Wrestling in the Clinton Years: Fear of a Black Casket

By Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

WWF Raw 24th October 1994

cool guys don't look at explosions
cool guys don’t look at explosions

Welcome back dear reader to my lonely pilgrimage as I walk through the valley of the shadow of Hulkamania otherwise known as the New Generation.

Once again emanating from Burlington, Vermont this episode begins in quick order as no soon as the title sequence is over, Yokozuna’s music fills the air as he makes his way to the ring with Jim Cornette & Mr Fuji in tow for his WWF Intercontinental Championship match with defending champ Razor Ramon who Vince McMahon on commentary describes as “oozing Machismo”. McMahon is once again joined at the announce desk by Randy Macho Man Savage who predicts a Yokozuna title win tonight.

Pardon the obvious pun but as soon as Ramon has removed his gold chains & rather dapper purple vest, Yokozuna “pearl harbours” (to quote the late, great Gorilla Monsoon) Razor before the bell rings for the start of the match, beating him down to the canvas. Following this Yoko whips the champion into the ropes but Ramon ducks a clothesline and rocks the massive challenger with punch after punch but no matter how many he throws, the future Outsider is unable to knock Yoko off his feet. Eventually, a flying clothesline by Razor knocks the mammoth Sumo off his feet to great cheers from the crowd. Both men immediately climb to their feet where one more punch from Ramon sends a dazed Yoko through the ropes and tumbling to the arena floor. Yoko uses this opportunity to take an extended “strategy session” with his entourage outside the ring.

Eventually Yoko climbs back into the ring as Savage babbles on about Oprah having run a marathon as Yoko in the ring and Cornette outside the ring berate the cheering fans, killing yet more time. After all this both opponents lock up and Razor traps Zuna in an arm-wringer. Yoko escapes by throwing Razor against the ropes where again the Cuban ducks a clothesline but an attempted crossbody is easily caught and turned into a body slam by Yoko, driving Ramon into the canvas. Yokozuna misses an elbow drop immediately afterwards and Razor quickly scrabbles to his feet and traps Yoko’s arm once more, ramming his own shoulder into Yoko’s immense frame. The challenger turns the tide of the bout with a hard Irish whip, then a clothesline drops Razor and Yoko drops his massive leg down onto Ramon’s face. Instead of seizing an opportunity to pin the champion however ‘Zuna takes time out to catch his breath once more. The champion struggles to his feet but a headbutt sends him crumpling to the canvas once more Yoko then picks up Razor and throws him out of the ring where even Vince questions the logic of such a move, given that under WWF rules, championships cannot change hands if the match ends in a count out. This is just more time filling by a heavily perspiring Yokozuna as Razor soon re-enters the ring and blocks a punch from Yoko, hammering him with a hard punch of his own. A follow-up punch is blocked in turn and a chop once again fells the IC champion.

Your humble writer’s blood ran cold instantly after this as with Ramon flat on the mat, Yokozuna grabs Ramon’s shoulder in his hand & locks in a trapezius claw hold and I came very, very close to having to sit through minutes of this non-action but mercifully sweet, blessed relief comes in an ad break and I can breathe easy once more. Back from the break we see Ramon trying to fight out of the devastating hold which he almost does, even getting back to his feet until another headbutt sends him horizontal once more. Yoko turns up the intensity a little, brutally punching Razor over & over again in the corner as Savage & McMahon discuss Yokozuna’s fear of caskets in some very blatant foreshadowing of what’s to come. A lazy looking snapmare then leads into a second nerve hold by Yokozuna. There’s no commercial break to save the viewer this time and sure enough, the match comes to a screeching halt as for nearly two minutes neither man moves a muscle save for a pin attempt by Yoko. After failing to reach the ropes Razor just stands up with little fanfare to escape the hold but ends up getting whipped into a corner where Yoko charges at Ramon who deftly avoids the avalanche, taking the opportunity to take Zuna down to the mat with a 2nd rope bulldog for a near fall for the champion.

Once again a series of punches rocks Yokozuna but can’t knock him down until a discus punch sends Yoko tumbling through the ropes exactly as before in the opening moments of the match. As this is happening Vince tells us of someone wheeling the Undertaker’s casket to ringside, unbeknownst to everyone participating in the match. A groggy Yoko staggers around outside the ring, eventually backing into the casket parked in the aisle. Yoko slowly turns to face the ominous box and as soon as he lays eyes upon it, sprints backstage, abandoning the match & getting counted out, awarding the match to Razor Ramon.

I ran....... So far away.
I ran……. So far away.

Once again, Yokozuna is left looking the fool as “the idiot savage”, terrified by the mere thought of The Undertaker and robbing this rather lacklustre match of any real closure and at this point with no real build towards anything as Undertaker & Yokozuna’s impending Survivor Series casket match has yet to be announced. The repeating of sections of the match irked too as a viewer but it could’ve been so much worse given the limitations of Yokozuna specifically and Razor Ramon is a very good foil for him. I’d describe this as a fine television match, with all the good points & bad points a statement like that includes.

Todd Pettingill is on hand with the 1st Survivor Series report of the season, including the announcement of The Bret Hart/Bob Backlund match for the WWF Championship as well as revealing the teams in one of the Survivor Series elimination matches for the show. “Guts & Glory”, consisting of Lex Luger, Adam Bomb, Mabel & The Smoking Gunns will face “The Million $ Team” of Tatanka, Bam Bam Bigelow, King Kong Bundy & The Heavenly Bodies (on loan from Jim Cornette) which on paper sounds good to me at least.

A million Disney dollars maybe....
A million Disney dollars maybe….

Speaking of the Smoking Gunns, the Cowboys are on hand to take on Mike Bell & Barry Hardy (who don’t get an introduction due to an ad break so thanks to the WWE Network’s chapter headings on that) in the next match. This is a quick and very fun enhancement match in which the Gunns decimate Bell with very impressive double team moves, finishing him off in short order with a shoulder breaker/jumping knee drop combination. Nothing special save some creative offence by Billy & Bart.

Tatanka stands in front of a brick wall calling Lex Luger an immigrant who will lose to Mr Backlund next week on Raw. It’s nice to know Tatanka’s thoughts on the programming I guess with what could have been a rather racially charged statement that goes nowhere but understandably so given the time period.

Tatanka is actually in the next match too, taking on Scott (“Scotty 2 Hotty”) Taylor in which not a huge amount happens save for Vince trying to use Walter Cronkite being sighted at a Grateful Dead concert as an example of the mantra of “anything can happen”, and a very impressive gut wrench suplex by Tatanka. Tatanka wins with his “The End of the Trail” finisher which after the match, he heelish-ly hits Taylor with his finisher again as Ted DiBiase looks on approvingly.

In a most surreal we next see IRS outside of a funeral home as a hearse is parked outside. IRS goes so far to claim that the poor unfortunate riding in the back of the hearse is only dead to avoid paying taxes. What an odd & bizarrely dark segment, especially in the full on neon New Generation. What’s worse is that IRS is still so, so boring in ring and in this pre-taped promo.

The surprisingly entertaining Adam Bomb is up next, taking on Phil Apollo in the next enhancement match. Apollo tries to gain an advantage by attacking Bomb before the bell but this is no help as Bomb soon takes control and after an impressive leap-frog, hiptoss, belly to back suplex and top rope flying clothesline, finishes off Apollo easily with a pumphandle slam. Immediately after the bell, Bob Backlund sneaks into the ring and grabs Adam from behind, locking him in the dreaded Crossface Chickenwing. 3 referees can’t extricate Bomb from the hold. Bob eventually let’s go and leaves, screaming and staring at his hands, seemingly dumbfounded by his own prowess. Awesome stuff once again from Mr Backlund, who really is the diamond in the rough of these shows.

GOTCHA!
GOTCHA!

Speaking of the rough, the next King’s court segment is awful, serving only to introduce the last little King, dubbed “Cheesy” to the King’s team. Lawler also challenges Doink & his three diminutive sidekicks Dink, Wink & Pink to a match presumably at Survivor Series to end this wretched segment, compromising of bad Lawler jokes at the crowds’ expense and only serving something that is long past being entertaining before its even begun. Even the crowd remain silent throughout which is odd as this is a taped Raw so no one even though to add something to try & liven it up.

Not pictured: An entertaining segment
Not pictured: An entertaining segment

Last and very much least, Diesel takes on Ben Jordan, who we’re told is wrestling on his birthday. His present? Being mercilessly beat up by an exceptionally stiff looking Diesel, who brutally beats down Jordan, finding time for not one but two rest holds in a 3 minute match. Poor Ben looks to be nearly killed by a very scary looking Jackknife powerbomb to end this match that aside from wincing for poor Jordan had very little entertainment value.

Look at all the craps I don't give
Look at all the craps I don’t give

So not a good show overall with the pedestrian Intercontinental title match and Diesel match but Adam Bomb once again shined and Backlund once again stole the show with his brief but awesome cameo and next episode is the Lex Luger/Bob Backlund match I’ve been looking forward too so I can’t wait to recap and review that for the next edition of Wrestling in the Clinton Years which I hope you’ll be back for soon.

Screenshot (42)

 

 

 

 

 

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