Wrestling in the Clinton Years: Chronic Mastication

A trepidatious travelogue about the world of WWF in the mid 90s by Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

WWF Raw December 5th 1994

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Hello dear reader & welcome back to Wrestling in the Clinton years where Randy Savage’s recent departure has still left a permanent position at the commentary table vacant alongside Vince McMahon. This time out Mr McMahon is joined by a zebra print & mirror clad Shawn Michaels who will be providing his thoughts & insights throughout the show. His entrance is the opening of the episode where HBK wastes no time in stealing the spotlight, mugging for the camera before introducing who he claims is “his good friend” Jeff Jarrett for his match with The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith. Jarrett is seconded to the ring by a mysterious aide, clad in black sweatshirt, sunglasses & cap this unknown figure is none other than the future “Road Dogg” The Roadie, here making his WWF TV debut. In the spirit of the season Jarrett is seen sporting tinsel on the front of his outfit, giving the effect of a very festive Giant Gonzalez. As Jarrett’s opponent The British Bulldog makes his entrance Shawn is jealous of Bulldog’s entrance fireworks, to which Vince is very exasperated which will be a running theme for the commentary on this show.

With the introductions & preamble out of the way the match begins with Jarrett surprising Bulldog with an armdrag from a lock up before strutting across the ring in a huge display of arrogance (not the cologne). After this the two exchange hammerlocks until Jarrett trips Davey from behind and as he lays face first on the canvas, Jarrett walks along Smith’s back in another cocksure move. Jarrett’s early upper hand continues with a series of knee lifts into Bulldog’s stomach that forces Davey back into the corner where Jarrett attempts a hiptoss but the stronger Bulldog will not be hauled over and instead blasts Jeff with a hiptoss on his own that sends Jarrett hurrying to escape the ring where Davey takes the opportunity to mock Jeff, doing his own version of Double J’s signature taunt to great cheers from the crowd who are very hot for Bulldog.

Back in the ring Jeff tries a shoulderblock but the stocky Smith doesn’t move an inch but when Bulldog tries one, he runs into Jarrett like a freight train, splattering Jarrett on the canvas. After another lockup the two exchange takedowns & head scissors in a great display of chain wrestling until Smith shoves Jarrett onto his behind as Vince & Shawn ponder the identity & intentions of the as yet unnamed Roadie who seems content to stand at ringside & cheer on Jeff Jarrett.

Jeff manages to trap Bulldog in an armbar and then throws Davey into the ropes and as Smith runs back & forth, Jarrett leap frogs over him twice but on the third time Jeff attempts a back body drop only for Bulldog to catch Jarrett & hoist him up for a very impressive stalling vertical suplex.

A stunned Jarrett wants a time out & wanders around outside the ring before sneakily tripping Davey under the bottom rope allowing him to take control of the match as he reenters the ring with punches & a hard whip to the turnbuckle. Bowed by confidence Jarrett charges at Davey as he is slumped in the corner but the resilient Davey Boy raises his boots to meet Jarrett’s chin. Smith manages to follow up by ramming Jarrett’s head into the buckle 8 times and as a dazed Jeff staggers around, Bulldog climbs the ropes aiming to leap onto his opponent. Jarrett recovers and as Bulldog is perched on the top rope, catches him with a punch to the chest, allowing him to climb up with Bulldog & superplexes him off the top for a very close near fall.

After a brief chinlock, Jarrett catches Bulldog with a knee to the gut as Davey runs at him, sending Davey tumbling through the air and crashing to the canvas for another near fall, followed by another, longer chinlock.

The crowd rally behind Bulldog who fights to his and out of the chinlock where he whips Jarrett into the corner once more. Davey follows up with a charge but Jarrett slips away and Bulldog crashes chest-first into the buckle. Seizing the opportunity, Jarrett climbs the ropes, hoping to hit some arial offence of his own, drilling Bulldog with a leaping chop to the head that gets another close 2 count as the show fades to black in place of the commercial break that would have happened 20 years ago.

Back from the ad break we see Jarrett perched on the second rope, overlooking a prone Bulldog as he lays on the mat. Jarrett leaps off aiming to blast Davey with a diving fist drop but the unforgiving canvas is the only thing that Jarrett’s fist finds however as Bulldog rolls out of harm’s way.

Soon after this the two opponents crash into each other and the ref is forced to start a double count out. Both men struggle to their feet where Davey tries a quick small package hold that only gets a 2 count but Jarrett is soon back on top, grounding Bulldog with a sleeper hold for a while. A sudden surge of adrenaline fuels Bulldog who manages to stand bolt upright with Jarrett still clinging to him in a powerful display of strength by the Brit before backing Jarrett into a corner to force him off.

After another near fall for Bulldog with a crucifix, Davey tries a fisherman’s suplex (The Perfect-Plex) that only gets a 2 count as Shawn Michaels quips that “That move never beats anybody”. ME-OW! someone get Mr Michaels a saucer of milk please. Jarrett comes back with a hard uppercut & another chinlock that Davey soon fights out of and catches a leaping Jarrett, bringing his most sensitive area across his knee with an atomic drop. A back body drop & 3 running clotheslines continue Davey’s comeback and send Jarrett scurrying out of the ring.

Sensing defeat, Jarrett attempts to abandon the match and begins to walk back up the entrance aisle. He doesn’t get away so easily though as Bulldog follows Jeff and forcibly returns him to ringside, picking Jarrett up over his head in a military press slam position and carrying him down the aisle, tossing Jarrett through the ropes and back into the ring. As Bulldog tries to reenter the ring himself someone or something under the ring grabs Davey’s leg preventing him from continuing. Amid the confusion the bell suddenly sounds and Howard Finkel announces that Jeff Jarrett is the winner by count out. Across the ring Jarrett’s mysterious aide is seen emerging from under the ring, revealing the deception as the heels abscond, leaving Bulldog despondent in the ring. Shawn gloats on commentary just how clever Jarrett & his aide are to pour salt into the wound to end the first segment of the show.

I really, really enjoyed this match. Bulldog & Jarrett worked really well together and the ending of the match was very well done and very different from the usual “manager interference” routines I’ve seen. This was a very good TV match and yet another hidden little gem in late 94. It isn’t a classic by any means but is worth seeking out if you have access to the WWE Network.

After the match footage is shown of the 1994 American Sportscaster Association dinner at which several WWF Superstars were present. Doink & Dink in full tuxedos & clown makeup are seen along with Diesel, resplendent in a sleeveless tuxedo jacket with “chrome” epaulettes. It’s tacky formal attire of the highest order & Diesel himself looks incredibly self-conscious wearing it, the poor guy.

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The next match is 123 Kid taking on Barry Horowitz in a very fun little enchantment match which is very competitive due to the Kid’s eternal underdog status. Horowitz is in possession of his “patting himself on the back” gimmick that will play a greater role in coming months and Barry does perform a lovely double arm suplex. All throughout this match though, Shawn Michaels can clearly be heard chewing gum through his mic. It’s very off putting to hear the smacks of HBK’s lips as the action unfolds, it even gets to such a point that Vince attempts to reprimand Michaels later in the show in a comment that I’m not entirely sure that it was Vince slipping out of character. The match ends when 123 Kid blasts Horowitz with 2 vicious looking spinning kicks and a roll up for the pinfall. Good stuff even despite HBK’s blatant mastication.

Following another plug for the recently released WWF Raw videogame the next match sees one of my not-entirely ironic favourites KWANG along with Harvey Whippleman face Scott Taylor.  Shawn again tests the limits of the show’s rating by making a series of not-at-all PG references to Heidi Fleiss, suggesting that Whippleman may have been a client of the infamous showbusiness “madam”. Vince no-sells the comments & soldiers on as KWANG easily demolishes Taylor, even finding time to spray the deadly RED MIST into the air before levelling the future master of The Worm with a spinning heel kick. All the while we see Harvey Whippleman continue his campaign of bullying towards Howard Finkel that has been on and off since Wrestlemania 10. More on this later….
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Jerry Lawler takes to the ring with another edition of The King’s Court, this time with a special mystery guest. All show long Vince had convinced himself that WWF Champion Diesel is the guest in question, in fact all show long Vince has been singing Diesel’s praises so much you’d swear he had a crush on him. The mystery guest is in fact Shawn Michaels. The cocky Shawn joins King in the ring to discuss Diesel and Shawn’s role in “making” Big Daddy Cool the star he is today. Shawn proclaims that without him, Diesel would be nothing and credits himself with his success, promising that should they meet in the ring, HBK would easily beat Diesel for the belt. I can’t say for sure if this was the intention but it’s great to see the seeds of the Wrestlemania main event planted so early, if that indeed was the intention. This interview was fine, much better than some of the dross & shouting I’ve had to endure throughout the series, but it didn’t need to be as lengthy as it was, there really only was one point to get across & it was done all too quickly.

Oh boy, here we go. The last time I encountered the Bushwhackers in this project it’s safe to say I wasn’t a fan. I was as a youngster, very much so in fact but as a cold, cynical “adult” I find them such an anachronism at this time of the supposed “New Generation” so it’s with great trepidation I sat down to watch the men from New Zealand take on recent Federation arrivals & WiTCY debutants Timothy Well & Steven Dunn, the team of (sigh) Well Dunn. Well Dunn have also picked up “Handsome” Harvey Whippleman as a manager & his harassment of Howard Finkel continues, this time hurling insults over the microphone & leaving The Fink stewing with inner rage.

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Despite their killer mullets & nice double team offence, Well Dunn are facing the Bushwhackers & I doubt David Copperfield could’ve produced a good match out of this equation. Luke is out of his element having to sell for a longer period that usual as the heelish Well Dunn work him over. Luke’s preferred method of selling injury is to lie on the mat, flopping around like a fish on the deck of a trawler. Even his brief offence is bad, with a running clothesline looking particularly amateurish. Butch does little better after his hot tag that leads to the finishing sequence. The Bushwhackers manage to hit Well out of the ring with their patented Bushwhacker Battering Ram, leaving just Dunn in the ring. Whippleman at ringside trips Butch however, and Dunn hits a DEVASTATING er, knee to the back to keep Butch down for a count of 3 and the victory for Well Dunn. Fink is soon appealing to the referee Earl Hebner about the interference that occurred behind his back but the decision seems to stand as Finkel & Whippleman square up to each other before the screen fades to black for an ad break. Oh goody, I can’t wait to see more of this feud.

Lastly, a very dapper looking Bob Backlund joins HBK & McMahon to talk about his match with Doink the Clown next episode. The “clownist” Backlund tells of how he hates clowns & says that Doink & his ilk have no place in society, promising to “destroy” him on his quest to regain the WWF Championship and raise the fans moral standing “to that of God”. I love insane Backlund & I hope technical issues don’t rob me of another Bob Backlund match next time.

All in all & despite the Bushwhackers & some HBK obnoxiousness, this episode was really good. Bulldog & Jarrett had a fine encounter & the Roadie debuted in interesting fashion and Barry Horowitz & The 123 Kid also had a fun match and the lack of any significant Todd Pettengill presence was very welcome indeed. With only 3 Raws left of 1994 I’m still hopeful they’ll be entertaining episodes.

Until next time thank you for reading.

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