monday and Dok Hendrix claims it might have only happened because of Yokozuna. Bulldog gets mad and yells some.

Vignette ~ Oh snap! It’s Ahmed Johnson! It’s less of a vignette and more just him talking. He’s already 1-1 in ineligible promos.

Dean Douglas vs. Joe Dorgan
During this match, Vince McMahon informs us of the “horrific beating” that Shawn Michaels took at a club recently. He calls it an unprovoked attack by ten individuals. Shawn calls in to say that his life is rough right now. He promises to be at In Your House no matter what. Douglas wins during the call with a fisherman’s suplex.

Winner: Dean Douglas in 2:08
The Shawn Michaels story was better than the match.

Goldust cuts a short promo on Marty Jannetty. He calls him a pretty boy, which might have been true a few trips to rehab ago.

Steel Cage Match
Bret Hart vs. Isaac Yankem

As Bret comes out, Vince wants Lawler to listen to the crowd, but they don’t sound very excited. So as I found out, this was originally a dark match that got thrown on TV for whatever reason. They go through the motions early on as you can see that neither guy is particularly motivated. Bret tries to escape but SHENANIGANS OCCUR as the referee can’t unlock the door. Lawler messed with it and caused this apparently. Bret wears down Yankem with a Sharpshooter and goes to climb over but Lawler gets up and stops him. Bret knocks him off the side of the cage into the waiting arms of Monsoon and officials. They place Lawler in the ringside cage and raise it above the ring. The match continues to plod on but Lawler is actually really funny here. He does commentary, motivates Yankem and whines about the height. He somehow gets a nosebleed despite only being about 20 feet in the air. He tosses the key to the lock on the door to Yankem. Even the cage doesn’t stop him. Bret prevents Yankem from leaving and takes the key and throws it away. Bret follows with his signature moves and climbs out.

Winner: Bret Hart in 15:34
After wasting far too much time on a feud with Jerry Lawler, Bret Hart ends it with a whimper here. As stated, I don’t give them full blame since this wasn’t meant for TV. They wrestled like it was a house show match as it was slow, plodding and flat out dull outside of Lawler’s antics. At least Bret moves into more important things coming out of this. 

Overall: 2/10. Yikes. This was a pretty dire episode. We hadn’t really had one of these since Nitro came around but this was rough. Putting two dark matches on the show led to no effort being shown and things dragging on. The squash matches were mostly lame too. This is one of the problems with giant taping blocks. If they wanted to compete with Nitro, they had to ditch that formula.

Reliving Nitro
Episode #7
October 16th, 1995 | Civic Center in Albany, New York

Before any action, a recap airs of WCW Pro this past weekend. Ric Flair got Sting to agree to be his tag team partner despite their rough past. Sting did draw the line in the sand, warning Flair about turning on him.

Television Champion Diamond Dallas Page comes out with the Diamond Doll. Really WCW? It took you this long to get a woman on the show? They show a clip from Saturday Night where Johnny B. Badd laid out DDP with a comically bad right hand. Badd is supposed to get a shot but DDP knocks him out with the title before things can start. He covers him and counts for himself, complete with blasting off Badd’s bazooka. The Diamond Doll does not approve.

Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero
Well hot damn. This starts with some mat work before Eddie uses his quickness to send Benoit outside. Both men are rocking some relatively sweet mullets. They go over the top awkwardly on a back suplex and both end up hitting the ring post hard shortly after. Benoit starts to target Eddie’s shoulder and everything they do looks damn good. The chops Benoit lays in are even better than the typical Flair ones. The offense Benoit uses to work the arm is great, like a hammerlock Northern lights suplex. Eddie busts out a Brainbuster but his Frog Splash fails due to Benoit getting his knees up. Bischoff claims the “C” in WCW stands for commitment to bring you the best. I’m pretty sure it means championship. Benoit hits the stiffest of powerbombs on Eddie for two. Eddie counters his next move but still ends up in a dragon suplex that ends it.

Winner: Chris Benoit in 8:39
Put these two in the ring and you’re almost always guaranteed something good. They would have better matches down the line but this rocked. It also felt much different from everything else on Monday nights. ***½

Eric Bischoff announces that WCW may be introducing a cruiserweight division. He throws it to Mean Gene who plugs the WCW hotline, which is full of WWF gossip. Apparently, a WWF Superstar got into a fight with a fan…AND LOST! See, WWF is where the little boys play. The Giant and the Taskmaster come out for the interview. They say nothing of interest and just promote the upcoming WCW Title match. It’s the most basic match hype you could do.

Jim Duggan vs. Meng
Bischoff promotes this as a barnburner. Disco Inferno shows up to do his weekly dancing. Meng interrupts for the match and is wearing the strangest headgear. I’m confused as to what it’s supposed to be. Duggan is way over. Meng attacks from behind and gets the jump. They slug it out for the majority of the match. Duggan gives me a Frank Gallagher, of Shameless fame, vibe. Meng hits a superkick and wins with the Asian spike.

Winner: Meng in 1:53
Too short to really give a fair rating too. It was fine to get Meng a win heading into his PPV match with Luger

Hulk Hogan, dressed in all black and even with a black logo in the background, cuts a promo in front of a green screen. He says the Giant has never looked him in the eyes. “I can stop a dolphin in his tracks”. Umm, what? He also has to throw a jab at Vince, saying Hulkamania is bigger than other promoter’s entire companies.

Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman vs. Ric Flair and Sting
Ric Flair goes at it all by himself at the start since Sting isn’t apparently there. The crowd is 100% into everything Flair does. Though he’s a better heel, he was working the face stuff here. His strut gets a big reaction. As the heels take advantage, Sting shows up and the crowd loses their minds. They hype it on commentary as Flair earning Sting’s respect. The pop for Sting’s hot tag is nuts. He lays into both opponents and hits a flapjack on Pillman. He continues to just lay into both guys and sends them outside, where they get counted out.

Winners via countout: Ric Flair and Sting in 7:03
A really fun sprint with a very hot crowd, but a bit of anti-climactic finish. It did make sense in the grand scheme of things considering the next stage of the feud. ***

Mean Gene interviews the winners and Sting says that he thinks Ric Flair is a changed man. They will team again against Anderson and Pillman at Halloween Havoc.

Overall: 7.5/10. Well that was a really fun hour of wrestling. The main event had one of the hotter crowds I’ve seen in any of these 1995 shows. It also did a good job of setting up a future angle. Benoit and Guerrero were their usual great selves and it worked as a great way to introduce Benoit. The Meng squash and DDP segment were fine as well.

Raw Rating: 2.6 Nitro Rating: 2.2