Welcome to the latest edition of ‘Raw Rewind‘. Today we take in the episode of Raw from 16 May 1994. On this show, Yokozuna takes on Earthquake in a sumo match and we’ll also see Diesel, Owen Hart and Bam Bam Bigelow in action.
Champion Roll Call:
WWF Champion: Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Diesel
WWF Tag Team Champions: The Headshrinkers
You can read last week’s Raw recap here.
Todd Pettengill voices over a video hyping the sumo wrestling match on this episode of Raw which will pit former WWF champion Yokozuna against Earthquake.
We then cut to ringside where Vince McMahon further hypes the sumo match-up. McMahon is joined by the typically garishly dressed Macho Man Randy Savage who says he can’t “imagine what we are going to see.” A sumo match, Randy…
King of the Ring Qualifying match: Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon) vs. Sparky Plugg
McMahon reminds us that Bigelow made it all the way to the finals of last year’s King of the Ring, where he lost to Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart. They lock up but Bigelow shoves him out of the ring. Back in, a clothesline staggers Bam Bam before a dropkick sends him tumbling through the ropes and to the outside.
Bigelow quickly fights back and slams Plugg but misses a diving headbutt. However, Bam Bam catches a crossbody and counters with another slam, which gets him a nearfall. Bigelow clubs away on his much smaller opponent before Plugg fights back with a series of kicks to the gut, but his comeback is foiled by a headbutt and a back elbow.
Plugg is whipped into the corner but meets a Bigelow charge with a big boot. Again, Plugg tries to mount offence but is stopped in his tracks with an enziguri, for another two. Rest-hold time as Bam Bam applies a reverse chinlock. Plugg is back to his feet and breaks free but runs straight into a high knee, which is followed up with a falling headbutt for a two.
Bigelow connects with another falling headbutt. Plugg is back on his feet but walks straight into a right hook to the face. Bigelow charges into the corner but Plugg dodges and connects with a bulldog then a DDT. He heads up top and connects with a crossbody for a two. Plugg hammers away but is tripped by Luna, Bigelow hits a clothesline of his own and a slingshot splash for the win.
Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow via pinfall
Overall: Contrary to the hype from Vince McMahon, there wasn’t much to this at all.
‘King of the Ring’ report with Todd Pettengill is next. He tells us that WWF Champion Bret Hart has accepted the challenge from Intercontinental Champion Diesel, although only Hart’s title is on the line. Pettengill then talks us through the brackets for the tournament on the night.
Match 2: WWF Intercontinental Champion Diesel vs. Mike Maraldo
Diesel grabs Maraldo by the throat to start and tosses him back, causing a sickening bump. Maraldo attempts to pound away on Diesel but is again grabbed by his throat but this time is tossed over the top rope.
The IC Champion drags his opponent back in, waits for him to get back to his feet then connects with a big boot. Time for a bearhug as the commentators hype the WrestleMania Revenge tour. Diesel lifts Maraldo and hits a sidewalk slam. Diesel lifts up Maraldo again and drives him face first into the top turnbuckle as if he was a dart. Diesel sets up for the Jackknife powerbomb and that’s all she wrote.
Winner: Diesel via pinfall.
Overall: A very dominant squash. Diesel has a rocket strapped to his back.
Another video airs of a supposed Undertaker sighting, this time with a guy who claims he saw him drive past him at a filling station.
Time for ‘King’s Court’ – this week with The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase. However, first Lawler cuts a promo on ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper. When we return from a break, Dibiase has joined Lawler along with Nikolai Volkoff – who is announced as Dibiase’s latest purchase. The Million Dollar Man states the Russian is broke and is his new employee. Dibiase then unveils Volkoff’s latest outfit – a huge pair of black and gold tights saying “The property of the Million Dollar Man” on the back. Volkoff’s jacket is replaced, too, with one, again, indicating he’s Dibiase’s property. Vince McMahon references an Olympic weightlifter called Mark Henry. Wonder if we’ll ever hear of him… Well, that humiliating segment is done.
Match 3: Owen Hart vs. Tony Roy
Vince McMahon hypes the 1994 Hall of Fame induction, which will see Bobo Brazil, Buddy Rogers, “Classy” Freddie Blassie, Gorilla Monsoon amongst others join Andre the Giant, the inaugural entrant, in the company’s Hall of Fame.
Some nice amateur wrestling from Hart to start this as well as a lovely standing dropkick, which sends Roy down. Hart follows up with a snap suplex then a diving fist off the top rope. Hart connects with a gutwrench suplex then applies a camel clutch.
Hart attempts to drive Tony Roy face first into the top turnbuckle but it’s blocked. Roy whips Hart into the ropes and attempts a dropkick but Hart holds onto the ropes and applies the Sharpshooter for the submission win.
Winner: Owen Hart via submission.
Overall: Yet another short squash win for Owen Hart.
Post-match, Hart continues to attack with a spinning heel kick before placing the Hitman sunglasses on Roy.
A promo then airs hyping Duke ‘the Dumpster’ Droese.
Match 4: Yokozuna (w/ Mr Fuji and Jim Cornette) vs. Earthquake
‘The Fink’ runs us through the rules, which are basically: if any part of your body other than feet touch the canvas you lose or push your opponent out of the rope-less ring and to the ground to win.
The two behemoths stare each other down before entering into the traditional sumo poses. A few minutes pass with absolutely nothing happening here as the crowd begin to jeer. They lock up and Yokozuna gets behind Earthquake and tries to push him out of the ring. Earthquake reverses it and tries to push Yoko out.
They lock up again, this time in the middle of the ring. Yokozuna tries to take Earthquake over. They take turns at coming close to pushing the other out of the ring before backing back into the middle of the ring.
The two battle again to the side of the ring, they break and Earthquake shoves Yokozuna to the mat and then he tumbles to the outside. Randy Savage charges to the ring to celebrate with Earthquake after, what McMahon describes as, an upset.
Overall: That certainly didn’t work.
Next week on Raw: Earthquake will face Owen Hart in a King of the Ring qualifier
Again, very little worth watching from an in-ring perspective. That said, the sumo match was, at least, interesting and a bit different – albeit boring.
Overall score – 2/5
The Japan-Mania tour, which opened 5/7 in the Yokohama Arena, appears on the surface to be a flop. Despite tons of publicity in the magazines and special magazines printed to hype the tour, the audience seemed to be limited to hardcore WWF fans only. Those in Japan said part of the problem is they didn’t poster the cities which is traditional for all Japanese groups and there weren’t enough television ads leading up to the shows.
The Undertaker, in his first matches since going on hiatus in January, was by far the most popular wrestler on the tour with Randy Savage second, although Savage tried to play heel against Hart but fans cheered him more than Hart anyway. The downside is that even though the wrestlers were trying to do Japanese style, there appeared to be a lack of understanding in that the referees counted fast on the pins (American style is slow throughout the match and fast for the finish while Japanese style is even counts throughout) and called for the bell the minute finishing submissions were put on, while Japanese fans expect the guys caught to put up a big struggle before submitting, which resulted in a lot of booing of the finishes in Yokohama. Although Bret Hart isn’t considered a major star by Japanese fans (even though the magazines have pushed him heavily as a great representative of wrestling), his matches with Savage and Bam Bam Bigelow the first two nights were said to have been great. Also in Yokohama, Undertaker & Tenryu beat Bigelow & Yokozuna in 18:17 when Undertaker pinned Yokozuna with a choke slam after Bigelow accidentally squashed him. Bull Nakano pinned Alundra Blayze in a non-title match which was said to be only slightly above average, but the second best match on the show.
In Nagoya on 5/8, they announced 6,735 in a 12,000-seat arena but live estimates pegged it at 2,500, although it was said to have been a better show wrestling wise, with 1-2-3 Kid vs. Ginsei Shinzaki, Blayze vs. Sakie Hasegawa and Hart vs. Bigelow as good matches, and Doink & Dink getting over as comedy performers. Blaze-Hasegawa was much improved over Blayze’s match with Nakano. However, Yokozuna-Undertaker was a flop with Yokozuna losing via one of those quick WWF-style COR finishes in just 4:00 and fans chanting “refund” after the match. Underneath they had a match with Doink & Owen Hart vs. Smoking Gunns which Doink and Owen didn’t get along throughout and eventually Owen turned on Doink, causing him to get pinned.
5/9 at Osaka Castle Hall (15,000 capacity) drew an announced 7,120, although no word on what the real attendance was with Undertaker winning the Royal Rumble throwing out Bigelow in 46:15. Underneath Blayze retained her title pinning Nakano with a german suplex in 15:10, Tenryu DCOR Yokozuna and Savage & Bret beat Owen & bomb when Bret made Owen submit to the sharpshooter.
A “B” team headlined by Mabel vs. IRS, Ramon vs. Diesel and Luger vs. Crush headlined small Tennessee and Kentucky towns this past weekend.
It appears three of the four first-round King of the Ring matches will be Mabel vs. IRS, Razor Ramon vs. Bigelow and Jeff Jarrett vs. Kid. I have a suspicion they may sneak Luger back in, and if they do, he’ll win because they are pushing him awfully hard on TV for someone who at this point doesn’t even look to be on the show.
Expect Jim Neidhart, Papa Shango and/or Brian Lee in by the end of the summer. Neidhart is expected to get a major heel push.
Jacques Rougeau will be done on 6/25, apparently a combination of too little time at home with his family and not enough money.
For upcoming house shows, they’ve replaced advertising Luna Vachon vs. Blayze with Leilani Kai vs. Blayze. Although unconfirmed, this does appear to be some sort of a suspension since Vachon did work television but no house shows.
We used to say this could only happen in WCW, but that isn’t the case. On Monday Night Raw in the San Francisco-San Jose market there were two ads for the upcoming house show on 5/14 in Anaheim, some 370 miles away rather than for the 5/15 San Jose show.
The Ramon-Kwang match on Raw was far better than it sounds or I was led to believe.
All ‘Raw Rewind 1993’ pieces can be found here.