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Click here to read the 1994 Wrestling Hall Of Shame
The Clash Of The Champions 29 Main Event
Where to start with this one... during the main event of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage against The Taskmaster and The Butcher, Butcher submitted Hogan with a choke. With Hogan totally spark out the referee should have ended the match (after the Clash of the Champions the previous August, it wouldn't even be the first time Hogan "submitted" without losing). But the referee didn't and Savage "revived" Hogan by hitting his top rope elbow drop. That all paled into significance with the show closing angle. Vader came out and leveled Hogan with a big powerbomb, only for Hogan, seconds later, to pop back up – no selling the attack. Awful, absolutely awful.
Paul Roma Gets Fired After A Match With Alex Wright
Alex Wright is a guy that got pushed too hard too soon by WCW. By the end of 1995 he was showing significant improvements but rewind the clock to the beginning of the year there were many people that felt Wright was overpushed. One of those people was Paul Roma, the latest in a line of performers (that included a certain Paul Levesque) to be tasked with putting over the young German at Superbrawl. And he did... but not before going into business for himself, no selling all of Wright's offense and generally crossing a line you don't cross in the wrestling ring. It made for entertaining viewing, and Roma hit a world class elbow drop during the match, but it Roma would end up being fired the next day, working out his final month with the company getting pinned by all and sundry. Read the full story here.
Mean Gene Okerlund and that Hotline
Gene Okerlund made a % cut of revenues from his hotline reports, so it was in his interest to... shall we say, augment the truth of the stories he was promoting to trick people into calling. You'd get the usual hotline fodder (the "lead" "story" buried five minutes into the $0.99 a minute call), but frequently these hooks would be utter bollocks, occasionally they'd be downright crass. After the death of former AWA Tag Team Champion Jerry Blackwell (who so happened to be 45-years-old) Okerlund invited people to call the hotline to find out "which former 45-year-old heavyweight champion" had died – Ric Flair (barring the odd appearance) had been off of TV for three months, that was the hook to call in, and judging by the volumes of calls – that's why many people did.
Read More: The Time Mean Gene Okerlund Made Money Of The "Death" Of Ric Flair
Dustin Rhodes & Blacktop Bully Get Fired For Following Orders
Uncensored was a damn weird pay per view (it probably deserves its place in this list on its own). With a martial arts match that involved Jim Duggan, a boxer vs wrestler match and another thing I'll mention separately in a minute. It opened, however, with a match on the back of a moving truck... (yep...). Taped the previous day, with a helicopter and a chase van to capture some good angles, Rhodes and Bully tried their best to produce something mildly entertaining and in the process, bladed, using blades that had been provided for them. Now, you'd think if there was any issue with it they would've 1) not provided the blades or 2) just not shown the match (they did, indeed, show a heavily edited version on the show, that apparently killed any enjoyment the match could've had). But still, the pair were both fired. The more reasonable answer, it seems, was that the company were looking to cut costs.
Read More: King Of The Road Match - End Of The Road For Dustin Rhodes
Ric Flair Loses A Match He Isn't Even In
Uncensored presented a real dilemma for WCW and then booker Ric Flair. Political relations between Hulk Hogan and Vader had broken to the point where not only would neither man agree to get pinned by the other, they also simply wouldn't lose, which given that this was their main event program was somewhat of an issue. The strap match (which also featured the debut of Ultimate Warrior knock-off Renegade) finished with Hogan attaching the strap to Ric Flair and dragging him to all for corners. The feud would reprise itself in July, but Hogan vs Vader could and should have been so much more.
A special place in all of our hearts for this ill-advised Warrior knock-off. As WCW wanted to recreate the 1980s WWF they went out and acquired all of the talents they could find – namely Randy Savage. Where said talent had deceased (Andre The Giant) they just found another giant, called him "The Giant" and called him the son of Andre. While Jim Hellwig was very much still with us, WWF's ownership of the name and likeness meant that they couldn't really bring him in. Instead, they painted Rick Wilson up to look like Warrior, gave him a Jimmy Hart knock-off special theme, and sent him out there. One problem? Renegade had all of the negatives about Warrior with none of the positives. No charisma, but the same lack of in ring talent. Renegade's push lasted barely six months, in that time we got treated to a series of absolutely awful matches. Mercifully the push was stopped, not before time.
Read More: WCW Rip Off The Ultimate Warrior With The Renegade
Bam Bam Bigelow Turns Babyface
There's a whole list of things relating to WWF's heel roster that could make this list (and some absolutely will) but the decision to turn Bam Bam face, while well received at the time, was a horrendous indictment of the priorities to come in the company. With a thin heel roster, and a desire to face Diesel off against opponents of similar size, their record-rating match in April 1995 on Raw should've been a sign of a future money making program. Instead, the direction called for an (admittedly quite effective) angle that saw the Million Dollar Corporation turn on Bigelow. Despite main eventing Wrestlemania weeks earlier his WWF career would quickly nosedive, and he would be a mid-card enhancement talent in the Autumn following by dissapearing from the company by the end of the year.
Read More: Why Didn't Bam Bam Bigelow Become A WWF Star in 1995?
Where to start with this? Bret ended the year as Champion, with a pair of very good main event matches in November and December. Before that? We'd honestly prefer not to say! After having one of his worst matches ever with Bob Backlund at Wrestlemania, Bret plodded around the mid-card, reprising the feud that would never die with Jerry Lawler, along with a couple of completely irrelevant feuds with Hakushi and Jean-Pierre Laffite. The former would involved a severed mould of Bret's head, the latter a fight over Lafitte stealing his jacket. That being said, Bret, at the end of the day, can still work. Him vs Lafitte in particular, was a very good match. Once the company eventually gave up on Diesel, it was time to revert to type – Bret was back on top, for now.
Dick Murdoch vs Wahoo McDaniel
At WCW's annual Slamboree show, they take the opportunity to honour the legends of the industry by inducting them into their Hall Of Fame. 1995 was no exception and the Hall of Fame "ceremony" mid show that involved Gordon Solie being given a "surprise" induction was very well done and very well received. They also do a "legends match". In 1993 this pitted Dory Funk Jr against Nick Bockwinkel, in 1994 we got Terry Funk vs Tully Blanchard. Legends indeed, but still capable of putting on a nostalgia match. Murduch vs Wahoo deserves its place on this list for being simply awful – far too slow or too plodding. In fact, when you consider this match was sandwiched between The Man With No Name (The Butcher – soon to be Zodiac) against Kevin Sullivan (right before the Dungeon of Doom debut) and a poor match between Paul Orndorff and The Great Muta this was one of the worst hours of pay per views in the year.
The Dungeon Of Doom
One of many points within this article that warranted its own post – The Dungeon Of Doom will probably go down as one of the most memorable things to happen in WCW in 1995. And despite it's potential for nostaglia, and the fact it was the group that debuted The Big Show, there is little denying that the Dungeon Of Doom was an absolutely horrible act in WCW. The next step beyond the Three Faces Of Fear kept the increasingly irrelevant acts of Kevin Sullivan, The Butcher and Avalanche on our screens for way too long in pre-tape segments and, where Nitro was concerned, relentless main event run ins. To push such a cartoonish, mid-card act into such a prominent position was a big mistake, and one WCW was fortunate not to suffer further from. The de-emphasis of certain elements of the act (Zodiac, Shark) on Nitro over Lex Luger, Jimmy Hart and The Giant was no surprise.
We've documented this story well on the podcasts and the blogs written about 1995, but the rise of King Mabel is a severe indictment of where the flaws of the WWF lay in 1995. A roster massively imbalanced with a boat load of faces and no heels, Vince McMahon conjured up Mabel – a mammoth by any standard – and gave him the push of a lifetime. Winning the unbelievably bad King Of The Ring, before headlining Summerslam over Shawn Michaels against Razor Ramon. Mabel just wasn't good enough, or capable enough, to pull of what the company were asking of him. And it showed.
Read More: King Mabel - WWF's Biggest Mistake In 1995?
King Of The Ring
While Mabel himself was a big factor in this, this entire show deserves it's own place in this category. A horrid tournament, with most of the big name matches actually being qualifiers (Taker vs Jarrett, Bulldog vs Owen, Luger vs Yokozuna). But with Yoko, Razor, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker involved it could still be a good tournament? Well, Razor got injured before the show, so was replaced in more ways that one by Savio Vega – who along with wrestling a qualifier in the pre-show then worked the same three matches Razor was meant to work. Nobody needs to see Savio Vega wrestle four times, nor the semi final line up of Mabel, The Roadie, Vega and bye (after Shawn and Kama inexplicably went to a time limit draw). This, combined with a bad main event, and a really bad Jerry Lawler vs Bret Hart match, made for poor viewing.
Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie Walk Out On The WWF
Most of these entries we can very much lay the blame at the foot of the promoters, but occasionally the talent deserve a ribbing for stupid decision making too. A lot of people thought very little of Jeff Jarrett, but it's hard to argue against the fact that in 1995 he was one of their most important mid-card acts. A heel that could work, and was regularly used to make main event babyfaces like Diesel and The Undertaker look good when bigger names couldn't. In July, Jarrett was given a big push with the debut of his single "With My Baby Tonight" – with a music video produced at quite significant expense. It was a program that could've shot Jarrett to the main event, but instead he and Roadie walked out of the company amid rumours Roadie had failed a drugs test - the explanation on Jarrett's side was that he wasn't happy with the direction of his character. And poof goes one of the more interesting things of the summer of 1995 in the WWF.
Read More: Jeff Jarrett And The Roadie Walk Out On The WWF
Bash At The Beach
Another pay per view with it’s own special place in hell reserved for it. A show that was hosted outside on Huntington Beach in California, the show absolutely sucked. Boring, with no redeeming features – even Savage and Flair was poor. Don't seek this one out.
Shane Douglas arrived from ECW with a big name reputation, and one that was correctly earned. The best promo of 1994, Douglas (despite how history has recast him) was arguably the most important guy in the formative ECW years alongside Terry Funk. Through a series of scathing and excellent promos Douglas earned a reputation and a fanbase for a character that should have skills transferrable to the big time. So when the WWF signed him, what did they do? Told him to cut downbeat, very monotone promos as school-teacher "Dean Douglas". Just wait until he first came out to wrestle. I mean... that singlet.
ECW's Treatment Of Women
A lot of people point towards the unprotected chair shots to the head as the biggest thing that doesn't translate well from mid-late 90s wrestling, but from an ECW standpoint the one thing that stands out even more is their pitiful treatment of female talent. Sure, none of them were there against their will (not like ECW was exploiting them) and sure, it fit the audience it was aimed at... to a point. But my word, watching a year of Hardcore TV and you get a very stark and quite ugly insight into where women fit into the vision of Paul Heyman and ECW. More worrying still is it's a style that, to a point, would creep into the WWF as the years went on. From Woman, to Francine, to Beulah and many others – it doesn't age well. As great as Bill Alfonso was, the segments prior to November To Remember where he called Beulah a "slut" and a "whore" were completely unnecessary.
The Son Of Andre
Yeah, it was tasteless of WCW to imply that simply because The Giant was big he was the son of Andre The Giant. Theoretically, it added some emphasis to the feud with Hogan, along with his perplexing and largely useless alignment with the Dungeon Of Doom, but it didn't make the explanation stick. It was something WCW quite rightly moved away from, but it took them a while...
Diesel and King Mabel Main Event Summerslam
The original plan for Summerslam called for Diesel and King Mabel to headline the show, with Shawn Michaels defending the Intercontinental Title against Sid. Now, after the poor reaction to the King Of The Ring show, plans were quickly changed. Well, they changed Shawn vs Sid to Shawn vs Razor Ramon and resurrected the ladder match gimmick that got over so successfully at Wrestlemania in 1994. However, Diesel vs Mabel not only went on as planned, it went on in the main event... as planned. Nobody could've followed Shawn vs Razor, not least the champ against one of the worst workers in the company.
In the past, and in the future, we will see all number of whacky ideas presented on pay per view, especially where WCW are concerned. Not content with their match on the back of a moving truck from Uncensored, they upped the anti six months later with the premise of a Sumo Monster Truck match. Now, OK, the trucks did look great (the "Hulk" roided arms on the Hogan truck especially so), but the spectacle itself was an absolute farce on pay per view. The match was really dull, and even included a Hogan-esque "recovery". Hogan won the match, but the segment will likely be remembered for what came afterwards...
… The Bigger They Are
Hogan and The Giant both left their respective trucks after the match and got into a pushing match by the edge of Cobo Hall. Hogan ended up batting Giant away, who fell of the edge of the roof to his death (in theory). While the intervening minutes – and match, did bring out the best in an animated and fired up Bobby Heenan, quite what the crowd and viewers at home were supposed to think when the Giant walked out as scheduled for his main event match nobody really knows.
It's The YETTAY!
Yes, the third Halloween Havoc entry (the show escapes an entry thanks to a fantastic match and another really good one), but we cannot look at 1995 without mentioning the Yeti. WCW's answer to... God knows what. After the briefest of glimpses on Nitro, we got the Yeti in all of his glory at Havoc, walking out after the main event (that also featured a crap finish along with the turns of both Jimmy Hart and Lex Luger). Yeti, dressed like a mummy wrapped in... well, toilet roll, came out and applied the other half of a bear hug that The Giant had in on Hogan. Then Yeti basically started humping Hogan... that really happened.
Fire And Brimstone
ECW had a story telling issue, one that I'm not truly convinced they ever sold. So much about what they did was about "pushing the envelope" and trying to top what had come before – see 911 hitting six chokeslams on Jungle Jim Steele because he'd never hit more than five before. Sometimes it manifested itself harmlessly – see Too Cold Scorpio's high flying offense becoming useless. Other times it wasn't pretty to watch: the Rotten's feud that while set in folkore also went to ludicrous extremes. Other times it was downright dangerous: like the time an angle involving fire nearly went horribly wrong. This constant game of one upsmanship wasn't healthy – I'm just thankful the C-4 stayed the other side of the Pacific.
Shawn Michaels Collapses On Raw
Ok – let's establish a few things off the bat about this one. It was a great angle, perhaps the best angle on Raw all year. It also laid down the foundations for Shawn Michaels to explode in 1996 – so this angle very much had it's positives. But two key issues here. Firstly, the angle, while largely a horrid coincidence in timing, came the same day when two time Olympic gold medalist skater Sergei Grinkov died in New York while practicing aged just 28. While the Michaels angle had been planned long before that, and TV taping days can be busy – it didn’t look great. The bigger issue here was what followed in December – the company ran an angle essentially playing of Michaels suffering "second impact syndrome" (an issue related to concussions). Shame they didn't take real life heed of their own storylines.
Oh, all of it. I mean, we've done hours and hours on the podcast in 1995 about Diesel, and written a fair few articles too (here, here and here). The third one, especially, is over 3,000 words. So to condense it down: should've turned him heel, should've turned other people heel, Mabel, Sid, King Of The Ring, trying to be like Hogan, Bam Bam... just all awful. It's place is sealed by the fact the day after he dropped his title he "refound his attitude" and all of a sudden started to become really good again.
Click here to read the 1994 Wrestling Hall Of Shame