Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 8/1/94

*** 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 #73

August 1, 1994
Beeghly Center
Youngstown, OH
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Randy Savage

Fun Fact I: Vince McMahon makes his return to Monday Night Raw after being acquitted of steroid distribution in a federal court on July 22, 1994. The jury deliberated for 16 hours over two days before returning the Not Guilty verdict.

Fun Fact II: On the July 30 episode of Superstars, Bob Backlund faced Bret Hart in an “Old Generation vs. New Generation” match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Near the end of the match, Backlund got Hart in a small package for a super close count. Backlund thought he had gotten the three count, which ended up costing him the match. Hart cradled him for the win to retain the title. Hart helped Backlund to his feet and in an attempt at sportsmanship tried to offer his hand for a handshake. Backlund snapped, slapping Hart in the face and locking him in the crossface chicken wing, while screaming. When he finally released the hold, he stared at his hands in shock. For a full write-up on this match, see JT’s article on PTBN written 20 years to the day after the match.

1) Shawn Michaels defeats Razor Ramon with a roll up at 23:00

Fun Fact: Tonight, we have Shawn Michaels’ first bout since the ladder match at WrestleMania X. Ever since then, Michaels has been resting and recovering from various injuries. He has remained on TV through his managerial duties with Diesel and his Heartbreak Hotel show that was part of WWF Superstars.

Scott: Vince McMahon returns from his neck surgery (and…legal entanglements) to the broadcast table with Macho Man as we open the show with a WrestleMania X rematch. We’re already booked for the Ramon/Diesel rematch for the IC Title at SummerlSam, so this is just another hot spot on the road. This is actually Shawn’s first match since losing March 20 at MSG. Razor has these really cool black tights I don’t think we’ve ever seen before. The crowd here at Youngstown is really hot, as it’s their second visit there and they deserve it. This match of course goes a little slower than their first encounter, with Shawn taking control with chin locks and clotheslines, with a little Diesel cheating along the way. These two had great chemistry (big shock) as Shawn’s technical wizardry worked perfectly with Razor’s basic power set as a babyface. I have to say Vince is really settled in, having not been on camera since June. There’s not long heat segments as both guys get about a couple of minutes of time each with some precise strikes or an extended wear down move. At one point Razor is dropped outside and with the referee distracted Diesel clotheslined Razor down and threw him back into the ring. Shawn retakes control with reverse elbows off the ropes and Razor is in big trouble, maybe not making it to August 29 in Chicago. Razor reverses a headlock with a back suplex and this match has been really good, and definitely a sneaky chapter of their catalog. Razor goes on a tear with right hands and a clothesline but Shawn kicks out. Michaels tries to make a comeback and hits a flying body press but Razor survives. Shawn goes for the Razor’s Edge but the Bad Guy kicks out and reverses it. Razor then goes for the Edge but Diesel goes on the apron to distract him but when the referee takes the belt out of the ring Diesel boots Razor in the head and Shawn rolls him up (with some tights) to win the match. The ending was wonky but the match was fantastic. After the match there’s some double teaming but the referees come in to break it up. Grade: ****

JT: We are live this week for Monday Night Raw and coming at you from the Beeghley Center and we have a lot to cover! Vince McMahon has returned from his layoff and is back in the booth alongside Randy Savage and it is great to have his bombastic personality navigating us through the biggest show of the week. I love Gorilla Monsoon but he felt so dated and Jim Ross was rock solid but missing that energy and deep knowledge of the stories that Vince had at this point. Savage is so pumped to welcome Vince back and talks about McMahon and the WWF defeating the US Government recently… NOT GUILTY! Also back from a long break is Shawn Michaels. Michaels had been out of action since WrestleMania, serving as Diesel’s manager and host of the Heartbreak Hotel while he recharged his batteries and healed up. And this was a perfect way to bring him back into action, in a huge WrestleMania rematch against a bitter rival. Michaels danced out to the ring, flanked by Diesel as always, and he was followed by the #1 contender for the Intercontinental Title, a man looking to eliminate Michaels tonight so he won’t get in the way at SummerSlam. We got off to a fast star as Michaels was flying around the ring, showing off his speed, and keeps away from Ramon until the Bad Guy was able to pelt him with a right hand and sling him out to the floor. Ramon kept slugging Michaels as he tried to get back in the ring but Shawn finally landed a shot to the eye and then scaled the top rope. That backfired as Ramon met him with a right hand but Shawn came back with a neckbreaker and then started to work the lower back. Ramon recovered and caught Shawn coming off the middle rope and sent him flying with a fallaway slam. Ramon maintained control until Michaels worked free and took the Bad Guy down before stomping on his head. Michaels followed with a dropkick for two and stayed on the offensive, choking and punching Ramon around the ring. Michaels grinding Ramon down with a chinlock but Razor fought to his feet and sent Michaels flying out of the ring and hard into Diesel with a slingshot.

After a break, Ramon was briefly in control until Michaels was able to leverage Razor’s tights and yank him hard into the corner. Michaels headed up top but Razor recovered and slammed him hard to the mat. The Bad Guy hooked in an abdominal stretch but Michaels broke that up by going to the eyes. Ramon came back again and spiked Michaels to the mat face first and then sent him flying with a back drop. Ramon followed up with a bear hug which he had clamped on for a while until Michaels slid up and over the back of Ramon to escape. Vince was pretty insightful here, wondering if Michaels has a lower back injury from WrestleMania that Ramon was aware of. Just when Razor was fully in control he charged hard at Michaels but Michaels dodged him and flipped him over the top rope. Diesel met him there with a big clothesline that sent us to break.

When we returned, Michaels was choking away at Razor and then started to pick up near falls where he could. Ramon peppered his way back into things but Shawn grabbed a desperation sleeperhold to cut him off. Ramon almost faded but eventually stood up and slammed Michaels to the mat to break the hold and get a two count. A moment later, both men collided in the ring and collapsed. Savage keeps working in court puns as Razor starts smacking Michaels with right hands and then levels him with a clothesline for two. Ramon followed that up with an attempt at a super back suplex but Michaels elbowed him to the mat. Michaels then tried a body press but Razor rolled through for a two count. As both men got up, Michaels crushed Ramon with a super kick for a close near fall. Michaels tried for a Razor’s Edge but Ramon countered it and then fended off interference from Diesel to stay in control. However, a moment later, as the referee was tied up for a second, Diesel hopped on the apron again and leveled Ramon with a big boot off an Irish whip. As Ramon staggered back, Michaels rolled him up for the win. After the bout, Diesel and Michaels worked Ramon over to soften him up further for SummerSlam. That was a damn good match and one of the longest to date here on Raw. Michaels really made a nice comeback here after his time off and showed no rust or lack of speed in the ring. Ramon was solid as always as well and I liked the finish a lot with Diesel playing the key role in the pin to help put more heat on SummerSlam.I enjoyed the ebb and flow on the pacing too with no real sustained heat segment and just lots of close calls along the way. The feud rages on with Ramon now looking like he could be in some trouble at SummerSlam due to the numbers game. Grade: ***1/2

*** Todd Pettengil is on the scene for the week’s SummerSlam Report, brought to you by Domino’s Pizza. Here are the matches discussed:

Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
Undertaker vs. Undertaker

Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – WWF Championship Steel Cage Match
Razor Ramon vs. Diesel – WWF Intercontinental Title

Be sure to call your cable company now so you are locked in on August 29. The brand new United Center is going to be jam packed and rocking for sure! ***

2) Alundra Blayze wrestles Bull Nakano to a double countout at 5:26; Blayze retains WWF Women’s Title

Fun Fact: Bull Nakano makes her RAW debut tonight. Nakano, real name Keiko Nakano, began her wrestling career in 1983 and competed in All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling at only 15 years old. She won the AJPW Junior Championship at the age of 16. In mid 1985, she won the AJW Championship and held this title into 1988. She also teamed with her mentor, Dump Matsumoto, to win the WWWA World Tag Team Championship in August 1986. She had a brief run in 1986 with the WWF, but her main focus remained in Japan. She continued to have success and win titles in Japan, including the AJW’s All Pacific Championship and the WWWA’s World Heavyweight Championship. In late 1992, her storylines in AJW began drying up and she moved on to North America. She spent time in Mexico in 1993 and 1994 before signing with the WWF again in the summer of 94. 

Scott:This is the biggest women’s feud right now, as the Bull takes on our Women’s Champion. This is really the extension of the Blayze/Luna Vachon feud. Bull is dominating the smaller champion with clotheslines and power moves. No woman has had this kind of build and move set in the US. Savage calls her Bull NAKANAKANO, which always makes me laugh. She drills Blayze with a power bomb but the champion kicks out in what has been an extended squash match. The show has been booked like a live event with no squashes so far and good workers putting on extended matches. Eventually these two stars brawl out to the floor and both get counted out. A solid match and more to come from these two. Grade: **1/2

JT: Our big night continues as WWF Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze is set to battle in a non-title match against Japanese star Bull Nakano, who was brought to the company by Luna Vachon. Vachon wants Blayze eliminated and after failing to do so herself, turned to this monster. Nakano enters to the old Orient Express music which of course is a classic theme of the past. Nakano opens the match quickly off the bell, slapping Blayze and then spiking her to the ground. Blayze came back with some side kicks but Bull caught her in the bread basket with a right hand and then flung Blayze to the mat by her hair. Blayze tried to punch Nakano off of her and then was able to catch Bull with a head scissors takeover for two. Blayze stayed in control with a spin kick but whiffed on a second one, allowing Nakano to choke away at her. Nakano spiked Blayze hard to the mat for two as Savage butchers her name. Vince wonders if Bull starred in Mask with Jim Carrey as she hooked in a chinlock. Blayze popped up and slapped Bull but Bull slapped her right back, knocking her to the mat. Nakano maintained control, spiking Blayze with a stiff piledriver before picking up Blayze during the pin cover. Nakano stayed calm and then crunched Blayze with a powerbomb for a near fall. Blayze avoided a second powerbomb and got a sunset flip for two. Blayze went to the second rope but came up empty on a dropkick. Bull pounced by slamming Blayze and then heading to the top rope but Blayze avoided disaster by dodging her flying leg drop. Blayze popped up and took Bull over with a German suplex for a close near fall. The crowd is a bit quiet during this one but the pace has been great and it is easily the best WWF women’s match in forever. They continue to battle with Bull slamming Blayze off the second rope but Alundra popped up and dropkicked Bull to the floor. Alundra then scaled the top rope and flew hard into Bull on the outside. They continued to brawl out there, fighting their way to a double count out. That was an impressive war that was completely fresh to the WWF and Raw. The crowd should have embraced it more as it deserved way more heat. After the match, Vachon and Bull attacked but Blayze fought them off. Something tells me this is far from over and that is a good thing. Grade: ***

*** Jerry Lawler heads to ringside to chat with a very special couple in the audience. Lawler ventures into the crowd and walks through a marriage proposal between Mike Boyle and Andrea. Andrea is alternating between being excited and horrified even though Lawler gave away the surprise during the introductions. The King wants to give Andrea time to think it over and heads to the ring. After a break, Andrea is in the ring with Lawler and the King is grilling her about her situation. He asks if she is pregnant and then says Mike’s first girlfriend had been around more than a carousel. Andrea finally accepts the proposal and then Lawler tells her to get as much as she can in her name, to which Savage agrees. Lawler wants to give a congratulatory kiss and then mocks Andrea’s nose. Lawler makes his move and tries to kiss her on the lips but Andrea dodges the attempt and heads out. Lawler then gets down to business and brings out the… World Wrestling Federation Champion… Bob Backlund? Lawler clarifies and says Backlund never lost the title back in the day and should still be considered the Champion. Backlund thanks Lawler for the accolades and says he spent his whole career trying to boon the lives of his fans with advice. The fans have changed over the last ten years and he is very disappointed in how weak they all are. He says he has never given up or submitted and the belt should be his. Vince says we have never seen Backlund like this and that he has snapped. As Backlund continues to rant, Lawler says Hart tried to embarrass Bob after their match and asks Backlund what he thinks about the New Generation. Backlund says Hart is part of a society that he wants nothing to do with and keeps raving on as we see footage of Backlund attacking Hart after their match on Saturday. Lawler demands respect for Backlund to wrap things up. ***

3) Smoking Gunns defeat George Anderson & Tom Bennett when Billy pins Bennett with the Sidewinder at 1:44

Scott: We have our one squash of the week, but before this match Jerry Lawler had freshly turned heel Bob Backlund on the King’s Court. Backlund wrestled Bret Hart for the World Title the previous weekend and snapped on Bret after the match. Savage keeps needling Vince about the steroid trial with veiled digs at the lawyers and Vince is obviously giddy, since he won. Grade: DUD

JT: We have just minutes left for our last match as the Smoking Gunns are out to battle George Anderson and Tom Bennett. We miss a chunk of the match due to the promotional considerations and a break and what we do see isn’t much as the Gunns control the entire bout. The highlight of the match is Savage saying the greatest tag team in the world is Jerry McDevitt and Laura Brevetti. The match literally ends right as we go off the air as Billy pins Bennett after the Sidewinder. Grade: DUD

Final Analysis

Scott: The strong run of summer episodes continues as we not only have another fantastic opening match but a great King’s Court with a… different side to Bob Backlund and that’s a perfect yang to his babyface yin. We even get our third marriage proposal in Raw history. The first two matches is probably the best one-two punch in Raw history, with a great battle between Razor and Michaels followed by a rare women’s match. We have a great Women’s Champion and an equally great heel challenger and this is the first time we are seeing them? I would even keep Lelani Kai around as a second heel worker with Blayze. The Raws since June (well I would even say late-January) have been really good with more storyline and character advancement. Final Grade: A

JT: This was easily one of the best top to bottom episodes of Raw here in 1994 and possibly since its inception. Most of the show was eaten up by two big matches, both of which delivered great results. Shawn Michaels is back in action and wasted no time reminding us how good he is with a fun match against his arch rival. Then, we check out the legendary Bull Nakano cutting a great pace against Alundra Blayze, finally giving us something to be excited about in the women’s division. Add in a really fun King’s Court with a maniacal Bob Backlund and what more could you ask for out of this time period. Plus having Vince McMahon back in the booth added a lot more excitement to the show as well. He got to gloat about his big courtroom win through Randy Savage which makes the show interesting from a time capsule point of view as well. Great episode to open up August. Final Grade: A-