Jeff Jarrett’s glasses ALMOST made the list
If you ask any longtime wrestling fan what the worst year of WWE/WWF was, chances are many of them will point their fingers at 1995. It was before the famed Attitude Era came around, but after Hulkamania ceased running wild.
During this time, WWE (then called WWF) was running multiple weekly programs, with its flagship show being Monday Night Raw. Additionally, there were multiple PPVs throughout the year. There was a lot of programming happening for the company, so why not dive into the full year and watch all that we can?
So we headed over to the WWE Network and watched every episode of Raw and every single PPV from 1995–Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge from that year were not available on the streaming service, so we missed out on a little. Still, that’s 12 months of wrestling, which breaks down to 10 PPVs and 48 episodes of Raw–there were four Mondays during 1995 where the show didn’t air. You might argue that’s too much wrestling. We’d probably agree, yet here we are.
What we found was that WWF’s programming in 1995 had plenty of weird moments that we simply had forgotten about. So we took some notes and found 25 things from the wrestling company in 1995 that you probably don’t remember.
If you don’t have the time to read all of this, you can check out the audio version of this list in podcast form. GameSpot’s Wrestle Buddies Chris E. Hayner and Mat Elfring (hey, that’s me!) break down many moments from this list and some not here in the episode WWE’s 1995 in Review.
25. 1995 was a transitional year
While it’s the start of the New Generation, 1995 is the year WWF programming stepped away “your job is your gimmick” to “attitude is everything.” Early in the year, Duke the Dumpster Droese, the pirate Jean-Pierre LaFitte (who you know as Ring of Honor’s PCO), Doink the Clown, and others were mainstays on the roster. By the end of 1995, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Goldust, Fatu, Diesel, Ahmen Johnson, and more were breaking from the pack to lead the way. The landscape of WWF completely changed within those 12 months.
24. The blueprint for Bray Wyatt
In 1995, the character Waylon Mercy showed up after a series of vignettes. Based on Robert De Niro’s Max Cady from the Cape Fear remake a few years earlier, Mercy was a southern man who spoke in a slow and calm tone, although everything he said had sinister undertones. He wore a Hawaiian shirt, was covered in tattoos–all were fake–and was a brutal heel in the ring, attacking his opponents with no mercy–pun intended. It’s obvious that the man who portrayed the NXT/early WWE days of Bray Wyatt took the Mercy character, made it his own, and elevated it–making it work longer than the five months Mercy lasted during 1995.
23. The King of the Ring gimmick has always been awful
In 1995, Mabel won the King of the Ring, and his gimmick changed from rapping man on a mission to royalty. And guess what? The king gimmick has always been cringey. Mabel running around claiming to be King was bland and didn’t work.
In fact, aside from Macho Man Randy Savage and Booker T, the king gimmick doesn’t work with anyone. The King of the Ring is a great event, but a bad gimmick.
22. WWF sold everything
Do you need a cardboard cutout, pogs, a denim jacket with Bret Hart on the back, or some other dumb thing that’s bound to end up in the garbage, or on eBay in 30 years? There were a lot of ad spots for various items with WWF branded onto them. And who was selling these items to you? It was none other than Barry Didinsky, the official pitchman for Raw. Many times, he’d be in the audience wearing a real cool Bret Hart t-shirt that was three sizes too big for him. For most of the year, Didinsky appeared two to three times per episode, trying really hard to get you to get your parents’ permission to call the 1-800 number listed on your screen.
21. The first In Your House PPV was a contest
The In Your House PPV had an interesting aesthetic. The entrance was set up to look like the outside of someone’s house and the shorter–and cheaper–events were more accessible to the average fan. And the In Your House series is what upped the amount of PPVs WWF would run during the course of the year. There were five In Your House PPVs in total for 1995 (there were only five PPVs total for WWF in 1994), and five other PPVs, for a total of 10 WWF PPVs that year. But many people forget that the appeal of In Your House was that the company was going to give away a house in Orlando, Florida. Leading up to the event, Todd Pettengill gave a tour of the house, which was won by an 11-year-old kid from Nevada. This was the only In Your House PPV in 1995 where a house was given away.
20. ADR’d farts
In 1995, there was a wrestler who was also a clown. As you probably know, he went by the name of “Doink.” He started as this very dark, nefarious character, but then became a babyface jokester, and the man who originated the role was let go from WWF with someone else taking over–and the character was a shell of itself. You may even remember he had a finisher called the Whoopie Cushion, where he jumped off the top rope and landed on his opponent’s chest, butt-first. However, what you don’t remember was that during the few matches Doink appeared in during 1995 before the character was buried later in the year–usually accompanied by the much smaller Dink the Clown–was that a fart noise was added to the audio. Every time he performed the Whoopie Cushion, there was a fart. Get it? Farts.
19. So much of early 1995 revolved around an NFL star
At the Royal Rumble, Bam Bam Bigelow and Takanka were taking on Bob Holly and the 1-2-3 Kid for the vacated WWF Tag Team Championship. Kid ended up pinning Bigelow, which the crowd couldn’t believe, as Kid was involved in yet another David vs. Goliath story. One of the folks in the crowd that really enjoyed the match was former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who Bigelow ended up shoving, post-match. This led to a lot of weekly interviews featuring Bigelow and Taylor going back and forth, taking over as the main storyline leading up to WrestleMania. And speaking of WrestleMania, Taylor vs. Bigelow was the main event. And honestly, it wasn’t that bad for a wrestler vs. celebrity match. Should it have headlined the show though? Probably not.
18. The Godfather was a fighting machine
Before he was The Godfather and after he was Papa Shango, Charles Wright had another gimmick: Kama the Fighting Machine. Now, eventually, he became Nation of Domination member Kama Mustafa, but this version of Kama liked to punch and kick people because he was super into ultimate fighting. On the January 2 episode of Raw, the first vignette debuted for Kama, which featured him training in the gym and then riding a motorcycle through the desert: the two most important aspects of MMA.
17. And he melted Undertaker’s urn
Kama was involved in a pretty big storyline right out of the gate with The Undertaker–the two were actually close friends backstage. During this story, Kama stole The Undertaker’s urn–where all of Taker’s powers come from. And what did Kama do with it? Well, he melted it down and made it into gold chains. Sure.
16. 1995 had two musician characters
So we all know about J-E-double F J-A-double R-E-double T Jeff Jarrett, the country star who was also a wrestler. He was featured quite a bit throughout the first half of 1995. But there were also two other music-related characters that year. The first was Man Mountain Rock–who Vince called on commentary, “A mountain of a man who loves to rock the house, that’s for sure.” He was a dude in tie-dye shirts who played a WWF logo guitar before every match. Man Mountain Rock only had three matches on Raw with his most notable one being against Iron Mike Sharpe.
15. PCO was a pirate
Most modern wrestling fans are familiar with Ring of Honor’s PCO, the Frankenstein’s monster of professional wrestling. However, Pierre Carl Ouellet had already had a run in WWF as one half of The Quebecers a few years prior. During his singles run, he was repackaged as the previously-mentioned pirate Jean-Pierre LaFitte and feuded with Bret Hart. His time as a singles wrestler didn’t last long, as PCO left the company in November of 1995 after some alleged politicking on behalf of The Kliq.
14. Matt and Jeff Hardy appeared pretty often
While the brothers never appeared as a tag team, they were both in numerous matches in singles competition. They faced the likes of Owen Hart, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Hakushi, and Waylon Mercy, but they never won. They were enhancement talent.
13. Undertaker had goth fans
Goth Undertaker fans kept showing up to WWE events. While they were obvious plants, it added to the mystique of the character. A couple were spotted right before the WWF Championship lumberjack match at In Your House. And speaking of the lumberjack match…
12. Mantaur kept mooing during the lumberjack match
This isn’t an Earth-shattering thing from 1995, but it’s something that needs to be pointed out. Mantaur was around a good chunk of the year. He was a wrestler who was also a minotaur or half-bull or whatever. It was a seriously bad gimmick. However, during a lumberjack match at the In Your House PPV on July 23, he kept mooing for no apparent reason. He wasn’t in the actual match, which was Diesel vs. Sycho Sid for the WWF Championship. Mantaur was a lumberjack. And he kept mooing during the match. It is the funniest thing to happen with that character ever.
11. Hakushi has a fake Bret Hart head
Hakushi showed off a fake Bret Hart head during an episode of Raw on July 24, right before his match with Hart. He did this in order to taunt Hart, but this was all short-lived. After the match between Hakushi and Hart, the head was stolen by Jean-Pierre LaFitte. Because that’s what pirates do. They loot stuff.
10. Mayor Glenn Jacobs debuted as a dentist
Most wrestling fans know that Glenn Jacobs–most notable for wrestling as Kane–was at one time saddled with the gimmick of a dentist. On the June 26 episode of Raw, Jerry Lawler said he had to see his dentist. And through a series of segments between then and August, we met Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS. He was an evil dentist. Yankem debuted at Summerslam that year taking on Bret Hart–a feud that carried over from Lawler, where Lawler and Hart had a “Kiss my foot match” which ended with Hart forcing Lawler to suck his own toes.
Fun fact: The Yankem gimmick lasted until mid-1996, until Razor Ramon and Diesel left WWF for WCW. At that time, Jacobs was pulled from the Yankem gimmick and given a new one: Fake Diesel.
9. There was an OJ Simpson poll
The OJ Simpson murder trial was arguably the biggest news event of 1995. Everyone had an opinion on whether or not Simpson was guilty. In an attempt to cash in on that, the October 2 episode of Raw advertised a call-in poll to vote on whether you thought he was innocent. Naturally, WWF charged 50 cents per call. The official verdict for the case was announced on October 3, where OJ was acquitted. At the end of the episode, the results came out to 49% guilty and 51% not guilty.
8. Al Snow was a masked character for three matches
You probably know Al Snow. He’s the guy during the Attitude Era who carried a mannequin head around. During two matches in late 1995 and one in early 1996, Snow wrestled as Avatar–no relation to James Cameron’s Dances With Wolves-esque sci-fi movie. On October 23, Snow came to the ring holding his Avatar mask and when the match started, he put it on. He was a masked wrestler who only committed 50% of the time to the gimmick.
7. Why Undertaker was wearing a mask
For a short stint during 1995, the Undertaker was wearing a mask, and while it looked pretty cool, it’s hard to remember why he had it on. Well, during this time, Taker was involved in a feud with the previously mentioned King Mabel. During a battle between the two, Mabel crushed Undertaker’s face by jumping on it, belly first. Because of this, Taker had to disguise his broken face with that really cool mask.
6. “Bill Clinton” showed up a bunch
While WWF/WWE is no stranger to incorporating celebrities into its programming, things got a bit strange in 1995. Leading up to Survivor Series, there were a bunch of segments featuring a Bill Clinton impersonator in front of various American monuments and whatnot.
Then, at the 1995 Survivor Series, “Bill Clinton” had his own box seat for all the wrestling action, and he was accompanied by the “Secret Service.” All of this buildup seemed to be for a single gag where fireworks went off during an entrance, and the “Secret Service” tackled “Clinton” in order to save him.
5. Rad Radford
Remember Rad Radford? From the glut of musician gimmicks we mentioned earlier? The headbanging rock ‘n roller (better known as ECW’s Louie Spicolli) faced Ahmed Johnson on November 27 and was very quickly squashed in his only singles match on Raw. In total, he appeared three times on the Monday night show–and plenty of times on Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge, neither of which are on the WWE Network.
Rad Radford loved grunge music, and the character made its debut on the April 25 episode of Superstars. But he looks really rad through, right?
4. 1-2-3 Kid turned heel, kind of
While the 1-2-3 Kid was the king of underdogs, dating back to the time he squeaked out a win over Razor Ramon, he was actually a bad guy in late 1995. After taking a bribe from Ted Dibiase, the 1-2-3 Kid became a tag team partner with Sid Vicious and became infatuated with getting rich. Kid also turned on Ramon and all of Kid’s fans that loved him for years. But it’s just so hard to hate the Kid.
3. Goldust’s sexy letter
Dustin Rhodes debuted as the mysterious Goldust in 1995, and his first feud was with none other than the Bad Guy himself, Razor Ramon. While many wrestling fans remember the feud, you may not remember how it started: with a love letter. In a segment that feels like it came from the Attitude Era, Goldust gave Ramon a note, and during an interview with Dok Hendrix (Michael PS Hayes), Ramon explained the situation.
“Goldust, he sent me a letter,” Ramon says on the December 18 episode of Raw. “He tells me he thinks I’m so hot. I’m so handsome. Hey Chico, you right! But, I don’t play that. Razor, he only likes women. Goldust, you can do your thing, man, just not with me.”
Dok asks about the contents of the letter, and Razor gives him a frank answer. “Well, it’s a family show, Dok, but I’ll tell you back in the back. It’s not for children.”
If this whole sequence is weird but enjoyable to you, check out the February 4 episode of Wrestle Buddies where we do a dramatic reenactment of it.
2. The final Raw closed out weird
Shawn Michaels was taking some time off from wrestling, but the way the storyline set it up was bizarre. On November 20, Shawn Michaels collapsed in the ring, which resulted in him being carried off by doctors. There were segments in the following weeks about Michaels’ health.
Then, on December 18, Raw closed with a package and very sad song featuring slow-motion video of the Heartbreak Kid in various locations. They made it seem like he was dead. It’s a very weird way to close the show.
1. No Christmas show
The final Monday of 1995 was on December 25, but there wasn’t an episode of Raw on that day, which happened to be Christmas. Now, WWE running Raw or Smackdown on Christmas is a very normal thing–even if it’s a pre-taped show. However, WWE closed out Raw in 1995 with its final episode on December 18.
This post has been read 9 times!