Monday, November 19, 2012

Raw #54 - March 7th, 1994

With just two weeks left until Wrestlemania, tonight's Raw is the last before the pay-per-view. Ted DiBiase joins Vince on commentary, as he did at the Royal Rumble. DiBiase insists that he could by the kind of presentation Tatanka will get from the Lumbee tribe, but that some things aren't worth buying. Vince reminds him that the tax man will be here tonight in the form of Irwin R. Schyster, for the first time implying that a tax collector and a rich man would ever be at odds. Where were you two years ago when Money, Inc. was formed? Vince calls DiBiase's former bodyguard Virgil a "wrestler extraordinaire" (which is like a "Wrestling Superstar").
The Smoking Gunns are out first tonight to take on Owen Hart and Crush, led to the ring by Mr. Fuji. Nikolai Volkoff is spotted at ringside wearing the same red suit as he was two weeks ago in this same arena in Poughkeepsie, although he has switched seats to make it less obvious that tonight's episode was filmed two weeks ago. The illusion is made somewhat less convincing by the "Owen Who?" sign in the audience once again. Owen taunts the dowdy women at ringside by ripping up his sunglasses in front of them. He's no hot pistol, like the Smoking Gunns are, according to one fan.
A fan predicts the return of
Jim Neidhart to team up
with Owen Hart.

The former Brett Colt hits hip tosses and arm drags on the future King of the Ring, who tags in the future Disciple of Apocalypse. The future KISS Demon starts to work over the future Bodacious Bart, but the future Brawl-for-All winner scores a High-Risk Maneuver (#1 - flying body press) off the top rope onto the future Kronik member for a two-count. He then tags in his partner, the future Rockabilly, who rolls up the future Nation of Domination member for a two-count before taking a series of strikes from the former Demolition member. Brian Adams then charges at Monty Sopp in the corner, who counters with a boot to face for a Nice Maneuver (#2) and then dives off the top rope. The former Blue Blazer tags in and hits aerial moves on the future Mr. Ass before tagging out. The heel team double-teams the future Kip James, with the other future Nation of Domination member dropkicking the Bad Ass as we go to break and I try to recall some more monikers for these four men.
After the break, The One gets a hot tag on Mike Barton, who cleans house. He then hoists the future King of Harts over his shoulder for a double-team move with the future New Age Outlaw, but the future Clarence Mason protege runs in to rescue his fellow future Clarence Mason protege, chopping the future New Midnight Express member's leg from behind. The Rocket puts Mike Plotcheck in the Sharpshooter, scoring a submission victory for the heel team.
Vince gets an interview with Owen and Crush, who himself will face Bret Hart at the March to Wrestlemania special next Sunday. That's right, before Wrestlemania X, where it's brother vs. brother, it's going to be brother vs. brudda. Owen begs Crush not to hurt Bret too badly so that he won't have any excuses when he loses to his younger brother at Mania. Crush tells Bret that "in Hawaii, talk is cheap" (which is unusual, given the high cost of living on the islands).
Todd Pettengill clarifies the difference between the March to Wrestlemania and the Wrestlemania PPV itself. He then runs down the list of celebrities at this year's Wrestlemania, including Burt Reynolds. Todd says that he once helped out on one of Burt's movie sets, feeding the pig in Deliverance. For those of you who have seen that film, you'll recall that there is no actual pig in the movie. Todd is thinking of the scene where one of the hillbillies makes Ned Beatty squeal like a pig while raping him. Easy mistake to make. Todd then repeats the lie about this being the first Wrestlemania with two WWF title matches. In an important update, Alundra Blayze finally has an opponent for Wrestlemania in the form of Leilani Kai, who dropped the Women's Title to Wendi Richter at the first Wrestlemania. He also reminds us of the Earthquake-Adam Bomb match (which will not feature Ludvig Borga) and announces a ten-man tag match which won't actually take place.

What a piledriver!
Double J takes on Virgil in what must be the latter's last match on Raw ever, although I think that every time I see him in action. Ted accurately predicts that Virgil will go "absolutely nowhere." Jarrett and Virgil exchange hammerlocks as Vince doubts that the former DiBiase bodyguard will Outmaneuver (#3) the country singer. McMahon does, however, put over Virgil's punches, proving that the "Bodyguard Bash" finishing move on the Virgil action figure is no joke. Vince then gets a note telling him that forty-year-old Rhonda Shear would be a guest timekeeper at Wrestlemania. Double J complains about hair-pulling while Vince and Ted struggle to pronounce George Stephanopoulos's name. Ted Dibiase gets handed a note, prompting him to plug "Past Midnight" on the USA Network and prompting Vince to note the unlikelihood of the Million Dollar Man reading promotional notes. Virgil gets whipped to the corner, but floats over Jarrett with a Nice Maneuver (#4) as he charges after him. Virgil then hits an inverted atomic drop which Vince calls a "reverse piledriver." Unfortunately, the wrestling superstar telegraphs a back body drop, letting Jarrett hit a DDT for the victory.
No relation to Paul Anka.

The Toddster voices a video package for the upcoming Tatanka-Yokozuna match at the March to Wrestlemania special. Ted DiBiase then excitedly displays the cover of the new Countrybeat magazine, featuring Double J himself. Vince then peels off the false cover and holds a Doink paper mask to his own face.
Hair Club For Men President Sy Sperling shows how his company could benefit such WWF personalities as Mr. Fuji. Sy's voice reminds me of Kevin Stoller.
Doink the Clown takes on Iron Mike Sharpe. Vince hopes that Bam Bam does not get in the ring against Dink in the upcoming mixed tag match at Wrestlemania, lest the match become a disaster (which it most certainly will be anyway with Doink and Dink involved). Sharpe takes down Doink, but then showboats, which Vince calls an "erruh." Doink hits the seated senton off the top rope to put away Sharpe. Vince then advertises the WWF Wrestlemania X hotline, which is almost certainly disconnected, so whatever you do, do not call 1-800-454-4WWF.

Vince is in the ring with Chief Ray Littleturtle of the Lumbee nation, as well as Wahoo McDaniel (misspelled "McDaniels" and pronounced as such by McMahon and Tatanka) and fake Native American Jay Strongbow (real name, Joe Scarpa). Littleturtle gives Tatanka a feather headdress to the deafening silence of the crowd (minus a handful of hecklers). Tatanka speaks of his childhood on the reservation (which is odd, considering that the Lumbee do not have reservations) and says that it "bestows" him that the children of his tribe voted to give him the feathers. Tatanka thanks "McDaniels," his former tag team partner, and Strongbow, who has "nursed" him since he came to the WWF. Scarpa puts the "war bonnet" on Tatanka's head, who then dances around the ring (Tatanka himself, that is, not just his head).
IRS comes out after the break to tell Tatanka that he owes a gift tax for the headdress he just received. He takes on Mark Thomas, who wrings the tax man's arm in an ironic role reversal (Am I right, folks? Am I? Who here hates paying taxes!? Yeah!). Vince and Ted talk baseball, with DiBiase recommending fellow millionaire Michael Jordan to be the commissioner of the Major Leagues. Irwin works Thomas over with holds while using the ropes for leverage. He then hits a shoulderblock that proves inexplicably effective (until you realize that it's his finisher, the Write-Off), putting away Thomas for the three-count.
Todd promotes the upcoming March to Wrestlemania match between Lex Luger and Jim Cornette's protege Jimmy Delray of the Heavenly Bodies. Vince interviews Jim Cornette, who blasts American products, especially American cars like Ford, the same way that Yokozuna did last summer. Cornette vows that Luger's match with Yokozuna at Wrestlemania will be his last.

Final tally:

4 Maneuvers (Year total: 30)

Since this is the last Raw before Mania (since the following Monday will be a recap of the March to Wrestlemania special), it's time to do some re-booking. For those of you allergic to all things "smark," now would be the time to stop reading this post.

The first thing that should be changed about Wrestlemania X is the title picture. The real PPV features a pseudo-tournament in which Bret Hart faces the winner of the Luger-Yokozuna match. Although the first triple-threat match in the WWF would still be three years away, it wouldn't seem too far-fetched to have a three-way match for the title. It is Wrestlemania after all, so it would be a special match for a special occasion. Besides, the WWF would have its first multi-team elimination match at the Raw Bowl at the beginning of 1996, plus it has already had Royal Rumbles that are "every man for himself," so a match pitting three men against one another would not be inconceivable to the 1994 booker or fan. Plus, other promotions such as ECW had already run three-way elimination matches in the year leading up to Wrestlemania X.

Federation President Jack Tunney makes the historic match after Bret Hart and Lex Luger both win the 1994 Royal Rumble. Both men earn title shots, and they will get them simultaneously against Yokozuna. In order to keep order in such a wild match, Tunney would assign Roddy Piper as the special referee. Jim Cornette, Yokozuna's American spokesman, would naturally object to the idea of Yokozuna having to face off against two men at once, especially two no-good connivers like Bret Hart and Luger, who would be in cahoots to eliminate the champion first. Thus, Jack Tunney would agree to place both Luger and Hart in matches against "suitable competition" in the Wrestlemania undercard to even the odds.

Thus, Bret Hart would face his brother Owen, while Luger would face Ludvig Borga, who, in a perfect world, would not have injured his ankle and would have already settled his feud with Tatanka at Royal Rumble, as planned.

Another problem with the Wrestlemania X card is the tag team title match, where the Quebecers defended their championships against Men on a Mission, rather than the Steiners, with whom they had feuded since September and from whom they had stolen the titles in the first place. This booking makes even less sense when you consider that the Steiners were still on the payroll and would be in the Federation for a month after Mania, yet were excluded from the biggest event of the year in favor of Mo and Mabel. The Steiners would face the Quebecers in a no disqualification match in this revised Wrestlemania X.

The ten-man tag match of Tatanka, the 123 Kid, Sparky Plugg, and the Smoking Gunns against IRS, Jeff Jarrett, Rick Martel, and the Headshrinkers is also problematic. In addition to being dropped from the PPV at the last second, it reeks of "get everybody on the card," much like the more recent Money in the Bank matches and pre-Wrestlemania battle royals. Any match involving Sparky Plugg is highly suspect. Thus, instead of Tatanka and IRS captaining teams, the two would go one-on-one. In a perfect world, their feud over Tatanka's headdress (which started on the episode of Raw just reviewed) would have begun shortly after the Rumble and culminated at Wrestlemania.

Another problem with Wrestlemania X? No Marty Jannetty. No, seriously, I know that that sounds like a punch line to a joke on WWE's "Are You Serious?" (a highly overrated Youtube program, I might add), but Jannetty had put on consistently solid performances on Raw since his return in May. The only thing keeping him off the Wrestlemania card was the fact that Vince fired him the month before. In my perfect booking world, Marty would never have been fired and instead would team up with the 123 Kid. They would take on, in a handicap match, Diesel, who got over at the Royal Rumble by dominating much of the match, but whose only role at the real Wrestlemania would be getting kicked out of the ladder match by Earl Hebner.

The mixed tag match between Doink & Dink and Bam Bam & Luna would be replaced by the logical Doink vs. Bigelow one-on-one match. This would allow Luna Vachon to challenge Alundra Blayze in another logical piece of booking that would have taken advantage of Luna's status as the only other female wrestler on the roster and would have eliminated the need to dig up Leilani Kai to challenge the women's champion.

Macho Man vs. Crush and Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels would remain on the card.

As for the Earthquake-Adam Bomb match, whose only apparent purpose was to set up the Howard Finkel-Harvey Wippleman feud, it would be scrapped entirely in my perfect booking world.

That leaves this as the final Wrestlemania X card:

1. Owen Hart pins Bret in the match you already know and love.
2. Bam Bam Bigelow defeats Doink the Clown, then gets pranked in some stupid way that the kids love.
3. Randy Savage beats Crush after tying him up backstage, just like at the real WMX.
4. Alundra Blayze (c) pins Luna Vachon.
5. Lex Luger makes Ludvig Borga submit to torture rack after escaping from Borga's own version of the move.
6. Diesel defeats Marty Jannetty and the 123 Kid in a handicap match after pinning the 123 Kid. Diesel then jackknifes the Kid repeatedly, leading to a reverse decision. Diesel is thrown out of the building by officials to the protests of Shawn Michaels.
7. The Quebecers (c) defeat the Steiner Brothers in a no-DQ match after blatant interference by Johnny Polo (unless the Steiners can be convinced to re-sign with the Federation, in which case the Steiners win the match and the titles)
8. Razor Ramon (c) defeats Shawn Michaels in the ladder match you know and love, minus Diesel.
9. Tatanka pins IRS (time-permitting)
10. Bret Hart wins the WWF title in a triangle match against Yokozuna (c) and Lex Luger, with Roddy Piper as the special referee. Yokozuna pins and eliminates Lex Luger with a Banzai Drop. Later in the match, Yokozuna tries to Banzai Drop Bret Hart, who moves out of the way (which is better than what happened at the real Mania X, when Yokozuna "slipped") and pins the fallen champion.

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