Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 7/18/94

*** 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 #71

July 18, 1994 (Taped July 1, 1994)
Fernwood Resort
Bushkill, PA
Announcers: Jim Ross & Randy Savage

*** We open with a clip from this past weekend’s Superstars where Tatanka was on the Heartbreak Hotel and angrily stated that Lex Luger had sold out to Ted DiBiase. ***

1) Diesel wrestles Lex Luger to a double disqualification at 14:25; Diesel retains WWF Intercontinental Title

Fun Fact: Flashback to one week ago and the King’s Court… interviewed by Jerry Lawler, Ted DiBiase indicated that Lex Luger had been bought and paid for. On the 7/16 episode of Superstars, Tatanka was a guest on the Heartbreak Hotel. He also claimed Luger had sold out to DiBiase and that he was looking for a title around his waist. It was announced that Luger would face Diesel at the next Raw for the IC title.

Scott: One week after one of the greatest WWF Title matches in recent memory, we have two big jacked hosses going for the other big singles prize in the company. This match will obviously go very differently than last week’s Bret Hart/1-2-3 Kid match, with more power moves and heavy strikes than aerial maneuvers. Also, with Shawn Michaels at ringside this match could have more shenanigans that last week’s face vs. face matchup. Vince is still convalescing from his neck surgery, so Jim Ross returns with the Macho Man. Wow Fernwood got a good night of tapings, with both a World Title match and an IC Title match. I really thought going in that this was Lex Luger’s big moment after not having won the Winged Eagle at WrestleMania. Diesel is dominating the action early, and as we go to the first commercial break Ted DiBiase was hiding under the Raw sign up top near the balcony. He vanished when we returned from commercial. Diesel was definitely growing as an in-ring performer and even shines well with a guy like Luger, who isn’t known to really carry anybody. In the climax Luger had Diesel in the torture rack and the IC Title won until the referee was down and then Michaels superkicked Luger in the back. The referee is revived and gets a two count until Luger kicked out. Razor Ramon comes out and chases Michaels into the ring and we get a double DQ as all four men start brawling. Razor has Michaels cornered until Diesel gets him from behind and they double team him until Luger cleans them out. It was a fun match with kind of a crappy ending. Grade: ***

JT: We are back this week and yet again on tape from the lovely Fernwood Resort. Jim Ross remains in the booth alongside our pal Randy Savage and we are still buzzing from that tremendous WWF Title match from a week ago. However, we also kick off this week’s show with a big time title match as Diesel puts his IC strap on the line against Lex Luger. Luger is desperate for gold at this point and could use a marquee win as well. He is also mired in controversy as Ted DiBiase showed up last week and told Jerry Lawler that he and Lex had an agreement for the Million Dollar Man to become his manager. Even his buddy Tatanka was floored at the apparent selling out and he made his feelings known on Superstars two days ago. Diesel and Shawn Michaels head out to the ring first, arrogant and locked in as always. Luger got his usual warm reception but Ross wondered why DiBiase isn’t out at ringside if he had a done deal. Things would get off ton even start with both men trading control out of lock ups. Diesel would strike first, giving Lex a hard shove that knocked him clear to the floor. Luger recovered, came back in the ring and got a sunset flip for two but Diesel wriggled free of his grasp and reset himself. After some stalling, Diesel buried a kick to the gut and followed with heavy strikes as Ross noted that Luger has had bad luck in title matches in the past. Luger survived the onslaught and hit  a powerslam for a close near fall and then followed up with a flurry that knocked the champ to the outside. Diesel would yank Luger to the floor but that backfired as Lex spiked him into the apron and shoved him back inside. Luger kept pouring it on until he charged wildly and Diesel ducked him, leading to Lex flying to the floor. The champ followed him out and slammed him to the ground and then slid inside and distracted the referee as Michaels sprinted over and leveled Lex. As Luger shook the cobwebs we panned to the top of the area where DiBiase was peaking out behind a curtain to watch the bout.

After a break, DiBiase was gone and Diesel was woking over Lex in the ring, hanging him across the top buckle with a snake eyes for two. Diesel kept the pressure on, landing heavy offense and grabbing near falls but Lex did whatever he could to stay alive. Luger would work out of a chinlock and duck a clothesline but got leveled by a hard big boot and rattled by an elbow drop, giving Diesel another near fall. The champ stayed cool and calmly wrapped a tight sleeperhold on Lex. He held on to it for a while until Luger finally busted free with a back suplex. The challenger unloaded with right hands and clotheslines and then dropped Diesel with a DDT for two. Lex kept bringing the heat but things fell apart when Luger whipped Diesel and he careened into the referee, wiping him out. Luger would hoist Diesel into the torture rack, but Michaels came in and drilled Luger with a kick to break the hold. Michaels woke up the referee just as Diesel covered but Luger narrowly kicked out. As the two traded blows, Razor Ramon showed up and chased Michaels around the ring. Michaels would slide in the ring but get popped by Luger and that was enough for the ref to call for the double DQ. Michaels and Diesel would dominate, double teaming Ramon but Luger would eventually make the save and run them off. DiBiase would emerge from the curtain and show his disapproval of the result before heading back to the locker room. This was a surprisingly feisty little match, especially once it got cooking after the break. There were some slow spots that kept it from hitting the next gear but it was a nice sign in the continued improvement of Diesel as a match like this would have likely been a dog a year ago. However, now he shows strong poise and a nice blend of calmness and aggression when in the ring. I also liked the Ramon stuff as it keeps his feud with Diesel and Michaels ablaze. Luger continues to blow title matches but perhaps his fortunes will be changing soon. Grade: **1/2

2) Mabel defeats Austin Steele with a sidewalk slam at 2:14

Scott: Oscar’s rapping is illegible garbage, and Austin Steele looks like a bleach blond Rick McGraw. Not much else to say. Grade: DUD

JT: As we return to action, big Mabel dances down to the ring as Oscar raps ahead of him. With Mo still sidelined, the solo push for Mabel rolls on, giving him valuable singles experience. Veteran Austin Steele is opposite the ring of Mabel and I don’t like his chances. Indeed, it doesn’t go very well at all as Mabel just uses his size to completely overwhelm the man with the platinum mullet. Ross talks a bit more about Luger’s rough run of title shots and also delves into some pop culture observations as Mabel puts the finishing touches on Steele. Grade: DUD

*** Todd Pettengil is in the house with this week’s SummerSlam Report, brought to us by Domino’s Pizza. Tickets in Chicago are flying off the shelf, so get on that if you are in the area. Of course, this is the first televised event from the brand new United Center and will feature the WWF’s biggest crowd of the year. Here are the matches discussed:

Undertaker vs. Undertaker
Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – WWF Championship Steel Cage Match

***And of course, Leslie Nielsen has been hired to investigate the mystery of this Undertaker situation. Call your cable provider and get your order in today! ***

3) Owen Hart defeats Reno Riggins via submission with the Sharpshooter at 2:45

Scott: Before the match, Todd announced on the SummerSlam Report that the other half of the double main event will be (no shock) Bret vs. Owen for the World Title in a steel cage. That will be an incredible match with all the Harts at ringside. Reno Riggins isn’t wearing his goofy plaid tights anymore, probably because he’s a babyface. He does have dice on his boots. Savage says Bruce Hart is siding with the Hitman. I think we need some grizzled Stu interviews, where he stretches both kids in the Dungeon. Owen wins with the Sharpshooter, and leaves it on a little longer for good measure. Grade: *

JT: As Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart head to the ring, Ross sarcastically congratulates Anna Nicole Smith and her new “elderly husband”. Ross is quite sardonic tonight. Hart is set to battle jobber deluxe Reno Riggins here tonight as Ross calls Owen the “Lyin’ King”. We get some talk about that big cage match at SummerSlam and the crowd chants “We Want Bret” as the match gets under way. Owen takes control pretty easily as the conversation shifts to Leslie Nielsen’s investigation into the Undertaker mystery. The chants start to get to Owen a bit but he maintains control and keeps smacking Riggins around. Reno would forge a small comeback, laying in some chops but the dream was crushed courtesy a nice belly-to-belly suplex. As Neidhart screamed instructions, Hart twisted Riggins into the Sharpshooter for the win. Owen seems to be peaking at the perfect time, with the biggest match of his career just a little over a month away. Grade: DUD

4) Sparky Thurman Plugg defeats George South with a high cross body at 2:37

Scott: Savage finally is given a great movie for the USA Network live read, as he promotes “Coming to America”. I am also now very confident that this is the same George South that was the jobber in the NWA in the mid-80s. How many other George Souths are there? Grade: DUD

JT: As we return from break, Sparky Plugg has charged to the ring to battle the ageless George South. Ross informs us that they will be chatting with DiBiase at some point tonight and promise to ask some tough questions. South lands a couple of salvos but Sparky comes right back and gets to work. As the match edges along, Ross discusses the mystery around Michael Jackson’s relationship with Lisa Marie Presley. We are covering all of the hot issues tonight. And off that, Savage has this week’s USA Movie plug as this Wednesday, Coming to America airs at 9PM ET. I love how into these plugs Savage gets. Sparky finishes South with a high cross body. At some point this guy should get into some sort of feud as right now it has pretty much been a squash parade since his debut. Grade: DUD

*** Todd Pettengill walks us through a complete history of this Undertaker vs. Undertaker saga, starting at the Royal Rumble and navigating us to today. ***

5) Bam Bam Bigelow defeats Gary Sabaugh with a bulldog at 2:53

Scott: We just had a long vignette setting up this Undertaker vs. Undertaker match for SummerSlam. Sounds very skeptical. Incidentally, Gary Sabaugh is the Italian Stallion from the old NWA. So it’s a TBS Superstation reunion. DiBiase is definitely regaining his footing in the company as one of the top heels again, this time as a manager. Bigelow uses the Million Dollar Dream to get the win. After the match Ted DiBiase was cornered by Ross and Savage about the status of Lex Luger, and suddenly Tatanka comes out and he knows (apparently) that Luger has indeed sold out. DiBiase then offered Tatanka $10,000 to beat Nikolai Volkoff next week. Grade: DUD

JT: Closing things out this week is a newly minted member of DiBiase’s stable, Bam Bam Bigelow. The Bammer is slated to battle good old Gary Sabaugh, the former Italian Stallion. They really broke the bank for the jobbers this week. What a parade of legendary classics we have been graced with this evening! As Bigelow gets to work, Savage tells us that Lex Luger was spotted talking to DiBiase in the hallway after his match earlier tonight and he is pretty dejected at that news. Ross mentions that Sabaugh is the World’s Spaghetti Eating Champion. He also thinks DiBiase will be a big time difference maker in the career of Bigelow. Bammer keeps leaning on Sabaugh but whiffs on a splash in the corner and gives the Stallion a window to land a few shots. Bigelow shakes them off and finishes Sabaugh with a bulldog out of a Million Dollar Dream. Ross is impressed and Savage says DiBiase is taking over the WWF. Grade: DUD

*** Ted DiBiase stops by ringside to chat with Jim Ross and Randy Savage. Ross says a little earlier, DiBiase was spotted talking to Luger backstage and DiBiase confirms those rumors. He says they have been talking but Savage grills him and asks if he has closed the deal. DiBiase says this weekend he has a big announcement that will rock the foundation of the WWF. Tatanka then heads out to get involved and he demands DiBiase “tell the world the news that’s gonna shock them”. He says he isn’t stupid and he has seen the money handed to Luger and overheard all of the promises. He knows Luger sold out but DiBiase tells him to calm down and not get his feathers ruffled. DiBiase says Tatanka is jealous and that he couldn’t beat Luger on his best day. DiBiase then puts $10,000 on the line for next week, saying Tatanka can’t even beat Nikolai Volkoff. Tatanka takes the bet and will gladly take the $10,000 and he will also sit back and await the news that will shock the world this weekend. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: It’s very tough to do better than that fantastic show last week with maybe the best Raw match ever to date. With all due respect to Diesel & Lex, they’re not Bret & the Kid. Having said that they did the best they could and had a solid enough match. We had great advancement to SummerSlam, with the Taker/Taker story and the growth of the Corporation. It felt like a JCP reunion with all these jobbers, and that’s fun, particularly Stallion with his real name. We continue the road to Chicago with a fun little effort. Final Grade: C+

JT: It was never going to be easy following up last week’s classic episode of Raw, but this one was pretty passable. The big IC Title match was solid and saw some good storyline progression across multiple feuds. We also got treated to a legendary mix of old school jobbers in the squash section. Otherwise this was yet again the DiBiase show with tons of focus on him and his new stable and his connection to Luger. We also had lots of coverage on the Undertaker saga, an issue that will be a heavy focus from now until SummerSlam. Also, the Tatanka segment at the end is an all time favorite of mine and also bumps the grade up all on its own. What a legendary piece of business. This was a storyline heavy driven show but as we have about five weeks to build a SummerSlam card, that makes perfect sense. Final Grade: C+