WWF Raw October 3rd 1994
Welcome once again to Wrestling in the Clinton Years, a treacherous trek through the tumultuous territory of the WWF New Generation in 1994. It’s October, the spookiest month of the year & the Federation chooses to honour this by doing, well, nothing at all to mark the occasion honestly. Although the lack of spooky trimmings (except a truly hideous outfit from the Macho Man) doesn’t hamper what turns out to be a pretty great episode (spoilers). So without further ado, on with the recap.
From the wrestling Mecca that is the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, NY, the show begins with a recap of Jim The Anvil Neidhart’s challenge to the returned British Bulldog, coupled with amazing footage of Owen Hart & Anvil arriving at the arena in their oh-so 90s civilian gear (sadly sans fanny packs) where Owen scowls at the camera as Anvil cuts a promo and with that the Title sequence rolls to get us underway.
No time is wasted as Vince & Savage quickly run down the upcoming matches as The British Bulldog makes his way to the ring. Without his signature cornrows but still as muscular as ever the Bulldog cuts an amazing silhouette among the stars of the New Generation. Amazing is probably the wrong word as Davey Boy’s physique was almost certainly “chemically enhanced” and all the health issues that arise from that as well as the wear & tear of wrestling for decades do bring a cloud to hang over proceedings, but Bulldog is an impressive sight nonetheless.
Also an impressive sight (for different reasons) is the Anvil who has wisely taken to wearing altered gear, adding black highlights & edging to his pink outfit, breaking up the mass of pink material that left him looking like a particularly aggressive marshmallow. It’s a much better look for Neidhart and is very welcome. Owen Hart is accompanying Jim to ringside & immediately makes his presence felt as he distracts Davey Boy, allowing Neidhart to blindside his opponent as the bell rings for the start. Owen then turns to the camera on him & gloats “He’s got all the muscles & no brains” in reference to Bulldog.
Anvil clubs Davey with forearms before whipping him into the ropes. An attempted shoulder block doesn’t phase either man, nor does a second but a third shoulder block from the Bulldog fells Neidhart who escapes to the outside, frustrated & screaming with anger.
Back in the ring, the two powerful superstars lock up, but are too evenly matched in terms of strength and neither man budges. Bulldog eventually gets Anvil in a side headlock but is launched into the ropes where he reverses Anvil’s hiptoss attempt with one of his own. Anvil fires back with an uppercut and a side headlock of his own only for him to get shoved off into the ropes where Davey again proves his scientific wrestling prowess that augments his power with a drop toehold, grounding Anvil with an armbar & even finding time to hurl some taunts at Owen. Anvil eventually struggles to the ropes to break the hold and challenges Davey to a test of strength with a Roman-Greco Knuckle Lock as the two hosses clash into each other and jockey for leverage. Neidhart wins out and forces Bulldog to one knee and devilishly kicks Bulldog in his exposed gut due to having his arms trapped in the Anvil’s hold. Smith powers up & gets back on his feet, breaking the hold with an impressive dropkick to Neidhart’s chest from within the hold and follows up with a headlock takedown, whipping Jim to the mat & locking him in a leg lock to bring the pace down with a rest hold. It only lasts a few seconds though as Anvil soon fights out and begins to work Davey over, whipping him hard into a turnbuckle.
Anvil locks Bulldog in a cobra clutch type hold as Vince on commentary informs us that Neidhart has “shot the half” which is in the wrong context and something that Michael Cole says to this day. Some miscommunication means a spot where Davey hits Anvil with a running knee ends with Davey falling to the mat despite being the aggressor. Undeterred, the two attempt it again where I imagine the original plan was for Owen to lowbridge Davey, which he does on the repeat, pulling the top rope down and causing the Bulldog to crash to the arena floor, injuring his right knee. This interference causes WWF Champion Bret Hart to appear at ringside to cheer on his heroic brother-in-law. This is where the show breaks for the ads and when we come back Anvil is working over Bulldog’s injured leg as the pace of the match (which up until this point had been very high despite the misgivings I had about this match) slows as Neidhart takes control. That’s not to say that the pace is slow though as Davey soon comes back, hitting a couple of punches until an eye rake drops Davey once more. I admittedly sighed as Neidhart locks Bulldog in a bearhug as I expected the pace to become glacial but no, less than a minute in, Bulldog threads his arms through Neidhart’s and from within the bearhug, uses a bearhug of his own in a very nice touch to escape. Again Anvil rakes Davey’s eyes before the hold can take effect and Davey crumples again to the match because of his injury. Despite getting a 2 count from a desperate clothesline, Davey is soon trapped in Anvil’s Camel Clutch. Inexplicably Jim releases the hold and climbs to the second rope and leaps off, aiming to crush Davey Boy with his massive frame. He fails though as the Bulldog moves & Jim crashes to the canvas before He hits 2 clotheslines & a suplex for another 2 count.
At this time Bob Backlund wanders to the ring and gets in Bret’s face as in the ring, Bulldog attempts a sunset flip and as Anvil teeters, Owen dashes into the ring & knee drops a prone Bulldog, leading to the ref to disqualify Anvil. Bret & Backlund’s tete a tete is cut short as the valiant Hitman enters the ring to save Davey from the two-man beatdown and as all 4 men brawl, Bret & Davey whip Jim & Owen into each other, causing them to leave with their tails between their legs as Davey is announced as the winner & Rule Britannia rings out throughout the arena.
I thought this match was better than it had any right to be. I was expecting a slow plodding affair of punches & kicks with a few slams here & there, what I got was a fun match with a quick pace & although the DQ finish was lame, I really liked it. This isn’t one of those lost gems or anything but is definitely one of the better matches on WWF TV from 1994. Very highly recommended.
After a promo designed solely to poke fun at the MLB player’s strike that just comes off as incredibly petty on the WWF’s part it’s time for the next matches as Doink with Dink in tow takes on Barry Horowitz, accompanied by his glorious Mullet hairdo. This is really fun enhancement match with some really great chain wrestling from the pair, which is something that carried over from the original Matt Bourne version of Doink to this Steve Keirn incarnation and is very welcome. What isn’t welcome is the childish & ridiculous fart noise that now accompanies Doink’s Whoopie Cushion finsher. No wonder Doink is often held up as the standard-bearer of the juvenile & cartoonish WWF stereotype of the time. A fun match but totally undercut by the production team’s clowning around.
Now this is an odd couple of segments, first we get an Undertaker and Paul Bearer promo about caskets to hype the Hart Attack live tour, followed by a King’s court segment with Yokozuna, Mr Fuji & Jim Cornette to hype the same tour too. The sole theme of the Court segment is that Yoko is freaked out anytime anyone says the word “casket” this completely undercuts Yoko’s monster aura, leaving him looking like a played out “idiot savage” character, effectively making him a new generation Kamala. Poor and not even Cornette’s delivery can sell me on the feud. Also 20 years later, the hype for a match that never aired on TV, instead being a house show match means little to me.
Things take a turn for the awesome as Bull Nakano & Luna Vachon (on the WWE Network version they come out to the old Orient Express theme) take on WWF Ladies Champion Alundra Blayze and Heidi Lee Morgan.
Luna & Heidi start off with a great leap-frog sequence and a flying body press by Morgan gets an early 2 count but Luna takes control with a face buster and a vaderbomb before Nakano tags in after some double team cheating by the heels. Morgan can’t knock Bull down with shoulder blocks but uses an amazing running victory roll for a 2 count before reversing a powerbomb attempt with a huracanrana (on WWF TV! In 1994!). Heidi Lee makes me an instant fan of her with hard chops to Luna’s chest and a scoop slam before finally tagging in Blayze who runs wild with 3 Jeff Hardy style leaping clotheslines to Luna who quickly escapes & tags in the scary Nakano. Bull shows her amazing power by suplexing both faces at the same time. The finish comes as Bull holds Alundra in position for Luna to hit a missile dropkick but of course, Blayze moves and Bull is rocked by Luna. Alundra capitalises & hits Luna with a picture perfect bridging German suplex for the win for her team in a quite excellent match.
In contrary to the first match, this is a hidden gem as this tag match is quite simply amazing. All 4 ladies worked beautifully and especially Heidi Lee Morgan, who I had no prior knowledge of but I am now a fan of and will look to find more of her work in the future. A very, very, very good match.
Lastly, following on from his appearance earlier in the show, Bob Backlund faces Gary Scott in a quick enhancement match with some more great chain wrestling, more fitting to Backlund’s in ring style. Bob quickly locks in the deadly Crossface Chickenwing to win by submission. Afterwards Bob nefariously offers help to Scott, before dropping him & leaving to boos from the crowd.
To close the show, Vince interviews Bret Hart about his earlier confrontation with Bob. Never one for good promos in this time period, Bret blandly shrugs off Backlund saying he’s already had his chance to capture the WWF Championship and that Bret is focused on new challenges. It’s a good thing Bret is one of my favourite in ring wrestlers as this promo wasn’t very good. But he’s Bret & this show was great so I can’t complain too much.
That’s right, this episode was really, really good. The Anvil/Bulldog match exceeded all my expectations by not being the snoozefest I had predicted it would be, Doink had a good showing (sound effects notwithstanding) and the women’s tag match was a stone cold classic. This Was easily one of the best in ring episodes of 1994 and comes highly recommended. Great stuff.
Once again thanks for reading and if you’ve enjoyed this, please comment & share however you can and please get in touch with me on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/BunnySuicida or the official(ish) WiTCY twitter at http://www.twitter.com/WIClintonYears Thanks once again & I’ll be back soon with more Wrestling in the Clinton Years.