Wednesday, November 1, 2023

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1994)

Back to sub-standard Survivor Series fare.....

Survivor Series 1994 - Freeman Coliseum - 11/23/94

Here's an ugly bit of business.  Survivor Series '94 saw the return of 5-on-5 elimination matches, which sounds like it'd be great.  Unfortunately the WWF didn't seem to care about making them seem at all important, so they came off as a jumbled mess.  The two main events on the show were singles matches (this began an infuriating trend of every major feud on a Survivor Series card being settled in a singles match while the elimination matches were treated as obligatory filler), neither of which really delivered.

Far too similar to the first match on the 1991 card, the opening match here had all the hallmarks of a classic.  The Bad Guys - Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, British Bulldog, and The Headshrinkers vs. The Teamsters - Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jeff Jarrett.  A bunch of good workers and a bunch of future main eventers.  What could go wrong?  Well, much like its 1991 counterpart, this match started out great, establishing Diesel as a killing machine, and then about twenty minutes in, ended with five - FIVE - men getting eliminated at the same time, with one guy left standing as the winner.  This was so unbelievably stupid.  It all happened after Shawn accidentally superkicked Diesel (the third time this had happened), leading to Diesel chasing Shawn out of the ring and back to the dressing room.  The rest of their team went with them to try and break up the impending melee, and the referee counted the whole team (yes, the WHOLE TEAM) out of the ring.  Umm, shouldn't only the legal man be counted out?  And then the next legal man would get counted out?  So like, shouldn't the referee have had to count to fifty to eliminate the entire team?

Hey look, it's the Kliq......and Davey Boy.

Look, dummies.  Here's what you do with this match.  The main objectives were obviously to break up Shawn and Diesel, turn Diesel face, and position Diesel as the next main event guy.  So instead of wasting everyone's time with a 20-minute match without a third act and a totally nonsensical ending, how 'bout you have Diesel run through Razor's whole team (like he did), tag Shawn in (like he did), hold Razor for the superkick (like he did), have Shawn miss and hit Diesel (like he did), and then have Razor roll Shawn up for the pin.  Then Diesel (now the legal man) realizes what happened and angrily chases Shawn back to the dressing room, thus getting counted out and making it a 3-on-1 match.  Razor gallantly battles Owen, Jarrett and Neidhart, eventually eliminating "The Anvil," befor Owen and Jarrett's heel tactics become too much and Jarrett covers Razor for the win (thus setting Jarrett up as the #1 I-C contender, which they were gonna do anyway!).  Would that have been so hard?  Then you'd have an epic, dramatic elimination match that elevated Diesel and Jarrett, set up the Shawn-Diesel feud, and painted Razor as a courageous fighter who never gave up despite the long odds.

Nope, let's just throw out another potentially awesome Survivor Series match.  Next?

From bad to worse, the next match pitted Jerry Lawler and three midget wrestlers dressed like Jerry Lawler, against Doink the Clown and three midget wrestlers dressed like Doink the Clown.  On paper this is bad enough, but the rules of the match presented a bigger problem: the full-size wrestlers were not allowed to be in the ring with the little wrestlers.  So that meant if one of the full-size guys were pinned, his team became incapable of winning because the three little guys weren't allowed to fight the opposing full-size guy.   This exact scenario occurred ten and a half minutes in, when Doink was the first one eliminated.  So at best if Dink, Pink and Wink eliminated Lawler's teammates Cheesy, Queasy and Sleazy, that would leave them at a stalemate since Lawler wouldn't be able to fight his remaining three opponents.  But that didn't stop this match from going another six minutes.  That's right, this was a 16+-minute comedy match where one team was mathematically precluded from winning ten minutes in.  Even if the reverse were true and Doink's partners were all eliminated first, Doink wouldn't be able to wrestle their counterparts and therefore couldn't win either.  This might be the most pointless match of all time.  Someone clearly didn't think things through when they booked it.

Next up might be the most overrated match in the history of this event: WWF Champion Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund in a Submission match where a winner could only be declared if a wrestler's cornerman threw in the towel (see 'cause in 1983 when Backlund lost the WWF Title it was due to his manager Arnold Skaaland throwing in the towel).  Now that sounds pretty awesome, and when these two wrestled on RAW over the summer it was a damn good match.  But this particular time they turned in twenty minutes of good wrestling, followed by an angle wherein Backlund's cornerman Owen Hart knocked out Bret's cornerman Davey Boy Smith.  Meanwhile Backlund had locked Bret in the dreaded Crossface Chickenwing but since Bret now had no cornerman the match couldn't end.  Owen then pleaded with his mother Helen to throw in the towel to save Bret from permanent injury.  I'll admit this was a pretty creative way to have a title change hands, but in execution this angle took fifteen minutes.  Fif. Teen. Minutes.  43% of this bout's running time consisted of Bret being stuck in a submission hold and Owen conning his mom into ending the match.  So yeah it bored the shit out of me.  And after all this, Backlund dropped the belt to Diesel in a one-move match three days later.  Simply stunning.

This is actually an animated GIF of the last 15 minutes of this match.

The other elimination match also seemed pretty promising but ended up being very forgettable.  The Million Dollar Team - King Kong Bundy, Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatanka and The Heavenly Bodies vs. Guts & Glory - Lex Luger, Adam Bomb, Mabel and The Smokin' Gunns.  There's certainly not much workrate there, but this could've been okay.  Alas it was slow and dull, and aside from the 3-on-1 drama that I'm a sucker for, provided little to care about.  Bam Bam and Bundy were the winners.  How far did Luger's stock fall over the course of a year, by the way?

The main event was a rematch from the '94 Royal Rumble - Undertaker vs. Yokozuna in a Casket Match.  By the way I just realized Bret Hart main evented zero PPVs during his second (and longest) title reign.  That's smart.  Anywho, Taker-Yoko II was just as bad as the first installment.  These two didn't work well together at all and this was yet another terrible Survivor Series headlining match for Taker.

The 1994 edition was another step back for this PPV event.  The elimination matches were lackluster and/or flummoxing, and the two main events were quite boring.  The company was still looking for the next Hulk Hogan, and thought they had found him in Diesel.  History, and the WWF audience, would tell a different story, as Kevin Nash went on to be one of the worst-drawing long-term champions ever.  What's funny is I thought Taker's main event win here was going to set him up to challenge Backlund for the Title, and I was excited.  Then Diesel swooped in and I was pissed.  Oh, and Survivor Series 1994 is for the birds, I assure you.

Best Match: The Bad Guys vs. The Teamsters, again by default
Worst Match: The Royal Family vs. Clowns R' Us - it's no mystery why this won Wrestling Observer's Worst Match of the Year award.
What I'd Change: Hey, instead of doing the exact same shitty Casket Match from the Rumble, how 'about Taker and Yokozuna each captain a team, hmmm?  Put Bret-Backlund last and cut the match-ending angle down to 5 minutes so it doesn't put me to sleep.  Restructure the Razor match as outlined above, and if you must include a comedy match, make the Doink-Lawler match one-fall and only 7-8 minutes.
Most Disappointing Match: Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund
Most Pleasant Surprise: Nothing
Overall Rating: 3/10
Better than WrestleMania X and/or Summerslam '94? - Not in a million years.

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