James Dixon: Last week, Lex Luger and Tatanka had a misunderstanding. Actually, they had several!
Owen Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid
Oh yes! The last few months have seen Raw feature some cracking contests in the middle of some usually pretty shambolic shows, and this could be the best of the lot. Kid had a classic encounter with Owen’s brother Bret in July, and if anything the style of Owen compliments Kid even better, as shown by their sub-5 minute belter at King of the Ring. The pace at first is furious, with Kid outwrestling Owen at every turn and catching him off guard with kicks and quick pinfall attempts. The first few minutes alone put most of the rest of the roster to shame, and it is easy to forget just how good Sean Waltman was around this time, especially as he started to suck something fierce towards the end of his run as X-Pac many years later. The counters remain fluid and excellent as we progress, and a double nip up is right out of the Indies, and pops Randy Savage. Kid is a ball of energy as he flies from the ring to the outside, taking out both Owen and Neidhart as the crowd pops him big time. After commercial Kid tries to suplex Owen back in, but Hart reverses and suplexes Kid from the ring to the outside! Holy shit, you never see that. Kid was certainly game for taking insane bumps in his first WWF run. Owen, as if determined not to be outdone, does a dive of his own and then uses the ring post to further weaken Kid. This is the kind of style and pace that I love, and I could watch all day. Furious is all about intricate wrestling, hence his baffling love of Bob Backlund, but I am very much an impact and counters kind of guy. I love hard hitting stuff too, though there is none of that here of course. Owen slows things down a little as he goes into a heat, and it is almost a shame that they feel the need to revert to formula, having abandoned it so far. Owen misses off the top and hurts his knee, giving Kid a target to focus on. He goes after the injured wheel like a stabbed rat and after kicking Owen’s leg (from under his leg) he locks on a half-crab. That is too much for Neidhart, who runs in and clotheslines Kid off him for a DQ. It makes sense, because Owen’s focus would have been on his WWF title match in two weeks, so Anvil doesn’t want him getting injured. Owen puts on the Sharpshooter after the match as Neidhart manhandles the referees and stomps away on Kid, as Owen refuses to release the hold. The first few minutes of this were every bit as good as King of the Ring, and even though things slowed a little and there was an inconclusive finish, the match was still a belter and a great way to kick things off.
Final Rating: ***¾
I’m skipping the SummerSlam report; we all know the card.
Abe ‘Knuckleball’ Schwartz is in the crowd with a placard, and we see footage from earlier of his promo blaming the fans for the baseball strike that was going on at the time. Steve Lombardi has had some shitty gimmicks in his time, and this one is high on the list.
Duke Droese vs. Nick Barberry
How the hell do you spell this jobber’s name? It changes every time he is on. Droese continues his tradition of using lazy rest holds in 2-minute squash matches, which is an unforgiveable sin in this office that is likely to get you on the “IRS list”. He is not quite there yet, but he has potential. A generic elbow drop is enough for Droese to win this in short order, and he even gets a post-match light show. What a waste of resources on such a useless character.
Final Rating: ¼*
Kwang vs. Tony Roy
Kwang wins in under a minute. What else is there to say? How about: what exactly was the point of Kwang? Other than his unintentional purpose of being the punchline of a bad wrestling joke. Read some Scott Keith if you don’t know what I mean, I am sure you will pick up on it.
Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)
The King’s Court
Dual guests again this week, with Ted DiBiase and Paul Bearer on the never ending show. DiBiase is there on his own initially, and Lawler puts over the fact that DiBiase brought Taker into the WWF first and brought him back out of the goodness of his heart. Bearer comes out and Lawler calls him on the fact that we haven’t seen anything from him yet in regards to his Undertaker. Bearer gets animated as he says his Undertaker will destroy the imposter at SummerSlam. DiBiase is unfazed, and brings out his Million Dollar Undertaker for Bearer to deal with face-to-face. Bearer is so over-the-top that you can hear sections of the crowd audibly mocking him. Bearer refuses to back down from fake Undertaker and ends up getting choked out, as the lights flicker and then go out. When they come back on, Bearer is in the aisle screaming “He’s here, he’s here, my Undertaker is here!” He isn’t.
Mabel vs. Raymond Roy
Oscar seems to get worse each time. Mabel lifts the rolling neck snap from Mr. Perfect, as Roy prays for the often clumsy and sloppy Mabel not to get his timing wrong and break his foot. “Hey baybeh!” yells Oscar helpfully into the camera. This match is awful, so Vince resorts to just speaking in sound bites and quoting the MOM theme song, before changing course and just talking about The Undertaker instead. Mabel wins it with an elbow, which is a popular move tonight. This is why they now have scripted matches and copious road agents. Yeah, I blame you, Mabel.
Final Rating: ¼*
Jeff Jarrett vs. Scott Taylor
Jarrett wastes no time and jumps Taylor, who does at least try and mount some offence in this match in an attempt to save us from Jarrett’s usual squash. This is over in under 2-minutes though, with Jarrett winning with the figure four. Oscar and Mabel come out to confront Jarrett, which is unacceptable. There should never be two Oscar appearances on one show! Jarrett resorts to clucking around the ring like a chickkkkEEYYYYNNNN and looks like a right goofball doing so. “It’s rap vs. country music at SummerSlam” says Vince, as someone from the future WCW booking committee overhears and plans ahead. Hell, I would take the West Texas Rednecks over 1994 Jeff Jarrett any day of the week. Seriously though, this is the go-home for SummerSlam on Raw? Jarrett-Mabel!? Wow, let me call up the pay-per-view company right now!
Final Rating: ½*
No Raw for weeks, due to the Sunday Night Slam special next week (with highlights of the show in place of Raw) and SummerSlam the week after. In fact it will be nearly a month before Raw returns, on 09.12.94. Hopefully they will continue to book matches like the opener and re-jig the format for the rest of the card, but I don’t hold out much hope.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: 1-2-3 Kid. Another great performance from an underrated performer. He always managed to deliver when in there with excellent workers, and this was another brilliant example.
Least Entertaining: Oscar. Two “raps” from him is bad form from the WWF. One is enough to drive you over the edge as it is, so imagine what two could do!? People could have died, man.
Quote of the Night: “Mabel can carry a tune, and he certainly can carry Double-J” – I think Vince has got himself confused as to why he booked that match. In the end it turned out that no-one did any carrying and the match was a complete mess, but anyone except Vince and his yes men could have seen that one coming.
Match of the Night: Owen Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid, as if you even need to ask.
Summary: We open with a decent length (albeit, sadly truncated due to the interference) match and a corking one at that, between two of the best of the era. The fact that this and the post match angle take up approximately half of the show, means we are looking at the second good Raw of August. The squashes were all horrid again, but at least they were kept really short, and even the King’s Court albatross had its charms due to the sheer silliness of it all. A good way to bounce back from last week, and I hope to see more of the same in October when I return.