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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw episode 3, originally aired on January 25, 1993.
Best: Repo Man Pulls Up In A Tow Truck
Most of last week’s vintage Raw column was spent in celebration of the Repo Man, the post-Demolition work — literally, in one definition — of Barry Darsow. He’s supposed to be a repossession agent, but repossession agents look like normal dudes. Repo Man’s basically an anthropomorphic raccoon that’s been run over by a car and had part of his brain smushed, so he just runs around screaming.
Anyway, he’s my favorite of the early-90s WWF occupational cartoon wrestlers, when the company’s mission statement was “everyone has a second job.” Wrestling trash man! Wrestling hockey player! Wrestling Thanksgiving turkey! Wrestling Scarface!
Worst: Rob Bartlett, Just To Give Him A Worst Every Single Time He Appears
Rob Bartlett was the original Matt Striker, a guy who’s into saying something smart or funny and then looking around with a smile on his face to make sure everyone heard it. He’s also got a touch of Monday Night Football Dennis Miller in him, making jokes that were already dated and beyond comprehension in 1993. You can imagine how they play in 2014.
The worst is during Savage/Repo Man, when he drops, “Savage is serious. In fact, earlier today I saw him writing letters to Jodie Foster.” That’s a reference to would-be Presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr., if you were wondering, and was 12-years past relevancy when he made it. Also, did you just compare one of your top babyfaces to a prisoner who was obsessed with a child actress and tried to shoot Ronald Reagan?
Vince is already audibly tired of him, and will either attempt to justify Bartlett’s statements or just humorlessly stonewall him. Here’s my favorite exchange, when Bartlett sees Kamala, registers “black” and “fat” and compares him to the first fat, black thing he can remember.
Vince: “Take a look at this!”
Bartlett: “It’s NELL CARTER!”
Vince: “NO IT’S NOT”
Worst: Randy Savage Is The Simpsons
Here’s a sad truth we never mention: Macho Man Randy Savage was bad way longer than he was good.
He’s ‘The Simpsons.’ The early days of the show (somewhere between seasons 1 and 9, depending on who you ask) are the greatest. A classic Simpsons episode is entertaining and influential in a way nothing was before it, and few things have been since. It’s so totally its own thing, and exists beyond comparison. For kids who grew up on it, it’s the foundation of their sense of humor. That golden age ended, but the name ‘The Simpsons’ still meant something and drew an audience, so it kept going. And going. And going. It’s still going, and one of the worst parts of being an adult is realizing the show’s been bad longer than it was good.
That’s Randy Savage. Early Randy Savage is better than everyone else. He’s an ace. He’s perfect on the mic and in the ring. He’s colorful, memorable, a game-changer. His match with Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania 3 is the reason a lot of guys competing today got into wrestling. For kids who grew up watching him, he’s the thing that holds up. You see how Warrior couldn’t work, you see how Hogan was a big orange dickbag, but Savage is awesome. At some point he lost the headbands and the sparkly capes and started wearing bodysuits and cowboy hats, and the golden age ended. Look at any list of the greatest Randy Savage matches. They’re all pre-1992. He had a few gems in the late 90s — his match against DDP at Halloween Havoc ’97 is pretty good — but he wasn’t the same. ‘Macho Man Randy Savage’ still meant something and drew an audience, so it kept going. By the mid-2000s he was in TNA and recording rap albums and was Current Day Simpsons. He’d been bad longer than he was great.
The match with Repo Man is a 1990s Randy Savage match. 10 minutes of pointless wrestling followed by a scoop slam and an elbow drop. ‘That 90s Show’ is bad, but you can always go back and rewatch ‘Homer Goes to College.’
Worst: Spoiler Alert, The “Most Spectacular Pay-Per-View Event Of All Time” Ends With Hogan Winning In 20 Seconds
Vince calls Caesars Palace the most “opulent, splendiferous casino in existence.” I wanted him to yell, “IT’S GONNA BE OUTSIDE, WE’LL HAVE DONKEYS AND JIM ROSS WILL BE WEARING A SPLENDIFEROUS MOOMOO! BE THERE OR MISS OUT ON 20 MINUTES OF TATANKA!”
Best: Enjoy Babyface Kamala While It Lasts
Kamala’s brief run as a face is one of 1993’s most interesting footnotes. He’s a Ugandan savage, you see, a mindless brute who doesn’t wear clothes and doesn’t know how to properly pin people despite having spent the last 10 years wrestling in the United States. The Reverend Slick has “converted” him by telling him that he’s A MAN, so now Kamala has “opened his heart” to the World Wrestling Federation fans. They like him a lot too, apparently, with Slick doing this big sing-along “ROLL HIM OVER” gestures to get the crowd behind Kamala’s one signature spot. The idea of a “wrestling savage” being taken to its logical conclusion — someone decent trying to free him from his manipulative captors — is almost progressive, especially for 1993, especially if you ignore that a black preacher is trying to free an animalistic slave from a Jewish guy and a poacher.
If you’re wondering where this goes, it ends with Kamala jumping ship to WCW, getting a new white master (Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan) and moving into a mystical cave with a bunch of weird assholes in Halloween costumes.
Worst: Blackface Mean Gene
Okay, he’s not really in blackface, but look at the color difference between his face and hands. Dude either slipped on his way to the Event Center and fell face-first into a mud puddle, or he spent his Royal Rumble trip to Sacramento sunbathing with gloves on. WHEN DID MY FACE START LOOKING LIKE A COCONUT? CALL THE HOTLINE!
Best/Worst: Bobby Heenan Tries To Set Up History’s Grossest Orgy
1. He actually said “toots,” not “tits,” but the intern they’ve got doing closed captioning for WWE Network was born in 1993 and doesn’t know what a toots is.
2. Heenan adds, “by the way do you have a girlfriend, something for Bartlett, maybe we an overbite and maybe a big hump on her back?” I guess he’s trying to be a good wingman for a guy he hates (?), but the breathless way he says it makes it sound like he’s trying to get them all in his room.
Furthering this theory: when Heenan goes to ringside to manage Flair in the main event, Bartlett goes for a gay joke. “They have a little thing going on the side, do they Vince?” Earlier in the night, Bartlett tries to make a joke about Repo Man doing a bodyscissors by saying his chiropractor does the same thing. When Vince asks him about it, he says it happens “in the privacy of my own home.” Basically these early Raws are Bartlett sending out feelers for a swingers party and getting cold-shouldered.
Best: Ric Flair And Mr. Perfect Pioneer The Concept Of Good Wrestling On Monday Nights
And now, the first good match in Raw history.
Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect finish off the third episode of Raw with a 20-minute Loser Leaves Town classic that sees Perfect counter an early setup for a back-bodydrop into a Perfect Plex to send Flair packing. Flair is forced to “leave Raw,” which he does for almost ten years. It’s one of those rare match stipulations that comes out of nowhere but has lasting consequences. Flair didn’t show up for months afterwards to get his job back and set up a bunch of new stories … he did the job and left town. In February he returned to WCW and experienced about a year and a half of prosperity before Hogan followed him over and took a festering orange shit on his chest.
The match itself is good, but a little overrated. Don’t take that as an insult. Many WWF fans call it one of (if not the) greatest Raw match ever, and it’s not that. It’s just the closest thing to an NWA Ric Flair match WWF fans got to see. Many of his other high-profile 1992 WWF matches are very much rooted in WWF style … a bunch of restholds and mindless setup building to a series of signature moves and a hot finish, usually a cheapshot or a rollup. Here, the match is a little more rooted in reason. The problem is that it happens on Raw and we aren’t in the Omni in 1988, so it feels like the first 20 minutes of a 60 minute broadway. The finish being a Perfect Plex out of nowhere works, but the work they were doing deserved something a little more. If you didn’t grow up watching Flair have matches like this, it was probably mind-blowing. If you did, this is more of a stepping stone to get him into that Starrcade match with Vader, the Spring Stampede match against Steamboat and the Clash title unification against Sting.
The announce team buries it a lot for me. Perfect getting his foot on the rope and McMahon yelling THE FOOT THE FOOT THE FOOT THE FOOT THE FOOT THE FOOT THE FOOT like he’s Philip J. Fry is a little much.
Worst: Next Week
Not to be confused with Doink (the accountant).