Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 9/19/94

*** 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 #78

September 19, 1994 (Taped August 15, 1994)
Lowell Audiotrium
Lowell, MA
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Randy Savage

*** We revisit footage from SummerSlam and Superstars, showcasing Tatanka selling out to Ted DiBiase and his visit to the Heartbreak Hotel to discuss what happened, decked out in an expensive suit. ***

1) Lex Luger defeats Executioner #2 via submission with the torture rack at 2:34

Scott: A few weeks after the humiliation of being turned on by Tatanka and the deception of Ted DiBiase, Lex Luger returns to face yet another Executioner. I’m trying to figure out who this masked guy is based on his movements, but I can’t. This is a quick squash to perhaps rebuild Luger’s character after what happened at SummerSlam. Grade: DUD

JT: Welcome to another episode of Monday Night Raw and we are… still in Lowell, MA and now this episode is well over a month old as we air on USA. Well, despite the mold, we will see if the energy is still in the building like it was a week ago. We open things up with the man who was proven to be telling the truth back at SummerSlam, Lex Luger. For weeks, Ted DiBiase claimed he had purchased Luger and most people in the WWF seemed to believe him, including Lex’s buddy Tatanka. Of course, it was all a ruse as it was the Native American that had actually sold out to DiBiase, and that was all revealed in Chicago. Vince says despite the humiliation, Lex is big enough to forgive his doubters and bigger enough to never forget what happened. As the match gets going, we see WWF Magazine editor Lou Gianfriddo at ringside taking notes for a future article. Vince talks about how Todd Pettengill read a letter from a heartbroken Native American girl this past weekend on Mania and then Roddy Piper had a Native American family on the Bottom Line to ask why Tatanka would do something like this. Savage says it is a setback for Native Americans all over the world and Vince said everyone should follow Lex’s footsteps instead. Luger makes swift work of the masked Executioner and wins the match with the torture rack. Grade: DUD

2) Duke Droese defeats Jerry Lawler by countout at 8:48

Fun Fact: The feud between Duke Droese and Jerry Lawler began back in May on Superstars when Droese dumped a can of garbage on Lawler while on his way to the ring. Droese later appeared on The King’s Court on the 6/20 episode of RAW. After being verbally beaten up by Lawler, Droese turned to walk back to the locker room. Lawler exited the ring and attacked Droese from behind, hitting him in the head with his own garbage can. Lawler had to go on camera and apologize to Droese.

Scott: This issue goes back a couple of months to when the Dumpster humiliated Lawler (and vice versa) on Raw. You can tell this show is taped and badly dated as everything seems bland and evergreen while Vince and Savage try to use their commentary to keep the episode fresh. To further that point, the promo for next week’s Raw talks about matches and the return of British Bulldog, and that the episode is LIVE! Usually they don’t pump it up like that, which almost acknowledges that some of these episodes aren’t. I like hearing Savage talking about Lawler’s style of wrestling, as old timers remember Lawler and Savage feuded in Memphis in 1983-84. This match is of course lots of stalling, posturing and dancing around which is getting the crowd really restless. Vince is really throwing the pop culture references and news bits all over the place to fill the gaps in this mess of a match. Lawler works Droese over with punches, choking and even a piledriver, until Dink comes out of the Duke’s trash can, to actually save us from this match going any further by forcing the King to chase him around the ring and give the Duke a countout victory. That was awful. Grade: DUD

JT: We head right back to the ring for big match between Jerry Lawler and Duke Droese, a feud that began way back in the spring and simmered on and off since then. Lawler does his usual shtick before the match, ripping the fans and Droese. As he wrapped that up, the Dumpster marched to the ring and stormed right after the King, who kept doing his best to duck and dodge so he could disrobe. After some stalling, the two locked up with Lawler grabbing a side headlock but Duke would break it by hoisting the King up and chucking him across he ring. Lawler is at his old school heel best here, razzing the crowd and bitching to the referee about nonsense. The King continues to stall before eventually climbing in the ring and subsequently getting pummeled by Droese in the corner. Lawler would bail right back to the floor to regroup and stall some more. He would return again and again get beaten around until escaping, this time taking us into a break. When we returned, Lawler was back in the ring and begging off before digging into his tights and pulling out a foreign object. After a more stalling, he baited Droese into a test of strength and then leveled him with the object. Lawler finally went to work, meandering through some very basic offense until he hit a flying fist drop and piledriver to really shake up the Dumpster. Instead of covering, Lawler headed outside and grabbed Duke’s trash can, but as he did, Dink popped out and squirted him in the eyes with a water gun. Lawler chased Dink around the ring, eventually getting counted out. As Lawler returned and argued with the ref, Dink reemerged and bit him on the ass, leading to another chase that ended with Droese and Dink humiliating the King in the ring. Lawler recovered and was going to attack again but this time Doink showed up, eventually driving Lawler away through the crowd. This was a mess with barely any action or payoff and only existed to end the King’s feud with Droese and officially transfer to an issue with the Clowns. Not our finest Raw moment and it does nothing for Droese at all. Grade: 1/2*

3) Heavenly Bodies defeat Mike Bell & Steve King when Del Ray pins King with a moonsault at 3:00

Scott: The former SMW Tag Team Champions come out for a squash match, and without Jim Cornette. The match started while they slipped the sponsor bump (ICOPRO/Slim Jim) in there. These two jobbers actually get some offense in but not much to make this match entertaining. Savage prognosticates that the Smokin Gunns will eventually be the Tag Team Champions. I thought they would be already by now. The Bodies move on. Grade: DUD

JT: Next up we get a visit from the Heavenly Bodies, who haven’t been seen much at all since they were referenced as title contenders right after KOTR. Those hopes are clearly dashed. As they enter, Vince plugs the soon to be debuting Action Zone, airing Sunday afternoons beginning October 23 at noon on USA. The Bodies are sans Jim Cornette and also sans robes tonight, so this looks like a barebones affair for them. We take a quick break and when we return, the Bodies are teaming up to pummel Steve King. The Bodies make some gun shooting gestures, to which Vince says they are calling out the Smoking Gunns, so there is another feud under way. Apparently, the Bodies destroyed the Gunns’ hates recently, which kicked this all off. Vince says Cornette is in Toronto, talking to Jack Tunney about a special provision for the Hart Attack Tour. Del Ray and Prichard take turns wrecking King until finally putting him away with a Del Ray moonsault. Standard affair here with some fun offense from the Bodies as usual. Nice to see the tag division potentially getting an undercard feud, especially since both teams always seem to wander aimlessly around the promotion. Grade: DUD

*** Vince McMahon heads to the ring to conduct a very special interview with Bob Backlund, who comes walking out for the chat sporting a new shorter haircut. Vince asks Backlund about the fans booing and then talks about how Backlund typified what sportsmanship was all about back when he was Champion. He continues by talking about Bret Hart proving his superiority in their match together and how everyone expected Backlund to bring his values with him during this second tour of duty and chase for the gold. Vince says Backlund snaps and asks if this is what he really wants. Backlund says he doesn’t like the work “former” and says he celebrated his sixteenth anniversary of being WWF Champion last year and is going for his eighteenth next year. He is very cognizant of what he is doing and claims he defeated Hart in that match and that his standards are higher than they ever have been and are even too high for the plebeians, who can’t live up to his standards. Society is corrupt and has teachers that help kids cheat on tests, has principals that drive around dressed like women and he doesn’t want to be part of that society. Backlund says he used to love the fans but they changed and destroyed the world around them and if they could live up to his standards, we would have a utopia. He put the chicken wing on Hart for one reason: the opportunity to put it on all of the plebeians as well. He walks tall and doesn’t have to cheat and hopes everyone felt the pain. He didn’t use the chicken wing when he returned but the fans aren’t successful and are manipulators and dragged him down. The chicken wing is the greatest hold in wrestling and nobody can break the hold, including Bret Hart. The crowd chants “has been” but Backlund says he runs more miles in a day than they do in their lifetimes and when he says something, he does it. The fans are too weak and can’t diet for more than one day and 50% of Americans can’t read. 

Vince says that Backlund once said “for every move there is a counter” so how is the chicken wing unbreakable? Backlund says if anybody can break out of the hold once he has them down on the mat, he will retire for good. Backlund then takes his jacket off and issues a challenge to Vince to try the hold. Vince defers and says Backlund can invite anyone out to try the hold but Savage says you should never let anybody put a hold on them if they haven’t earned it. Backlund invites Lou Gianfriddo to the ring for the demonstration and Lou agrees. Backlund then locked the hold and took swung Lou around violently before taking him to the mat, snapping and keeping it cranked in as Vince tries desperately to pull him off. Officials flooded the ring along with Savage, who yelled “the hell with Tunney” and they finally were able to bust up the hold. Backlund grabs the mic and tells everyone to call him Mr. Backlund and says nobody can break the chicken wing and that is what discipline is all about. ***

4) Bob Holly defeats Richie Rich with a high cross body at 1:58

Fun Fact: Tonight we see a name change for Thurman “Sparky” Plugg. He is now Bob Holly. In an interview on Kayfabe Wrestling Radio in May 2013, Holly explained that when he signed with the WWF he was not thrilled with his initial name, but he wasn’t going to prevent him from competing in the WWF. After being in the WWF for a few months, he approached Vince McMahon about changing his name and it was changed to Bob Holly, a name he had used in Smokey Mountain Wrestling previously.

Scott: The highlight of this episode just happened, when Bob Backlund snapped and put the Crossface Chicken Wing on a WWF Magazine writer. That at least was an evergreen moment that can be used later down the line for a future storyline. This match is quick and painless. Grade: DUD

JT: With everything settled down, we are back to action as the newly christened Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly has entered the ring to take on Richie Rich. Fink still announced him as Thurman “Sparky” Plugg but it looks like they decided to change it up after this was recorded. And Vince doesn’t even explain the change, he just calls him Bob Holly. It was a positive change and makes Holly seem more legit and less of a goofy character. Vince and Randy rant about Backlund’s attack as Holly makes swift work of Rich, polishing him off with a high cross body. Holly is still aimless but he seems to be in a better place now with his new name. Grade: DUD

5) Yokozuna defeats Phil Apollo with  at 2:42

Scott: Vince acknowledges that Jim Cornette isn’t here, as like the Heavenly Bodies, the former WWF Champion is alone to the ring. Vince is starting to allude to the restarting of the Yoko/Undertaker feud that was on hiatus after what happened way back at the Royal Rumble. The Deadman will get his back on Yokozuna. After the squash the lights go red and the gongs go off. Grade: DUD

JT: We close things out this week with a rare appearance by Yokozuna, who is without both Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji tonight. Yoko used to be a Raw regular but that has really changed in 1994. Vince says Yoko is alone these days as nobody wants anything to do with Undertaker. Those two will clash in casket matches on the Hart Attack Tour. Vince and Randy run through some pop culture talk as well as furthering the issue between Yoko and Undertaker as the former WWF Champion batters Phil Apollo. Yoko aggressively smashes Apollo as Savage plugs this week’s USA Movie, The Haunting of Seacliff Inn. It is a USA premier movie, this Thursday at 9PM, so set your VCRs now! Vince plugs the Hart Attack tour a bit more but as Yokozuna celebrates his win, the lights go out and the Undertaker’s gong rings through the arena. A frightened Yoko sneaks his way out of the ring and quickly heads to the back. Grade: DUD

Final Analysis

Scott: Thank god for Bob Backlund, because we are STILL using shows taped from August, a full month old and after a major PPV. Now Backlund is the saving grace because they can somewhat start some new storylines that the live crowd will somewhat remember when they revisit it live later in the month. Otherwise we have some more piles of crap squashes, with at least fresh (studio) commentary from Vince & Savage to discuss what happened at SummerSlam without any actual current activity going on in the ring. The Backlund promo was spot on, getting the rare opportunity to bring back the past and tie it into the present. Other than that the rest of these matches are crap, except for the rare Yokozuna squash, which to the WWF’s credit is treated like something special as he still has the reverence of a former WWF Champion. Until we start from scratch in a new building, these old Raws are going to get worse. Final Grade: C-

JT: Well, this Raw was not on a good track at all… until Bob Backlund emerged and saved the day. His promo and subsequent attack on Lou Gianfriddo was an all time segment that completely established his new character and direction in less than ten minutes. He was locked in, made sense, felt justified and tied his whole career together, showing how everything led to this new mindset. Great work. The rest of this show was not so great and we desperately need a new arena and crowd to freshen things up. The Lawler/Droese feud felt so old at this point and the match was brutal, only existing to set up a feud between the King and Doink that nobody wants to see. The rest of the squash matches were alright, mainly carried by the usual strong work by Vince McMahon and Randy Savage in the booth. The one thing you can say about Raw at this point is no matter how boring the show itself may seem, you will always wrap up the hour with a fun understanding of all of the key storylines and characters that are ongoing that week. This was worth slogging through for the Backlund stuff, but otherwise, we need out of Lowell. Now. Final Grade: C