It was on this day in 1994 that my late father took my brother and I to our first live professional wrestling show.
I’d gotten into pro wrestling a year earlier, when the morning after Wrestlemania IX, the kids I walked to school with told me about the end of the show, where the villainous Yokozuna cheated to win the WWF Championship from Bret “Hitman” Hart, only to be immediately challenged and defeated by perennial hero, Hulk Hogan, when Yoko’s attempt at cheating again backfired. The story was the best tale of a villain immediately getting his comeuppance that my ten year old brain had ever heard, and while I’d SEEN wrestling before that, I never really connected with anything. So, I BELIEVE it was that night that I turned on Monday Night Raw for the first time, but maybe it was the following week. We’re going back nearly 30 years, and I can’t remember EVERY detail of my life.
Anyways, fast forward to April 28th, 1994. It was Bring Your Daughters to Work Day, but my dad worked for the government, and one of his coworkers jokingly complained about how that was sexist. So for that year, his office became “Bring Your Daughters And Sons to Work Day.” Yes, I’m well aware that the entire reason for Bring Your Daughters to Work Day was to combat sexism, but whatever. I was 11. I didn’t understand systematic sexism. All I knew is that I got a day off of school and I got to see what my dad did for a living.
At one point, we went out for a cigarette with my dad’s coworker, and that guy and I got talking about what was going on in the WWF at the time, and that we were excited for the upcoming live event at the Boston Garden. I’d never been to a live show, and certainly couldn’t afford tickets myself at 11, so I didn’t think I’d get to go. But I was still excited for some of the matches to happen. And then at lunch, my dad surprised me when we walked over to the Boston Garden box office, and he bought tickets for the two of us and my little brother to go see the show! What? Dad always came across like he hated wrestling, why would he spend that much money on the three of us? But he did, and I was giddy!
The show was two days later, although my memory is that it was forever away. We got there, and after getting some snacks and sodas, we went over to the merch booth. I got a pair of Bret Hart sunglasses, as he was the champion and my favorite. My brother got a foam championship belt. We made our way to our seats, and strapped in!
To be 100% honest, I don’t remember all of the events of every match we saw that night. In fact, I didn’t even remember all the matches that happened. But thanks to the magic of the Internet, I found the card for that night on http://wweppvresultz.weebly.com/wwf-live-event-results-1994.html, so here’s what I saw:
- Kwang pinned the 1-2-3 Kid
- Mabel defeated Bam Bam Bigelow via Count-Out
- The Heavenly Bodies defeated the Smoking Gunns
- Razor Ramon defeated WWF Intercontinental Champion Diesel via disqualification from IRS
- WWF Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze defeated Leilani Kai (sub for Luna Vachon)
- IRS defeated Tatanka when Tatanka pushed the referee
- Lex Luger pinned Crush (sub for Mr. Perfect)
- World Wrestling Federation Champion Bret Hart pinned Owen Hart.
Here are some highlights of each match that I DO recall, along with images of 1995 WWF trading cards (or other images if they didn’t have cards in that set) so people reading this who don’t know about wrestling in 1994 can get an idea of what each participant looked like:
Kwang was a mysterious masked ninja character, who we would later learn was portrayed by Puerto Rican wrestler Savio Vega. He was notorious for spitting green mist into other wrestlers’ faces, and I still distinctly remember the older woman sitting behind us yelling “WATCH OUT FOR THE GREEN STUFF!” as a warning to the WWF’s punching bag, the 1-2-3 Kid.
I don’t really remember Mabel vs Bam Bam Bigelow, but I DO remember how loud the “BAM! BAM!!” in Bigelow’s theme was, and I DEFINITELY remember Mabel making his entrance to the ring, accompanied by his tag team partner Mo and their rapping manager, Oscar. Collectively, Mabel, Oscar, and Mo were known as M.O.M., the “Men On a Mission.” And Oscar came out to his own knock off version of “Whoomp! There It Is!,” the chart-topping hit by the rap group called Tag Team. But this tag team was not that Tag Team, they just happened to be *A* tag team who used the song of the other Tag Team. Got it? Anyways, my dad went around singing “Whoomp theh it is” in his thick Bostonian accent for months afterwards.
I don’t at all remember the Heavenly Bodies vs Smoking Gunns match, but I sure do remember the Smoking Gunns, in their cowboy attire, shooting their cap guns off into the air before the match started.
I remember Razor Ramon vs Diesel had a strange beginning. Razor’s music played, but he didn’t come out. They started playing his music again, but he still didn’t come out. So they played Diesel’s music, and he made his way to the ring along with Shawn Michaels. And while they were entering the ring, Razor jumped them from behind. The previous week, Shawn and Diesel had cheated and won Razor Ramon’s Intercontinental Championship, so “The Bad Guy” Razor (who was the hero in this story) was out for revenge. The match ened with wrestling tax attorney Irwin R. Schyster, or, “IRS,” interfering and causing a disqualification. If I recall, this was the end of a months-long feud between Razor, Shawn, and Diesel as IRS then began to question if Razor had paid off all the gold chains he wore around his neck before his matches started.
The early 1990s was a very strange time in wrestling.
There was an intermission before we came back to the Women’s Championship match. I don’t remember this match at all, because I could’ve sworn that it was between champion Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano. But I just checked, and Nakano didn’t enter the WWF until August, and this event was in April. Blayze had just defeated Leilani Kai for the WWF Women’s title at Wrestlemania earlier in the month, so I guess this match makes sense.
Next up was the aforementioned IRS vs Native American wrestler Tatanka, who had started feuding when IRS reposessed Tatanka’s feathered headdress. I don’t really remember much about this match, except that IRS was being a villain and cheating, and I think Tatanka complained to the referee a handfull of times. When the ref refused to disqualify IRS for cheating, as it was always done JUST out of sight of the referee’s sight, Tatanka pushed the ref and got disqualified, to a chorus of boos.
I don’t know if I ever realized that this was a story about the US government stealing from Native Americans until just right now. And then IRS went on to feud with a Cuban over his jewelry. Wow, Irwin R. Schyster was a jerk, you guys.
So at Wrestlemania X, Lex Luger was “screwed” out of his defeat of WWF Champion Yokozuna by special guest referee Mr. Perfect, when Luger’s frustration ended with him shoving the referee and being disqualified. Perfect was supposed to be in this match, but he was dealing with a neck injury in real life, and so was substituted with Crush, a Hawaiian native who turned his back on America to ally with the Japanese Yokozuna and his manager, Mr. Fuji. I was disappointed to not see Mr. Perfect, but Crush was my first favorite wrestler, and even though he was a bad guy now, I was excited to see him. Unfortunately, Lex Luger’s matches at the time were about as exciting as watching linoleum curl, so the only thing I remember is how weird Crush’s intro music sounded at the time.
The main event was Bret “Hitman” Hart versus his brother, “The Rocket” Owen Hart, for Bret’s WWF Chamionship. Owen had defeated Bret at Wrestlemania X, but then Bret went on to win the championship from Yokozuna (WM10 was a very complicated event). I remember Owen spending a lot of time outside the ring, refusing to wrestle. At one point, he pulled one of the production cases out from under the ring, and proceeded to have Bret chase him. Owen’s plan was to have Bret turn the corner, not see the case, and trip. Instead, Bret jumped over the case and continued chasing his brother around the outside of the ring. When they got all the way back around the ring, Owen must have forgotten about his trap, because he ended up tripping over the case himself, and falling flat on his face. Bret ended up winning the match, and the entire crowd went home happy.
I’ve been to dozens of live wrestling events since that night in 1994, including three Wrestlemanias. And while there were some bigger events, some more memorable highlights, and much bigger production value in the later shows, this first, live, non-televised event will always be one of my favorites.