A partial review of retro wrestling by Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)
WWF Raw November 14th 1994
It’s with great trepidation that I clicked on the WWE network video for this episode of Raw. Not only did the little thumbnail preview show IRS stood next to what looks like a recently exhumed coffin, but the first thing visible on screen after pressing play is a graphic stating that due to technical difficulties, the episode has been presented “as it happened”. Oh dear that can only mean that back in 1994, something went wrong and I’m going to be missing something from this episode. Last time I was saying how much I was looking forward to seeing the Bob Backlund vs 123 Kid match, I really hope that match hasn’t been scuppered by technical issu– oh of course it has. Oh well, I still have the debut of Federation footnote Aldo Montoya to look forwa— what? that too? Well what is here, exactly? Mabel? Jeff Jarrett? Oh well, on with the write up of what’s left I guess.
Due to the aforementioned tech failures the first thing we see on screen is Bob Backlund squeezing the life out of 123 Kid with his Crossface Chickenwing hold presumably in the aftermath of their match. The match referee is unable to force Bob to relinquish his grip on the Kid and it only takes WWF Champion Bret Hart rushing to the ring to cause Backlund to let go. An army of officials and referees storm the ring to try and separate champion & challenger as they try desperately to fight each other. Tony Chimell is here looking extremely young, along with future stooges Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco and in the midst of this heated melee Bob manages to grab Bret in the dreaded Chickenwing, but only momentarily. His point made, Bob chooses to leave the ring but not before grabbing a microphone and proclaims the following “You see Hitman, I am a convivial individual, I could’ve been very truculent to you right there, [that] was a reminder of what you’re going to feel at Survivor Series” Bob was merely demonstrating how quickly & expertly the hold can be applied and opts to leave as officials attempt to hold back an irate Bret Hart.
Overflowing with smug superiority, Backlund slinks towards backstage as Hart escapes and runs after Backlund, attacking him from behind and as he lays on the floor, grabs Backlund’s legs and twists him into the Sharp Shooter, letting go almost immediately in a display of turnabout being fair play. With his counterpoint made, Hart then grabs a mic and with much less eloquence promises not to let Backlund out of the Sharp Shooter when he puts it on at Survivor Series. Taken on its own and without a match preceding it to write about, this segment was great, both Champion & Challenger look evenly matched ahead of their match and now hate each other with an almost white hot intensity as they prepare to see who’s submission hold is superior, even without the extraneous addition of The British Bulldog & Owen Hart (more from them later).
After that intensity, we see Vince McMahon & Ted DiBiase, the commentary team for this show discussing the upcoming title match and again drawing parallels between Bob Backlund & George Foreman, who also won a world title at the age of 45. As a heel, DiBiase predicts a Backlund victory as super face Vince remains neutral and fooling no one in the process.
In the absence of two matches, I’m left to ponder the bizarre, childish & very very lame (even by 90s standards) promotional skits for the “New WWF Generation” in the past I’ve avoided these for the reasons listed above but these have included some awful double entendres involving a church confessional and it’s various clientele but the one on this show is worth describing in the next paragraph.
We see the reception of a police station where three delinquents and an elderly woman are being addressed by an overweight police officer. The thugs are battered and bruised as the old woman tells of how she defended herself against her would-be muggers with a clothesline, a dropkick and the Sharp Shooter. “It’s a good thing I watch Monday Night Raw” she says, “it’s a jungle out there, an old lady could get hurt” before the announcer hits the confused viewer with “The new WWF generation: now it’s safe to walk the streets”. Bizarre, and rendered moot by Shawn Michael’s attack in Syracuse in the coming months.
Two matches did survive the time vortex the 123 Kid match fell into and the first one is up next as Mabel with Oscar in tow (not Mo as the WWE Network would have you believe) takes on The Black Phantom (who himself is the source of some confusion, on commentary Vince calls him “The Blue Phantom” despite him being dressed head to toe in Black and being listed as such on the video). Oscar and Mabel delight the crowd with a live rap about Mabel’s team mates in “Guts & Glory” as they prepare to face The Million Dollar Team at the PPV. Hilariously, Oscar can’t come up with anything worthwhile for Lex Luger, instead repeating that Luger is “What it’s all about” apparently. The massive Mabel easily demolishes the Black/Blue Phantom as Ted DiBiase runs down him & his team-mates before Mabel finishes off The Colour-Confused Phantom with a Black Hole Slam. Phantom did hit Mabel with some shoulder blocks but little else in a quick but still perfunctionary squash match.
After Todd Pettengill reels off another Survivor Series Report where Chuck Norris is back to cut a promo on Yokozuna, promising to uphold order in the match, Tatanka takes the air to cut a promo on Chuck Norris, saying he hates Texas & Rangers and will interfere in the match anyway. Bringing up understandable Native American tensions towards the “cowboy” image is a bit out of place in the cartoonish WWF and especially for a heel but that isn’t nearly the darkest this particular timeline gets with this episode.
Before that though, Jeff Jarrett takes on Gary Sabaugh in the only other surviving match. Jeff cuts his exact same “here’s my name” promo before hand again showing just how one-note his character is. That said, him & Sabaugh have a fun little back & forth match that although basic does have a couple of moments where veteran jobber Sabaugh nearly upsets “Double J” with a neat small package and Jarrett does an excellent job targeting Gary’s legs in preparation for the figure four leg lock and the submission victory. The best match of the show, but of course that isn’t saying a whole lot.
Woah boy, here we go. After repossessing grave side flowers and his headstone, IRS continues his rather one-sided feud with the deceased “John Dough”, this time going so far as to exhume him from his rest to repossess the very coffin he was buried in. IRS is seen from an (admittedly stylish) camera angle from inside the grave as he gloats about even death being no defence against cheating on taxes. This feels so out of place it’s unbelievable but if you absolutely, positively have to get IRS into a feud with the Undertaker I suppose there are worse ways to go about it. Sadly I can’t imagine the payoff being worth all this oddness.
Jerry Lawler’s King’s Court is up next with Owen Hart discussing his upcoming involvement as Bob Backund’s cornerman at Survivor Series. Towel in hand, Owen promises Bob that he has no intention of throwing the towel in before Lawler calls for Owen’s opposite number, The British Bulldog to discuss the role he’ll play as Bret Hart’s second. With stylish pink & black towel in hand and draped in so much fringing his outfit must’ve been listed as a fire hazard, Bulldog screams, shouts snorts his response, cutting Bret’s promo for him about winning & retaining the WWF title before leaving as Owen talks some more trash in an okay segment but nothing was really said that hadn’t been said before and was probably more for the live crowd’s benefit.
Sadly, Aldo Montoya’s debut match is missing, the show instead jumping ahead to Aldo & DiBiase in the ring together with the Million Dollar Man attempting to recruit the promising “rookie” with promises of money & power. The valiant Portuguese Man O War refuses DiBiase twice, once in his native tongue and English before leaving the ring, leaving an angry Ted to rant on the mic as Vince gushes “what a human being”.
Lastly Vince talks to Alundra Blayze about her trip to Japan to defend the WWF Women’s Championship in the Tokyo Dome against Bull Nakano to explain her upcoming absence before revealing that on the next episode Diesel & Razor Ramon will have a match that I hope I actually get to see this time.
Calling this a good or bad episode is difficult given that half of the matches have been lost in the mists of time, but what is there I found oddly entertaining, even the touchy IRS grave robbing segment, but mostly due to my overwhelming feelings of “I can’t believe they’d actually do this!”. Backlund & Bret’s altercation was marvellous, playing to both man’s strengths on the mic & in the ring and best of all, no midget clowns! That alone is worth missing out on some matches but I wouldn’t seek this out unless you want to see a representative of the American tax service desecrate a gravesite.
So that’s it for another Raw from the past, thank you for reading if you’ve made it this far & I’ll be back soon with more Wrestling in the Clinton Years.