Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 3/28/94

*** 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 #56

March 28, 1994 (March 21, 1994)
Mid-Hudson Civic Center
Poughkeepsie, NY
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jim Cornette

*** We open the show with a clip from earlier tonight where Ted DiBiase paid off people to clear out a section of the front row just to prove that everybody has a price. ***

1) Lex Luger defeat Rick Martel via submission with the Torture Rack at 11:48

Scott: Boy has the energy level for Luger changed since WrestleMania. Gone is the Patriotic music and instead is some crappy generic junk. Gone also are the big pops for Luger that were pretty hot from September till now. He got babyface cheers, but not nearly as hot as they had been. Fans probably realized that if he wasn’t winning the World Title at WrestleMania, he’s never going to win it. Bret Hart is WWF through and through, while Luger will always be an import from the south. With Razor Ramon firmly planted as IC Champion, there’s really nowhere for Luger to but down or, where he is which is the #3 babyface in the company. You could even say #4 if you count the on-hiatus Undertaker. I really had no idea Rick Martel was still with the company at this point, but he’s pretty much replacing Mr. Perfect on the roster as the veteran putting over the other talent and putting on great TV matches. This one is no different, as the polished Martel is working Luger over with great heel offense and keeping the crowd engaged. Cornette is really working Vince well and could have also been the every-week commentator during the post Bobby Heenan limbo period. Poughkeepsie is turning into the new “Home for Raw” as the Manhattan Center experiment ran its course in 1993 and now Vince needs to make money on house gates for these shows. Luger wins with the Torture Rack in a pretty solid match. Grade: **

JT: We are back, via tape, for another week of Monday Night Raw and this week Jim Cornette has returned to the booth to spell the Macho Man, so perhaps the guest color commentator gig hasn’t ended quite yet. Cornette says he is there to illuminate the truth of what is happening in the WWF. Opening things up this week is the man that came up empty yet again in his chase for the WWF Championship, Lex Luger. It looked like he had Yokozuna beat at WrestleMania but the special guest referee Mr. Perfect got his long awaited revenge on Lex and cost him the gold. Luger enters here clearly down the ladder in the pecking order now and also is played out with a new theme song, eschewing his use of Stars & Stripes Forever. His opponent is Rick Martel, who is just kind of here without direction but still is holding on. He adds good credibility for TV matches like these, anyway. Vince gets right into discussing how Luger was screwed out of dating Bret Hart to close out Mania and puts over his determination. Luger controls early and gets aggravated when Martel ducks away into the ropes, to which Cornette claims the hot headedness of Luger is what cost him the Mania match. Martel buries a knee to the gut and slugs away but Lex turns it around and fires away before mowing through him and sending him scurrying to the floor. Cornette has been great here trashing Lex’s actions at Mania and also taking digs at Roddy Piper. Back in the ring, Luger grabs a side headlock and continues to overpower Martel with a good aggression, not giving him any sort of opening or offense. Martel would again get knocked to the floor but after a break he was able to yank Lex outside as well and slug away. Lex got a few shots in as well but back inside, Martel caught him in a choke and started to work him over in the corner. The fans fired up a “USA” chant as Luger ate a boot before Martel hooked him in a chinlock. Lex fought his way out of the hold but Martel caught him with a knee to the gut to cut off the comeback. Vince reminds us that the WrestleMania Encore will be airing on PPV as soon as Raw ends tonight, so check that out. Martel goes back to the chinlock and had it hooked tight for a while until Lex fought to his feet and rammed the Model into the corner to break free. Just when it looked like Lex was going to make a hot comeback, Martel dodged a dropkick that cut things short. The Model went back on the offensive but Lex again came back, hitting a vertical suplex to buy himself some time. After some back and forth offense by both men, Luger heated up with a back drop and a series of right hands leading into a big powerslam. Lex followed that up with a torture rack for the big win. This was a perfectly fine little TV match that helps Lex get back on the winning track. Martel is perfect for this stuff, credible enough to grab offense and look like a threat but can easily take losses. It also allowed plenty of time for Vince and Cornette to really dissect what happened at Mania in regard to Luger being hosed. Grade: **

2) Owen Hart defeats Mike Freeman via submission with the Sharpshooter at 5:10

Scott: Mike Freeman’s mullet looks like a removable helmet. Owen Hart wins the match over his brother Bret at WrestleMania but for now he will continue to face face jobbers and throw jabs at Bret. What would Owen’s next step be? Perhaps at the next PPV? More on that in the coming weeks. Vince does say that he would love to see an Owen/Bret rematch, but this time for the WWF Title. A harbinger of things to come? Mike Freeman is actually getting the occasional move in but really Owen puts this guy to bed and wants the WWF Title. Grade: *

JT: Up next we have the man that notched one of the biggest wins of the night at WrestleMania, Owen Hart. He cemented himself as a top WWF player by knocking off his brother, the new WWF Champion, to open the show. It was the culmination of a great run that kicked off in November and completely elevated Owen up the ranks. Mike Freeman’s haircut is something to behold, my Lord. As the match gets started, Cornette turns around and chats with Ted DiBiase. Vince then asks why he did what he did and Ted just says he wants to prove that anybody has a price and he could buy every seat in the house if he wanted to. He will prove over the coming weeks that he has some big surprises for everyone as he recently promised. Owen smacks Freeman across the face and then goes to work as Cornette continues to back Owen’s side of the story. The crowd chants for Bret and now Vince and Jim are comparing Mania to disappointing boxing PPVs and Super Bowls. We get more current events chatter as Owen keeps working over Freeman, including a nice belly-to-belly suplex and a dropkick to the grill. Freeman would get a glimmer of offense but Owen cut that off and then continued through his aggressive offense before forcing the submission with the Sharpshooter. Owen has been a new man out there since this heel turn and he is really positioning himself into a great spot on the roster. Grade: DUD

3) Doink the Clown defeats Eric Cody with the Whoopee Cushion at 3:32

Scott: Ugh, as I’m watching these Raws again it’s apparent that the roster is pretty solid and the feuds at the top are really good. However, we still have this crap. Doink squirts DiBiase with water at his ringside seats. DiBiase implied to Vince & Cornette that big surprises are coming on the horizon for the Million Dollar Man. I wonder what that means. Doink struggled to not fall off the top rope because he’s terrible, and hits the Whoopie Cushion for the victory. So bad. Grade: DUD

JT: Sigh. I was hoping Bam Bam Bigelow ended Doink’s career for good at WrestleMania but alas, here we are. The once great Clown comes dancing out with his diminutive sidekick for some more antics as he is set to take on Eric Cody next. The Doinkster made his way over to Ted DiBiase at ringside and squirted him with water, pissing off the Million Dollar Man, who promised the Clown would pay and that he had surprises on the way. Hopefully he has him taken care of for good. Cody doesn’t look that far off from a clown himself, between his Bozo hair and vibrant tights. Doink and Dink play their usual tricks before the bell and then Doink mercifully makes quick work of Cody, finishing him with the Whoopee Cushion. Mat wrestling Doink is still fine enough, I just wish we didn’t have to deal with Dink and all the nonsense that went with it. The only highlight here was Cornette claiming he could defeat “any midget or child under 12 years old”. Meanwhile, DiBiase fumes. Grade: DUD

*** Jim Cornette hops in the ring and brings out the Quebecers and Johnny Polo for a chat. Pierre speaks in French before we delve into the success of the champs’ recent string of title defenses. Before Polo can brag, Lou Albano comes out and confirms that Polo has officially accepted the challenge from last week. Polo and the Quebecers continue to treat it all as a joke, its Jacques even quipping “is it Marty Jannetty and 1-2-3 Kid?” A moment later, the Headshrinkers marched to the ring, revealed as Albano’s new team. Polo and the Quebecers try to back out of the match by claiming the Headshrinkers are their friends, but Albano informs them that isn’t true and that the belts will be on the line. Jacques states they only were referencing teams such as “The Smoking Gunns, the MOMs and the Bushwhackers” but Albano just keeps talking over them and making sure everything is official. ***

4) 1-2-3 Kid defeats Black Phantom with a moonsault at 2:42

Fun Fact: The man under the Black Phantom mask is David Heath. He was trained by Boris Malenko in Florida before making his debut in independent promotions around the Sunshine state. He signed on with Stampede Wrestling and formed a tag team with Tom Nash known as The Blackhearts. The duo wore masks and wrestled as “Destruction” and “Apocalypse” and won the Stampede International Tag Team Championship Heath came to the WWF in 1994 as the Black Phantom, working mainly as enhancement talent. During this time, Heath’s old tag partner Nash and his wife, Luna Vachon, divorced and Luna became romantically involved with Heath, with the two marrying on Halloween 1994. After bouncing around ECW and WCW in the mid 90s, Heath would return to the WWF in 1998 under the character he is most known for, Gangrel.

Scott: Before this match the Headshrinkers turned babyface by coming out (with BIG FAT SLOPPY PIG Lou Albano) to challenge the champion Quebecers. The Quebecers really carried the tag division from September 1993 until now, but now other teams are starting to push ahead on both the babyface and heel sides. This match actually wasn’t much, as the Kid slowly moves up the roster. We are also reminded that the ten man tag match that was scrapped from WrestleMania will be next week on RAW. Grade: DUD

JT: Our next match features the always popular 1-2-3 Kid tussling with the Black Phantom, who has a pretty good look for a jobber. Cornette is funny here, claiming the Fink reneged on a payment to Sy Sperling and that is why his new hair is already gone. Kid has bulked up a bit recently and that combined with his new tights definitely makes him seem like a more legit part of the roster instead of just a young kid that pulled a couple of upsets. Phantom gets some rugged offense in but Kid kicks his way back into things and then puts the Phantom away with a moonsault. Cornette believes Kid will be the weak link in next week’s ten man tag. Grade: DUD

5) Crush defeats Ray Hudson with a knee drop at 3:25

Scott: Nikolai Volkoff is still at ringside wearing the same USSR Cold War suit from 1985 that he has had on every week. This is Crush’s first appearance since being hogtied by Randy Savage at WrestleMania X. Ted DiBiase is announced as the new commentator on Wrestling Challenge and that he bought his way on. This was a boring squash. Grade: DUD

JT: Our final bout tonight features the man who took a tough loss at WrestleMania, Crush. Vince makes a couple of jokes about Crush being left hanging backstage when we last saw him, but Crush and Fuji are locked in and ready to get back on track. As they make their way out, we see that Nikolai Volkoff is back at ringside yet again, and as always he has the same suit on. We get some more chatter on the Hart Brothers and tonight’s Encore as Crush slowly picks apart Hudson and his terrible mullet. This may be a record week for terrible jobber haircuts. It will be interesting to see where Crush heads now as he has pretty much been married exclusively to Doink and Randy Savage for the past year plus. Vince informs us that DiBiase has bought his way into a color commentary role on Challenge alongside Stan Lane. I guess that spells the end of Gorilla Monsoon’s lengthy stay on that program. Times are a changing. Crush finally puts this one away a terrible looking knee drop to the head. Grade: DUD

Final Analysis

Scott: This episode is pretty good with a solid opener and some good in-between segments. We have a face turn for the Headshrinkers as that freeloader Lou Albano came back to pad his tag team champions stats. I wonder why the WWF hasn’t really pushed the Smoking Gunns yet as the top babyface team. They’re lost in the shuffle and are rarely on Raw. I mean it’s fine they haven’t won the belts yet because the Quebecers are awesome and have really carried the tag division. We know the Steiners are pretty much gone, as they haven’t been on TV since the Royal Rumble. So maybe they needed to balance the scales of the tag team division. Why do we keep seeing Nikolai Volkoff? More on that to come. Final Grade: B-

JT: While there was some enjoyable stuff here, on a balance this was a pretty soft episode of Raw. The marquee match was fine enough but nothing to get too excited about, especially knowing that Lex Luger’s time on top is pretty much up. The rest of the matches were all bland squashes but those were carried a bit by really sharp commentary courtesy Jim Cornette, who really was on fire tonight. I enjoyed the Quebecers/Albano interview and it looks like the champs’ time on top may finally be up. We also set up next week’s show nicely with two big matches on tap. There continues to be a lot of WrestleMania talk and fallout, which I like, and for the first time in a while it seems like that show wasn’t the end of the road, but rather a major plot device to keep some issues simmering along. I have liked how they keep referencing it and continuing the fallout thus far. In a vacuum, this was a throwaway episode, but the overall direction of the company is looking solid coming out of MSG. Grade: C