Well, after five weeks I am well enough to write up my reviews. And I want to thank everyone for their support. Who knew by going out to get my wife a tea, not even a mile away from our home. while she was sick would lead to an accident in which I received a concussion and whiplash. Anyway, you guys are great and I am back to write about 1994 WWF and maybe more subjects in the future.
September 19, 1994
From the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, MA
Your hosts are Vince McMahon and “Macho Man” Randy Savage
We start off with a video package on the Lex Luger/Tatanka feud, including the promo on “Superstars” with Tatanka entering the building in a limo and wearing a suit while joking about appreciating the value of a dollar……in fact a million dollars. So far its the only good thing from Tatanka during this whole program.
The announcers hype the show including Luger’s first appearance on RAW since he was humiliated at SummerSlam. Also, we have Jerry Lawler vs. Duke Droese and an interview with Bob Backlund.
Lex Luger vs. The Executioner
Vince screams about Luger embodying the American spirit and how he never gives up as Savage will never doubt Luger again. We also see the assistant editor of “WWF Magazine” Lou Gianfroddo taking notes for his “RAW Ringside” column. Luger takes down The Executioner as Vince tells us of a young Native American girl distraught over Tatanka selling out to DiBiase from “Mania” as Luger uses a small package for a nearfall. The Executioner hammers away after an eye rake as Vince tells us that Roddy Piper had a Native American father & son on his Bottom Line segment for “All-American Wrestling” and how they felt betrayed by Tatanka. Luger takes control then hits a powerslam before using the Rebel Rack for the win (2:34).
Thoughts: Even at this time Luger was still getting a strong push. I know he came out of SummerSlam looking like a goof but they are talking him up big-time on commentary and you could even make the case they were planting the seeds for this being a launching point for a redemption storyline where Luger becomes champion. In fact, Dave Meltzer of the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter” reported about a month after this show aired that backstage chatter was that Luger would become the next champion although Meltzer himself did not appear to be convinced that was the case.
We get a hype video for next week’s show that features Tatanka and Shawn Michaels & Diesel in action plus the British Bulldog as guest on the “King’s Court.”
Jerry Lawler heads to the ring for his match. He then tells the “royal peons” in the crowd they should kiss his feet then tells us how he will ask Droese some real questions and follows with some bad jokes before promising to take out the trash tonight.
Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Duke “The Dumpster” Droese
Lawler runs away from Droese. Savage refers to Lawler as the “King of stalling” while Vince applauds Lawler’s “psychological warfare.” Lawler grabs a side headlock that Droese counters by tossing Lawler halfway across the ring. Lawler uses the ref as a shield while cowering in the corner then he accuses Droese of pulling his tights. Lawler misses a chop in the corner and gets decked then bails and jaws at the fans. Droese backs Lawler into the corner then hammers away. Lawler bails again and is greeted with “Burger King” chants. Lawler returns and covers his ears then flees once again after Droese uses a back drop. We head to break and return with Lawler in the ring complaining to the ref. Lawler takes something out from his tights as the ref’s back was turned then challenges Droese to a test-of-strength. Droese doesn’t bite as Lawler goes back to the corner to put away his gimmick. Lawler then takes it out after showing his hands to the referee then clocks Droese during the test-of-strength. The crowd boos as Lawler laughs before punching away. Lawler taunts the crowd before delivering several more punches. Lawler chokes out Droese on the ropes then uses a flying fist drop for a two count. Lawler now tries for a piledriver and hits that but instead of covering he taunts the crowd then goes out to get the trash can but Dink comes out. Lawler chases Dink across the ring and up the aisle but ends up getting counted out (8:47 shown 1/2*). Lawler is now irate and yells at the ref then Dink comes back out to bite Lawler in the ass. Lawler goes after Dink in the ring but Droese trips him up. Lawler gets cornered but bails and threatens to use the trash can (now a rubbermaid trash can as to not appear to violent on TV) but Lawler turns around to see Doink. Lawler now escapes through the crowd as Donik & Dink laugh in the aisle.
Thoughts: The match was lousy but Lawler’s antics kept it from being a total disaster. I guess one way to put it is that he can be entertaining in his stalling. And what was supposed to have been a blowoff of the Lawler/Droese feud is now just a way to add heat to the Lawler/Doink program, which had been restarted from a year prior. That does not bode well for Droese’s standing in the company.
We get an ad for a new show called “Action Zone” which will debut on October 23rd. It promises more action and less talking. We then cut to the announcers with Vince saying you aren’t looking for “talk” and “pre-game ga-ga” as a way to hype the action on this show and to knock the NFL, which had been really killing the WWF since Fox obtained rights and the Sunday pre-game show forced WWF syndicated shows into much less desirable time slots. And I will have more on that as this timeline continues.
Heavenly Bodies vs. Mike Bell & Steve King
We return joined in progress with the Bodies working over King. Del Ray mocks the Smoking Gunns gestures before using an overhead suplex. The announcers talk about the brawl between the Bodies and Gunns a few weeks ago and how the Gunns clipped the Bodies wings. Prichard is in and uses a vertical suplex then drops an elbow as the announcers tell us that Jim Cornette is currently in Toronto, Canada to discuss the “Hart Attack” tour. The Bodies stay in control then Del Ray uses a moonsault for the win (2:41 shown). Vince tells us that Bell never even tagged into the match.
Thoughts: Some talk about the Bodies/Gunns feud. However, most of the focus was on Cornette’s absence with Toronto being code for Jack Tunney, although Tunney’s name never mentioned on TV. And speaking of Cornette, at this time he was dealing with legal issues after being arrested on 9/12 (This show was taped in August) for charges of vandalism and destruction of personal property after damaging the car windows of SMW employee K.C. O’Connor. Here is what was written about that in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
“The latest in the saga of Jim Cornette and Smoky Mountain Wrestling is that the SMW promoter and booker was arrested and cited for vandalism and destruction of personal property on 9/12 stemming from an incident the previous night when he smashed all the windows and the front and back windshield of former employee K.C. O’Connor’s car with a baseball bat.
Cornette was charged with two misdemeanors by the Hamlin County Sheriff’s office, although a determination was to be made this week whether the vandalism charge would be elevated to a Class C Felony (the lowest level of felony) based on the financial amount of the damage. The estimated repair charges for replacing the windows in O’Connor’s Nissan is $800. He was released after posting $5,000 bond and an arraignment was scheduled for 9/14.
Both Cornette and O’Connor gave remarkably similar (since in pro wrestling, two different sides normally give totally different versions of the same story) stories as to what happened at about 6:30 p.m. on Sunday night. O’Connor, who was one of two non-wrestling performing employees of SMW (the other being Pam Lawson, who also either quit or was fired at about the same time) was fired by Cornette on 8/7. On that night, Cornette accidentally left his tennis racquet under the ring at a show in Beckley, WV where he wrestled. When the ring crew couldn’t find the racquet, O’Connor told him not to worry because he had one of Cornette’s racquets in his car. Cornette asked him where he got it and he reminded Cornette that he gave it to him a few months earlier to mail to Bill Apter for a Pro Wrestling Illustrated contest. Cornette said that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and fired O’Connor on the spot, and largely blamed O’Connor for much of his recent negative publicity. O’Connor said he was owed $300 in out-of-pocket expenses for work he’d already done and money he’d laid out for the company and asked Cornette if he could be reimbursed. Cornette claims he told O’Connor he’d see if he could help him out while O’Connor says Cornette told him he’d pay him. O’Connor then went on a trip to Wyoming after leaving Morristown.
Over the weekend, Cornette remembered that about six months earlier he had lent O’Connor his video camera. Cornette called up Anthony Michaels on 9/11, a prelim wrestler who works on the ring crew and was O’Connor’s roommate, asking if O’Connor left behind a video camera. Michaels said he didn’t know but that Cornette could talk to O’Connor, who had just arrived back in town from his trip. The two had a discussion on the phone centering around Cornette wanting his video camera back and O’Connor wanting his money reimbursed. O’Connor was also mad at Cornette because while he was gone, Bruiser Bedlam had been staying at his apartment without his knowledge, which Cornette said he didn’t even know about. Cornette told O’Connor that he had cost him and the company more than $300 in screwing up and in personal aggravation and told him he wasn’t going to pay his expenses and he wasn’t going to charge him for the money he claims he had cost him by screwing up. Cornette blamed him for publicity not getting to local sponsors on time in certain cities and recent negative Torch articles. O’Connor told Cornette then he wouldn’t give him back his video camera and Cornette told him he was coming over immediately to get it.
After a phone call or two by O’Connor to other SMW wrestlers, he was given the advice to make sure to get his car out of the area so he had Michaels drive his car elsewhere. However, by the time Michaels was in the car and pulling out, Cornette was arriving and blocked the driveway. Cornette got out of the car and Michaels said he didn’t want to be caught in the middle of the situation. Cornette asked O’Connor for his camera and O’Connor asked for his money. Cornette said he didn’t have the money and O’Connor said he wasn’t going to give him the camera. Cornette then told O’Connor he’d smash up the car with a baseball bat if he didn’t get his camera, and pretty well made good on his threat. While that was going on, O’Connor called the police. Cornette, who could see him dialing the phone and figured what he was doing as he was smashing up the car, decided he didn’t want to spend Sunday night in jail, and left town before turning himself in the next morning and being cited for vandalism.”
We get the confessional booth “WWF Unbelievable” ad.
Vince McMahon welcomes Bob Backlund into the ring. He asks Backlund about getting booed by the fans then thinks back to when Backlund first came into the WWF and exemplified what sportsmanship was all about then asks about attacking Bret Hart a few months ago. The crowd chants for Bret as Vince asks Backlund about snapping and wants to know what is going on in his head. Backlund said he doesn’t like the word “former” and just celebrated his 16th anniversary as champion and going on his 18th. Savage makes fun of Backlund’s math but Backlund tells the “plebeians” in this world and how teachers today help teachers cheat on their tests and refuses to be part of this society. Backlund said if he all lived up to his standards we would have a utopia then states he put the chicken wing on Bret because it meant he put the hold on each and every one of us plebeians. Backlund said when he came back he did not use the chicken wing because he wanted to make people happy but the people are manipulators then he stops as the crowd boos. Backlund said the chicken wing is the greatest hold in history and no one, including the champion, can escape as the crowd now chants “has been.” Backlund said he runs more miles in a day then the people chanting do in a lifetime and calls then weak and dyslexic. Backlund then said if anyone can escape from the chicken wing then he will retire from wrestling. Backlund then removes his jacket and challenges Vince but Vince suggests he challenge a superstar from the locker room. Backlund then waves Gianfroddo into the ring as Savage says that Lou has been writing positively about Backlund for years and even adds the two are friends. Vince reminds Backlund their could be a superstar but Backlund said anyone who escapes he will retire as he tells the truth unlike our president. Backlund then puts this poor guy in the hold and he cannot escape then Backlund rag-dolls him as Vince screams how he’s not a wrestler and just writes for the magazine. Vince tries to get Backlund off then several referees and even Savage run in to finally get Backlund to let go as Lou is being helped on the outside. Backlund now looks at his hands as the crowd boos. Backlund then tells us his name is “Mr. Backlund” and nobody can get out of his chicken wing. He then asks if we felt it and that is what discipline is all about. This was an amazing segment with an incredible performance by Backlund. And it made sense with the New Generation theme to have an older villain. Backlund snapping because of this and turning has made great television so far and this is a segment to seek out. Maybe Backlund’s best promo ever. He was not a self-parody at this point. And as usual, Vince was great as the interview too with him constantly asking Backlund why doesn’t he try his chicken wing on a wrestler.
Back from break and we see a replay of Backlund putting Lou in the chicken wing.
Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly vs. Richie Rich
He’s still announced as Thurman Plugg. The announcers talk about Backlund as we await a report on Lou’s condition. Holly uses a hip toss and after that works the arm as Vince apologizes for not calling the action then goes back to Backlund and asks why try to hurt someone from the magazine. Holly hits a dropkick as Vince screams about Backlund being deranged then Holly uses a flying body press for the win (1:58).
Thoughts: This was all to cool down the crowd and for the announcers to commentate on the Backlund incident. And unfortunately for Holly, this was his role in the company at the time, the guy who comes out to cool down the crowd and have a match as a backdrop for the announcers to sell other angles.
Yokozuna vs. Phil Apollo
Savage jokes that Yokozuna last appeared on RAW “30 lbs” ago. Apollo tries to work the arm but Yokozuna quickly chops him down. The announcers mention what happened at the Yokozuna vs. Undertaker match from the Royal Rumble tour and if a repeat will take place during the Hart Attack tour. Yokozuna hammers away as Vince now references a WWF Magazine article about Yokozuna going underground. Vince lists off the beginning dates of the Hart Attack tour that begin this Thursday in San Jose, CA as Yokozuna stays in control. Yokozuna stays in control then puts Apollo away with the Bonzai Drop (2:40). The lights go out after the match then Yokozuna panics and runs backstage.
Thoughts: Yokozuna looked horrendous here. It took him forever to set up for the Bonzai Drop too as his conditioning was just pathetic.
The announcers hype up next week’s show.
Final Thoughts: The Backlund segment was the major angle and by far an away the best thing on the show. You can skip the rest but make sure you check out Backlund here. It was awesome.