Monday Night Raw (08/09/93)
James Dixon: This is the third show in a row taped back in July, as the WWF starts getting lazy with Raw. Randy Savage rejoins Vince and Heenan on commentary.
Tatanka vs. Mr. Hughes
Inevitably, we start with Tatanka. With the amount of airtime he got you could be forgiven for mistaking him for this era’s John Cena. Hughes has not impressed me over the course of these Raw tapings, and he shows why by headbutting Tatanka in the balls as he goes for a leapfrog, causing an untidy tumble. Vince shows he isn’t even really watching, and says “what a move!” Tatanka seems determined to get something out of the slug, and throws in some energetic moves, but gets thwarted by Hughes’ weak offence, falling afoul of a clothesline that barely connects. Hughes was not exactly good at selling either, and ignores Tatanka’s ultimately futile attempts at showing some fire. We come back from commercial break with Hughes holding a neck vice. The excitement levels are off the charts! Hughes misses a fat man splash in the corner and Tatanka Hulks Up, with Hughes losing his shades in the process and Heenan claiming he is Barry White. Vince amuses by “accidentally” calling Hughes the same during his play-by-play. They brawl at ringside and Tatanka hits an impressive backbody drop on the outside and rolls back in to win on a count out. Post match, Tatanka is distracted by Harvey Wippleman, and Hughes levels him with the stolen urn then lays a wreath on him for good measure. You know, this was actually fairly watchable thanks to Tatanka’s energy. The difference between his motivation as a babyface and his awful sluggishness when he turned heel, is astounding.
Final Rating: *¼
Who is Lex Luger? – Oh man, not this tedious bollocks again! Dear Lex, your life was incredibly boring prior to wrestling, and it didn’t improve much after that! You know what would have got Luger over more than these never-ending sit down interviews? Wrestling matches where he cleanly beat genuine threats. Not choking in the big matches probably would have helped as well. Vince wanted to push Lex, and his brain said yes but his heart said no, probably because he was an ex-WCW guy, but the trigger was never fully pulled. The Lex Express and all the post USS Intrepid hype was merely fluff, because he didn’t actually DO anything to make him a star in the ring. These segments are really, really horrible.
The Bushwhackers & The Macho Midget vs. The Brooklyn Brawler, Blake Beverly & Little Louie
I cannot believe I am having to suffer through The Bushwhackers on Raw in 1993. Furthermore, who the hell threw together the heel team!? Brawler and Blake Beverly!? I guess Mike Enos (Beau) had just left the company and this was during Blake’s ten minute singles run. And aren’t they just giving him every chance to get over by putting him in matches like this!? Jesus, The Macho Midget sure was an ugly little bastard too. Actually, all of the guys in this match are rather offensive on the eyes, in every conceivable way possible. Ass biting occurs early on, because we are watching a freaking panto all of a sudden. The midgets run a crisscross spot and Macho stops, but Louie just keeps going and going. Look at his little legs go! Cute spot actually, and certainly preferable to The Bushwhackers’ attempts at comedy. Earl Hebner gets to play along as the midgets run the standard “heel does a big kick out and the ref catches the babyface and throws him back on top” spot. The midgets have done all the work here, there has been no heat section at all. The Bushwhackers come in and clean house, then throw Macho on top of poor Brawler for the win. Thankfully the “real” wrestlers were barely involved, and thus this was pretty good fun for what it was. Terrible from a wrestling perspective of course, but for circus side-show comedy affair, it did the job. I guess after hours of proper matches, the live crowd needed something to lighten the mood.
Final Rating: *
Contract Signing: Yokozuna and Lex Luger
The ring is full of officials for this, with host Vince McMahon joined by Jack Tunney and the usual suits as well as Heenan and Savage. Jim Cornette accompanies Yoko and Mr. Fuji having accepted the job as “American spokesperson”, and what a good decision. The problem with Yoko, other than being tedious to watch, was that neither he nor Fuji could cut a coherent promo, and that was becoming more and more of a problem in the WWF as talking started to slowly overtake wrestling. An American mouthpiece was desperately needed to help carry the verbal side of Yoko’s stories and angles, and there were few better options than Cornette. He shows why with an excellent promo, as he runs down Jack Tunney, Vince and others in his machine gun quick fire style. Cornette agrees to the terms of the contract and out comes Lex Luger to a very favourable reaction. The fans were willing to cheer him, though it was more in blindly ignorant xenophobia than as a show of support for Lex. Cornette informs Luger that if he fails to beat Yoko at SummerSlam, there will be no rematch. Luger doesn’t care, he only wants one shot. He might care a bit more in a month’s time when he fails. I still just cannot fathom that booking. I am no Luger fan, but even I think that he should have won the title. Luger cutting an impassioned promo at Yoko seems almost redundant with him not speaking any English, and it is oh so pandering and patriotic, it is almost too much. This served its purpose pretty well though, and is a rare instance of a contract signing not ending in fisticuffs. I guess they wanted to keep them physically apart until SummerSlam, which is booking I agree with and think should be utilised more. Nowadays everyone has already wrestled everyone else a hundred times, and there is no intrigue in seeing them lock up for the first time. Blame WCW Nitro for that one.
Razor Ramon vs. Dan Dubiel
Razor has just recently turned babyface, and it didn’t take long for the fans to get behind him. He was a cool guy, and he wasn’t a cartoon, which made it easy to cheer for him. Razor has no problems with Dubiel, and he runs through his trademark spots fairly quickly tonight. The back suplex from the top is especially vicious, and the Razor’s Edge finishes things for ‘The Bad Guy’. Brief but fine, Razor had some nice moves so he was a good worker to watch in squashes.
Final Rating: *
The Heavenly Bodies vs. Bobby Who & Mike Bucci
This is the debut of The Heavenly Bodies in the WWF, and they were a welcome addition to the tag division. I have expressed elsewhere that I was not a fan of Jimmy Del Ray, and that remains the case, but I do appreciate and admire his in-ring work. It is just something about his look and personality that rubs me up the wrong way. One of their opponents tonight might be familiar, with Mike Bucci better known as ECW star Nova and WWE star Simon Dean. As we have said before, the jobbers of today become the stars of tomorrow. The Bodies bring a pleasing level of tag team cohesion to proceedings, and throw in some exciting individual spots as well. Del Ray provides another example of that with a moonsault from the top to win it. After the match, Cornette challenges The Steiners again, and calls them cowards and phony champions. That was a good debut actually, and the likes of The Smoking Gunns with their formulaic bullshit could learn a lot from it. The difference in quality between the two duos at this stage, well, any stage, was enormous.
Final Rating: **
We get to see another video from the horrendous WWF Superstars The Music Video release, this time Macho Man’s song. It is awful of course, like pretty much everything on the album, but at least this time it is bad in an endearing and fun way. The song is actually pretty catchy!
Next week, an interview with Giant Gonzalez, Ludvig Borga will be here and we have to watch IRS and Men on a Mission wrestle! It doesn’t get much better than that folks!
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Tatanka. I often rip on Tatanka, and with good reason usually, but credit where it is due; he tried to get a match out of Mr. Hughes. He didn’t quite succeed, but full marks for effort.
Least Entertaining: The Bushwhackers. If they are on the show, they win the award, no matter how much or how little they actually do to deserve it.
Quote of the Night: “This was not much of a wrestling match at all here on Monday Night Raw” – Vince McMahon on Tatanka-Hughes. You’ve gotta love a promoter who buries his own talent.
Match of the Night: The Heavenly Bodies vs. Mike Bucci & Bobby Who. A fun debut from the Bodies, and they were a welcome addition to the tag division. It is just a shame that The Steiners weren’t really around long enough for them to have an epic feud, and that Vince lost interest in them once the novelty wore off.
Summary: It is a “blergh” show, with nothing standing out as overly bad or offensive (other than The Bushwhackers existing and wrestling) but with no really good angle, segment or match to carry it. In fact, there is barely any wrestling at all! Entirely forgettable but just about watchable, which based on what we have seen in 1993, could have been a lot worse.