Saturday, 9 August 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1994

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1994: Event poster
November 23, 1994
Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas


And so another year of World Wrestling Federation pay per views was coming to an end. For this writer, 1994 was the first year I reviewed in complete chronological order, starting way back with the 1994 Royal Rumble, and working my way through to tonight's attraction.

For the WWF, things had progressed steadily from the dying days of Hulkmania in early 1993 to today, when a new crop of stars were making their mark on the upper echelons of the card, and driving their product headfirst into The New Generation.

Though no other reviews of this show seem to mention it, WWF Survivor Series 1994 had a completely different feel to it than other shows around that time, and I don't just mean because the quality of my video is so poor (meaning the images in this review will probably be poor, too).

More, I mean that the presentation felt different.

No overly-long introductions, very few 'tween-match promos, and less stage lighting than fans have come to expect. Not that this was a bad thing. Instead, we got a much greater focus on in-ring action aplenty.

Let's get to the show and find out what happened, shall we?


Team talk

Prior to tonight's show, we got some backstage footage recorded Earlier Today, showing each of tonight's Survivor Series teams discussing tactics.

Shawn Michaels' Teamsters were pumped and ready, Razor Ramon told his Bad Guys to take out Big Daddy Cool Diesel first, Lex Luger instilled in his boys Guts and Glory that it was all about pride, and in response, Luger's rivals in The Million Dollar Team were given a pep talk from boss Ted Dibiase.

Doink and his Clowns R' Us team giggled manically, and their opponents The Royal Family didn't give too much away, team captain Jerry 'The King' Lawler shooing the camera man out of the room.

Welcome to San Antonio
Our commentary team for this evening's entertainment were none other than Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon, both decked in typical Texan cowboy gear. The duo welcomed us to the show and hyped our main event, a casket match between The Undertaker and Yokozuna, with TV star and all-round bad ass Chuck Norris employed as the Special Guest Celebrity Shenanigan Dude.

With that out of the way, it was on to the show.

Five on Five Survivor Series Elimination match
The Teamsters (WWF Tag Team Champions Diesel and Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart and Jeff Jarrett) 
vs. 
The Bad Guys (WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon, The 123 Kid, The British Bulldog and The Headshrinkers, Sione and Fatu, w/ Afa and Captain Lou Albano)
Fun fact: This was the second time Jim Neidhart and Shawn Michaels had been part of the same Survivor Series team, the first being five years ago at Survivor Series 1989, when, along with Marty Jannetty, they backed up The Ultimate Warrior in his battle against The Heenan Family.


WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1989 - The Ultimate Warrior's team

Now the roles were reversed, and both men were on the heel side of the fence for what was a fantastic opening match.

Sure, this bout only had one objective (cementing Big Daddy Cool's face turn), but in the run up to that, we got some fantastic action.

In the early going, 123 Kid enjoyed some solid exchanges with Jeff Jarrett and The King of Harts, Owen Hart, whilst the latter's tussle with brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith also stood out as an early highlight. 

On and on they went, with Owen, Neidhart and Jarrett taking on the workload for The Teamsters against all five members of The Bad Guys, which included the man formerly known as The Barbarian, who had replaced a departing Samu in the The Headshrinkers tag team and now went by the name Sione.

Between them, the eight active combatants treated us to a fast paced, enjoyable affair, devoid of all eliminations.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1994: WWF Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels and Diesel lead The Teamsters into action
Of course, those were being saved for the arrival of Diesel, who eventually entered the fray and took out 123 Kid and The Headshrinkers in short order.

Davey Boy smith returned to the action and took the fight to his larger opponent, but was eventually thrown to the outside, where an assault at the hands of Owen, Jarrett and The Anvil led to his demise. 

As the only remaining member of his team, Razor picked up the slack against Diesel in a brief replay of their Summerslam 1994 effort. Alas, it was to little avail at first. Again, the whole point of this match was to solidify Diesel's babyface turn and put him over as a dominating bad ass of a man. To that end, Big Daddy Cool took control again, and, after escaping a Razor's Edge attempt, took out The Bad Guy with The Big Boot Of Doom.

Then came the finish. BDC struck Razor with the jacknife, Shawn Michaels, who thus far hadn't tagged in for the entire match, finally entered the ring and persuaded his partner to hold Razor in place for some Sweet Chin Music.

Unsurprisingly, Razor ducked, and Diesel ate HBK's boot for the third time that year. That was enough for the former Vinnie Vegas.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1994: Diesel chases Shawn Michaels out of the arena.
Beating up his fellow Teamsters en route, Big Daddy Cool stalked Michaels to the backstage area. Finally putting an end to things, the referee counted out all five members of The Teamsters (not sure how that's possible if only one man was legal), and Razor won the match.
Your winners: The Bad Guys - Razor Ramon is your sole survivor

Backstage, Shawn Michaels had already grabbed his bags and was hightailing towards his limo with Todd Pettengill in tow. Pettengill's attempts to get a word from Michaels were in vein. The erstwhile Intercontinental Champion made it to the limo and sped off into the night.

Four on Four Survivor Series Elimination Match
The Royal Family (Jerry 'The King' Lawler, Sleazy, Queasy and Cheesy) 
vs. 
Clowns R' Us (Doink The Clown, Dink, Pink and Wink)
The rules here followed those similar to inter-gender matches, Doink vs, Lawler, Midgets vs. Midgets, not that such rules were stringently enforced.

The first part of this match was actually a lot of fun, and followed a simple formula: Doink would get the upper-hand, pull of some kind of spot and put Lawler in trouble. Lawler would fight back, attempt the same spot and have it backfire. 

Doink would regain the advantage, and get his Mini-Mes to assist him in another spot designed to punish Lawler. The King would once again take control and once again attempt to top Doink's efforts, only for it backfire yet again and put Lawler in more trouble.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1994: Jerry 'The King' Lawler got a pie in the face courtesy of Doink The ClownIt was fun, it was enjoyable, it was effective as comic relief. Your writer even confesses to letting slip a chuckle or two.

Yet any enjoyment gradually gave way to a sigh of fatigue as things really started to drag. I'm all for comedy matches, but believe they can be much more effective if they're kept short. Unfortunately, this one just kept going and going, and showed no signs of stopping, not even when Doink was eliminated.

Instead we got more action between the mini wrestlers which, with the clowns bouncing around like crazy, wasn't actually bad, but failed to entertain this writer.
As The Neverending Comedy Match went on and on, Lawler's Royal Family systematically picked off the remaining clowns, who each hid under the ring following their elimination.

After what felt like the longest time in history, The Royal Family pinned the last midget funnyman to win the match:
Your Winners: The Royal Family (everybody survived)

In the post-match, Lawler ordered his team mates to stop raising their hand in victory, so that he could claim the entire win for himself and bask in the glory of the San Antonio crowd. The little Royals refused. Repeat again (just because this thing seemed determined to last forever), and again, until finally, Sleezy, Queasy and Cheezy turned on The King with the help from the three little clowns hiding under the ring. 

The six midget wrestlers chased Lawler up the entrance way, where he was met with a pie to the face courtesy of Doink The Clown.

Your New Women's Champion
Backstage, Todd Pettengill told us that Bull Nakano had recently defeated Alundra Blayze for the WWF Women's Championship in front of 45,000 fans at Tokyo's Egg Dome. Pettengill attempted to interview the new champion on what he called 'The WWF Survivor Set,' but Nakano would only speak in Japanese, and there wasn't much point to the whole thing. 

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1994: Owen Hart was Bob Backlund's second in Backlund's WWF Championship match against Bret 'The Hitman' HartWorld Wrestling Federation Championship Submission Match
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart w/ Davey Boy Smith vs. Bob Backlund w/ Owen Hart
In only his second ever WWF pay per view, and his first since Wrestlemania IX (in a losing effort to Razor Ramon), Bob Backlund challenged WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a match where you could only win if your opponent's second threw in the towel on their behalf. 

This came about as Backlund -now a fully-fledged lunatic heel- had claimed that he never actually lost the WWF title in his December 1983 match against The Iron Shiek. That day, Backlund's manager Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel for Backlund, awarding the belt to the Iron Sheik in a forerunner to the rise of Hulkamania.


Now, Backlund, who still believed he was the champion, had a chance to get his title back in a submission match fought under 'throw in the towel rules' (if there is such a thing).

As a result, we got a thirty-plus minute wrestling clinic from the veteran challenger and a champion in the prime of his career. 

Both men started off aggressively in the early going, brawling and beating the hell out of each other before finding their groove and settling into a submission match for the ages. 

Sure, it seemed to lag at times, but for the most part, this was a solid effort that perfectly rounded off Bret's year of stellar PPV matches. 

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1994: WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart was accompanied by his second, The British Bulldog
Following a dramatic, intense affair, the champion locked his famed Sharpshooter on the challenger only for brother Owen, Backlund's cornerman, to run in and clobber The Hitman from behind. Coming to the aid of the man he beat at Summerslam 1992, Bret's second, Davey Boy Smith promptly gave chase, only to be tripped up by Owen and unconscious on the ring steps.a

Taking advantage of the ensuing confusion, Backlund slapped his opponent in his patented chickenwing and refused to let go. With Bret in completely agony, Bob and Owen nonetheless had a dilemma: How could the Bulldog throw in the towel when he was knocked out cold?

Several attempts at reviving Davey Boy coming to nothing, The King of Harts came up with a cunning plan, instead pleading to the mercies of his parents, Stu and Helen Hart, who were sat at ringside as they were for many a high-profile Hitman match.

'That's my brother!'  cried Owen, in a convincing display of remorse as he tried to convince his parents that he had seen the error of his ways and was now only concerned about the champion's safety. 

Owen was on fine form here, putting in a performance outside the ring to math, in terms of sheer enjoyment, anything going on in the ring.

The stubborn Stu was adamant that he would not throw in the towel, but Helen, showing the kind of compassion only a mother is capable of, was more receptive to the pleas of her youngest offspring, snatching the towel out of her husband's hands and tossing it into the ring, thus awarding the match to new WWF Champion, Mr. Bob Backlund.
Your Winner, and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion: Bob Backlund

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1994: Owen Hart pleaded with his mother and father to throw the towel in on Bret's behalfAs The Hitman contemplated his fate as the only man to have lost at WWF Championship thanks to his mother, his younger brother Owen revealed the whole thing to be a rouse. Concerned about his brother? Not at all! The King of Harts was delighted with the outcome, and skipped off merrily to the backstage area, his plans to rid his brother of the title having finally come to fruition.

Not that it mattered of course, Backlund would lose the title to Diesel in a short bout just three days later, and Owen wouldn't have much to do with his brother for the next several years.

Owen gloats
Backstage, Owen Hart was interviewed by Todd Pettingzoo. The King of Harts claimed that Bret was now below him in the WWF heirarchy, and vowed to top his brother's achievements by becoming the tag team champion, Intercontinental Champion, and the greatest WWF Champion of all time. Two out of three wasn't bad eh, Owen?

Oh no he didn't!
Back out in the arena, an incensed Gorilla Monsoon sat with his arms folded, flabbergasted at the idea that the heel, Owen Hart, would have done something so like a heel. Yeah.

Five on Five Survivor Series Elimination match
The Million Dollar Team (King Kong Bundy, Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatanka and The Heavenly Bodies, Jimmy Del Ray and Tom Prichard w/ The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase) 
vs.
Guts and Glory (Lex Luger, Mabel, Adam Bomb and The Smoking Gunns, Billy and Bart Gunn w/ Oscar)
Since we last saw them at Summerslam, The Million Dollar Corporation had expanded to include Wrestlemania II headliner, King Kong Bundy, and of course, Tatanka, who turned heel at said Summerslam show and aligned himself with Ted Dibiase's contingent.

Squaring off against the man he betrayed, Lex Luger, Tatanka looked impressive in the early going here, though everybody besides Bundy had something to offer. 

As a result, we got another good match even if, much like the earlier Clown/King clash, it did start to drag on a little as the bodies began to drop.

That aside, this was a fun contest which managed to deliver something completely different from the previous two elimination matches. 

As Luger's star continued to fall from the heights of his huge Summer 1993 push, his team were eliminated and both Bundy and Bam Bam Bigelow survived for The Million Dollar Team:
Your Winners: The Million Dollar Team (Bam Bam Bigelow and King Kong Bundy are your sole survivors)

Post-match, the bad guys beat down on Lex until his team mates came to his aid.

A word with your new champion

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1994: New WWF Champion Bob Backlund cut an awesome post-match promo
Backstage, new WWF Champion Bob Backlund held court at a press conference, where he once again claimed to have never lost the championship in the first place, and insisted that he had simply regained the actual championship belt. 

Backlund was both insane and awesome here, going from quiet, deliberate speech to outright screeching and screaming. It was captivating to watch, and I would have loved to see more of Bob Backlund - Your Pyschotic Champion. Alas, it was not to be. As we've already mentioned, Mr. Backlund's second reign as champion would last less than a week.

Casket match:
Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
Special Guest Enforcer
And so we round out 1994 in the way it began, with a casket match between The Undertaker and Yokozuna.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1994: Yokozuna battled The Undertaker in a rematch from their 1994 Royal Rumble casket match
Hoping to prevent a repeat of the Royal Rumble affair, when half the heel roster cost The Undertaker (and apparently killed him for a bit), Walker Texas Ranger star and future Internet meme, Chuck Norris was employed to stand outside the ring and stop any bad guys from getting involved.

The match itself was actually pretty good stuff. Not a five-star classic by any standards, but an engaging story that book-ended 1994 in a fitting way. Yoko played scared of The Deadman at first, before finally getting stuck in and battling tooth and nail with the man he had defeated that past January.

The heels did indeed try to get involved, but Norris was there to see them off, all leading to the inevitable victory for The Undertaker.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

And that, dear readers, was the last time we would see Yokozuna in a WWF main event. Pushed as an unstoppable monster from his debut in late 1992 and all the way through to Wrestlemania 10, Yoko struggled to regain momentum after dropping the title to The Hitman. After being stuffed in a casket by The Undertaker, you could say he was never the same again, instead seeing out the remainder of his career as a mid-card act.

It's not as if the World Wrestling Federation didn't need its share of credible challengers to the WWF title. With Big Daddy Cool Diesel on top for the next twelve months, he could have well done with challengers like Yokozuna rather than, as we would see at next year's Summerslam, the God awful Mabel.
Despite some wackiness and some complete crap, 1994 was a good year for WWF pay per view matches. Unfortunately, things would only hit a new low in 1995.

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