The Wrestling Observer from this period says that Nitro was considering doing a taped show every other week in order to save money but ultimately it was decided they had the WWF on the ropes and they didn’t want to let off the pressure…Which brings us to tonight’s loaded line up:
Randy Savage vs. Lex Luger
Lex tosses a chair in the ring to distract Savage and he jumps Randy as the ref gets the chair back to the floor where it belongs. Savage is tossed to the floor and posted. Savage slams Luger’s head into the barricade and connects on a flying double axe handle. The fans chant “Luger!” The Total Package absorbs an elbow to the chest and another to the throat.
Lex finds an opening to poke Macho Man’s eyes and starts driving down his own elbows. Luger is dropped throat first on the top rope but Savage misses the follow up big elbow. Lex scoops Randy up for the Torture Rack and MACHO SUBMITS! A fine little 5 minute battle. Savage is the number one contender for the WCW World title regardless of this result because…WCW.
Most of the Dungeon of Doom and Four Horsemen come to the ring for a promo. Arn berates Pillman for not dressing up like a Horsemen should. Anderson promises protecting Flair’s World title is still top priority. The Horsemen are declining any matches with the Dungeon because there is no money to be made in chasing this feud. Kevin Sullivan reveals that at the Clash of the Champions next week The Giant and Ric Flair will join forces against Hogan and Savage. Sullivan gets chirpy with Pillman and Brian spouts off so Arn slaps him. Pillman sulks.
Public Enemy vs. The American Males
This is Public Enemy’s debut. The best the cameramen can do to show girls swooning over the Males are two old women threatening to strip. A four way breaks out right away and the heels are dumped to the floor. Once in their element, The Public Enemy rough up the pretty boys. Back in the Males fly into both ruffians and send them once again to the concrete. An “ECW” chant breaks out.
Riggs out wrestles Grunge until Rocco cheap shots him. Another four way breaks out and Riggs is posted. Bagwell fights off both heels anyway. Bagwell tries a roll up but Rocco gets another cheap shot and Grunge rolls Marcus up for the pin. Public Enemy couldn’t have looked much less ineffective here.
The heels get back in their ECW style by stacking two tables up and moonsaulting Bagwell through them. That’s a wild spot for this time period on a national level.
World Champion Ric Flair vs. Sting
Sting shoves Flair down. Flair woo’s. Flair tries 3 takedowns and Sting kips up from each one. Sting whips Flair from pillar to post and press slams him. Flair flops over the top rope and is clotheslined. Flair chops away. Sting superplexes Flair. Bischoff informs us that Jim Belushi will be interviewed on WCW Saturday night. Well that’s random.
Flair tosses Sting to the floor after a commercial break. More chops. Sting locks in a sleeper but Flair escapes with a back suplex. Sting tries several roll ups but he can’t squeak out the win. Another press slam. Flair is slammed off the top rope. Sting no sells some chops. Another press slam.
Lex Luger comes down to yell at Jimmy Hart and “accidentally” hits Sting with the mega phone. Flair locks on the figure four and pins the unconscious Sting. Hogan and Savage charge the ring. I’m pretty sick of the Sting vs. Flair paint by numbers matches. I must have seen at least a half a dozen in the last few months and they all feature the same spots.
Hogan and Macho Man scream at Sting for trusting Lex despite being screwed twice by him now. Sting wants to hear it from Luger’s mouth and he goes to find him. At least Sting being an idiot is a consistent character trait.
Hogan then goes into dick mode and tells Macho Man that despite their big tag team match at the Clash next week, there’s another issue: Hogan keeps winning and Macho keeps losing and yet Hogan isn’t the number one contender like Savage is. Hulk points out the title still has his name plate on it. It’s been 3 months WCW, get on that. Savage tells Hogan to step off or prepare for war. Savage warns Hulk and leaves and Hogan chases him to the back.
This Saturday Night…Harlem Heat vs. Sting and Luger…Hulk Hogan talks and yes Jim Belushi.
Hulk Hogan vs. Meng
Of course Hogan goes on after the World title match. Hogan is battered to the floor and Sullivan gets his licks in. Meng mauls and chops away on Hogan. Meng chokes away and Sullivan whacks Hulk in the throat. Meng locks in the nerve pinch of extreme discomfort. More chops and choking keeps Hogan grounded. Meng goes to the top and misses a diving headbutt.
Hogan unloads with punches but Meng catches him with a thumb to the throat. Hulk up. Big boot. Savage keeps Sullivan at bay and Hogan uses a foreign object to pin Meng. Speaking of paint by numbers… This was a perfectly acceptable WWF house show main event from 1988. At least Meng looked like a beast.
Another hour that flew by even if it was loaded with over exposed headliners and feuds that are dragging on forever.
The Royal Rumble is 6 days away!
Goldust wants to have sex with Razor Ramon and Ramon intends on stopping him tonight.
Marty Jannetty vs. Owen Hart
Marty gets a nice float over takedown and follows with a monkey flip. Marty wins a slugfest but runs into a belly to belly suplex. Marty is caught with the enziguiri for a near fall. Marty kicks out of a sharpshooter attempt. Owen nails some European uppercuts but catches a wicked looking knee. Owen is sent to the floor via a clothesline. Marty tries a suplex but Owen reverses it into a roll up for the pin. Solid match, but the dead crowd (long TV taping) hurt it.
Sunny likes it RAW. The teenage audience likes her cleavage she bears here.
Matt Hardy vs. The Ringmaster
Hardy gets a bit of offense in right away, but Austin catches him with a Thesz press and fisticuffs. Vince and Lawler painfully shoehorn in weekend events here to try and make the show feel “live”. Austin chops away and then wallops him with big punches. Austin drops a knee and hits a face buster. The Ringmaster drops him with a stun gun and uses the Million Dollar Dream for the win. Extended squash. Eh.
We get a Shawn Michaels video package. His doctor says he has brain damage and could die from any blow to the head. Shawn starts the “boyhood dream” talk.
The Smoking Gunns vs. The Spiders
Joined in progress for whatever reason. Billy hits the fameasser and the sidewinder wins it. Basically a 45 second clip to plug the Smoking Gunns vs. Body Donnas match on PPV in 6 days. They have not yet informed us on RAW that Skip dumped Rad Radford and now has Zip as a partner.
“Billionaire Ted’s Wrestling War room” time. Ted wants to buy the WWF. Hogan, Savage and Gene are called disloyal and greedy.
Goldust interview. He feels up Vince and McMahon fends him off. Vince says most men are homophobic. O RLY? Goldust asks Vince if he’s erect. Goldust moans over the thought of having intercourse with Razor and Vince looks disgusted. Lawler flat out uses the word “queer”. A simpler time…
Razor storms in the arena and starts to look for Goldust.
Undertaker vs. Isaac Yankem
Taker’s entrance finally woke the crowd back up. Stare down to start. Taker hacks away and chops down his fellow big man. Taker no sells a clothesline. Yankem escapes a Tombstone attempt and commits this escape to memory for no reason. Taker pursues the Dentist on the floor and continues his domination.
Lawler attempts to steal the urn and Undertaker chases Lawler off. Yankem smacks Taker into the ring post and is locked into a knee bar. Taker is almost tombstoned and there must have been a botch as we get a quick shot of Dok Hendrix waiting for Goldust and then we see Taker nailing the Tombstone for the pin. Fairly plodding affair.
Vince says he doesn’t care about Goldust’s sexual preference and he just wants Goldust to stop harassing Razor. Razor attacks Goldust in the back and punches and slaps him. Goldust wacks Razor in the nuts to end the assault.
Sunny is shown naked in a bath tub and she makes reference to having done it RAW for an hour.
Razor attacks a fleeing Goldust and they brawl outside the arena into a snow bank. Goldust drives him into a truck and then slips on the ice.
Given the WWF’s luck during this period I’m shocked he didn’t break his leg. Goldust runs away to end the chaos.
For a go home show, RAW delivered a flat effort. The Goldust stuff was intriguing in a “time capsule” sense, but the Rumble match and Taker and Bret are the PPV selling points (with Shawn’s return being the key part of the former) and I didn’t feel they did anything to compel me to watch the PPV to see either of those two events.
I already shared my Nitro thoughts above, and so I guess the final nod has to go to WCW as Hulk’s unintentional asshole routine was more entertaining than anything RAW offered.