Monday Night Raw (05/23/94)
Arnold Furious: We’re LIVE in Youngstown, Ohio (or Struthers, the name of the venue, as Vince calls it). Hosts are Vince McMahon and Randy Savage, the latter telling us that Earthquake got Banzai Dropped to the bottom of the San Andreas fault. I think he’s exaggerating somewhat but Quake is out of his King of the Ring qualifier with Owen Hart tonight.
King of the Ring Qualifier
Owen Hart vs. Doink the Clown
Owen, strangely, opens with brawling, as if he figured Doink would expect a technical match. When Doink switches to a technical headlock, Owen back suplexes out as he’s a technically superior wrestler. Sadly they abandon the match in favour of Dink jumping in and making fun of Owen, while the Rocket stands around outside. Dink even baits Owen into a chase around the ring into a Doink lariat. Doink, rather foolishly, allows Owen to post his knee, thus giving Owen focus to set up the… chinlock? What the actual fuck? It seems Owen’s focus shifted in the moments between posting the knee and forgetting his finisher is the Sharpshooter. Owen’s follow up belly-to-belly drops Doink on his head and another chinlock assault follows. Not that Doink has sold the ring post spot at all, but you’d think they’d only insert that if the knee was to be the focus of the match. Doink gives a receipt for the belly-to-belly and has the match in hand, until Jeff Jarrett strolls out to kidnap Dink. A distracted Doink doesn’t see Owen nip up and score the pinning cradle to advance. It was surprising how they worked this. The knee spot irked me especially.
Final Rating: **¼
Duke Droese vs. Barry Horowitz
I have no idea why people pop Droese; Horowitz is the better wrestler. The fans sit on their hands as soon as the action gets going. Horowitz doesn’t help matters by working an armbar extensively. Droese tends to stick to his strengths and hits the spinebuster to set up an elbow drop. Your finish is an elbow drop? Jesus, you suck. Vince tries like hell to get it over by shouting “whatamanoeuvre” when the lame elbow drop connects.
Final Rating: ¼*
IRS vs. Gary Sabaugh
Not IRS again. Sabaugh looks like Garry Shandling so he’s got that going for him. IRS absolutely PLODS through this one at a snail’s pace, and hooks a chinlock. BOOOOOOOORRRRRRRING. IRS works the ribs a bit and then grabs an armbar. Urgh. I honestly think IRS’ psychological approach was to try and bore the crowd so much that they’d beg for someone to beat him. Another chinlock. Two chinlocks in a squash! IRS puts so little effort into the Write Off that Vince calls it a clothesline, which is one of the issues with having a naff finisher.
Final Rating: ¼*
Video Control takes us to Jeff Jarrett’s count out win over Lex Luger to qualify for the King of the Ring, where Crush aided in Jarrett’s victory on Superstars. Luger and Crush. Urgh.
The King’s Court
Again? The well is now dry, folks. Lawler again takes shots at Piper, but even Jerry is running out of material without someone to bounce off. Lawler’s guest is Lex Luger, who once again has choked. Luger blames Crush for the defeat and calls him out. Luger has already gotten a measure of revenge by injuring Crush’s arm, which is now in a sling, brah. The one armed man starts shoving Luger around, so Luger knocks him out of the ring. Vince spells out the whole angle where Crush wasn’t actually injured, which isn’t obvious to the crowd who figure Luger just attacked an injured man. Just a horrid segment featuring two boring guys on a boring chat show with a boring outcome.
Nikolai Volkoff vs. Matt Hardy
Ted DiBiase joins commentary as his charge is wrestling. Matt Hardy is THE Matt Hardy, with short hair and High Voltage trunks. This is his historic WWF debut. Volkoff decides to portray a technical master in this bout, first riding Matt then countering and dodging him. Matt takes a front turnbuckle before Volkoff beats him with the Boston crab. “Ah, there we have it. *trademark cackle*” – Ted DiBiase.
Final Rating: ½*
Next Week: Jerry Lawler has Bret Hart on the King’s Court. They claim we’ll have Tatanka vs. Jimmy del Ray as well, but that won’t happen.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Randy Savage. During the awards in The Complete WWF Video Guide Volume #2, I slaughtered Savage as an announcer because I only remembered him in ill-fated three-man announce teams. Normally he was talking all over Jim Ross or arguing with, and losing to, Bobby Heenan. In a two-man team his weirdness is overpowering. In a good way.
Least Entertaining: Duke Droese. Plenty of possible winners this week, but Droese’s lousy debut and lousier finisher takes it. Barry Horowitz wiped the mat with him.
Quote of the Night: “It’s Roddy Roddy Roddy Rudey Rowdy Pipuuuuuuhhhh” – Randy Savage
Match of the Night: Owen Hart vs. Doink the Clown. Psychology aside, it was decent.
Summary: A patchy episode of Raw. The King’s Court, IRS and Droese all sucked so the middle of the show is quite awful, but it’s bookended by a couple of interesting matches. The opener is obviously full of quality with Owen Hart, but the last match is a fun curio too. Matt Hardy’s first WWF match is a decent one, considering it was with Volkoff, and the big Russian looked more energised than in any performance since 1987.