Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 5/23/94

*** 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 #64

May 23, 1994
Struthers Fieldhouse
Youngtown, OH
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Randy Savage

1) Owen Hart defeats Doink the Clown in a King of the Ring Qualifying Match with a roll up at 8:29

Fun Fact: Doink was a substitution in this match for Earthquake, who was injured at the 5/14/94 house show in Anaheim at the hands of Yokozuna and Crush.

Scott: So Owen Hart’s original opponent was supposed to be Earthquake, but he was taken out at a house show by Yokozuna as revenge for losing the sumo match last week. Instead, the opponent is… DOINK? Really? They couldn’t find somebody else? There was no other awesome babyface opponent for Owen to face? With Doink that means we are going to have stupid parlor tricks with Dink, which takes away from what would probably be a pretty good match. Dink actually gets in the ring and postures, which should be a DQ, but whatever. Doink keeps Owen out to the floor to try and get a countout victory, which really kills the buzz of the crowd. Owen takes over and one of the dumbest (or smartest depending on your perspective) I’ve ever seen is when Owen has Doink in a headlock and pulls the green hair and Doink screams, like it’s his actual hair. I chuckled. Vince keeps calling the place Struthers, Ohio when it’s actually Youngstown, Ohio. Struthers Fieldhouse is the name of the place. He’s done that often. In fact he keeps saying it over and over. There’s no such town called STRUTHERS. This is one of the times that you can actually see Ray Liachelli’s face as the makeup was almost off. In the climax, we see why Doink was put in this match. Out comes Jeff Jarrett to kidnap Dink, which distracts Doink just enough to allow Owen Hart to roll him up for the victory. The match was crap, and not because of Owen. Grade: *

JT: Hey! We are finally back live and once again from a brand new location in Youngstown, OH, a rare venture outside of New England for Raw. Vince McMahon and Randy Savage are in the booth as always and they have settled into the flow tremendously since reuniting after WrestleMania. The crowd is also pretty jacked up here to kick things off. Opening things up is another KOTR Qualifying Match but it is not the one we had been anticipating. A week ago, Earthquake was on top of the world and seemed lined up for a big time push. He defeated Yokozuna in the sumo match and was set to take on Owen Hart here, but Yoko took him out of action at a house show over the weekend, putting him on the shelf and forcing Doink into action as his replacement tonight. Vince says Quake’s whereabouts are unknown as Savage says he was splash all the way to the bottom of the San Andreas fault. Quake would sadly leave the promotion which was kind of a tough blow because he was really getting over and gaining some momentum since WrestleMania. They actually built Doink up as a surprise here, which was a bit deflating for sure. The Clowns ambled down to the ring for this big time opportunity and after their usual antics and bullshit we finally got under way. Owen attacked right away and controlled the bout with strikes before dragging Doink’s face across the top rope and choking him. Doink punched out of the corner after some Owen’s uppercuts and then cranked on a side headlock but Owen reversed that with a back suplex. Doink recovered and made a quick comeback, sending Owen flying with a back drop and then pelting him with a dropkick that sent the Rocket out to the floor to regroup. Dink hopped inside to celebrate with Doink and taunt Owen but Owen slid in and took control quickly, continuing to rake at the eyes of the clown. The match momentum continued to ebb and flow until Owen again ended up back on the floor. Doink followed out and unleashed a quick flurry, nearly leading to a count out but the Rocket survived and kept the match alive. Owen yanked Doink down and wrapped his leg around the ring post as we took a quick break.

When we returned from commercial, Owen was in full control, cranking on a tight rear chinlock to wear down the Clown. Savage noted that Owen is obsessed with becoming King to match what his brother Bret did a year ago. The Rocket grabbed a near fall off a belly-to-belly and then rode Doink into a camel clutch. Doink survived and started to launch a comeback but just as he had things in control, Jeff Jarrett showed up and grabbed Dink, causing Doink to turn away his attention. As Double J started to walk off, Owen snuck up and cradled Doink for the big win. That was a fine little match that really picked up once the bullshit antics ended. And that is the worst part of this whole Dink shit. Even with the drop off from Matt Borne, the Doink character could still work in the ring, as evidenced in the back end of this match. But the Dink nonsense and time wasted on aimless gags just kills the momentum of his matches. Owen wins and gets one step closer to matching his brother Bret’s feat from a year ago. Grade: **

***  Todd Pettengil is in the house with this week’s King of the Ring Report. We are closing in on the big Father’s Day event, the second annual tournament to crown a King of the WWF. Here are the matches discussed this week:

Mabel vs. IRS – King of the Ring Opening Round Match
Razor Ramon vs. Bam Bam Bigelow – King of the Ring Opening Round Match
Jeff Jarrett vs. TBD – King of the Ring Opening Round Match
Owen Hart vs. TBD – King of the Ring Opening Round Match

Qualifying Matches:
1-2-3 Kid vs. Adam Bomb (Superstars)

Tatanka vs. Jimmy Del Ray (Monday Night Raw)

Bret Hart vs. Diesel – WWF Heavyweight Title
Headshrinkers vs. Yokozuna & Crush – WWF Tag Team Titles
Roddy Piper vs. Jerry Lawler

That is all she wrote, so call your cable company today so you aren’t left behind on Father’s Day! ***

2) Duke Droese defeats Barry Horowitz with an elbow drop at 2:59

Fun Fact: Michael David Droese was trained by Bobby Wales and made his pro wrestling debut in February 1990 in Miami, Florida. He wrestled on the independent circuit in Florida through the early 1990s, where he wrestled under the name Rocco Gibraltar. In 1992 he got his first national recognition when he placed at #500 in PWI’s first annual PWI 500 rankings. In 1993, he changed his character and began wrestling under the name “Garbage Man”, the character which would carry over when he joined the WWF in 1994, though he was renamed Duke “The Dumpster” Droese in the Federation. He has the distinction being the first to defeat Hunter Hearst Helmsley via DQ at the 1996 Royal Rumble. He remained with the WWF into the summer of 1996 when he and Vince McMahon came to an agreement on his release due to the toll the travel was having on him. In 1997 he would wrestle in the CWA, winning their World Heavyweight title. In the late 90s, Droese would appear in Florida Championship Wrestling, where he would win the FCW Heavyweight Championship in 2000. After leaving the squared circle, Droese began working as a special education teacher in McMinnville, TN. On a darker note, in July 2013 he unknowingly sold drugs to an undercover police informant and was indicted on three counts of delivery of a controlled substance. 

Scott: After some weeks of vignettes, and sleeping in a dumpster, the Duke makes his in ring debut against good ol’ Barry Horowitz. His vignettes weren’t exactly as entertaining as when Dusty Rhodes was doing the garbage deal in his 1988 vignettes. Vince remarks that Randy Savage was at Yankee Stadium. Macho Man probably wasn’t excited since he’s a big time Cardinals fan. The match was average, and the Duke is 1-0. Grade: DUD

JT: Next up we have the official Raw debut of Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, a competitor we have been monitoring for weeks via vignette. He has a fine enough look and really owned this gimmick and in a way it is kind of endearing. Vince congratiles the WWF production team and David Sahadi on winning an award recently and then also discusses how Savage was at Yankee Stadium this past weekend where hopped into the broadcast booth. Horowitz gets a glimmer of offense in there but Droese wins this one with ease to get his WWF career under way. Grade: DUD

*** We check out clips of the recent WrestleMania Revenge Tour stop in Anaheim, CA. ***

3) Irwin R. Schyster defeats Gary Sabaugh with the Write Off at 4:15

Scott: Watching these 1994 Raws, even going back to late-1993 I don’t think there’s a more over heel in this company than IRS. He really gets the crowd going for a guy who’s just moving from mid-card feud to mid-card feud. Now he’s feuding with Tatanka over his Indian headdress and not paying the gift tax on it. Vince mentions the Knicks beating the Bulls in the East Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs. It was a hot spring in WWF land, as both the Knicks and the Rangers were keeping MSG’s lights on until June. Incidentally, if you look closely, Gary Sabaugh is the Italian Stallion from the old Jim Crockett Promotions days. Which is odd that he’s wearing ITALY on his tights and his name is “Sabaugh”. Grade: *

JT: Next up is a visit from old Raw stalwart heel IRS, one of the true workhorses of Monday nights. Of course, as he heads to the ring he chides Tatanka yet again as they continue to be embroiled in their red hot feud. Vince continuously saying they are in “Struthers, OH” is pretty funny. Vince ponders IRS’ KOTR chances as he goes to work on the portly Gary Sabaugh. IRS stalks through his offense as we get some general KOTR discussion to help promote the PPV that is quickly approaching. Sabaugh got a brief glimmer of offense in but it was very short lived and IRS put him away with the Write Off a few seconds later. IRS keeps on chugging along, and he easily must have one of the best Raw records since the show debuted. Grade: DUD

*** We head back to Superstars to check out Jeff Jarrett defeating Lex Luger in a KOTR Qualifying Match thanks to an assist from Crush. ***

*** Jerry Lawler heads to the ring for this week’s King’s Court. He takes a jab at Randy Savage’s wardrobe and then rips on Roddy Piper as he does every week. He offers Piper a chance to visit the Court before bringing out this week’s guest, Lex Luger. Lawler says Luger has been crying and moaning about being knocked out of the KOTR, more bad luck on top of what happened to him at WrestleMania. Luger tells Lawler to chose his words carefully and then says Crush is the only reason he is not in the KOTR tournament. Lawler says he is going to expose Luger and says that the truth is Lex jumped Crush from behind and nearly broke his arm on the Revenge Tour. He then says Luger wouldn’t talk this way to Crush’s face but Lex disagrees with that take. That brings out Crush, arm in a sling, to confront Luger. Crush says Luger is afraid to take him on face-to-face and that is why he jumped him from behind. He vows that as long as he is around, he will make Luger’s life a living hell and if he wasn’t hurt, he would take care of things right now. Crush shoves Luger but then begs off a bit with his damaged arm. Lawler asks Luger if he would stoop low enough to attack an injured man and then after a beat, he clotheslined Crush out of the ring. Crush threw the sling down, exposing the fake injury, and yelled at Luger as Lex threatened to throw the King’s throne at him. ***

4) Nikolai Volkoff defeats Matt Hardy via submission with the Boston Crab at 2:31

Fun Fact: Beginning on February 1, Nikolai Volkoff was shown several times in the front row at different events. On the 4/25 episode of Raw, Volkoff was a guest on the King’s Court and told of how he had fallen on hard times (kayfabe). But he indicated that he was a proud man and would not beg for work. On last week’s King’s Court, Volkoff was there with Ted DiBiase, where it was announced that Volkoff was the latest purchase of the Million Dollar Corporation. Even though Volkoff states that he hates DiBiase, he needs the money. DiBiase gives him a new pair of tights and a tuxedo t-shirt, both stating he is the property of the Million Dollar Man.

Scott: After “buying” him last week on Raw, Ted DiBiase’s newest acquisition takes on this newcomer jobber. Matt Hardy? Interesting. DiBiase mentions at the broadcast desk that he’s searching cemeteries because he can find and take control of the missing Undertaker. Nikolai takes out this bony jobber while DiBiase says he will find the Undertaker. Grade: DUD

JT: Ted DiBiase hops in the commentary booth for our final match of the night. And of course that is because his newest acquisition Nikolai Volkoff is in the ring for his first Raw match. DiBiase also states that he is going to do what nobody else could do, including Paul Bearer: find the Undertaker. And he will use his money to do so. He reminds us that he was the one that originally brought Undertaker to the WWF and he will use his resources to do it again. Nikolai breaks out his old mat technique and power blend to eventually take full control of Matt Hardy, finishing him off with a Boston Crab. The big story here is that after messing around with Volkoff, DiBiase is now going big game hunting. Grade: DUD

*** Jerry Lawler joins us from backstage to announce that Bret Hart will be his guest in the King’s Court next week. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: This was a little disappointing, mostly because I was expecting a real great opponent for Owen, and instead we get Doink. I know Owen was supposed to win and a sacrificial lamb was picked, but we could have got somebody to give Owen a decent match. The underlying storyline was the growth of this new heel stable led by the Million Dollar Man. Ted DiBiase was getting back into the picture as a heel character, but having retired from the ring he now can find a new group to lead. Nikolai Volkoff was the first piece. Yeah, you heard me. A puzzling choice there. Ted’s old tag team partner continues to be one of the show’s best baddies. Could he be next? We have a debut that perhaps wasn’t fitting the New Generation. A garbage man? Yikes. The road to Baltimore continues. Final Grade: C

JT: Our solid run of Raws continues here with a tight little episode featuring lots of King of the Ring build and solid storyline advancement.  I was really enjoying the Earthquake push and am sad to see him go, but Doink filled in admirably and I thought he and Owen Hart had a fine little match. The Clown’s issue with Jeff Jarrett continues to rage on. We also saw the debut of Duke Droese and official rechristening of Nikolai Volkoff as a wrestler. The King’s Court also continues to be leveraged well as it pushed along the Lex Luger/Crush feud. I like how they have really been utilizing the Revenge Tour as well, working it into conversations and showcasing all the big happenings from the road. It is a good way to get fans interested in attending while also moving plots ahead. The KOTR card is just about locked up so these last couple weeks of Raws will be painting the finishing touches as the company continues to rebuild its roster and overall personality. Final Grade: B-