Wrestling in the Clinton Years: Surprising Earl Hebner From Behind.

by Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

Monday Night Raw January 10th 1994

Welcome back to Wrestling in the Clinton Years, my personal quest to watch & write about every episode of WWF Raw throughout 1994. This time around we’re invited to a special celebration. It’s Raw’s first anniversary, live from Richmond, Virginia, and apparently you give the gift of awful main events for a 1 year anniversary. Geez, you really shouldn’t have WWF. No really.
First & foremost we get a brief video package detailing the feud brewing between Johnny Polo and “Fireball” Marty Jannetty. I’ve never heard Jannetty called that before and I’m struggling to see how that kind of nickname fits Jannetty, unless it’s some kind of drug reference I’m unaware of. Nicknames aside we’re shown Johnny Polo cheating his way to a victory over Marty with the help of the Quebecers, leading to Marty & 123 Kid challenging the Quebecers on last weeks show to a tag team title match. This is followed by a great little promo from Polo and the Quebecers in which the future Raven calls the challengers “Marty Confetti” & “The poster boy for Pampers”. As lame as that may sound I loved that snarky, childish insult, it fits so well with the snarky & childish Polo character, and I’ll admit I laughed long and hard at that. Jacques also reveals that they’re treating this match as a tune up for their upcoming Royal Rumble match with Bret & Owen Hart, displaying great hubris, and pride comes before a fall, doesn’t it?
The show proper begins with Randy Savage, wearing a black & white outfit with red fringing being introduced to the crowd before taking his place at the commentary desk for the show along with Vince.
The opening match is the WWF tag team championship match between the Quebecers, with Johnny Polo and their Canada baiting theme music in tow against team Mullet, Marty Jannetty & the 123 Kid. Before I get into how good the match was (and it was) I couldn’t stop looking at Kid’s tights, which had the word “three” emblazoned across the front across his junk and wondering if that was a clue as to his anatomy.
Anyway enough of that lowbrow humour, onto the match itself which was excellent. Marty in particular was great throughout the match, cutting a quick pace with the talented Jacques Rougeau in the early stages with a victory roll & sunset flip for near falls that fluster the overconfident Canucks reinforcing the notion that the heels were looking past this match to the Rumble. After some great action including a great move where Marty throws Kid into the air to hit a flying dropkick the show goes to commercial. When the show resumes we are told of a huge development that occurred during the ads where Marty & Kid appeared to win the match & the titles! However during the pin Jacques’ foot was on the bottom rope which the red didn’t see, prompting a second ref to appear & call for the match to be restarted. This segment was repeated as recently as 2013 on NXT in the excellent Bo Dallas vs Sami “El Generico” Zayn NXT title match and was just as effective there as it was in this match, fooling the crowd into thinking they’d witnessed a feel good title change only to have it snatched away from them.
Following the restart the Quebecers predictably take control of the match hitting their tandem finisher on Kid seemingly en route to a sure victory to set up the Rumble match against the Harts, but as Jacques & Pierre cockily attempt a second double team move, Marty breaks it up leading to Kid crawling across the ring for the hot tag to Jannetty who after running wild hoists Jacques up into a suplex position as Kid dives off the too with a crossbody, followed by a 3 count! Jannetty & Kid win the match and the titles as the crowd (who were loud and great throughout this match) go absolutely insane at the switch. The new champs celebrate with Savage in the ring before leaving through the rapturous crowd with the belts. I thoroughly enjoyed that match which I feel wouldn’t look too out of place on an episode of Raw from today. Fun, fast paced and expertly wrestled, this will take some beating in future episodes.
Throughout the show there are highlights from Raw’s first 12 months the first of which being the 123 Kid pinning Razor Ramon & jump starting his career.
Jim Ross covers for Todd Pettengill in this week’s Royal Rumble report to tell us the remaining participants in the Royal Rumble match. Lex Luger’s campaign was successful and he’s in the match as well as Genichiro Tenryu(!) and The Great Kabuki(!!!) which is still surreal to think Kabuki wrestled on a WWF PPV in the 90s. Ross does a great job running down the card and even with the paper thin roster of the time, manages to make the Rumble an attractive prospect. Modern Raw would do well to use these vignettes to hype PPVs, if only the cards weren’t finalised two days before the event itself.
Jerry Lawler destroying Tiny Tim’s ukelele is the next recap. This isn’t actually the worst crime Lawler ever commited against music as he once appeared on a record by his son Brian Christopher.
Ludwig Borga hits the ring to take on jobber Brad Anderson in a dull squash match which even the announcers fail to talk about as Lex Luger is on the phone to blandly thank the fans for getting him into the Rumble match and praise the babyfaces he’ll be facing in it. Borga submits Anderson with a torture rack as “USA” chants rain down to perpetuate the undercurrent of xenophobia I’m detecting from WWF of this period.
Doink the Clown dowsing Bobby Heenan with water is the next Raw  Recap. The only notable thing here is Heenan’s horrible luminous jacket.
The arena erupts as The Undertaker’s music plays as he makes his way to the ring for a match against Ray Hudson, who’s only contribution is to add to this episode’s mullet count. Seriously Hudson gets no offence at all against Zombie Taker who demolishes him easily with a chokeslam & tombstone piledriver. This match contains a hilarious spot however when Earl Hebner takes hold of the Urn as Paul Bearer helps remove Taker’s entrance attire. As Earl turns his back to Taker he’s surprised when he walks up behind him, tossing the urn into the air which Bearer catches expertly. Taker then begins to stalk Hebner until Bearer can regain control of the monster Undertaker. I always loved this version of the Undertaker, a barely controllable ghoul seemingly running on instinct, and the partnership with Bearer and the Urn as a prop was hugely fun for me watching.
During the match Vince reveals the shocking news that the Undertaker is John Madden’s favourite wrestler before suggesting that Madden should sign for the WWF which given that we’re going to witness Art Donovan on commentary later in the year isn’t as bad an idea as first thought in hindsight.
We are shown a Raw themed cake on the announce desk which is a clear indication this will end up on someone’s face before the show ends.
This means that the main event of the episode is Bam Bam Bigelow taking on Bastion Booger but not before we get a nauseating recap of last week’s molestation of Luna by Booger. Booger gets the jobber entrance (ie no entrance at all) as Bigelow and Luna make their way to the ring. Bigelow jumps Booger from behind before the bell to which Booger can’t sell for the life of him as Vince repeatedly tells us that Luna “Rubbed Booger’s hump” which made me want to throw up meals I ate in my childhood.
The action here is awful, save for Bam Bam doing a Flair turnbuckle bump to the outside to set up the matches big plot point where Luna begins blowing kisses at Booger, implying that she is now sympathetic towards her would be rapist. This is all a ruse however as Luna was simply the simpleton Booger around ringside leaving him open to an attack from behind by Bigelow, confirming that the potential sex attacker is the good guy in this feud!
Bigelow takes the win after slamming Booger and hitting a diving headbutt from the top to mercifully end this awful, awful match. Afterwards Booger pleads with Luna who slaps him, confirming that it was all a ruse and she and Bigelow are the dastardly villains. It must be said Booger was on his feet immediately after the 3 count, leaving no opportunity to sell the beating he took. I can only hope this is the end of this as even though this is only the second week, I have no desire to see these two in the ring together ever again.
To close the show there are 3 segments, the first of which seeing the Quebecers interviewed about their title loss where they reveal they will have a rematch for the belts on next weeks show and given how much I enjoyed this weeks match I’m looking forward to.
Bafflingly, Kamala turning face & chasing Kim Chee through the Hammerstein Ballroom is the final Raw Recap. It makes no sense at all to show this in a world where the Ric Flair vs Mr Perfect match and Marty Jannetty winning the Intercontinental Championship exist, but Kamala’s in the Rumble match I guess.
Last but not least, IRS appears at ringside to get in Randy Savage’s face about their match next week but “hilariously” gets the cake in the face from Macho who then celebrates in the ring as the crowd goes wild as the show ends.
This again was a fun show overall but felt lopsided as all the best action was at the start. The tag match was fun though and expertly played with my preconceptions about the restart. this and the fact the Quebecers were due to defend the belts against the Harts made me feel the UnMounties would walk away with the win. That Team Mullet won the belts was a huge surprise and a pleasant one too, leaving me eager to see the rematch on the next episode. Even my usual hatred of Randy Savage on commentary is curtailed as Randy stays largely quiet save for the odd cliche or sound bite.
Two things that impress me about these shows first of all is the structure of them, the shows have a format they stick to and it’s great to see that instead of the seemingly random nature of modern episodes of Raw, and secondly despite the paper thin roster, there is some shining stars on here that make the shows entertaining, these may be the WWF’s “Dark age” but on this early evidence, there’s still some bright spots and I’m yet to see Bret or Owen at all yet. This project may work out after all.
As always if you have any comments and feedback on what you’ve read here I can be reached on twitter at www.twitter.com/BunnySuicida but if I don’t hear from you I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and I hope you’ll continue reading. So until next time, have fun with wrestling because that’s what it’s there for.
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