Monday Night Raw (08/23/93)
James Dixon: “This is NOT Monday Night Raw” says Vince as he introduces us to Raw. This is actually not really a proper episode of Raw at all, but rather highlights from the SummerSlam Spectacular event that they have been hyping up for weeks, that aired the night before. Vince and Heenan host from the studio, and your commentators are Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon.
Steel Cage Match
WWF Tag Team Championship
The Steiner Brothers (c) vs. Money Inc.
The only way to win is both team members climbing over the top to the outside, no using the door today, and no pins or submissions either. It seems almost unfair on The Steiners to have to defend the belts in such a brutal environment just a week before SummerSlam. I stated last week that Ted DiBiase’s match against 1-2-3 Kid was his last appearance on the show as a wrestler, and it still is really, as I don’t count this as happening on Raw. Because it didn’t. It was taped the same night though, filmed directly after last week’s event. The Raw banners are still up and clearly visible, which is very lazy. They could have put a “SummerSlam Spectacular” one over the top, but I guess they didn’t want to waste money on something that they would only use once. Cheapskates. Money Inc. both try and escape right away but get thwarted, before they pair off. The Steiners try duelling escapes too, but it is far too early for that. DiBiase brings Scott back in with a back suplex and now it is Money Inc. who try and leave. Schyster’s tie is again his downfall, and The Steiner’s bring him back in with it. JR puts over what a unique match this is, and I guess it is rare, but certainly not the first instance of a bout like this taking place. We cut to commercial, and when we return Scott has escaped, which is a pretty stupid tactic on his part. Why would you leave your partner against 2-on-1 odds? Scott pleasingly realises this, and climbs back in, then allows IRS to escape to give his team the numbers advantage. It nearly backfires as DiBiase slips past him and almost gets out, but he is stopped at the last minute. Ted gets tied upside down in the cage, giving The Steiners chance to try and leave together, but IRS returns and just stops them. The psychology in this is really excellent, and much better than in other examples of multi-man cage matches I have seen. Rick kind of misses the point by climbing out and leaving Scott on his own, and he inevitably gets double teamed. Rick makes a move to come back in, but Scott doesn’t need him, and hits a double clothesline that leaves all three guys down. By the time Scott recovers enough to try and leave, Money Inc. are back up as well, and stop Scott before trying to get out themselves. DiBiase gets out and IRS gets pretty far, but Rick runs around and stops him by climbing underneath him and putting him on his shoulders. He keeps him there while DiBiase whales on him, but IRS’s feet never touch the floor and Scott escapes before they do, giving The Steiners the win. What a brilliantly unique spot that was from Rick. A superb match, easily IRS’s best ever and the best blue bar tag cage match I have seen. Quite a way for DiBiase to go out in style.
Final Rating: ****
Jim Cornette and The Heavenly Bodies cut a promo backstage. Cornette puts over The Steiner’s wrestling ability, but says his team are better fighters with more stamina. Del Ray says they will go from champs to chumps. Short and succinct.
Vince chastises Bobby Heenan for not calling the SummerSlam Hotline. Maybe he didn’t want to pay 99c a minute to listen to Mean Gene blowing hot air! Vince goes on and on about his rip-off hotline numbers for an age. Like, seriously, for 5-minutes. Use the time to sell the pay-per-view, not the bloody hotline!
Jerry Lawler talks to an Elvis impersonator (what, his cousin wasn’t available?) in a pink Cadillac. The gimmick here is that this is the real Elvis, and that he is tired of impersonators. Lawler says Bret has been impersonating him as the king of wrestling and it makes his blood boil.
Jim Ross calls Lawler and Elvis a pair of jerks, and we cut to Bret Hart’s response. Bret says Lawler crossed a line by bringing his family into things, and promises to mutilate him at “the SummerSlam”. Bret loved putting unnecessary prefixes on show and promotion names. Quite a passionate promo from Bret, which is surprising considering how boring the feud was.
Interview Time: The Undertaker. Taker “explains” the rules of his unfairly skewed “Rest In Peace” match by saying he says he is going to remove all of Gonzalez’s organs and take his soul, which is lovely on a family show. Gonzalez, as you can imagine, is not particularly thrilled at the prospect of dismemberment, and comes out to growl at Taker. Taker is ready to go at it now, but Gonzalez leaves calmly. We still don’t know what a Rest In Peace match is!
Who Is Lex Luger? – The final in an unspeakably dull FIVE PART series of sit down interviews with Lex. He talks about Japan and how he got the metal plate in his arm. His monotone delivery and general unlikeable nature means these segments are far worse than they would have been if it was someone with charisma doing them. Mick Foley did something similar in 1997 and those interviews actually got him over and helped make him in a really big way. All Luger does is blow smoke and figuratively jerk off America. Subtlety goes a LONG way Vince, you should try it sometime. The whole Luger thing is just too much. Heenan essentially calls him on this, and Vince goes into a soliloquy so emotional and patriotic in Luger’s defence, that there should be emotive orchestral music in the background. It reminds me of Bill Pullman’s speech in Independence Day. I am British so help me out here; but did Americans really not see through this transparent fluff?
Yokozuna vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Duggan is only slightly less credible an opponent than Luger, which is not a compliment to Duggan. Again, they are subtle with who they program Yoko against aren’t they? This is a grudge match, with Yoko having put Duggan on the shelf a few months ago following a few Banzai Drops. The crowd is red hot for Duggan in this, and explode when Duggan clotheslines him and knocks him down. Hacksaw celebrates like he just won the WWF title. Duggan looks to follow up the clothesline with the Three Point Stance. Otherwise known as a clothesline. Why didn’t he just pin him after the first one? Duggan is distracted by Mr. Fuji and gets squashed in the corner, and the Banzai Drop finishes in short order. I think a fair bit of this was cut due to the advert break, but what we got here was far more entertaining than you would ever imagine when looking at who was involved.
Final Rating: *¾
Post match, Yoko shoves over the referee and looks to crush Duggan’s ribs again, but some more referees roll in to prevent it. You would think Lex Luger might make the save, but no, he is a bad babyface. Backstage, Cornette says Yoko has become a rabid animal and at SummerSlam he will be unleashed. He says Luger asked for this match, so whatever happens is on his own head. Cornette is so good that he makes me want to see Luger-Yoko! This is exactly why Yoko needed him, but just think how much better Cornette would have been with a quality singles wrestler, rather than a slug.
To Vince, who says Luger is already a certifiable bona fide American hero. Oh, come on now! To add a layer of treacle to the Americana fluff, we get Luger’s awfully pandering music video, complete with shots of Luger looking wistful while riding the Lex Express. There is barely any footage of him actually wrestling, which is a damning indictment of why his push ultimately failed. You can put all the promotional power you want behind something, but the “product” has got to be good in order to be sustainable.
No Raw next week, because it’s SummerSlam. On a Monday! No Raw the week after because of the US Open. Things sure were different then.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Rick Steiner. Superb spot in the cage match gets him the nod, though Cornette deserves a mention for making Yoko-Luger feel must-see.
Least Entertaining: Lex Luger. The word “grating” springs to mind.
Quote of the Night: “The man is baffling!” – Bobby Heenan about Lex Luger. What is truly baffling is the extent of his push and the ultimately underwhelming conclusion to it.
Match of the Night: Money Inc. vs. The Steiners. Second week in a row for DiBiase, as he goes out in style with a really excellent cage match. Notable for its intelligence rather than violence, but the drama, pacing and psychology makes this a real hidden gem
Summary: It’s a hype show, thinly disguised as Monday Night Raw, but it is a pretty entertaining one in places. Some of it is useless and Vince’s speech will make your feel almost sick, such is its cloying nature, but this is worth checking out for the rarely seen cage bout. The lack of pointless squash matches and a focus on top guys only, makes this the best Raw in nearly two months.