PodMania TV Reviews: WWF RAW #1 [14/01/1993]
We open with Shaun Mooney outside the Manhattan Center, welcoming us to the chilly streets of New York. Bobby Heenan attempts to enter but is informed by Mooney that he has been replaced by Rob Bartlett and can’t buy ticket as they’re sold out. Heenan is understandably livid, but not as livid as the people who now have to endure Rob Bartlett’s ‘commentary’ for the next few months.
We are introduced straight away to the commentary team of Vince McMahon, Randy Savage and Rob Bartlett, who gives us a sliver of what we can expect from him by first mispronouncing the name Yokozuna (calling him Yokozooma) and going on to make reference to the ‘nappy’ he wears. Vince cuts him off with a subtle look of complete puzzlement on his face, throwing to Randy Savage instead as he actually knows that the hell he’s talking about. Mercifully, Bartlett only lasted until April 19th of the same year due to his awful commentary being slated by the fan base. Unsurprising really as he knew nothing about Wrestling at all.
Yokozooma sighs and shakes his head
Match #1 - Yokozooma def. Koko B. Ware
Rob Bartlett compares Koko B. Ware to Gary Coleman before saying that the thus far undefeated Yokozuna needs to spend less time in the Sushi Bar and more time in the Salad Bar. All three men marvel at the size of Yoko, before another quip is fired our way from Rob saying he hasn’t seen his feet in a while after Vince states that Yokozuna hasn’t been taken off his feet, and that he should have his own no fly zone, finishing by saying he has an ass like an amphitheater...
...this guy replaced Bobby Heenan.
The match itself, though punctuated with more ‘jokes’ about Yokozuna’s weight, is a glorified squash match. Koko tries to take him off of his feet but repeatedly bounces off. Yoko lets him tire himself out before hitting a Leg Drop (certainly not called a Butt Drop, Rob) and a Banzai Drop for another win as Yoko continues his march to the Royal Rumble, which he would of course win, last eliminating 1 third of the commentary team tonight; Randy Savage.
We get an advert for the aforementioned Rumble PPV on the 24th January 1993, with the Rumble and the WWF Championship match between Razor Ramon and Champion Bret Hart the matches advertised.
With Bobby Heenan on the outside, we cut to a video tape of him addressing Mr. Perfect about his new charge; Narcissus. He states that comparing the two is like comparing ice-cream and horse manure, and after a typically Heenan-esque promo in which he says even Michelangelo couldn’t capture his perfection, he says that when he unveils Narcissus at the Rumble, Henning will be thinking that he is so perfect, that he must be from another world...
...it was Lex Luger.
Match #2 - The Steiner Brothers def. The Executioners
We are doubling down on the squash matches here, as the Steiner Brothers brutalise this jobber team. We do also learn that the Steiners will take on the Beverly Brothers at the Rumble and are using this as practice.
There’s a moment where Rick (or the one wearing the headgear as Bartlett calls him) whips one of the Executioners into the ropes but he stumbles and falls headfirst into the second rope which is unpleasant. Ric shows his sympathy by laughing and stamping on him before tagging in Scott, who takes savage pleasure in murdering both men, hitting a Double Arm Underhook Slam to add to the Tilt-A-Whirl slam he hit earlier in the match. It goes to show how much WWF actually valued this match because they put Doink in the crowd and focused on him for part of it.
Eventually the match ends as the Steiners hit the Steinerizer. Not the greatest way to start your inaugural live broadcast, with two squashes, but at least this was entertaining watching the Steiners savage the jobbers - especially Scott!
Rating: 3 stars
We cut to outside where Bobby Heenan is dressed as a woman and is trying to get into RAW by pretending to be Rob Bartlett’s aunt. God bless Heenan for doing this.
Vince McMahon is interviewing Razor Ramon in-ring next, and asks him about his impending Championship match with Bret at the Rumble. Razor says that even though it took Bret 8 and a half years to get to the top, it only took 8 and a half months to catch him, and when people mention opportunity for gold, they think Razor Ramon. When questioned about his attack on Owen, Ramon says he squashed Owen like a 'Cock-er-Roach' because Bret couldn’t do anything about it, and another thing he can’t do anything about is Razor taking the belt from him.
We then get an advert for the WWF’s charity MSG show on the 29th January for Headlock on Hunger, with all proceeds going to charities in Somalia. The show had Bret Hart vs Bam Bam Bigelow for the WWF Championship (sort of telegraphing that Bret was retaining at the Rumble a few days prior) and Ric Flair vs. Mr. Perfect. A Tatanka video package advertising it also cuts off the end of Bartlett’s sentence, which pleases me.
Match #3 - Shawn Michaels (c) def. Max Moon
[WWF Intercontinental Championship Match]
Three things before we delve into this match;
The very idea that Max Moon was based on what Vince McMahon believed men of the future would look like is abhorrent.
The fact that Max Moon was in line for any title shot is ridiculous.
The idea that this horrendous gimmick was originally created for Konnan makes me physically nauseous.
Without any sort of irony, this is a good match - our first real match of the night. Max Moon is quick in the ring and the early exchanges with Shawn are great, capped off with a great Flying Wrist Lock from Moon.
Unfortunately from that point, the commentary team lose interest, and instead have a full blown conversation with Bartlett doing THE WORST Mike Tyson impression I have ever heard. An impression I might add, that he continues with for the rest of the match. What in the living fuck is this bullshit?
Max Moon does continue to take the match to Shawn however, Sling-shotting him over the ropes before hitting him with an Apron Whoopie Cushion and a Rolling Cradle in the ring, which Shawn kicks out of at 2. Shawn halts the momentum with an early variation of the Sweet Chin Music which he doesn’t contemplate attempting a pin for, but instead attempts a Teardrop Suplex. Moon reverses, but is instantly hit with another, Michaels covering for the three count to retain his Championship and the chance to face his ex-Rockers teammate Marty Jannetty for the title at the Royal Rumble.
Rating: 5 stars
Bafflingly, we apparently need to fill for time in this one hour show, with Gene Okerlund bringing us the Royal Rumble report, which is less a report and more a chance to list all 30 entrants in the Rumble Match. We also briefly touch on the subject of who’s corner Sherri Martel will be in at the Rumble for the Intercontinental Championship Match between Shawn and Marty.
We cut outside once again where we see a line of people apparently queuing up for next week’s show's tickets. Bobby Heenan once again attempts to make his way inside dressed as a Jewish man...sure.
Match #4 - The Undertaker def. Damian Demento
Damian Demento - the answer to an interesting trivia question and that is it - looked, acted and was a mix between Ming and a Poundland Undertaker.
Speaking of The Undertaker, Mark Callaway has his way with this pretender in what can be politely described as a complete waste of everyone’s time. A few Shoulder Tackles, An Old School and a very untidy Tombstone Piledriver finishes this match mercifully quickly in a shade over 2 minutes.
What a main event.
As for Demento, he would wrestle almost exclusively on House Shows from this moment forward until he left in October, which is best for everyone in truth. He did have a cameo in Die Hard with a Vengeance though, so there's that...
Bizarrely however, this isn’t the end of the show. Instead, we end up with Vince interviewing Doink about him making children cry. Crush comes out to stick up for said children, and then a Benny Hill style chase occurs.
Just before we fade to black, we cut to the outside once more to find Sean Mooney finally letting Bobby Heenan into the building just as the show ends and we go off air. Brutal.
As the inaugural episode of a ground-breaking Wrestling show, this was a car-crash. Unfortunately there simply wasn't one thing that redeemed it, and it will remain a watch only for those with a curious eye for how it all started.
The commentary was all over the place, with Rob Bartlett not having a clue what he was talking about, what he was witnessing or seemingly what day it was. Savage was Savage but this was muted and in truth, none of what he said was important, held any sort of significance or added anything, while Vince McMahon tried desperately to hold it all together, failing spectacularly. The decision to shun Heenan to accommodate Bartlett on commentary under the ill-thought out guise of 'more mainstream appeal' is still one that baffles even the most hardened WWE fan to this day.
Then we get to the in-ring product, which was awful. Three squash matches and a run out for Shawn Michaels certainly wasn't in any way special and didn't exactly lend itself to fans as must see viewing. There was no story-line advancement whatsoever, while the entire structure of the show seemed to be completely off-kilter; why have that Doink interview segment after the main event? Why was the Intercontinental Championship match not the main event? How can you possibly need to fill for time in a 45 minute broadcast?
Of course, we mustn't forget that this was the WWF's first foray into a live weekly TV show and there were bound to be some kinks to work out. Unfortunately, the show came across as under-rehearsed and under-prepared.
Not a great show unfortunately, and one that I would urge you to steer well clear of, unless you have a pang of nostalgia, in which case approach with care and significantly lowered expectations.
Matches You Need To Check Out: Honestly, nothing.
Matches You Need To Avoid: Yokozuna vs. Koko B. Ware, Undertaker vs. Damian Demento