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Click on through for the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw for February 15, 1993.
Worst: The Announce Team Reaches Absolute Zero
The previous week’s episode of Monday Night Raw was preempted by the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. In case you missed it, Salilyn’s Condor (the English Springer Spaniel) won. This is legitimately more interesting than anything the announce team says this week.
The worst part is that one of their microphones breaks, so they end up with this weird, rotating, two-man booth with a third guy “calling in” on a mic that makes them sound like they’re calling the show from drive-thru window. Savage is the first to go down, and he’s so bothered by it he throws the entire show commentary under the bus. If Vince says “Yokozuna with a big slam,” Savage jumps in via walkie talkie with THESE MICROPHONES ARE A BIG SHAM. Eventually he takes the working headset from Bartlett, and instead of being fine and calling matches he just rubs it in Bartlett’s face. If Vince says, “Yokozuna with another big slam,” Savage says HEY BARTLETT WHAT’S IT LIKE TO NOT HAVE A MICROPHONE, FREAK OUT FREAK OUT DIG IT. It’s like listening to your grandmother’s heart monitor flatline in Wrestling Commentary form.
Worst: The Raw Catchphrase
If you’ve watched any of these early episodes, you’ll know the announce team’s catchphrase is UNCUT! UNCOOKED! AND UNCENSORED! It’s not always in that order, but the gag is that it’s a 3-man booth, and one guy says each word. The problem is that it never, ever works. Vince keeps trying to get it over and doing his bug-eyed mannequin Aretha Franklin wave to start it off, but he’s relying on a disinterested comedian and an aging, psychotic wrestler who can drift away and start naming planets in the middle of any sentence.
So Vince’ll get to a dead part of a match and think “TIME TO HIT THE CATCHPHRASE,” and it’ll go like,
Vince: “It’s Raw! It’s definitely UNCUT …”
[10 second pause]
[20 second pause]
Macho: “EEEYAN DEFINITELY UNSPOKEN, JUPITER SAT-TURN”
He’ll go for it two or three times per episode, and best case scenario they get two of the words right and nobody falls into a pit of spikes.
Best: The Steiner Brothers Were The Greatest
Oh man, I love the Steiner Brothers. They don’t belong here. The Steiners in WWF never seen right. They’re two brutal, hard-hitting athletes that barely belonged in WCW. They’re like Fist of the North Star drawings. They belong in early 90s Japan, dropping dudes on their heads while announcers scream. Instead, they’re in a tiny ballroom dropping WWF punch and kick jobbers on their f*cking heads with release dragon suplexes.
Their opponents are the returning Glenn Ruth (aka Headbanger Trasher) and a guy named “Bobby Who,” who seems to have been created simply for Vince to say “Bobby WHO??” over and over. They beat them so viciously and handily that Rick spends most of the match with his head down, chuckling to himself. Putting the Steiners in 1993 WWF would be like putting fully-grown, in-his-prime Barry Bonds into the Little League World Series. It’s not fair. There’s no end game for them. What’re they gonna do, wrestle the Beverly Brothers a thousand times? Mean Mike Enos in a cape? Come on.
Best: Bobby Who
Look at that guy. He’s a damn mystery. He looks like Jim The Anvil’s fancy brother. He only wrestled four WWF matches in 1993 and vanished forever. Hell, look at his bio:
He was trained by Doink. He was three feet tall! NOBODY KNOWS WHERE HE LIVES.
Theory: he didn’t vanish, he regenerated. I want nothing more than for some random WWF chump to be a Time Lord.
Best/Worst: These Yokozuna Squashes Would Be Great If We Could Stop Pointing Out How ‘Oriental’ He Is Every Five Seconds
Yokozuna — called “Yakazuma” by a presumably drunk Hacksaw Jim Duggan — squashes a guy named Russ Greenberg. He’s another random guy who never went anywhere. He didn’t become, like, Chainz. Yoko squashes are great because he really SQUASHES them. Big throws, big strikes, big moves in the corner. Lots of speed and size and velocity. The thing that separated Yoko from his contemporaries is that he moved like a goddamn cat, and could get at least Hogan-at-his-best height on his leg drop. His finisher is CRUSHING YOU WITH HIS ASSHOLE.
As I mentioned, though, Savage’s microphone is down and the only thing Bartlett’s got in the tank for Yokozuna is “he’s Oriental,” “he likes to eat” and “I can’t understand what he’s saying.” It’s hard to chew gum, wear sunglasses AND not be a prejudiced piece of shit I guess. I made a joke a while back about Bartlett being Urban Mongo, but that’s not fair to Mongo. If you listen to Mongo on any old Nitro he’s goofy and barely knows what he’s saying, but he’s trying. He’s attempting to add something to the conversation. Vince McMahon’s desperately trying to “yes and” the guy and getting nothing. It’s just Vince saying “how about this monster Yokozuna” and Bartlett scoffing to himself, saying “fat chink” and expecting paychecks forever.
Maybe he wore the sunglasses because he’s Mark Madden in a spy disguise.
Best: Jim Duggan’s Body Repels Salt
It just goes straight up and curves around his body. I don’t know how it happens. It’s like he’s got planetary gravity. JUPITER SAT-TURN~
This week’s episode features a solid 15 minutes of Superstars recaps and promo videos for WrestleMania IX, but the Yokozuna/Jim Duggan stuff is surprisingly effective. They build an entire, compelling narrative around whether or not Duggan will be able to knock him down. Not beat him, not slam him, not even hurt him … just knock him down. That allows them to build this great drama around a series of football tackles and shoulderblocks, and Yoko gets to eat a little shit without actually looking bad. Duggan knocked him down, sure, but Yoko is still improbable to knock down. You know, until WrestleMania at least.
Duggan knocks the dude down and immediately grabs an American flag and starts celebrating on the turnbuckles. Lord Alfred Hayes describes it as “premma-chure.” That’s when the salting happens, and Duggan is out 6-8 months with a shriveled body because he’s a man-sized snail.
Best: Battle Royal!
Lord loves a boring battle royal, and this is one of them. The 16 competitors are all people we’ve seen on the show so far (in the style of Lucha Underground) with a few bonuses, like BOB BACKLUND. Post-turn of the ’80s, pre-insane old man title run Bob Backlund is a rare treasure. Finding him’s like finding a shiny Pokémon.
The two most important parts of a battle royal for me are here: throwaway guys you’d forgotten existed, much less competed in a battle royal, and a few stars that make you wish you were watching a high profile one-on-one. Here, it’s ’93 Shawn Michaels going at it with High Energy Owen Hart. That’s a match that never happened enough, especially not in any moment or place where it’d matter. The only match they ever had that people remember is the one where Shawn got enzuigiri’d and played dead.
Best: LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU, IT’S A NAKED YETI
The final four are Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Tatanka and Tito Santana. That’s a solid group, if you ignore the weird racial overtones of everyone and don’t notice Michaels and Razor comedy bumping everywhere because they don’t take this seriously. Razor spends the entire match bumping like he’s in a haunted bounce house, and Michaels almost breaks his neck trying to do his dumb, semi-signature “hit the turnbuckles, turn and do a front flip back into the middle of the ring” bump.
You must also ignore the NAKED 8-FOOT TALL MAN who has wandered into the ring and begun eliminating the people. The story here is that Giant Gonzalez (said naked man, also known as “El Gigante” in WCW) wanted to be in the match, but the other wrestlers said they’d boycott if he was included. Not a babyface thing to do, but WWF babies are actual babies, so whatever. Gonzalez shows up as the match is ending, goes all YET-TAY on the remaining competitors and bails when he thinks the match is over. Turns out Razor Ramon went out through the ropes instead of over them, so he hangs out until Gonzalez is gone and rolls back in for the win. It’s creative, at least, and it’s always good to balance your entire roster against 7-foot-6 Argentinian who almost falls over trying to beat his chest.
Vince yells extensively about how epic an encounter the upcoming Giant Gonzalez/Undertaker match at WrestleMania will be. Spoiler alert: not especially epic.
Worst: Brutus Beefcake And Ted DiBiase Wrestle The Safest Wrestling Match In History
Remember that thing about Brutus Beefcake getting his face smashed in by a parasailer and missing three years? Yeah, everybody else does, too. That means the Beefcake/DiBiase main event is just an endless string of headlocks with a few bad Barber jabs thrown in, and DiBiase selling them like he’d been rock-salted in the chest with a shotgun. Seriously, Beefcake will limply punch him and Dibiase will turn, crouch and just hurl himself through the ropes to the floor to make it look good. Watching DiBiase wrestle Beefcake here’s like watching Connor the Crusher wrestle Triple H.
Best: Mr. Money In The Inc
Here’s the good news: the finish of the match is AWESOME.
After a few minutes of watching his partner stooge to a broken man in Trapper Keeper pants, IRS comes to the ring with the MONEY IN THE TAX SAVINGS ACCOUNT briefcase and blasts Beefcake in the back with it to draw a DQ. That leads to a big tease where IRS is gonna bash in Brother Bruti’s face with it, and Jimmy Hart getting all noble and trying to stop it. They play it up so long you know for sure Beefcake’s gonna duck and DiBiase’s gonna get hit, but nope, IRS just dispatches Jimmy and parasails Brutus in the mush with it. It’s AWESOME. Everybody gasps and time stands still, and Brutus lies on the ground clutching his head. Vince has an amazing call: “It looks like he’s HOLDING HIS FACE TOGETHER.” That is dark.
They even do some stunt blood, where Brutus gets taken out on the stretcher and they get a shot of where he was lying, which is now covered in “blood.” It’s a little corny, but it’s great for the visual, especially since you can imagine poor Beefcake literally holding his cheeks to his face as his brain guts fall out. On a show whose previous big attack angle was a clown beating up a guy with a mannequin arm, it’s a step in the right direction.
Next week, Hulk Hogan shows up and steps 35 steps in the wrong direction.