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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw episode 3, originally aired on February 1, 1993.
Worst: WWE’s Lose Lose Lose Lose Win Guys
Before Nitro shows up, Raw is just a collection of jobber squashes bookending hunger drives and ICO Pro commercials. I’m good with that. I love jobber squashes. Seeing a guy I don’t recognize and cross-referencing him to find out why he was there and who (if anyone) he became is one of my favorite things about revisiting old wrestling shows. I’ll just never understand why the WWF approached jobber squashes they way they did, and why anyone enjoyed them.
In my brain, there are two kinds of jobber squashes. The one where the superior wrestlers show up and win easily because they’re superior, and the one where a superior wrestler uses whatever specific trait that makes him superior to overcome a slight challenge and win. The first one is easy. That’s a Road Warriors squash. They get into the ring, maul their opponents with little to no effort and win with emphasis. Bonus points if they break the guy’s neck with a Doomsday Device. The second kind is for a guy like Bret Hart. Bret gets a light challenge, uses what makes him notably great — his technical skill and tenacity, or whatever — overcomes that challenge and wins the match. He still hasn’t put forth much of an effort, but he wins because something.
The WWF occasionally fell in love with what I call “lose lose lose lose win” guys. They get beaten up for almost no reason, and you never buy it because their comeback is simply no-selling everything that came before and choosing to win. They don’t win because anything, they just win. Hulk Hogan will get beaten up by God knows who to the point of absurdity, but the ending is always the same … he doesn’t use a skill or ability or character trait to gain the advantage, he simply CHOOSES to. He stops playing along with the show, gets his shit in and wins the match. Tatanka’s another example. Here he wrestles Damien Demento, gets beaten up the entire match and when it’s time to win, he just chooses to. He stops selling everything, hops around in a circle, hits a few weak-looking moves and that’s it. Nothing that happened before his hop-around matters or led to anything. He just said “now it’s time to win,” got his shit in and won.
In matches like these that clearly aren’t supposed to matter beyond “look at how good this one guy is,” I don’t see how lose lose lose lose win helps. If you want the guy to look unstoppable and invulnerable and win, that’s what the dominant squash is for. Have him start hopping as soon as he steps through the ropes. If you want him to look like a competitor with depth we can think about constructively, give him something that causes him to win. Give him Sting’s stamina or Bret’s technical skill or Yokozuna’s size. Don’t just say “he wins because we say he wins.” That erodes the entire ecosystem. That’s what makes people watch wrestling, say “this is fake” and change the channel. There’s no drama, and nothing for a viewer who isn’t six or a pinhead to sink their teeth into. If you liked Tatanka, you were probably one or the other.
Anyway, watching this match was like being on a vision quest and seeing a Navajo warrior battle a venus fly trap that could barely wrestle.
Worst: Brutus Beefcake’s Entrance Is Extremely Dangerous
In 1990, Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake had his face turned into a bowl of spaghetti by an errant parasailer and missed almost three years of in-ring competition. This Raw is his big return announcement, and all I can think is how dangerous his entrance is. People are reaching out to touch him with these big, open hands and dude’s wildly snapping these big-ass hedge clippers like an inch from their fingers. The guy who just missed three years because he was bad at paying attention. Let’s let THAT guy stare at a camera with bug eyes and almost de-hand our front row.
As a quick note, I never understood why he wasn’t Brutus ‘The Landscaper’ Beefcake. What kind of barber wears mesh pants, no shirt and a bowtie and cuts peoples’ hair with a gardening tool? Why did any of you cheer for this guy.
Best: Vince McMahon No-Selling The Most Depressing Promo Of All Time
Brutus Beefcake’s return promo is the Dancer in the Dark of wrestling promos.
It should’ve just been him saying, “I’M A BARBER! I CUT HAIRS! I’M BACK! WOOO!” and peacocking around the ring with his big scissors. That’s it. Instead, Beefcake not only goes into excruciating, graphic detail about his injury, he adds to it by announcing his divorce and the deaths of his mother and father. The entire time he kinda stares at the ground and half sticks out his tongue, and it’s very clear that he’s in no mental state to be on television, much less in a wrestling ring, much less getting people excited about a wrestling barber.
The best part, though, is Vince totally no-selling it.
Beefcake: “First, I laid my 80-pound, cancer-ridden mother in the cold ground. Then my father died from a heart attack because of grief and sorrow. Then my wife left me and took everything I had. Then a lady on the beach put her foot through my head and caved in my face, and my eyeballs were in the back of my head but my ears still worked, and I could listen to all the doctors and nurses talking about how I would die.”
Vince: “BRUTUS BEEFCAKE IS BACK!!!!”
To make it even better, the entire promo ends up being about how great Hulk Hogan is. Hulk Hogan is the reason Beefcake’s returning to the ring. Hulk Hogan’s the only reason Beefcake didn’t hang himself. Hulk Hogan picked up Beefcake’s lifeless body from that beach, strapped it to his red, white and blue Harley Davidson and drove Beefcake to the hospital. At the end they’re all just like YEAH, HULK HOGAN! The best part of THAT is when Beefcake talks about how when he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was the red and yellow and Hulk Hogan over him. This is great because
1. Hulk Hogan wore his wrestling gear to the hospital to visit his dead friend, and
2. It really makes Hogan sound like Buck from Kill Bill.
Best: This Week’s Jobber Assortment Is A Who’s-Who Of ECW Weirdos
The good thing about running shows in New York in 1993 is that a lot of your “local talent” would find their way to Philadelphia circa 1995 and become also-rans on a different national level. This week’s assortment (arrangement?) of jobbers is GREAT, because they all ended up being people of note in Extreme Championship Wrestling, but not the people of note you actually remember. None of them are secretly Taz, or whatever.
High Energy takes on the team of Iron Mike Sharpe, the Jim Thorpe of WWF jobbers, and “Von Krus.” If you don’t remember Krus, he was a German guy who kinda hated our freedom but not enough for anyone to remember. He became ECW’s Vito “The Skull” LoGrasso, Da Baldies member and eventual 2-time WCW World Tag Team Champion. You might remember him best from what he did slightly after that, when he was “the Italian guy who wore a dress” in WWE.
Yokozuna sits on another member of Da Baldies: DeVito, known here as “Bobby DeVito.” Fans of Ring of Honor might remember him as part of The Carnage Crew and a former ROH Tag Team Champion. Fans of obscure bullshit might remember him as WWE-ECW’s “Macho Libre,” an ill-advised mash-up of Nacho Libre and Randy Savage.
The Narcissist Lex Luger runs into the only man in wrestling history with a worse “I love myself” gimmick: Jason Knight, aka ECW’s JASON, THE SEXIEST MAN ON EARTH. He held the ECW World Television Championship once, but you probably remember him as the weird, not-Buff Bagwell guy who’d flex amidst Impact Players promos.
As I said, there’s a real worth to digging into the history of these random guys and finding out where they ended up. Part of me wishes every show could’ve happened in 1993. I’m also pretty excited for the teenage Hardy Boyz to show up in daisy-print pants and start neck-bumping for everything.
Best: Doink Beats Typhoon By Pulling The Nutsack
1. That is the most painful looking pin I’ve ever seen.
2. Doink the Clown was a bad-ass. Before they turned him into a Harlem Globetrotter, Doink was this wrestling machine in a stupid costume who’d take out Typhoon by just repeatedly shooting takedowns, tripping him up and tying him in knots. He just kept getting in close, yanking Typhoon’s ankles out from under him and dropping these jumping short elbow drops on the back of his head. It’s GREAT. It’s exactly how a guy Doink’s size would conceivably beat a big fat guy. I can’t get enough of OG Doink, and I’m sad he’ll be replaced before the year’s over.
Best: Remembering Andre The Giant
Andre the Giant died on January 27, 1993, five days before this episode aired. I’m happy to see him remembered with a ten bell salute, and also happy he passed before WWE got good at making sob-inducing In Memoriam video packages so I didn’t have to suddenly cry during a 21-year old episode of Raw.
Worst: Remember, As Bad As Raw Gets, It’ll Never Get This Bad Again
Let me put it this way: Raw is main-evented by a 3-minute Lex Luger squash. You don’t even get to see Luger Torture Rack a guy, which is the one decent part of any Lex Luger match. The fans are doing the big TORTURE RACK gestures with their hands, but Luger’s like, “nope, my finisher is now a FOREARM.” A forearm, you guys. Imagine if Sting had shown up at Survivor Series this year and instead of Scorpion Death Dropping Triple H, he’d hip-tossed him and left the ring. That’s Lex Luger here.
The very worst part is that the match exists so they can make a fat joke. See, Raw has “ring girls” who are very clearly somebody’s girlfriend in a bikini. They aren’t models or especially attractive, but they’re nearly-naked ladies holding jokes about steak tartare being “raw” that Vince chuckles at, so you know why they’re there. Vince probably paid them an extra $200 to hang around after the show and crack bad breath jokes. But yeah, The Narcissist loves his own beautiful body, so a fat ring girl gets in with him and it makes him mad.
That’s the entire act. He doesn’t throw her out, he doesn’t forearm her, he doesn’t get her up in the rack. They just go to commercial with Vince being all HEH HEH A FAT LADY and come back to Luger leaning over the ropes, yelling, “hey, don’t let that FAT LADY in here again!” This was the Raw main event. Lex Luger beating ECW’s Jason with a forearm and being mad that an overweight person exists. That was the main event.
Only 2 1/2 years until Nitro shows up. WE CAN DO THIS.