Sunday Night Slam was a show that the company aired a couple of times in 1994 and one time in 1995. It served as a lead-in for big pay-per-view events like SummerSlam and Survivor Series and tried to entice fans to buy the shows by showcasing the major feuds and angles in various matches. It was not quite a Clash of the Champions concept that WCW was using but it did provide the company with additional exposure on USA Network outside of its usual timeslots for Monday Night RAW, WWF Mania, and The Action Zone. Later on, the name of the show would be used to hype other pay-per-view events before the Free for All was created in January 1996, but it never again featured original matches.
–Vince McMahon and Jim Ross are doing commentary for the event. The matches were taped along with several episodes of Monday Night RAW on March 13 in Stockton, California.
–Opening Contest for the Intercontinental Championship: Bob Backlund (7-0) beats Jeff Jarrett (Champion w/The Roadie) (7-2) via disqualification when Razor Ramon interferes at 4:50 shown:
As has been noted in previous reviews, Backlund secured this title shot by attacking Barry Horowitz and signing a contract that Jarrett had intended for Horowitz at the end of the March 13 episode of RAW. The story of the match is that Razor Ramon does not want Jarrett to lose the title because that means that their match at WrestleMania would turn into a standard singles encounter. Backlund takes on the babyface role in the match, with Jarrett and the Roadie cheating throughout to maintain the advantage. Backlund hits a nice piledriver and gets ready to lock in the crossface chicken wing, but Ramon does a run-in and prevents that from happening, thereby allowing Jarrett to retain the title. The match was too short to mean anything, but it was fun to see the “crazy” version of Backlund work like a fan favorite and as a young fan I was disappointed that he did not win the title. Rating: *½
–After the bell, Ramon knocks Backlund out of the ring and teases going after Jarrett, but Backlund rolls back in and applies the crossface chicken wing. Jarrett and the Roadie pound away on the vulnerable Ramon until Bret Hart and the 1-2-3 Kid run in and makes the save.
–Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find out why Backlund thinks he is a role model for today’s society!
–A video package recaps the Lawrence Taylor-Bam Bam Bigelow match for WrestleMania.
–Bam Bam Bigelow (5-0) pins Sione after a reverse flying body press at 2:53 shown:
Since Bigelow needs to showcase his skills for a larger audience before WrestleMania, the company sacrifices Sione of the New Headshrinkers to him in this bout, which is joined in progress after a commercial break. Curiously, neither man has managerial support, but Bigelow manages to get the win without any heel interference after avoiding a flying headbutt and hitting a reverse flying body press off the top rope. That was an interesting finish as I expected Bigelow to use the moonsault.
–After the bout, the Million Dollar Corporation joins Bigelow in the ring, with Bigelow telling LT that the squared circle belongs to him and he is going to set him on fire.
–McMahon conducts a special interview with WWF Champion Diesel, who receives a mixed reaction from the crowd. The interview is quickly interrupted by Shawn Michaels and Sid, with Michaels dropping shoot rhetoric about how he is going to be “going over” at WrestleMania. Diesel rebuts by saying “over my dead body.” This was a decent interview but there are all kinds of red flags concerning how the face/heel alignment of this match is not correct going into the big show.
–Todd Pettengill provides the WrestleMania XIReport to fill time as the WWF ring crew sets up the steel cage for the main event.
–Steel Cage Match: Lex Luger (7-0-1) defeats Tatanka (w/Ted DiBiase) (5-1-1) after a flying forearm off the second rope at 8:41 shown:
This match deviates from usual WWF cage rules because the competitors can win by getting a decision within the cage or escaping, a provision that McMahon explains exists because Luger wants to get a decisive victory over Tatanka inside of the ring. However, that stipulation creates some awkwardness in the bout as the referee is standing outside of the cage and has to come into the ring to count a pinfall. It basically means you can write off consecutive near-falls because the referee does not know whether to stay in the ring or go back outside. The match takes on the plodding nature of both men’s previous encounters, although things quicken for the last couple of minutes as Luger rallies and finally vanquishes his rival with a flying forearm off the second rope to win. Rating: *
–Salt N’ Pepa have trouble recording their music because they are gossiping too much about Razor Ramon, Diesel, and Bret Hart.
–Bret Hart cuts a backstage promo on Bob Backlund for WrestleMania, saying that he has waited to get revenge for the last five months and he looks forward to hearing him say “I quit.” Bret shows off a cartoon that he has drawn for his brother Owen, who he vows to submit in their no holds barred match on Monday Night RAW.
The Last Word: If not for this show, it is likely that the Luger-Tatanka match would have taken place at WrestleMania and the company could have still run that match if they opted to eliminate the Blu Brothers-Allied Powers match that Luger was slotted into. Nevertheless, considering the poor quality of Luger-Tatanka matches it was probably better to end their feud here and it also made the USA Network executives happy by giving them a feature match with a gimmick.
Up Next (on Tuesday): Monday Night RAW from March 27, 1995!