Monday Night Raw (03/01/93)
Arnold Furious: Hosts are Vince McMahon, Randy Savage and Rob Bartlett (pretending to be Elvis).
Bret Hart (c) vs. Fatu
Here’s the historical first WWF title defence on Raw. Fatu doesn’t even get an entrance, which shows you how seriously we’re taking this. But he is a good choice for a title defence as Fatu is capable and Bret, when he had someone worth carrying, was a master of making the mundane worthwhile. Bret should have Fatu in his pocket. He’s faster, he’s technically superior and they’re about equal on all Fatu’s usual strengths. They keep the pace high, which is the staple of the TV match. It has to be fast as TV crowds lose interest a lot quicker than PPV or even house show crowds. Even when Bret slows it up with an armbar, they don’t sit in it for long. Fatu does have one advantage; his hard head. Bret forgets this and tries to drive it into the mat. Fatu pops up and superkicks him for a near fall. Fatu didn’t quite have the chops to go main event style and settles into one of those nerve pinches that everybody hates. Bret sells the bejesus out of it but that’s why he’s the champ; make the challengers look credible. The biggest shock of the match? Rob Bartlett’s Elvis impression isn’t terrible. I guess that’s his A-Game. Samu strolls out to provide moral support and a scoop slams on the floor. Triple teaming, along with manager Afa, The Headshrinkers give Bret a numbers game problem. Bret, even more than Hogan, tended to keep to himself as a babyface champ. Even Shawn Michaels palled around with Jose Lothario. I guess when the extent of the threat is a tag team guy who’s never beaten anyone of worth, you can go solo. Bret came into this match with a minor nose injury, which opens up during the bout and Fatu, being a heel, bites it. Fatu gets suckered into heading upstairs and Bret launches into the Five Moves of Doom. Sharpshooter is applied but Samu jumps in, breaks it up and pins Bret himself. Switcheroo! Earl Hebner doesn’t even notice, which goes to show how easy it is to screw Bret. The Hitman runs the heels together, dropkicks Afa off the apron and hooks the Sharpshooter again. This time Fatu quits and Bret retains. As I said at the top; Bret made the challenger look like a real threat, which shows you how good he was at his job. It helps matters that he’s got blood all over his face from the busted nose.
Final Rating: ***¼
Video Control takes us to Scheme Gene who shills WrestleMania. He’s bright orange and is either plastered in fake tan or relocated to his summer home… on the Sun! He runs down the card, which as James already mentioned, is appalling. For a WrestleMania, they don’t even have a marquee match. We get a video interview with Crush, brah, who crushes a coconut, brah, with his bare hands, brah.
Doink the Clown vs. Koko B. Ware
Heel Doink is so sinister. It was a great character because of how he played it. Anyone who finds extreme violence chucklesome has to be a sociopath. Doink takes offence at how colourful the Birdman’s ring attire is and jumps him while he’s flapping his wings around like a cockamamie circus act. Doink just takes Koko apart with an STF and other brutal leg holds. Half the time it looks like Doink doesn’t know what to do next; other than hurt the poor guy. Stump Puller finishes. The match was a squash, but Doink was terrific. “Elvis” wants to know what Doink has to eat, LIVING THE GIMMICK, and Doink smashes him in the face with a pie. It would have been more appropriate if the pie had a brick in it. That was more Doink’s line and a simple pie gag diluted it a bit.
Final Rating: *
Interview Time: Money Inc. Vince handles the in-ring interview. Ted DiBiase uses his talk time to chat about American Express chief James Robertson. He calls $1.1M a “slap in the face” as severance pay. “American Express? The next time I leave home it’ll be without it”. The usual DiBiase cackle made the line work. Ted moves on to Hogan, who he calls “soft” after a year goofing off in Hollywood. IRS calls the briefcase up Beefcake’s head a “wake up call”. Unfortunately he then dubs the briefcase the “Beefcase”. Ted makes some strong points about the weaknesses of the Megamaniacs and puts the belts on the line at ‘Mania. This was a good angle. Like James, I feel aggrieved that the resultant match is so bad.
Lex Luger vs. PJ Walker
“Elvis” likes Luger because “he makes boobies dance”. Rob Bartlett hasn’t annoyed me yet. Walker is the future Aldo Montoya and Justin Credible. Bobby Heenan joins commentary via phone to talk about Flexi Lexi. “Make them boobies dance there, Lex!” Bartlett continues to amuse me for a change. Luger treats PJ like the jobber he is, and will always be, and pins him with his little finger after a forearm smash. Luger spent more time posing than wrestling.
Final Rating: ¼*
The Steiner Brothers vs. Duane Gill & Barry Hardy
Remember when Duane Gill had a bleached blond skullethawk? It was awesome. Normally these guys worked as The Executioners, but they had outrageous hair that deserved to be shown. The Steiners had fun throwing The Executioners around, now they get to do the same to them unmasked. As per usual it’s a brotherly contest to see who can do the most damage to their jobber. As per usual Scott wins it because he hits a Frankensteiner. Yeah, a Frankensteiner. In a jobber match. Ah, well, I enjoyed it.
Final Rating: *½
Next Week: Money Inc vs. Tito Santana & Virgil. Mr Perfect vs. Rick Martel. The second of those sounds like a really good idea. As long as Santana gets the majority of the tag, that should be good too. Viva March!
Vince McMahon: Elvis, you’re a mess.
Rob Bartlett: Thank you, man, I do my best.
Home run, Rob, home run.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Bret Hart. Took a no-hoper midcard tag wrestler and turned him into a top contender in 15-minutes. Then submitted him and moved on to the main event of the biggest show of the year. All while bleeding from the face. You’re my hero, Bret!
Least Entertaining: Lex Luger. The only guy on the show who couldn’t have fun with a squash. Everyone else on the card knew exactly how much fun they should be having. The Steiners, Bret and Doink had a blast winning their matches.
Quote of the Night: “Jimmy Hart was a way, way overpaid gopher. Go for this, Jimmy, go for that Jimmy” – Ted DiBiase
Match of the Night: Bret Hart vs. Fatu
Summary: This was a decent show. Even Rob Bartlett had a good night. The Elvis routine was just starting to get tired as the show finished, so that was perfect. He does seem better used playing characters but as was evidenced with his “Mike Tyson” he doesn’t have much range. The wrestling was good on the whole and even the in-ring interview was ok.