Heading into WrestleMania, it’s fair to say that the WWF’s plans for their championship after that show were very well disguised. However, it did seem obvious that the WWF was going to make Tatanka their Intercontinental Champion, even though everyone now knows that didn’t happen. In addtion to that, Shawn Michaels went on the shelf, so he didn’t even show up after Tatanka pinned him. Or did he? I honestly don’t know. This time, it’s mostly stuff from Monday Night Raw in my review. There’s not a lot else. Right before this, the Ultimate Warrior sued the WWF because they didn’t pay him after he was fired. Sounds like something he’d win. I’m also interested to see if Kerry Von Erich was given the same respect as Andre the Giant for his death. Kerry lived a sad life, and shot himself because he was going to jail. In those days, suicide was looked at a lot differently than it was now, even though now it isn’t really looked at the way it should be either.
– March 1st, 1993, on Monday Night Raw, from the Manhattan Center in New York City, New York
They never showed the end of Skinner/Undertaker!
Fatu (w/Afa) vs. Bret Hart for the WWF Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: We go straight into that first match with absolutely no buildup whatsoever, as Bret makes his first wrestling appearance on MONDAY NIGHT RAW. Fatu was the better of the two Headshrinkers, so this could be a good match. You can tell this is a different era with the biggest match on the show starting from a completely cold open. Rob Bartlett was doing a terrible Elvis Presley impression. Oh no.
Match Review: Bret has a big scab on his nose, presumably from another match. Bret and Fatu finally lock up, and Fatu shoves Bret across the ring. Bret then runs into a brick wall, and goes for a cross body only for Fatu to slam him. Fatu misses an elbow drop, so Bret arm drags him down and knee drops that arm repeatedly. Bret gets thrown into the corner, then dodges a charge and arm drags Fatu back down. Bret shoulders Fatu down this time, then trips over him. Or not, he was faking! He rolls Fatu up for 2, then Fatu comes back with a bodyslam. Bret keeps the armbar he had on Fatu anyway, then drops Fatu with a facebuster that he no sells, leading to Fatu superkicking him for 2. Bret goes for a hip toss, but Fatu clotheslines him for 2 as well. Fatu goes to a nerve hold, then grabs Bret by the hair to throw him down. Back to the nerve hold, then a back elbow by Fatu for 2. Samu walks down to ringside for some reason, as Bret takes Fatu down with a cross body for 2. Bret winds up on the outside, so Samu picks Bret up and slams him. He follows with some diving headbutts, then rams Bret into the steps as we go to commercial.
We come back, and I don’t think anything was cut from the match. Back in the ring, Fatu elbows Bret repeatedly in the corner, eventually throwing him hard to the other side. Bret’s bleeding from that scab on his nose, as Fatu drops him with a backbreaker for 2. Some falling headbutts follow, also getting 2. Fatu PILEDRIVES Bret, getting 2 again. Fatu bites the blood off Bret’s face, presumably eating it. Now Bret takes his big bump in the corner, with Fatu covering again for 2. Fatu drops Bret with a side slam, then goes up to the second rope for a DIVING HEADBUTT that gets 2. Fatu goes up top this time, and Bret pops up to his feet, hitting Fatu and crotching him. Bret follows that up with a SUPERPLEX for 2, and a BULLDOG also gets 2. The Hitman follows up with a backbreaker, then the elbow smash from the second rope. Bret locks on the SHARPSHOOTER, but Afa’s on the apron. Samu comes into the ring and clotheslines Bret from behind, then decides to cover Bret himself for 2. IT’S THE WRONG GUY. THIS IS CHEATING. The Headshrinkers switch again, so Bret counters a bodyslam with a sleeper. Samu runs into the ring to break it, but Bret pushes Fatu into his partner, so Samu does the HANGMAN’S SPOT WITH THE ROPES. Bret drops Fatu with a Russian leg sweep and dropkicks Afa off the apron, then locks the SHARPSHOOTER on him for the submission at 15:06.
My Thoughts: Bartlett’s terrible Elvis impersonation aside, I thought this was really good. I was surprised that the match was so solid, but I shouldn’t have been. Fatu was very capable, and everyone knows how good Bret was, even though he didn’t always put in a great effort. This time he did. This was an easy ***, but I was confused as to why they would job Fatu or Samu out like that. It seemed like they’d have been kept stronger heading into their match with the Steiners at WrestleMania. I was also surprised at Bret being able to superplex Fatu. Don’t see that every day. Bret was great in this fighting champion’s role, especially against guys bigger than him who gave him the opportunity to work from underneath.
After that, we had a WRESTLEMANIA REPORT. Gene Okerlund was so damn tan he looked like he was a different race. That’s not intended to be offensive. The Mega Maniacs vs. Money Inc. match was announced on this, as well as a nearly complete rundown of the rest of the card.
Unfortunately, they have a Crush vignette in which Crush does his terrible fake Hawaiian accent and cuts a promo on Doink while standing on the beach. He crushed a coconut.
Doink the Clown vs. Koko B. Ware
Pre-Match Thoughts: Can’t resist reviewing this one. If only this was the bird man version of Koko. I’d love to have seen Doink do a joke about that. Doink got a babyface reaction of sorts, of course. Who could hate this character? Doink has a present! Oh shit, they gave Koko his awesome music back.
Match Review: Doink attacks Koko immediately, and starts going to work on Koko’s left leg. He puts an STF on Koko, then continues to stomp on Koko’s leg for a little bit. He puts a spinning toe-hold on him, then drops Koko with a swinging neckbreaker. Doink goes for the STUMP PULLER, and that’s it at 1:47.
After the match, Bartlett wants to interview Doink. He’s going to do the Elvis thing during that too. Doink brings his present over there, and Bartlett wants to eat whatever the present is. Doink presents a small pie, then grabs a big one and throws it in Bartlett’s face. Excellent.
My Thoughts: Nothing match, with what happened afterward being far more important. DUD. Didn’t need to review that.
Next up, we get an interview from Money Inc., during which they say they’ll put their titles on the line against the Mega Maniacs at WrestleMania. DiBiase was talking about the CEO of American Express getting fired, who wasn’t going to be paid enough in severance or something. Then DiBiase cuts a promo on Hulk Hogan, and IRS does one on Brutus Beefcake. For whatever reason, DiBiase does nearly all the talking in these joint appearances in the arena. I see why, because IRS completely bungled the end of his part of the promo.
Once that was over, it was time for Lex Luger to squash PJ WALKER. This fan keeps giving him the finger every week he goes out there. I don’t see the Justin Credible resemblance at all with Walker. Luger knocked him unconscious with the running forearm and pinned him with his pinky. The kid juiced from the mouth too.
To close out the show, the Steiner Brothers were there to squash DUANE GILL and Barry Hardy. The jobbers had an identical look. On the Steiners abuse of jobbers scale, I’d grade this a 5/10.
All in all, a good show because of the feature match.
– Taped to air March 8th, 1993, on Monday Night Raw, from the Manhattan Center in New York City, New York
This Raw opens with the Mega Maniacs cutting a promo where they accept the title match. Of course they do. This Raw was taped the same night as the last one, and I’m glad Bartlett isn’t doing an impression.
Virgil and El Matador vs. Money Inc. for the WWF Tag Team Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: The Virgil/DiBiase clash is the reason for the season, as they say. Money Inc. should be made to look strong in anticipation of their big title match. If not, that would make no sense at all. At least we know Money Inc. was already at this taping, and doing double duty. Wonder if they were the only ones!
Match Review: DiBiase and Santana lock up and they shove each other, leading to nothing. DiBiase chops away at him after that, and Santana comes back with a back elbow for 2. He takes DiBiase down with a headlock, and Virgil makes a tag in. THE FEUD REIGNITES. Or not, because IRS tags in. Virgil puts a headlock on him, then hip tosses him. Virgil follows with clotheslines, and chases IRS to the outside, where Santana beats him up. Santana and Virgil put IRS in the ring for a double elbow, which gets 2. Santana made the tag in during that, and has a wristlock on IRS. Virgil and Santana make an illegal switch, so Virgil keeps the hold on. Santana makes a legal tag, and comes off the second rope with an elbow. Santana draws DiBiase in and switches with his partner again, as we go to a commercial.
When we come back, IRS had Santana in a chinlock, and he makes the tag out to DiBiase. They do a double wishbone, and DiBiase collides with Santana shortly afterward. Virgil makes the hot tag in, and cleans house on IRS. IRS trips and falls, then they have Virgil clothesline him. He clotheslines DiBiase too, then slams IRS. DiBiase trips Virgil, then IRS drops Virgil with a back suplex and covers for the win after about 8 minutes.
My Thoughts: This wasn’t too good, especially when IRS tripped and fell down. Anyway, not a lot to see here. DiBiase and IRS got the easy victory they needed. *1/2. I don’t know what’s on these other Raws because it’s impossible to avoid spoilers if I do know what’s on them. Under other circumstances I may not have watched this.
Rick Martel is here to face Mr. Perfect this week, and he wants to model the ring card. Haha. NOBODY CAN MODEL BETTER THAN THE MODEL.
Before Tatanka’s squash match, they were sure to show him pinning Shawn Michaels twice. Did anyone ever point out that Tatanka used to do a fascist salute? Shawn Michaels called in for some comments during the match.
During this week’s WrestleMania Report, Bret Hart and Yokozuna each had promos, the latter being done by Mr. Fuji. They put Yokozuna on a platform to make him look taller than Fuji, I think. We got a promo from the Undertaker too.
Rick Martel stole the ring card again! WHAT A GUY!
Our next match featured Papa Shango, who squashed some jabroni. This is the first time I’ve ever seen him dish out the reverse shoulder-breaker.
Very graciously, they also let Bob Backlund squash someone. I wasn’t quite sure how Backlund could do a decent squash match. Bartlett stole one of my thoughts about Backlund being Opie Taylor. Boy, do I feel bad now. This wasn’t decent, by the way. Backlund made the jobber look too competent.
Rick Martel vs. Mr. Perfect
Pre-Match Thoughts: This sounds like it should simply be a solid wrestling match. I wonder if these guys ever faced off in the AWA. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to find out, but given they were both babyfaces, I doubt it. Before the match, Martel was interviewed by Bartlett, and Martel said that Bartlett had no class. Perfect had just returned from a knee injury, by the way.
Match Review: When they lock up, Martel goes to a side headlock. Perfect fights out, and hip tosses Martel. He slams Martel, who returns the favor himself. Then they tease a punch sequence, but Martel doesn’t want to get hit and ducks out of the ring. Martel cartwheels away from another punch, and does some jumping jacks. What a guy! Perfect trips Martel, then dodges a monkey flip with his own cartwheel. Martel goes to the eyes when they tie up again, and hits Perfect in the throat. Martel follows with some knees, then blocks a charge to the corner with another knee. He takes Perfect down with an overhead throw, then holds onto the arm. Martel flips out of a back suplex, but Perfect takes him and runs him out of the ring over the top. Perfect teases a dive, but the referee won’t let him.
After a commercial, we have Martel grabbing Perfect and pulling him into the ring. Martel takes Perfect down with a gutwrench suplex, then puts a chinlock on him. Perfect fights out of it, but Martel knees him in the gut to put him back down. Martel picks Perfect up for a backbreaker, then goes out to the apron for a slingshot splash that winds up with Martel eating knees. Martel goes up to the second rope next, but Perfect hits him on the way down. Perfect atomic drops him, then there’s an inverted atomic drop, and Perfect PULLS THE STRAP DOWN. Perfect backdrops Martel, and we have another commercial.
Oh God. The match finished during the commercial. They showed a replay of Perfect going for the PERFECT-PLEX, which is exactly what he dished out for the victory after about 10 minutes. To end the show, Perfect brings out the ring card girls that Martel shamed earlier. Decent show because of the ongoing Martel gimmick throughout.
My Thoughts: Having the match end during a commercial was absolutely terrible. I bet there was a legitimate reason for it, that being keeping kayfabe. Can’t think of any other. The action was solid but unspectacular. I don’t think Perfect really had it during his second WWF run, but I’m unsure. It’s not like I’ve watched this stuff before. Martel was winding down to the finish, he had other things going on. In any case, not bad. **.
So, it’s clear now that the WWF didn’t mention Kerry Von Erich on either of these shows. That’s terrible.
– March 15th, 1993, on Monday Night Raw, from the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York
First time out of the Manhattan Center for Raw! For some reason, we have Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, and Rob Bartlett on commentary this week. Now that’s different. They said that there was a blizzard that changed the show. That’s quite interesting. Bartlett’s Vince McMahon impersonation needed work.
To start this one off, a supposedly heel Razor Ramon had a squash match. Guess he was healed up from his knee issue. That back superplex looks like a death spot. I can’t imagine taking that bump.
After the commercial, Typhoon faced some individual named LA GORE. He squashed him, of course. The guy made Typhoon look pretty good, I thought. I recall this being advertised as Typhoon vs. Bam Bam Bigelow.
Bobby Heenan is going to try to interview Giant Gonzalez! The obvious appeal there is putting him in the ring with Heenan and comparing their size. Harvey Wippleman did nearly all the talking for Gonzalez. Gonzalez shouldn’t have said a single thing, but he said he had a giant surprise for the Undertaker.
This Hulk Hogan WrestleMania commercial was a smart idea. They did make Bret Hart feel less important, but it’s about business at this point.
Papa Shango vs. Bob Backlund
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is an extremely strange clash of styles. I dig it, though. The crowd was really hot for this show, so I assume they’d be into this match as well. This is in New York, after all. BACKLUND COUNTRY.
Match Review: Bartlett’s impersonation has gotten much better. Backlund dodges Shango for a while, but eventually he starts tripping Shango and dancing around like a dipshit. Shango wants a test of strength, and gets it. He puts Backlund on his knees, but Backlund counters with a wristlock and makes it to his feet. Backlund takes Shango down with a drop toe-hold, but Shango gets up and counters with a backbreaker. He rakes at Backlund’s face for a bit, then puts him on the floor so he can ram him into the apron. Shango puts Backlund back in the ring, then headbutts him a little bit low. Papa Shango goes to a chinlock, but Backlund arm drags his way out of it. Shango gives Backlund another backbreaker, and drops some elbows on him. Back to the chinlock, until Backlund elbows his way out. Shango catches him with a low knee, then picks Backlund up and slams him for 2. Backlund comes back with a cradle, and he picks up the victory at 6:58.
My Thoughts: That was a great way to make Backlund look like a legitimate former champion. He won in the most flukish manner possible, took all the bumps, and ran away from Shango once the match was over. All in all, this was not good. Shango wasn’t any good in the ring, and Backlund’s act was a total dud. 3/4*.
During this week’s WrestleMania Report, they showed Yokozuna destroying a jobber on Superstars.
The Headshrinkers vs. The Nasty Boys
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is a surprisingly intriguing match for the early days of Monday Night Raw. I have no idea who will win. Maybe that means neither team will win. We’ll see. This could be a fun, hard hitting brawl. Knobbs and Sags each planted one on the fat ring card girl they were using this week. Weird. No clue why Afa wasn’t with the Headshrinkers.
Match Review: After lots of mugging and posturing, the match finally starts with Samu attacking Knobbs from behind. Samu clotheslines him in the corner, but Knobbs returns the favor with his own clotheslines. Sags tags in, and they give Samu a double backdrop. Fatu sneaks in to attack Sags from behind, but Sags gives the Headshrinkers a double clothesline for 2. Knobbs tags back in, and drops Fatu with a single-arm DDT. Sags gets back in there, and puts a hammerlock on Fatu. He hip tosses Fatu, then brings Knobbs in for an elbow drop. They exchange tags for a bit, until Samu clotheslines Sags as he runs the ropes. Fatu hits Sags with a superkick, and we go to a commercial.
Back from that commercial, Fatu has a chokehold on Sags. Eventually that becomes a chinlock, and Fatu throws Sags out of the ring. Samu slams Sags on the floor, then puts Sags in the ring, making a legal tag in afterward. He slams Sags again, then heads up top, coming down with a flying headbutt that misses. Knobbs makes the hot tag in and backdrops Samu, then clotheslines both guys. Knobbs gives them a noggin-knocker, but Samoans don’t feel that. So, they give Knobbs a double headbutt. Knobbs dishes out a double DDT in response, and we have a brawl on the floor between he and Fatu. Sags throws Samu on the floor, and WE GET A BRAWL. THE PLUNDER. A FOOD FIGHT. Eventually the bell rings and the match gets thrown out after 8:26. Sags beats up Samu with a bucket, but his head is so hard he doesn’t feel it. Knobbs hits Fatu with a chair, and there’s mustard all over these guys. Sags hits Samu with the mustard bottle, a chair, and after that they cut out to a vignette.
My Thoughts: That brawl was a lot more fun than the match, which was entirely pedestrian. Good precursor to the future brawls that the Nasty Boys would have in WCW. These teams could have had a really fun PPV match, I think. Still, despite the pedestrian nature of the matches on this show, for whatever reason I don’t think this was a terrible episode. *3/4.
Closing the thing out, we got some good old fashioned WWF PR, trying to remind everyone that these WWF wrestlers were good guys.
– March 22nd, 1993, on Monday Night Raw, from the Manhattan Center in New York City, New York
This Raw looks quite short. I’ll have to find out why. We’re back to the normal announce team this week. Given what they advertised, I won’t be giving a full review to anything from this.
The first match was the Bushwhackers vs. Repo Man and Damien Demento. Like I’m reviewing that. The Bushwhackers decided to go up into the balcony to hug people instead of going straight to the ring. Vince’s reaction to that was something. This was a terrible match, and to nobody’s surprise, the Bushwhackers won when they dropped Repo Man with the Battering Ram. Repo Man didn’t appear again in the WWF for quite a while, he was done. DUD match.
Next up, Tatanka squashed Reno Riggins. I feel like something’s been removed from this episode. They made it seem really obvious he was going to beat Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania.
The WWF was going to institute a Hall of Fame, and their first inductee was going to be Andre the Giant. Part of this was to take away from Slamboree, and the other part was to acknowledge Andre as much as possible, I suppose.
Money Inc. also got the pleasure of having jabronis put in front of them to beat. Good for them.
As the main event, we had the pleasure of seeing Kamala take on Doink. For some reason, Doink’s hair was cut this week. Why’d they do that? This match sucked too. They went to a commercial, then finished the match just a minute or so after it was over. Kamala was given a gift, then Doink rolled into the ring and won by count-out. There was nothing inside of the wrapping paper. DUD.
I found out what they cut, too. Vince McMahon was presented a bogus charity award, and all of that footage was removed from this episode. This was probably the worst Raw I’ve ever watched. No quality wrestling at all, no good angles…just nothing.
– Taped to air March 28th, 1993, on March to WrestleMania IX, from Fayetteville, North Carolina
Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart CONTRACT SIGNING
They didn’t exactly take a long time to sign that contract. No drama, no build, no anything. Once that part was done, Bret started talking to Yokozuna. He said that he was focused, and he wasn’t going to be losing this match at WrestleMania. So, Yoko rams the table into Bret’s gut, and squashes him in the corner! Yoko follows that up with the BANZAI DROP, and when Bret tries to get up…he can’t. When Yokozuna leaves, Bret then is able to get up to some resounding cheers.
Yokozuna (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. Randy Savage
Pre-Match Thoughts: I do not think this was taped at the same time as the contract signing. This was a big television match, and I know they did a longer one nearly a year later, but this seems very pertinent at the moment. This crowd is on fire for the match, of course. It’s perfect booking. Savage needed revenge for the Rumble.
Match Review: Savage decides to dodge Yokozuna, of course. He eventually locks up with him after tiring him out, and Yoko shoves him to the canvas. Yoko shoulders him down next, and hits Savage with some headbutts. He takes Savage and throws him over the top, then follows him out there for a post shot. Yoko follows by throwing Savage into the steps, then back in the ring. Savage comes back with a series of punches, but Yoko cuts him off with a shot to the throat. Yoko slams Savage, then drops a BIG LEG on him. Yoko then chokes Savage for a while, then misses a charge to the corner. Savage heads up top, and he hits Yoko with a double axehandle to put him on his knee. Fuji hits Savage with the flag when Savage goes back up top, so Yoko drops Savage with a huge belly to belly suplex for 3 at 6:37. The crowd was NOT expecting that. After the match, Yokozuna goes for the BANZAI DROP, but Savage moves out of the way. Savage then knees Yokozuna from behind, which sends him out of the ring and backstage.
My Thoughts: This was a perfect exercise in building a monster heel. Didn’t expect Savage to go out like that, either. That was surprising. I guess the day of guys refusing to do jobs in prominent televised spots was over. Savage never had any particular problem with that, though. This was good for how long it lasted, they worked through a good routine. **, it was great to see how they played the crowd. Not sure exactly what or if they were building to something, though.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer)
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is quite a big match for regular television. Bigelow was supposed to be facing Kamala at WrestleMania, but that didn’t happen. Thus, this would be his biggest exposure in a weekend time slot for some time, I suppose. This is one of those matches that I don’t know if they did at a later date. If they did, I’ll review it. Simple as that.
Match Review: These two stare each other down, and Bigelow starts punching away first. He can’t knock Taker down, but Taker gives him a drop toe-hold! Bigelow leaves the ring, and Taker gives chase, but Bigelow stomps on Taker when he gets back in there. Taker comes back with a DDT, so down Bigelow goes. Taker chokes away at Bam Bam, and we go to a commercial.
We come back from that commercial with Taker outside the ring, getting headbutted by Bigelow. Bigelow drops Taker with a back suplex, but Taker sits right up. Bam Bam slams Taker, but once again he sits up. Bigelow slams Taker again, headbutts him, and the same thing happens. This is getting funny. Bigelow knocks Taker down again and hits him with a diving headbutt, then he decides to head up top. Bigelow misses that diving headbutt, and Taker hits him with a flying clothesline. Taker follows that with a CHOKESLAM, so Bigelow rolls out of the ring and says forget this. He gets counted out at 7:39. Now that the match is over, it’s time for GIANT GONZALEZ to walk out there! They teased a brawl, but a bunch of refs ran out there and got in the way. Too bad.
My Thoughts: This was a bit better than the last match, these guys had good chemistry. Bigelow would have made a good regular opponent for Taker, I think. Bigelow was really figuring out his gimmick, and finally getting a chance to work for a big company and get time to put together his matches. **1/4, and a good way to end things heading into WrestleMania.
That’s that for this set of matches and angles. Of course, there were other things going on. Like, Dino Bravo getting killed over smuggling cigarettes. Or, the government investigating Vince McMahon, which eventually led to a steroid trial. There were a lot of new guys coming into the WWF after WrestleMania, but before getting to WrestleMania, I’m going to be watching WCW matches leading into Slamboree. I’m trying to alternate and change it up, because otherwise I’d be doing three WWF articles in a row.
Best: Fatu vs. Bret Hart. I liked it, don’t know if everyone else does.
Worst: The entire 3/22/93 Raw. Definitely a contender for the worst of them all.