Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Countdown to the Crowning – 6/13/94

*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV and TV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***

Countdown to the Crowning

June 13, 1994 (Taped May 25, 1994)
Erie, PA
Announcers: Stan Lane & Ted DiBiase
Hosts: Vince McMahon & Randy Savage

*** Vince McMahon and Randy Savage welcome us to the official Countdown to the Crowning studio and behind them sits a giant board with the full 1994 King of the Ring brackets on them. They hype up the PPV and remind us that it is on Father’s Day, just six days away. Tonight, they will discuss the tournament as well as the rest of Sunday’s card. Before we do that, we are going to check out tonight’s exclusive WWF Tag Team Title bout as the Headshrinkers defend against the former champs, the Quebecers. The winning team tonight will defend against Yokozuna and Crush this Sunday in Baltimore. ***

1) The Headshrinkers defeat The Quebecers to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Fatu pins Pierre with a splash off the top rope at 7:18

Fun Fact I: After turning face after WrestleMania X, The Headshrinkers challenged for and won the WWF Tag Team Titles on the May 2, 1994 episode of RAW. After several title matches on the house show circuit, tonight we get the televised rematch for the belts.

Fun Fact II: This will be the final RAW appearance for the Quebecers. They would remain with the company after the King of the Ring event as the WWF went on a tour of Europe where they would continue to lose to The Headshrinkers in all of their matches. Their final appearance as a team would be in Montreal on June 25. After losing the match, Johnny Polo and Pierre attack Jacques, turning Jacques face in front of the home crowd. On 8/9, a press conference was held to announce an event at the Montreal Forum between Jacques Rougeau and Quebecer Pierre in Rougeau’s retirement match. The event would take place on 10/21 with Rougeau winning the match.

Fun Fact III: This will also be the RAW adios for Johnny Polo. He will continue his managerial duties with the company through October. His last appearance would be at the Montreal event in October mentioned above. Following his WWF departure, he would move on to Extreme Championship Wrestling where he will develop a new and darker character, Raven, inspired by the poem by Edgar Allan Poe. He will return to the WWF in 2000 under this new character.

Scott: This is very sad. The Quebecers were a tremendous heel tag team that galvanized the tag team division for months while the babyface teams went in and out of transition. The Smokin’ Gunns were moving up the ladder and Men on a Mission actually won the straps overseas after that debacle at WrestleMania X but the Quebecers were the steadying force. Ted DiBiase is doing commentary with Stan Lane here, and even though he’s full heel he’s relaxed and actually doing some legit color analysis. Speaking of the tag team division, there was a legitimate group of babyface tag teams that could be contenders and even champions, but instead they turn the Headshrinkers babyface and have them win the titles? I still didn’t get that. In any event we are here and it’s make or break for our former champions. We are told by Stan and DiBiase that the winner of this match will face Yokozuna and Crush Sunday in Baltimore for the tag team titles. Stan almost sounds like Vince with that exasperated voice when heels are cheating. The match was back and forth but the Headshrinkers took control late and almost like an extended squash win the match and retain the titles, pretty much finishing the Quebecers off as contenders. It’s really sad because this match should have been longer with better storytelling. So Fatu and Samu have a date Sunday with Yokozuna & Crush at KOTR to defend the tag titles. Grade: *1/2

JT: Well, here we stand. Make or break time for the legendary Quebecers. After a tremendous run as champs, their straps were ripped off their waists by the Headshrinkers and Lou Albano. Tonight, they get their official rematch. Johnny Polo leads the former champs out first and they are their usual mix of jolly and focused as they enter. Stan Lane and Ted DiBiase have the call here and remind us that whoever wins this match will have to battle Yokozuna and Crush this Sunday night on PPV. Lou Albano and Afa led the Headshrinkers out to a warm reception and they seem to have a whole new feel and air of confidence about them since the big win. After some prematch ritual, we finally get things underway with Samu and Jacques kicking us off. Samu would strike first with a big falling headbutt that sent Jacques scurrying to his corner while Polo called for a time out. The match reset as Fatu and Pierre both tagged in. Fatu landed a couple of strikes, but Pierre drilled him with a hard clothesline that turned him inside out. Fatu came back with a cross body block but Pierre rolled away and tagged out to Jacques. Jacques came in and buried a boot to the gut of Fatu and then tried to spike his head to the mat but it had no effect. Instead, Fatu popped up, kicked Jacques in the face and knocked him to the floor. Pierre hopped in the ring but he got chucked outside too and as the challengers regrouped on the floor, we took a break. When we returned, Samu had Jacques in a side headlock but as Jacques pushed free and shoved him into the ropes, Polo reached up and tripped him to turn the tide. Jacques grabbed hold on a rear chinlock but Samu was able to break free and land a low blow before making the hot tag… but the referee did not see it. As the ref was then tied up with Fatu, the challengers double teamed Samu. They continued to quick tag and double team, looking crisp and locked in. The Quebecers would get a near fall after Jacques slammed Pierre on Samu and then a moment later they went for the kill as Pierre climbed to the top rope. However, as Pierre flipped over Jacques, Samu rolled away and he came up empty. Samu wasn’t able to make the tag then, but he would wipe out the Quebecers with a double dropkick and finally tag out. The Samoans would double team Pierre, planting him with a inverted Russian leg sweep. Then in the blink of an eye, Fatu ascended the top rope and hit the big splash to put the Quebecers away for good. Polo tried to hop in the ring but he got caught and leveled with an Afa Samoan drop. The champs celebrated while I sat here in tears as the run of my favorite tag team came to a disgraceful end. The match was just OK, about on par with the Raw title change, but a bit more fluid. It still felt compressed and almost like a squash, as if they just wanted to get the Quebecers out of the way and chug along. Jacques, Pierre and Johnny Polo were such an awesome unit that dominated the tag division for eight months and brought lots of laughs and memorable moments. It was tough seeing them go down like this and even rougher to watch them just vanish. They will be in my heart forever. Grade: *1/2

*** We return to the studio to visit with Vince McMahon and Randy Savage. McMahon tells us that with that loss, that means Johnny Polo has to shave his goatee since he lost a bet to Gorilla Monsoon as a result. Tune in to All American Wrestling to check that out. Savage picks the Headshrinkers to win Sunday and claims they are his favorite tag team of all time. ***

*** We check out a quick promo from Crush, Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette. Crush puts over the skill, talent, luck and guts of the Headshrinkers, but says the most awesome force in WWF history wants the belts. Cornette says the Headshrinkers turned their backs on the brothers from the island and their treacherous acts will be repaid at KOTR. They will lose their gold belts and the revenge of the tribal chieftains will get them as well. He also calls Lou Albano a “walking Salvation Army”. ***

*** Back to the studio with Savage and McMahon, who give final thoughts on the Tag Title bout and then plug the King of the Ring hotline. Kids get your parents’ permission before ringing up the hotline and checking out all those exclusive interviews and predictions. ***

*** After a commercial, we check out highlights from the 1994 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony from this past Thursday night in Baltimore. The honorees were James Dudley, Buddy Rogers, Bobo Brazil, Arnold Skaaland, Freddie Blassie, Chief Jay Strongbow and Gorilla Monsoon. There were plenty of fans, current day stars and celebrities in attendance at the ceremony as well as the inductees. ***

*** Back in studio, we get some Hall of Fame talk and Savage discusses the importance of a night like that to him and the honor of the business. They then discuss the big WWF World Title match coming up Sunday and Savage picks Diesel to beat Bret Hart in Baltimore. His reasoning is that he doesn’t know who will be in Hart’s corner but knows that Shawn Michaels will be in Diesel’s. We then revisit the King’s Court from two weeks ago when Diesel, Michaels and Jerry Lawler ambushed the Hitman. Bret Hart then cuts a promo and says he concerns himself with deeds not words. Hart says that talk doesn’t mean anything coming from Diesel and claims he was attacked by a pack of jackals. Diesel is seven feet tall and can’t do it himself and Hart knows that he must be getting nervous. Hart reiterates that a family member called him up and voiced his concern about Michaels getting involved at KOTR and vowed to be in the Hitman’s corner to help ward him off. *** 

*** Back from break, we get footage of how the top half of the KOTR brackets qualified for the big event. The footage includes IRS defeating Scott Steiner, Mabel knocking off Pierre, Razor Ramon beating Kwang and Bam Bam Bigelow notching a victory over Sparky Plugg. ***

*** After commercial, we review the footage on how the bottom half of the bracket qualified for the tournament. That footage includes Jeff Jarrett knocking off Lex Luger, 1-2-3 Kid outlasting Adam Bomb, Owen Hart defeating Doink and Tatanka squeezing out a win over Crush. ***

*** Back in the studio, Savage pops up and is set to give full predictions on the entire tournament. He opens up by taking IRS over Mabel due to confusion over the numbers and papers. He then takes Bam Bam Bigelow to defeat Razor Ramon via osmosis. Next up, he chooses Jeff Jarrett to defeat 1-2-3 Kid via a trick with the toes. Vince reminds him that he has money on the Kid, but Savage says he clearly loses that bet and he will pay up. In the last opening round bout he chooses Tatanka to polish off Owen Hart. On to the semifinals, Bigelow doesn’t care if he gets audited so he beats IRS. On the other half, he says Tatanka and Jay Strongbow are doing the war dance and everybody is happy but Jeff Jarrett pins him and then Strongbow will be mad at Tatanka. In the finals, Savage officially chooses Bam Bam Bigelow to defeat Jeff Jarrett after Double J loses his concentration when he sees a country music talent scout in the crowd. Bigelow will be the King of the Ring but Jarrett wins too because the scout signs him to a deal and he sings to close the show. And his singing is horrible. ***

*** After commercial, McMahon and Savage dive into the big Jerry Lawler vs. Roddy Piper match coming up this Sunday night. Savage picks Piper to win the bout but Vince thinks the King will have something up his sleeve. Savage says Piper is fighting for the sick kids in Toronto and that’s the bottom line. We then check out footage from last week’s King’s Court, where Lawler interviewed the “Hot Rod”, a Piper impersonator. Back to the studio, they question why Lawler would want to raise the ire of Piper like this. Savage can’t believe Lawler does these types of things and just buries himself. Vince officially picks Piper as well and then shares the address to donate to the Toronto sick kids hospital as well. ***

*** When we return from break, we get a final hard sell of the PPV as well as Vince being incredulous that Ted DiBiase actually brought the Undertaker back to the WWF. ***

*** We then head back to the arena, where Ray Rougeau is in a darkened ring with a spotlight shining on the KOTR throne. Jack Tunney is flanking Rougeau and he officially welcomes the fans the second annual King of the Ring Tournament. He introduces the eight participants and they each walk out and enter the ring as they are acknowledged. They enter in the following order: IRS, Mabel, Bam Bam Bigelow, Razor Ramon, Jeff Jarrett, 1-2-3 Kid, Owen Hart and Tatanka. They all stare each other down as we get one last hard sell from Vince McMahon and Randy Savage and then wrap things up. ***

 Final Analysis:

Scott: This was an interesting show that effectively sold the PPV for the last stragglers that may be on the fence. I like the bracket analysis and how anybody can be a winner in this tournament (even if the winner may have been a foregone conclusion). The Piper/Lawler feud has been really good even if Piper hasn’t been at anything live or on Raw. Lawler’s Court with the skinny impersonator was really funny and pushed the feud even harder. The tag title match was disappointing as the Quebecers deserved more than an extended squash. They were the cornerstone of the division since September and this ending seemed flat and uninspiring, like they were just another heel team. Otherwise it’s selling for the tournament and the Bret Hart/Diesel match. It actually could have been better show if the match was was given more time and focus. Final Grade: C-

JT: Well, this was a pretty unique and watch but it was certainly an effective hard sell go home show for the PPV. The only match we saw was the official death knell of the Quebecers and a chance for the Headshrinkers to finally move on and really dig into their title reign. The match was not very good. The rest of the show was just promos, video packages and Vince McMahon and Randy Savage giving their thoughts and predictions. I did like the final segment, though, where all of the competitors came out to stand around the throne. It added a heavy feeling of importance to the tournament by receiving so much focus. KOTR has been build up quite well over the past two months and this was a fitting way to close out the prep. While I really enjoyed the past format of these shows, with Raw gaining a lot of steam and becoming a heavier focus of the promotion, I don’t think we necessarily needed stacked up preview show type cards. A match or two filled out by studio pieces and video package seemed like a shrewder way to really hard sell the show one last time. Plus, McMahon and Savage have so much strong chemistry that it made the studio bits pop nicely and the show just breeze right along. And if you haven’t seen Savage’s tournament prediction segment, you should check it out just for the absurdity, See you in Baltimore! Final Grade: C