Wrestling in the Clinton Years: WitCY is 1

WWF Monday Night Raw, 26th September 1994.

Welcome back dear reader to my own personal odyssey through WWF Raw in the day-glo dark ages of 1994 & “the New Generation”. Fresh from his SummerSlam heel turn, “Native American” Tatanka finds himself challenging for the intercontinental championship on this episode, along with a handful of other surprising appearances, so without further ado on with the review.

Emanating from the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, New York Vince McMahon & Randy Savage are once again on hand to provide commentary for this episode. Of particular interest is Savage’s outfit, a riot of neon orange & green stars on black that looks eerily like a very cheap Halloween costume. Vince is in his usual stately attire of WWF branded suit jacket for those who maybe curious as to the sartorial state of affairs. As the duo run down the show, including the Raw return of The British Bulldog on The King’s Court, Randy compares Raw to the OJ Simpson murder trial as Vince looks on utterly bemused, like much of the audience I’d imagine but with all that preamble out-of-the-way, it’s time for the featured match for the WWF Intercontinental championship: Razor Ramon vs Tatanka with Ted DiBiase in his corner.

The first thing I noticed that Tatanka is still in possession of his babyface theme, which really comes across as a bit too high tempo & upbeat for such a dastardly heel who sold his soul to the Machiavellian Million Dollar Man, Tatanka would later adopt the theme of the Million Dollar Corporation so I’m guessing someone, somewhere must’ve felt the same as me. The surprises on this episode start early as Razor Ramon is gifted with a pyrotechnical display, a rarity in the cash-strapped WWF of 1994. It’s a welcome addition to the show & does add to the pomp & circumstance of the show, especially as the cash rich WCW was beginning to look light years ahead.

As soon as Razor enters the ring, DiBiase gets in “The Bad Guy’s” face, allowing Tatanka to blindside Ramon before the bell, proceeding to work over the champion with chops & punches until Razor retaliates with a back elbow & chops of his own before whipping Tatanka around the ring like a pinball and finally dropping him to the mat with a hiptoss.
A follow-up clothesline by Ramon sends the challenger clear over the top rope where Tatanka takes a moment to recover at ringside.

Back in the ring, Tatanka blasts Razor with several knees to the gut (called expertly by McMahon I must add, no “whatamaneuver”s here) and several clubbing blows to the small of Ramon’s back before the champ hits a couple of comeback punches but is ultimately felled by a very vicious looking clothesline by Tatanka, followed by some stomps on the mat.

The tide turns as Tatanka drops his head attempting to backdrop Ramon after whipping him into the rope. The crafty Razor grabs Tatanka’s lustrous mullet & drives the Native American face first into the canvas before grabbing his arm & driving his large frame into Tatanka’s shoulder and taking him down once more with an armbar.

A standing wristlock keeps Tatanka in Razor’s grasp, even pulling on the champ’s hair can’t extricate Tatanka from the hold, but as Ramon switches to a hammerlock that positions himself behind Tatanka, the challenger hits a back elbow to the temple that sends Razor reeling and in turn releases the hold, Tatanka then continues his assault with more chops & punches.

A body slam & elbow drop gets Tatanka a 2 count in the first near fall of the match and after more chops from the challenger, a desperate Ramon sidesteps a charging Tatanka, sending him sailing over the top rope & crashing to the arena floor where Tatanka’s attempts to get back into the match are met with punches from Ramon that send him crashing back down until the third time when Tatanka adapts like the Borg from Star Trek and ducks Ramon’s wild swing, grabbing the champ’s head and dropping his throat across the top rope, that elicits a trademark call of “Whatamaneuver” by Vince (I’m shocked at how little I’ve heard that in all the Raws I’ve watched). An aggressive Tatanka stomps the prone Ramon, eventually kicking him out of the ring and continuing the beatdown as Raw breaks for the ads.

Back from the ad break as Tatanka slams Ramon 3 times to the canvas for a very close 2 count for the challenger. After more punches Tatanka traps the champion in an abdominal stretch near the ropes where with the ref concerned with checking to see in Razor submits, Ted can lend a hand to his charge to give him extra leverage & make the hold more excruciating. This cheating can’t go unseen though & sure enough the ref catches the evil duo & demands the hold be released.

Turnabout is fair play as Razor soon traps Tatanka in an abdominal stretch of his own but the powerful challenger hiptosses Ramon & misses a follow-up elbow drop. Razor fires back with punches & hits a 2nd rope backdrop and at this point, sensing danger for his man Ted climbs onto the apron to distract the referee. Razor gets distracted also and following an awkward moment where Tatanka misses a sneak attack in the ring, eventually blindsides Ramon as he chases DiBiase at ringside.

As the champion is being worked over at ringside, the ever ineffectual Lex Luger ambles down the aisle to make the save but after literally 3 seconds of being on-screen, Luger is attacked by Bam Bam Bigelow from behind. The match descends into a melee as Tatanka leaves Ramon to join in the attack on Lex, leading to Razor getting a count out victory as he lies beaten in the ring. Quick as a flash though, Ramon must’ve found a health power up and dashes to help Luger as the show fades to black for an ad break.

We only get told the match result after the ads as Vince & Savage tell of the count out but sadly we see nor are told the outcome of the brawl, there’s no second screen experience or mobile app in these days, folks. The match itself was a rather plodding punch/kick affair with no ending sequence at all, but hilariously, Lex Luger looking like an absolute joke was beyond entertaining. Poor Lex is coming off as a parody of a patriotic babyface, his attempted heroics here were neutralised within seconds by Bigelow and only an assist from a man who’d just wrestled a match could save him. That’s sad but incredibly funny all the same to see Luger’s star fall so far so quickly.

OhhhhYesssss! Next we’re treated to a video from Paul Bearer & the recently returned Undertaker to promote the Hart Attack live tour and the casket matches Taker is scheduled to have with Yokozuna on the shows. After some classic Bearer delivery Undertaker promises to take Yokozuna’s soul after the match, he must’ve read up on how to do his fatality move so you know Taker had a subscription to Electronic Gaming Monthly back in the 90s.

The nice surprises keep coming as in the next match, one of my personal favourites KWANG takes on Rich Myers in a short enhancement match in which Myers does perform a flying headscissors before KWANG finishes him easily with a spin kick (the second whatamaneuver of the show) but not before posing after spraying deadly RED MIST! into the air, making me cheer a little in my seat. Brief & probably terrible but I do love me some KWANG.

The returning British Bulldog is the guest on Jerry Lawler’s King’s Court in the next segment that starts off innocently enough as Lawler reels off a barrage of dog related puns until he brings up Diana Hart-Smith, the Bulldog’s wife that causes Davey Boy to snap & warn Lawler in a thick northern English accent that if he continues “they’ll be pickin’ you up off the floor with a pooper scooper”. As someone in possession of a northern accent it’s very weird hearing one interacting with all these North American voices. Jim Neidhart crashes the segment to get in Bulldog’s face, saying he isn’t a real member of the Hart family & challenging Davey to a match on the next episode. Naturally Bulldog accepts and honestly I’m anxious to see that match. I can’t help but be a fan of the Bulldog & I’m happy he’s returned to the WWF.

Yep, that's a 10 year old Martin with Davey Boy after an indie show in Barnsley's old Civic Theatre.
Yep, that’s a 10 year old Martin with Davey Boy after an indie show in Barnsley’s old Civic Theatre.

There’s a lot of pyro on this episode of Raw. Razor had it, Bulldog had it & now 123 Kid has it as he takes on Kerry Davies in the next match. Poor Davies gets ridiculed for his ordinary physique by Vince who suggests that Davies could do with more cardiovascular conditioning. Be a star, Vince.

Like last week, the match is torpedoed as talk quickly turns to Bob Backlund’s hilarious segment last week, followed by Backlund himself clad in a sharp suit & carrying a gift for the Macho Man. Vince dons his glasses to read a very well written letter from Bob explaining that the gift is a dictionary for Savage to help him on commentary. While this is going on Kid hits a top rope legdrop to end a very weak match full of sloppy looking moves from both participants.
The imminent return of King Kong Bundy isn’t something I’d want to draw attention to but the WWF went & did it anyway thanks to a terribly acted segment where a giant Bundy trashes a WWF news report set. So there’s that to look forward to I guess.

And so to the last match pitting WWF tag team champions Shawn Michaels & Diesel against the team of Bob Star & Chris Kanyon (Yes THAT Kanyon, another nice surprise). The champs decimate their earnest challengers eventually winning after Diesel drills Star with a Jackknife powerbomb as Vince reveals that Samu of the Headshrinkers has seemingly left the WWF after no showing a series of house shows. After the match the champs’ celebration is cut short as Fatu & a mysterious new partner attack HBK & Big Daddy Cool. This mysterious partner looks uncannily like The Barbarian so that’s another surprise this show has as he returns to become Samoan and replace Samu in the Headshrinkers to challenge for the tag belts. The show ends with an irate Diesel being held back by HBK in the aisle as the Samoans prepare for round two as the screen fades to black.

Okay, so the in ring action wasn’t the best but KWANG, Bulldog, Kanyon, Barbarian and Lex Luger’s continuing hilarious misfortune more than made up for that. I came away very entertained by this episode, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. Roll on next week & the British Bulldog’s first match back along with Alundra Blayze again taking on Bull Nakano in a tag match that sounds amazing on paper. I guess I’ll find out how it goes next time.

This edition of Clinton Years marks almost exactly one year since I started this series and I’d just like to quickly say a very big thank you to everyone who’s ever read, liked & shared WiTCY. It’s your support that keeps me going with this project and I can’t thank you all enough. Until next time folks I’ve been Martin Dixon & this has been Wrestling in the Clinton Years.

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