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WWF at Madison Square Garden - May 20, 1994
by Scrooge McSuck
- I always find it hard to justify doing a recap of something that wasn't professional video taped or broadcasted on PPV/television, but my love of this era of the WWF (I grew up with it, sue me) and having to endure the constant shilling of these live events on a weekly basis made me long to see them in person, but never having the chance to go. With only a few PPV's a year that consisted of non-gimmicked matches, and no supercards on television, it was quite a boring time for television, for WWF fans wanting more than one feature match per broadcast. Thankfully, some people were kindly enough to go to some of these shows at the Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden, and record them for super-wrestling-geeks everywhere.
- This show stands out more than most others, because it was advertised as the "WrestleMania Revenge Tour", one of the first times I recall the house show circuit being given cute names. Damn did it feature a stacked lineup: Owen vs. Bret for the WWF Title, Razor defending the IC Title against Diesel, Lex Luger taking on Mr. Perfect, the Steiner Brothers facing the Quebecers for the WWF Tag Titles... well, shit happened, and towards the final days of promoting the show, we got quite a few changes to that card. Obviously being a handheld, we don't have any broadcasters or hosts, except the guy holding the camera and the occasional banter you might hear surrounding it.
Opening Match: Thurman "Sparky" Plugg vs. Kwang (w/ Harvey Wippleman):
Not much in terms of "Revenge" here, just two low-card guys kicking off the show. Funny tidbit that both men made their official debuts as substitutes in the 1994 Royal Rumble Match, then made their official television debuts on the same episode of Wrestling Challenge a week later. Kwang attacks in the corner, but misses a charge and quickly gets taken over with a pair of arm drags. Plugg sends him to the floor following a dropkick, then quickly rolls him back in the ring for more punishment. Whip to the corner, Plugg avoids a boot, and pounds on Kwang some more for an early two count. Plugg with an arm drag, and it's time to work an armbar. Kwang manages to fight free, but is sent back to the floor after a dropkick. Plugg gives chase and gets sucker kicked for his effort. Back inside, Kwang connects with a spinning heel kick, then spits the mist. Whip to the ropes, and Plugg comes back with a cross body press for two. Kwang makes it to his feet first, and regains control. Plugg counters a back drop with a small package for two, but Kwang is quick to his feet again, and lays him out with a clothesline. Kwang with a snapmare, and it's time for the vulcan neck pinch. Plugg fights back to his feet and comes off the ropes with a twisting body press for two. Kwang with a standing heel kick for a two count of his own. Snapmare, and Kwang goes back to the nerve hold. Whip to the corner, and Kwang hits his signature heel kick, taking himself over the top, to the floor, with the momentum. He sets Sparky up on the top turnbuckle, but gets pushed off going for a super-plex. Plugg comes off instead with a flying clothesline. Slugfest, won by Sparky. Whip to the ropes, and he connects with a back elbow. Whip to the ropes again, and Plugg with a dropkick for two. Jim Brunzell would be proud, I'm sure. Sparky with a back drop for another two count. Roll up for two. Kwang ducks under a clothesline, comes bouncing off the ropes with a spinning heel kick, and that gets the three count at 9:02. That was a surprisingly hot match with some decent action. I guess working with each other every night in 1994 gave them good chemsitry. In a pointless reference, either the camera operator, or someone very close, mentions this was a different finish than at the Nassau Coliseum the day before, and yep, quick search shows Sparky Plugg going over in that match.
Doink (The Clown) (w/ Dink) vs. "Double J" Jeff Jarrett:
Double J wastes a few minutes, running down New York for it's sports teams, and Doink for being a loser. This was right after the angle on Superstars where Double J dressed up as Doink to pull a prank on Dink, so Doink means business... I guess. I don't know whois playing Doink, he seems shorter than the WrestleMania X version. Jarrett attacks before the bell, but Doink quickly fights him off with clotheslines, then slaps on a full nelson, allowing Dink to get a few shots in from the corner... OK, that is pretty awesome. Doink school boys him for two, then a back slide for two. Slam and elbow drop for another two count. Whip to the ropes, and a back drop, sending Jarrett to the floor for a breather. I should note the camera flickers quite a bit during this match. Jarrett gives chase to Dink, but ends up finding Doink, instead. Back inside, Jarrett with a quick slam, but he misses an elbow, allowing Doink to go to work on the arm. Jarrett escapes with a drop toe hold, but Doink slips right out of a headlock, and goes back to the arm. Whip to the ropes, and Dink manages to get in the way, taking a nice bump to the floor. Doink hits a DDT, but he's too concerned about Dink to go for the cover. Jarrett comes to, kicks Doink semi-low, and hits a pretty sweet dropkick. Whip to the ropes, and Jarrett with a back elbow. He heads to the second rope, and connects with a fist. Whip to the corner is reversed, but Doink eats boot on a charge, and Jarrett comes off the ropes with a clothesline. Jarrett with the Fargo Strut, and he hits a pretty shitty piledriver for a two count. Doink offers a comeback, but quickly gets choked across the ropes. Jarrett does the Bossman butt drop across the ropes for another two count. Suplex for two, and it's time for a Double-J chinlock. Doink fights free, but gets trapped in a sleeper hold this time. Dink comes back to life and gets the crowd to cheer Doink on, and wouldn't you know, Doink is up on his feet... for about two seconds, falling victim to another clothesline. Jarrett becomes occupied with Dink again, which buys Doink some time to recover. Jarrett climbs the ropes, and misses a fist drop. Doink with rights, followed by a dropkick. Whip to the ropes, and Doink connects with a clothesline. Doink with a body press attempt, but Jarrett manages to avoid it. Jarrett goes after Dink and carries him around the ring until Doink makes the save. Sunset flip into the ring is blocked, and Jarrett uses the ropes for the three count at 13:26. Started off hot, and had some decent heel heat work, but the overly long chinlock/sleeper spot killed my interest, and the finish came out of nowhere, with typical lame cheating heel tactics. You don't need to protect DOINK from doing a clean job to Jeff Jarrett.
The Headshrinkers & Afa (w/ Lou Albano) vs. The Quebecers & Johnny Polo:
Here's the first alteration to the original lineup: The Steiners were given their release to remove that title match, and then the Headshrinkers randomly turning face and winning the belts on an episode of Monday Night Raw a couple of weeks earlier shuffled it into this. No idea why they added Afa and Johnny Polo as participants. Reminds me of a Coliseum Video where the LOD teamed with Paul Ellering against the Beverly Brothers and the Genius, and neither manager legally participated in the match for more than 10-seconds, rendering it pointless. Samu and Jacques start with an old fashion shove and slap fight. Samu with headbutts to show who the superior stereotype is. Pierre tags in to offer his chances and comes off the middle rope with a clothesline for two. Criss-cross, and Fatu with a diving shoulder tackle. Pierre counters a slam with a roll up, and a clothesline gives Fatu a chance to work his "inside-out" sell of the move. Fatu doesn't sell it for very long, coming off the ropes with another headbutt. Afa tags in, dances around like a goober, and drops a headbutt before tagging out to Samu. Jacques tags in and eats a crescent kick. Pierre tries his luck, and it's a powerslam for him. The heels tease a walk-off, but they're just bluffing. Samu manages to throw two decent looking dropkicks, and now some goober blocks the view of Polo tripping Samu up, giving the Quebecers their first real advantage of the match. Whip to the ropes, and a double back drop. Jacques applies a chinlock, thinking "hey, I'm retiring next week, no need to actually try and work hard." This goes on for a while. Pierre cuts off a tag, and it's triple-teaming in the corner. Whip across the ring, and Samu bursts out with a clothesline. Fatu gets the tag, but the referee doesn't see it. Jacques with a piledriver, and yes, Samu does sell it. They go for the Tower of Quebec, but it misses. Samu with a double dropkick, and Fatu gets the real hot tag. He sends Jacques to the floor, and comes off the ropes with a headbutt on Pierre for two. The 'Shrinkers do the double face-slam, and Fatu finishes with the top rope splash at 13:35. Afterwards, Johnny Polo takes a Samoan drop from Afa. Boring match, especially when Jacques and Pierre were in control of the "action." I know how good a match with the Quebecers can be, and both were definitely in cruise control for this.
WWF Women's Championship Match:
Alundra Blayze © vs. Luna Vachon:
Glad to see we got this one instead of Leilani Kai challenging, since she and Luna were alternating working house shows with Blayze post-WrestleMania X. I don't know if my ears are decieving me, but I swear I hear "Enter Sandman" as Luna's theme music. It cuts off before vocals start, but I'm 99% sure that's why I was hearing. Lockup, and Luna with knees to the midsection. Whip to the ropes, and Blayze comes back with a dropkick. Luna misses a charge to the corner, and gets taken over with a sunset flip for two. Blayze goes Sonya Blade on her, with a spinning leg trip. Suddenly, Bam Bam Bigelow shows up, still having ties to Luna before joining the Million Dollar Corporation. Luna sneak attacks with Bam Bam's help, and chokes away. Luna with a hair-snapmare, followed by a nerve hold. I guess she got tips from Kwang earlier. Luna with a gutwrench suplex for two. She slaps on what appears to be a stomach claw, but the angle is hard to tell. She connects with a swinging neck breaker, and rams Blayze into the buckle. Blayze blocks it on the third attempt, and rams Luna into it, instead. Luna goes back to the midsection, hits a shitty neck breaker, and a Vader-Bomb gets two. She heads to the top rope this time, and misses a splash with so much time to spare, I could've boiled an egg. Blayze with a snap suplex for two. German suplex gets two, thanks to Bigelow's interference. We get heel miscommunication, and Blayze with another German suplex for three at 7:09. Felt even longer. I guess I wouldn't have enjoyed the Women's match, no matter who was the challenger. Only a couple more weeks until Bull Nakano came and made the women's matches something to watch.
Lex Luger vs. Crush:
Time for the second, and most important switch to the card: Mr. Perfect's in-ring return never happened, despite weeks of promotion and appearances on WWF television hyping the matches. I don't know the reason, maybe an offer from WCW that fell through or his insurance policy was threatening to pull out, but either way, Perfect was out, and Crush was in. An angle was built on television with Crush costing Luger a spot in the King of the Ring Tournament, but that's all I can think of for this match-up to make it much of a grudge. Stalling and a mid-level-main-event staredown, followed by a slugfest. Crush controls with the obligatory choking. Whip to the ropes, and Luger comes back with a pair of clotheslines. He sets up for the forearm, but Crush takes a breather on the floor. Crush threatens to walk, but he's lured back by Hebner's secret merchandise stash. Luger blocks a hip toss, and takes Crush over with a back slide for two. Whip to the ropes, and Luger with a shoulder tackle, knocking Crush to the floor. Luger attempts an axehandle from the apron, but Crush nails him coming down. Crush with a chair, but the referee's interference allows Luger to fight him off, and send the big man into the post.
Back inside the ring, Luger misses the jumping elbow that always misses. Crush punishes the back with knees and forearms, because that one miss was all the damage his back could withstand before being really hurt. Crush with a back breaker, and he holds him there for a bit before trying to snap him in half across the knee. Crush with a second rope elbow for two. Luger offers a lame comeback, but Crush goes to the eyes, then slaps on the dreaded BEARHUG! This eats up a hood 3-minutes. Luger fights free, but Crush easily takes him down with a press slam, then drops a leg for two. Luger blocks a suplex, and cradles Crush for a two count. Crush gets up first, and goes back to working the... uh... back. Whip to the corner, and Crush misses a charge, allowing Luger to roll him up for another two count. Luger with a DDT for two. Slugfest, won by Luger. Whip to the ropes, and Luger with a back elbow for two. Luger with a fist to the midsection and running knee lift, followed by the measured elbow for another two. Luger with a headlock, and it's ref' bump time! Crush with an inverted atomic drop, followed by a reverse crescent kick. Crush brings a chair into the ring, because that strategy is so impressive. He connects with a back breaker and climbs the ropes, with chair in hand. Luger avoids the guillotine chair, and KO's Crush with the loaded forearm. Another referee comes in to make the count, and Luger is victorious at around the 16-minute mark. I never heard a bell ring, so tough patootie. Was OK at times, with a pretty hot couple of minutes to close it, but damn did it drag for the first half. Post-match, Luger does his self-loving posing, because that's why he's no longer the Narcissist.
Tuxedo Match: Howard Finkel vs. Harvey Wippleman:
Sadly, this was an angle pushed on WWF Television. Obviously, and most famously, was the physical altercation at WrestleMania X, but this thing dragged on television, started involving the Bushwhackers and Well Dunn, and then finally got the T.V. blowoff, with way more skin showing than I care to remember. In a "why" moment, Fink comes out to "Real American." Hey, by the way, Hulk Hogan had just recently signed with WCW, don'cha know? Wippleman comes out to either Stand Back or Piledriver, I can't tell. It's nothing more than a male-catfight, with absolutely no "wrestling" or fighting, but just clawing at clothes. Fink wins at 3:34, and thankfully, Wippleman is wearing boxers. Afterwards, he comes back and strips Fink down, too, also thankfully in boxers, but he still celebrates the victory. Total turd, but it was to kill the crowd between two high profile matches and pretty short, so it's forgivable.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Diesel © vs. Razor Ramon:
Not much of an alteration to this: Ramon was originally announced as the champion, but (in television time) dropped the belt on April 30th episode of Superstars, so now Diesel is the defending Champion. Ramon bum rushes the ring, and quickly clears Diesel with roundhouse rights. Back inside, Diesel controls with forearms across the back of the head. Ramon offers a comeback, but goes down courtesy of a short-arm clothesline. Diesel misses a boot, and Ramon lays him out with a clothesline. Whip to the corner, and Ramon tastes boot on a charge in. Diesel with choking in the corner. Ramon fights back with more rights, but tastes canvas for his efforts. Whip to the ropes, and Diesel with a sleeper hold. Yeesh. Is the show running long? I'd expect more than 3-minutes before the desperate "sleeper hold" spot to rally the crowd. Razor rallies, and escapes with a back suplex. Slow crawl for a two count. Razor hits the ropes, and gets thrown out of the ring. Diesel follows, and introduces Ramon to the steps. Razor plays dead outside the ring, killing more time. Back inside, and Diesel sends him hard to the buckle, then follows with a side suplex for a two count. Diesel rolls the dice, then drops ass on Razor, Bossman style™. Whenever someone does that move with a guy hanging across the ropes, and the one in control drops across, I will forever call it "Bossman style." Diesel with an elbow for two, then it's chinlock time. Razor escapes, and quickly eats boot. Things drag more, with our THIRD lengthy resthold, the abdominal stretch. Ramon manages to counter, briefly, before being taken over with a hip toss. Ramon mounts the real comeback, and crotches Diesel on the ring post. Back inside, he comes off the second rope with a bulldog for two. Ramon with a slam, and apparently it's Razor's Edge time. He sets up near the ropes, so you know the outcome. They brawl on the floor, and it's a Double Count-Out at 12:06. During the post-match "brawl", officials, along with notable faces Pat Patterson, Tony Garea, and Bruce Prichard, break it up. Short and sweet, this is what happens when Kevin Nash is trying to carry someone: it sucked.
Mabel (w/ Oscar) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon):
No history between these two. Mabel is without Mo, who was taken off television with an injury, and Bam Bam was in the transition from feuding with Doink to joining Ted Dibiase's Corporation. In short, it's another "crowd killer", before the main event. Bam Bam starts with headbutts. Whip to the corner is reversed, and Mabel literally throws himself into Bigelow for a two count. You can tell we're rushed for time. Whip to the ropes, and Mabel with a back drop for another two count. Is that Vladimir I see in the front row? Whip to the corner, and Mabel misses a charge. Bigelow with an enziguri, knocking the (Really) big man to the floor. Back inside, Bigelow with a diving clothesline for two. He goes to the chinlock, because we're 2-minutes in, and they desperately need to kill time... sorry, I just hate chinlocks when they're not necessary. Mabel fights free, then gets laid out with another enziguri. Bigelow goes for a slam, but Mabel's too fat, and lands on top for two. Mabel with a clothesline, followed by a fat-ass leg drop. Mabel to the second rope, and he misses a splash. Bigelow to the top, and a diving headbutt finishes it at 4:31. Short and inoffensive. They didn't have to sell it as an epic 20-minute battle.
WWF Championship Match:
Bret "Hitman" Hart © vs. "The Rocket" Owen Hart:
Main Event time, and I hope my expectations aren't too high for this. For those in the dark, Owen defeated Bret in the opening contest at WrestleMania X, and then to end the card, Bret won the WWF Championship from Yokozuna, the man he lost the belt to at the WrestleMania prior. With Owen's victory so fresh, one had to consider him an early candidate for a WWF title program. Lockup, with no one getting the advantage, yet Owen celebrates regardless. Lockup into the ropes, and a shoving match escalates into a slap from Owen. He hides in the corner, of course, when threatened with a beating. Owen slaps on a hammerlock, but Bret quickly reverses. Owen counters with a drop toe hold, and Bret slips out of a headlock to go to work on the left elbow. Owen works his typical reversal sequence, then yanks the hair to get the unfair advantage. Bret with a nip up (not the prettiest I've ever seen), and goes back to the armbar. Whip to the ropes, and Bret with a crucifix for two, then back to the armbar. Owen escapes sending Bret to the ropes, but gets taken down with a pair of hip tosses, forcing him to the floor for a quick breather. Bret with a bitch slap upon the return to the ring, and a quick roll up gets two. Whip to the ropes, and Bret with a shoulder block. He comes off the ropes again, this time taking a knee to the midsection from the challenger. Owen with a few shots to the lower abdomen, followed by raking the eyes across the top rope. Bret gets introduced to the turnbuckle pad a few times, then takes a hard whip into the corner. Owen quickly capitalizes, slapping on a camel clutch. He doesn't hold on to that long and goes to a chinlock. Bret powers out with a wristlock, but Owen yanks him to the canvas with a handful of hair, and keeps the chinlock applied. Pretty loud "Owen Sucks" chant as Bret struggles to find an escape, but Owen keeps pulling the hair to maintain control.
Bret finally escapes with elbows, but Owen catches him off the ropes with a belly-to-belly suplex for a two count. He argues the count, then goes right back to the chinlock. Hebner tries the "drop the arm" bit, but Bret's back to his feet, and breaks the hold with fists. Bret hits the ropes, and surprises Owen with a sunset flip for two. Bret with some nasty looking european uppercuts in the corner, but a whip across the ring is reversed, and he takes his patented chest-first bump to the buckle. Owen heads to the top rope, and hits the missile dropkick for a two count. He drags Bret to the corner, and wraps the leg around the post, as I can confirm a Vladimir siting... yes, it's a rule to point him out. Back inside, and Owen continues to punish the leg, then takes Bret down with a dragon screw. Owen drops an elbow across the knee, then grapevines the leg, getting several near falls out of it. Bret counters into a pinning combination of his own for a near fall. Owen works the leg over some more, takes him down, and locks on an Indian Deathlock. That won't put away the Hitman, so Owen switches it to a Figure-Four, and that gets a few near falls, in between obvious trash talking from Owen. Bret manages to turn the preasure over,but Owen turns it back, throwing the both of them into the ropes. Both men get up, selling the knees. Whip to the corner, and Owen meets knees on a charge. Bret to the second rope for a clothesline, but he winds up across the ring, still clutching his knee. Owen is up first, only to be surprised with an inverted atomic drop and clothesline for two. Whip to the ropes, fist to the midsection, and Russian leg sweep for two. Bret with a small package for two. Back breaker and second rope elbow drop gets two. Owen keeps going to the ropes, and low blows Bret when escape just isn't going to seem likely. Owen boots Bret to the floor, and rams his back into the post. Why get a count-out win, when you can win the title? Owen follows Bret around with a chair, but can't connect. He gets crotched on the top rope, and Bret takes him down with a super-plex for two. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, but Owen thumbs the eyes to prevent it. Owen with a roll up, but Bret counters, and that's good enough for the three count at 22:28. Obviously this wasn't going to touch the masterpiece of WrestleMania X, but it was an acceptional performance to close out the show, with my only complaint being the overly-long chinlock spot towards the middle. I wouldn't have minded something other than a roll up counter, but with the way the WM X match ended, it worked fine.
Final Thoughts: Enjoyable show, for the most part. The Main Event delivered, a few of the undercard matches were better than expected, and even when things weren't that good, it wasn't often "bad", the Luger/Crush match being the most particular for that statement. My only complaints are definitely the very lackluster IC Title Match and the 6-Man Tag. I didn't care for the Women's Title and Tuxedo Matches, but both clocked in at a combined 10-minutes total, and really were meant to cool down the crowd. Obviously, it's hard to recommend a famcam show, but if you can handle the video quality of such a thing, and are a fan of the era, then go ahead and track down a copy.
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