Vince intro’s with a litany of football references and we get the first mention of Billionaire Ted, The Huckster, The Nacho Man and Scheme Gene. Honestly, I was a WWF fan boy at this point and I was glad they were “firing back” on Bischoff’s tactics.
The Smoking Gunns vs. Sid and The Kid vs. Savio Vega and Razor Ramon vs. Owen Hart and Yokozuna
Two minutes in and I’m already sick of the football references. I did chuckle at Vince calling Brother Love a “tackling dummy”. Gold Dust has an usher give Razor some flowers. Razor attacks the usher and Gold Dust leers on lovingly. Sid having his jersey number being “00” seems so appropriate.
Bart owns Owen so Hart tags in Billy. Billy and Bart are forced to compete per the match rules so they do some non-contact spots until Bart half heartily hip tosses Billy and they tag in Owen and Yoko. Owen ends up being knocked over by his partner’s girth and he tries to tag out but Savio and Razor try and back away. Savio ends up tagged in. Yoko knocks Savio over several times and The Kid tags in. The Kid misses a spin heel kick and Savio nails one of his own.
Several quick tags lead to Bart and Sid as the legal men. Bart hits a vertical suplex on Sid (!) and Savio is back in. Owen and Yoko take turns working Savio over. Vega kicks Owen away during a Sharpshooter attempt. The Kid and Sid both take turns abusing Vega. I just noticed Vega’s number is “UNO” – that’s cute. Razor finally makes the hot tag and ends up in with The Kid. Razor preps him for the Razor’s Edge but The Kid calls time out. Razor ignores it and hits it anyway. Sid wallops Razor from behind and The Kid snags the pin.
Bart is rocked by both Owen and The Kid. Billy comes in like a house of fire but the numbers game is too much and Gunn is down and prepped for the Banzai Drop, Bart sneaks in and pulls Billy out the way and tosses Owen down instead. Owen is squashed and pinned.
Sid continues to beat down Billy and sends him twisting from a 360 clothesline. Billy’s hope spots are cut off and Sid hits a chokeslam. Sid holds Billy for The Kid to launch into but Razor sneaks to the ring and he shoves The Kid off the top rope and into Sid. Billy rolls him up for the pin to steal the win for the Gunns. Match was quick paced and actually really fun to watch.
RAW BOWL Halftime Report – more bad football puns as Doc Hendrix stands in front of a green screen of a sports desk to plug the Royal Rumble.
We get a replay of the Hog Pen match from the last PPV here. They actually give this 2 or 3 commercial breaks. I guess they wanted to try and see if showing actual PPV matches might pop a rating. Not quite what WCW meant when they bragged about putting on PPV quality matches on TV.
Diesel vs. King Mabel
Mabel is jumped by Diesel, hit with a big boot and pinned. Sir Mo is power bombed for good measure. Diesel steals the “RAW Bowl Queen” who Lawler had been flirting with all night.
The Brooklyn Brawler hands the Smoking Gunns “The (Steve) Lombardi Trophy”. OK I chuckled at that too. They give Lombardi the Gatorade bath treatment with whatever drink sponsor they had this week.
Dory Funk Jr. will be in the Royal Rumble! Hey he has his Junior back! Take that Hoss Funk! Tatanka will return at the Rumble and VADER has been signed. That’s a huge signing for a thin roster. Vader trains by bouncing on a trampoline.
We close with “Billionare Ted’s Wrestling War room”. The Huckster and Nacho Man can’t hit the WWF stars moves. They can still pose though. “WWF – on top of the hill, not over it”. That was a delightful bit but they’ll only get nastier as time goes on.
We get a gaffe right away as the audio plays of the ring announcer counting down for the live crowd to alert them to cheer for Nitro’s opening.
Randy Savage vs. Arn Anderson
Savage demanded this after Arn cost him the World title at Starrcade. Macho charges the ring and Arn jumps him. Savage weathers the storm and chucks Anderson to the floor. Bischoff gives NCAA Bowl game scores and spoils the RAW Bowl results as well. Randy beats Arn in and out of the ring. Anderson goes to the eyes of Savage and then tries to snap his already injured arm (like a Slim Jim?). The Enforcer bends and grinds at Macho Man’s heavily taped arm. Mongo reveals WCW’s business plan by saying “We are giving away PPV matches for free every week!”
Arn rams Savage’s arm into the ring post and wrenches away on his arm further. Macho tries to fight back but using his arm to punch ends with Savage hurting himself. An Irish whip has the same undesired effect. Anderson nails a DDT but the ref is bumped during the follow up. Arn produces a foreign object again but Savage fights it away from him and KO’s Anderson. The pin is academic. Benoit and Pillman charge the ring but Savage is long gone.
Lord Steven Regal vs. Chris Benoit
They battle over a bridge spot and Chris no sells some headbutts. They trade chops and Regal downs him with a face lock. Regal locks on a beta version cross face and jams blows into Benoit’s skull. Chris makes him pay by breaking him in half with a German suplex. Regal answers that with a double underhook suplex. Chris tries a belly to back suplex from the top rope but Regal elbows his way out so Benoit scoops him up and dumps him in the middle of the ring anyway. A diving headbutt misses. Regal tries a Tombstone but The Crippler reverses it and compacts Regal’s vertebra. Benoit misses a suicide dive to the floor and Regal rolls him in the ring for the upset pin. Heck of a match. As I said several times already, the Horsemen just keep on losing.
Pillman comes down and berates Arn and Benoit. Chris says Regal got lucky – Arn glares at Pillman. Anderson tells Pillman to quit starting fires for the Horsemen to have to put out. The Dungeon of Doom’s hornet nest is not one that the Horsemen need poked. Kevin Sullivan and The Zodiac start to come to the ring but the Giant pulls them back.
This Saturday Night…Arn and Pillman face the American Males and Lex Luger clashes with Cobra.
Lex Luger and Sting vs. The Super Assassins
The Assassins are Warlord and Barbarian under masks. I never understood why they weren’t just used as the Powers of Pain again (unless WWF had that copyrighted?) Sting, the idiot, has agreed to team with his “friend” who just screwed him out of the World title 5 days earlier.
Sgt. Craig Pittman joins the broadcasters and asks MONGO to be his manager. I’m amazed Pittman was getting this push considering how bad he was in the ring.
The faces have some success early but Sting is tossed to the floor and dropped face first on the railing. Warlord locks him in a back breaker. Barbarian tags in, picks Sting up and tags out…ok then. The heels do the standard distract the ref, “blind tag” spot. Sting eats a power bomb but Barbarian misses a follow up diving headbutt. Lex make the hot tag and tosses the heels together. Warlord still doesn’t do any bumps and that ruins that spot. Lex locks Barbarian in the Torture Rack and Warlord slowly tries to make the save and ends up in the Scorpion Death Lock. The crowd goes bonkers as the heels submit. Nothing match.
The Giant promises to avenge Hulk Hogan’s recent attacks on him.
World Champion Ric “Nature Boy” Flair vs. Hulk Hogan
Hulk chucks Flair around and then bends Flair’s fingers the wrong way. Flair pokes the eyes and chops away, so maybe Hogan’s hand-based offense had some merit. Flair does an armdrag that was executed almost like a judo throw, so I have to assume that was a mini-botch. More chops wake Hogan up and he starts no selling. Flair catches Hulk with a short elbow to stop that. Flair follows that up by going to the top rope and that ends poorly for him. Hogan sends Flair to the floor and back in the ring. Flair is flipped over the turnbuckle and dropped with a clothesline.
Flair manages a chop block and he starts to work over Hogan’s leg. Flair locks in a figure-four and Bischoff tries to claim a large “Hogan” chant is breaking out when it’s actually the crowd popping for Flair’s signature move. Hogan escapes but Jimmy Hart runs down and distracts him so Flair can keep control. Flair hits a suplex to set up the Hulk up. Big boot. Legdrop. Jimmy Hart distracts the ref and Hogan. Arn Anderson sneaks in and blasts Hogan with the brass knux that knocked both Macho Man and himself out in the past week. Hogan NO SELLS THAT. Christ. Hogan then unloads on Arn… Flair.. Pillman…and Benoit and has all four men on their knees begging for mercy in front of him. SMH.
The Giant runs in with a stool but Macho Man yanks it away from him. Hogan then knocks the Giant out of the ring. Well there goes the whole heel roster.
Hogan and Savage challenge Arn and Flair to a tag match next week.
They close by bragging about ratings victories over RAW.
RAW struck back hard after a month or more of really dull shows. Nitro was also fast paced and flew by. I’m going to give Nitro the nod just because of the HOG/HHH match eating up so much time and was just a replay. I sure hope RAW keeps this up though – perhaps the war is really on now.