The WWF was falling out of the public spot light in the early 1990s as evidenced by declining ratings for their Saturday Night's Main Event shows, which were getting closer to the "hundreds of thousands" territory than to the "tens of millions." First NBC cancelled the shows, and then Fox passed on them, leaving the WWF without network exposure.
They tried to supplement that exposure by focusing on the home video market, but that just wasn't bringing in as much money, especially since many of them were priced for rental anyway.
So, in 1995, they decided to go back to the one thing that always made them money – pay-per-view. If there were 100,000 people who would buy anything they put out, and they charged $15 a PPV, then that would be…well, I don't know, but it's a fuckin' lot! Voila. The expanded PPV era that we know today was born.
In storyline terms, well, what was going on?
Bret Hart had a few feuds going on. Jerry Lawler still hated him from 1993. Owen Hart still hated him…also from 1993. But at least Bret was making new enemies. Hakushi and Shinja attacked Bret during an awards ceremony, and left him laying. Bret will take on 2/3 of his enemies here, first Hakushi and then Lawler.
Shawn Michaels had a most interesting ride since he failed to win the title at WrestleMania XI. The following night on Raw, Shawn's bodyguard Sycho Sid turned on him and gave him a vicious powerbomb. That led to Shawn's old bodyguard –and former rival- Diesel making the save. That nicely sets up this show's title match.
May 14, 1995.
Live from Syracuse, N.Y..
Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Dok Hendrix.
Opening Match: Bret Hart vs. Hakushi (w/Shinja).
Bret's descent continued as he not only lost his title to one-day champ Bob Backlund, but he saw the Clique rise to power as he was stuck in mid-card feuds. Case in point: Hakushi, who most of you puro fans know as Jinsei Shinzaki. He was capable of great things, but he was just never motivated, even internationally. Hakushi does some spiffy stuff to avoid Bret. After that, he pretty much settles into the basic heel stuff. Bret gets a quick reverse rollup for two. They botch something so Bret improvises with an elbow to the back of the head. Hakushi sneaks back in and reverses a corner whip, giving him the advantage. In the back, Jerry Lawler watches in anticipation of his match with Bret later in the evening. Hakushi busts out the split-legged vertical splash in the corner. You might know it as the Broncobuster in the attitude era, only Hakushi doesn't bounce his sack up and down on your chin. No. Wrestling's not gay. Shinja distracts the ref while Hakushi chokes Bret. They switch off, and Bret gets more chokery. Hakushi busts out his first cool move: the handspring back elbow. He flips out of a backbreaker and gets a gutwrench of his own for two. A diving headbutt gets two more. He tries a springboard splash, but Bret rolls out of the way and makes the big comeback. I'll let you guess which moves Bret uses to come back. I'll give you a hint: there are five of them. The Hart Attack Clothesline staggers Hakushi, but Shinja trips him from the outside. Bret turns around and takes Shinja out with a tope. Hakushi sneaks up on him, but Bret counters his suplex attempt by sending both of them over the top. Shinja distracts Bret long enough for Hakushi to hit him with the Asai Moonsault. Back in, Hakushi tries to finish with a German Suplex, but Bret reverses to a rollup for the pin at 14:41. People raved about this match when it happened, but looking at it today, it seems that Hakushi just wanted to hit his spots and go home. They were pretty good spots, though, and Bret provided his usual effort. ***1/2
Handicap Match: Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie.
This was supposed to be a tag match with the 1-2-3 Kid joining with Ramon, but Jarrett and Roadie put him out of action. Ramon and Jeff do the same match they did for the previous five months, so by now it's polished. In fact, the whole match goes exactly how their usual match would go, only now when Roadie interferes, it's legal. Roadie, thankfully, shows a lot of personality, which makes this more entertaining than your usual handicap match. Razor goes for a Razor's Edge right next to the ropes and gets backdropped to the floor. Jarrett wants a countout, but Ramon slides back in. Ramon takes a beating before making the superman comeback. He whips the heels together and hits Roadie with a backdrop superplex. Jarrett goes after his legs and tries a figure-four, but Ramon shoves Jarrett into Roadie. That leads to the Razor's Edge on Jarrett at 12:41. The heels attack after the match, but Aldo Montoya (Justin Credible) makes the save. Well, it's Aldo, so he does what he can, but the heels make short work of him too. A fan, who we would later learn is Savio Vega, makes the save for real. The usual Ramon/Jarrett match with a little too much clutter. **
In the back, Jerry Lawler wants his match with Bret to start NOW, but WWF President Jack Tunney isn't having it.
King of the Ring Qualifier: Adam Bomb vs. Mabel (w/Oscar).
Mabel and Mo turned heel around WrestleMania time, IIRC. I have no idea why Vince decided to push him as hard as he did, but if I spent my day trying to figure Vince out, I think I'd go crazy myself. Bomb hits a series of flying shoulderblocks, but Mabel catches him and squashes him at 1:53. Bleh. O
Razor introduces us to his li'l friend – Savio Vega. Savio delivers a promo in Spanglish.
WWF Tag Team Titles: Owen Hart & Yokozuna (w/Jim Cornette & Mr. Fuji) vs. The Smoking Guns.
Owen surprised the Gunns by bringing out Yoko as his partner at WrestleMania. This time, the Gunns think they have an advantage because they know what's coming. Yeah, right. The Gunns do a lot of nice dropkicks, but that's about all they can do with Yoko. Owen tags in for the actual wrestling portion of the wrestling match. He hits Billy with an enzuigiri and a spinning heel kick. The Gunns fight back, but Bart misses a crossbody and fall to the outside. Yoko squashes him with a legdrop and tosses him back in for the win at 5:48. The expected squash. 1/2*
Diesel says it's a bittersweet day (Mother's Day) for him because he lost his mother around Christmas the previous year.
Lawler comes back out and cuts a promo with his "mother," a woman who looks about 23 years old.
Turns out Bret's knee is just fine after all. He was just lulling Lawler into a false sense of security.
Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler.
Lawler's reaction to seeing a healthy Bret Hart walk out is great. Lawler gets his ass handed to him before countering a backdrop attempt to a piledriver. Bret no-sells and hits his own. Well that was odd. It's not the Super J Crown. Shinja comes out and draws the ref to the apron, which proves to be unfortunate because Bret whips Lawler to the ropes, knocking down and tying his foot in the ropes. That allows Hakushi to return and attack Bret. Lawler recovers as the ref gets free. ONE, TWO, THREE! Lawler picks up the big upset at 5:03. Bret saves himself from a beating. This was rushed and not nearly as good as their Summerslam meeting. *3/4
Todd Pettingill and Stephanie Wiand give away a lovely Florida home. These two are the reason there needed to be an ECW. See, the WWF just naturally assumed that all the people who watched during the Hogan era moved on to other things and a new group of kids started watching. Instead, those kids who were nine years old in 1988 were now 16 and still wanting to watch wrestling. So when Stephanie and Todd acted like they were hosting a public access kiddie show with a bunch of fucking muppets surrounding them, it just came off as pandering and insulting.
WWF Heavyweight Title: Diesel vs. Sid (w/Ted Dibiase).
The Dies is coming for righteous revenge on Sid after Sid attacked Shawn Michaels. This is one of those "better in theory" matches. Here's a metaphor for you: if you go into a Subway (or a Quiznos, if you prefer), you can order a sandwich on white, wheat, Italian or honeyoat bread. I prefer honeyoat myself. Now, a sandwich can be just as good with any of those breads, but now imagine that you're being served one piece of Italian bread in between two pieces of wheat bread. It just doesn't work. The same goes for these two. Either man is carryable as long as they have Bret or Shawn in there with them, but putting them in against each other is just asking for trouble. Sid works the back, which was softened up by Henry O. Godwinn on Raw. His pace could be diplomatically described as methodical, but there comes a time when diplomacy just doesn't work, so I'll say it's mind-numbingly boring. He squats down with a chinlock forever, but Diesel powers up. Sid nails him and hits the powerbomb, but he stops to pose like an idiot, and Diesel kicks out. Diesel hulks up. Big boot. Jackknife. That should be enough for the pin, but Tatanka jumps in for the DQ at 11:30. Dibiase jumps in, and we get a good, old-fashioned beatdown. Bam Bam Bigelow makes the save. This would set up a lumberjack rematch at the second IYH, which wasn't quite as bad. 1/2*
Coliseum Home Video Exclusive: The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Kama (w/Ted Dibiase).
Kama stole the urn and melted it down into some bling bling to set this up. Kama doesn't look intimidated, but that doesn't mean he can't still get his ass kicked. He comes back and uses his "supreme fighting skills" to keep the Undertaker down. To the outside, Taker misses a charge and goes into the post. Back in, a looooooooooooooooong bearhug makes me wish I was watching Sid/Diesel again. Undertaker comes back with his uppercuts and hits a flying clothesline. Kama comes back with a few elbowdrops and just naturally assumes the Undertaker is dead, so he stops to pose to the crowd. Taker pops up and chokeslams him. The Tombstone thankfully finishes at 13:08. Even worse than their Summerslam match. 1/4*
Coliseum Home Video Exclusive: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Tatanka.
Bigelow quit the Corporation after losing to Lawrence Taylor at WrestleMania, making him a marked man. Bigelow's outfit makes him look like a Sharkticon. Tatanka attacks early, but Bigelow fights him off and dropkicks him to the floor. Bigelow steamrolls Tatanka with a shoulderblock, but Dibiase yanks down on the ropes on a second try. Tatanka takes over and applies a thrilling chinlock. Bigelow fights back, and they collide for a double KO. Bigelow blocks a charge and comes off the top with a sunset flip for the win at 8:51. 3/4*
Okay, they put *these two matches* on but not the KOTR Qualifier between Bulldog and Owen?!!!
The 411: Not a good start to the two-hour monthly PPV experiment, but they were new at it, so you gotta give them a little break. The opening two matches were pretty good, but it was all downhill after that. The Coliseum extras really don't add a lot of value either.