Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 1/3/94

*** 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 #46

January 3, 1994 (Taped December 13, 1993)
Mid-Hudson Civic Center
Poughkeepsie, NY
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Johnny Polo

*** We open the show with a visit to the Undertaker’s workshop as Paul Bearer issues a grave warning to Yokozuna that his time is nearly up while Taker hammers away on the double wide, double deep casket. Taker then lets Yokozuna know that he made his New Year’s resolution: that the Champion will Rest in Peace. We then head back to this weekend’s Challenge where Jim Cornette talks about the process that led to the Royal Rumble WWF Championship tilt being a casket match. Stan Lane says the word “casket” out loud and Yoko seems quite spooked. Cornette then admits that Yoko does have a phobia of caskets.  ***

1) Yokozuna defeats Dan Dubiel with the Banzai Drop at 3:53

Scott: As the calendar turns to 1994, perhaps the way Raw is booked may change. For the first time in a while, our WWF Champion is in action. Over the weekend on Challenge, Jim Cornette discussed the Casket Match in front of Yoko, causing him to look scared. All the heels whisper the word whenever Yoko is around. I wonder if as the year moves on if Raw will move on to other venues. It looks like they’re out of the Manhattan Center for good but I assume they can’t keep bouncing from White Plains to Poughkeepsie to the occasional jaunt to Pennsylvania. Johnny Polo is great on commentary, calling Yokozuna “dope” and talking like a kid from West Beverly High. Yokozuna has had a great heel run as champion and deserves a lot of credit for surviving that Hogan crap in the spring and has been dominant and stable at the top of the card. Easy win here. Grade: DUD

JT: We roll into 1994 just weeks away from the Royal Rumble and the first Raw of this year looks quite different than 1993’s inaugural offering. We are long gone from the Manhattan Center, the color commentary slot has become a rotating door of voices, and the roster has turned over greatly over the last twelve months. Well, mostly it has, because Yokozuna still stands steadily at the top of the promotion. He has been Champion since June and a dominant one at that, but the most stern challenge of his reign awaits in Providence. Alongside Vince McMahon in the booth this week is the fantastic Johnny Polo, fresh off his big win a week ago. Polo starts hot, cracking jokes about a kid picking boogers in the crowd as Yokozuna marches out to the ring alongside Mr. Fuji. Looks like Jim Cornette is MIA this week. Polo sings about Yokozuna to the tune of “Daisy Dukes”, calls him “dope” and then says “Dubiel or Not Dubiel, that is the question”. What a national treasure. Vince notes that the National Opnion poll regarding Lex Luger and the Royal Rumble has officially closed and wonders if Jack Tunney will listen to the public. We find out this weekend. The Champion makes quick work of Dan Dubiel but he clearly has much bigger issues ahead of him. Grade: DUD

*** We head back to Superstars to check out Lex Luger defeating Quebecer Jacques… and Pierre thanks to some attempted trickery. Luger then also smacked Johnny Polo with his forearm as well. Following that, we check out a sit down interview between Vince McMahon and Luger that occurred inside the empty arena earlier today. They discuss the challenges Luger has faced in regard to the Rumble and how America has spoken in defense of the All American hero. Luger wants to be in the Rumble and wants that WWF Championship match at WrestleMania. They also discuss the arrogance of Yokozuna, assuming he will escape Providence with the gold. Luger is staying positive about Tunney’s decision and vows to win the Rumble match if he is allowed to enter. ***

*** We head to the speedway for a visit from soon-to-be newcomer “Sparky” Thurman Plugg. ***

2) Smoking Gunns defeat Bam Bam Bigelow & Bastion Booger via countout at 10:00

Scott: The tag team division needs to start galvanizing with the loss of Money, Inc. and the apparent vanishing act of the Steiner Brothers, Billy & Bart look like they are moving up the babyface ladder as legitimate contenders for the Quebecers. Johnny Polo is borrowing some of Bobby Heenan’s jokes about Zsa Zsa Gabor and Jack LaLane. As for Bigelow, he’s a guy that at the time I think would be a great Intercontinental Title contender for Razor Ramon after he’s through with both IRS and Shawn Michaels. He’s just such a great talent that he should be pushed harder. Obviously Matt Rotella’s favorite wrestler is in this match simply to eat the pin from either Billy or Bart. Polo is definitely channelling his inner Brain, as he’s belaboring Booger’s hump on his back like Bobby used to do. Booger was going for a trip to the Batcave but Bart bulldogs him and regained control. Later in the match while Luna was “rubbing Booger’s hump”, he seemed to like the attention and starts getting “friendly” with Bigelow’s main squeeze. Bigelow is battling both Gunns while Booger is pretty much molesting Luna on the outside. Bigelow sees it and both guys start battling and they get counted out. So Booger actually doesn’t job, but now we have an internal storyline within the heels and the “voluptuous” Luna Vachon. Who would’ve thunk it? Grade: **

JT: Polo constantly calling Vince “Vic” cracks me up every time because he says it with such conviction. Up next is basically our main event match as the Smoking Gunns are back to battle the behemoth tag team of Bam Bam Bigelow and Bastion Booger. These two monsters also teamed back at Survivor Series but took an embarrassing loss at the hands of Doink’s circus. The tag division has slowly crumbled throughout 1993 and has pretty much bottomed out with the Steiners having vanished and the Quebecers mixing it up with teams outside the division like Marty Jannetty & 1-2-3 Kid and the Hart Brothers. Bigelow has been pretty aimless as well even since his ugly Survivor Series loss. Now he is teaming with the low rung Bastion Booger, who solely exists to be the (large) butt of Johnny Polo’s jokes here tonight. After surviving a couple of shoulder blocks, Billy heats up, dropkicking Bigelow to the floor, where the big man slowed things down and caught his breath. As you may have noticed, this episode is pretty stale, having been taped nearly a month ago, so we get some “real time” commentary from McMahon and Polo as they discuss current events to seem timely. The Gunns take turns working over Bigelow, keeping him isolated and in the center of the ring. Bammer cuts down Bart with a back elbow and tags in Booger as Polo rags on the hump on the Bastion’s back. Booger levels Bart with a clothesline, sending him hard to the floor as we take a break. When we return, Billy dodges the Batcave and makes a tag, leading to a quick double team. Bart would try a wild charge but Booger ducked down and the cowboy tumbled hard to the floor. Bammer met him out there and slung him into the post before tagging into the match officially. Polo talks about Booger’s excuses for not working out, mentioning wanting to save energy for sex and not liking what channels were on the gym TVs. Bigelow grabbed a near fall, fighting through Bart’s comeback attempts, and eventually tagged in Booger. The Bastion leaned on Bart across the ropes before landing a back elbow to the gut and a leg drop for two. Bart avoided an avalanche in the corner and tagged in Billy, who met Bigelow with a flurry of punches and a dropkick. Outside the ring, Luna tried to help Booger recover by rubbing his hump while inside, the Gunns double teamed her main squeeze. Booger was pretty turned on by the rub and kissed Luna’s hand and lips, hoping for the tug. Luna slapped Booger as her man ate a DDT in the ring. Bastion kept up with the advances, hugging a pissed off Luna as Bigelow dodged a dive off the top rope. Bigelow finally saw what was going on outside the ring and slid out there to save his woman. The two mountains traded blows at ringside until they were counted out, giving the win to the Gunns. The brawling would continue until officials poured out to break them up. The match was fine enough and even though it makes very little sense, at least they tried to give Bigelow a mini angle to get him back on track. The Gunns need a legit tag feud soon here as they continue to sputter. Grade: 1/2*

*** Todd Pettengil is here with our Royal Rumble report. The big night is less than three weeks away and here are the matches announced:

Royal Rumble Match: Bret Hart, Crush, Kamala, Owen Hart, Doink, Mabel, Scott Steiner, Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Adam Bomb, Bam Bam Bigelow, Randy Savage, 1-2-3 Kid, Fatu, Samu, Rick Steiner, Bob Backlund, Greg Valentine, Billy Gunn, Bart Gunn, Rick Martel, Bastion Booger, Marty Jannetty, Mo, Jeff Jarrett, Ludvig Borga & Tatanka
Undertaker vs. Yokozuna – WWF Championship Casket Match
Bret Hart & Owen Hart vs. Quebecers – WWF Tag Team Title Match

Razor Ramon vs. IRS – WWF Intercontinental Title Match
Tatanka vs. Ludvig Borga

Three Royal Rumble slots remain and we will find out who will fill them on Superstars… will one go to Lex Luger? Remember, the Providence Civic Center is sold out so if you want to see it, you need to make that call to your cable company. Do it now! ***

3) Jeff Jarrett defeats John Chrystal with a DDT at 3:06

Scott: With the new year starting, we are starting to really push the new talent that’s coming in, and after what seemed like endless vignettes Double J has his second match on Raw. Chrystal is actually getting some two counts on Jarrett but the “Country singing star” takes control and works the stiff over. I love that Johnny Polo is calling everybody “dope” or “phat”. He’s hilarious. They should have the funny heels on these taped episodes of the evening. Jarrett wins easily, and after the match Marty Jannetty came to the announce table with 1-2-3 Kid and got in Johnny Polo’s face and challenged the Quebecers to a tag match, and they bullied Polo just enough to make it a tag team title match next week on Raw. Grade: DUD

JT: Before Jeff Jarrett struts to the ring, Lord Alfred Hayes tells us that next week will be a special celebration for our one year anniversary of Raw’s debut. Vince also notes he will have a special guest color commentator as well. Polo keeps dropping slang while also talking about his “mumsie”. Gold. As the match gets going, Vince discusses Bad Influence, starring Rob Lowe and James Spader, this week’s USA Friday Night Movie. Chrystal gets a bit off offense in but Jarrett pastes him with a kick to the head and then works him over  bit. Chrystal would get a near fall on a powerslam, but Jarrett cut him off with a DDT en route to grabbing the win. During the match, Vince did his best to troll Polo about the Rumble tag title match but Polo said there is a lot of internal strife in the Hart family. Jarrett continues to work his way up the ladder after weeks of vignettes that got his character over quite well. Grade: DUD

*** We head back to last week to revisit Johnny Polo’s big upset win over Marty Jannetty. Back in the arena, Jannetty and 1-2-3 Kid head out to the announce booth and bully Polo into granting them a WWF Tag Team Title match on next week’s big anniversary show. ***

4) Shawn Michaels defeats Brian Walsh with a piledriver at 5:18

Scott: I love that Shawn Michaels carries his own Intercontinental Title around, to really build that storyline with Razor Ramon. What’s even better about it is that Razor is also feuding with IRS. Since they’re fighting at the Rumble, you almost forget that Michaels is walking around with another belt. As for Diesel, he had a few matches on Raw in the fall when Michaels was “suspended” but has pretty much gone back to being a bodyguard. Walsh actually got a couple of late moves on Shawn and even a two count. Vince must have wanted to give the jobbers a little bit of juice. First Chrystal against Jarrett, and now here. Michaels does eventually win and continues trucking (no pun intended) along as the “self-proclaimed” IC Champion. Grade: *

JT: We wrap things up this week with our “self proclaimed” Intercontinental Champion. Shawn Michaels is still adamant that he never rightfully lost his gold, so he is carrying it around and ignoring the fact that Razor Ramon officially holds the strap. Michaels has Diesel with him as always as Vince reminds us that they are both in the Rumble and could come to blows. Even though he isn’t wrestling quite as much, Diesel is at least back on the radar now that his buddy has returned. During the match, Jacques calls in to boast about next week’s WWF Tag Team Title bout, promising to pick up the win and prove they are fighting champions. Michaels works the arm a bit but like Jarrett, he gives the jobber a little offense. They are in the same mold of heel so having them give a little hope spot here and there in these showcase matches made sense. Michaels ended that upset bid with a hard powerslam and then pitched Walsh to the floor where Diesel met and sling him back inside. They repeated that bit, followed by Michaels hitting a long delayed vertical suplex and then grabbing a chinlock. Polo calls Jim Ross a “buffoon” as Michaels survives another flash pin attempt before polishing off Walsh with a piledriver. Michaels continues to goad Razor Ramon but he is also very focused on the Royal Rumble match. Grade: DUD

Final Analysis

Scott: The first show of 1994 was a tired taped episode, but the very entertaining commentary of Johnny Polo got me through it fine enough. We are tying the storylines together for Royal Rumble and even seeing Yokozuna making Raw appearances. I have no problem with Undertaker not being on a lot, because the vignettes of him making Yoko’s casket works perfectly, particularly on the taped shows. We have the one year anniversary show LIVE next week, so I’ll grade this one right down the middle. Final Grade: C

JT: Not too much doing this week outside of some minor Royal Rumble build, mainly centered around Lex Luger’s Rumble match bid. We also had some build for next week’s big live anniversary show, including the formal announcement of a big Tag Team Title bout. Will the Quebecers make it to the Rumble as champions? The matches this week were all pretty bland and were completely carried by the great commentary of Johnny Polo and his instant chemistry with McMahon. He should have just had this job permanently because he is fantastic in the role. The Rumble card is pretty much announced in full and the build has been strong overall but outside of a bit of that here and some funny Polo commentary, this was a stale miss of an episode. Next week we are back live and that should bring along with it some excitement as well. Final Grade: C-