Arnold Furious: This was actually taped in 1993 at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York. I’m guessing everyone in the WWF was still recovering from a New Year hangover. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Johnny Polo. Vince throws immediately to footage from Superstars where Lex Luger bested Polo’s charge Pierre with his steel forearm smash. He was actually wrestling Jacques, so in jumps Rougeau to tell the ref the wrong man was pinned. Jacques gets the forearm for another three count and Polo gets one for good measure.
Yokozuna vs. Dan Dubiel
‘Zuna is WWF champion and about to face The Undertaker at the Rumble. Yoko doesn’t seem to give a shit here. Presumably he was in a bad mood, so Dubiel just lies around hoping for the best. Yoko has to pick him up for each spot after the initial beating, as the crowd alternates between chanting “USA” and “Luger”. Yoko hits a few high spots, like the belly-to-belly, before setting for the Banzai Drop. For some reason Yoko botches the move horribly and you can see Dan pleading with the ref to get the fat bastard off his neck because he’s hurt. Yoko just sits there. Equal parts horrifying and disgusting.
Final Rating: ¼*
Tangent: I know I usually take great glee in the murderization of jobbers so this might seem quite hypocritical, BUT, Yoko had no right to take the liberties he did during this match. The finish was sickening, frankly, and was hard to watch. You can see Dan is visibly distressed. This wasn’t just an impact move or a nasty stretch; it was a very serious botch. Dubiel could have been paralysed or even killed. When you’re that heavy you can’t just drop all your weight on someone’s neck. The fact the man responsible for such a serious breach in safety was WWF champion, shows what a state the company was in during early 1994.
Interview Time: Vince has a pre-recorded interview with “American Original” Lex Luger. Vince must be keen to get that over as he says it five times before the interview even begins. This whole segment is due to Luger not currently being in the Royal Rumble because of the whole “no more title shots” stipulation stemming back to SummerSlam. Lex says he just wants a chance, which is what he had BEFORE at SummerSlam where he FAILED to win the title. Luger’s campaigning would result in the WWF running a hotline where people could call in and register whether Luger should get a shot at the Rumble match. Hey, Vince needed to get money from somewhere! Video Control throws to a Thurman “Sparky” Plugg promo. The less said the better.
The Smoking Gunns vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & Bastion Booger
Bigelow & Booger were an extremely short-lived team. Polo puts the Gunns to the verbal sword by making fun of the south. Come on Johnny, I know you’re a heel, but Bastion Booger is RIGHT THERE. I know you can’t call him a fat sack of crap, but he is. Polo eventually can’t resist it and claims Booger’s New Year’s resolution is to drop 3lbs this year. That’s not a typo. The match is reasonably energised, but Bart has trouble clicking with Bigelow. He has even less joy with Booger as he can’t reach around for a waist lock. Oh lordy, I just typed “reach around” and “booger” in the same sentence. That would literally never happen if I didn’t watch wrestling. The Gunns use their teamwork to beat up Booger before Bart horribly blows a missed spot, where he’s supposed to fly over the ropes but instead goes through them. That’s a problem because Booger is leaning heavily on the top rope and there’s no space. To be fair to Shaw, he knew the spot, it was Bart that screwed it up. That leads to heat on Bart, which drags because the spots are horrible and Booger is too slow and sloppy. Booger gets his ass handed to him and Luna moves in to console the fat tub of goo. Booger considers this a come-on and moves in for the kiss. Luna is naturally repulsed as Booger dry humps her against the ring apron. Bigelow is initially pissed that he’s got nobody to tag, but then realises the full extent of Booger’s betrayal and bails to beat him up. That’s a count out and the Gunns win cheap via opponent stupidity. They really accelerated this feud and went from tag partners and then dissension this week, to blowing the feud off on the next episode.
Final Rating: ¾*
Royal Rumble Report: Todd Pettengill runs through the rules to the Rumble match before telling us all 27 participants named so far. Luger has yet to be named and Bret Hart is the first mentioned. That’s everybody that matters! Todd also mentions the Taker-Yoko casket match. The rest of the show is actually pretty good but the two things Todd focuses on (Luger in the Rumble and the title match) are the worse elements of that particular PPV. Video Control throws to Alfred Hayes in the voice over booth who points out that next week is the one year anniversary of Monday Night Raw’s birth.
Jeff Jarrett vs. John Crystal
Johnny Polo goes off on a hilarious tangent about how “mumsy” thinks Vince is a good commentator… but she’s not all there. He then tangents off onto Rob Lowe during Vince’s USA network shill and making fun of Loni Anderson. That’s how little they care about Jarrett’s match, which is about as much as Jarrett himself seems to care. Jeff wasn’t much fun with his squash matches, he just went through the motions. Jarrett is also sporting all purple ring gear, which is an eyesore. Crystal catches him with a few flash pins before getting wiped out with the flying DDT.
Final Rating: ½*
Shawn Michaels vs. Brian Walsh
HBK has Diesel in his corner, not that he needs him. I love that Walsh has a sparkly blue ring jacket to try and make himself look legit, nut Shawn Michaels has sparkles on everything, and sparkles on top of that. Brian Walsh has been out-sparkled. Shawn generously allows Walsh a few arm ringer counters. The WWF aren’t interested and focus on Johnny Polo booking The Quebecers against Marty Jannetty & 1-2-3 Kid next week for the tag titles. Jacques, via phone, isn’t bothered, but he should be. Shawn and Walsh actually run a near falls sequence with the counters. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a jobber match with such amazing wrestling sequences in. Walsh is quite small in stature, which allows Michaels to hit powerslams and delayed vertical suplexes. Shawn had a few good matches where he was the “big guy”. Walsh gets another flash pin as Shawn’s surprising generosity continues. He uses speed to outwit the jobber though and the superkick sets up a piledriver to finish. That was great! More Shawn Michaels jobber matches, please. I love that Shawn poses with his IC title, that he no longer officially holds, and lauds it over Brian Walsh like he just beat someone of consequence.
Final Rating: **¼
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Johnny Polo. Was great throughout the show. Constantly quipping and making the matches more entertaining. I would have loved it if he’d scored the gig on a permanent basis. Instead he left the WWF in 1994, got seriously depressed and transformed himself into Raven.
Least Entertaining: Yokozuna. I can’t stress enough how much that Banzai Drop freaked me out. To the point where it wasn’t entertainment. It made me uncomfortable. It made me not want to carry on with the show. It made me not want to watch another Yokozuna match. Every wrestler should know there’s a line.
Quote of the Night: “If he exercised he might not have any energy for sex” – Johnny Polo’s reasoning on why Bastion Booger hasn’t dropped any weight yet.
Match of the Night: Shawn Michaels vs. Brian Walsh. On a show where a jobber was treated quite horrifically, Shawn Michaels compensated the jobber universe by having a solid match up with youngster Brian Walsh. The kid had a few moves and was quick enough to hang with the ‘Heartbreak Kid’. Shawn clearly appreciated that and they had a good little match up.
Summary: The show started out offensively bad but a combination of effort and Johnny Polo’s good natured commentary dragged it back up again. By the time Shawn Michaels came out for the main event I was in a good mood.