Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 5/30/94

*** 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 #65

May 30, 1994 (Taped May 23, 1994)
Struthers Fieldhouse
Youngtown, OH
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Randy Savage

1) Crush wrestles Tatanka to a double count out at 7:10 in a King of the Ring Qualifying Match

Fun Fact: The final King of the Ring qualifying match was originally scheduled to be Jimmy Del Ray against Tatanka. However, Crush appears here in Del Ray’s place. The kayfabe explanation that was given for the substitution was that Crush’s manager, Mr. Fuji, made a deal with Jim Cornette, Del Ray’s manager, to allow Crush to compete.

Scott: So this makes kind of no sense here. It was already announced that Crush and Yokozuna are going for the Headshrinkers’ Tag Team straps at the PPV, and (although not unheard of) to have guys do double duty, usually that’s reserved for the tournament itself. So Crush winning this match (and facing Owen Hart) in the tournament wasn’t happening. However, I believe the underlying premise here is that Crush isn’t meant to be in the tournament, but more to cripple Tatanka and give Owen Hart an open match to the semifinals. I have to say, this place in Ohio is still pretty hot for the second show of the night. Tatanka has cooled off considerably in the past few months, after I harangued for most of 1993 that he was horribly misused after his WrestleMania IX match with Shawn Michaels. Chief Jay Strongbow seconds Tatanka to the ring, and he takes out Mr. Fuji, harkening back to those mid-70s MSG house shows. Eventually both men brawl to the outside and both guys get counted out. So what happens? Do we just have another qualifying match? They might as well keep wrestling. Does Owen Hart get an open match? That makes no sense. There’s a few weeks until the PPV, just pick two other guys. Grade: **

JT: We are back inside the Struthers Fieldhouse this week with just three weeks of Raw left before the second annual King of the Ring. And with Vince McMahon and Randy Savage in the booth, we are kicking things off with our final KOTR Qualifying Match. Just one slot remains and it will be filled by either Tatanka or Crush, with the winner advancing to battle Owen Hart in round one on PPV. Tatanka is still embroiled in his feud with IRS after the Taxman destroyed his beloved headdress. Across the ring, Crush has been tormenting Lex Luger around the country on the WrestleMania Revenge Tour and that culminated in a big face-to-face showdown a week ago on the King’s Court. Of course a week ago it was announced that Tatanka would battle Jimmy Del Ray but it looks like we have had the old switcharoo over the past week after Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji struck a deal. Vince reminds us that Crush has been rolling lately, helping Yokozuna eliminate Earthquake from the WWF and then assisting Jeff Jarrett in eliminating Luger from the KOTR. Tatanka seems prepared for any shenanigans as he has his mentor and soon-to-be WWF Hall of Famer Jay Strongbow in his corner tonight. The two men feel each other out early until Tatanka grabs a quick near fall with a cross body block. As they reset a bit, Vince notes that Crush wants to make history in Baltimore by winning the crown and the tag team titles alongside Yokozuna. Tatanka continued to land the majority of the offense, eventually drilling Crush with a few clotheslines to knock him to the floor. Crush quickly forced his way back inside and landed a shot to the throat to take over. The Hawaiian would miss a charge to the corner, allowing Tatanka to land a chop to the head for a two count. As the Native American was looking to build momentum, Mr. Fuji approached Strongbow, drawing Tatanka out to help his mentor. That gave Crush a chance to sneak around and clobber Tatanka from behind to take over. After a break, Crush had Tatanka in a bear hug before hitting a belly-to-belly. Tatanka quickly made a comeback via his war dance and after the two traded some blows, Tatanka hit a chop off the top rope for a near fall. He followed that with a neck breaker for two just as Strongbow dropped Fuji to stop him from getting involved. Crush and Tatanka would then spill outside and brawl there until the referee called for a double count out. As the two reignited their brawl in the ring, Vince and Randy pondered what this means for KOTR, claiming both would be eliminated unless Jack Tunney made a ruling otherwise. This was a decent little brawl that never really found its groove, as it just moved through each segment without much transition at all. The energy was there and the crowd was into it and I liked the hook of Strongbow countering Fuji but otherwise there wasn’t much to see. Grade: *1/2

*** Todd Pettengil is here with this week’s King of the Ring Report. We are just under three weeks from this Father’s Day Extravaganza and here are the matches discussed:

Bret Hart vs. Diesel – WWF Heavyweight Title
Roddy Piper vs. Jerry Lawler
Headshrinkers vs. Yokozuna & Crush – WWF Tag Team Titles

IRS vs. Mabel – King of the Ring Opening Round Match
Razor Ramon vs. Bam Bam Bigelow – King of the Ring Opening Round Match
1-2-3 Kid vs. Jeff Jarrett – King of the Ring Opening Round Match
Owen Hart vs. TBD – King of the Ring Opening Round Match

We will await Jack Tunney’s official ruling on the outcome of Tatanka vs. Crush. Owen Hart believes he should get a bye, but we will see. Call your cable company and get that order in today! ***

*** We head back to Superstars to check out Ted DiBiase visiting a funeral parlor. He says it smells like money in there and everybody, dead or alive, has a price for the Million Dollar Man, including the Undertaker. He claims to have had contact with Undertaker and that he will become DiBiase’s property once again and the rest of the WWF will be resting in peace. ***

2) 1-2-3 Kid defeats George South with an inside cradle at 2:34

Scott: We had a KOTR Report and Ted DiBiase in a funeral parlor before this match, still looking for the Undertaker. The Kid is in the tournament, and he will face Jeff Jarrett in the first round. This can’t be the same iconic George South who was a jobber in the NWA days? We begin a pretty important next few months for the Kid as he really moves up the ladder in the mid-card. The match is quick and painless. Grade: DUD

JT: Up next our most recent KOTR qualifier, 1-2-3 Kid, is in action against veteran George South. Vince compares Kid to Al Unser, Jr., the winner of this past weekend’s Indianapolis 500. Savage also discusses Rush Limbaugh’s third marriage. South lands a couple of early blows but Kid fends him off and goes to work. Vince talks about Kid’s Qualifying Match win over Adam Bomb after Kwang’s interference backfired, leading to dissension in the Harvey Wippleman ranks. After another blink of offense by South, Kid comes back and finishes him off with an inside cradle. That was a fun little finish. Kid is ready to go for Baltimore as he will look for yet another upset win, this time over Jeff Jarrett. Grade: DUD

*** Jerry Lawler heads to the ring for this week’s King’s Court and it is scheduled to be a big one. However, before he brings out his guest, Bret Hart, he gets some digs in on the Hart Family, mainly targeting Stu and Helen. He would finally introduce the WWF Champion, who arrived to a hot reception and a lot of excitement and praise from Vince McMahon and Randy Savage. Lawler starts by asking Hart about what happened last year at King of the Ring, specifically when Lawler attacked the Hitman after he won the tournament. Lawler then tells Hart to stay cool because he isn’t the only guest on the Court tonight and then brings out his “real guests” Diesel and Shawn Michaels. Once they arrive, Lawler asks Hart if he has lost his mind accepting this challenge. Hart says he respects Diesel but at King of the Ring, Diesel will find out why he is the best. Diesel counters by saying that Hart is going to get the VIP treatment: Very Intense Pain. As Hart responds, Michaels butts in to distract him, leading to Diesel then sucker punching Hart and dropping him with a Jackknife. All three men then worked over Hart until officials finally were able to break things up. ***

3) Smoking Gunns defeat Austin Steele & Reno Riggins when Billy pins Steele after the Sidewinder at 3:38

Scott: Right before this match, Bret Hart got attacked by Diesel, Shawn Michaels & Jerry Lawler on the King’s Court. Solid storyline advancement to June 19 in Baltimore. I didn’t think Reno Riggins was still in the company, and Austin Steele looks like a fat Buddy Landell. The Gunns haven’t been as showcased as I thought they were during this stretch, as other babyface tag teams have gone ahead of them, including the Headshrinkers who were turned face to win the tag straps from the Quebecers. I love hearing Randy Savage do the USA Movie promos. Back to the Gunns. Perhaps they’ve been on the weekend syndies but this is their first RAW appearance in a quite a few weeks. They take care of these bums and we move on. Grade: *

JT: As we sort out the carnage from our previous segment, the Smoking Gunns come jogging to the ring for our next bout. Talk about lost in the shuffle, the Gunns really have been the definition of directionless since debuting a year ago. They have never really had a feud, never really been true title contenders and just drift around from show to show. And with the Headshrinkers as tag champs, it may be a while before the enter the picture in any significant way. Vince lets us know that the Hitman is OK after shaking off the cobwebs of that attack. He also tells us Todd Pettengil is trying to get a hold of Jack Tunney for an answer on the Tatanka/Crush situation. Bart and Reno Riggins kick things off but Billy tags in quickly after as the Gunns get to work on offense. Vince and Randy discuss a D-Day challenge where some WWF superstars will be competing against the Coast Guard in a tug of war next Monday. The Gunns will take part in that. Austin Steele makes an appearance in the ring but that goes about the same as it did for Riggins. As the Gunns keep up the pressure, we get our favorite weekly segment: Randy Savage plugging USA’s Movie of the Week. And this week’s flick is Firestarter, this Wednesday at 9PM ET! Check it out. Vince says Tunney has made a decision and we will find out from Todd in a moment. The Gunns drill Steele with the Sidewinder for the win. Maybe they can finally find something interesting to get into soon? We will see. Grade: DUD

*** Todd Pettengil pops in to let us know he spoke with Jack Tunney, who has decreed that Tatanka and Crush will wrestle again next week in a lumberjack match. The winner will advance to the King of the Ring. Some of the lumberjacks named are Nikolai Volkoff, Bam Bam Bigelow, Bushwhackers, IRS, Razor Ramon, Mabel, Duke Droese and Yokozuna plus more. ***

4) Jeff Jarrett defeats Chris Hamrick via submission with a figure four at 3:54

Scott: The WrestleMania Revenge Tour is rolling through mid-June! The official labeled tour probably ends 6/19 at the King of the Ring, but it did go out to the West Coast. Why is Vince congratulating Arsenio Hall? Vince was still wonky with pop culture back in the day. Vince asks Savage if Jeff Jarrett looks like Barney Rubble. What is his problem? Hamerick looks like a jobber version of Ricky Morton. It’s great that Piper was doing the match with Lawler for the sick kids, but couldn’t they come up with a better name than “Hospital for Sick Children”? It sounds made up. There’s no hospital for healthy children, so…I don’t get it. Only in Canada. Grade: DUD

JT: Our final match of the evening features the always cocky Jeff Jarrett, the man who wants to use the WWF to launch him into country music superstardom. And of course, winning King of the Ring will help get him there a bit quicker. He battles 1-2-3 Kid in the opening round of that event. Hamrick got a little bit of shine as Vince gave props to Arsenio Hall on his great run as the final Arsenio Hall Show will be coming up this week. Jarrett takes over and pounds away at Hamrick, running through his offense as we get more current events talk on commentary. They also chat about Tunney’s decision and plug Roddy Piper’s sick children charity, of which his KOTR purse is being donated to. Apparently Lawler has another announcement coming up after this match as well. Jarrett finally finishes Hamrick off with a figure four. Vince yells at Jarrett to sing if he is so great at it but no dice. Nice to see Jarrett actually control these matches nowadays instead of feeding a ton of offense to jobbers like he had been. Grade: DUD

*** Jerry Lawler pops in and announces that his guest on the King’s Court next week is someone that is from Scotland, who wears a dress and a shirt that says “Hot Rod”. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: Raw is slowly finding its way and it’s importance in the WWF landscape. We are getting qualifying matches for the KOTR tournament and the growth of Diesel as a major player in the company. The King’s Court has become a weekly staple and it’s a good way of spreading out the unwatchable squashes. I like the backstage storyline with Jack Tunney and the Tatanka/Crush situation. They seem to be moving away from that kind of storyline advancement and they shouldn’t. They should go to the Fieldhouse in Youngstown more often, as that crowd is always hot, even for the taped shows. Another solid episode as we head to Baltimore in three weeks. Final Grade: B

JT: Another week down and another solid offering of Raw. The embedded formula they have established here really helps these shows just chug along, accomplishing a lot of development and hype, and building continuity from week to week. It is such a reliable flow that they have seemed to master since WrestleMania. Vince McMahon and Randy Savage are a big part of that, working effortlessly with great chemistry. I really like how the King’s Court has become a centerpiece of the show and how the next installment is hyped up at the end of each episode. KOTR is coming fast and the card has built nicely and in many ways established this next wave of key featured talent that we will be focused on. Diesel has been elevated quickly and effectively and then falling in line under him are is reshaped roster, all being well pushed and utilized. We will see how long this format holds up but for now it at least delivers a baseline of entertainment value on Monday nights thanks to focused booking and flow. Final Grade: B-