WWF Intercontinental Championship
Diesel (c) vs. Lex Luger
This comes from July 1994, with Luger long past his usefulness as a top level WWF babyface, and Diesel a few months away from his babyface turn and shock WWF title win. I was expecting this to be slow and plodding, but they actually cut a fairly quick pace, relatively speaking, and Nash even leaves his feet once or twice. Luger seems to be caught on one of his rare motivated days, as if he is determined for this not to suck. He succeeds, it doesn’t suck, it is actually a decent back-and-forth contest. We get some welcome clipping during a rest hold (though I assume it was an advert break as this is from Raw), but it last another minute or so before Luger breaks out of it and rallies. Luger’s fire is actually pretty good, as he dismantles Diesel with clotheslines and a DDT. Shawn Michaels, in Diesel’s corner at ringside, mugs wonderfully for the camera on each near fall. The ref gets bumped in the corner and Luger hooks up the rack, which is mighty impressive considering Diesel’s size, and Michaels jumps in and hits Sweet Chin Music in the back of Luger’s head. Incredibly, that only gets a two count once the ref comes around. Razor Ramon interferes and we have a pier-sixer on our hands, leading to a double disqualification. Michaels and Diesel paste Razor afterwards until Lex breaks things up. What a pleasant surprise that was. They both worked hard, beyond what I expected from them in a relatively low-key match like this, and delivered a fairly intense and heated contest. Kudos indeed. Side note: The referee for this match was Joey Marella, who died just three days later in a car accident. That probably makes this the last time he was seen on a tape release. It is quite sad and somewhat haunting to watch a match with him in, so close to the end of his life.
Final Rating: ***
Yokozuna vs. 1-2-3 Kid
This is from a month or so earlier at the back end of May, some two months after Yoko dropped the WWF title for the second and final time at WrestleMania. Once that had happened, Yoko was pretty pointless in the WWF, and he became lazy. I don’t know if the de-push resulted in the laziness or if it was the other way around, but either way, Yokozuna matches invariably sucked from 1994 onwards. Not that they didn’t suck in 1993, they just sucked a little less. This is obviously a massive mismatch, and in order to retain suspension of disbelief, Yoko dominates the majority, with Kid only able to mount the occasional flurry with his martial arts kicks. That is all fine and dandy until Kid manages a roll-up for a near fall. A roll-up!? So he can take him down with one arm hooked around his leg but not with flying kicks? Don’t tell me leverage, it is just a lazy ass spot. Yoko gets bored of selling and catches Kid with a powerslam to end it, rather out of no-where. Stan Lane calls it a “fantastic match”. Come on Stan, don’t piss all over what little credibility you have as a commentator. The match was little more than an extended squash, but it is one of the more energetic Yoko matches out there.
Final Rating: **
Bret Hart & British Bulldog vs. Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart
The Hart Foundation explode! Davey’s choice of attire is questionable, as he sports an off-yellow on half of his tights which from a distance makes him look naked on one side. Bret and Owen’s technical wrestling exchanges are as smooth as you would expect, as they flow effortlessly from counter to counter. Owen amuses me by petulantly shouting “Don’t!” and “Stop it!” when Bret slaps him in the back of the head during a hold. What does NOT amuse me is the clipping. We go from Bret hitting a monkey flip on Owen, to Davey being double teamed and then chinlocked by Neidhart. The match had started so well! Just cut the damn Yoko match and show the thing in full. The New Foundation work a long heat on Davey, but they are all good enough to keep it fairly interesting. Owen was world class and on fire in 1994, and everything he does is superb. I enjoy Owen and Anvil using the Hart Attack as a double team to try and put Davey away, but Gorilla and Lane make no reference to it being the Hart Foundation’s finisher, which is a shame. Bret’s hot tag leads to the Five Moves of Doom on Owen, but Anvil prevents the Sharpshooter. They run the old favourite small package double switch for the finish, with Davey Boy eventually pinning Owen. I am still bitter about the clipping, but the rest was entertaining. The problem is, I expect more than just entertaining from guys the calibre of these. Good, but it could have been so much better.
Final Rating: ***
Jeff Jarrett vs. Doink The Clown
Two characters at their lamest here, with stripy pants wearing babyface Doink and country singer Jeff Jarrett wearing… Hell, I don’t even know how to begin describing how awful his attire is. It screams midcard, and you can see why he didn’t get any higher than that in his first WWF run. Just to make Doink even more unbearable, he has not one but two midgets with him at ringside. Oh yes, this time Dink is joined by the yellow-haired Wink. I am sighing hard right now. Doink is in the midst of an awful feud with Jerry Lawler, so I assume this match is due to Jarrett showing Memphis solidarity. Or something. Oh fantastic, now more midgets! Two of Lawler’s Survivor Series team no less, who put the boots to Doink. What am I watching here? This is like a sick panto version of pro wrestling. For once, I don’t complain about the clipping, though I am opposed to returning during a chinlock. This has been pretty much all Jarrett, which isn’t a good thing because his offence is IRS-esque. Doink comes back following a long heat segment after Jarrett misses a fist drop, and the subsequent finishing sequence is actually rather tidy. The highlight is Jarrett completely murdering one of the King midgets by inadvertently knocking him off the apron. That little guy flew! Doink hits the Whoopie Cushion while the midgets are pissing around on the outside, and Lawler runs in to twat Doink from behind, allowing Jarrett to cover him for the win. It resembled a one ring circus of horrors at times, such was the silliness on display, but it was harmless.
Final Rating: **
WWF Tag Team Championship
Diesel & Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Razor Ramon & 1-2-3 Kid
Think these guys politicked for this match? I sure do. With them all being (notoriously) such good buddies, you would expect this to be great. And it is! They start quickly, very quickly in fact, with Razor hitting the Razor’s Edge on Shawn minutes in, only for Diesel to make the save. Kid and Michaels have a super-fast awesome sequence, in which commentator Todd Pettengill (yes, really) calls Kid a “Power Ranger”. Oh shut up, you intolerable prototype Michael Cole windbag. Kid takes some massive bumps for Diesel before getting Razor in, and the two big guys go toe-to-toe. The crowd has been red hot from the start and with good reason. It has been all action. Things slow a little for a heat on Razor, who is surely a strange choice to take the beating when Kid is his partner, but fair enough. Pettengill is so bad, throwing out buzz words and clichés, to the point where you can almost picture Michael Cole at home taking notes. You can tell Nash is in there with his friends, because he leaves his feet numerous times, including hitting an Ultimate Warrior like flying shoulder tackle. We get clipped to the double down, which is a bit annoying because we don’t see how they got there, and Kid gets the hot tag. Only the ref didn’t see it! Michaels goes for the Sweet Chin Music but Razor ducks and he hits Diesel. Kid finally gets the legal tag and unloads on Michaels, who returns the favour from earlier and bumps around like a god for him. This sequence between the two is even quicker than the earlier one. Razor comes back in with the sack of shit on Michaels, and then does it to Kid, throwing him into Shawn. What a unique double team that is! Some more hot near falls on Shawn follow, and the crowd buys every one, but Razor and Kid can’t put him away. Michaels tries a desperation sleeper, which grounds and slows Razor, as they add yet another layer to this superb match. I really thought the finish was imminent after the hot tag. Kid comes in for a second hot tag and hits a top rope legdrop, but that only gets a two, and then he runs into a Diesel big boot and Shawn hooks the leg for the win. How about that for a match!? Goddamn that was some exciting shit right there. If only the Kliq had worked that hard against other guys on the roster, maybe they wouldn’t have been so hated behind the scenes. Still, as a fan it is hard to say anything negative about them during this time, because they were undoubtedly great workers (or in Nash’s case, capable of working to the higher level of someone better than him) and were at the centre of almost everything good that the WWF did not involving Bret Hart. This match is an often forgotten gem, and it is definitely worth checking out. It is easily one of the best WWF tag bouts of the 90s. Just a superb match and a fantastic end to a really excellent tape.
Final Rating: ****¾
Summary: A belting tape, featuring two decent matches, two good ones and one absolute stormer. 1994 was a pretty dismal year for the WWF in places, but this release captures the best stuff and wraps it into a neat little one hour package of excellence. If anything, this is worth getting just for the anomaly of featuring two Kevin Nash matches that are *** and beyond. In reality, it is a rollercoaster from start to finish, and well worth the investment. A cracking release, and a great start to the Avision series of tapes. Every fan should own this.