Welcome back nerds, and on this installment we continue through the banner year of 1995, and we move forward to March of 1995.
We start our journey in World Championship Wrestling. The organization was still doing it’s best to be seen as legitimate competition for the stand-by organization that is/was The World Wrestling Federation. Bischoff and the Powers-That-Be had organized a brand new Pay-Per-View spectacular for the organization, WCW Uncensored, and boy it couldn’t have come at a worse time. WCW was clearly aware of the growing popularity of Extreme/Hardcore wrestling in the market, and sought to capitalize on it’s growing popularity, with their own event. After all, if Paul Heyman could sell out Bingo Halls filled with fans from across the world, there’s no telling how far fans would travel to see Hulk Hogan vs. Big Van Vader II. There’s no telling how blood soaked WCW Uncensored would have been had their original plans been brought to fruition, but due to an unfortunately timed article in the New York Post from Phil Mushnick about the rampant steroid problems prevalent in the organization, and driving home the point of Turner’s involvement, effectively laying the blame at Turner’s feet, WCW was shook enough, that despite having an upcoming PPV built around how brutally barbaric it promised to be, that they would try to be a more family friendly organization.
To dive more into detail about this, we have to talk more about the Main Event scene in WCW at the time. As we’ve covered, the scene was dominated by Hulk Hogan and Vader. The price of doing business with Hogan for WCW was relinquishing Creative Control over Hogan’s stories over to Hogan himself. Hogan wanted to work to recreate angles that worked for him in his heyday in the 1980s in the WWF. To that degree, objectively Hogan vs. Vader from a pure overview of the story wasn’t dissimilar to Hulk Hogan vs. André the Giant. Vader was larger than life to some degree, an opponent who didn’t flinch at the offense
of Hogan, a metaphorical Kaiju monster for the metaphorical Superman to battle on the center stage. Now the original Hogan vs. Vader match at the previous month’s SuperBrawl V was supposed to end in a N0-Contest, with the match being stopped due to the amount of blood. This would setup the following month’s Main Event at WCW Uncensored, where Hogan and Vader would battle, and this time the match WOULDN’T BE STOPPED FOR BLOOD! However, due the Mushnick article, Clash of the Champions would instead see a dizzying conclusion that would culminate in a Disqualification for Vader, leading to the win for Hulk Hogan. Instead a different challenge was laid for Hulk Hogan to face off again against Vader, but this match would be a Strap Match, wherein the two combatants would be attached at opposite ends of a leather strap, the goal of which was to drag your assigned opponent around the ring, touching the tops of each of the four turnbuckles. Vader had Flair in his corner, and there were two reasons for this-The first and kayfabe reason, Hogan was the man who forced Ric Flair to “retire” months prior in October of ’94, and the second reason was that behind the scenes, Flair was pitching a new incarnation of The IV Horsemen with Flair & Anderson, Vader and a potential fourth and final member in “Stunning” Steve Austin, “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes or even “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig.
Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart would manage to tip the scales with an “Ultimate Surprise”. WCW was clearly trying to build hype around this surprise being The Ultimate Warrior, and being a child in 1995, you’d be forgiven for buying into that hype. The Ultimate Warrior would ultimately prove to be too expensive for WCW, thus the result was calling up former “Rio, Lord of the Jungle” Rick
Wilson for the role of WCW’s Ultimate Warrior ripoff, Renegade, something Wilson (to his credit) had tried to avoid during his Professional Wrestling Career. The strap match between Hogan and Vader at Uncensored would be confusing at best, and another bumbling missed opportunity for WCW at worst. Throughout the entirety of the match, Hogan and Vader would repeatedly become unstrapped, and Hogan would win the match despite the kidnapping of Jimmy Hart, interference from a masked man, and not actually touching the four turnbuckles while attached to Vader, but “The Nature Boy” himself.
Ric Flair wasn’t just involved in the Main Event of WCW’s Uncensored, though. WCW’s Midcard scene had highlights like the continuing feud between Avalanche and “The Macho Man” Randy Savage. Savage would challenge Avalanche in one of the two non-gimmick matches on the broadcast card, a standard Singles match. Flair would interfere on the grounds that Savage was closely allied with Hogan, and this would give us Ric Flair, jumping out of the audience, in drag. A proud tradition in wrestling that would continue even through the WWE until 2009. Sting and the newly minted Big Bubba Rogers would continue their war culminating in a match between the two in the other non-gimmick Singles match at WCW Uncensored. While both men put on a decent match, the match felt long, and the finish lacked any sort of impact. WCW’s Midcard featured additional highlights with a feud between WCW Television Champion Arn Anderson facing off against Johnny B. Badd in an overly complicated Non-Title Wrestler versus Boxer match. Badd would wear traditional boxing gloves, while Arn’s hands would be free, and the match itself would feature several timed rounds, and
Badd scoring the victory in the 4th round. Not all would be lost for Colonel Robert Parker though, as his man, Meng would defeat “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan in a not-clearly defined Karate match. Parker’s other client, The Blacktop Bully would defeat “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes in a King of the Road match. The King of the Road match led to the termination of Rhodes and Bully, as a result of both wrestlers blading during the match, having not gotten the memo about Uncensored’s new family-friendly direction.
The Tag Team Division of WCW would feature only one feud, Harlem Heat facing challengers, The Nasty Boys in a Non-Title match in a “Falls Count Anywhere Texas Tornado Tag Team Match”, in a tribute to the Tupelo Concession Stand Brawls of the 1970s and 1980s. This match was hardly a brawl, as a group of concession stands constructed specifically for the two teams to destroy, were in fact clumsily demolished. Both teams would wind up covered in various condiments and junk food, with The Nasty Boys picking up the victory in a finish that wasn’t even captured in the broadcast. While not a feud, the month of March of 1995 would also see the origins of one of WCW’s more prominent tag-teams, The Blue Bloods. Lord Steven Regal would take Bobby Eaton under his wing in an attempt to refine the Alabama native.
In WCW’s attempt at capture the lightning in the bottle of the growing popularity of Extreme/Hardcore Wrestling with not a single Championship on the line, every match felt like a missed opportunity, a wasted chance to do something great with the talented wrestlers available on their roster. Beyond Hogan’s promos throughout the month of March, and the few on-screen interactions between him and Vader, very little was being done on WCW Saturday Night to build these feuds, to build tension between the future opponents. The end of March of 1995 would see “Stunning” Steve Austin cut a promo, putting the WCW roster on notice, and Vader being forced to forfeit the WCW United States Championship, which in 3 months hadn’t been defended.
On the then-WWF side of things, the WWF would continue to build towards it’s annual flagship event, WrestleMania. The first week of March of 1995 would see Shawn Michaels assert his dominance in the Main Event scene, battling and defeating The British Bulldog in an opening match on Monday Night RAW. The match itself was stellar, with great back-and-forth offense between the two, and it’s puzzling that this match wasn’t the Main Event for Monday Night Raw, instead the Main Event for that week would feature Duke “The Dumpster” Droese vs. Steven Dunn. Though the purpose for this was, arguably so that the TV audience at home could focus on the call-in segment
featuring Jerry “The King” Lawler cutting a promo against Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Lawler would allege that Hart was a racist, specifically racist against the Japanese people. This week would also be notable, because Jim Cornette would join Vince McMahon on commentary. Love him, or hate him, Cornette on commentary is always a gift. The following week Bret Hart would get his hands on Lawler the following week on RAW in the Main Event. Lawler would be accompanied by the WWF Women’s Champion, Bull Nakano,
and with Bull’s assistance, defeat Hart in a count-out decision. Three months into the year of 1995, and this is the first mention of the WWF Women’s Champion on the promotion’s flagship program. Bret Hart would face another obstacle during the last week of March, his brother Owen in a No Holds Barred Submission Match, defeating his brother Owen and extending their rivalry. It was during this week that Lawrence Taylor’s NFL All-Pro Team would be announced as accompanying their fellow NFL superstar at ringside for the WrestleMania match against The Million Dollar Corporation’s Bam Bam Bigelow. Taylor’s All-Pro Team was notable for it’s inclusion of Steve “Mongo” McMichael, who would begin his own war of words with The Million Dollar Corporation newcomer, Kama.
The WWF Midcard would see “Double J” Jeff Jarrett prove his worth as a fighting champion as he would face off against the hopeful challenger Barry Horowitz. Jarrett would beat Horowitz first via Submission, and then offer the challenger an opportunity at the WWF Intercontinental Championship, only to have Mister Bob Backlund enter the fray and take Horowitz’s place, signing the contract for the match, and facing off against Jarrett on the 3/13/95 episode of WWF Sunday Night Slam, a match that Backlund would win via Disqualification thanks to the interference of Jarrett’s WrestleMania opponent, Razor Ramon, as Razor wouldn’t allow the Intercontinental Title to be lost, before he could have his opportunity.
The WWF Tag Team Division would see the announcement of The Smoking Gunns defending the WWF Tag Team Championships against a special surprise team. Whilst King Kong Bundy would squash two jobbers during the final week in the lead-up to his WrestleMania match against The Undertaker. The WWF would continue to highlight it’s celebrity guests for the event, Salt-n-Pepa, Johnathan Taylor Thomas and Nick Turturro, giving potential PPV Buyers a confusing ad featuring Paul Bearer in a dress.
We move next to ECW. ECW Champion Shane Douglas would successfully defend his championship against former Four Horsemen, Tully Blanchard, to flex his muscle in his one-sided feud against Flair and his compatriots.
The ECW Midcard would feature highlights in a spectacular match against Triple Threat member Dean Malenko squaring off against 2 Cold Scorpio, with Scorpio capturing the ECW Television Championship. Raven and Tommy Dreamer’s historic rivalry would continue to escalate, as Raven would give Dreamer the chance to face him, but only if he could defeat the other combatants in a Generation X Gauntlet Match, the other combatants being Stevie Richards, and former ECW Tag Team Champions, The Broadstreet Bullies (Tony Stetson, and Johnny Hotbody). From the beginning, and throughout the course of the match, Raven would be unable to interfere in Dreamer’s efforts, being handcuffed to the bottom rope, outside of the ring. Dreamer would eliminate the three obstacles, ready to face the challenge of the former summer camp acquaintance, but not before Dreamer’s former mentor, and new ally to The Sandman, Terry Funk would make his presence known. Funk would cut the handcuffs loose, giving Raven enough of an early advantage to again pin Tommy Dreamer.
The Sandman & Woman would continue to provoke Cactus Jack, to prove who the dominant and most extreme force in Extreme Championship Wrestling was. The Sandman had enlisted the assistance of Jack’s former idol, Terry Funk. Terry Funk would agree to a match against Cactus Jack for the following month, highlighted by a chilling promo from Funk.
Finally the ECW Tag Team Division would flourish as The Public Enemy would began to secure signatures from the other two most powerful Tag Teams in Extreme Championship Wrestling, The Dangerous Alliance (Sabu & The Tazmaniac) and reigning ECW Tag Team Champions, The Triple Threat (Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko) for a three-way Tag Team Match for the ECW Tag Team Championships.
This concludes March of 1995, and thank you for joining me for another fantastic, and adventurous installment of The Wrestling Time Machine.