by Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)
Welcome to the first installment of my new project in which I attempt to watch & review every episode of WWF RAW from the year 1994, right in the middle of the WWFs “New Generation” period. I wasn’t actually a viewer at the time this all aired, I was a wrestling fan, but I’d had a falling out with the WWF product and at the time in the UK, it was the WWF or bust as far as wrestling went, so I lapsed for a number of years and this period is largely unknown to me. So in an effort to educate myself I thought I’d start watching these episodes & jot down some thoughts and breakdown what I’ve seen and how it holds up (or doesn’t) when viewed through modern eyes. Before I begin I’d like to briefly mention the What a Maneuver Podcast who’s concept I’m, erm, “borrowing” for this project, so if you’d like to rebalance my karma, check out their show after you’ve done reading this. So without further ado, lets start at the very beginning with the January the 3rd 1994 edition of Monday Night RAW.
The recording I used for this is heavily edited & omits the opening segment which was a segment hyping the upcoming casket match between the WWF champion Yokozuna and the Undertaker, the crux of which being that Yoko is freaked out by the casket, which is the same storyline used when Taker fought Kamala in late 1992, confirming Yoko’s status as the “idiot savage” character. Come to think of it, I’m glad this wasn’t here as 1994 Zombie Taker and 1994 rapid weight gain Zuna isn’t something I’m eager to see too much of.
The recording begins with announcers Vince McMahon and Johnny “Raven” Polo discussing a match between Lex Luger & Jacques of the Quebecers on the last Superstars show, proving no matter how long the show, RAW will always make time for recaps, at least this isn’t something that happened earlier in this show like today. This recap serves no real purpose as this isn’t picked up on later in the show but does give Vince the opportunity to make an oh so topical Three Stooges reference as in the footage Luger KO’s both Quebecers, followed by Polo himself.
This leads into a pre taped sit down interview with Flexy Lexy and Vince about the upcoming Royal Rumble which reiterates the current story of Lex trying to convince Jack Tunney to allow him to participate in the Rumble match itself through fan support. This segment is notable for two things, 1) the camera work is obsessed with Lex’s physique, constantly zooming in on his chest, emblazoned with the Stars & Stripes as per Lex’s gimmick and his biceps, and 2) Lex actually gives a decent humble babyface interview trying to endear himself to the audience urging them to contact the WWF asking for his inclusion in the Rumble (and probably receiving WWF merchandise catalogues for the next ten years I would assume). I’ve always had plenty of jokes at Luger’s promo expense but I came away pleasantly surprised by Lex’s earnest delivery (although I will never forget Lex’s inability to remove a tshirt on cue). At the end of the promo Luger promises to win the Rumble to thank the fans who called for his inclusion, thus ticking all the babyface promo cliche boxes and is now able to claim a free coffee from Starbucks.
After a Sparky Plugg hype vid. Wait I’ll say that again, after A SPARKY PLUGG HYPE VID?! (nope, still can’t believe I’m typing that) we move onto tag team action where the Smoking Gunns take on the deadly alliance of Bam Bam Bigelow and Bastion Booger (who thanks to the low resolution of the recording I’m using appears nude) accompanied by Luna Vachon. This is very much the match you’d expect as the Gunns repeatedly charge Bigelow & Booger who do the big man wobble routine. Bigelow is unsurprisingly the highlight of this match, hitting a crisp suplex on Bart & even holding off both Gunns single handedly as the match’s big plot development happens outside the ring. During the match as Booger was recuperating outside the ring, helpful valet Luna tended to the partner of her “main squeeze”. The simpleton Booger however takes this as a come on and forced himself on Luna in a disgusting display, kissing Luna and grasping her as she dry heaves at ringside. Bigelow sees this attempted rape & leaves the ring to attack Booger and save his girl, getting counted out and handing the charisma deprived cowboys a victory. So the babyfaces win via inter-heel molestation. And there was me thinking Vince Russo didn’t become a writer for the WWF until the late 90s.
After Todd Pettengill reminds us to call our cable companies and order the upcoming Royal Rumble (after informing us that the Rumble match will involve such main eventers as Kamala and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine), we move onto our next match as Jeff Jarrett, decked out in purple straps & fringing to remind us what decade we’re watching, against John Crystal, the designated jobber for this contest. In all fairness this is actually fun as Double J comes perilously close to getting pinned by Crystal until Jarrett hits a DDT for the Pinfall win. Commentary highlights include Polo using the word “Phat” to comfirm this is the early to mid 90s to which Vince doesn’t know how to respond, and Vinny Mac reminding us that this Friday, USA will be showing the Rob Lowe/James Spader movie “Bad Influence” leading me to then spend minutes thinking if Spader would be better at playing Daniels or Kazarian fulfilling the now obligatory TNA reference I always seem to include in my work.
Yet another recap detailing a confrontation between Johnny Polo and Marty Jannetty is shown to hype next weeks announced tag team title match between Polo’s Quebecers against Marty & the 123 Kid, a partnership that can’t fail to raise a chuckle.
This is followed by Razor Ramon warning us of the perils of smoking cigarettes. I find it weird that the WWF was airing these kid aimed PSAs during it’s “Uncensored, Uncut and Uncooked” late night show, but this continued throughout the 90s so I’ll let it slide as it’s time for our main event, Shawn Michaels with cruiserweight wrestling enthusiast Kevin “Diesel”Nash in tow, against the worlds palest man Brian Walsh.
Before the action begins Lord Al Hayes is on hand to tell us that not only is the Sega (Mega) CD game WWF Rage in the Cage is now available but Robocop 3 is also out on Mega Drive (Genesis) and Game Gear, and with that promotional consideration out of the way the match proper begins.
For a jobber squash match this is really fun as Michaels and his smaller opponent work well together, with some great bridging spots from Walsh accompanied by lots of near falls to keep it competitive. Michaels takes the win after hitting the as yet unnamed Sweet Chin Music and a piledriver on Walsh as the announcers talk up the impending feud between Michaels and Razor Ramon.
The show closes with McMahon & Polo running down next weeks episode of RAW and hyping the tag match and the just announced Bigelow vs Booger collision, which is a refreshing change from today’s RAWs which often just end, and seem booked on the fly.
This episode was 45 minutes in length when the commercials are removed and still a managed to present a show that could be watched on it’s own merit, while simultaneously building towards the next PPV and all without the merest hint of Bret Hart, the biggest star in the Fed at the time. Contrast that to today’s 3 hour RAWs which are filled to the brim with recaps, skits and other filler all of which sometimes spectacularly fails to adequately build interest in the expensive PPV events we get every month. This may not be the WWFs golden period but it certainly isn’t unwatchable and I’m left eager to continue my sojourn into the WWF of 1994 and see just how everything turns out.
I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed this opening salvo of my project. If you’ve any comments, feedback good or bad please get in contact with me by twitter at www.twitter.com/BunnySuicida where I’d be glad to hear from you.
So until next time folks, have fun with wrestling because that’s what it’s there for.