WWF Superstars - July 30, 1994
by Scrooge McSuck
- Taped from Ocean City, MD, nearly a month earlier than it's original air date. Other than what goes down on this particular episode, this taping is probably well known for the show that preceded the unfortunate car accident that took the life of Joey Marella, WWF referee and son of Gorilla Monsoon.
- Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling all the action for us. We're going to see the WWF Championship defended on this broadcast when Bret Hart defends the belt against the former champion, Bob Backlund. I remember as a kid thinking this was a bit of an unusual match to put on Superstars, but then you kind of take it for granted what the WWF could pull off, when they put a great effort behind it.
Diesel (IC Champion) (w/ Shawn Michaels) vs. Dave Thornberg:
Before we get to the feature bout of the afternoon, it's time for some squash match excitement! Diesel had won the Intercontinental belt roughly two months earlier, also on Superstars, from Razor Ramon. They're all set for a big rematch at SummerSlam, but Ramon won't be alone. He'll have Walter Payton in his corner! The show will be in Chicago, by the way. Diesel pie-faces Thornberg into the corner and chokes away. Diesel with a series of knees to the midsection. Irish whip, and Diesel with a diving shoulder tackle. Jim Ross hypes Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon on Monday Night Raw. There's a match worth watching, I'm sure. Diesel with a sidewalk slam, followed by choking across the middle rope. Irish whip, and Diesel with a big boot, and then a one-foot pin gets the three count at 1:49. Now that was a squash. after the match, Shawn uses the Jobber for leverage to do that dumb high-five he and Diesel used to do. Diesel's matches were never that good, but credit to him for making everything look believable. I can't stand light-working monsters.
- It's Live Event News, with your host, Stan Lane. It's the Summer Sizzler Tour and it is coming to Madison Square Garden on August 25th, the Nassau Coliseum on August 26th, and Meadowlands Arena on August 27th. Shawn Michaels cuts a promo on behalf of himself and Diesel against the Headshrinkers. Other matches include Bret Hart and Razor Ramon taking on Owen Hart and The Anvil, Tatanka versus I.R.S. in an Indian Strap Match, and a weird tag match consisting of Mabel and Doink taking on Bam Bam and Double J.
WWF Championship Match:
Here's the skinny... for the better part of Backlund's tenure since returning to the WWF, he hadn't done much, other than the occasional victory over a JTTS, but more often than not, playing the role of JTTS himself. Backlund did have one bright moment, a strong performance in the 1993 Royal Rumble Match. To be honest, that actually made me a fan of Backlund, back when I was a kid. Bret Hart's always had the reputation of being a fighting champion, and he's been known to give title shots to undeserving contenders before, such as Virgil and Fatu. That's how low Bob Backlund fell... he really had no shot, in the eyes of fans at the time, considering how infrequently he was used and often he lost. The broadcasters treat this match as a big deal though, so something has to be up, otherwise they would treat it as just another match. Backlund even gets a big introduction from the Fink.
Bret "Hitman" Hart © vs. Bob Backlund:
They get a face-to-face, and either are having a nice chat or plotting out some of the spots of the match, you decide. Feeling out process to start, with both men being cautious. Lockup, and no one gains an advantage. Lockup into the corner, and Backlund with a shoulder to the midsection, followed by a hip toss. Backlund with a body scissors into a pin attempt for a surprising two count. Backlund with a rolling bridge for another two count. Backlund sweeps the leg, but Bret kicks off. Bret sweeps the leg, and Backlund returns the favor. Knucklelock, and Backlund rolls through, sweeps the leg, and covers for two. Then he covers again, for two. Knucklelock #2, and Backlund quickly with a go-behind waistlock. Bret takes him down, blocks the head scissors, and goes to work on the left arm. Backlund struggles back to his feet and snapmares Bret over, but Bret holds onto the armbar. Backlund with a back suplex, but Bret STILL holds onto the wrist, and drives a knee into the elbow. Bret with a half-nelson, but Backlund uses his neck strength to power through, and covers Hart for another two count. Bret drops a leg across the arm of Backlund, then reapplies a wristlock. Irish whip is reversed, and Bret clobbers Backlund across the back of the head, so Backlund responds with a forearm right in the face, to CHEERS. Backlund with another pinning combination for a two count. Bret connects with a headbutt, and he thankfully sells it to. Backlund with his own headbutt, with the same result. Backlund connects with a piledriver, and that looked vicious. Backlund is hurt, and takes too long to cover, and only gets a two count.
We return from a commercial break, and Backlund goes for another piledriver, but Bret counters with a back drop, then plants him with a scoop slam. Bret with a leg drop, then they fight over an abdominal stretch, won by Backlund. No, he does NOT use the ropes for leverage, by the way. Bret counters, but Backlund hip tosses Bret off, then rolls him up, trying to go for another cover. Bret keeps going with it, and the two end up outside the ring. Back inside, and Bret with headbutts to the lower-back. Whip to the corner is reversed, and Bret takes it HARD. Backlund with a scoop slam, then slowly decides to cover, only getting a two count. Backlund scoops Bret up across his own shoulders, but Bret breaks the lock and back slides Backlund for a two count. Backllund quickly grabs Bret with a waistlock, but Bret takes him over for a two count. Backlund bridges up, then Bret takes him over for another two count. Backlund bridges up AGAIN, and a back slide from Backlund gets a two count! Whip to the corner is reversed, and this time Backlund meets it hard. Bret with a back breaker for a two count. Bret goes for the sharpshooter, but Backlund grabs the leg to block, so Bret drops an elbow on him instead. Bret with a side headlock, then trips during the criss-cross, and spills out of the ring. HE'S FAKING! Or maybe not. Backlund tosses Bret back into the ring, and covers for a two count. Backlund with a back suplex, and both men are having a hard time getting up at this point. Bret goes fur a suplex, but Backlund cradles for a two count. Backlund goes bat-shit over it and tries for a scoop slam, but Bret with a cradle of his own, and that gets the three count at 14:25 (less a commercial break). After the match, Backlund reluctantly offers a handshake, but then to the surprise of EVERYONE, he bitch slaps the Champion, and traps him in the move that would later be identified as the cross-face chicken wing, and Backlund debuts the psycho-eyes and vein-bulging neck look. Fun tidbit: I remember taping this match as it happened, then stopped recording after so long into the post-match celebration... then suddenly, Backlund snapped and I hit record as fast as humanly possible for a nine year old. One of the best matches I've ever seen from an episode of Superstars, and it not only lead to a classic wrestling match a few months later, but totally revived the career of someone who was long thought to be past the point of being useful in the wrestling world.
- It's the SummerSlam Report with Todd Pettengill, who is baffled by the actions of Bob Backlund. SummerSlam is being sponsered by Domino's Pizza. It'll take place Monday Night, August 29th (my birthday!). Matches already announced include the Steel Cage Match between Bret and Owen Hart, with the WWF Title on the line. Owen is standing by with his former New Foundation partner, Jim Neidhart, and they're on a mission to get the title away from Bret. The WWF didn't do much right around this time, but the family feud between Bret and Owen was one they did, although it's more a credit to Owen's natural "charm" as a whining heel, and Bret just being Bret. Also, the Undertaker faces the Undertaker. Don't ask. Leslie Nielsen has been lured into this nonsense. Diesel defends the Intercontinental Title against Razor Ramon. NEW MATCH SIGNED! "Made in the USA" Lex Luger faces the Native American, Tatanka. We flashback to Monday Night, when Tatanka won a $10,000 challenge against Nikolai Volkoff. Dibiase teases that Luger is under his control, but Luger denies it, but Tatanka refuses to accept the denial. I know, I used a lot of "buts" there, but this whole set up was so obvious for a Tatanka heel turn. Too bad he kept playing Tatanka! He should've became himself or something, and dumped the dumb Native American crap.
Adam Bomb vs. Joey Sollins:
We're pretty fresh into the babyface run of Adam Bomb, but he still has the creepy heel music. Last Monday on Raw, Adam Bomb was taking on Yokozuna. Suddenly, Kwang and Harvey Wippleman came to ringside for one hell of a nonsensical run-in. Yokozuna ended up winning, but we don't see that. Bomb vs. Kwang never went anywhere, either, at least not on television. Lockup, and Bomb quickly works a wristlock, then turns it into a hammerlock. Bomb takes Sollins down with a drop toe hold, then takes him over with a snap suplex, and floats over into a pin for a two count. Irish whip is reversed, and Bomb takes the scrub over with a hip toss. Bomb with a series of roundhouse rights, followed by a standing dropkick. Bomb signals for the mushroom cloud, and yep, the pump-handle slam finishes things off at 1:24... wait... the mushroom cloud was a powerbomb. I guess with Diesel using it, Bomb wasn't allowed to anymore. Some ugly nerd has one of those kick ass teal Marlins caps on at ringside. I WANT IT!
- We hype the 1-2-3 Kid vs. Double J, Jeff Jarrett, next week, on SuperStars! Then we hype the series of vignettes featuring Leslie Nielsen, on the hunt for the Undertaker. I love Leslie Nielsen, but this vignettes were terrible and unfunny.
"The Undertaker" (w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. Brian Hardy:
Remember during my recap of the June 11th episode of Superstars, that I said with all the extra attire on, and with decent lighting, Brian Lee could easily pass for the Undertaker, at least in an attempt to pass off an imposter as the real thing. Now he's wrestling, and there's no more magic mirrors to play tricks on us, and we see that this Undertaker looks NOTHING like the real Undertaker. The height thing is hard to gauge when he's in there with someone of average size, but the facial features are too obvious. Oh, Brian Hardy is a young Matt Hardy, playing the role of scrub. Get used to it Matt, you'll be doing it for a few more years. "Undertaker" boots Hardy down and chokes him against the ropes. To the production crew's credit, they do their best to NOT show the face. Irish whip, and flying clothesline from the "Undertaker." He scoops Hardy up, and the Tombstone Piledriver ends things just like that, at 1:09. After the match, "Brian" Hardy gets the body bag treatment, courtesy of the "Undertaker" and Ted Dibiase.
- We're back with more WWF Live Event News! Remember, the Summer Sizzler Tour will be coming to the New York city area on August 25th through 27th. We focus the hype on the big tag match featuring Bret Hart and Razor Ramon taking on the Anvil and Owen Hart. Come experience the WWF live!
- We get the latest installment of the Leslie Nielsen/Undertaker Search vignettes. It also includes a cheap plug for Domino's, the official sponser of SummerSlam '94. The Undertaker delivers the pizza, then leaves, all without Nielsen not realizing what happened. You see, he dropped something, and was under the desk the whole time. COMEDY!
Final Thoughts: This episode is worth tracking down for one reason, and that's to see not only the best match ever highlighted on Superstars of Wrestling, but one of the more surprising and successful heel turns of it's time. Who knew that Bob Backlund could play a maniacal heel so well, after years of being the clean cut good guy who shook everyones hands? Everything else is just filler, acting more of a reminder of who was important to the company at the time (sans Adam Bomb), and didn't establish or advance any other storylines. The only downside is the reminder of the horrible Leslie Nielsen sketches, which ran all the way up to, and during, the SummerSlam PPV.
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