WWF Survivor Series 1995 Review feat. Diesel vs. Bret Hart

Image Source: WWE
EventSurvivor Series 1995
SeriesSurvivor Series
DateSunday November 19 1995
VenueUS Air Arena
LocationLandover, Maryland, USA

WWF Survivor Series 1995

WWF Survivor Series 1995 was a memorable card for two primary reasons. One concerned the main event, which saw Bret Hart end Diesel’s WWF Title reign after almost a full year in an awesome No Disqualification contest, and the other pertained to the first ever Wild Card match, which was a unique opportunity to see babyfaces and heels teaming up alongside one another. Let’s check out the Thanksgiving Tradition at a time when the WWF was slowly showing signs of a potential transformation, with one aspect of that change occurring on this very card.

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Before the show began proper, we had our first surprise of the night, as Howard Finkel introduced the returning Mr. Perfect to a big reaction. Curt Hennig hadn’t been seen since the spring of 1994, and due to a back injury that would continue flaring up from time to time, Perfect hadn’t competed since 1993. On this night, Perfect was on hand to sit at the commentary desk alongside Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, a position that he would often occupy for much of the next year.


Survivor Series Elimination Match
Barry Horowitz, Hakushi, Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly & Marty Jannetty vs. The 123-Kid, Skip, Rad Radford & Tom Prichard

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Survivor Series 1995 (which was incidentally the first in the, erm, series to take place on a Sunday night as opposed to Thanksgiving Eve or Thanksgiving Night) began with a traditional Survivors contest featuring several WWF performers that would be generously classified as opening match material. This was emphasised by Barry Horowitz – a longtime enhancement talent who had been receiving a minor push over the past few months – captaining the babyface side, imaginatively titled The Underdogs (in case you weren’t already aware that they had very little credibility between them as a four-man unit). Their opponents, The Body Donnas (which was the name for the entire heel squad as well as the title of Skip and Sunny’s duo), consisted of the aforementioned Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Prichard of the Heavenly Bodies and the newly-heel 123-Kid, who suddenly became team captain due to him being far more established than any of his partners. Kid had turned heel on Razor Ramon the previous Monday night on Raw, and Razor tried to intervene at this point, though the referees held him back. This is something that seemed annoying at the time, but makes perfect sense looking back: why wouldn’t Razor use the first public opportunity possible to get at Kid, without even waiting until Kid had competed?

As for the match itself: as noted, the number of performers who actually mattered in the average WWF fan’s eyes was rather low, but with Kid, Jannetty, Hakushi and other talents involved, this still proved to be an enjoyable and fast-paced start to the night, even if Sunny’s shrieks became very annoying very quickly (Sunny was screaming long before Melina did). In terms of the eliminations, Holly pinned Prichard become succumbing to Skip; Radford pinned Hakushi in a minor shock; Barry beat Rad before falling to Kid; Marty pinned Skip; and after some thrilling exchanges between the former WWF World Tag Team Champions, Kid pinned Marty after some interference by Psycho Sid, one of Kid’s new allies in Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation. The combination of Kid getting his hand lifted in victory and the dodgy manner in which he triumphed raised the ire of Razor again backstage, who hurled a TV monitor at a wall in frustration like a scene out of EastEnders.


Survivor Series Elimination Match
Alundra Blayze, Chaparita Asari, Kyoko Inoue & Sakie Hasegawa vs. Aja Kong, Bertha Faye, Lioness Asuka & Tomoko Watanabe

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Next up, we had the first eight-woman match at Survivor Series since 1987. Unlike ’87, though, when the WWF women’s scene at least had some credibility, here the WWF had only even used Alundra (the reigning Women’s Champion), Bertha (the former titleholder) and Aja, who was being positioned as Blayze’s next challenger. The action itself wasn’t bad, but nobody really cared, partly because five (if not six) of the combatants were complete nobodies in the minds of those in attendance. Blayze beat Asuka (not the future Empress Of Tomorrow), while Aja mowed through Sakie, Asari and Inoue. Blayze fought back against the 3-on-1 odds by beating Tomoko and her recent foe Faye, but Kong would triumph as the sole survivor by pinning Alundra to end this unwanted bout. According to WWF Magazine, Kong was supposed to challenge Alundra at Royal Rumble 1996 for the Women’s Title, but instead Vince McMahon dropped the women’s scene altogether, which included firing Blayze. This, of course, led to the infamous moment where Blayze – as Madusa again – dumped the WWF Women’s Title in a garbage can on WCW Monday Nitro. Remember this whole series of events the next time you complain about any element of WWE’s current women’s division.


Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Goldust

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In a break from the multi-man grappling, it was time to get another look at Goldust, who had debuted the prior match by beating Marty Jannetty at In Your House 4. Bigelow was an, erm, bigger star than the former Rocker, so this was a chance for Dustin Rhodes’ alter ego to really gather some momentum. From a results standpoint, he achieved that by defeating The Beast From The East by using a bulldog (his forgotten finisher prior to using the Curtain Call), but from a performance standpoint, this was pretty dull stuff. Goldust’s early days consisted of very slow and methodical movements offering little in the way of excitement, meaning that it was up to his opponent to make the difference. And since Bigelow was about to leave the WWF for the second and final time, his desire to put on a classic bout was waning. The upshot was that this was totally forgettable, with the most memorable moment arguably being when a guy impersonating Bill Clinton (the then-President of the United States) ducking for cover as the pyro went off for Bigelow’s entrance. That says it all really, both about this match and about the 1995 version of the WWF. Bob Backlund would give “Clinton” a visit after the match as part of his campaign to become the U.S. President himself (hey, if Donald Trump can make it to the White House, why not Mr. Backlund?).


Survivor Series Elimination Match
The Undertaker, Henry Godwinn, Savio Vega & Fatu vs. King Mabel, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Jerry Lawler & Isaac Yankem DDS

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So far, we’d had one elimination match that was very good yet lacking in star power, another elimination match where the unknowns outnumbered the famous faces, and a rather boring singles contest. Thankfully, the quality-metre would swing in a positive direction with our next bout, which saw The Undertaker captain a full Survivors squad for the first and, I believe, the only time in his entire WWF tenure. The story here was that Undertaker was returning after Mabel legitimately crushed his face, and of course Taker was gunning almost entirely for the King. Of note here is that Taker debuted his short-lived yet intimidating face mask, and it also marked the first time that Taker used a remixed version of this entrance theme, which would be the backdrop for some of the most memorable moments of his entire career. It’s also fascinating to observe that while Taker’s partners were also mid-carders at best and a sign of the times from a gimmick standpoint, all eight of these performers would be around for the Attitude Era, and half of the combatants still work for WWE in some way nearly 25 years later.

This was a match of two halves: the first portion saw Taker’s partners going back and forth against their villainous foes, allowing the likes of Helmsley and Lawler to look competitive without tasting any eliminations amongst their own ranks. The second part was after Undertaker finally tagged in, at which point he dominated and cleared the field rather quickly. To that end, The Dead Man eliminated the other King, Jerry Lawler, with a Tombstone Piledriver, followed by him Tombstoning his future brother Kane (masquerading as a dentist) and hitting the technically-future-yet-technically-then Triple H with a cool-looking Chokeslam from the ring apron back into the squared circle (which was Hunter’s first pinfall loss of any kind on WWF television). This left only Mabel for his side (which was titled The Royals), but instead he decided to not just walk away, but sprint (well, as fast as his girth would allow him to run) backstage, taking a cheap countout loss to The Dark Side combo, allowing Taker’s entire team to survive. Taker would finally exact revenge on Mabel in a Casket match four weeks later at In Your House 5.

Wild Card Survivor Series Elimination Match
Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, The British Bulldog & Psycho Sid vs. Razor Ramon, Owen Hart, Yokozuna & Dean Douglas

Image Source: WWE

Next, we had the inaugural Wild Card match. Said to be the brainchild of Bill Watts (who had a cup-of-coffee run on the WWF’s booking squad during this period), the bout had an interesting concept: in contrast to virtually every other Survivors bout ever up to that point, this intentionally brought enemies together to team up with one another, or rather babyfaces and heels (though the WWF didn’t explicitly state the latter on television, since it would have ended kayfabe six months before the Clique held their Curtain Call at Madison Square Garden). This meant that Michaels was teaming up with former bodyguard-turned-enemy Sid, while Razor found himself alongside three other villains, including recent nemesis Dean Douglas (though he was The Bad Guy, so that kinda makes sense). I have a theory that the WWF planned to stage a normal eight-man tag between those involved, but with the heels outnumbering the faces and with nobody else credible to be a fourth hero, the decision was made to mix everyone up instead and create a special attraction out of it (bear in mind that one of the three faces included Ahmed Johnson, who had debuted just weeks earlier, albeit in a prime spot after being allowed to bodyslam Yokozuna).


The bout (which was preceded by a fan bizarrely lifting up a “Bring Back Teddy Long” sign, even though the future SmackDown General Manager wouldn’t work for the WWF for another three years, though there’s something ironic about the placard being held up during a tag team match, playa) was really entertaining. The novelty of seeing fellow faces (such as Shawn and Ramon, who admittedly had just battled in another classic Ladder bout at SummerSlam) and fellow heels (Bulldog and Owen) square off, even if momentarily, created more excitement and intrigue than a Survivors bout that followed the usual good vs. evil formula would have done. It’s also an indication of how ridiculous wrestling can be in a positive way: what would have been the punishment on Bulldog and Owen if they had chosen to not fight, for example? Instead, because wrestling has unwritten rules, all involved just go along with the rules, even when logic says that they didn’t need to. As for eliminations, Shawn pinned Douglas early (continuing what Dean perceived to be a Clique-driven burial of his WWF career), though it took a while for somebody to be conquered, and when that did happen, it saw Razor pin Sid in a very strange fashion: Michaels inadvertently superkicked Sid instead of Razor (Psycho held Ramon in place just as Diesel had done when Sweet Chin Music went wrong a year earlier; here, though, it was feasible that Shawn did indeed mean to catch Sid), and when Bulldog tried to stop Razor pinning his team-mate, he instead legdropped Psycho to drop him even more, allowing Ramon to pin Psycho. Got all that?

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To build up Ahmed, he was given the chance to score the next pin at Owen’s expense. Razor was the fourth to fall, and linking back to earlier events, it was a distraction by 123-Kid, Ted DiBiase and Sid (who went backstage just to return again with his pals) that led to Ramon being pinned by Bulldog (I should mention that Sid also Powerbombed Michaels before he had left following his own elimination). Finally, Ahmed slammed Yoko again, and at this point, Camp Cornette loyalties showed and Bulldog tried to rescue Zuna, only for him to be blasted by the remaining good guys. Sweet Chin Music by Shawn and a splash by Johnson finished off Yoko, meaning that your sole survivors were future WWF Champion Shawn, new babyface sensation Ahmed and heel Davey Boy Smith, who humorously celebrated with Jim Cornette as if he had done it all alone. So, a random yet fun spectacle here, though more memorable was what came the next night: this bout marked Shawn’s return after the “Marines kicked my arse” incident in October, but the following evening, he was concussed during a match with Owen Hart, which paved the way for him to become the most-pushed performer (note that I didn’t say “biggest star”) in the WWF come WrestleMania XII.


WWF Championship No Disqualification Match
Diesel (C) vs. Bret Hart

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Diesel and Bret Hart renewed their on-off rivalry in the headline clash. They had battled to a DQ at King Of The Ring 1994 and a no-contest at Royal Rumble 1995, so this would settle their score once and for all. It was a good build because the two men had history, and both were babyfaces, so the fans were split on who to support. What’s more, while Diesel had been WWF Champion for 51 weeks at that point and had vanquished the likes of Michaels and Psycho Sid, without that decisive win over The Hitman, he arguably couldn’t truly classify himself as a worthy WWF titleholder (some fans would say that he could never use that bragging right anyway when looking back 25 years later, but that’s another story). Therefore, this would be Diesel’s biggest test to date, while for Bret Hart (who was still the most popular wrestler in the WWF in the eyes of the fans), it was a chance to potentially win his third WWF Title, and to regain the gold that he had lost in controversial circumstances one year earlier. A No Disqualification stipulation also added to the appeal of this showdown.


Diesel and Bret had shown great chemistry in their previous bouts, but this was their best match yet. Taking advantage of the No DQ rules, this was a violent fight by the standards of the time, an era when simple things like chairshots to the back and sending an opponent into an exposed top turnbuckle (each men unfastened one of the turnbuckle pads at the very start of the bout) would be deemed as dangerous spots. The most memorable part of the match, however, came a few minutes before the finish, when a weakened Bret stood on the ring apron to regain his standing, only for Big Daddy Cool to barge into him, knocking him off the apron through the Spanish announcer’s table, a jaw-dropping visual that fans had never seen in the WWF before, and one that would become a tradition in the months and years to come. In between the carnage, Diesel had recognised that Hart was a beaten man, so he dragged him into the ring and twice motioned for a Jackknife Powerbomb, only for Bret to crumble before Big D could even attempt to lift him. Frustrated, Diesel bent down, but it was a trap, as Hart scooped Diesel into a cradle and pinned him to win the match and the WWF Title!

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Fans rejoiced that their hero was the top dog again; Diesel, on the other hand, fumed. He clearly mouthed “motherf–ker!” in the immediate aftermath, and before Hart could be presented with the WWF Title, Diesel attacked him. Hart took not one, not two, but three Jackknife Powerbombs from the now-former WWF Champion, while knocking officials to the canvas to emphasise that he was ticked off. Bret has stated that when Diesel then dropped the WWF belt onto his chest, he did so while stating “don’t forget who did the f–king favour!”, a sign that he was legitimately angry with either losing the championship or losing the belt specifically to Bret. People may say that Bret took and still takes wrestling too seriously, but for such a respected performer who fully warranted his spot at the top of the card, certain wrestlers seemed to really take issue with him (funnily enough, a few of them were Clique members, so make of that what you will). Diesel had seemingly turned heel in grand fashion, but a sort-of worked-shoot promo the next night on Raw would establish him instead as being a tweener with a chip on his shoulder, which ironically might have made Diesel a superb WWF Champion rather than the smiley tall babyface that he had played for most of the past year.


The first half of WWF Survivor Series 1995 dragged badly, but the second half was full of activity, excitement and stand-out action, with the main event particularly proving to be a real treat. Between the minor increase in violence and the seeds being planted for slightly edgy gimmicks, it’s interesting when looking back to see that the WWF had already, albeit very slowly, begun working towards its transformation, one that would eventually bring about the much-lauded Attitude Era. Even judged in a vacuum, though, WWF Survivor Series 1995 is an entertaining event overall, with the last two matches being the main reasons to check out this card again.