Arnold Furious: We’re in Bushkill, Pennsylvania. Hosts are a returning Jim Ross and Randy Savage. Good Ol’ JR is back after a substantial absence. JR had his first attack of Bell’s Palsy early in 1994 and Vince, compassionate as ever, fired him. Slick move, I’m sure you’ll agree. JR went to work for Jim Cornette over in Smoky to keep his hand in before being brought back to replace the overworked, stressed out and indicted Vince McMahon. The decision to re-hire Jim was a no brainer.
Bret Hart (c) vs. 1-2-3 Kid
This match was included on Raw Hits and is the WWF’s best Raw match of 1994. Both guys are over huge as babyfaces. Kid has an enormous underdog vibe about him, so while the crowd are thrilled he’s got this match they know full well he’s got no shot at winning. The aim of both wrestlers is to turn Kid’s “no shot” into a credible contest. I love how Bret sells the first armdrag takedown; he’s floored and gives it the old “well, how about that?” eyebrow raise. They rock a few friendly back-and-forth counters, with Kid making sure he doesn’t give Bret time to raise his eyebrow a second time. As soon as Kid gets an advantage, he lays in the big kicks. Bret spent most of his 1994 summer battling Owen Hart, so he’s used to a smaller more aerial based offence and it’s an ideal time for Kid to wrestle him. Bret gets SERIOUS after taking a few of those kicks and starts smashing Kid with forearm uppercuts, rocking his head back with a few of those. Bret was working light to begin with, but as soon as Kid became a legitimate threat, he started treating him as such. Bret generally didn’t work stiff, but he knew how to make something look stiff. Kid knows how to sell like an underdog too, just hanging on for dear life before taking another enormous shot. Normally Bret can’t bully his opponents because he’s not a big guy, but this shows what Bret matches would be like if he’d been bigger. It’s still technically good, but Bret is vicious with it. Kid finds himself wrestling extremely defensively, which is normally the case. The crowd are starting to buy into his resilience as Bret is just beating the piss out of him and can’t get the pin. Kid has done his homework and gets a boot up to block the second rope elbow, one of the patented Five Moves of Doom. Bret’s a good sport about setting Kid up as a threat, and eats a couple of huge kicks, including Kid’s back kick right on the mouth. Kid starts using his body as a weapon as it’s all he can do, so he hits a moonsault block and a powerbomb sets up a leg jam. Kid throws Bret outside to try and hit something huge but Bret counters the plancha. Kid still has bags of energy, but Bret dodges the cannonball. Bret makes the mistake of hooking the Sharpshooter near the ropes, and naturally Kid reaches them to break it. Bret goes to a superplex only for Kid to counter in mid-air into a near fall and the crowd bite on that one. They’ve made Kid a believable threat; he’s stuck in there and he’s battling for everything. Kid tries for a missile dropkick but gets caught in the Sharpshooter and he has to quit. This is a must-see match because you rarely ever get to see Bret bully someone smaller than him. It’s a fine showcase of how talented he was at telling different stories and wrestling different matches. They built the Kid’s threat around his strengths; flying and kicking. He came close enough for the crowd to buy into it but not close enough to make Bret look bad. The result is a classic underdog versus champion match, like Rocky Balboa’s first shot at Apollo Creed. And like Rocky Balboa, Kid lost.
Final Rating: ****¼
SummerSlam Report: Brought to you by Todd and Domino’s Pizza. Tickets going faster than “umbrellas in Seattle”. I hate you Todd. The card so far: Undertaker vs…. Undertaker. Soft focus Paul Bearer, standing in the fog, squeals about it.
Crush vs. Matt Hardy
Poor Matt. They saddled him with Nikolai Volkoff and they, against the odds, had a decent match, so now he gets lumped with Crush. Matt flips about a bit and gets the girly pops. Crush hits a superkick. “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLL” – Savage. JR orders him a decaf. “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAL!” – Savage again, this time with nothing happening. Crush hits a slam. “GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLL” – Savage. Oh, he’s lost it. His mechanism’s gone. As I’m busy laughing about how mental Savage is, Crush picks up the pin with a backbreaker. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL!
Final Rating: GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLL!
Razor Ramon vs. Barry Horowitz
Savage starts debating which detective the WWF will hire to dig up the truth on The Undertaker. Todd gets to announce it on ‘Mania. Savage guesses Dick Tracy and, I’m deadly serious, McGruff: The Crime Dog, before Leon Spinks, the former boxer. I swear Savage is not in touch with his sanity on this show. Does he know what a detective is? Razor uses his power and punches to dominate Horowitz. JR brings up the detective angle again and Savage has already forgotten about it. He’s a state. Razor continues to boss it and bizarrely calls for the Razor’s Edge before finishing with an inside cradle. Zuh?
Final Rating: *
The King’s Court
This was recorded earlier as Lawler interviewed Ted DiBiase in his office. It’s one of the worst looking sets the WWF ever set up. It’s an office alright, but it’s a tiny secretary’s office, not one you’d expect to see Ted DiBiase working out of. King asks Ted about his recent acquisitions and DiBiase claims Lex Luger is bought and paid for. *Trademark cackle*. They kept this brief, with no Lawler intro and no jokes; straight to the beef.
IRS vs. Ray Hudson
IRS lets us know we’ll get caught cheating on our taxes. The kids in the front row boo because that’s what they’re programmed to do, not that they understand what taxes are. I think we’ve covered that before. IRS runs through his moveset, including the abdominal stretch with a handful of ropes. Savage continues to reel off detectives including James Bond (I really don’t think he knows what a detective is) before IRS finishes with the STF/Penalty. At least he has a finisher that doesn’t suck now.
Final Rating: ¼*
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Bret Hart.
Least Entertaining: IRS
Quote of the Night: “GOOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL” – Randy Savage describes a Crush superkick, with JR immediately requesting a decaf for his colour man.
Match of the Night: Bret Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid. Possibly the best match of Sean Waltman’s career and a great match for free TV. My pick for Raw match of the year.
Summary: Great title match. It dominated a big chunk of the show. The rest, as per usual, is total filler, although Randy Savage actually found a way to make a Crush match watchable by yelling “GOAL” every time Crush did anything. It makes Savage completely insane, but hey, that’s pretty much normal. Crush being passable is new.