Wednesday, 29 July 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1995

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Event poster
November 19, 1995,
USAir Arena in Landover, Maryland

By the time November 1995 rolled around, Vince McMahon must have surely been ready to face facts: The Diesel Experiment had hardly been the kind of resounding success he must have been hoping for. 

Almost a full calendar year had gone by since Big Daddy Cool captured the title from Bob Backlund in the wake of Survivor Series 1994, and between then and now, we'd seen Shawn Micahels' former bodyguard run roughshod in a series of main events which -whilst entertaining in places- pretty much bombed.

Indeed, there was only two matches throughout Diesel's entire run that were memorable for the right reason; his Wrestlemania 11 match against the aforementioned HBK, and his Royal Rumble 95 outing with Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, a man who tonight would lock-up with the champion in an attempt to claim back the title he lost a year ago.

Who emerged victorious? What else went down at Survivor Series 1995? Let's find out together, shall we?

Razor hypes the wild-card match
Immediately following the company's ident, tonight's show began with a backstage promo from . Sat in the locker room and getting into his gear, The Bad Guy hyped tonight's 'wild card' match, a bout where the traditional 'good guys vs. bad guys' story had been flipped on its head, instead seeing both heels and faces join forces on the same team.
WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Mr. Perfect, Jim Ross and Vince McMahon commentate
Razor Ramon

Mr. Perfect returns
From there, we went straight to the arena, were Howard Finkle introduced a returning Mr. Perfect. Joining Jim Ross and Vince McMahon as our commentary team for the evening, Perfect looked a picture of radiance as he settled in ready to host tonight's show.

Four vs. Four Traditional Survivor Series Match
The Underdogs (Team Captain Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Bob Holly and Barry Horrowitz) 
vs. 
The Body Donnas 
(Team Captain Skip, Rad Radford, Dr. Tom Pritchard and 123 Kid, w/ Sunny and Ted Dibiase)

With the good guys making their way to the ring first, it was up to Sunny to introduce her three out of the four members of her team to the live audience. Once safely between the ropes, our standard ring announcer did the honours for 'surprise' team mate the 123 Kid, who, following a year of tension with one-time best friend Razor, had finally turned heel and aligned himself with Ted Dibiase's Million Dollar Corporation


Still seething at the betrayal, Ramon darted through the curtain in an attempt to get at the Kid, only to have his efforts thwarted by a wall of referees, who sent him to the back so that our match could begin properly. 

And man, what a match it was. 

Your writer is quite prepared to go on record as saying that The Underdogs vs. The Body Donnas is by far one of the best traditional Survivor Series matches that ever took place. Indeed, despite their low status on the card at the time, all eight men went out to the ring that night to show that they were every bit as talented (if not a whole lot more) than their peers in the top-tier of the card. 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - 123 Kid wrestled on the Body Donnas Team
From start to finish, both teams delivered bell to bell excitement that really had the crowd hooked. I mean, this thing had everything: high flying, technical wrestling, a touch of comedy (Skip raising his arm to celebrate before collapsing face-first into the canvas was hilarious) and entertainment aplenty. 

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I'm prepared to say that this isn't just one of the best Survivor Series matches I've seen, but by far one of the most enjoyable bouts I've watched since I first started Retro Pro Wrestling a few years ago. 

After the better part of 20 minutes, only 123 Kid and his former tag team partner, Marty Jannetty remained. With both men battling towards a dramatic climax, Sycho Sid made his way to the ring, intefering on behalf of his Million Dollar Corporation stablemate, and giving the win to the Kid.
Your Winners: The Body Donnas (123 Kid is your sole survivor) 

As the 123 Kid celebrated in the ring, we were shown a backstage clip of Razor Ramon destroying the dressing room, visibly pissed off at the Kid's victory. 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Owen Hart, Yokozuna, Dean Douglas, Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji
Speaking of Ramon, his 'wild card' team mates Owen Hart, Yokozuna and Dean Douglas were waiting backstage, where Jim Cornette claimed that even though nobody on that team wanted Razor to join them, if he absolutely had to, The Bad Guy had better get his head together. 

Four vs. Four Women's Traditional Survivor Series Match
Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe, and Lioness Asuka (with Harvey Wippleman) 
vs. 
Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa and Chaparita Asari
For all intents and purposes, there was only one real reason why this match even took place; to set up a WWF Women's Championship match between reigning champion Alundra Blayze and Aja Kong

Yet until we got to that point, the eight women involved delivered a great little match chock-full of high spots and the kind of innovative wrestling moves not normally seen by US audiences. 

Whilst Mr. Perfect delivered a tirade of chauvinistic sexist comments on the mic, both teams exchanged frequent tags, more suplexes than your typical Brock Lensar match and all kinds of off-the-top rope goodies to create the second enjoyable contest of the evening. 

Though not quite on a par with our opener, this was a pretty captivating affair, which came to a head with Kong and Blayze as the sole representatives of their respective teams. A short tussle later, and the woman from Japan went over, leading to the inevitable challenge for the Women's title. 
Your Winners: Bertha Faye's Team (Aja Kong is your sole survivor)

Out in the crowd, Todd Pettingill interviewed a Bill Clinton look alike in one of the worst attempts at humour you've ever seen on a wrestling show. As Bam Bam Bigelow made his way to the ring, 'The President' claimed he'd followed The Beast From the East's career ever since he was 'a little boy playing around with Pebbles.' Indeed. 

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Goldust 
WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Goldust cuts a pre-match promo before facing Bam Bam Bigelow
After two exciting matches, things were set to slow down considerably with our next match; a slow, lumbering bout which, for the duration of its 8+ minutes, constantly threatened to send the crowd to sleep. 

Truth be told, I wanted to like this match, I really did. Bam Bam was an incredible performer, whilst in terms of Goldust,  it was certainly interesting to see one of the WWE's longest-running characters in the early stages of his career, but put the two together, and there wasn't much to write home about. 

Given the huge push he'd received since his debut, it wasn't too surprising to see Goldust pick up the victory thanks to a simple running bulldog. What was surprising though, is that two otherwise talented wrestlers just couldn't pull it together enough to create anything but an entirely forgettable contest with very little good to say about it. 
Your Winner: Goldust 

Heading back to the crowd, our friend Bill Clinton urged Bob Backlund to run against him in the next presidential ellections. No doubt kicking off the whole 'Backlund for President' gimmick that would run for several months in the mid-90s, this was another completly unfunny segment, complete with some topical news references which, some 23 years later, make very little sense to this writer. 

Four vs. Four Traditional Survivor Series Match
 The Royals (King Mabel, Jerry Lawler, Isaac Yankem, DDS, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/ Sir Mo)
vs.
The Darkside (The Undertaker, Savio Vega, Fatu and Henry O. Godwinn w/ Paul Bearer) 
WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Undertaker chokeslams Triple H
If you recall, this whole thing began back at the 1995 King of the Ring, when Mabel toppled Undertaker en route to his eventually tournament win. Building things up slowly throughout the remainder of the year, things eventually exploded in the run-up to the October 95 In Your House PPV, when Mabel 'face-crushed' THe Undertaker (Vince McMahon's words, not mine), putting him out of action for over a month.

Making his return at tonight's show, The morbid and morose Undertaker sought revenge by teaming with three happy-go-lucky, perma-smiled babyfaces to take on his rival, Mabel, the man who would later become his brother, Isaac Yankem, Jerry Lawler and future WWE COO, Triple H.

As matches go, this was far from the worst that ever happened, but it almost looked like it could have been in the early going. Indeed, things only reached any level of excitement once The Undertaker himself tagged in. Having watched his goofy team mates go back and forth with The Royals, The Phenom finally entered the ring and systematically destroyed each of his opponents. 
Your Winners: The Dark Side (everyone survives)

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Undertaker returned wearing a protective mask
Prior to our next contest, Vince McMahon and Jim Ross reminded us that the winner of tonight's Hitman/Diesel WWF Championship match would go on to face The British Bulldog at December In Your House pay per view. Cutting to pre-recorded comments from champ and challenger, both men claimed that they'd worry about the Bulldog later. For now, they were entirely focused on tonight, each man reminding us that this would be a battle between the skill of Bret versus the size and strength of Diesel. 

Moving to live interviews, Todd Pettingill questioned Jim Cornette about who's side he was actually on tonight. 'I just interviewed you earlier with the other team!' exclaimed Todd, only for James E. to claim he hadn't seen hide nor hair of Pettingill all day. 

Following Ted Dibiase's warning that the Bulldog should in no way cross the Million Dollar Man, Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson arrived, insisting that everyone get on the same page and work together. 

Four vs. Four 'Wildcard' Match
Team Michaels (Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, The British Bulldog, and Sycho Sid w/ Ted DiBiase)
vs.
 Team Yokozuna (Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas (w/ Mr. Fuji)
Just to refresh your memory, the Unique Selling Point of this match was that it was the first Survivor Series elimination match to feature both heels and faces on the same side, with Davey Boy Smith forced to joi up with Shawn Michaels, newcomer Ahmed Johnson and Sycho Sid in order to take on his Camp Cornette team mates Owen and Yoko, along with bitter rivals Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas.



An idea laid down by then WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, this break-from-the-norm was primarily designed (in kayfabe terms at least) to frustrate and torment Jim Cornette, who spent much of the match torn between both both teams.


More than holding its own when compared to our opening Underdogs vs. Body Donnas match, Team Michaels vs. Team Yokozuna more than delivered. Clocking in at just under half an hour, early highlights included duels between Michaels and Owen, Michaels and Razor, and Owen and brother-in-law the Bulldog. 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Shawn Michaels, Sid, Ahmed Johnson and British Bulldog were on the same team
The result was an intense, dramatic affair with tensions brewing on either side and enough action in the ring to ensure there was scarcely a dull moment in the longest match on the card.

Eventually boiling down to Razor and Yoko against Smith, Johnson and Michaels, the Bad Guy was distracted by Sid, who had previously been eliminated, only to return with the 123 Kid in tow. Faced against three opponents, Yoko gutted it out, missing a banzai drop on Shawn Michaels before Ahmed Johnson tagged in,

The Pearl River Powerhouse slammed the sumo star to the mat and made the cover, only for Davey Boy to turn on his team mates and break up the pin fall. Shooting Davey Boy of the ring, Johnson eventually picked up the win for his team, after which the Bulldog jumped for joy in the ring, much to the chagrin of his team mates.
Your Winners: Team Michaels (HBK, Davey Boy and Ahmed Johnson survive)

Back to the crowd for the final time, Fake Bill Clinton offered Sunny a job as his 'under secretary,' before we got a great hype package for our main event.

Making Diesel vs. Bret Hart seem like a legitimate big deal in a way that you just don't see any more, comments from both men were spliced with footage of their two previous PPV matches, both of which were some of the best either man would have in the WWE.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Big Daddy Cool Diesel vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Bret Hart beat Diesel for the WWF title
Whether they were doing battle at the 1994 King of the Ring or at the aforementioned Royal Rumble 1995, Hart and Nash always seemed to produce something special, and in their penultimate PPV encounter together, they did it again.

Trying their best to intimidate each other in the early going by removing the turnbuckle pads, both champ and challenger took their time to begin with, gradually building up the pace into a wild, no-holds barred brawl, with both men throwing the rule book far out of the window and going at it with a passionate desperation that was truly captivating.

Heralding the start of BDC's gradual heel turn (something he'd keep up until the end of his WWF run), the champion left it all on the line as he displayed an aggression that was unbecoming of a top-level 1995 babyface.

Not that Bret held much back either. Making up for his size disadvantage by going for the knee, the Hitman showed signs of the kind of viciousness he'd display in his own heel run of 1997, eventually withstanding a brutal amount of punishment before wrapping up his opponent for the cover, the count, and the victory.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

The new champion didn't have much time to celebrate however. Visibly irate, Big Daddy Cool returned to the ring and leveled his victor with two wicked Jacknife Powerbombs to bring the show to a close.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all she wrote. Easily one of the better pay per views of 1995, there was a lot to enjoy here. From the wildly entertaining opening match to the brutal brawl of our main event, Survivor Series 1995 marked a real turning point in the WWF's in-ring quality, and looked to set things up nicely for an interesting 1996. 



1 comments:

Three things of note:

1.In the dark match, the Smoking Gunns defeated the Public Enemy. Yes, the very same Public Enemy who would go on to be DESTROYED by the Acolytes on the March 7th 1999 episode of Sunday Night Heat.

2.There were two substitutions for the opener, as Bob Holly replaced Avatar (Al Snow) on the Underdogs, while 1-2-3 Kid replaced Jean-Pierre Lafitte on the Bodydonnas.

3.You gotta admit, Savio, Henry, and Fatu all looked great in those Undertaker t-shirts, since they were three of his mates in real life.

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.