Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 5/16/94

*** 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 #63

May 16, 1994 (April 26, 1994)
Green Mountain State
Burlington, VT
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Randy Savage

1) Bam Bam Bigelow defeats “Sparky” Thurman Plugg in a King of the Ring Qualifying Match with a slingshot splash at 6:27

Scott: We open with another qualifying match for June 19 in Baltimore. Bigelow made it to the finals last year and went toe to toe with Bret Hart in a great tournament final. Sparky Plugg hasn’t had much visibility on Raw, and was just on Superstars and other weekend syndies. Bigelow had to deal with Doink’s nonsense since the fall but seems to have shaken off the funk of that and could be in line to win the tournament this year. This match seems to be somewhat of a hand-tip since at the time the roster was solid enough to not need any fringe low mid card guys, and that’s what Sparky Plugg was. This has been a fun match though with Bigelow really laying the wood to Plugg but Sparky would make some occasional comebacks. Bigelow recovers from the last attack to hit the headbutt and will face Razor Ramon in the first round. Grade: **

JT: Welcome back to another episode of Monday Night Raw and for the final time we are here via tape in Burlington, VT. We are also quickly rolling toward King of the Ring, meaning we have yet another Qualifying Match here this evening and it again opens up our show. Bam Bam Bigelow has finally rid himself of the clowns and is looking to advance on to bigger and better things. A year ago he made the KOTR finals and he wants to finish the job this time around. Sparky Plugg has had some quality matches since debuting and is looking for what would easily be his biggest win to date. Sparky ducked and dodged to open up but once Bigelow caught him, the big man shoved him hard to the floor. Sparky climbed back in and rocked Bammer with a clothesline and then sent him careening to the floor with a dropkick. Bigelow recovered and took over with his power, slamming Sparky hard to the mat. Bammer fought through a comeback attempt and then slugged Sparky with a hard right hand to send him to the mat. Bigelow kept bringing the offense but Sparky caught him with a boot to the face on a charge. After a short flurry, Bigelow cut him down with an enziguri for two and then grabbed a rear chinlock. Bigelow released the hold and got a two count off a falling headbutt. Sparky continued to hang in there, absorbing some heavy blows and choking, before finally dodging a hard charge and hitting a bulldog. Sparky kicked away and nailed a DDT and then headed to the top rope for a high cross body and a near fall. He followed that with a small package for two and then laid in a pair of clotheslines. As he hit the ropes for a third one, Luna tied up his foot and distracted him long enough to allow Bammer to clobber him from behind. Bigelow followed up quickly with a slingshot splash and nabbed the hard fought win to advance to Baltimore. This was a bit slow in the middle but I really dug Sparky’s comeback as he really mixed in some fun offense that you usually don’t see get broken out in a row like that. Grade: *1/2

*** Todd Pettengil is in the house with this week’s King of the Ring Report. Here are the matches discussed:

Bret Hart vs. Diesel – WWF Heavyweight Title
Roddy Piper vs. Jerry Lawler
IRS vs. Mabel – King of the Ring Opening Round
Razor Ramon vs. Bam Bam Bigelow – King of the Ring Opening Round

Qualifying Matches announced:

Lex Luger vs. Jeff Jarrett

Be sure to place your order today as a special gift for your father on Father’s Day! ***

2) Diesel defeats Mike Maraldo with the Jackknife at 3:11

Scott: Has anybody gone from the chopping block to the penthouse so fast? Heading into 1994 Diesel was looking like a directionless soul who was going to vanish sooner than later. Then the Royal Rumble happened and five months later he’s Intercontinental Champion and now has a WWF Title match against Bret Hart at the King of the Ring. What the heck? No one has ever had a 180 degree turn this quick. Even these squashes are different. He had some Raw matches in 1993 and they were boring and flat. Suddenly the script changes and Big Daddy Cool is a sparkling heel with great power moves and he hits the Jackknife for the victory. Who would have thought where Diesel was six months ago compared to now was possible? Grade: *

JT: Up next, the red hot Intercontinental Champion Diesel struts out to the ring and he is flying solo tonight. He is also flying high as a kite as he officially has his WWF Heavyweight Title match with Bret Hart in Baltimore, as he requested a week ago. First up, he takes on Mike Maraud here tonight. Diesel meets him with an aggressive chokeslam and then chucks him over the top rope to the floor with a one handed choke toss. Diesel continued to put a beating on Maraldo as Vince and Randy discussed his ongoing matches with Razor Ramon on the WrestleMania Revenge World Tour as well as his huge KOTR bout. Diesel eventually polished Maraldo off with snake eyes and a Jackknife. It is like a switch flipped for Big Daddy Cool as he is wrestling much more confidently and aggressively and not nearly as rigid and stiff as he was since his debut. Big things are seemingly ahead for Diesel. Grade: DUD

*** We head out to the streets where some random jamoke is pumping gas and claims he saw the Undertaker riding down the street on top of a hearse before vanishing into thin air. ***

*** Jerry Lawler heads out to the ring for this week’s King’s Court. As usual, he takes some shots at the fans and Roddy Piper before we he head to break. After returning, Ted DiBiase and Nikolai Volkoff are in the ring with Lawler. Nikolai is sporting his old wrestling jacket and cossack hat as Lawler informs the world that the Russian is DiBiase’s newest purchase. DiBiase says Volkoff is penniless, busted and broke and he now works for the Million Dollar Man. Lawler takes more digs at Volkoff and DiBiase talks about how everyone has a price and asks Volkoff if he likes him, to which Nikolai replies “I hate you!” DiBiase says Volkoff will do whatever he says because he holds the power and money. DiBiase tells Volkoff he can’t walk around in that garb if he is representing the Million Dollar Man, so he took money from Nikolai’s paycheck to purchase him new tights that feature the team colors of black and gold. The tights have cent signs on the side and say “Property of the Million Dollar Man” on the back. Volkoff hesitates but complies. DiBiase then reminds Nikolai to think about his parents back home and feeding his family as Nikolai tears up as he takes off his beloved ring jacket so he can put on a tuxedo t-shirt that features the same design as the tights. DiBiase closes things up by stating Volkoff doesn’t look like a million dollars but looks like he has a “little sense” now. ***

3) Owen Hart defeats Tony Roy via submission with the Sharpshooter at 2:20

Scott: Before this match we had a King’s Court where Ted DiBiase announced that he purchased apparent deadbeat Nikolai Volkoff. Vince mentions that on June 9 will be the 2nd Annual WWF Hall of Fame banquet, announcing the class as well. Tony Roy has the worst hair in jobber history, looking like the lead guitarist from Faith No More. He has stringy long hair with a huge balding part. This was a pretty quick squash for Owen, who smacks Roy around and slaps on the Sharpshooter for the victory. He seems like a perfect fit for the King of the Ring tourney, but no announcement yet on whether he’s in or not. Grade: DUD

JT: Owen Hart heads out to the ring of our next bout and Vince mentions that the Rocket is still chasing his brother and the WWF Heavyweight Title on the WrestleMania Revenge Tour. Before he can continue that quest, he has to battle the juiced up and over tanned Tony Roy. Vince notes that the 1994 WWF Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Reception is coming up on June 9th in Baltimore. The inductees are: Chief Jay Strongbow, Freddie Blassie, Gorilla Monsoon, Arnold Skaaland, Bobo Brazil, Buddy Rogers and James Dudley, and there are a limited number of tickets still available for that ceremony. Owen is making quick work of Roy as Vince and Randy talk about Bret Hart having to battle both his brother and Diesel in the coming weeks. Savage then promotes this week’s USA movie special, Broadcast News, airing this Tuesday night. Check that bad boy out. Owen finishes Roy off with the Sharpshooter as he continues to roll along with his eyes set on the biggest prize in the game. Grade: DUD

*** We head over to a dumpster, where Duke Droese is taking a nap. There is a lot of cleaning up to do in the WWF and Droese is ready to show up and get to work. ***

4) Earthquake defeats Yokozuna in a Sumo Match at 6:00

Fun Fact I: Let’s flash back to Raw two weeks ago. At the end of the night, Earthquake challenged Yokozuna to a match. One week later on the King’s Court, Yokozuna and his entourage challenge Earthquake to a sumo match. At this point, the WWF begins to recognize Earthquake’s prior history as a sumo wrestler in Japan.

Fun Fact II: This will be Earthquake’s farewell Raw match with the WWF. On a house show on May 14, two days before the airing of this episode that was recorded on April 26, Earthquake was injured during a match with Yokozuna. He disappeared from the WWF following the injury and returned to Japan to wrestle.

Scott: This has been building for a few weeks now and we finally get it. It’s weird to see the ring without ropes. So in the last match I mentioned that Owen Hart hasn’t been connected to the KOTR tourney, but right before this match it’s announced he will face Earthquake in a qualifying match. Vince keeps mentioning Roseanne and Tom Arnold’s divorce. Wrestling fans don’t care. It’s also weird seeing Earthquake with his long hair cut for this special match. Raw needed something funky like this to be special, particularly in the third show of the night taped from Vermont. Earthquake actually looks so small compared to Yoko, as he’s definitely smaller than when he debuted five years earlier. Actually I’m incorrect, Quake has his hair in a pony tail. It looked cut. There’s a boatload of posturing early on as they keep going in and out of the Sumo set position. It’s a big power situation with both men pushing back and forth on each other trying to push the other either down or out of the ring. Earthquake finally drops Yoko with a double chop and Yoko falls out of the ring. A big win for Quake and the crowd goes crazy. I’ll grade this a little high because it’s kind of a cool moment. Grade: **1/2

JT: It is main event time and the ring has been prepped and transformed into a sumo ring, with the ropes completely removed. This is a pretty cool and unique concept for these two mammoths. This kicks off a big stretch for Earthquake as he has a KOTR Qualifying Match with Owen Hart next week. Yokozuna headed out first, locked in and focused, led to the ring by Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette. Savage notes how one of these two well regarded sumo stars will lose right here tonight. Quake is out next and he is raring to go, decked out in traditional sumo garb. The crowd was buzzing a bit as the two men went through the ceremonial prematch machinations and stalled quite a bit while sizing each other up. They finally locked up and collided in the center of the ring, slamming hard into each other and then tussling at the edge of the ring. Both would tease an elimination before locking back up again in the center. Yoko looked like he had Quake on the edge but Quake survived and drove Yoko back to the center. The crowd cheered on Quake as they continued to dance and as they got close to the edge, Quake shoved Yoko hard, knocking him to the mat and out to the floor to pick up the win. Savage hopped in the ring to celebrate with Quake as Yoko stomped angrily around ringside. This was pretty fun and I loved how different it was. Both giants looked really imposing in the ropeless ring and it was cool to see the company go outside the box like this. I also liked how seriously it was presented, with lots of build, history and respect blended in. Vince even did a good job learning all of the terminology associated with the sport. It was also a big win and showing for Quake, who is getting a big push. Sadly, it also ends here tonight as Quake leaves the company prior to our next taping. It was too bad as he was getting pretty over and looked great and unbeatable during the push. Grade: **

Final Analysis

Scott: I liked this episode, even though it was the tail end of a long night of tapings. This run with Earthquake was a lot of fun, and although I’ve said on many of these episodes that we need to promote the young, current roster, Quake was different because he was putting over young talent without coming off as a guy who didn’t want to “clutch his spot” and push down younger talent. Having said that, Diesel came from practically the unemployment line to the second biggest heel in the company practically. Shawn Michaels is still there but it seems he’s coasting as manager. I’m really enjoying the groove that Vince and Savage have had as commentators. This building in Vermont was kind of a production mess with shady audio and weird camera angles but we are still in 1994 and budgets are tight. The KOTR build has been great and Raw continues to be the biggest show of the week. Final Grade: B

JT: This was another pretty fun episode of Raw with good progression in a few angles and the culmination of a two week arc as well. These episodes flow so smoothly at this point and it is aided by the chemistry between Vince McMahon and Randy Savage. They work so cohesively together in pushing ahead the storylines and moving the show along and they genuinely seem to enjoy working together. That helps a lot. We saw more puzzle pieces assembled for King of the Ring and also witnessed the reset of Ted DiBiase as a heel character as he purchase Nikolai Volkoff and treats him like dog shit. I really enjoyed the presentation and storytelling with the sumo match and it really is too bad Earthquake is on his way out as this run has been really fun and he has gotten himself over with the fans. The only issue I have had with these Vermont episodes has been the terrible audio mixing when the switch from taped to live commentary. It usually isn’t this noticeable. Otherwise, we keep chugging along toward Baltimore, which is now just about a month away. Final Grade: B