Hello & welcome to this special collected edition of Wrestling in the Clinton Years, collecting the articles covering March & April of 1994. Given how long this is you may want to grab a drink before sitting down for this. Go on, I’ll wait.
Got one? Good choice I really like those, anyway sit back, relax & reminisce about wrestling past.
Involuntary Sodomy: Monday Night Raw 7th March 1994
Welcome everyone once more to my own sojourn through the WWFs Monday nights throughout 1994. With just 2 weeks until Wrestlemania 10, now being called “10 years in the making” showing that WWF always got these kind of anniversaries wrong, the push for PPV buys is on. And what better way to do that than by featuring performers who by & large don’t appear on the show itself. Oh. Okay then, on with the show.
Vince is again in hand to welcome is to the show as Ted DiBiase’s eternally great theme plays signalling his arrival to join McMahon at commentary for the show. After Ted reminding us that everybody & everything has a price it’s time for the first match as the Smoking Gunns take on the team of Crush & Owen Hart.
The Gunns take the role of enhancement talent here as with them not having a match at ‘Mania, the heels are the stars here. Early on the Gunns do take control with armdrags on Owen, but Crush takes it upon himself to no sell for Billy & Bart before the heels take control with double team moves & quick tags. The rather uninspired action comes to a conclusion as Bart hoists Owen up for a Razor’s Edge it looks like, but Crush charges in & clips Bart’s leg with a chop block, causing him to crumple to the mat. Owen seizes the opportunity & locks a sharpshooter on Bart as Crush & Billy brawl on the outside, earning a submission victory for the heels in a perfunctory match, devoid of any real drama. Inoffensive but not particularly entertaining. After the match Vince grabs a few words about Crush facing Bret Hart at “The March to Wrestlemania”, an upcoming TV special, where Owen sarcastically pleads with Crush not to hurt Bret too much ahead of his collision with Owen at WM 10. Crush also breathlessly mumbles through something about being the powerhouse of the WWF.
Todd Pettengill is back with another Wrestlemania report in which he makes a reference to Deliverance when talking about Burt Reynolds’ appearance. That stood out a mile on a distinctly PG WWF show.
And talking about involuntary sodomy, it’s time for Jeff Jarrett to face Virgil. I would go into specifics about the match but in reality it would just be the words “hammerlock” & “wristlock” repeatedly. As that’s really all that happens besides a few drop toeholds & faux boxing from Virgil. This basic and awful match is mercifully ended when Virgil telegraphs a back bodydrop & Jarrett hits a DDT for the victory.
Even with it’s short length this felt too long. Jarrett’s bad gimmick & Virgil’s limited skills conspired to produce one of the worst matches I’ve seen so far outside of the jobber matches.
Back at the commentary desk, DiBiase reveals that Jarrett is on the cover of Countrybeat magazine only for Vince to reveal that it is a forgery on Jarrett & DiBiase’s part, the cads!
Doink vs Iron Mike Sharpe is up next in a basic jobber match but one in which Sharpe is allowed some offence on Doink until the clown takes the win by hitting the Whoopie Cushion from the top rope.
Vince enters the ring for the next segment along with Chief Ray Little Turtle of the Lumbee Tribe, Chief Jay Strongbow & Chief Wahoo McDaniels for a presentation ceremony for Tatanka. Tatanka is presented with “sacred feathers” from the lodge of his tribes’ homeland and each guest takes it in turn to put Tatanka over as a role model for young Native Americans. After vowing to live up to the lofty standards of Wahoo & Strongbow, Tatanka dons the headdress & dances around the ring. Pure filler material, but presented with sensitivity and care, this segment did a great job of putting Tatanka over as a pure face, actually foreshadowing his eventual (spoiler) heel turn later in the year.
And lastly IRS takes on Mark Thomas in the last match of the evening where Irwin inexplicably works Thomas’ leg for a good while to set up his, er, flying clothesline finisher. Again devoid of action and booked weirdly I took nothing away from this match as IRS has no program for Wrestlemania.
Thankfully Jim Cornette appears with the Heavenly Bodies in tow to hype Jimmy Del Ray’s match with Lex Luger at the aforementioned “March to Wrestlemania” in which Jim cuts a promo on US workmanship, calling American cars terrible against their Japanese counterparts. The only highlight of the show.
Again a notable dip in quality this time out, Raw was devoid of any real drama and served only to advertise the USA TV special later in the week. This highlights the problem with multiple episodes of Raw being taped at once as every third week or so, the effort runs out & you get shows like this.
Stereo Bites to the ass: Monday Night Raw 21st March
Nowadays, the post Wrestlemania episode of Raw is a must see event, sometimes better than the big show itself. But this the WWF in 1994 remember, so this episode is somewhat less “must see”. We’re live in the Mid Hudson Civic Centre in Poughkeepsie, New York, with Vince McMahon & Macho Man Randy Savage on announcing duties and oh my god, the first contest is WWF Tag Team Champions the Quebecers in a non title match against the Bushwhackers. Frankly I wouldn’t blame you for closing the window right now but please stick with me. I used to love the Bushwhackers as a kid, and although I can still often get into that mindset when watching the Ultimate Warrior or Zombie Undertaker, but when it comes to the Bushwhackers, I can’t get back into that groove. This match made it all too clear to me I’m sad to say.
The action starts with the Bushwhackers jumping the champs as the bell rings, dumping them outside and leaving manager Johnny Polo at the mercy of Luke & Butch, but before any harm befalls Johnny his charges pull him out of the ring to safety. The Bushwhackers take the opportunity to pose and turn their backs, leaving themselves open to a reciprocal sneak attack by the Quebecers. The champs attempt to whip the Bushwhackers into each other but are both reversed & receive stereo punches to the gut & bites to the, er, “hind quarters”. The Bushwhackers then pose again before double clotheslining Pierre to the outside & then attempting to double team Jacques with Luke holding him so Butch can punch him. Jacques ducks though meaning Butch nails his own partner with an incredibly weak looking punch, followed by Jacques calling in Polo to hold Like for a double team punch spot, but this being wrestling, its Luke’s turn to duck, so Jacques hits Johnny, before Pierre joins Jacques for EXACTLY THE SAME SPOT. Yes, three identical spots one after another. The “action” continues with Jacques bumping like Curt Hennig for Butch’s shoulder block before doing the same for Luke who does a second shoulder block. There’s certainly no need for instant replays in this one.
Question: What’s worse than a Bushwhackers match? Answer: A Bushwhackers match that goes through an ad break, that’s what. After the shenanigans of the first half, everything settles down as the heels work over Luke that exposes Luke’s sloppiness as he makes a meal of even a simple snapmare. Luke manages a hot tag to Butch who runs wild before the faces team up to deliver Battering Rams to each Quebecer in turn. The subsequent pin is broken up by an interfering Polo, leading to Luke chasing Johnny Polo around ringside and onto the apron where he is grabbed from behind by Butch. Pierre runs into Butch for a roll up which has a side effect of sending Johnny flying from the apron into the guardrail as Pierre pins Butch’s shoulders for the 3 count and the victory.
Vince grabs a few words with the champs at ringside where before they can really speak , legendary manager Captain Lou Albano appears seemingly from nowhere to challenge Polo & his Quebecers to put the titles up against a team that Lou is putting together. The heels brashly accept, calling Lou a “has been” and a “nobody”.
I think my feelings to the match were made clear during my recap, but I will add that the Bushwhackers looked unbelievably out of place, even in this brash, cartoon new generation setting. I found the New Zealanders’ act too shallow even for my fond nostalgia for them to compensate for. Maybe my tastes have changed too much as I’ve gotten older, but even so, I hated this.
Resplendent in the headdress he received on the last episode, Tatanka takes to the ring to take on Chris “Yes that one” Hamrick in our first Jobber match. This is a new Tatanka, more aggressive and hard hitting than I’ve seen before, poor Hamrick is brutalised by hard chops, atomic drops, knees & powerslams throughout. Hamrick does get some punches on Tatanka, and a scary moment when he misses a dive & sails clear through the ropes to the floor, but eventually Tatanka begins his war dance & hits a Samoan drop to win.
This was surprisingly entertaining for a squash match, helped in no small part to Hamrick’s selling & Tatanka’s new aggressive attitude. Or maybe I was just happy to see anything after the first match. I hope it was the former.
Diesel is up against a jobber named Lucia I think (it wasn’t made clear) in a quick squash notable for Diesel hitting a flying (as in leaving his feet) shoulder block & there being huge chants for the heel Diesel from the crowd. On this evidence you can see why Vince thought he’d be someone they could build at the top, given the reaction Nash gets here. Diesel wins with the Jacknife Powerbomb for the 1st time on Raw so far.
Next comes an interview with new WWF champion Bret Hart, who promises to be a fighting champion, defending the belt against any challengers, including Yokozuna. When Vince brings up his defeat by Owen, Bret says that Owen won only one match, and now that he is champion, things are different, before uttering “sometimes you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you need” which is a very un-Bret sounding line to me.
Former USWA champion Koko B Ware (yep, as a former world champ he really does deserve that hall of fame place) takes on Jeff Jarrett in a contest that for those in the know seems to further the little known WWF vs USWA feud that happened in Memphis. It’s a fascinating piece of wrestling history that (cheap plug incoming) we at 4CR covered as part of 4CRetro available at http://www.blogtalk.radio.com/4crwrestling under the title “A Connecticut Yankee in King Lawler’s Court”. I say that about this match because Jarrett isn’t too heelish here, which he wasn’t in USWA. The finish of this rather basic TV match is exactly the same as the Virgil match I was so fond of (sarcasm mode off): Koko telegraphs a back bodydrop, but instead Jarrett hits a DDT for the pin. After the bell, Jarrett gets in Savage’s face at ringside and the two tease a brawl (this too was something that cropped up in the USWA feud). Both clamber into the ring where Jarrett is soon sent fleeing by both Savage & Koko as they celebrate to Koko’s awesome 90s theme to close out the show.
At least the first match was so bad I could have some fun at it’s expense, the rest of the show was fine, and even entertaining in the case of Tatanka vs Hamrick. The antics of Savage & Jarrett were fun, as Vince trying to talk Randy down from standing on the announce table was funny as Savage was incredibly unsteady on it. It was probably a pretty poor episode but I came away entertained, even if I had to make my own fun making jokes at times. Maybe the Bushwhackers are still entertaining even now, just in an ironic “so bad they’re good” kind of way. That isn’t me saying I’m eager to ever see them again though, some questions are best left unanswered.
The Louisville Lip: Monday Night Raw 28th March 1994
Welcome back to my odyssey through the neon hued world of the WWF’s Monday nights in 1994. Last time you may remember my horror when the Bushwhackers put in an appearance so imagine my relief when I fire up this episode to find joy of joys, Jim Cornette is on colour commentary for the whole of the show! I’m a self confessed fan of Mr. Cornette’s oratory skills so this is an early Christmas present from the youtube gods. Jim sets off right away by immediately cutting a promo on Bret Hart & Randy Savage promising to tell “the truth” about the events of Wrestlemania 10.
The first match sees a rather out of shape Rick “The Model” Martel (sporting a lack of definition & a ponderous gut) facing off against “Made in the USA” Lex Luger, here with a new generic “Rawk” theme and a supposed new “hot headed attitude” following the shenanigans of his loss at Wrestlemania. The match begins with a lot of stalling from Martel, playing the cowardly heel, backing away from Luger & hiding behind the referee and in the ropes. Vince takes the opportunity to break out one of his little known catchphrases, used whenever he can’t think of anything else to say when he calls Martel “one of the all time greats of the WWF” the slow action continues with Martel being little more than a jobber, being dismantled at the hands of Luger including an awful hiptoss that almost ended with Martel landing on his head. Cornette meanwhile is running down Luger at every opportunity, claiming his hot temper & reckless attitude caused him to lose, not all the cheating and shenanigans that Cornette orchestrated. The action is so intense that the camera cuts to the announce desk, revealing that Ted DiBiase is sat immediately behind Vince & Jim, where Cornette offers Ted Vince’s seat for the right price. This really is becoming the Cornette show as without his vocal input I think I’d hate this match.
Back from a break & back in the ring, Luger gets described as a “House of Fire” by Vince. Quick as a flash, Jim reminds us all that a house of fire will eventually burn down, I appreciated the quick wits on display here. Martel does start to get some offence mostly a few punches & a Chinlock. And then another Chinlock. And then another Chinlock. Credit again to Mr Cornette as he expertly tells us how a Chinlock could be used to deprive an opponent of oxygen, livening up a dull section. The finish comes as Lex performs a big comeback but only after messing up a leap over Martel, and getting Rick in his signature Torture Rack (here called “a back breaker” by Vince) for the victory by submission.
Everything around this match was pretty good, but the match itself wasn’t very enjoyable, too onesided at the beginning and too slow at the end. The over reliance on rest holds in the middle was boring as well. As a featured contest this failed to impress and enthuse for the rest of the show. Oh well.
Owen Hart is up against Mike Freeman in the next match that early on is essentially viewed over Vince’s shoulder as again we cut to DiBiase in the crowd as he tells Cornette & McMahon that “everybody’s got a price” and that he has some “surprises” in store for everyone in the coming weeks.
During the match Vince proclaims that “Freeman [is] no match for Owen” and that’s accurate as Owen brutalises his jobber foe throwing him across the ring by his hair before employing the Sharpshooter forcing Freeman to submit. It’s that man again as Cornette quips “Being the best wrestler in the Hart family is like being the nicest guy in prison” in perhaps the sole highlight of this squash match.
Circus music plays signalling the arrival of Doink & Dink (the El Torito of 1994 for younger readers, only without the talent) for a match with Eric/Erik/Erick Cody (the poor guy doesn’t get a graphic so I really can’t tell how his forename should be spelt). The fun loving Doink “hilariously” sprays DiBiase with a trick flower as he wanders past him at ringside. Other than DiBiase getting animated in his seat nothing else comes of this though. The match begins with Dink offering to shake Cody’s hand but SURPRISE! He’s wearing a hand buzzer that shocks the jobber. Oh the comedy. Actually in all honesty is was funny unlike the match which was dull. Cornette again posturing that he’d love to have a match against “the midget” was one of the few highlights, the only other one being an impressive German Suplex by Doink, and his Whoopie Cushion seated senton finisher. Beyond those though this was fine enough but uninspiring.
Cornette takes to the ring to interview Johnny Polo & his Tag Team champions The Quebecers, including hilarious scenes of people in the crowd singing their theme. Before anyone can speak Lou Albano wanders down to the ring to introduce the team he’s picked to challenge the champs as he promised last episode. To everyone’s surprise (especially the heels) Albano’s new team is The Headshrinkers, who’ve presumably turned babyface. The heels cower behind Cornette & protest that they had never agreed to face a team like The Headshrinkers, instead saying they’d agreed to face teams like the Smoking Gunns & The Bushwhackers (oh please no, not again). Albano reminds them that they said that they would be willing to face any team of Albano’s choosing on air last week, so the challenge stands.
Over a decade before they would terrorise players of Dark Souls, one of the Black Phantoms enjoyed a brief career as a WWF jobber it seems, here taking on the 123 Kid in a “blink and you’ll miss it” match. Early on Phantom uses his size advantage to hurl Kid around the ring, but the future X-Pac’s speed and technique soon prove too much for the Phantom, as Kid lands a moonsault to win the match. Too brief to leave any real impressions at least it didn’t overstay any welcome.
Lastly, Crush takes on Ray Hudson, who possesses the finest mullet I’ve seen so far on these shows. It really is a thing of beauty, even outclassing Crush’s own coiffure. Sadly hair supremacy is the only upper hand Hudson has as he’s methodically (read: “Very Slowly”) dismantled by Crush with “Martial Art” strikes & kicks. Again we’re shown DiBiase counting his cash at ringside, planting the seeds for the Million Dollar Corporation that we’ll see later in the year. Vince also takes time to ask Cornette when he’s planning on going on a diet, to which Jim expertly deflects calling himself a sex symbol, so maybe there’s hope for us all, eh? Crush wins with a press slam and a knee drop in a complete time waster.
The show closes with more shots of DiBiase counting his money, as Vince shills next weeks 10 man tag team match that was bumped from Wrestlemania, and promises that Razor Ramon and Yokozuna will be appearing on Raw too.
As “markish” as it may sound, I think without Jim Cornette being all over this episode I think I’d have hated it. The in ring action wasn’t great but Jim’s interactions with Vince & quick wits were the show’s saving grace. All in all it was a pleasant watch with the volume up. Which is quite the opposite of what I say about modern Raw most weeks. Without the commentary this would’ve been a bad episode as it is, I’d go so far as to call it “good”.
How I learned to stop worrying & love Adam Bomb: Monday Night Raw April 4th 1994
This episode of Raw starts with a backstage segment of Earthquake & Adam Bomb getting in each others faces about their match on the show, with Bomb promising to beat Quake as the Raw titles begin playing.
Once the theme song is out of the way, we’re introduced to our announce team for the show, and happy days! Joining Vince McMahon on commentary is the legendary Gorilla Monsoon who’ll be providing colour comments throughout. Monsoon was THE voice of the WWF for me growing up, more so than Heenan and Ventura. Gorilla was one of those quintessentially WWF parts of my formative viewing years and I’ve no shame admitting it was great to hear some Gorilla commentary I’ve previously never heard before.
After Vince & Monsoon run down the upcoming show, it’s time for Earthquake vs Adam Bomb with Harvey Whippleman in tow in the first featured match of the episode.
Jumping Earthquake before the bell, Bomb uses punches to get the upper hand but is soon brought down with a hiptoss from Quake and a clothesline over the top rope, sending Adam crashing to the outside. The two then charge into each other in the ring, but neither man budges until Quake levels Bomb with another hard clothesline. Bomb turns the tide with a hot shot from the apron, draping Earthquake’s throat across the top rope, and slingshots into the ring over the same rope with a shoulder block, followed by an elbow drop for the first near fall.
Quake then gets tangled up in the ropes in the same manner that Andre the Giant did, leaving him open for Adam to lay in with kicks as the ref is preoccupied with freeing the trapped Quake. The action then cuts to ringside, where Harvey Whippleman sidles up to Howard Finkeland begins verbally abusing him in a callback to their altercation at Wrestlemania 10 Nothing really comes from this though, as Harvey backs down quickly as Howard steps up to challenge the bully face to face. This is all window dressing to draw attention away from the match in the ring however as Quake is soon extricated from the ropes, and dodges an elbow drop, but misses one of his own.
The end of the match begins as Adam Bomb hits a top rope clothesline for another near fall, before Earthquake reverses a corner charge from Bomb, and hits a sequence of an impressive Belly to Belly suplex, elbow drop, leg drop and finally the Earthquake splash to end the match and pick up the win.
There wasn’t a lot to this content wise, but it wasn’t without its charms as a match, despite his size, Earthquake could move in the ring with a grace that beggars belief and Adam Bomb although a little ungainly & possessing a ridiculous character, did what he was required to do with some style. Decent enough is the best way I could describe it, I’ve seen a lot worse in the course of this series so I’m appreciative of matches even if they are merely adequate.
Our next segment is set up by a recap of the Luger/Yokozuna match from Wrestlemania where the shenanigans of special referee Mr Perfect are highlighted. (It must be noted that Mr Perfect in that match perfectly predicted Robin Thicke’s awards attire by 2 decades by wearing an entire outfit of black & white stripes)
Back live in the arena Gorilla is in the ring with a mic in his hand to interview Mr Perfect about his actions at Wrestlemania. Clad in the same all black attire he sported during his time as Ric Flair’s second, Perfect enters to a chorus of boos from the stands. Gorilla starts tearing verbal strips off Perfect, calling his intentions and motivations into question to which Perfect defends himself, claiming he refereed the match “perfectly” and proceeds to admonish Luger for his pulling Cornette & Fuji into the ring during the title match. Perfect then explains why he opted to remove the two from the ring instead of counting Luger’s pin and then quotes the rule about wrestlers not touching referees during matches as the reason he disqualified Lex (fair point, Luger did push Perfect due to frustration). Gorilla finishes up the interview by revealing that he believes Perfect had an ulterior motive during the match and that if Luger & Perfect met in the ring, Perfect would more than likely lose. Great stuff from both except for a slip of the tongue by Perfect who proclaims “I was trying to be biased” instead of UNbiased. This botch actually does work in the storyline’s favour though, as Vince covers for it by postulating that it was a Freudian slip & Perfect really did have his own agenda. Hey, if you’re going to make a mistake, make it look like it was your intention to begin with.
If a botch happens but it helps get something over, is it really a botch at all?
Its jobber squash match time as Razor Ramon takes on Austin Steel next. Razor despite being a face at this point continually heels out on Steel, slapping his head & delivering kicks as he lies on the match in between running through all his signature moves. “The ladder man” (as Gorilla christens Ramon) looks like such a star here, thanks in no small part to Steels emphatic bumping and screaming when locked in Razor’s submission holds. Razor drills Austin with a one arm slam and the Razor’s Edge to end this quick match. A great showcase of Razor’s moveset in this one that showed that big things were planned for “The Bad Guy”.
The 10 man tag match that was scheduled for Wrestlemania but dropped for time reasons is up next as Jeff Jarrett, Rick Martel, IRS and the Headshrinkers take on Tatanka, Sparky Plugg, 123 Kid & The Smoking Gunns. I would break this match down in order but there’s no real story to the match, just a series of moves taking us to the finish, and my first attempt at getting this down was awful, so what I will give are some of my observations from the match.
Noone in this match seems capable of performing a hiptoss to any degree of proficiency. Billy Gunn, Samu, Tatanka and Jarrett all seem to want to land on their heads in this one.
I’d been disappointed by the lack of “WHAT A MANEUVER” calls by Vince so far in the WiTCY series, so imagine my giddy thrill as I got not one, not two but THREE in this match alone.
Vince genuinely has nothing worthwhile to say about Jeff Jarrett, as once again all Vince could do was reiterate Jeff’s music gimmick about using his WWF fame to launch a music career.
Sparky Plugg’s neon green ring attire is murder to look at on a HD monitor. Seriously it threw my colour balance right out!
The heels win after a schmozz in which all 10 men brawl in the ring, and when they leave IRS dodges a corner charge by 123 Kid & rolls him up for the pin.
This match wasn’t awful, but I could hardly call it enjoyable, the lack of any real storytelling meant I couldn’t find anything to keep me invested until the inevitable point where a brawl would break out.
Shawn Michaels & Diesel appear to debut the Heartbreak Hotel, Shawn’s new interview segment. With a heart shaped bed & lurid neon sign, the cheap dirty motel feel is completed by Shawn making a few puns about stealing stuff from hotels before cutting a brief promo on Razor Ramon, and announcing Diesel’s intention to challenge Razor for the intercontinental championship. Fun, and did further a storyline somewhat, but having no guest felt odd, as this could’ve been any promo from anywhere, it didn’t need the set dressing. Also, Shawn’s catchphrase of “turn out the lights it’s checkout time” is cringeworthy.
Yokozuna takes on jobber foe Scott Powers in a slow plodding squash where powers get no offence of any kind and Yoko moves around at a pace I can only describe as glacial. Yoko hits the Banzai Drop as Vince & Gorilla try to talk up how Yoko is more dangerous than ever now he lost the belt, but with his monster aura all but in tatters given that he beat Lex Luger despite being unconscious and losing to Bret Hart because he lost his balance, it’s too great a task to try & make Yoko the monster he once was. I’m anxious to see how long they persevered with this course going forward.
Lastly Vince & Monsoon hype the next episode and an upcoming Quebecers title defence against a mystery team as Gorilla references the UK tour where the Canucks traded the titles with Men on a Mission, saying that the Royal Albert Hall “literally exploded” when MoM beat the Quebecers, oh Gorilla, it was going so well too….
Not the best show my any means, but not the worst either, a nice middle ground was reached with the Razor match, Earthquake vs Adam Bomb and the Perfect interview were all enjoyable, but the 10 man tag & Yokozuna matches weren’t offensively bad, but dulled my nostalgic enjoyment of having Gorilla back in the booth.
Cuddle Virgil: Monday Night Raw 11th April 1994.
Welcome once again folks to my personal journey through the previously unknown to me episodes of WWF Raw in 1994, this time out coming from Utica NY. Joining Vince at the commentary desk is Macho Man Randy Savage to tell is about the unique situation in which the fans at home can choose the opponents for the Quebecers in tonight’s WWF tag team championship match by calling a (very expensive according to my research) 900 number. Thankfully the video I was using was quite heavily edited so I’m spared what I’m sure was Vince plugging the phone number as much as the smartphone app gets mentioned nowadays, after all it’s what I would do.
What we do get is our first contest. Now, the words “dream match” get thrown around a lot these days, and this is as far away an example as you can get as Diesel, accompanied by Shawn Michaels takes on Virgil, who made such a lovely impression on me with his last appearance in the series. More evidence that WWF was right to push Diesel as hard as it did is displayed here, as Diesel immediately brutalises Virgil with stiff knees to his gut. Virgil manages to dodge a corner charge and begins to attack Diesel’s arm with multiple armwringers. Any hope of Diesel being robbed of his upper body strength is soon quashed as Diesel simply punches Virgil square in the face to regain control before blasting Virgil with a wince inducing side slam. The action slows down to a crawl as Diesel locks Virgil in a bear hug. Virgil soon fights out though and mounts a brief flurry of offence, including a top rope axe handle that fails to take Diesel off his feet, but is soon locked into another bear hug. With Virgil in his grasp, the future outsider charges and runs Virgil back first into the corner, injuring his lower back. This is where Diesel focuses his attacks for the remainder of the bout, hitting multiple forearms and locking in a third bear hug! “The only thing Diesel hasn’t done is pull Virgil’s hair” quips Savage on commentary which did induce laughter from your humble writer. It’s in this third bear hug that Virgil seems to fade away, the ref raises Virgil’s arm which falls limply two times. As the ref raises Virgil’s arm a third time, a rush of adrenaline courses though the former million dollar bodyguard and he fights his way out of Diesel’s clutches and repeatedly hits “Big Daddy Cool” with clotheslines in an attempt to knock him off his feet. Virgil manages to take Diesel off his feet after craftily stomping one of Diesel’s feet, upsetting his balance before one last clothesline brings down the giant to a huge ovation. After a near fall, Virgil attempts to roll up Diesel for another pin, but Virgil is easily shrugged off and as he gets to his feet Diesel levels him with a big boot to the face. This is the beginning of the end for Virgil as Diesel hits an excruciating Jacknife Powerbomb and pins his opponent by placing one foot on his chest.
Despite the three bear hugs, and the presence of Virgil. This was really quite enjoyable. Nash looked like a million dollars once again, and the crowd responded to that, a fine way of opening the show.
Next up is Jerry Lawler’s King’s Court segment. Carried to the ring on his throne by four jobbers (including Duane Gill and a very young D-Lo Brown), Lawler looks every inch the pompous heel who gets his comeuppance in short order as he is unceremoniously dumped from his perch falling flat on his face at ringside. Vince & Savage at ringside have a great laugh at Lawler’s pratfall as the King struggles into the ring & try & salvage some dignity. Lawler berates the crowd for having the audacity to laugh at his mishap before introducing his interviewee Lex Luger. Lex is unable to talk to Lawler due to a fit of the (kayfabe) giggles before regaining his composure & sarcastically putting Lawler over as a interviewer. The point of this is to further the brewing feud between Luger & Mr Perfect, with the segment being the inverse of last episode with a heel interviewer questioning the motives of his babyface subject. Luger cuts an impassioned promo on Mr Perfect, challenging him to a match, before leaving the ring as the segment ends.
This was okay in itself, but knowing that the Perfect/Luger match will never take place precludes me from getting invested in this story. That said, I do wish that Luger & Perfect would’ve come to blows as this feud is being built up rather well.
The hard editing continues as the video cuts straight to Sparky Plugg taking on Barry Horowitz in something a little different from the usual squash match we’d get at this point of Raw. The action is very back & forth, with Plugg dominating early with nice bodyslams and armdrags, and Horowitz hitting some hard European uppercuts and even a reverse DDT on Sparky. Plugg takes the win though with a top rope knee drop in a brief but very fun little Raw match, brought down only by Vince & Savage talking to Perfect via phone about Luger’s comments. Perfect just blandly reiterates what he said last episode with Gorilla Monsoon which failed to grab my attention, instead it took away from the match happening on screen. Shame.
It’s time to reveal just who has won the poll and the right to challenge the Quebecers for the tag titles. The candidates for this one were The Smoking Gunns (who’d had no real feud with the champs) The Bushwhackers (oh please no not again!) and Men on a Mission (who were embroiled in a feud with the Quebecers at the time). Unsurprisingly Men on a Mission are the winners of the poll and the title match is on! Sadly this is very formulaic albeit with some fun cheating from both sides including both teams rolling over pin attempts behind Earl Hebner’s back. The Quebecers once again win by shenanigans as Johnny Polo successfully manages to goad Mabel into chasing him around ringside, leaving Mo at the Mercy of the champs & their double team finisher. Not really bad, and given the other options, I could’ve gotten a lot worse, but I’m not sold on MoM, and I’m shuddering at the prospect of Mabel’s singles push. The Quebecers on the other hand have been a revelation this far in WiTCY, they debuted just after I’d stopped watching WWF, so I was largely unfamiliar with their work, but they are one of the highlights I’ve come across so far, as has Johnny Polo who is a pretty good heel manager.
Vince & Savage lastly tell is that the next weeks episode will feature Bret Hart against Kwang (the only wrestler named after a sound effect) in something I’m greatly looking forward to, before IRS reminds everyone to pay their taxes. The show goes off air with a slow motion replay of Lawler falling from his throne, revealing that Lawler actually hit his face on the apron on the way down.
All told, this was a pretty fun episode, the opening match took me by surprise at it’s quality despite there being three bear hugs. The tag main event was okay, but a little “by the numbers” and Sparky Plugg vs Barry Horowitz was a little mind blowing in the context of a squash match. I came away very entertained from this episode and that’s really all you can hope for in this era.
He Slimed Me!: Monday Night Raw 18th April
Welcome back to Wrestling in The Clinton Years, my personal trek through the neon & zebra print hued action of the WWF in 1994. We are back in Utica, New York and once again Vince McMahon is joined by Randy “Macho Man” Savage at the announce desk to call the action and with very little delay we are taken to the ring for a highly anticipated (by me at least) match between WWF Champion Bret Hart in a non title match against the martial arts master (and in no way one of the villains from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) KWANG!
As Bret climbs back into the ring after his traditional giving his sunglasses to a child in the crowd, Kwang jumps Bret & beats him down with clubbing blows. Kwang hits a savate kick on the Hitman too, leaving Bret down on the mat giving Kwang enough time to treat the crowd to a display of the deadly poison mist! (One of my favourite gimmicks in wrestling) which Vince calls “that green slime” proving his grasp of the concept of solids, liquids & gases is slender at best. I’m normally a pretty easy going guy about this kind of thing, but that really offended me for some reason, it isn’t Mutagen for chrissakes!! Bret manages to dodge a corner charge and begins to work over Kwang’s arm.
Momentum swings back in Kwang’s favour after he dodges a shoulder block attempt by Bret sending Hart crashing through the ropes to the arena floor. Bret begins to favour his wrist as Keang follows him outside & rams The Hitman’s head into the ring apron, before leaning him against the ring post. Kwang attempts to superkick Bret’s head into the metal post but Bret sidesteps leading to Kwang kicking the post.
Oddly, Kwang opts not to sell smashing his foot into a solid metal object, and instead continues to beat down Bret as the show breaks for the ads. I would’ve thought this spot would’ve been the big “turning point” giving Bret his momentum back but no, as Raw resumes, we see Kwang nearly kicking Hart’s head off with a wheel kick in the corner.
As Kwang grounds Bret with a paralysing trapezius claw, Vince talks to Owen Hart on the phone, who cuts a promo on Bret about them facing each other on the Wrestlemania Revenge live tour. During this Bret hits a crossbody on Kwang for a near fall but again gets caught in a trapezius claw. The end begins for Kwang as Bret powers out of the hold, dodges another wheel kick and then hits his “5 moves of doom ‘94” routine of a suplex, BackBreaker, 2nd rope elbow drop, side Russian legsweep and finally locking in the Sharpshooter for the clean submission victory. It’s interesting to note that Kwang actually taps out to the hold (that is slapping the mat with his hand to indicate he’s giving up) which didn’t become the norm until late 1997. This was surprisingly good, Bret gave Kwang a huge amount & made him look like a genuine threat. This back & forth match was hugely enjoyable, and although my love for Kwang was originally purely ironic, I found myself liking the faux Great Muta gimmick. Easily one of the best “featured” matches I’ve seen so far.
Before he was the Portuguese Man of War and before he became “Justin Credible” he was PJ Walker, and here he takes on Jeff Jarrett, who is dressed as a paper lantern similar to those made by children at primary school. Vince again reminds us of Jarrett’s gimmick of wanting to be a country singer, despite Double J not actually displaying any of this in screen in anything I’ve seen him in so far. The match itself is a typical jobber squash match, with Jarrett taking the win with a running DDT, not offensive, just too rote to be interesting. The only thing I “learned” is that Jeff & Bill Clinton both like peanut butter & banana sandwiches. Yes that really was said on commentary.
Lou Albano is shown demanding that Jack Tunney gives him an answer to the question of The Headshrinkers’ tag team championship against the Quebecers. Lou demands Tunney give him an answer next week.
The previous squash match may have been uninspiring but this next one sure wasn’t! The Steiner Brothers take on the team of Mike Coury & Barry Hardy (who is the new titleholder of “Best Mullet I’ve seen so far”, Blonde on top & black at the sides, it’s a thing of beauty.). The Steiners take turns to hurl their opponents around the ring like ragdolls with sublime suplexes. Scott hits a dragon suplex & T-Bone before throwing a limp Coury into his team’s corner for Hardy to tag in in just an amazing display of arrogance & contempt for his opponents. Rick Oklahoma slams Hardy and a 2nd rope Belly to Belly Suplex, before Scott hits an Angle slam from their favourite rope followed by a Tiger Suplex Bomb and the terrifying Steiner Screw Driver to Coury to end this extraordinary squash match. My jaw was on the floor at the brutality of the Steiners and it’s a shame I’ll not be seeing too much of them going forward. Please seek this match out & marvel at Rick & Scott at their stiff best.
A vignette of a garbage truck pulling up to a sidewalk is up next, and on that Garbage truck I’d Duke “the dumpster” Droese, announcing his arrival in the WWF. “I don’t take trash from anyone” he proclaims as he literally takes trash from someone. Even coming at this with an open mind I think this may be a occupation based gimmick too far.
Jerry Lawler is in the ring for another King’s Court segment next. Lawler’s guest is Alundra Blayze, the WWF womens Champion, but before Lawler brings her out King makes his feelings on women’s wrestling VERY clear and starts taking heelish shots at Alundra with lines such as “The last time I saw a face like hers it was in a bag of oats”. Sigh.
Misogynist Lawler then allows Blayze onto the set, who appears to be missing her title belt. Alundra does however have a paper crown emblazoned with “Lawler is a loser” to antagonise King who gets riled & asks where Blayze’s title is, as more references to Piper’s pit are made. Was this all setup for a Lawler/Piper match that never came to pass? For some reason Lawler brings out Luna Vachon who Alundra accuses of stealing her belt. Luna protests her innocence & the two challenge each other as Savage yells “cat fight!” The segment just ends with no real denouement but I guess this is as good a setup for a feud that women’s wrestling in 1994 is going to get.
Earthquake takes on Mike Bell next in fun little match that begins with the much smaller Bell attempts a test of strength with Quake who towers over him. Bell has a solution though, and that is to stand on the second rope so he is on Quake’s level. I’ll admit that was really funny to see. Bell does also get to enjoy some brief offence but is ultimately felled by a sublime Belly to Belly suplex & the Big Splash. I’ve said before that Quake’s agility is amazing for someone of his size & weight, but seeing him chase Bell around ringside was again a revelation. Away from the tag matches I’m more familiar with when Quake was teaming with Fred “Tugboat/Typhoon/Shockmaster” Ottoman, Quake in singles matches is really fun to watch.
Our last contest is IRS vs Major Yates. IRS cuts his standard “Pay your taxes” promo before a deathly dull match, livened up by Vince & Savage talking up IRS’ feud with Tatanka (footage was shown of IRS stealing & destroying the ceremonial headdress Tatanka received weeks earlier on Raw). Also of note was IRS debuting a new finisher, an STF dubbed “The Penalty” (oh the comedy!) unsurprisingly IRS wins by submission.
The show ends with a really awful promo by Johnny Polo who is supposedly worried about Tunney’s decision, not that you’d know as he stumbles over his lines so much they really should be labelled as a tripping hazard.
Lawler is shown backstage on his discount throne and again makes a Piper’s Pit reference and telling us his next guest will be Nikolai Volkoff. As guest reveals go it’s only slightly less underwhelming than announcing your next guest on your podcast is Martin Dixon.
That self deprecating aside, I thought this show was excellent, I gained a new respect for Kwang, his match with Hart was really, really good. The Steiners’ match was a clear example of just how you do a squash match and Earthquake showed again just how good he is. This is probably the best episode I’ve seen so far overall, the bad parts didn’t drag down the parts I thoroughly enjoyed, this is a real diamond in the rough.
Monday Night Raw April 25th 1994
Once again it’s time to journey back to the decade that fashion forgot. I’m back in 1994 watching WWF Raw once again coming from Utica, New York, where for some reason the big tease is Nikolai Volkoff being the guest on the King’s Court later in the show. That’s not a good sign.
Vince & Randy Savage are once again at commentary for this episode as the first match gets under way. Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon takes on Jeff Jarrett in a non title match, just days before Razor is to defend the belt against Diesel on Superstars. This is an astonishing match as Jarrett is the one in control for most of the match, nearly dominating Razor from pretty much the get go. His speed is the determining factor as he effortlessly dodges Razor’s attacks until a reckless dive into Ramon’s arms for a huge fall away slam sends Jarrett outside the ring. It’s here Jarrett proves to be an intelligent heel too, as he pulls Ramon out by his feet and hurls Ramon into the ring steps.
Jarrett nearly wins this one with a sleeper hold, but Ramon gets a surge of adrenaline & fights out of Jarrett’s clutches, forcing Jeff to beg off but again the cunning Double J suckers Razor in and dumps him outside once again by grabbing his tights and pulling him through the ropes.
This is Shawn Michaels’ cue to wander to ringside & verbally berate Ramon as he lays flat out on the mats. Razor does regain control however, clotheslining Jarrett over the ropes to the floor before hurling HBK into the ring & beating him up. Just as he is about to give Michaels the Razor’s Edge, Diesel appears and blindsides Ramon before levelling him with a big boot. He then gives Razor not one but two Jacknife powerbombs as Jarrett is disqualified and the heels pose over the fallen Razor.
With a lightning quick pace & Jarrett’s best showing yet seen in WiTCY this was a pleasant surprise, he actually looked like a credible heel wrestler instead of a ridiculous comedy act. Razor looking outclassed was a shock too, given the size & scale of his push thus far. Not a match worth seeking out but entertaining nonetheless.
Boo Randy Savage for bringing up Billy Ray Cyrus though, as I’d just finished extensive therapy to erase all knowledge of his work & career.
Bam Bam Bigelow beats up poor jobber Tony Devito for a few minutes as Vince talks on the phone with WWF president Jack Tunney about the situation involving the Headshrinkers seeking to challenge the Quebecers for the WWF Tag Team Titles. The charismatic Tunney just lights up the screen as only a dynamo such as him can in revealing that not only will the match take place, but it will take place on the very next episode of Monday Night Raw! I jest of course as Tunney stumbles over his words and messes up the announcement of the title match. Bigelow wins with a standing splash to end Devito’s pain.
Vince is forced to apologise during the Heavenly Bodies taking on two unnamed jobbers as Mr Perfect was written out of storylines (and the company) by the revelation that he had been “indefinitely suspended” following him no showing a live event on which he was forced to face Lex Luger, and thus weeks of build from WrestleMania is rendered completely pointless. In the ring, the Bodies dismantle their jobber foes with some incredible double team moves before “Gigolo” Jimmy Del Ray takes the win with a moonsault from the top rope in actually a fun little segment.
Now the reason we’re all here (apparently) as Jerry Lawler takes to the ring for another instalment of the King’s Court. Nikolai Volkoff is dragged from the crowd as King relentlessly insults Volkoff’s hideous suit before revealing that Volkoff had made a series of bad investments & was destitute. Volkoff puts a brave face on & calls himself a hard working man in his thick accent before the segment ends with no real impetus besides acting as a giant neon sign saying “THIS WILL BE IMPORTANT LATER” for future plotlines.
We get a glimpse into the future as 123 Kid takes on Duane Gill. The future X-PAC & Gillberg have a fun little back and forth contest, fuelled by 123 Kid’s eternal underdog gimmick. This means Gill gets to control Kid early on, including a vicious looking clothesline, until Kid proceeds to kick the stuffing out of Gill, eventually levelling Duane with a spinning wheel kick to win the match. Again, a pleasant surprise.
Next, a random man in a delicatessen blandly reads to us viewers how he served the Undertaker a sandwich that was “6 feet” before he vanished. Oh god I am not looking forward to seeing more of these.
Our last match sees Owen Hart destroying poor Rich Myers with hard chops, dropkicks & even a camel clutch before locking him in a sharpshooter to end this Squash with a capital S match.
And last but not least we get a brief face off between Captain Lou Albano & Johnny Polo over the Tag Team Title match next episode. Polo relentlessly insults Albano until Savage steps in, intimidating the cowardly Polo & holding him so Lou can deck him with a punch to the face. The two then celebrate in the ring as the show ends for a feel good moment for the crowd.
It’s hard to say how I feel about this episode, there was nothing offensively bad, but neither was there anything outstandingly good. Everything was merely “okay” and outside of Jeff Jarrett looking surprisingly dominant over Razor Ramon this edition of Raw was the very definition of filler material. The biggest plot development involved Nikolai Freaking Volkoff, and that’s not a good thing believe me.
Phew! that was a lot of words, I can’t thank you enough for making it this far and I hope you’ve enjoyed these recaps. I’ll be back soon with more Wrestling in the Clinton Years.