I hope you got your passport ready. We’re travelling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in this latest edition of The Wrestling Time Machine.
(Content Warning: Blood, Violence, Weapons)
Welcome wrestling fans to the latest edition of The Wrestling Time Machine column on Nerdfect Strangers.
World Wrestling Entertainment’s recent event in Saudi Arabia was far from non-controversial, but it was hardly the first time a wrestling promotion had traveled to and hosted an event in a country, where said country’s politics are…suspect at best. Travel back with us to the year of 1995, as Eric Bischoff and World Championship Wrestling partnered with New Japan Pro-Wrestling to host Collision in Korea. The event was the brainchild of the legendary Antonio Inoki and Eric Bischoff. They worked together in late April of 1995, and the event was a two day spectacular held at May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. The main event featured the only televised bout between two legends, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Antonio Inoki. The event is solid and features several impressive matches with the likes of 2 Cold Scorpio, The Steiner Brothers, Scott Norton, and a fantastic NJPW Women’s Match. While the event is a solid card from top to bottom, due to the logistics of this being a joint business venture between two promotions, and taped to air roughly 3 months prior, there are no stories or feuds tied to the event, just sound professional wrestling. The event, as of this writing, is unavailable on The WWE Network. This is likely due to several reasons, including the legality of gaining permission from one of the world’s largest Non-WWE entities in NJPW for the footage, the controversy attached to the event, etc.
We talk about this; however, because while the event took place in April of 1995, WCW didn’t air the event stateside until August of 1995 as a special Pay-Per-View event. World Championship Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling had a hot & cold relationship over the past several years. As Bischoff came into power, the relationship had been on the cold side. Bischoff took it upon himself to redevelop the relationship, to help give WCW a more international feel. From this sprung the opportunity for NJPW talent to work for WCW in America and gain exposure to US audiences, and the same became true of WCW’s own talent in Japan.
Back in The United States, Hulk Hogan was steeling his nerves, getting ready to face the forces of The Dungeon of Doom. Hulk Hogan actually ventured to The Dungeon of Doom, which despite being the name of the group was also a place, that…anybody could go to, at any time. At this time, Hogan confirmed for the WCW Universe that The Giant was, in fact André the Giant’s offspring. Vader, who’s membership in The Dungeon of Doom hadn’t officially been rescinded, came to the rescue of his former adversary.
Following his rescue at the hands of Vader, Hogan offered Vader the opportunity
to team with him at September’s WCW Fall Brawl/War Games to take on the forces of The Dungeon of Doom. With a hearty handshake, and a declaration of intent to shower (NO, REALLY), Vader agreed to join Hulk Hogan, and the team of The Hulk-A-Maniacs. Hulk Hogan’s team had evened the odds with his newest member, Vader. The Hulk-A-Maniacs in the featured vignette above were described as thus: Vader, “who knows the ins and outs of The Dungeon, possess the powerbomb, and is an all-out one-man demolition.” “The Macho Man” Randy Savage, “specializing in dangerous aerial assaults, willing to invade any air space, and loyal Hulk-A-Maniac”. Sting, “high-flying, master of the surprise attack, relentless.” All with manager, Jimmy Hart.
Before Vader could join The Hulk-A-Maniacs in September, he’d have to work his way through the combined might of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair and “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson. Flair, and by extension, Anderson, were upset at Vader’s loss at Bash at the Beach the previous month. Following Vader’s loss at the event, Flair would show up to chide and scold the mammoth man. A bad decision, as Vader dragged Flair into the still-standing cage, and decimated “The Nature Boy”. Anderson came to the rescue, but it was to no avail, as Vader continued to dominate. Vader challenged the two longtime allies to a handicap match that would be the featured main event of WCW’s Clash of the Champions XXXI. After Vader’s victory at Clash of the Champions XXXI, tensions began to rise between Flair and Anderson. It was a match on the 8/19 edition of WCW Saturday Night, the main event between Ric Flair, and “Das Wunderkind” Alex Wright that led to the breaking point between Anderson and Flair. Anderson gave Flair what can only be described as a “Disappointed Dad” talk. Arn referred to the fact that several months ago, at WCW Slamboree in May of 1995, that he’d pinned Wright in record time (11 minutes, 36 seconds), and was upset that it took Flair longer than that (roughly 14 minutes, 5 seconds).
Anderson talked about how he wanted the old, killer Flair back, and that something had been missing for Flair for some time. Flair refused to believe his compatriot, and this led to the two dissolving their partnership, with bitter words. The following week, separate interviews aired of Flair and Anderson. While it was a serious attempt at telling a good story of two former longtime friends, the segments just looked like a bad antacid infomercial.
WCW United States Champion Sting and Road Warrior Hawk continued to team up to battle Colonel Robert Parker’s Meng, and his latest acquisition, Kurosawa. Despite Sting and Hawk’s victory over Colonel Parker’s newest team at Clash of the Champions XXXI, Kurosawa attacked the arm of Hawk, injuring The Road Warrior, and sidelining him from WCW competition for several weeks. Meanwhile, Meng departed Colonel Parker’s Stud Stable and joined up with The Dungeon of Doom, an even worse crowd than the camp of Colonel Parker. Meng joined The Dungeon of Doom on the August 19th, 1995 edition of WCW Saturday Night. The following week, The Master presented Meng with some sort of ancient artifact; a golden spike to wear on his thumb. Meng wasn’t deadly enough on his own, so a golden spike would surely shift the balance of power in the favor of The Dungeon of Doom.
The Renegade faced off against “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff in a return match of their abysmal Bash at the Beach encounter. The Renegade again placed The WCW World Television Championship on the line against Orndorff at WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI’s only championship bout. Exciting all two of The Renegade’s fans, and with almost no offense to speak of, The Renegade retained The WCW World Television Championship. The Renegade ran afoul of Diamond Dallas Page, coming to the rescue of Dave Sullivan. DDP spent August avoiding questions about how much of his $13,000,000.00 fortune that he had left. DDP, annoyed with The Renegade’s do-gooder antics, challenged The Renegade for The WCW World Television Championship. When DDP’s scheduled match was set to take place on the 8/19/1995 edition of WCW Saturday Night, Page lamented that he had pulled a muscle, and was unable to compete. Page had a backup, though. Page introduced his bodyguard, Max Muscle to the squared circle to challenge for The WCW World Television Championship in his place. The Renegade beat Max Muscle with two moves, in a match where the 3 count took longer than the actual match.
The WCW Tag Team scene took some interesting turns. As discussed, previously, Colonel Robert Parker’s Stud Stable members, Bunkhouse Buck and Dirty Dick Slater had a victory over Harlem Heat, to win The WCW World Tag Team Championships. Harlem Heat and their manager, Sister Sherri strove to recapture the gold, but the road was paved with a cringe-worthy story involving
Colonel Parker feeling spitefully amorous towards Sister Sherri. This led to a match at Clash of the Champions XXXI. The match was a six-person tag team match involving Harlem Heat & Sister Sherri vs. The Stud Stable & Colonel Robert Parker. While the match was a non-title match, Parker assured Harlem Heat that should they win the match, they would be granted a title match against his two other big roosters, Bunkhouse Buck and Dirty Dick Slater. That bump you see, of Sister Sherri diving for a splash and there being no water in the pool? That bump was used to explain Sister Sherri proceeding to act different over the next several weeks. Sister Sherri began to not pay attention to her boys, Booker T, Stevie Ray and their action in the ring. Instead, Sister Sherri began obsessing over Colonel Parker, obtaining by questionable means many of the rings Colonel Parker owned from famous musicians.
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan ran afoul of “Big” Bubba Rogers and WCW officials by beginning to use his heavily taped fist as a weapon against his opponents. In a promo, Duggan gave The WCW Audience a history lesson, explaining that taped fist brawls ran in his family, with his great-great grandmother being a taped fist champion from County Cork, Ireland that went 26 rounds with his great-great grandfather.
A ghost from Sargent Craig Pittman’s past turned up in the ranks of World Championship Wrestling. A mysterious grappler by the name of Cobra. When pressed for additional information on who he was, Cobra hinted about being left in the jungle by Pittman. Pittman refused to answer questions about Cobra, and would act strangely whenever anyone asked about this wrestler, and his connection to Pittman.
World Championship Wrestling spent August hyping up it’s audience for the premier of WCW Monday Nitro set for September 4th of 1995. Tony Schiavone hyped the WCW audience up by promoting the appearance of an Emmy Award winning sports broadcaster. In a nod to Bobby Heenan’s past, Schiavone explicitly mentioned that Heenan was not invited to the premier of Monday Nitro, to which Heenan implied that he might attempt some disguises to get into the show. The broadcaster that Schiavone was alluding to was Steve “Mongo” McMichael. Steve McMichael was officially named as a part of The WCW Monday Nitro broadcast team on the August 19th edition of WCW Saturday Night. McMichael won a local Emmy in 1994 for his work on a Chicago post-game show, The Sports Edge produced by Bruce Wolf for WFLD-TV. WCW promised that the winner of the motorcycle giveaway would be announced on the premier of WCW Monday Nitro. This was a promotional contest WCW started in July of 1995, and the grand prize was a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle, where Hulk Hogan would personally hand you the keys to your new soft tail.
The WWF Universe was heating up as it prepared for it’s annual summer pay-per-view event, WWF SummerSlam. Following last month’s attack during the The Lumberjack match for the WWF Championship, King Mabel stood to face the then-current WWF Champion, Diesel. This was Diesel’s sixth title defense of the year, something The World Wrestling Federation made sure to emphasize on it’s SummerSlam previews. This was a subtle jab at the competition emanating from the offices of Ted Turner. Comparatively, WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan had only defended the championship twice by this time; once at SuperBrawl V, and once at Bash at the Beach. King Mabel wasn’t alone, and throughout the month of August, we saw that he stood mighty with Sir Mo, and Camp Cornette’s latest acquisition, The British Bulldog. Following WWF In Your House 2, on the 8/7/1995 edition of Monday Night RAW, King Mabel made his intentions clearer, declaring himself the leader of The New WWF Generation. King Mabel started by sending his loyal subject, Sir Mo to square off against “Big Daddy Cool” on that same edition of RAW. Surprisingly, Sir Mo actually got in a fair amount of offense against The WWF Champion. Sir Mo didn’t come unprepared though, as King Mabel would stand on the outside of the ring, watching over the action in the ring. With an opening present, King Mabel saw an opportunity to pounce against his prey set for SummerSlam, but with The Kliq reunited, Shawn Michaels came out for the save. Diesel was able to get Sir Mo into The Jacknife Powerbomb for the pinfall victory. On the 8/21/95 edition of Monday Night RAW, Men On a Mission appeared in the opening match, defeating the team of Roy Raymond & Joe Handcock. Following their victory, King Mabel challenged The Allied Powers to a tune-up match, prior to his scheduled bout just six days later against Diesel. Later that same evening during his interview with Vince McMahon, Diesel was invited by Smith to take on Men On a Mission in the main event. Smith said that Lex Luger couldn’t make it that night, that Luger had to fly back home to Atlanta due to a medical emergency. During the Tag Team Main Event between Diesel & The British Bulldog vs. Men On A Mission, Davey Boy turned on “Big Daddy Cool” and clotheslined him to the mat. This allowed Men On a Mission to carry on with an all out humiliating assault until they saw fit to leave the ring. Joining Davey Boy Smith in his treachery was Jim Cornette, who promised more surprises to come. During the featured match at SummerSlam, Sir Mo interfered on behalf of King Mabel, but Lex Luger made the save, and battled Sir Mo to the back. Diesel was able to secure the pinfall against the 568 pound King Mabel following a Diving Forearm Smash from the second rope.
Shawn Michaels, having won The WWF Intercontinental Championship the month prior, had his work cut out for him. Michaels originally scheduled feud with Sycho Sid was put on hold, as Interim WWF President Gorilla Monsoon announced a new #1 Contender for the treasured championship; longtime rival and toothpick aficionado, Razor Ramon. In an effort to be more fan-friendly, Gorilla Monsoon announced that this would see a return of the Ladder Match. Sid singled out and personally blamed Michaels for his loss against Diesel the month prior, but Gorilla assured Sid that he would get his promised chance at The WWF Intercontinental Championship at a future event. Leading up to his scheduled SummerSlam defense, “The Heartbreak Kid” had to face Jerry “The King” Lawler on the 8/14/95 edition of Monday Night RAW in a Singles Match to defend the championship against Lawler’s previous challenge. At SummerSlam Shawn Michaels was able to successfully defeat Razor Ramon to retain The WWF Intercontinental Championship. The match is a solid follow-up to their previous bout from WrestleMania X, and both men deserve a lot of credit for what they were able to accomplish, despite being told minutes before the match that they would be unable to strike each other with the ladder, or otherwise use the ladder as a weapon. Following the ladder match, Razor Ramon had some words and a fist for Dean Douglas, who’s critique of the ladder match was less than favorable.
The Undertaker and Paul Bearer finally had their sights on their intended target, “The Supreme Fighting Machine” Kama of The Million Dollar Corporation. As we’d touched on previously, Kama and The Million Dollar Corporation had been a thorn in the side of both The Undertaker and his Creatures of the Night (read: Fans) after stealing The Undertaker’s Urn, and melting it down into several chain necklaces. The path to Kama took The Undertaker through Native American, Tatanka on the 8/21/95 edition of Monday Night RAW. While The Undertaker didn’t have The Urn going into SummerSlam 1995 for his signature Casket Match against Kama, “The Phenom” reached out to his Creatures of the Night in the absence of The Urn and was able to put Kama to rest.
With Tatanka defeated at the hands of The Undertaker, Kama resting in peace, and Sid out of The WWF Intercontinental Championship match at SummerSlam, August was not a great month for Ted DiBiase and his Million Dollar Corporation. Not only did The Million Dollar Corporation suffer several setbacks, but after leading along Henry O. Godwinn for several weeks, DiBiase made it official that the pig farmer from Bitters, Arkansas would not be joining The Million Dollar Corporation. DiBiase ran afoul of Godwinn after making this announcement, and was promptly slopped for his manipulation.
August of 1995 saw the in-ring World Wrestling Federation debut of the devious Doctor of Dental Surgery, Isaac Yankem. Bret “The Hitman” Hart was scheduled to face Jerry Lawler’s dentist at SummerSlam. Yankem wanted revenge against Hart, following what Hart had done to Lawler two months prior at June’s King of the Ring, because wrestling is complicated sometimes. Lawler had promised in June that Yankem was really the world’s greatest wrestler previously under an assumed name, but Yankem was no match for Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
Fatu continued his efforts to make a difference. Fatu won a match against Tony Devito. Fatu pulled off a big Ace Crusher in the match, and won the match following a Diving Splash from the corner. Interestingly enough, Vince McMahon called the Ace Crusher a Samoan Bulldog.
Owen Hart & Yokozuna successfully defended The WWF Tag Team Championships against the team of Razor Ramon & Savio Vega on the 8/7/95 edition of Monday Night RAW, but were not really seen during the rest of the month. Following a victory against Skip of The BodyDonnas in a Beat the Clock match, Barry Horowitz was granted a Pay-Per-View match against Skip at SummerSlam. A distraction from Hakushi allowed Horowitz to get his very first win on Pay-Per-View.
Goldust vignettes continued through the month of August, with Goldust. The
teasers were designed to set the stage for what the audience could expect from the golden oddity. Goldust appeared in front of various Hollywood locations, just beginning to get in touch with his androgynous energy, discussing fame, and challenging the various faces of The World Wrestling Federation, namely starting with “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. The general idea with vignettes like this, and even the Dean Douglas vignettes prior were to set their character’s alignment.
The ECW World Heavyweight Champion, The Sandman entered into a vicious feud against ECW’s perennial underdog, Mikey Whipwreck and former Rocker Marty Jannetty. Mikey Whipwreck won The Tampa Bay Brawl, an over-the-top-rope battle royal to be named the #1 contender for The Sandman’s crown. The Sandman gained an early advantage in their championship bout, as he attacked the challenger with a Singapore Cane before the bell even rang. The Sandman made quick work of Whipwreck, defeating him following an overly cocky piledriver. Mikey Whipwreck wasn’t through, and there was still some fight left in him. Following his loss, Mikey challenged The Sandman to another match, declaring that if he’d lost, he would take 10 lashes from The Sandman
and his signature Singapore Cane. It was during this match, that following an attempted maneuver from the top rope that Whipwreck slipped, The Sandman fell on top of Mikey and the pinfall was counted. Given his loss, it was time for Mikey Whipwreck to take his medicine. After the first blow, Referee Jim Molyneux offered to take the remaining 9 blows, but Woman, The Sandman’s sadistic henchwench did not approve of the proxy and demanded that Mikey continue to be beaten. After strike number 3, the ring announcer stepped up to take Mikey’s spot, but again Woman refused. It was after blow number 7 that ECW Commissioner Tod Gordon had enough. He came out with several medical professionals to cart the devastated youth to the back, but Referee Bill Alfonso put a stop to Gordon’s attempted heroic interference. Alfonso shouted that should Mikey fail to take the promised 10 blows, that Extreme Championship Wrestling would be guilty of fraud and false advertising. Mikey Whipwreck took the remaining 3 blows from the Singapore Cane and even an eleventh shot from the weapon, before being rescued by Marty Jannetty.
During Wrestlepalooza 1995, The Sandman and Mikey Whipwreck came face to face again, with The Sandman beating Mikey within an inch of his life with the Singapore Cane. Referee Jim Molyneux did his best to intervene, stating that if The Sandman didn’t stop the punishment, that The Sandman would be stripped of The ECW World Heavyweight Championship. The Sandman didn’t seem to care, lifting the cane for another blow. Woman did, and reigned in the champion before his championship gold could be revoked. At Wrestlepalooza 1995, The Sandman and Mikey Whipwreck met in another match, wherein the loser would have to take 10 lashes from the Singapore Cane. The ECW World Heavyweight Championship was not on the line, however. Mikey Whipwreck gained a measure of revenge against the champion, pinning him after a Diving Cross Body. The Sandman refused to take the lashes, but was again threatened by ECW Referee Jim Molyneux, stating that if The Sandman failed to take the lashes, Mikey Whipwreck would be named the new ECW World Heavyweight Champion. It was during the 10 lashes that The Sandman was taking that Mikey Whipwreck crossed a line that The Sandman could not abide. Mikey Whipwreck
planted a kiss on Woman. Following this amorous affront, The Sandman pummeled Mikey into unconsciousness. The Sandman was content to dish out the pain, but after being threatened to have The ECW World Heavyweight Championship revoked again, Woman made clear her intentions – keeping the ECW World Heavyweight Championship around the waist of her client. The Sandman then staged a protest, saying that he was at the arena to smoke cigarettes, drink beer and cane somebody. Enacting his protest, The Sandman refused to leave the ECW ring until he caned somebody 10 times that night. The Public Enemy attempted to persuade the champion, as they had a scheduled match against The Gangstas, but Johnny Grunge was attacked by The Sandman for his efforts. After “Flyboy” Rocco Rock tried to attack The Sandman, The Public Enemy’s longtime foes, The Gangstas made their entrance. The Gangstas assaulted The Public Enemy and won the bout. It was after the match that The Sandman again came for the head of Rocco Rock, but Mikey Whipwreck made the save for The Public Enemy. Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock took Mikey Whipwreck under their wing to teach him the ways of the hood.
The ECW Television Championship scene continued to be dominated by Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. These two masters of the mat medium continued to trade wins throughout the month of August. Joey Styles even made mention of Eddie’s nephew, Chavo Guerrero making his professional wrestling debut recently, referring to him as “Chavito”. Eddie Guerrero was able secure his second ECW Television Championship run through these matches. A highlight featured on the 8/22/95 edition of ECW Hardcore TV is an early Eddie Guerrero promo that takes clear inspiration from Dusty Rhodes. The promo is intense, and it’s clear the potential charisma lurking beneath the surface of Guerrero’s mat prowess. The two rivals wound up on opposites end of a Tag Team Match as Dean Malenko, 2 Cold Scorpio and Cactus Jack would square off against Eddie Guerrero and The Steiner Brothers. This match is beautiful from top to bottom and features some fantastic wrestling from the six participants, but is especially notable for the triple team maneuvers that Guerrero and The Steiners are able to pull off against their opponents. Their war in Extreme Championship Wrestling was not destined to last forever. Due to these two astonishing athletes having contracts with New Japan Pro Wrestling, the two were destined to move on to ply their trade in World Championship Wrestling. Their final televised bout with ECW featured the two facing off in a Best 2 out of 3 Falls Match. Joey Styles would preface the match by saying “the match we’re about to witness will be the last time that these two world class athletes will be allowed to face each other with no boundaries, with no limits, in short this will be the last time they will be allowed to take it to the extreme,” and he wasn’t wrong. While the two were destined for greater heights then the halls of ECW, and no one should hold their success against them by any means, one could argue that their success came at the expense of being brought into a promotion (World Championship Wrestling) that didn’t know how to best highlight their strengths, and make them a featured part of a wrestling card. 2 Cold Scorpio would be crowned the new ECW World Television Champion, and cut a promo, with Joey Styles referencing Dean Douglas.
The Pitbulls sought to capture The ECW World Tag Team Championships from their former masters, Raven and Stevie Richards. The majority of the match-up between the two teams saw Richards taking the brunt of the punishment from the disgruntled rabid canine themed team. The ECW audience was out for the blood of Richards. Raven was content to allow Richards take almost all of The Pitbulls best, but it was Beulah McGillicutty with the hairspray assist that allowed Raven and Richards to retain their championship gold. Tommy Dreamer, desperate to score a win over his rival, Raven, enlisted the help of his friend and mentor, Cactus Jack. On the 8/15/1995 edition of Hardcore TV, Luna Vachon was written off TV, and Cactus Jack was brought in by Dreamer for assistance with battling Raven and his Nest. Prior to the match, Cactus Jack cut a scathing promo against his upcoming opponents Stevie Richards and Big Dick Dudley, but then he conversationally meandered into compliments for Raven. With Raven, Richards, Big Dick Dudley and Snot Dudley out, Raven extended his empathy towards Cactus Jack, referring to the pain he’s suffered at the hands of Vader, and the frustrating near-wins from Cactus’ earlier career. Throughout this eight man Tag Team Match between Tommy Dreamer, Cactus Jack, and The Pitbulls versus Raven, Stevie Richards, Big Dick Dudley and Little Snot Dudley, is a masterful display of in-ring psychology. With Cactus Jack mirroring Raven’s crucifix pose, and Cactus refusing to make a move against Raven. Cactus Jack eventually turned on Tommy Dreamer and was enthralled to join Raven’s Nest. The 8/22/95 edition of Hardcore TV opened with a painful Cactus Jack vignette, where Jack talked about very real issues he was facing, the affect the hardcore professional wrestling life style was having on him, memory loss and more. Cactus Jack explained that he was sorry for anyone who stood in the way of Raven and Raven’s higher purpose.
The Public Enemy and The Gangstas continued to wage war to prove who was the dominant force in ECW’s Tag Team Division. Their battle escalated to a Stretcher Match between the two teams. The Gangstas were awarded an unfair advantage thanks to the already short fuse of The Sandman. Thanks to The Sandman’s attack against Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge, The Gangstas were able to secure a victory over their rivals in their Stretcher Match.
Hack Meyers and “Big” Val Puccio continued to battle it out on the ECW lower card, with JT Smith making an appearance in the midst of their feud. Smith would badly miss an attempted diving move to the outside, and took it as an opportunity to turn on The ECW Audience.
With that, we conclude August of 1995. This is where we’ll call it, wrestling fans. Keep an ear out for the next edition of The Wrestling Time Machine Podcast, with our next special guest, Green Ant of CHIKARA!