Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Thursday, July 30, 2020

On Brand Segunda Caida: 1995 WWF

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Matt Hardy WWF Raw 7/10/95

ER: What a squash! A great 3 minute, one-sided, demoralizing beatdown. And yet despite it being one-sided, Hardy never felt quite out of it. Part of that is because 20 year old Matt Hardy is the exact same size as HHH was at 25, so this match reads more like a violently stiff Lenny Lane vs. Kidman match. We get a long cool firm headlock sequence with some nice takeovers, and some big armdrags. But things really painfully leap up to the next level when HHH just waylays Hardy in the corner, laying in some cruel strikes. It starts with a big right hand, and then another, and then HHH throws two whipping chops that graze off Hardy's collarbones and into the underside of his chin, and as HHH throws these two lightning fast knife edges right with his left arm, he follows up with an impossible to block right full arm shot to the stomach. The whipping shot to the stomach lands so hard, just an echoing slap. HHH was working as a real bully and he came off like same era Dave Taylor at times. I don't think I've ever thought to compare HHH with Dave Taylor, so you know this is a tremendous compliment. Hardy takes the Pedigree nearly as violently as Cham Pain took his famous killshot, but I don't think I've ever seen Hardy's take championed. This was a gnarly diagonal landing, the guy who didn't check the pool was empty before diving in. What a great mauling.

Owen Hart/Yokozuna vs. Razor Ramon/Savio Vega WWF Raw 8/7/95

ER: This was a rematch from the week prior, when the show actually went off the air with a classic "We're out of time!" I had no idea they were doing those in 1995! That first match had a pretty cheap moment, where Razor pinned Owen clean after the Razor's Edge, then Hebner - who counted the 3 - decided that Owen wasn't actually the legal man. I'm not sure why you'd actually make the ref go all the way through with the pinfall. Hebner is a really terrible actor, totally the wrong guy to trust in that kind of situation. He counted the 3 and then immediately was just like "no, no, no, you didn't win the match, dummy!" It really needed a referee who could facially take responsibility for the major boner that had been entirely his fault. A second official coming in to alert Hebner to the problem would have been silly, as the second official was almost always an inconsistent crutch to use, but it at least would have made more sense than Hebner counting the 3 and the immediately telling Razor that Razor should have paid better attention. VERY poorly handled.

So they start off the next Raw with an immediate rematch, and the rematch absolutely smoked. This was the absolute best Owen Hart performance I've seen since I started casually skimming my way through 1995 WWF. Owen is a guy who deservedly gets a lot of love, but consider me underwhelmed as I dive back into mid 90s WWF. Literally the day before I watched this match, I was talking to friends about how I was really starting to think Owen was one of the more overrated workers of the era, and how I don't think I could find a place for him on a Top 20 1995 WWF list. I'm still not certain he has a spot in the Top 20 (there were some GREAT performers on the roster that year and he has a tendency to get outshined within his own matches regularly), but with another performance or two like this it would be pretty impossible to keep him off. His timing is so integral to this match, and this match is a killer highlight of the kind of in-ring charisma he and Razor could have together on the right night. Owen and Razor kept working faster the longer the match went, both taking big bumps to the floor (Owen taking a super fast one that almost flings him face first into the guardrail, Razor getting launched so far over the top rope that several kids in the front row actually leapt backwards thinking Razor was going to fly right into them, just insane), and really laying in shots like I haven't seen him do all year. He hits his spinning heel kick so perfectly that it stops Razor cold, to the point that I thought it could have been the finish. It wasn't like he kicked Razor's teeth out either, the timing was just expert (with a wonderful sell from Razor), and you've never seen him crush somebody like he does while Razor is draped over the middle rope. I've seen Owen bounce off a draped opponent countless times, and here he just flies full weight into Razor.

Yoko was really fun from the apron, grabbing at Razor's hair on rope running spots while laughing gleefully. He took some big spills and got lit up by babyfaces when he was in. Savio's hot tag was fire, throwing stiff chops and punches at Yoko in the corner, just immediately making up that 300 lb. (!!) size difference, then pasting Yoko with his own awesome spinning heel kick. I honestly think the two best spinning heel kicks of 1995, from either Owen or Savio, came during this match. It wasn't just the execution, but their placement within the match. Razor was such a strong babyface, and I love matches like these were he plays FIP and works to all sides of the crowd. He really comes off like a proto-Austin or even Cena, as his fired up big babyface punches are thrown into matches the exact same way those two would, and he has that extra crowd connection those two had. There's an alternate timeline where Razor is the top star of the fed going into the late 90s, and performances like this show that it absolutely would have worked.

Sadly, we also get a bad finish on this one, as Razor and Owen suddenly go to the floor to brawl, one of those very obvious "We need to clear the ring so the finish can happen!" moments. It's not a terrible finish if the execution had been better, but Yoko flattened Savio with a Samoan drop and legdrop, right in front of Razor, but Razor had disposed of Owen too early and then had to occupy himself to make sure he was too late to save Savio. So Razor - only 5 feet away from being able to yank Yoko's leg - runs around the ring and comes in much farther away. Poor planning and positioning, really bad. BUT, this match was a real treasure trove, featuring performances that would rank at or near the top of all of these guys' 1995 output.

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