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

*** 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 #85

November 7, 1994
Fernwood Resort & Country Club
Bushkill, PA
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler

1) Bret Hart & British Bulldog defeat Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart when Hart makes Neidhart submit with   the Sharpshooter at 15:37

Fun Fact: The Hart family feud has been going on since the Royal Rumble when Owen turned on Bret. Extended family came into the mix, first with Jim Neidhart siding with Owen when he returned to the WWF, and then with the British Bulldog taking Bret’s side after being blindsided by Neidhart at SummerSlam. Throughout the fall, individual matches between the four have taken place on the house show circuit.

Scott: We open the show with a strange sight: Jerry Lawler is with Vince McMahon at ringside. That’s not totally weird, however Vince didn’t mention that he’s filling in for Savage. That’s strange. This is a great match to start the live show in the Bushkill resort. I thought at this point they stopped coming here. I guess not. So a special stipulation for the Survivor Series Submission title match between Bret Hart and Bob Backlund is that each competitor will have a “corner man” who will have a towel to throw in to save their guy from injury. Bret Hart will have British Bulldog, and Bob Backlund will have Owen Hart. It harkens back to 1983 when Arnie Skaaland threw the towel in on Backlund against the Iron Sheik. That’s an interesting wrinkle to that match. This match has been fun so far, as Bulldog really laid into Owen early on, but eventually the heels took over and Owen works the Bulldog over with strikes and a headlock. Vince and Lawler actually have some solid chemistry on commentary, but I’m perplexed why Vince hasn’t even mentioned where Randy Savage is. Bulldog finally gets the hot tag to the WWF Champion and Bret starts cleaning house and really works the Anvil over. Eventually Bret got Neidhart to tap to the Sharpshooter to finish the bad side of the family off. That was one of the best matches in Raw history, probably since Bret’s match with the Kid in July. Grade: ***

JT: We are back live this week for Monday Night Raw, which is emanating from its home away from home away from home in Bushkill, PA. And while it is great to have that live crowd energy to freshen things up, it is also a tough night as it is our first Raw after Randy Savage departed the promotion. Macho Man was a fixture on Raw from the start and it just won’t be the same for a while here as we get adjusted. Stepping into his seat alongside Vince McMahon is Jerry Lawler, who has been a mainstay on Monday nights via the King’s Court since the summer. Kicking things off this week is a big time tag team match featuring members of the Hart Family, whose war is still raging hot heading into Survivor Series. Owen Hart is out of WWF Title chances, but he can still torment his brother Bret in bouts like this. All four wasted no time getting to the action as they paired off right at the bell and all went at it until Bret and Bulldog cleared out the ring. Anvil stumbled back into the ring and the Hitman went right to work on him. slugging away in the corner and then clotheslining him to the mat after a boot to the face. Anvil would catch Bret on a leap but the Hitman bit his way free and tagged in Bulldog. The two strongmen locked up and after a stalemate, Bulldog planted Anvil with a shoulderblock. Anvil went to the eyes and made the tag to Owen, but the Bulldog quickly regained his composure and cut Owen down with a hard clothesline. He remained in control as Vince began discussing a new stipulation added to Hart’s WWF Title match with Bob Backlund at Survivor Series. On Thanksgiving Eve, Owen will be in Backlund’s corner and Bulldog will be in Bret’s as the title will be contested in submission match where either cornerman will throw in the towel to end the bout. That is a fantastic callback to how Backlund lost his title back in 1983. Bulldog would get a near fall on a suplex and work the arm for a moment until Owen rebounded with a nice spin heel kick to turn momentum around. Anvil and Owen took turns working over Bulldog with submission holds and strikes, picking up near falls along the way. Vince and King continue to break down the submission match and all the possibilities as Bulldog continues to fall deeper into trouble. Vince notes that George Foreman just became boxing’s Heavyweight Champion at 45 meaning Backlund could do the same exact thing at the same age.

After a break, Bulldog almost stole the match with a sunset flip but Owen recovered and smashed him with an enziguri for two. Anvil tagged back in and got a near fall off a powerslam and then ratcheted in a front face lock. Just as Bulldog neared his corner for a tag, Owen came in and smacked Bret, leading to a chase around the ring. Then with the referee tied up with the Hitman, Owen flew in the ring and he and Anvil teamed up to wipe out Bulldog with the old Hart Attack. Beautiful heel work there. Owen worked a chinlock and then released and tried for a high cross body but Bulldog rolled through for two. The King maintained control and went to a seated rear chinlock to slow things down. Anvil tagged in and kept overpowering Bulldog as we took a second break. When we returned, Owen was back and he and Bulldog collided in the ring, which allowed Davey to make the tag… however the referee was tied up with Neidhart and didn’t allow it. Owen grabbed a hold of Bulldog’s leg but Davey dropkicked him away and finally made the big tag to the champ, who came in and cleaned house on both men. Bret kept hammering away, eventually focusing on Anvil, planting him with a bulldog for a two count. He followed with a backbreaker and elbow off the middle rope for another near fall. Bret hit the ropes but Owen kicked him in the back to slow him down. Anvil would try to slam Bret but Bulldog dropkicked them backwards. However, as the ref was arguing with Davey, Owen came off the top rope and smashed Bret in the head for an Anvil near fall. Bulldog recovered and yanked Owen out of the ring as Bret turned Anvil over into the Sharpshooter for the hard fought win. This was a really good TV match that executed the basic tag formula perfectly. All four men know each other so well and it showed here as the chemistry was smooth and easy and they ebbed and flowed through the match at a nice pace. It also helped tie up some loose ends as Bret finally gets a win over the Anvil as payback for his turn in June. With the Hart Attack Tour just about over, it made sense for Bret to get that televised victory. However, he isn’t quite done with his brother just yet as Owen will be involved at Survivor Series as mentioned above. Really good stuff that I wish the crowd was more engaged with overall, that was really the only drag of the match. Grade: ***

*** We head to Todd Pettengill with this week’s Survivor Series Report. The big night is just a little over two weeks away now and the card is locked in so don’t waste any time and get that order in right away! Here are the matches discussed:

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

So, there it is… coming at you on Thanksgiving Eve. Be there! ***

*** Vince McMahon sends well wishes to two Unitel production team members who suffered an accident at there Fernwood Resort earlier today. They are resting comfortably at a Poconos hospital and should be back at it next week. ***

2) Bam Bam Bigelow defeats Tyrone Knox with an enziguri at 4:40

Scott: Unlike the rest of the Corporation, Bam Bam Bigelow actually gets his own theme music still whereas even Tatanka’s theme has been morphed into DiBiase’s theme. I’m wondering who the showcase heel of the Corporation is, as DiBiase really hasn’t had anybody stand out. Sure Tatanka was the big heel turn at SummerSlam, but since then he got one IC title shot and otherwise it hasn’t really had that sizzling moment to put them over the top. An extended squash for the Beast from the East, as DiBiase pays him in cash after the match. Grade: DUD

JT: We return to the ring as Bam Bam Bigelow is led out to the ring by Ted DiBiase for a tussle with Tyrone Knox. Vince wonders if any superstars will challenge Chuck Norris at Survivor Series and then reminds us that Bigelow got involved in a match between Tatanka and Billy Gunn over the weekend. Knox gets a few shots in but Bigelow overpowers him and methodically works him over. We zoom in on a sign that says “Vince for Senate” which Vince and King joke about. We get some talk about the Guts ‘N’ Glory vs. Million Dollar Team match as well as the Casket Match as Bigelow wears down Knox. Knox lands a big clothesline but it does little damage and Bammer goes right back into control before eventually ending the lengthy squash with an enziguri. Grade: DUD

*** Vince McMahon takes a moment to announce that Randy Savage’s contract has expired and couldn’t come to terms on a new deal. He thanks Savage for all his positive contributions to the WWF and for all of the memories over the years on behalf of himself and all the fan and then wishes Macho nothing but the best and good luck. ***

*** Jerry Lawler leaves the booth and hits the ring for the King’s Court, which he says is the highlight of Raw. He cracks his usual jokes and then brings out his guest, the 1-2-3 Kid. Vince McMahon announces that Kid will be wrestling Bob Backlund on Raw next week. King mocks his hair and build and then says the crowd should take one last look at Kid before he has to face Backlund and the Cross Face Chicken Wing next week. Kid said he hopes Backlund isn’t looking past him and onto Bret Hart because he will be giving 110%. Backlund shows up and tries to attack from behind but Kid dodges him and kicks him out to the floor. Bret Hart then comes out to help stand by the Kid and jaw at Backlund. That draws out Jim Neidhart and Owen Hart to stand with Backlund and finally British Bulldog showed up but was held back by officials as we went to break. ***

3) Doink defeats Pat Tanaka with the Whoopee Cushion at 3:09

Scott: This is a tragedy. One of the most underrated tag team wrestlers of the time. A guy who worked in multiple promotions and had one of the greatest WWF tag team matches ever when the Orient Express faced the Rockers at the 1991 Royal Rumble, has to deal with this. Poor bastard. Incidentally, before the King’s Court earlier with the 1-2-3 Kid, Vince said farewell to Randy Savage as he couldn’t come to terms on a contract with the WWF. You can visibly tell that Vince was really upset, as he and the Macho Man had really bonded on commentary and had been the WWF’s ambassador outside of the ring. So Randy Savage’s WWF career is over. A true Hall of Famer, and a guy Vince had really leaned on. Lawler is fine on commentary and will get better, but I’ll miss Savage. He really belonged here and nowhere else. Back to Pat Tanaka. Why is he wearing a sweatshirt? He can’t be in that bad shape. After the match Doink steals Lawler’s crown and he passes it around to the fugly midgets. Shoot me. Grade: DUD

JT: Time for our final match of the night as Doink leads out his midget clown parade for a tilt with old friend Pat Tanaka. Lawler starts ripping the clowns right away of course. Pretty weird seeing Tanaka back here with little fanfare. Doink tosses him around and shows off some of his usual hijinks as Lawler keeps ranting and talking shit about the clowns. Tanaka was able to take control and dominate the action for a bit until Doink eventually came back and won with the Whoopee Cushion. Grade: DUD

*** Doink and crew head over to the announce table and steal Jerry Lawler’s crown and then take turns wearing it as Lawler freaks out. Vince McMahon then discusses the now open Survivor Series Opinion Poll. ***

*** Vince McMahon runs down next week’s card as Jerry Lawler’s little kings come out. Lawler rips them for not supporting him earlier. The clowns then come out for a big showdown as Lawler tries to shoo them away. Bret Hart then joins us from backstage and says he will be around to keep an eye on things during next week’s match between Bob Backlund and 1-2-3 Kid. Hart says the Kid is the best of the New Generation and he will be in his corner cheering on the New Generation. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: So in a post Randy Savage world, the show felt odd even for a live episode. The Bushkill crowd is always a bit off anyway, and that building seems to be outliving it’s usefulness. The place is so small that it makes the show feel cheap. Even lighting and camera cuts can’t save it. This Lawler/Doink crap does absolutely nothing for me and at times it seems that’s the only Survivor Series storyline that’s promoted on this show. Where’s Bret Hart? He’s the damn World Champion and we need more build with Bob Backlund. Luger vs. the Corporation needs more build as well. Instead midget parlor tricks and garbage squash matches. Maybe it’s my longing for Savage or not but this is the first bad live episode in a while. Final Grade: D+

JT: This whole episode just felt a little off. Maybe it was getting adjusted to not having Randy Savage around, maybe it was the abnormally quiet Bushkill crowd or maybe it was just Vince’s overall somewhat different vibe but this just next clicked. The opening match was really good, maybe one of the best of 1994 on Raw but the crowd seemed checked out and it was lacking excitement around given who was involved. After that the show just kind of dragged to the finish, including filling up a bunch of time at the end with the clowns and kings bullshit. We got no focus on the Teamster vs. Bad Guys match and way too much on the nonsense clown antics. There is some solid intrigue for Survivor Series but everything feels out of sorts again after we were just seemingly back on track following the post SummerSlam lull. Final Grade: C