Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 12/12/94

*** 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! ***

Monday Night Raw #90

December 12, 1994
Liberty Central High School
Liberty, NY
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Shawn Michaels

1) Bob Backlund defeats Doink the Clown via submission with the Cross Face Chicken Wing at 12:27

Scott: Ok, where the hell is Liberty, NY? I thought I knew most of the Empire State, but apparently this is tucked away in the Catskills. Vince must really have been looking for bargain basement venues. I don’t think back in 1981 when Bob Backlund was the WWF Champion that 13 years later he would be wrestling…a clown. Now if Matt Borne was still Doink, we would be in for a pretty sweet technical match. However, who knows if this guy can go with the master of the Cross Face Chicken Wing. Shawn was funny when Vince talks about Bob’s cauliflower ears, and Shawn goes “We have a clown in the ring, and you’re talking about Backlund’s ears?” I have to say whenever there’s a guest commentator with Vince, they do the best they can to settle into his style and be very entertaining. We have a lot of restholds and long headlocks, perhaps to protect Doink’s average moveset. I like that Backlund had makeup all over his shoulder from the headlock. That seems to always happen when Doink is actually in a long match and not those annoying squashes we always see on Raw. After some quick back and forth and Backlund almost putting on the CFCW, Backlund works on an armbar, which is good psychology for his finisher. It sounds like there’s about 400 people in the building. Are they in a cafeteria? Doink makes a comeback with a small package and backslide but Backlund keeps kicking out. Finally, Backlund reverses a bodyslam and gets the CFCW on. Backlund ratchets up the move and gets the victory. Backlund won’t release the move after the bell for a few moments as usual. A rematch with Diesel is on the horizon. Grade: **

JT: We are back live here this week on Monday Night Raw coming at you live from… Liberty Central High School? My Lord. How far we have fallen. Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels have the call again this week and we kick things off with our feature match as former WWF Champion Bob Backlund squares off with Doink the Clown in what should be a humdinger. I am so done with the clowns but thankfully the midget madness that dominated the last two months is finally over. Backlund gets booed as always as he warms up in the ring but the Liberty faithful welcome Doink and Dink a bit more warmly. Well Dink at first as he comes out alone to distract Backlund as Doink then comes from behind and trips him up to start the match. This building may be the tiniest we have ever seen on WWF TV. The crowd cheers on Doink as Backlund regroups and the match resets. After some posturing, the two trade some basic amateur holds both upright and on the mat. Vince reminds us all that Backlund lost his title in shocking fashion to Diesel recently and notes that Michaels has signed on to manage Backlund in rematches on the Holiday Wish Tour. The two continue to grind on the mat, trading holds and near falls and trying to figure the other out. Doink really showed off his skill set here in the early going, going amateur style and showing off his repertoire that otherwise generally gets hidden by the parlor tricks and nonsense. Backlund finally grabbed hold of the arm and started to punish it, looking to weaken the limb for the CFCW. Doink was able to grab the ropes to break the first attempt but Backlund smothered him throughout the break, zeroing in on the shoulder with a focused attack. Michaels talked about how Backlund was a bitter man as he really punished the arm and shoulder but the Heartbreak Kid did say he would do what it took to get that gold back on Bob and off Diesel. The crowd worked to rally Doink but Bob held on tight and wrenched away. Michaels touts his GED and Vince puts over his title successes in the WWF to date. Doink snuck in a pair of near falls on a cross body block and small package but Bob survived and was able to grab the CFCW and break the Clown down to the mat for the submission victory. This was a perfectly fine match with really focused limb work that followed a fun little opening segment that featured all the amateur stuff. The finish was good too and made Backlund look very strong as he just wrecked the arm and overpowered Doink into his lethal finisher. Backlund continues to be pushed as a legit contender to the big gold. Grade: **

*** Todd Pettengill plugs the WWF Tag Team Title Tournament, which kicks off this weekend on Superstars. All the matches will happen there except for the finals, which will take place at Royal Rumble. Here is the opening round pairings:

Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka vs. Men on a Mission
Headshrinkers vs. Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart
Bushwhackers vs. Heavenly Bodies

Smoking Gunns vs. Well Dunn

Tune in to Superstars this weekend as everything gets under way! ***

*** Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels promote the new Raw video game and the Raw Strategies & Secrets VHS tape. We then visit Jeff Jarrett in Las Vegas where he is still working on promoting that old country music career of his and his “Double J Sweepstakes”. ***

2) Razor Ramon defeats Mark Starr with the Razor’s Edge at 3:18

Scott: We’ve just found out about the brackets for the WWF Tag Team Championship Tournament, which will start this coming Saturday on Superstars. The finals will be at the Royal Rumble. We haven’t seen the Intercontinental Champion on Raw in a few weeks, and with the new year will be new challengers for his championship. Mark Starr…well isn’t one of them. Before this match we had a vignette of Jeff Jarrett in Las Vegas, continuing his singing career. Razor hits the Edge and moves on as the Champion. Grade: DUD

JT: Next up, Razor Ramon saunters out to take on Mark Starr in our next bout. With Diesel having been dispatched from the IC division, Ramon is hanging around awaiting his next potential top contender. Michaels takes some shots at Ramon and complains about not having pyro like the Bad Guy. We then get some pop culture talk from Vince and Shawn as Ramon batters Starr around the ring. Things turned as Ramon catches a leaping Starr but the champ buckled and Starr went to work on the knee. Vince even notes that rumors have been swirling that Ramon is nursing a balky knee and figures Starr must have heard the chatter. Ramon makes the comeback and wins it handily with the Edge. Let’s get this man a challenger. Vince hints that it could be Double J, who may be making notes on that bad knee. Grade DUD

*** Jerry Lawler heads to the ring for this week’s King’s Court. He starts by shitting on the fans and Vince McMahon as usual before bringing out his guest, IRS. IRS is flanked by his druids and Vince wonders who could be under the hoods. Lawler talks about professional athletes that make millions of dollars in contracts and for autographs but they don’t pay their taxes on those side funds. IRS says plenty of athletes are being investigated, including Joe DiMaggio, Reggie Jackson and Darryl Strawberry. He says the Undertaker is the biggest tax cheat of all and Lawler says their urn is probably some antique they bought at a yard sale and never paid the tax on it. IRS says he will combat the power of the urn with the power of the druids and they will get their hands on Undertaker and make him pay. He says Undertaker has a lot of enemies but he has a lot of friends and warns that one of his own friends may be one of Taker’s biggest enemies. Irwin notes that he will be facing Lex Luger on Raw next week and says one of his friends is likely one of Lex’s enemies. ***

*** We view a graphic promoting the impending arrival of Hakushi to the WWF. ***

3) Aldo Montoya defeats Nick Barberry with a bulldog off the middle rope at 2:39

Scott: The Raw graphic said “Man-O-War” instead of his name. Before this was the King’s Court where IRS continued to call out the Undertaker. Aldo got some exciting pyro for his entrance. Shawn makes the first reference to Aldo’s mask, claiming that he had it in his gym locker. That joke will last for a while. Boring squash. Grade: DUD

JT: Up next, the Portuguese Man-O-War jogs out to the ring to battle Nick Barberry, pyro and all. Vince reminds us that Ted DiBiase was impressed by Montoya after his debut match but Aldo turned him down. Michaels thinks he should have taken the cash. Things get a bit ugly when Barberry takes a gross bump across the middle rope but Aldo kicks things up with a dive over the top rope to the floor. As Aldo works the arm, old Harvey Wippleman saunters out to the ring to scout the Man-O-War. Vince and Shawn talk politics and then announce that Harvey will be teaming with Well Dunn against the Bushwhackers and Howard Finkel next week here on Raw. Shawn basically calls Aldo’s mask a jock strap as the Man-O-War eventually finishes things with a bulldog off the middle rope. Harvey gets in Fink’s face after the match and threatens to beat him around like a piece of garbage next week. Harvey shoves him down and stomps off arrogantly. Grade: DUD

*** We check out clips from this past weekend’s 100th episode celebration on WWF Mania. The celebration included the debut of a brand new cohost for Todd Pettnegil: Stephanie Wiand. ***

4) King Kong Bundy defeats Bob Knight with the Avalanche at 4:09

Scott: Before the match we had clips from yesterday’s 100th episode of Mania, including the debut of new co-host Stephanie Wiand. We get the obligatory joke from Shawn on the jobber’s name coaching the Hoosiers. That’s what I liked about Shawn, he called out the dopey things about the WWF. Like idiotic Portuguese gimmicks and terrible jobbers’ nicknames. Bundy is another veteran that will be over just enough to work over the younger talent without overtaking the spotlight. Shawn says Bundy looks like a guy at a bowling alley. He still wants the 80’s five-count but we don’t really care about that anymore. Grade: DUD

JT: Wrapping up the action for us tonight is King Kong Bundy, who waddles out alongside Ted DiBiase for his  match with Bob Knight. We talk about celebrity birthdays, including Vince taking shots at his favorite target, Roseanne Barr. Shawn also makes the Bobby Knight Hoosiers joke about this jobber, flips through the new WWF Magazine and says Bundy looks like a big dude at a bowling alley while this match ambles along. Vince says Doink is faring OK in the back after Bob Backlund messed up his arm earlier and also tells us Bret Hart will be back in the New Year. Buddy mercifully ends it with the Avalanche. Grade: DUD

*** Santa Claus comes down the aisle and gives Shawn Michaels a gift: a toy version of the WWF Women’s Title. Michaels rifles through his sack as the show goes off the air. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: For the past few episodes I’ve been talking about too many veterans infiltrating the company, and here is King Kong Bundy. Again he’s fine in this role as DiBiase’s muscle but he is still clogging things up. Or…lack thereof. We had a much better Doink/Backlund match than we should have had. We get the obligatory Aldo Montoya jock strap joke from Shawn Michaels, who is settling in as color commentator with Vince. I feel like we are still in wheel spinning phase for the month of December, with throwaway matches but fans getting to see their biggest stars. Vince is still a little clunky without Savage but he’s getting there. Another down the middle episode. Final Grade: C

JT: I mean, this was fine enough but there is just very little juice in the WWF right now. Bret Hart is on vacation. Shawn Michaels is doing commentary. Diesel is WWF Champion but is just getting settled into the role. Owen Hart seems relegated to tag team duty. Razor Ramon is without a feud. Same for Lex Luger. IRS seems to be feuding with Undertaker but we haven’t seen or heard from the Deadman on Raw in a while. Even the tag tournament is filled with meh. I do like Michaels in the booth as he does a great job of promoting himself but also getting everything else over, including pushing the video game and magazine. He has done a nice job the last two weeks. Doink/Backlund was solid and I will say Bob is the only one that seems to have some oomph behind him still. He hasn’t dropped off much at all after quickly losing the gold and is still being pushed hard and as a major threat to Diesel. I am hoping once we get into 1995 things pick up but we are sputtering into the end of the year. Final Grade: C