Monday Night Raw (10/31/94)
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James Dixon: This show has some historical relevence, as it is the last time Randy Savage would appear in front of a WWF camera. He co-hosts the show with Vince McMahon, and a random child dressed in an American flag is stood with them looking overawed. Erm ok then!
Bob Backlund vs. Lex Luger
I have actually enjoyed Backlund in the last few weeks, but I have no interest in seeing this match at all. Luger gets brownie points from me for mocking Backlund’s silly walk, which is actually one of the reasons I dislike him. He just looks like such a moron doing it. Luger surprises me by both outsmarting and outwrestling Backlund in the opening minutes, but there is a lot of stalling in between the physical contact. Backlund takes control by going to the arm, but as noted elsewhere; Luger cannot sell convincingly. Backlund’s armdrags are not a patch on Spark Plugg’s either, though again they are not helped by Luger. Backlund shoots for the crossface but Luger escapes, only to get caught with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Tatanka turns up in the aisle as we go to commercial, which means we are almost certainly going to get a non-finish of some description here. Back from the break and Backlund has a bearhug applied, as the match begins to do downhill. Luger tries to escape by bouncing on the spot, and it looks rather silly. Or sexy. I’m unsure. The bearhug leads to a Luger comeback and he actually shows some fire for once. Because he is a stupid babyface, as has been noted often, he is distracted by Tatanka and gets caught in the chicken wing. Then for no reason, Tatanka comes in and starts stomping away on Lex. What the hell did he do that for? Tatanka is the absolute worst heel in the WWF, ever! He just cost Backlund the match when he had it won. Backlund should put the chicken wing on him! Backlund refuses to release the hold so Randy Savage jumps into the ring from the announce desk and chases Backlund off. I wonder if this was going to lead to a bunch of tag matches and finally see Savage return to the ring. They might have even ran a Backlund-Savage program post-Survivor Series, which would have probably been rather good. As it is, we will now never know, and this was the last time Randy Savage was ever seen inside a WWF ring. I am coming over all melancholy. As for the match? It was actually not bad, with Luger showing more fire and flair than he has in months, and Backlund really getting into his character and playing the deranged psycho role with aplomb.
Final Rating: **
1-2-3 Kid vs. Tony DeVito
Kid for me, has been the MVP of Raw this year. DeVito is in pretty horrible shape here and resorts to cheap heat tactics (such as claiming to have had his tights pulled). Kid gives him a few things, as McMahon says: “the Kid, not quite himself this week”. Read between the lines on that one. Kid runs through his moves and wins it with the legdrop from the top. Perfectly fine, but I would much prefer to see Kid in there with a name worker than just a jobber. He is much better in the underdog role than as the primary aggressor.
Final Rating: *
King Kong Bundy vs. Bert Centeno
Vince figuratively jerks off over the size of Bundy. Seriously, he goes on about it three different times. You would think the novelty would have worn off in the 80s after watching him work a couple of times. Centeno bumps things bizarrely, doing a big jumping flat back off a simple punch. Wrestling punches really irk me actually. When have you ever seen anyone in a real fight get punched, and then jump and fall back in an overblown manner. I get showing out and exaggerating things, but you can do it in a way that doesn’t look fake and idiotic. It is one of wrestling’s annoying little quirks. Don’t even get me started on Irish whips. Bundy wins it and takes a five count. And you all thought Big E. Langston was the originator!
Final Rating: ¼*
IRS hangs around at a graveyard, talking to headstones about how they still owe taxes. The guy needs committing; he is a bloody nut job.
The King’s Court
With this being the Halloween edition of Raw, it is only fitting that Lawler’s guest is The Undertaker. At least it’s not midgets again! This is actually the first time I have covered the real Undertaker on Raw all year. Vince puts over Chuck Norris being the special referee for Taker’s match with Yokozuna at Survivor Series, and the thought occurs to me: what the hell would happen if The Undertaker fought Chuck Norris… at WrestleMania!? Would the world end? Think on that one for a while. The ring is cloaked in darkness, and Lawler wants some light, so Taker raises his arms. This freaks out and delights Savage. Bearer ignores Lawler’s question about lightning striking twice, and instead uses the segment to plug The Undertaker’s new magazine special. First they use Raw to promote house show tours, now they are using it to sell magazines! Taker spends the majority of the time just staring a hole through Lawler, with Bearer doing the talking. Taker finally speaks and says he will right the wrongs of Royal Rumble for the fans, though in his own distinctive way. Hell, he sure has a lot of work on his hands to erase the memory of that travesty.
Next week on Raw, Furious gets another potentially good match, as Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart take on Bret Hart & The British Bulldog. He has had the pick of the bouts this year.
Jim Neidhart vs. Tony Roy
The fans pop Neidhart because they think he is Bret, and the groans of disappointment are audible. Neidhart wastes little time and jumps Roy before the bell, then mauls him in the corner. In fact he keeps his offense almost entirely corner based, using a tree of woe and charging him a couple of times. Savage runs the USA Network movie plug twice, because he is Savage, and that is what he does. I wonder who will read the copy when he is gone? This goes on far too long for a Neidhart squash, because he doesn’t really have any moves, and the ones he does have are pretty lame (setting up for a piledriver and just doing a double axe handle to the back). Neidhart eventually wins it with a camel clutch. Was that his finisher as a singles guy? I didn’t even know he had one.
Final Rating: ½*
Backstage, Vince is with Lex Luger who is nursing his injury. We can’t hear Luger or Vince and a flying solo Savage handles things like a pro. When the audio returns, Tatanka attacks Luger and they brawl as the show goes off the air. It was actually kind of nice and fitting that Savage was alone at the end and his voice was the last thing we heard, even if it was merely coincidence. The WWF becomes a much less fun place without him, and he really was the last of the 80s megastars to depart, leaving an entirely different and almost completely inferior set of “new generation” workers behind.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Randy Savage. Once again Bob Backlund continues to slowly change my unfavourable opinion of him, but I cannot look beyond Savage. Probably more of a “one last time” tribute award to the great man than anything else, but he was his crazy self behind the announce desk as ever tonight. I am sad to see him leave, and even more sad that he never got to return.
Least Entertaining: Tatanka. Again. He made an idiotic decision to run-in during the Backlund-Luger match, as he continues to prove that everything he does as a heel absolutely sucks. This is one sweeping generalisation that is completely accurate.
Quote of the Night: “What if Bob Backlund doesn’t have a plan? What if he’s not even from this planet? What if he doesn’t exist and we are just watching Lex Luger by himself?” – Randy Savage. Another golden “macho madness” quote, as he completely baffles Vince with his insane rambling. If anyone is not from this planet, it is you Mr. Savage.
Match of the Night: Lex Luger vs. Bob Backlund. Yeah, I am stunned too.
Summary: Decidedly average and unspectacular, but never boring. Like I said at the start, the show has some historical merit with it being the Macho Man swansong, and for that alone it is worth checking out. If you do, you will find some surprisingly decent wrestling from two guys I would peg firmly in the “boring” category, and some squashes that ranged from short and shit to alright. Farewell Macho Man, this writer will miss you dearly.