Monday Night Raw (08/08/94)
James Dixon: Taped after last week’s excellent show, and thus we retain the announce team of Vince McMahon and “Mental Man” Randy Savage.
The Undertaker vs. Butch Banks
This is Ted DiBiase’s fake Undertaker, or Million Dollar Undertaker, if you will. The crowd hasn’t quite cottoned onto the fact that it is not the real ‘Taker, and pop his music anyway. It would have been cooler if they had the gongs and then went into DiBiase’s music. I still don’t hate this angle like I should, I can’t help it. This is the kind of situation I need Evil Ste for. I actually think Brian Lee does a pretty good job imitating the real thing, he has his moveset down pat. Ok, he is not exactly trying to be The Dynamite Kid or Shawn Michaels, but still, I would buy it if I didn’t know. Well, until he hits the big boot, which is just embarrassingly low. “The name of that hold, is domination!” says Vince of a shoddy looking snapmare. Of course, just because Lee can do the moves and work at a pace that the real Undertaker can, does not mean the match is any good. Quite the opposite in fact; it is slow, plodding and monotonous. Like the real Undertaker’s squash bouts then!
Final Rating: DUD
Leslie Nielson continues his quest to find The Undertaker, but he reaches a literal dead end (a road sign, saying “dead end” on it). I feel dirty for chuckling.
Ted DiBiase is buying everyone, and Lex Luger is next on his list, or so it seems. There is much speculation about whether he has been bought off but Luger denies having accepted the offer. Video Control takes us to footage from Superstars where he was a guest on the Heartbreak Hotel, and admitted meeting with DiBiase and receiving an offer, but again steadfastly refutes claims he has accepted it.
Lex Luger vs. Chad Miller
Luger doesn’t help his case by sharing a relatively friendly exchange with Ted DiBiase in the aisle. Vince hammers home the point that Luger is probably going to accept the offer, and the crowd has eaten its spoonfuls of dogma well over the past few weeks, because the reaction to Luger is decidedly unfriendly. They are convinced he is turning. I guess the big swerve (with Tatanka being the sell-out instead) was supposed to reinvigorate the Luger character and make him the American hero again, but the matches with Tatanka were just so horrible that it did the opposite, and made him just a midcard afterthought. The crowd does react to Lex when he wins here, though he does cheat to do so, with his supposedly illegal metal forearm. Even when he was a babyface, he was really a heel.
Final Rating: ¼*
IRS & Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Doink the Clown & Tatanka
IRS and Bigelow are yet more DiBiase charges, and oh my I am in wrestling hell. IRS and babyface Doink are two of my all time least favourite performers in history, and by this stage Tatanka was a joke too. Bigelow has a helluva job on his hands to save this match, and indeed the entire show. Things don’t start well with IRS cutting a promo, and wouldn’t you know it? It is the same one he has been doing for the last three years. Tatanka has been on a horrid run of bad matches in the last few weeks, and it gets much worse when he turns heel. Savage once and for all proves he has escaped the loony bin by calling IRS one of the best wresters in the WWF. Vince tries to top that by calling Doink one of the best technical wresters in the company. Sure, as a heel when played by Matt Borne, but this crappy version is the shits. The faces have a lot of the match at first, and take a page out of IRS’s book by utilising slow and boring holds. Pleasingly, Bigelow takes this “heat”, meaning we don’t have to watch IRS. After a double crossbody collision, Tatanka bizarrely makes a hot tag despite having dominated Bigelow throughout, as the structure of this match goes right out of the window. Doink comes in and cleans house on IRS until Bigelow nails him from behind, and the Write-Off finishes things. What the hell just happened? That was watchable! It was all over the place in terms of pacing, but it actually made for a refreshing change. Hell, I didn’t WANT to see a heat section here, not in an IRS match! I am stunned by how much that didn’t suck.
Final Rating: *¾
Post match, IRS and Bigelow do a number on Tatanka, until Lex Luger comes out to stop them. DiBiase proceeds to shove money into Luger’s hand and Tatanka sees the two talking, and they almost have a fight. It is all a big misunderstanding! Why didn’t Tatanka just watch back the replay of Raw if he didn’t believe him?
The King’s Court
Here we go again. Tonight’s guests are Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart. Wait, weren’t they on the show a few weeks ago? I see we are just recycling guests now in a desperate effort to keep this drab segment running. Owen whines about being bullied by Bret in the dungeon, and says his motivation is the WWF title. He puts over his achievements this year, and says that the Hart family is all supporting him rather than Bret. “What a psycho!” exclaims Savage. Bruce Hart comes out and he doesn’t agree, saying Owen is full of shit and a disgrace to the Hart family, before he rips into him and Neidhart. Even Savage is taken aback by the viciousness of his comments: “Say what’s on your mind, Bruce!” Bruce has no sense of timing for when he should be speaking, but it doesn’t matter, because everything he says is gold. Fancy that, I always thought he was useless.
Bob Backlund vs. Kevin Krueger
Back to the squash bouts, with the leader of the “Backlund generation”, who is now a heel. I abhor Backlund. This is something that Furious and I differ on greatly, because he loves him. He keeps trying to make me watch some stupid match that he rates as 4* but I refuse, because a) I don’t want to sit through any more Bob Backlund matches than I need to, and b) I can’t win. If I like it I will have to eat humble pie, if I don’t like it there will be gnashing of teeth and cups thrown. Stupid Backlund. To be honest, all the matches over the course of these books that we have covered featuring Bob that Arn has rated highly, I hate. I think all of his matches with Bret Hart are utterly tedious. I find his ring style deeply off-putting because he does random things in random places, his persona is grating and that idiotic dance makes me ashamed to like wrestling. Backlund wins with the crossface chicken-wing, and then does the whole looking at his hands thing, shocked with what he has done. It is rotten.
Final Rating: ¼*
Luger bursts into the Corporation dressing room and is greeted warmly by Nikolai Volkoff, and he is caught there by Tatanka, who again gets the wrong end of the stick. Shoving occurs as we go off the air.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Randy Savage. As Raw reverts to being useless after last week’s anomaly, Savage continues to keep me entertained by being bona fide mental. Bruce Hart deserves a mention for his fun promo as well.
Least Entertaining: Ted DiBiase. He was in near enough every segment. He didn’t do anything wrong in them particularly, but I know that all of this leads to the worst stable ever in the Million Dollar Corporation, so this is a pre-emptive strike.
Quote of the Night: “Who knows, we might even have a heart attack… on Monday Night Raw!” – Says Randy Savage about the Harts appearance on Jerry Lawler’s King’s Court. Oh man, there are so many ironies to this one when watching it twenty years later, I will leave them to your imagination.
Match of the Night: Tatanka & Doink vs. IRS & Bigelow. The match I was dreading turned out to be the best of the show. Don’t mistake my shock for praise, it wasn’t good or anything, it just didn’t completely suck the life out of me like I expected it might.
Summary: Unfortunately, we are back to Raw being a tough hour of television to sit through. The squash bouts tonight we particularly awful, and the marquee match, while surprising, was not a good one. The King’s Court once again took up too much airtime, and even if Bruce Hart did entertain. Overall this was bad, real bad, but next week we have 1-2-3 Kid vs. Owen Hart, so all is well in the world.