Heading into the Royal Rumble, it was quite unclear what to expect from the WWF. There was no foreshadowing at all that Bret Hart would play a big part there, but they did make it seem like Lex Luger was the main contender if he got in the match. In weeks previously, they’d done polling asking people if Luger should be allowed in it even though he was contractually disallowed from getting another shot at Yokozuna. Of course, Luger did wind up in it. There was also no telling that the Undertaker would go on sabbatical the way he did. If anything, the build made it seem like he’d win.
– Taped to air January 3rd, 1994, on Monday Night Raw, from the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York
Starting off the show, we see the Undertaker continuing to build Yokozuna’s casket. They also showed something from Wrestling Challenge, which turned out to be Jim Cornette explaining how the casket match came to be. Hilarious to see Stan Lane interviewing him. Wonder how many people in the crowd made the connection. This week’s guest commentator was Johnny Polo!
The first match featured Yokozuna, who was taking on some jabrone. So weird to be coming to the end of his second and last title reign. When I was younger, it felt like Yokozuna was on top for longer and that he was more dominant in taking everyone out. Yokozuna finished this guy with a killer BANZAI DROP. Like wow. Looked like he caved in the guy’s chest cavity.
After that, they showed the finish to a match on Superstars that had Jacques taking on Lex Luger. Pierre switched places with Jacques, but even that couldn’t win the match. Luger nailed Pierre with the loaded forearm and pinned him even though that made no sense. Then Luger hits Jacques and Johnny Polo with it too. Way to kill the Quebecers! Luger was interviewed afterward, pushing him as the best guy in the Rumble if he was allowed in it. Jack Tunney would decide the following weekend.
These Sparky Plugg vignettes are hilarious.
Bastion Booger and Bam Bam Bigelow (w/Luna Vachon) vs. The Smoking Gunns
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is the only thing on the show worth giving the full review treatment, and I’m only watching three Raws this time. I have no idea why Bastion Booger was there with Bam Bam. If they really thought that was a great pairing, that’s ridiculous. Booger was getting bigger and bigger every week.
Match Review: Billy and Bigelow start this one, and Bigelow runs him over a few times. Billy comes back with his own shoulderblock, then a dropkick knocks Bigelow out of the ring. Bigelow gets back in there, and fires off a bodyslam. After a missed headbutt, Bart tags in and hits him with a double axehandle from the top rope. Bigelow misses a charge to the corner, so Bart slaps a wristlock on him. Bigelow goes for another bodyslam, but instead he drills Bart with a back elbow. Booger tags in, and he’s SO FAT. He crushes Bart in the corner, then levels him with a bad clothesline. Bart ducks to the outside, and we have a commercial!
Back from that, Billy knocks Booger down with a bulldog. Bart tags in for a double shoulderblock, then he charges at Booger and nearly breaks his neck as he tumbles out of the ring. Bigelow works Bart over on the outside, eventually posting him. Back in the ring, Bigelow knocks Bart around for a while, then snap suplexes him. A diving headbutt gets 2, then Bigelow tags back out. Booger chokes Bart with the ropes, then hits him with a back elbow. Booger drops a leg on Bart for 2, then misses a charge to the corner. Bigelow tags in, and so does Billy. Billy hits Bigelow with a knee lift, then dropkicks him. Bart tags back in for a double elbow, then a double backdrop that gets 2. Booger is trying to romance Luna. This guy is gross. Billy sunset flips Bam Bam from the top, and that only gets 2. Now Luna slaps Booger, as Billy gives Bigelow a DDT. Now Booger is molesting Luna, as Billy misses a missile dropkick. This is so gross. Bigelow finally spots what’s going on, and he’s mad. So, he wallops Booger and they brawl, getting their team counted out after about 8 minutes.
My Thoughts: Well, this was a thing. I don’t know why I reviewed it, but I guess in the end it was kind of worth it. The match wasn’t that bad, I thought. It was better than I expected, at least. I didn’t expect very much. *1/2. The Gunns had some good offense, and with Bigelow in the ring they were able to do some good things. Stupid story with Booger and Bigelow though. I’ll be glad when I don’t have to watch anything with Bastion Booger in it.
Next up, it was time for Double J’s squash bout of the week. Some of these guys they wanted to push were definitely done no favors. Hard to push somebody based on the kinds of matches they’d have on these shows. Eventually the big two figured that out. Jarrett won with a running DDT. Don’t think that stuck as his finisher.
Marty Jannetty walked out there with the 1-2-3 Kid, and they had something to say to Johnny Polo. They had a challenge for Polo and asked to face Polo’s Quebecers! In the end, Johnny Polo was confident and agreed to the challenge. He eventually put the titles on the line too.
Shawn Michaels was there for a match of his own, and Diesel was accompanying him once again. Michaels brought out his illegitimate Intercontinental Championship, too. This was long for a squash match. HBK and Diesel did a bit where HBK would throw the jobber to the outside and Diesel would immediately throw him back in the ring. Michaels used a piledriver for the finish.
– January 10th, 1994, on Monday Night Raw, from the Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia
This is the Monday Night Raw anniversary episode, they say. Randy Savage was back on commentary this week!
The 1-2-3 Kid and Marty Jannetty vs. The Quebecers (w/Johnny Polo) for the WWF Tag Team Championships
Pre-Match Thoughts: I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. Obviously, as everyone knows, the Quebecers lose their straps. I’m sure it’s really good though given how important this match feels and with the quality of the workers involved. Polo cut a promo for the Quebecers, who also said they were looking forward to the Rumble. Not a good sign! Nice to see a WWF show taped in front of a decent crowd.
Match Review: Jacques and Marty start this one off, and Marty goes for a victory roll that gets 2. Jacques misses a charge to the corner, then Marty sunset flips him for 2. Kid makes a tag in, and so does Pierre. Kid hits him with a spinning wheel kick for 2, then slaps a headlock on Jacques. Pierre attacks the Kid from behind, and now all four are in the ring. The Quebecers get thrown into each other, and subequently dropkicked out of the ring! Marty and Pierre restart the match, then Kid quickly tags in for a double backdrop. Kid then gets launched into Pierre with a dropkick, and kicks Jacques out of the ring too. The Quebecers want a timeout in the aisle, and come back to the ring with Jacques starting the match over. Marty tags in too, and punches Jacques in the face, forcing him back to his corner.
After a commercial, it is shown that Marty nearly pinned Jacques after a superkick, only for his foot to be on the bottom rope. The match restarted, of course. Jacques and Pierre are wasting a lot of time. Eventually, Marty gets the top rope pulled down on him and flies out of the ring. Jacques accidentally hits Pierre with a forearm, so it’s like nothing happened. Kid tags in and hits Jacques with more kicks, then goes up top and flies onto the floor to take out Pierre! Back in he goes with a slingshot clothesline, and up top a third time. Pierre pushes Kid off the top rope, and now the Kid is in trouble. Pierre chokes him with the tag rope, then the Quebecers drop Kid throat-first on the top rope for 2. Jacques tags back in and slams Pierre onto the Kid, and that also gets 2.
After another commercial, Jacques nails Kid with a flying back elbow for 2. Jacques slams Kid, then backdrops Pierre onto Kid for 2. Pierre and Jacques then destroy Kid with a trip and shoulderblock combination, and Pierre follows with a diving headbutt for 2. Pierre picks Kid up and slams him, then Jacques drops an elbow on him. Jacques PILEDRIVES Kid, then brings in Pierre for Pierre’s big assisted senton bomb from the top rope. Pierre tags in for a second one, but this time Marty stops it and nails Jacques with a superkick. Marty makes the hot tag in, and now it’s time for him to clean house with dropkicks. He slams Pierre, then hits Jacques with a back elbow. Then he gives them a noggin-knocker, and knocks Polo off the apron. Now Marty goes for a suplex, and Kid heads up top for a cross body that wins them the titles after 18:18! Randy Savage runs into the ring to celebrate with them, which confuses me a little. Then they leave through the crowd!
My Thoughts: I feel like Kid and Jannetty should have had a longer run with the belts, but the timing was just off and it wasn’t able to go down like that. Anyway, this match is highly enjoyable. The Quebecers destroyed Kid with their offense, and I thought the layout of the match was great. It took them cheating in order to get that advantageous offensive position, and once Kid made the tag out it didn’t take long for them to be pinned. It told a good story of tag team combination work. The crowd loved it too, so all in all they were sure to send people home with something to be happy about. Very good wrestling match. ***3/4.
Unfortunately Ludvig Borga was there to ruin the good vibes. It was also said during his match that Lex Luger would be in the Royal Rumble.
They then showed a video from Wrestling Challenge where Yokozuna had wrestled and pinned two guys with a BANZAI DROP. After that, Paul Bearer showed up on the video screen and scared Yokozuna by talking about the casket match. In my opinion, Yokozuna was in moderately decent shape for his gimmick when he started this run, and he’d really gained a lot of weight since the start of it.
Speaking of the Undertaker, it was his turn for a squash match. What a reaction he got. The chokeslam was a welcome addition to his move set.
Closing out the show wrestling wise was a match between Bastion Booger and Bam Bam Bigelow. Read my comments on the previous Raw if you want to know why. It feels like Bam Bam was the babyface in this one. He took a crazy bump over the turnbuckles, it almost looked like he busted his face. Then Luna blew kisses at Booger so that Bigelow could attack him from behind. Bigelow finished Booger off with a flying headbutt after just 2:30, so it was basically a squash. 1/2*. After the match, Luna slapped Booger and Bigelow beat him up some more.
Closing out the show completely, Randy Savage was interviewed about his match with IRS the following week. Problem was, IRS walked out there and said he would beat Savage. Then Savage threw a cake in his face.
– January 11th, 1994, from the Civic Center in Florence, South Carolina
The Headshrinkers (w/Afa) vs. The 1-2-3 Kid and Marty Jannetty for the WWF Tag Team Championships
Pre-Match Thoughts: Who knows why such a small venue so far out of the usual WWF taping zone would get a match like the two I’m about to review, but that was a very fortunate crowd. I don’t see any realistic way that this match could possibly suck, but you never know. This sounds awesome because the Headshrinkers can throw Kid around like a rag doll. What could go wrong? I appreciate the way the crack WWF production team found screaming girls during Kid and Marty’s entrance. I mean of all the teams to be that kind of team. Haha.
Match Review: Marty and Samu start this one, and Samu shoves him hard into the corner. After some chops, Samu picks Marty up and slams him. Marty comes back with an arm drag, then Marty monkey flips him. Samu goes for his own, but Marty pops him instead. Marty dropkicks Samu over the top, and that leads to Fatu tagging in. Kid tags in too for a double axehandle from the top, but Fatu smacks him in the face. Fatu follows with more forearms, then powerslams Kid for 2. Kid comes back with a dropkick, then flies out with a crazy plancha. Marty tags in, and he goes to a wristlock until a facebuster does nothing to Fatu. A superkick does, but a Samu distraction leads to Fatu wrecking Jannetty with a clothesline. The Headshrinkers do the wishbone spot, then Samu picks Marty up and slams him. After a diving headbutt, Samu drops some elbows for a 2 count. Fatu chokes Marty with the tag rope, then tags in for a double headbutt. After catapulting Marty into the bottom rope, Fatu throws Marty hard into the corner. Samu grabs Marty and drives him into the steps, but Marty does the same to Samu…only for it to not hurt the Samoan. So, Samu superkicks Marty and throws him into the ring. Fatu gives Marty some backbreakers, but only gets a 2 count. Marty goes for a sunset flip, but gets kicked in the face again instead. Thing is, Fatu’s hand hurts from punching the ground. So, in the end, Marty makes the big tag out anyway. Kid comes in with kicks for Samu, then a flying head-scissor to send him to the outside. Fatu attacks Kid from behind, but Kid and Marty knock him to the outside with a double dropkick. Marty goes up top for a right hand all the way out to the floor on Fatu, then Kid hits Samu with more kicks. Kid flies off the top with his moonsault press, then kicks Samu over the top rope and Samu does the HANGMAN’S SPOT WITH THE ROPES. YES. Afa gets in the ring, and he gives Kid a SAMOAN DROP after Kid runs the ropes. Samu covers, and gets the pin over Kid after 10:17!
There is a second referee though, and he runs out to point out what happened. So the decision is reversed. Kid and Marty get their titles back thanks to the referee stealing them and running out of the ring.
My Thoughts: That was a lot of fun, with the closing sequence of the match being totally awesome. If you don’t like this, I don’t know. Trust me, find it and watch it. Kid and Jannetty really should have had a run, they were gold in there. The Headshrinkers were pretty good too, and I should know. I’ve watched so much of their stuff over the last couple years. I enjoyed seeing Afa get in the ring and play a part in the finish of the match after doing nothing similar all year in the WWF. The hangman’s spot is also excellent to see. ***1/4.
The Hart Brothers vs. The Steiner Brothers
Pre-Match Thoughts: Like I said. This crowd was some LUCKY MOTHERFUCKERS. Who wouldn’t want to see this? You’d have to be a fool. The Steiners were hardly utilized in decent positions after Survivor Series, but I have to give some credit for there being a match like this. The WWF knew they needed to get this on tape because it would be the only time it ever happened. Shows me they were at least aware of the Steiners’ impact historically.
Match Review: Scott and Bret will start this one, and Scott goes to a double leg takedown. Bret makes the ropes, then takes Scott down with a fireman’s carry. Scott makes the ropes as well, then trips Bret and goes to a spinning toe-hold. Bret gets up, and Scott puts a headlock on him. Scott runs Bret to the outside with a shoulderblock, and Bret’s checking his teeth. Good selling. Back in the ring, they trade wristlocks until Bret cradles Scott up for 2. Bret arm drags Scott, then brings in Owen for the first time. Owen gets a few boos, as Scott picks him up for a bodyslam. Rick Steiner tags in there, picks Owen up, and we get some amateur wrestling. Rick then powerslams Owen, but misses an elbow drop. Rick comes back with a back suplex, and it gets a 2 count. Now to the armbar, until Owen reverses that and reverses a back suplex. Owen’s German suplex gets a 2 count, then Scott makes his way back in. Owen hits him with a leg lariat for 2, then a Northern lights suplex gets 2. A jackknife pin also gets 2, then Scott powers up to his double underhook powerbomb for 2. Bret tags in, and now Rick does too. Rick goes behind Bret and shoves him towards the corner, then he trips him and goes to an armbar. Gorilla Monsoon is relentlessly shitting on this match for no reason. Bret slams Rick, but Rick’s able to keep the armbar on. Bret gets out and drives a knee into Rick’s stomach, then he headbutts him. Bad idea. Bret picks Rick up and slams him again, then misses an elbow drop. Rick goes back to the arm, until Bret dropkicks him. Bret then drops Rick with a DDT, and drops a leg on him as well. They trade shots for a while, then Bret grabs onto a sleeper. Rick doesn’t quite fall asleep, so he drives Bret back into the corner. Bret goes for it again, but this time Rick makes the ropes. Bret won’t let go of the hold, which is making everyone a little angry. That was weird. Bret follows up with a suplex, then goes to the second rope only to eat a boot on the way down. Rick goes to the top rope, and down he comes with that BULLDOG for 2. Bret takes his signature bump in the corner, and Rick covers him for 2 again.
Scott finally tags in there, and drops Bret with a huge tilt-a-whirl slam for 2. Bret then misses a charge to the corner, and his shoulder is now hurt. Owen has been a non-factor in this match for a really long time now. It’s strange. Scott tries to suplex Bret back into the ring, but instead Bret suplexes him out of it! Bret picks Scott up and drives him into the apron, then Owen makes a tag in. Its been a while. He slams Scott, then goes up to the top rope for a flying headbutt to his back for 2. Owen follows with a gutwrench suplex for 2, then he goes to an abdominal stretch. Gorilla dumps all over that. Come on, man. Scott eventually gets out with a hip toss, then Owen takes him down with a belly to belly for 2. Owen throws Scott into the corner, and now Bret tags back in. He stomps a mudhole in Scott Steiner, then gives him a Russian leg sweep for 2. Owen tags back in, and Bret knees Scott from behind as he runs the ropes, leading to a 2 count. I love seeing Bret play the subtle heel. Owen misses a dropkick, and Rick makes the tag back in. He nails Owen with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, and it gets 2. Rick follows with a bodyslam, then a TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER for 2. That’s somebody else’s move! Scott switches in, and there’s a DRAGON SUPLEX for 2. Rick nails Owen with our first STEINERLINE of the match, then drops an elbow on him for 2. Rick hits the chinlock for a second, then brings Scott in for the STEINER SCREWDRIVER. Amazing move. Bret has to break up the cover. Scott runs over and clobbers him, then throws Owen over the top. Gorilla is trying to ruin this. Owen slingshots Scott over the top rope, then he crawls over to Bret and makes the big tag.
Bret gives Scott an inverted atomic drop, then he clotheslines him for 2. He follows that with a backbreaker, then goes to the second rope and hits Scott with an elbow smash for 2. Bret now goes for the SHARPSHOOTER, but Rick clobbers him from behind. Owen makes an illegal switch in to go for it, but Rick smacks him too. Scott sets Owen up for Rick’s elevated top rope bulldog, but Owen instead victory rolls Scott for 2 when Bret prevents Rick from jumping off the top rope. So much going on there. All four guys wind up in the ring, and Owen runs into Rick, which also knocks Bret out of the ring. Scott decides to go to the top rope, and he hits Bret with a double axehandle when leaping out to the floor. Owen then drops Rick with a plancha, and this is absolute mayhem. The timing of all this stuff is crazy. Finally the referee counts all these guys out at 24:55.
Bret throws Scott into the rail for good fun, then the steps. Rick and Owen go back into the ring and continue fighting, until Rick knocks Owen back out to the floor. The Steiners hold the ring, but Bret and Owen aren’t very happy. Scott wants a microphone, and he asks for the match to continue! The Harts walk back there, and now the crowd goes crazy as they all brawl. Finally! The Harts wind up holding the ring, then Bret grabs the microphone. THEY AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE. Now the Steiners come back, and we get more great brawling for a little while. In the end, both teams shake hands with and hug each other, so the beef is squashed.
My Thoughts: Other than Gorilla Monsoon providing some of the most pedantic commentary in history, this was fantastic. I’d have to go through my ratings, but I’m not entirely sure that I’ve seen a better tag team match with Bret Hart in it. Everything about this was so good, and the only downtime was when everyone needed to take a breather. Otherwise, this was yet another fantastic Steiners match. They were in Japan in the weeks before this, which explains their absence on other shows. I should have realized. Anyway, this was so un-formula and so different that I really appreciated it. The finish wasn’t great, but I liked everything that happened after the match. ****1/4 and that’s not a rating I toss out lightly.
– Taped to air January 17th, 1994, on Monday Night Raw, from the Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia
While this show was being aired, there was a card from Madison Square Garden where the Quebecers took their tag team titles back from Jannetty and the Kid. Apparently they will discuss it at some point in this show. Crush was Vince’s guest commentator this week. Don’t think that’s a good fit.
Opening the show, Owen Hart had a squash match and was accompanied out there by his brother. That’s one way to make sure Owen got cheered. The old jobber nearly hurt himself badly on an Owen monkey flip. This was pretty good for a squash, I’d say. His promo was okay. Bret had a hard time finding his words and it felt like he got put on the spot.
Tatanka got in there to face George South, which reminds me of South’s match against Ric Flair. So I’m gonna have to watch that again today. The crowd was really into this match and I don’t think it was canned heat at all.
This Alundra Blayze video lacks any and all importance to me. She won that women’s championship and didn’t get on Raw at all in the following weeks. Really pointless. The video was accompanied by porno music.
After a commercial, it was time for Vince to interview Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji. They claimed that Jim Cornette was in Tokyo, so this interview will suck. After some time, Paul Bearer wheeled out the DOUBLE WIDE, DOUBLE DEEP CASKET for Yokozuna! Yokozuna was afraid, as we’ve established already. Eventually he found his gumption, walked over to the casket, and decided to smash the casket with his big ass. First he opened it, but the UNDERTAKER WAS INSIDE. Yoko then shuffled around the ring and all the way to the back. Haha.
For some reason, they advertised a Harts vs. Headshrinkers match for next week. I really doubt that happened and don’t want to spoil myself.
Diesel was facing some guy named Scott Powers after that. Glad to see that Shawn Michaels was his manager in this. He was also wearing his fake IC belt. Diesel used a big boot and elbow drop as his finisher this week. That’s funny. If he’d kept that, he never would have been anything in the WWF. Right after that, it was announced that the Quebecers won their tag titles back at the Garden.
Irwin R. Schyster vs. Randy Savage
Pre-Match Thoughts: I’ve been looking forward to this, in large part because this episode hasn’t been anything special. This match probably won’t be either, but I’m excited to see Savage work in a singles match again. He and Crush posturing at each other was amusing.
Match Review: Savage attacks IRS as soon as he crawls in the ring, so here we go. IRS throws him hard into the buckle, then drops an elbow on him. IRS follows with a back elbow, as Crush gives us some terrible commentary on the proceedings. Irwin drops a leg down low on Savage, then takes him and throws him over the top rope. IRS rams Savage into the steps, and Savage decides to grab a chair. IRS attacks Savage from behind, then he throws him back in the ring. Savage needs to get some offense in, and he does so by catching a big boot and giving IRS an atomic drop and clothesline. After another clothesline, IRS ducks to the outside as we have a commercial.
Back from that, IRS picks Savage up and drops him on the rail. Savage crawls back up to the apron, but IRS is able to suplex him back into the ring for 2. IRS goes to a chinlock, then knees Savage in the gut when Savage gets up. Now IRS drops a leg on Savage for 2, then Savage comes back with a small package for 2. IRS goes for the chinlock again, but Savage drives him back into the corner. Savage then misses a charge to the other side, so IRS rolls him up for 2. Back to the chinlock, until Savage tosses IRS to the outside. He hits IRS with a double axehandle from the apron, then goes over and grabs Crush! IRS posts Savage instead of anything coming from that, and we have another commercial.
Now IRS has Savage in an abdominal stretch and is holding the ropes. IRS tries to go up top afterward, but Savage grabs him to stop that. Savage goes up top, but IRS hits him on the way down. Back to the chinlock AGAIN, but Savage makes the ropes. IRS slams him, then goes up top and eats boot on the way down. That spot was quickly becoming overused. Savage drops IRS throat-first on the top rope, then bodyslams him. Now Savage goes up top for the FLYING ELBOW, but Crush runs over and pushes him down, getting IRS DQ’d after about ten minutes or so. Crush continues to beat Savage up for a while, and throws the referee away too. Now Tatanka runs to the ring! He gets attacked by IRS and cut off at the pass, and now here comes Yokozuna. Crush nails Savage from the top rope, and Yokozuna chases Tatanka into the ring. Tatanka beats up IRS, but eventually it turns into a three on two. HERE’S LEX LUGER. He tries to clear the ring, but Shawn Michaels and Diesel head out there. WE HAVE A ROYAL RUMBLE RIGHT NOW. HERE COMES BRET HART. The crowd goes crazy, as Raw comes to a close!
My Thoughts: This match was certainly nothing special, but I enjoyed the way it turned out in the end. This was the first instance of what would become a standard Royal Rumble/Survivor Series staple brawl during the go-home show. It was great to see. Savage and IRS were running on fumes, more specifically IRS. He didn’t do much in the match, and I understand why. He never did much in the first place either. I wouldn’t go higher than *1/2, but that was a great end to a strange Raw episode.
So with those gone and dusted, it’s time to head off to the Royal Rumble, which is the first wrestling show I ever watched. Jerry Lawler’s court case hadn’t progressed, and that whole thing sounds weird so I don’t really want to post any details about it. Apparently at one of the TV tapings the wrestlers had destroyed the locker room at a high school. That’s funny on multiple levels. A high school. The worst news was that the 1-2-3 Kid had hurt his leg badly, but fortunately for viewers everywhere he rushed back when he shouldn’t have.
Best: Harts vs. Steiners. This was so good, and the post-match was worth seeing as well.
Worst: Having Bastion Booger on TV at all?