Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 7/11/94

*** 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 #70

July 11, 1994 (Taped July 1, 1994)
Fernwood Resort
Bushkill, PA
Announcers: Jim Ross & Randy Savage

Fun Fact: After a six month absence, we have the return of Jim Ross to the commentary table. His contract was not renewed back in February and shortly after, Ross suffered his first episode of Bells Palsy. He went on to call matches for Smoky Mountain Wrestling where he teamed with Bob Caudle. When McMahon was indicted for steroids, the WWF hired Ross back. He would be let go shortly after McMahon returned after it was discovered he was leaking inside information to newsletter writers.

1) Bret Hart defeats 1-2-3 Kid via submission to retain WWF World Title with the Sharpshooter at 17:35

Fun Fact: Flashback to the 6/20 episode of Raw…the 1-2-3 Kid won a match against Nikolai Volkoff to get this world title shot against Bret Hart.

Scott: So we have arrived. This match is revered in WWF lore, hidden in the archives of Monday Night Raw that some people may have forgotten about. Vince McMahon is still convalescing with his neck surgery, so Jim Ross is doing commentary with Randy Savage and honestly, I think Ross fits this match. We don’t really need all of Vince’s bloviating and silly pop culture references to Hillary Clinton because this isn’t a crap squash that with no direction. All the focus needs to be on this match and the WWF Title. The best part about setting this match up is that this is two popular babyfaces, obviously on different levels but still babyfaces. My first favorite part of the match was when after the collar and elbow tie up, Kid snap mares Bret to the canvas and the Champ gave that “Well ok, I guess this one’s for keeps” look on his face. The next few minutes is Bret inflicting some serious punishment, taking advantage of his size and leveling him with European uppercuts and hard Irish whips into the turnbuckles. Then, we have the moment that made sure Bret was still the babyface. He pins the Kid for the three count, but Kid’s foot was on the ropes. The referee didn’t see it, but Bret did and after we came back from break Bret continues to lay in the wood, but the Kid then goes on about a four minute stretch of one aerial maneuver after another and really went balls out and the Fernwood crowd went crazy, as Bret was kicking out of one pin attempt after another. Bret then tried to get the Sharpshooter on but the Kid was close enough to the ropes and Bret couldn’t finish the move. The Kid borrowed Kliq member Diesel’s powerbomb and then hit the top rope leg drop. Bret kicked out, and then Kid went for one more top rope maneuver, but Bret caught him, ratcheted the Sharpshooter and the Kid could do nothing else but tap out. The crowd went crazy and both men showed respect after the match. This match may be the best in the show’s history to this point, close to Michaels/Jannetty last year. Watch it, because if you haven’t your mind will be blown. Grade: *****

JT: We are back this week but still on tape. However, we return to our home away from home away from home in Bushkill, PA. We also have a new play-by-play man in the booth in Jim Ross as Vince McMahon is still home recuperating and Gorilla Monsoon’s brief run as lead dog came to a halt. Of course, flanking Ross is our usual color man, Randy Savage. And we waste no time getting right to the big match of the night, one that has been building up for weeks. On June 20, 1-2-3 Kid knocked off Nikolai Volkoff to earn a WWF Title match. A week ago, Kid stood toe-to-toe with Jerry Lawler and told him he would fight a fare and honorable matchup. And thus, here we are. Bret Hart has been all over the map since WrestleMania, embroiled in major feuds with both Owen Hart and Diesel and now Jim Neidhart as well. Plus he has been actively defending his title cross the board too. The show opened with a really neat hype video, including comments from Hart putting over Kid at the Hall of Fame ceremony last month. Savage also makes a great point before the match, talking about how all the pressure is on Hart in this one given the matchup. Before the match begins, Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart surface at ringside to yell at the Hitman but are driven back by officials. Kid would strike first off the bell, sending Hart flying with an arm drag, showing the champ that he was here to fight. Hart refocused and would slam Kid hard to the mat to break an armbar, leading to a brief reset. The crowd was a bit split as Kid worked the arm a bit more while Hart did what he could to counter and break the holds. Hart finally slugged him down with a hard right hand and cranked on a tight chinlock before Kid worked free and sent Hart over with a monkey flip and then crushed him with a pair of spin kicks that sent the champ out to the floor.

After a break, we returned to see Kid still in control of Hart, working the arm in the middle of the ring. Ross and Savage wondered if Owen and Neidhart would resurface as Kid maintained his control, staying laser focused on his strategy. Hart made his move on an Irish whip when he was able to counter and bury a knee to the gut and then he started to go to work on the midsection. Hart slammed Kid hard to the mat again and dropped a leg on him as he paced his offense, snapping off each move and strike with authority. Hart buried uppercuts to the grill of Kid in the corner and then stalked him around the ring, breaking Kid down and punishing the back and neck with elbows and kicks. Hart would grab another chinlock but quickly released and went back to punishing the neck and head with vicious strikes and a brutal whip to the corner. Kid struggled to his feet, decked a clothesline and got a cross body for a flash near fall. Hart popped up and leveled Kid as Savage told everyone not to count the Kid out. Kid would try for a sunset flip in the corner but Hart sat down for two. The challenger followed that with a crucifix attempt but Hart slammed him back and covered for the win. Or so it seemed… the Kid’s foot was on the rope but the referee missed it. Hart actually told the referee about what happened and intimated that he refused to accept the win. A second referee emerged and cleared things up and as we headed to a second break, it was revealed that the match was restarted.

When we returned, Hart was working over Kid, who had almost scored the win during the break when Hart wasn’t ready as the match restarted. Hart went back to the chinlock Ross broke out a nice callback, referring to a week ago when Jeff Jarrett restarted a match with Tatanka after a countout win and it ended up costing him the victory. The crowd continued to be split as Kid snuck in another flash near fall before Hart bashed him with an elbow to the head. Ross puts over how close the match has been with a near fall tally as Bret nails Kid with a DDT for another two count. Hart lets Kid get to his feet but then he slams him down but Kid is able to get a boot up and kick Hart as he came off the second rope. It was false hope as Hart popped up again and went back on the attack. A moment later, Kid ducked a clothesline and leveled Hart with a leg lariat and then followed with a flurry of kicks in the corner. Kid would nail Hart with a dropkick in the corner and then landed a moonsault off the top rope for a close two count. Kid followed with a powerbomb and then headed up top and crushed Hart with a leg drop for another near fall. The challenger charged and clotheslined Hart over the top rope and then took another high risk as he flew at Hart with a somersault senton to the floor. The champ was able to deflect the blow and headed back inside. Kid recovered and again went to the rope but whiffed on another somersault senton. Hart got to his feet and turned Kid into the Sharpshooter but Kid grabbed the ropes for the break. Hart again brought the heat with an uppercut and then tried to take Kid down with a superplex but the challenger shifted his weight and fell on Hart for two. Kid took another chance and tried for another dropkick in the corner but Hart dodged him and he crashed hard to the mat. Hart followed with a tight bulldog and then went to the top but Kid met him and slammed him to the mat. Nice continuity there with Hart perhaps trying to match Kid’s style and go outside of his comfort zone and it costing him. Kid played his game and went to the top. He came off with a dropkick, but Hart stepped back, caught his legs and turned him into the Sharpshooter for the win. After the bout, the two hugged as they received a standing ovation for a hard fought war.

This was a great match that showed off the quality of in ring action the company could put on at the top of the card at this point. A lot of credit for this goes to Kid’s overall development since his debut. The way his career has been structured has  allowed a match like this to be built organically with him as a sneaky underdog that doesn’t quit and could nab a win at any time. I really only had two complaints that keep this from a full five stars. The first is that I thought the start/stop in the middle wasn’t really needed and kind of killed the flow and natural build of the match. And secondly, the crowd was not really super engaged, which I thought hurt the atmosphere and energy. Perhaps they didn’t buy Kid as a contender but for whatever reason it wasn’t as hot as I hoped. The rest was great and Ross and Savage were rock solid in getting across the action and the story. The Hitman lives to fight another day and the Kid proved he is a legit threat to any WWF title. Grade: ****1/2

*** Todd Pettengil is in the house for our first SummerSlam Report here on Raw. Get your tickets now because this is the very first televised event from the brand new United Center. Here are the matches discussed:

Paul Bearer’s Undertaker vs. Ted DiBiase’s Undertaker

We hear from Paul Bearer to help set the stage for this bizarre matchup. ***

2) Crush defeats Matt Hardy with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker at 1:48

Fun Fact: Tonight is the final Raw match for Crush (Brian Adams). He would remain with the company through August and would wrestle his final match with the WWF in this run on Sunday Night Slam before SummerSlam 94 in a loss to Lex Luger. He will return to the WWF at the 1995 Royal Rumble. Soon after this match, he was arrested and jailed for purchasing steroids and an illegal hand gun while in Hawaii.

Scott: There’s nothing to say about this match, because the one before it blew it away. Grade: DUD

JT: As everyone continues to exhale from that instant classic, Crush heads out for our next bout and he is a tough choice to follow up what we just saw. He is led out by Mr. Fuji and still embroiled in an issue with Lex Luger. In a tribute to the World Cup, Savage keeps yelling “Gooooooaaaaal” as Crush makes quick work of Matt Hardy. While we will see the big man again prior to SummerSlam, this is his final match on Raw as he would get arrested shortly after this. Crush has had an interesting run here on Raw and since his heel turn in October, he was a real Monday night workhorse, logging a lot of ring time and cutting some surprisingly good promos and delivering some unexpectedly fun matches too. His feud with Macho Man was a classic and his stuff with Luger has been fine too. See ya, brah! Grade: DUD

3) Razor Ramon defeats Barry Horowitz with an inside cradle at 2:53

Scott: The Bad Guy wants his IC Title back, and speaking of the IC Title, next week on Raw Diesel will defend the belt against Lex Luger. I wonder if this is finally the moment when Luger gets the belt he has been craving since arriving in the WWF 18 months earlier. With a squash in front of us Ross and Savage start joking around now about guys’ birthdays and which detective is on the case of the Undertaker. Earlier in the show, we had our first SummerSlam Report, and it was announced it will be Undertaker vs. Undertaker August 29 in Chicago. Razor won the match with a small package instead of the Razor’s Edge. Weird. Grade: *

JT: Up Next, Razor Ramon saunters out to the ring to take on the steady veteran Barry Horowitz. Of course, Ramon is still chasing after his beloved IC title, doing whatever he can to get a rematch out of Diesel. Savage and Ross discuss the news that the WWF is hiring a detective to investigate this Undertaker situation. We will find out who the detective is on Mania this Saturday. Savage wonders if it will be McGruff the Crime Dog. The commentary goes off the rails a bit here as we get some pop culture talks. Savage has been all over the map since that opener. It may have broken him. Ramon easily polishes off Horowitz as he continues to keep his eye on the IC prize. Grade: DUD

*** We head to an office for a special edition of the King’s Court, where Jerry Lawler is catching up with Ted DiBiase. DiBiase is on the phone yelling at a stock broker before turning his attention to the King. Lawler talks about the great moves DiBiase has made in building his new stable and then talks about the rumors that DiBiase is looking to purchase Lex Luger. DiBiase cackles that Luger is officially bought and paid for and belongs to the Million Dollar Man. Lawler is pumped at the breaking news. DiBiase says he offered Luger a deal he couldn’t refuse. DiBiase then mentions that the contract isn’t officially signed but that it is a done deal. ***

4) Irwin R. Schyster defeats Ray Hudson via submission with the Penalty at 3:48

Scott: Before this match we had a King’s Court where Ted DiBiase shocked the world and said he has bought the services of Lex Luger. For the first time in a while Savage butchered the copy of the USA Movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Savage said it’s 7, 8 Central, instead of the other way around. The guys are also talking about the WWF hiring a detective to look into the Undertaker situation. I love how Savage is throwing every TV and movie detective ever to look into it. Ross says this Saturday on Mania we will find out who the WWF hired. Grade: *

JT: We wrap things up this week with IRS as he is set to battle Ray Hudson. As the match gets under way, we get some TV and movie detective references to tease the big Saturday announcement. IRS aggressively picks apart Hudson as Ross notes that IRS is an associate of Ted DiBiase as well as Rush Limbaugh’s favorite athlete. Savage squeezes in this week’s USA Movie plug, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this Saturday night! Check it out. IRS finishes off Hudson with the Penalty. Grade: DUD

*** Bret Hart visits us from backstage to put over the effort from 1-2-3 Kid and said he went in thinking he would be giving the lesson but ended up being lucky to survive. Randy Savage then asks about Owen Hart wanting to be the one to beat Bret. Hart says his win at WrestleMania was a fluke and that Jim Neidhart doesn’t matter because Hart will have one of his brothers in his corner next time. We will soon find out who is the best of the family soon enough. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: This is one of the more memorable episodes of Raw, not only for the five star match that many probably forgot about, but the announcement that Ted DiBiase is buying Lex Luger’s services. I like that DiBiase is attempting to buy everybody, including the babyfaces. I know Crush is gone for a while, but after his epic heel turn and match with Savage at WrestleMania he seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. You know who else has gotten lost? Yokozuna. He never got his rematch with Bret Hart and is barely on TV. This was a great episode, highly graded due to an epic match. Final Grade: A

JT: Over the first year and a half of Raw history, we have never had a match this good air on the program. Bret Hart and 1-2-3 Kid delivered an instant classic that immediately checks in as the greatest match in Raw history to date. The rest of the show didn’t really matter because that was all we needed to make this a win. We did get some big story advancement with Ted DiBiase announcing he had signed Lex Luger. Luger will be challenging Diesel next week, so we will likely see more of that story play out. Jim Ross did a fine job stepping in here and was the perfect choice to call that opener. Savage was great in that match and then out of his mind for the rest of the show. Without Vince to reign him in he has been a bit more scattered than he had been. I am still loving this Raw format as the flow is easy to watch and trickles down nicely after the show opens with the big match of the night. Final Grade: A