Monday Night Raw (06/20/94)
James Dixon: We begin with clips of the fairly decent King of the Ring show from the night before, with Bret Hart retaining his WWF title against Diesel (via dodgy finish, of course) and Owen Hart winning the tournament itself after three pretty stellar performances, then declaring himself ‘The King of Harts’. Yep, it was a good night for the Hart family. Gorilla Monsoon presents with Randy Savage, and for the first time we have a Spanish announce team! I can only assume that Gorilla is hosting because Vince is too focused on his steroid trial to bring himself to commentate.
Diesel vs. Mark Thomas
“Diesel has got to be one of the most disappointed guys in the world” says Gorilla. Seems harsh. Nothing more than Diesel running through his moves, stretching it out twice as long as it needs to be, and winning fairly easily. I am not wasting any more time commenting on squash matches if nothing happens.
Final Rating: ½*
Todd Pettengill has a post-KOTR report. Jesus Todd, just take a week off will you?
1-2-3 Kid vs. Nikolai Volkoff
Nikolai put in a reasonable level of effort a few weeks ago against Matt Hardy, but I am still not expecting much from this. On paper, it is pretty much the biggest mismatch of styles that you could hope to find. The announcers put over Nikolai being fresh but Kid having wrestled twice the night before. I guess that means the lug is going over? Indeed, the former Bolshevik dominates with his vast size advantage and well documented power, and any Kid flurries are rather quickly thwarted. Credit to Nikolai though, he is moving better here and is in better shape generally than he was during his last run some three years plus prior. A pair of press slams into backbreakers are impressive and should result in the win, but Nikolai picks Kid up so he can inflict more punishment for the amusement of DiBiase. Foolish! Kid has a reputation for winning in this kind of situation, and in fact beat DiBiase the previous year to do just that. And win Kid does, catching Volkoff with a roll-up, which infuriates Nikolai, who gives him a kicking afterwards. Randomly, Virgil runs out for the save! Holy shit, when Virgil is saving you, there are issues. He is utterly useless of course, and Volkoff takes him apart. Finally Lex Luger comes out to put an end to things. He didn’t even make the card the night before. Yeah, his stock has fallen big time. Obviously Nikolai is foreign, so Luger has to be involved. Gotta fight for the corner of the good ole US of A! Even though an American is paying him off and forcing him to do things… The match didn’t suck! Best Volkoff straight up singles bout I have ever seen. For the record, Kid gets a title shot against Bret Hart because of this win, though I am bitter about it because it falls in Furious’ month and it’s a belter.
Final Rating: *½
Yokozuna vs. Nick Barberri
Barberri (Nicholas Richards) worked under a number of similar names in his WWF jobber run, with the WWF’s Video Control department typically lax and uncaring when it comes to how they spell his name. The treatment the enhancement guys get is pretty poor. Richards still works on the Indy scene nearly 20 years later, often under the moniker of ‘The Hardcore Hippie Freak’. Here he gets a Yoko legdrop on his Raw debut.
Final Rating: ½*
Typhoon vs. The Black Phantom
Oh fantastic, Typhoon is back in our lives! Yoko is slow leaving the ring, obviously, and the two end up crossing paths in the aisle. There appears to be a discussion about how they will negotiate the tight space, and the result in a disagreement and a few fisticuffs. I tell you what readers, I am not watching a match between Typhoon and Yokozuna. I am just not. I have gone through a lot covering these Raw shows, including that 20-minute Crush vs. Tatanka disaster last week that still gives me scars, but I have to draw the line somewhere. I barely can stomach watching him stumble his way through battering Gangrel for just under three minutes. Gorilla thinks Typhoon is more aggressive and more assertive. He still sells by shaking his idiotic head though. Seriously, every single time? Really? Savage cracks me up by saying to Gorilla: “I just noticed something, you are not Vince McMahon”. Gorilla explains that Vince just had neck surgery, which I am definitely sure was not a ploy to make the jury feel sympathy for him. Typhoon does a suplex, which is so ugly is could be in a circus. Impressed with himself and blissfully unaware of his own lack of ability, he does another, complete with post-move nod. Horrid.
Final Rating: DUD
The King’s Court
Oh my God, is this awful nonsense just a permanent fixture now? It is dragging down every episode of Raw. Look, I will reiterate: Lawler was superb in Memphis, and was a major player in the business and an entertaining one at that. In the WWF he was way past his prime as a worker and didn’t have a single memorable or entertaining match, and his promos were just full of silly jokes and overly-long rambling. I think he pretty much sucks as a commentator too. Screaming “puppies!!!” like a horny teenager is not commentary. Sorry if you love him, but while I respect him, as a WWF performer I cannot stand him. He is scraping the bottom of the barrel this week (chortle) as his guest is Duke ‘The Dumpster’ Droese. Lawler refuses to let him into the ring because he smells, and Droese responds like all 10-year olds do, by saying the same thing back to him: “You smell too much even for me”. Oh, snap, crackle and pop for that doozie, Mr. Droese. Lawler quotes Ace Ventura and suggests Droese took a smelly shit. This is high-brow stuff. Duke can’t take the abuse because he is being outsmarted so easily, and he walks away. Brave! Lawler is not amused so he jumps him and belts him with his own trash can a couple of times. Oh man, are they feuding now!? That is another match I refuse to watch. This whole segment, was garbage. Ho ho, I am here all night folks.
The Heavenly Bodies vs. Jim Powers & Russ Greenburg
Lots of Cornette tonight on screen, shame he doesn’t get to talk. Oh wait! He is talking! He joins Randy and Gorilla for guest commentary. Well, hallelujah! Poor Jim Powers, his career progression has been the opposite of what you want, going from a PPV star in a “name” tag team (albeit, a pretty shit and unlikeable one) to enhancement talent. He looks a lot like Stevie Richards too. This is technically sound as you might imagine from the Bodies, but it is only notable in any way for the injury Del Ray receives hitting his crappy looking cartwheel moonsault mess, as he cracks his pelvis. I am not surprised, because it looked even worse than usual tonight. Joey Marella is the referee for this one, and it makes me sad to watch because two weeks from tonight’s taping, he dies in a car crash. It is unsettling to watch someone in the prime of their life, knowing that they have so little time left and they are so unaware of it.
Final Rating: *
We close out the program with Ted DiBiase expressing his interest in Lex Luger. They should have turned Luger heel and had him join DiBiase rather than going with Tatanka. Both guys were stale, but Luger was always better as a heel and had more potential as a top star.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Nikolai Volkoff. And I never thought I would write that.
Least Entertaining: Jerry Lawler. His talk show has been forced down everyone’s throats and ran into the ground, and it has been only going on a few weeks.
Quote of the Night: “We are live folks, and you haven’t missed a thing!” Gorilla Monsoon puts over the product.
Match of the Night: Nikolai Volkoff vs. 1-2-3 Kid. The “marquee” match was far from a classic, in fact it was just about okay, but it was better than the squash stuff, which was mainly bad.
Summary: It is one of the most non-descript episodes of Raw ever. Nothing happens! The edgy nature of the program, the intimate feel, the freshness and the “anything can happen” mantra have all long since disappeared. Raw is now just another show, and not a good one at that. It doesn’t truly bounce back and become must-see stuff until 1997 in this writer’s view. Moving away from the Manhattan Center really hurt them as well, and these random little arenas are just not the same.