Arnold Furious: We’re in Richmond, Virginia for week three of Raw tapings. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. Thank God the Crush experience only lasted one show. As this aired the night after the Royal Rumble, the commentary is recorded in a world where Lex Luger and Bret Hart are co-winners of the Rumble match.
Lex Luger vs. Austin Steele
Luger just co-won the Royal Rumble, BUT the crowd don’t know that because it was taped weeks ago. Instead of an angle with Bret Hart, we get a squash match. Which is why Raw isn’t taped anymore. You’d think they’d want a hot Raw coming off the PPV, but the business was a different beast in 1994. Austin Steele is one of many Flair clones I’ve seen over the years. Technically, I guess a Buddy Rogers clone. Luger throws Steele around and his bumps are ok. Luger continues the power moves until a superplex finishes. An energised squash, which makes it better than anything on last week’s show.
Final Rating: *
Royal Rumble Report: Todd Pettengill returns to where he belongs; shill duty. He runs down the Rumble results, calling the PPV the “greatest Rumble of all time”. I’ll cut Todd some slack because he probably does believes that. Goldfish have better a memory than DJ’s. Oh, buy the encore tomorrow night.
Jeff Jarrett vs. John Paul
Before the match gets underway, Vince shills the Rumble hotline. Why on earth would you do that? The very best thing about the internet is that it killed hotlines. Jarrett isn’t fond of wrestling squash matches and treats them as a night off. I wish more jobbers had gimmicks. John Paul is a generic ham and egger. He’s capable though, and Shawn Michaels would probably get a decent match out of the kid. Jarrett runs through his spots, including a nice slingshot suplex. Paul gets a few cheeky roll ups because Jarrett isn’t taking him seriously but eventually Jarrett wins with a handful of tights. Jarrett adds in a flying DDT as punctuation.
Final Rating: ½*
Men on a Mission vs. The Headshrinkers
This was supposed to be Headshrinkers vs. Bret & Owen Hart, but Owen turned heel at the Rumble to scupper that. JR points out that Mabel is the strong link of the MOM team. I would agree wholeheartedly with that. The WWF did too, cutting the other scrubs loose long before Mabel outlived his usefulness. JR knows his history too and talks about the Wild Samoans when Afa is onscreen. Mabel bosses the island team with his sheer size so the ‘Shrinkers run some obvious heat on Mo instead. I quite like the Headshrinkers as a team, but their matches vary enormously in quality depending on their opponents and when they face an inferior team (*coughmenonamissioncough*) they get lazy. Vince is supportive and claims that Mo’s best move would be tagging Mabel in. a) No shit. b) You signed him! Mo does get the hot tag and Mabel cleans house. He cleans his own house by eating everything. True story. The weirdest comeback spot; the double noggin knocker, and it works… against the Headshrinkers!? That’s never happened. Mo, like an idiot, tags in and Fatu immediately superkicks him before a Superfly Splash finishes. They ran formula blow-by-blow. The match will be as good to you as that sounds. I thought it was ok, as formula runs to Mabel’s limited strengths.
Final Rating: *½
Adam Bomb vs. Tommy Angel
Angel looks a bit like Tommy Dreamer only wearing red trunks. If you envisage Dreamer without his trademark t-shirt and sweatpants, that’s Tommy Angel. Bomb dominates him. Vince throws a bizarre topical reference in stating that Angel should, like Michael Jackson, settle. JR no sells it. Bomb crushes Angel some more with the flying clothesline and the powerbomb. Game over. Ross spent the whole match burying Harvey Wippleman. I think they were running an angle where he was an incompetent manager. Thing is; he didn’t do anything during this match. Negative or positive. I only noticed he was out here because JR was verbally ripping him a new one.
Final Rating: ½*
Video Control takes us to another Thurman “Sparky” Plugg promo. I never understood Sparky Plugg. Why would a race car driver wrestle? Isn’t there enough cash in Nascar?
Doink vs. Joey Stallings
That jobber name looks like a total rib. Dink’s invisible dog attacks the jobber. I actually love invisible psychology. Japan does it best. They have invisible workers over there. Doink, given a reputation as a technician by former incumbent Matt Borne, tries to outwrestle Stallings. JR take a few shots at the gimmick, followed by Texas. He’s been superb on this show. You know who isn’t superb? Joey Stallings. He even lifts his arm out of the way so Doink can get a side suplex on him easier. At least he’s working safe, I guess. Doink finishes with the Whoopie Cushion. Dink’s invisible dog gets the last word by chasing the ref around the ring.
Final Rating: ½*
Shawn Michaels vs. Tyrone Knox
Shawn Michaels jobber matches were just like his normal matches, which is why Shawn Michaels is awesome. He doesn’t hit a spot and rest like Jeff Jarrett or not take it seriously. He treats every opponent the same way. Tyrone gets to dodge him and get minor sequences over on him, even though Knox is nowhere near Michaels’ league. That’s the thing about Shawn; regardless of his opponent’s ability, he always wanted to have the best match possible. Vince stops off to bash “rumours” that Raw was jumping to CBS to replace their NFL coverage. I say “rumours” because Vince just made those rumours up. Tyrone no sells a turnbuckle causing JR to say, and I’m quoting, “you go, Tyrone!” Shawn promptly kills him with a piledriver. Tyrone Knox wasn’t much of a worker, but what he could do, Shawn made the most of.
Final Rating: **
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Shawn Michaels. The guy can have a good match with anybody.
Least Entertaining: Jeff Jarrett. He has a copy and paste jobber match that I don’t care for.
Quote of the Night: “Hang tough in there until you can pull off an upset” – Vince explains his attitude towards smaller wrestlers.
Match of the Night: Shawn Michaels vs. Tyrone Knox.
Summary: An improvement over the diabolical Raw last week. Ending with Shawn Michaels makes me happy. Plus Jim Ross on commentary is just a massive improvement over everyone else they’ve attempted to replace Heenan with. Now if only they could replace Vince McMahon with Jim Cornette and we’d be laughing.