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Thursday, 17 January 2008

Retro Rumble Review - 1994

The 1994 Royal Rumble opens, and essentially builds it as a showdown between Yokozuna and Undertaker in a casket match. Now I remember 1994.

Todd Pettengill is now in front of me, trying to convince me to stay with him for half hour, and although I’d rather volunteer for a hernia operation, a review is a review, so here we go.

Todd starts of by running down the card. By which I mean he tells us what matches there are, not saying its rubbish.

We take a look at the title match first, and Todd shows us a highlight from WWF Superstars with Taker and Yoko, then an interview with Jim Cornette complaining about the Casket match stipulation. By the end of the, we’ll all be complaining about it Jimmy.

Then we flick between Cornette hyping the casket and how Yoko is given the creeps by the very word Casket. See my above comment, really. We also see Paul Bearer and the Undertaker making the casket. So he has to make his own gimmicks? Really, should we expect to see vignettes of the Hardys making Ladders, and Dusty Rhodes making Bull ropes?

More Paul Bearer warbling and Taker saying Rest in Peace about 12 times. Good hype job, though, overall.

We move onto Bret and Owen v The Quebecers, which Todd tells us is a casket match??!! Anyway, he means tag titles, and we see a clip from the Survivor Series where Owen knocks Bret off the apron costing Owen a pinfall in the match, and then post-match Owen confronts Bret.

Onto interviews with Owen challenging Bret, and the Hitman saying that he would positively never ever fight his brother. Except he did, at Wrestlemania, and in a cage match at Summerslam. I don’t know if they built their own cage.

Todd then talks to some competition winners who are in a hot-tub overlooking the arena. Todd asks one if he thinks he will shrivel up, and the guys says “Not necessarily”. Pettengill doesn’t know where to take it, so shows us a history of IRS v Razor Ramon. Except most of the clips are about Shawn Michaels.

When we come back to Todd, he is in front of the ring which has a special warm-up match going on, and we see Brooklyn Brawler beat Jim Powers.

Hilarity ensues (well, not really) when Todd is interrupted by Vince and Ray Rougeau doing a mike check, and then backstage Michaels, Diesel, Bam Bam, Jeff Jarrett, Crush, Adam Bomb and Rick Martel argue about who is going to win it.

Show ends there, then, and so long then, until next year’s review.

Oh wait, that was only the preshow. My goodness, I got carried away by its greatness. Anyway, we are now at the real show, with Vince McMahon, and not Gorilla Monsoon like last year, who between time they noticed was lovable but useless, so they plonked him on Wrestling Challenge.

Anyway, the show is from Providence, Rhode Island, which is kinda weird since I watch There’s Something About Mary last night. You didn’t need to know, but I did watch it, so there.

Vince is soon joined by Ted DiBiase for commentary, and the first two wrestlers out, by the following year, would be members of Millionaire (with an ‘m’) Ted’s corporation, Tatanka and Bam Bam Bigelow. This was supposed to be Ludvig Borga, apparently, but he is injured. Bigelow and Tatanka did have a rivalry the year before, though.

Tatanka starts off the match at a pace, until missing a flying bodypress, and then Bigelow takes over. Bam Bam really was agile for his size. Tatanka gets brief respite and tries a sunset from the top, but Bigelow simple sits on him.

I never thought Rob Schneider did Bam Bam justice in that film. He was hardly a gigolo anyway.........
Bammer with a Bearhug for a while, and it looks like it is taking more out of Bam Bam than Tatanka. I know ‘ a rest hold, Bigelow, but you are not supposed to show it. Back and forth action as Tatanka mounts a comeback, and then a cool spot where they have a mid air collision after both doing a cross body.

Tatanka starts his version of hulking up, and Bam Bam hits a him a few times to no effect. Brilliantly, though, Bigelow hits a standing inziguri, and mocks Tatanka’s dance. This gets a few laughs and cheers, and I wonder at this point whether this was when they decided that Tatanka’s star was waning and they turned him heel soon after. Summerslam I think.

Bam Bam misses a moonsault, and then Tatanka wins after finally hitting the flying bodypress.

You really do forget, if you haven’t seen Bam Bam for a while, just how good the guy was. He was 400 pounds, but he was agile, he sold like a trooper when necessary, and was just a downright scary dude.

Next up is the Tag Title match, with Jacques Rougeau, formerly known as The Mountie and Pierre Oulette, now the Quebecers, and tag team champions.

Bret and Owen are out to face them, and talk is all of how Bret and Owen have had some friction dating back to the Survivor Series.

So funny to see “Johnny Polo” at ringside with the Quebecers. Johnny Polo was, of course, Scott Levy, who we know more prominently as Raven. Raven, the twisted genius, king of hardcore matches, mind games a grunge T-shirts. Right now on my screen he is ringside in a Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat holding a putter. I don’t mean the hat is holding the putter, I mean.....never mind.

Thus far, this has basically been an Owen Hart showcase, and I suspect that was probably a main aim of this. Of course, long term they were building to a huge Bret v Owen feud, and everyone was familiar with the Hitman and not the Rocket, so they had to build Owen as a credible threat.

Lots of typical tag action ensues, including Bret bringing Jacques in by pulling the ropes and sling-shotting him in. You never see that any more, and it used to happen all the time.

Eventually, the story has it that Bret is beaten down, and when he has a chance to tag out, Owen comes and cleans house. Once again, it’s an Owen showcase. He tags Bret in, and when attempting a double team move, Johnny Polo forces Bret to fall through the ropes and hurt his knee.

It turns into a wild brawl, with Owen unintentionally distracting the ref and allowing The Quebecers to nail Bret with Polo’s putter. After loads more punishment, Bret avoids a Quebecer move, but rather than tag, he applies the Sharpshooter, but collapses. In a bit of a bullshit finish, the ref stops the match due to Bret’s injury.

The announcers play up whether Bret should have tagged. Owen looks pissed off, and keeps on pointing to the corner and asking why he wasn’t tagged. Bret eventually gets to his feet, and Owen kicks his bad leg out from under him. Instant heat. Superbly done. Officials tend to Bret, and Owen walks off ranting to the camera.

Fantastic irony as Ray Rougeau, a Quebecer, tries to talk to Bret, but is stopped by Pat Patterson, a Quebecer, and the two speak in horrible English for a few seconds.

Backstage to Owen, who cuts an emotional but garbled promo. I’m not sure if that was good because the emotion came across, or whether it was poor because it made little sense.

Anyway, after DiBiase expresses his delight for Owen’s action, confirming him as a full fledged heel, and it’s the IC title match.

It seems we will have JR and Gorilla doing commentary for this, from Radio WWF.

Razor starts off the quicker, with Irwin playing the heel, staying on the outside and stirring up the crowd. IRS eventually changes the momentum by using his leverage to sent Razor to the outside, and IRS then just about stays on top. Mike Rotundo played this character very well, because not only did he draw heat, but was sneaky in the ring, hitting elbows and knees to keep his opponent down, and using submission hold whereby he’d use the ropes for leverage. I like it when a guy plays up the character effectively like this.

Razor makes a comeback, as Gorilla calls him Razorman and The Bad Man. Ref bump allows IRS to bring the briefcase in, but Razor uses it on IRS, but the cover is pointless because of the referee being out. Ramon drops IRS from the top with a back superplex, and sets up for the Razors Edge, but Michaels comes flying out and hits Razor with his ‘bogus’ IC title belt. The story behind that is Michaels has been, according to the storyline, stripped of the IC title having not defended it often enough. IN reality, Michaels had been allegedly suspended for testing positive for steroids.

IRS gets the pin, but another referee comes down to explain what had happened. In the meantime, Razor hoisted IRS up, and hit him with the Razor’s Edge. The ref counts 3 and Razor is still the champ.

So, more logic going out the window, because if the ref saw Michaels nail Razor with the other belt, its either a) a DQ because of that, or b) a DQ against Razor because the ref would have seen the briefcase shot. Anyway, we shouldn’t complain, because it led to HBK v Razor in the genuinely historic Ladder match at Wrestlemania 10.

Yoko and Taker is up next, and Vince suggests that Yoko being scared of Caskets may mean that he turns into 600 pounds of Jellyfish. Does that mean that his Bonsai Splash will be renamed the Stinger Splash? Or maybe a team with Portuguese Man o’War Aldo Montoya should have ensued.

Anyhoo, we are underway with Taker getting the early advantage, and when both men roll to the outside, Yoko gets a chair. Taker takes it from him and hits a couple of pretty stiff shots to the back and head. Fuji dust to the face put the Samoan Jap in control, and he hits a couple of chair shots of his own. Fuji shouts some instructions to Yoko. How did they communicate then? The idea of Cornette was that Yoko and Fuji spoke bad English, so could Yoko speak Japanese or Fuji speak Samoan?

Yoko puts Taker in the casket, but Taker grabs and ankle, and fights back. He hits a chokeslam and a huge running DDT, and signals for the casket to open. The lid is just about to be shut when Crush appears, and attacks the Deadman.

In comes Kabuki and Tenryu, who in the storyline were mercenaries brought in by Fuji to take out Luger. Bam Bam is now in as well and its four on one. Yoko is still flat out in the casket, but it appears Bearer has lost the urn.

However a swift kick old man Fuji sees Bearer with the urn back, which gives Undertaker ‘the power’ to fight off the four guys attacking him. Bigelow swings with Fuji’s little salt pot, but misses and hits Crush. Guys are now coming in quicker than I can type. Adam Bomb, Jeff Jarrett and the Headshrinkers come out, and Yoko is back up, so its nine-on-one, but still Taker fights on. Diesel is in so that makes it ten-on-one.

They stuff Taker in the casket and yet still he fights out. Get it yet? You can’t kill him, because of the power of the urn. However, Yoko levels Taker with the urn after stealing it from Bearer, and the urn starts spewing green goo.

McMahon actually says the line “It appears the power of the urn is escaping” and now Taker is flat out. Jarrett, Bigelow and Fatu hit top rope moves, and they roll Taker into the casket. Match over.

The heels push the casket towards the back, and it starts to emit the same green smoke that was coming out of the urn. Then, in the singularly worst idea that the WWF/E have ever had, The Undertaker appears on the big screen, spouts some complete nonsense, then ‘dies’ with his ‘spirit’ ascending to the skies. I’m not kidding, if you have never seen it, you absolutely have to. It is so bad it defies belief.

Rumble time then, and number one this year is Scott Steiner. Two is Headshrinker Samu, who looks a lot Rhyno. It isn’t, but it does look like him.

Vince tells us that wrestler will enter every 90 seconds this year, rather than two minutes. Number 3 is Scott’s brother Rick. The Steiners didn’t last much longer in WWF after this, and rumours were that they were supposed to fight each other during this Rumble, but refused, so got canned.

Samu gets slung and gets caught in what looks a genuinely scary looking hangman, but the Steiners stand by look apathetic, and when Samu escapes it, Scott simply pushes him out. Kwang is number 4, and its always worth remembering that this martial arts guy in a hood is actually Savio Vega. Kwang uses the old Green mist, that standby of Orientals and leprechauns, so Rick is out of action. Scott keeps checking on him and that keeps getting him beat up.

Owen Hart enters at 5, and goes to work on a helpless Rick Steiner, and eventually tosses him out. Owen got a lot of heat when he came back. Heel turn completely, and very successfully too. Owen helps Kwang double team Scott, but then Bart Gunn enters at 6, to make a save of sorts.

Vince wants cameras sent backstage, because ‘something’ has happened. Thanks for that. Major crowd response for Scott nearly eliminating Owen, and now here comes Diesel.

This is the moment where Kevin Nash began his career for real. Yes, the guy has always been torture to watch in the ring, and was one of the worst WWF champions ever, but he had a great look and they built him as a monster here. He got rid of Bart, Scott, Owen and Kwang in that order.

A yet to snap Bob Backlund, who lasted 63 minutes the year before, comes in. Diesel gets rid of him in about one minute, and if you think that was quick, the two would have a WWF title match later in the year that was not on TV and would last about 9 seconds.

Billy Gunn is the next to be fed, and gets in three punches and an Irish whip before getting a boot to the face and thrown out. We cut to backstage footage of Kabuki and Tenryu hitting some extremely weak offense on a prone Lex Luger.

Virgil is in, to the consternation of DiBiase on commentary, and of course we all believe that he’ll do the business. Oh wait, no, he is gone. Diesel has now eliminated seven guys by himself.

Randy Savage is number 11, and perhaps it will now be a real battle. Savage looks close to eliminating Diesel, but Jarrett is number 12. Vince plugs how Jeff is trying to use the WWF as a stepping stone to Nashville. I’ve never quite understood that. Anyway, Jarrett nearly gets rid of Savage, steals Flair’s strut, and Savage hurls (and I really do mean hurls) Jarrett out.

Crush is 13, and he and Savage have a big history at this point. Crush had turned heel by attacking Savage, apparently angry that Savage didn’t contact him when he was injured. Crush actually dumps Savage quite easily, and then it is nearly missed because Doink is on his way.

Doink plays his usual dumb-ass tricks, but number 15 is Bigelow.

Bam Bam presses Doink above his head and throws him out (are you watching Davey Boy?) Bam Bam, Crush and Diesel, all big guys who aided Yoko now go at it between them, but soon Mabel is in the ring.

We get a horrific preview of Mabel v Diesel which would headline King of the Ring the following year. Mabel, by the way, is Viscera AKA Big Daddy V.

Sparky Plugg is out next, for what might be his debut, and gets no reaction. Compare this to modern day, when he is one of the veterans of the company, nearly 14 years later, having held numerous midcard titles and fought nearly everyone on the roster. And he still gets no reaction.

Michaels is 17, and he runs straight into Diesel. By this point, Diesel is swaying the audience, and is effectively in a similar position to Batista when he was technically heel but the fans were begging for him to turn of Triple H.

Distracted by Michaels, Diesel is ganged up on by everyone in the ring, and then Michaels gives him the final push. The fans chant Diesel, and Nash would actually not turn face until after Survivor Series.

Mo is in at 18, and then Greg Valentine at 19. Crush press slams Michaels but does not throw him out, despite the fact that was stood next to Bam Bam when Bigelow slung Doink. Idiot.

Number 20 is Tatanka, still to a good reaction. Michaels does a little of his Houdini routine that we would see in 1995, and then it’s the mercenary Kabuki.

Shock and horror as Luger comes out at 22 (thought he was injured, dincha?). Lex wastes no time eliminating Kabuki, and Tenryu is out next. Vince says that Tenryu will team up with Crush and Tenryu, “there’s no doubt about that”. Well, there’s a bit of doubt, Vince, because Kabuki is already out.

24 is nobody. No-one comes through the curtain, and the suggestion is that it must have been Bret Hart’s number. Poor Bret. So Luger has in fact made it, but Bret is out. Definitely, definitely out.

Rick Martel is 25, then, and man did that guy hang around for a long time without doing anything much of note.

26 takes an eternity to come out, and its Bret. SWERVE! Had you going again, didn’t I? What do you mean you knew he’d still come out? Liar. Anyway, Hart takes about an hour to reach the ring, and essentially will barely get an attacking move in at all, selling the leg.

Fatu is next, and Vince says he is 28,so that means I’ve missed one, and frankly I’m not going back to see what I’ve got wrong because I can’t be bothered. Anyway, there’s about a million guys left in, and they are joined by Marty Jannetty who obviously goes straight to HBK. Crush is thrown out, and shortly afterwards Rougeau goes a horrific job of trying to interview Crush, who gets attacked by Savage, and then Rougeau does an even worse job of trying to act, calling people to break up the situation.

Next up is Adam Bomb, but then we know that because we saw him backstage when Rougeau pretending to be an interviewer. Vince and Ted was obviously not paying attention.

Bret eliminated Sparky Plugg, and Vince missed that as well. He does, however, tell us that Bastion Booger was the person who missed their draw, because he got ‘a little sick’. That’s nice to know.

Martel eliminates Valentine, as Bret and Shawn go at it. I like seeing that, it amuses me. Adam Bomb lunges at Luger, who drops a shoulder and Bomb is bombed out. Mo is also gone, and then Tatanka follows. Bam Bam does a ridiculous flip in the corner and Luger pushes him out, before Michaels bests Jannetty, leaving us down to 5. Tenryu, Fatu, Michaels, Bret and Luger are left.

Bret and Luger do a double team Irish whip with Fatu and Michaels, then both lift and eliminate Tenryu. Luger is nearly thrown out by both Michaels and Fatu, but fights them both off. Bret and Luger go for the Irish whip again, and although the heels avoid it, they run into the opposite corner where Bret and Luger thrown them out. That sounded really confusing, and my description does no justice to a cool spot.

Bret and Lex duke it for a sec, then fall out of the ring at the same time. No-one knows who has won, and then Howard Finkel announces that the winner is.........and Luger’s music plays. So does the sound man know? Does he make the call?

Luger’s music gets cut off, and amusingly Earl Hebner is arguing the call, saying that Bret has won. You know who you can trust Bret. Bret’s music now plays, and the fans clearly want the call to go to the Hitman.

So Jack Tunney, kayfabe President comes out, and tries to mediate between Luger, who has Joey Marella backing him, and Bret supported by Hebner.

Replays are shown, but the camera obviously has been placed deliberately so that no conclusive proof is available, just in case they got it wrong. Fink begins to announce the winner, but stalls and goes back to get an explanation from Tunney. The crowd start to chant for Bret, but the announcement, after yet another replay, is that Luger and Bret have both won. They play the generic PPV ending music, and no-one is happy. As Bret and Luger both argue their cause, DiBiase comes up with the most logical explanation, which is of course what did not happen. His suggestion is for a match between Luger and Bret, which makes perfect sense.

In reality, what happened was that at Wrestlemania Yoko took on Luger and won, then faced Bret and lost. This was a daft way to do it, but if they hadn’t, we wouldn’t have seen Bret v Owen to kick off Mania, which was one of the best matches ever.

1 comment:

TSC said...

Excellent post.

I'll never forget how well written that program between Owen and Bret was. Whoever wrote that needs to be doing the storylines today.

Nice blog you have here. You should post more often.

Jack Windham Writer