Monday Night Raw (02/28/94)
James Dixon: Well, this is most curious because this episode of Raw was actually taped prior to last week’s live episode. What exactly are they playing at!? Subsequently, we don’t get to see the Savage-Yoko brawl from last week turn into a match, but rather start with Savage making his way down the aisle for the bout. That means the brawl last week and hyping of the match, all took place after the match itself had already occurred. It is enough to make you go strange. Vince once again describes Savage as “hall of fame bound”. Someone should call him on this! Harvey Wippleman joins McMahon on commentary. Oh, the humanity!
Yokozuna (c) vs. Macho Man Randy Savage
Wippleman proves his worth right away by claiming Yokozuna has been WWF champion for a year. It has been more like 7 months at the point this was taped. Savage jumps Yoko before the bell and beats on him while he still has his robe on, but Yoko quickly takes over and Savage starts selling like he has been wrestling for 20-minutes. A missed splash from Yoko gives Savage a chance to come back and he hits his knee to the back to send Yoko out of the ring. Jim Cornette, who didn’t come out with Yoko, runs down to prevent Savage hitting the double axe handle from the top to the outside. When we return from commercial, Savage is trying to budge a stubborn Yoko and bring him back into the ring. Christ, Yoko is so unspeakably lazy. Everything he does is the wrestling equivalent of trying to wade through treacle. Savage brings an energy to proceedings rarely seen from him in his 93/94 run, but he is completely hamstrung by how immobile and out of shape Yoko is. He just sits there panting between moves, trying to catch his breath after his horrid, slow offence. I just cannot fathom how he held the title for so long when there was a plethora of vastly superior workers, draws and entertainers on the roster. I know I have said similar before, but the more I re-watch Yoko, the more this strikes me. Yoko tries to use the salt bucket with the ref distracted, but Savage blocks it and uses it himself. Then instead of going for the pin, he just lays there selling the beating he has taken all match. I rarely question Savage, but if he had the wherewithal to use the bucket, he could have surely gone for the cover. He finally does and gets a two count, then hits the top rope elbow to win it, but Crush runs in for the entirely predictable DQ instead. Non-finishes are starting to blight these marquee matches on Raw. Crush and Yoko beat on Savage until Bret Hart runs down, but his save attempt is pretty useless. Lex Luger comes out to give the faces a numbers advantage, and they finally get the better of the nefarious duo. Wippleman calls it 2-on-1, because he is a moron. Bret and Luger get along just fine here, which hardly builds the tension for WrestleMania. There should be SOME dissent between them at least, surely? Once again, that match was a long way to go for a poor finish like that, and rather hurts Yoko as a monster going into the “granddaddy of them all”, because Savage had him beat. However, Savage was motivated and built enough sympathy around Yoko’s cumbersome spots that it became an okay contest. Not great, but okay.
Final Rating: **¼
We follow up the match and post-match angle, with extended footage of the end of said bout and angle. Talk about a redundant use of airtime!
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Mike Khoury
Khoury is dressed like a Killer Bee tonight. Bigelow is currently stuck in a lame-duck feud with the insufferable babyface Doink the Clown, which is such a massive waste of talent. Bigelow should have been the guy pushed to the top spot ahead of ‘Zuna, because he was still a big guy, but he was actually an entertaining worker. A year later he did main-event WrestleMania of course, but that was never fully capitalised on either. Vince reminds us for the second or third time this broadcast, that Men on a Mission will be in action later. Was this like a disclaimer or something? To warn fans of wrestling of the impending doom that awaited them? Maybe. Bigelow makes short work of Khoury, beating him after an enzuigiri. I’m not sure I have ever seen anyone go over with that before.
Final Rating: ½*
Earthquake vs. The Black Phantom
This is another strange one for continuity, with ‘Quake having made his WWF return earlier on in taping, but Vince saying it was “several weeks ago”. I’m actually impressed that he manages to keep up with it all! The Black Phantom sounds like a real roster guy, but it is just a generic jobber gimmick. He has good gear though, and is actually portrayed by one David ‘Gangrel’ Heath. Everything always has to be dark with him, doesn’t it? Vince bizarrely compares Phantom to a pigeon in relation to ‘Quake, which is one of the strangest analogies I have heard. Ever. Vince announces that Ludvig Borga is still injured, and thus his ‘Mania match with Earthquake is off, costing us a certain classic. I bet Adam Bomb was thrilled to make the card in his place, but probably didn’t feel the same way afterwards, having jobbed quickly and comprehensively. Quake wins this with the vertical splash in double quick time. A good night for the rotund gents thus far.
Final Rating: ½*
The Todd runs down the WrestleMania X card. They have recently announced a ten-man tag match. It didn’t happen at ‘Mania due to time constraints, and actually ended up on Raw. We didn’t miss much.
Kwang vs. John Crystal
The run of irrelevant celebrities calling in during matches continues, as Sy Sperling joins us for a chat to discuss giving The Fink a makeover. This is all Kwang, and the superkick finishes it. Moving on…
Final Rating: ½*
Stan Lane in his Raw debut, tries to get an interview with Shawn Michaels, who says the only thing he is stripped of is his clothing. He does the interview wearing only a towel, as Diesel stares down at his crotch approvingly while rubbing his glove. Hmm.
Men on a Mission vs. The Brooklyn Brawler & Steve Smyth
Wippleman actually amuses me by protesting about Oscar’s rapping, saying he prefers “banjo music” and telling Vince to sit down and stop making a fool out of himself. The quality of this is summed up by a Mabel big boot which connects around the stomach region, and a legdrop that just looks horrid. This episode of Raw has been dominated by fat bastards. As far as MOM squash matches go, there have certainly been worse, but this one is still as painful to sit through as you would expect.
Final Rating: ¼*
Next week, Tatanka, IRS, Crush, Doink, Dink and Virgil! Holy shit am I glad Furious has got March!
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Randy Savage. He tried his hardest to drag Yoko to a good match and in places looked like the Savage of old. They should have hotshotted the belt onto him. THAT would have spiked the ‘Mania buyrate, I am certain of it.
Least Entertaining: Men on a Mission. Their squash was the worst of a bad bunch.
Quote of the Night: “Vince McMahon, what it all boils down under to…” – Harvey Wippleman. Not an eloquent man.
Match of the Night: Randy Savage vs. Yokozuna.
Summary: As Raw falls back into the format of marquee match followed by copious squashes, the quality of the show suffers as a result. The title match was ok, but is often overrated by many. The truth is that Savage carried it while Yoko slowly meandered around the ring trying not to blow up so bad he collapsed, and the finish was unsatisfying. The squash matches all sucked this week, and the sheer size of the majority of the guys on the show pretty much guaranteed this one would stink.