Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 10/31/94

*** 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 #84

October 31, 1994 (Taped October 17. 1994)
Burlington Memorial Auditorium
Burlington, VT
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Randy Savage

Fun Fact: Tonight, we see the final appearance of Randy Savage ever on a WWF broadcast. Savage’s contract expired at the end of October. He felt that he still could wrestle, while Vince McMahon wanted to keep him in the broadcast role and behind the scenes as well as an ambassador role while focusing on younger talent in the ring. The two could not work out a new contract and Savage would head south to make his WCW debut in December.

1) Lex Luger defeats Bob Backlund by disqualification at 10:00

Fun Fact: On the 10/15 episode of Superstars, 10/15/94. Bob Backlund put Arnold Skaaland in the crossface chicken wing. On the 10/17 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon questions Backlund on what he has to say about his actions. After cutting a promo, Backlund starts challenging fans to come down to the ring and try to break the crossface chicken wing hold. Lex Luger heads out from the locker room and challenges him, but is held back by agents and referees from making it to the ring.

Scott: This could be a hidden gem right here. Bob Backlund could carry a guy like Lex Luger to a halfway decent match. Backlund’s glare is utterly hilarious and is making this new heel gimmick actually work. Luger’s working Backlund over with surprising moves and Luger is mocking his weird walk. Backlund eventually takes control with some submission work and an arm bar. As the match progresses, out comes Tatanka to distract Lex and Backlund slaps the Cross Face Chicken Wing on Luger, as Tatanka was skulking around the curtain during the match. Luger ends up winning by disqualification when Tatanka comes in to attack Luger and Backlund puts the CFCW back on Lex, leading to Randy Savage coming into the ring to break it up. The match wasn’t bad but predictable with all the interference at the end. Grade: **

JT: Happy Halloween! We are here on All Hallow’s Eve, back in Vermont for the final taped episode of this cycle, but despite the festive atmosphere it is a bittersweet episode. And that is because it is our final voyage with Randy Savage in the booth… or in WWF in any role. Macho Man wanted to wrestle full time still but Vince McMahon preferred him in his “Babe Ruth” role, a position Savage has excelled at. That lead to a break in contract negotiations and Savage heading to WCW. Sad times, but I will get more into Savage in my final thoughts. We open the show with a big clash between Lex Luger and the surprising #1 contender Bob Backlund. The two had a confrontation a couple of weeks ago and are set to pay it off here. I liked Luger’s bravado and the promos he cut on Backlund and it made him feel rejuvenated in some ways. Backlund is on fire and set for a huge Survivor Series WWF Title tilt with the Hitman in just a few weeks, looking to reclaim that gold he felt was stolen from him over a decade ago. After both men entered the ring, Fink introduced them and they have really done a good job of making this feel like a big time tussle. Luger struck first and then mocked Backlund’s duck walk to a pop. Luger continued to control, besting Backlund at his own game and clearly frustrating him. Backlund turned the tide and started to work the arm as Vince continued to dissect Bob’s descent into madness and what has brought him to this point. Luger kept dodging the CFCW but Backlund was able to hit a belly-to-belly suplex for two and then followed with a nice hammerlock slam. As we headed to break we caught a glimpse of Tatanka watching the match from deep in the recesses of the arena. After the commercial, Backlund was wearing Luger down with a hammerlock bear hug but Lex again was able to avoid the CFCW. Luger started to punch his way into daylight before ramming Backlund into the corner and then burying him with a knee lift. Lex followed up with a powerslam but turned around to see Tatanka charging to the ring. Luger went to tangle with his rival, allowing Backlund to sneak in and lock on the CFCW. As Backlund cranked away on the hold, Tatanka hopped in the ring and kicked away to draw the DQ. The beating continued until referees finally pushed Tatanka away and Backlund broke the hold. Well, momentarily anyway… because Backlund immediately struck again, battering Luger until Savage finally charged the ring to pull Bob out of the hold. That was a very solid match with some fun spots and a well executed finish, furthering both the Tatanka/Luger issue while also reminding us how lethal Backlund has become. It also gave us a hot Savage interference spot, his last televised in ring action in the WWF. Grade: **

2) 1-2-3 Kid defeats Tony DeVito with a leg drop off the top rope at 3:16

Scott: The previous day on Action Zone, we had probably one of the best hidden gems in WWF history as Shawn Michaels and Diesel defended the Tag Team Titles against 1-2-3 Kid and Razor Ramon. It’s a ***** match and one that needs to be found in the Coliseum Video archives. Savage continues to be fuming after what happened in the previous match and tells the camera he doesn’t care what Jack Tunney says, the referees couldn’t handle Bob Backlund. What’s up with the Kid’s hair? It’s incredibly fluffy. He wins easily as Savage continues to bash Backlund. Grade: DUD

JT: Things have calmed down and we head back to the ring as the 1-2-3 Kid jogs to the ring to battle Tony DeVito. Vince lets us know that Kid and Razor Ramon came very close to knocking off Shawn Michaels and Diesel but came up just short of the gold. Kid’s hair is extra permed tonight, must be prepping for the winter. Savage is still hot about Backlund and he threatens Jack Tunney for his lack of oversight with this whole situation. He says if the officials can’t control things, Savage will keep getting involved. Vince pivots us to Survivor Series, discussing the big announced match between the Bad Guys and the Teamsters, but more to come on that shortly. Kid lays a beating on DeVito before finishing him off with a top rope leg drop. On to Survivor Series it is for the always improving Kid! Grade: DUD

*** Todd Pettengill is in the house with our Survivor Series report for this week. Todd reminds us to call and order today to safely get that order in. Here are the matches discussed:

Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund – WWF Title
Undertaker vs. Yokozuna – Casket Match; Special Guest Referee: Chuck Norris
Guts & Glory: Lex Luger, Adam Bomb, Mabel & Smoking Gunns vs. Million Dollar Team: Tatanka, King Kong Bundy, Bam Bam Bigelow & Heavenly Bodies
The Bad Guys: Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, British Bulldog & Headshrinkers vs. The Teamsters: Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart & Jeff Jarrett
Clowns Are Us: Doink, Dink, Wink & Pink vs. The Royal Family: Jerry Lawler, Queasy, Sleazy & Cheesy

Also, Todd tells us that Bob Backlund has demanded that his match with the Hitman be a submission match. We are awaiting Bret Hart’s comments. That is the full card, so again, get that order in today for the Thanksgiving Eve tradition! ***

*** We check out highlights from this past Saturday’s WWF softball charity game. ***

3) King Kong Bundy defeats Bert Centeno with a knee drop at 2:45

Scott: Before this match we had the Survivor Series report, where a lot was announced. Bob Backlund challenged Bret Hart to make their Championship match a Submission Rules match. Also, Chuck Norris is the troubleshooting referee for the Undertaker/Yokozuna Casket rematch. That way we won’t have 560 heels helping Yoko like they did at the Royal Rumble. Vince is making fun of the other networks watching “Action Zone” during the NFL pregame shows yesterday. Bundy wins easily, but the commentary is great. Grade: DUD

JT: We are set for more action as King Kong Bundy is led out by Ted DiBiase to tussle with Bert Centeno. Vince quips about Bundy and softball as Savage plus our sponsor, Doublemint Gum. Buddy smacks Centeno around as Vince puts over his size and says he is the anchor of the Million Dollar Team. We get more Survivor Series talk and Vince says Luger is trying to work out the kinks of his shoulder after tonight’s attack. Vince continues to mock the NFL pre game shows in an attempt to put over Action Zone. Bundy mauls Centeno and finishes him off with the knee drop. Savage says the Giants have won the World Series, but is talking about the Japanese league. Grade: DUD

*** We head to a graveyard where IRS is at the grave of John Dough, whom he chastises for being a tax cheat. He found a slight error in his September quarterly taxes and says Dough owes $121.37 and repossess the gravesite flowers to settle the debt. He assumes that Dough probably cheated more than once and will investigate further. Even after you are six feet under, you still have to pay those taxes. ***

*** Jerry Lawler heads to the ring for this week’s spooky King’s Court here on Halloween. After mocking the crowd, Lawler brings out his guests: Paul Bearer and Undertaker. Once the Deadman reached the ring, Lawler asks Bearer if he knows what deja vu means. And he wants to know if they are getting that feeling of history repeating itself regarding the last time Undertaker and Yokozuna faced off in a casket match. Bearer plugs a new Undertaker magazine and uses it as proof to show all the wrestlers that Undertaker has run out of the WWF. Bearer confirms their confidence in this rematch but Lawler wants to know why Chuck Norris will be the troubleshooting referee if they aren’t afraid of Yokozuna. Bearer says the WWF made that decision to make sure there was no deja vu from the Royal Rumble. Undertaker says there comes a time in life where one must be held accountable for their actions and Yokozuna’s time has now come. His creatures of the night wouldn’t let him rest and brought him back to bring justice and make Yoko pay. At Survivor Series, it will be time for Yoko to rest in peace. ***

4) Jim Neidhart defeats Tony Roy via submission with the Camel Clutch at 4:12

Scott: We had a great King’s Court before this, with a rare Undertaker appearance here on Raw. As a matter of fact if you go all the way back to Raw’s beginning, the Deadman is the legit superstar that has been on Raw the least. With British Bulldog back in the company, I like that the promotion is going to put a lot of these guys together and good matches should occur. Anvil wins with a Camel Clutch, which is kind of a weird move for him. This show really felt taped, something that hasn’t happened in recent months. Grade: DUD

JT: Closing up shop this week is Jim Neidhart battling Tony Roy. Owen Hart is out with the Anvil as always and Vince talks about the big tag match coming next week when these two will battle Bret Hart and British Bulldog as the family war rages on. Anvil bullies through Roy as Owen talks smack at ringside as usual. Vince also talks about the big Teamsters vs. Bad Guys Survivor Series match as this edges along. And for one last time, Randy Savage reads a USA promo copy: Scam, the USA Movie, airing Wednesday night at 9PM! Vince calls Anvil and Owen “jamokes” as Anvil finally puts Roy away with the camel clutch. We will see much more from Anvil and Owen in seven days. Grade: DUD

*** Randy Savage preps next week’s show. Vince McMahon then heads backstage to visit with Lex Luger, who is icing up his shoulder and is quite angry. There are audio issues that prevent us from hearing the interview so Savage just narrates what he thinks is being said. The show then wraps up with Tatanka and Luger brawling backstage with Savage fittingly closing out the show. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: It’s very easy to grade this show as a regular Raw, and give it a B- or a C+, but obviously there’s something different about this show. And that different feeling is that one of the most beloved superstars in the history of the company is about to leave. This is a total heartbreak to see Randy Savage bid farewell to the company that made him an international icon, in and out of wrestling. After having real chemistry issues with a lot of heels earlier in the year, Vince and Macho Man have been a treat to listen to week in and week out, whether it’s talking about the match, the feuds, or whatever awful USA movie plug Savage had to read. They made even the weeks-old taped shows moderately entertaining. Savage really seemed to enjoy being a weekly commentator and ambassador, but it’s only fair for him to feel like he has plenty left in the tank. Sadly Vince needed to flesh out the old guard, particularly those who were reminded of the steroid era. As for the show itself, it’s pretty stale besides the opener and the King’s Court with Undertaker. I’ll grade this a little higher than a standard taped episode to give Randy Savage his fond farewell. The roster is fairly stable, but the steadying presence of Randy Savage in the WWF is gone and will definitely be a gaping talent hole that will be tough to fill. Final Grade: A

JT: Well, this bittersweet holiday edition of Raw is in the books. The show itself was perfectly fine with a solid anchor match and quick moving squashes built around promoting next week’s show and Survivor Series. Bob Backlund is on fire right now and they are doing a fantastic job in building him up as a serious threat to the title. We got a lot more fire around Lex Luger and Tatanka as well and it seems like Tatanka is figuring things out a bit as a heel. The King’s Court was well done too, really setting the stage for the return casket match between Undertaker and Yokozuna. All that said, there was still a sad cloud around this episode knowing that it is the final appearance of Randy Savage. He has been a cornerstone of Raw since day one, both in and out of the ring. And since WrestleMania, he has become a steadying presence the show as well, forming a strong bond in the booth with Vince McMahon and filling that ambassador role so well. I get why he left but it is going to be weird moving forward on this journey without Savage as the soundtrack. I thought it was fitting that the last moments of the show were him alone in the booth, closing up shop, almost like it was written that way. We will forge on but a piece of Raw and the WWF has been carved out and it will never be replaced. Final Grade: B-