Sunday, January 16, 2011

WWF Survivor Series 1994 Review

NOVEMBER 23rd, 1994

Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon

With the Bret-Owen feud finally ending in the fall of 1994, a new challenge was needed for Bret as the top babyface and shockingly enough to the fans at the time, that would be none other than former WWF champion Bob Backlund, who had been racking up victories on Superstars and Raw for several months before finally getting another chance at the WWF title for the first time in over a decade against Bret in a very good match on an episode of Superstars in July of 1994. Bret retained and Backlund seemed like a good sport, shaking his hand, but he quickly snapped on Bret and put beat him down. This was actually a really good angle at the time as Backlund was able to show he still had some gas left in the tank and they were able to extend the Owen-Bret feud in a way without actually having them continue wrestling each other, as you'll see with Owen playing a huge role in their title rematch later tonight. Anyways, onto the show.

Shawn Michaels/Diesel/Owen Hart/Jim Neidhart/Jeff Jarrett vs. Razor Ramon/Davey Boy Smith/1-2-3 Kid/Fatu/Sionne

Sionne would be a repackaged version of the Barbarian as a new member of the Headshrinkers. Now I wonder why that didn't catch on. Gorilla and Vince make for a bit of a strange commentary team, but you can't blame Vince because his only color commentator in the Macho Man had unexpectedly left the company only weeks prior. 1-2-3 Kid and Jim Neidhart start off the match and it's the usual speed versus power set-up here. Jarrett tags in quickly and takes advantage of the Kid. This was still before Jarrett was even remotely credible in the midcard, but his time would be coming soon enough. Sionne (aka the Barbarian, who Vince slips up and calls him anyways) tags in and tosses Double J around for a bit until Owen tags in to massive boos from the audience, bringing in Davey Boy to the crowd's delight. These two always had great chemistry together and this is no different as they exchange holds and counters at a very fast pace. Owen hits an enziguri and tags Neidhart back in. Razor and Jarrett tag in and exchange holds for a bit. The crowd is really into Razor as always and Jarrett is getting good heat, so it's no wonder they set up a feud between the two shortly after this. Razor hits his fallaway slam and tags in the 1-2-3 Kid, who he then performs a fallaway slam on into Jarrett. Fatu tags in and starts hitting the usual Samoan headbutt and body slam spots until Diesel gets a blind tag and quickly hits the jacknife powerbomb on Fatu and eliminates him at 13:32. 1-2-3 Kid comes in and starts bouncing all over the place, Diesel tossing him halfway across the ring before hitting another jacknife powerbomb to eliminate the Kid at 14:14. This brings Sionne in who walks right into yet ANOTHER jacknife, and HE'S elmininated at 14:47. If it wasn't obvious that Diesel was getting a big push before this show, it's blatantly obvious now with that impressive succession of eliminations. Bulldog comes in for a bit before getting taken outside by Owen and Neidhart, where he's counted out at 15:10. That leaves Razor Ramon all alone against all five members of the opposing team, really stacking the deck against him and sending the crowd into a frenzy when he gets a very close 2 count on Diesel. HBK starts barking orders at Diesel inside of the ring to FINISH HIM (Mortal Kombat style perhaps?), but Diesel prefers to toy with Razor, tossing him into the corners. Razor calls for the Razor's Edge here but Diesel reverses with a back body drop and follows it up with a big boot and yet another Jackknife powerbomb. NOW Shawn wants the tag, and Diesel gives it to him. HBK orders Big Daddy Cool to hold up Razor for the Sweet Chin Music, but of course Razor ducks and he hits Nash instead. This pisses Diesel off royally and he begins beating up his own team mates, chasing Shawn all the way to the back and getting every member of his team counted out in the process, signaling Diesel's face turn and leaving Razor as the sole survivor and winner of the match at 21:42. Great opening match here as this was all about the Kliq and setting the seeds for the big Diesel face push and title run. Lots of fast paced action in the first ten minutes and the final ten consisted of solid formula babyface-in-peril action. Nothing to set the world on fire, but a great way to open the show. ***¼

Jerry Lawler/Sleazy/Queasy/Cheesy vs. Doink/Dink/Pink/Wink

Oh lord, prepare for a suckfest. Excuse me while I get another drink to get through this match. No real point to this match other than Vince to parade around some midgets in a wrestling ring, because if anything Vince loves midgets like no other booker I've ever seen. Quick plug for the Survivor Series hotline here. In the back Diesel is still livid about the HBK situation. Doink, who was infinitely better as a heel, comes to the ring with his midget clowns to battle the midget kings and I seriously have no desire to watch this carnival freakshow that is about to take place. Doink and the King start the match off and we're treated to nearly ten agonizing minutes of slow, plodding in-ring work that the crowd could not care less about. Typical comedy spots here with Doink using the midgets to do cute little tricks on Jerry. Eventually they get the bright idea of playing chicken with Doink and the King sitting on one of their midget's shoulders. God, strike me blind at this moment, please. Eventually Doink hits a crossbody on the King that he reverses into a rollup which he holds the tights for the 3 count and the first elimination at 10:38. Now the midgets are wrestling, and I'm simply done with the play by play here. Cheesy pins Wink with help from the King at 13:16. Cheesy then pins Pink with some more help from the King at 14:31. Sleazy then gets the pin on Dink with some help from Queasy to thankfully end this suckfest at 16:05. That was about 15 minutes too long, to be generous. After the match the midgets turn on the King to the crowd's delight and my utter apathy. There is not a rating low enough to give to this match, so we'll just call it what it is. DUD

We see a clip of Bull Nakano winning the WWF Women's title from Alundra Blayze in the Tokyo Egg Dome in Japan in what was an excellent match on one of the bigger All Japan women's shows of that year. Todd Pettingell tries to get an interview with Bull, but she doesn't speak English so comedy hilarity obviously ensues. Or doesn't, whatever, let's just move on.

WWF World Title Submission Match
BRET HART (C) vs. BOB BACKLUND (w/ Owen Hart)

Backlund is accompanied to the ring by Owen Hart, while Bret is accompanied by Davey Boy Smith. Both of them have white towels to throw in if they want to give up the match at any point for their guy. The angle here was that Backlund was upset after all these years at his former manager Arnold Skaaland who threw in the towel during his title match with the Iron Shiek in 1983, losing the title for Backlund and effectively ending his wrestling career at the time. Backlund claims he never quit and was robbed of the WWF title. Keep that in mind as it will come into play later in the story of this match. Bret is still scary over around this time and he's accompanied to the ring by the British Bulldog here. Stu and Helen Hart are also in attendance, as they seem to be every year at Survivor Series. Backlund tries to sneak up behind Bret as the bell rings but Bret will have none of that and quickly slams him, sending him the outside, but Bulldog tosses him back in. We get up a closeup of Owen cheering on Backlund, holding a white towel. Nice foreshadowing there. This is a real old-school styled match from the start with steady and deliberate work being put on the limbs and extremeities by both men. Bret dominates for the first five minutes or so, grinding Backlund down with legwork and a sleeperhold. They trade holds for a bit and Backlund tries to put Bret into the crossface chicken wing, but Bret quickly counters back into the sleeperhold, continuing to grind him down. It's amazing to me that Backlund could just come back at the drop of a hat and wrestle 30+ minute matches just as well as he did in his prime, but he did just that during his brief return in 1994. Backlund tries again for the chickenwing, but Bret hits a beautiful belly-to-belly suplex to counter it. Bret goes for a pin, forgetting it's a submission match. That's something you don't see enough from wrestlers who work submission matches nowadays. Backlund begins working on Bret's arm, softening him up for the Chickenwing as Gorilla points out. In some of the box seats we see members of the extended Hart family, upping the emotional importance of the matchup at hand. Backlund continues working on Bret's left arm, as the selling and psychology of the limbwork thus far has been top notch from both men. Backlund tosses Bret around while maintaining a wristlock in a move straight out of the 70s, which is a nice touch. The crowd is really rallying behind Bret at this point with Davey egging them on outside the ring. Backlund maintains that wristlock even while Bret hits a neckbreaker on him. They exchange forearms on the mat and Backlund gets back to working on the left arm. Bret rallies back and starts hitting signature spots, inverted atomic drop and he follows it up with a nasty figure four leglock. Backlund is ranting and raving like a madman, in a world of pain. Bret wears him down with this lock for several minutes before finally Backlund gets to the ropes for the break. Bret continues working on Backlund's leg, Bob tries to stand up but crumbles to the mat immediately, unable to put any weight on his leg. Simple, effective selling. Both men exchange forearms and then Backlund is able to deliver a piledriver to Bret here. Ouch. Owen is screaming in Bret's face as the crowd chants "GO BRET GO!". Backlund attempts another piledriver with no such luck and both men trade holds again before ramming heads. Bret hits a piledriver of his own on Backlund and follows it up with a bulldog. Trademark Hitman offensive sequence here as he follows it up with the Russian leg sweep and a backbreaker. This sets up the sharpshooter but Owen ends up distracting the ref and Davey Boy long enough to break up the hold. Davey Boy trips on the mat at this point and hits his head on the steel ring steps, presumably being knocked unconcious. Owen, surprisingly, shows concern for Bulldog here. Inside the ring Backlund applies the first part of the crossface chickenwing to Bret, but he can't hook his legs around Bret and grapevine him to get the win, similar as to what you might see in an MMA match really. Owen is getting more and more upset outside the ring, saying he's sorry and actually begins crying as finally Backlund gets his legs around Bret and has him hooked fully in the crossface chickenwing inside of the ring. With Davey Boy knocked out, there's no one to throw in the towel for Bret here, and the Hitman is too proud to give up for himself. Stu and Helen begin showing copncern and Owen is practically bawling outside the ring. The intensity here is nearly palpable. Bret is almost unconcious at this point as Backlund just keeps tearing away at the hold, raving like a mad lunatic. Owen runs over to his parents and says that "He didn't mean for this to happen", and begs them to throw the towel in for Bret. Davey Boy is still knocked unconcious, which is actually kind of unintentionally funny when you think about the fact that NO ONE has come to check on him to see if he's okay. Ahh the wonders of kayfabe. Owen gets down on his knees to beg his parents to throw in the towel for Bret. He moves the barrier away and coaxes his parents up out of their seats. They walk right past Davey, who could be dead for all anyone knows at this point, and Owen directs them to throw in Bret's towel. Finally Owen is able to convince his mother to throw in the towel to finally end the match, ending Bret's 2nd title reign and beginning 46 year old Bob Backlund's second stint as the WWF champion at 35:17. Simply an incredible match here between two technical wrestling masters, what it may lack in action it makes up for in spades in sheer storytelling, psychology, intensity, and emotion. This is an old school kind of match in modern times and it worked excellently here as both men delivered yet another legendary match in the banner year that was 1994 for the WWF. ****½

After the match Bob runs around the ring with the title, acting like a Martian. So typical Bob Backlund behavior really. Owen is delighted by all of this of course, having just worked his parents to throw in the towel and cost his brother, finally, the WWF title. This was a good way of still putting Owen over despite him never being able to personally defeat Bret for the title, and if they had wanted to the WWF could have pushed Owen as a main event player for the next several years, but alas, he was destined to be pushed back to the midcard shortly after this. This was the perfect way to wrap up a year long angle between the Hart brothers, and in it's entirety it might just be the best long-term story arch the WWF ever told.

Bam Bam Bigelow/Tatanka/King Kong Bundy/Jimmy Del Ray/Tom Pritchard vs. Lex Luger/Adam Bomb/Mabel/Billy Gunn/Bart Gunn

So we go from a wrestling classic to the jobber corporation versus Luger, Adam Bomb, Mabel, and the Smoking Gunns. Now that's polarity in match quality. This is just another match in the ongoing Luger-Tatanka feud which had started with a good angle that quickly became meaningless when Ted DiBiase revealed his Million Dollar Corporation of jobbers. Luger was pretty much stuck in midcard hell at this point after anger management earlier in the year, so you can't really blame him for leaving the following year. Luger and Tatanka start the match off as the crowd is surprisingly into the action here, chanting "USA" in favor of Luger which is incredibly ironic when you consider Tatanka is supposed to be a Native American and thus would be more of an American than Luger if anything. Mabel comes in and the crowd starts chanting "WHOOP! There it is!". No, I'm not making that up kids, people actually said this shit in the 90s. Always good for a few laughs. Mabel quickly eliminates the Doctor Tom Pritchard with a splash at 3:58. Bundy and Mabel meet off in the battle of high cholestoral and blood pressure, instantly turning this already boring match into shit. Mabel is too much for a washed up Kong at this point so Bam Bam tags in and misses a dropkick, prompting Mabel to hit a dropkick of his own! Okay, that was actually kind of cool. Bam Bam goes for a sunset flip but Mabel sits on him, presumably crushing his organs and ribs. Both men clothesline eachother to the outside. Bam Bam gets back inside before the count but Mabel does not and is eliminated at 7:18. Billy Gunn in all of his 80s handlebar mustache pornstar goodness comes in and quickens the pace with Gigolo Jimmy Del Ray. This of course prompts them to bring Adam Bomb into the match, reinforcing the matches shittiness. Bam Bam hits a bulldog quickly though and hits a semi-moonsault onto Adam Bomb, eliminating him at 9:09. Good, lets get this thing over with gentlemen. Del Ray hits a nice superkick on Luger as it's down to 5 on 3 here in favor of the Million Dollar Corporation. Luger makes short work of Del Ray with a clothesline, eliminating him at 10:56. Tatanka and Bart Gunn go at it with the Gunns actually looking talented, bumping around the ring with some nifty double team moves on Tatanka including a leaping leg drop/backbreaker combination. Eventually Tatanka eliminates Bart with a backslam at 14:28. Billy and Luger isolate Tatanka for a bit with frequent tags but eventually Tatanka hits a big powerslam and tags in King Kong Bundy who finishes Billy with the an elbow drop of all things at 17:15. Luger is all alone now and is still surprisingly over, rallying the crowd behind him. DiBiase walks around ringside laughing in an evil manner while Bam Bam, Tatanka, and Bundy begin manhandling Luger now as the outcome seems inevitable. Luger is able to surprise Tatanka with a quick rollup however, eliminating him at 23:14. This takes pretty much everything out Luger, leaving Bam Bam to come from behind with the big splash to put away Luger and end the match with himself and King Kong Bundy being the survivors at 23:23. This was actually A LOT better than it had any right being considering the participants, but at the end of the day it's a pretty meaningless match that you can see on virtually any of the first 15 or so Survivor Series PPVs and it tended to drag a bit at times. **¾

After the match the Million Dollar Corporation continue the beatdown on Luger until the rest of his team comes back to make the save.

Backstage Bob Backlund gives an awesome interview in which he threatens to "homogenize" the WWF fans into morality, or something along those lines. He claims to have never lost the WWF title, having been the champion since 1978. He lays down the gauntlet so to speak to the "new generation" of the WWF in an increasingly creepy and incredibly entertaining interview.

CASKET MATCH (w/Chuck Norris as Outside Enforcer)
Undertaker vs. Yokozuna

Oh boy, it's the big blowoff to the 'Taker-Yoko feud that had put the Undertaker ont he shelf through out most of the year. Once 'Taker came back and got rid of his doppelganger, he set his eyes on Yokozuna who had put him out of action and "taken away his powers" earlier in the year the Royal Rumble in one of the cheesiest matches in wrestling history (and that covers alot of ground). Undertaker dominates to start, no-selling Yoko's offense in true Undertaker fashion. This match is mostly Yoko making funny faces and acting scared of the casket and the Undertaker in an comical manner that almost borders on racist at times. Undertaker flies out of the ring onto Yoko with the flying snow tiger driver, and then lifts him up on his shoulders for a burning hammmer! No, not really, but can you imagine? Both men exchange punches and kicks as this mostly just a brawl inside and out of the ring with 'Taker occassionally no-selling Yoko's offense for dramatic effect. Both men end up in the casket eventually, exchanging blows for awhile in there until Fuji tries to pull Undertakers hair. That's a no-go in 'Taker book apparently as he tears after Fuji and knocks out Jim Cornette with one punch. They brawl back into the ring as this is literally nothing but punches here with an occasional irish whip or two. 'Taker hits his clothesline spot off the top rope as we get a shot of Chuck Norris on the outside, looking cool as shit as always. Eventually Bam Bam Bigelow and King Kong Bundy make their way to ringside, but they want none of Chuck Norris or his epic beard. While he and the refs are distracted however IRS comes into the ring and begins beating down on Undertaker. Yoko puts Taker into the casket but can't close the lid, prompting Jeff Jarrett to come down to ringside for some reason. Chuck Norris will have none of this though and gives him a freaking SUPERKICK! No, seriously, he does! 'Taker hits a few of his usual spots inside of the ring before kicking Yoko into the casket, breaking the Japanese flag, tossing it on Yoko's prone bodya nd slamming the casket shut for the victory at 15:24. Another very bad match between these two that's enjoyable in a cheesy way thanks to the antics of Chuck Norris outside of the ring. 15 minutes is too long for Yoko however. Yokozuna would never recover from this loss, drifting into the midcard after this before passing away due to health issues. *, and that's being generous.

BOTTOM LINE: Overall this is a decent show, but it's one that peaks early with the first Survivor Series match and the WWF title match. The other Survivor Series match isn't particularly bad though and you've got Chuck Norris in the otherwise terrible main event, so the good outweighs the bad overall on this show leading me to mildly recommend this show. You've got to see the Bret Hart-Bob Backlund match if you never have as it's another classic from this period in the WWF.

Score: 6.5/10

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