Venue: Manhattan Center (Manhattan, NY)
Commentators: Vince McMahon, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, & Rob Bartlett
In 1993 the WWF chucked its long-running Prime Time Wrestling show on the USA Network in favor of Monday Night Raw, which aimed to change up the mainstream pro wrestling scene. Instead of airing old taped matches, every week Monday Night Raw was going to air live from the same venue and feature a whole different look and feel from not only its own weekly television output but the television output of its biggest competitor, World Championship Wrestling. It was an interesting idea that the WWF would eventually mold and change but considering the show still airs every week to this day I’d say they pulled it off. All dynasties have to begin somewhere, let’s see how the history of RAW truly began.
- WWF Champion: Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart
- WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels
- WWF Tag Team Champions: Money Inc. (‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster)
- Koko B. Ware vs. Yokozuna
- The Steiner Brothers vs. The Executioners
- Shawn Michaels [c] vs. Max Moon for the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
- The Undertaker vs. Damien Demento
Sean Mooney welcomes the home audience from outside of the Manhattan Center in New York City. His spiel is interrupted by Bobby Heenan who tries to enter the arena. Mooney tells him he’s been replaced, Heenan refuses to believe it and wants in regardless. The argument continues until the opening video hits.
Cut to inside the Manhattan Center, sirens blaring as Vince McMahon welcomes the home audience alongside ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and radio DJ Rob Bartlett. Bartlett is ten seconds into his job and already mispronounces a name, calling Yokozuna ‘YokoZUMA’. You can already tell McMahon regrets the decision to have this non-wrestling dude on the commentary team.
‘The Birdman’ Koko B. Ware vs. Yokozuna [w/ Mr. Fuji]
Koko B. Ware is in the last stages of his WWF career here, having spent the back-half of 1992 teaming with Owen Hart as one-half of High Energy. The team is all but done at this point but Ware is still rocking his neon parachute pants, looking like the most early-90s wrestler in the history of the early-90s. He’s the most early-90s-looking wrestler in early-90s pro wrestling. Yokozuna made his debut in 1992 and has been squashing fools ever since, heading into the Royal Rumble as the odds-on favorite based on his massive size alone. Bartlett calls Yoko a ‘big-butted Oriental’ and McMahon awkwardly brushes it away, obviously uncomfortable.
Bell rings and Bartlett, a big man himself, continues with the fat jokes towards Yoko and Gary Coleman jokes towards Ware. This dude is the absolute worst but luckily he doesn’t last. Ware manages a dropkick but that’s about it as Yoko dominates, winning in short order with the Banzai Drop.
Yokozuna defeated Koko B. Ware via pinfall with the Banzai Drop (3:45)
- A quick and decisive win that continues to establish Yokozuna’s dominance and extending his undefeated streak. Not much else to say, really. (SQUASH)
A promo video plays to hype the 1993 Royal Rumble. It’s already been reviewed on this very site so you can go check that out if you’re interested.
Back live and we’ve got a RAW sign lady reminding everyone what show they’re watching. Cut to a pre-taped promo from Bobby Heenan hyping the impending debut of ‘The Narcissus’, who Heenan is bringing in to get revenge on former protégé Mr. Perfect. Heenan is wearing the pinkest of shirts under his usual black jacket and I can’t look away.
The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. The Executioners
The Executioners are a generic masked team consisting of longtime WWF jobbers Duane Gill (the future Gillberg) and Barry Hardy. The Steiner Brothers go to work as Doink The Clown appears in the crowd to cause some mischief. His left arm is in a sling thanks to Crush, but he’s an evil clown so it’s okay. Rick Steiner tags in and belts one of the Executioners with a hard Steinerline, followed by an inverted powerslam into the buckles, full goddamn force. The Steiners care not for the jobbers and it’s entertaining as hell. Scott Steiner tags in and hits an release overhead belly to belly suplex. The other Executioner tags in and The Steiner Brothers finish him off with the Steinerizer (top rope bulldog from Rick as Scott holds the opponent on his shoulders).
The Steiner Brothers defeated The Executioners when Scott Steiner pinned Executioner #2 after a Steinerizer (3:00)
- Always fun to watch The Steiner Brothers destroy a jobber tag team with suplexes and lariats, no complaints from me. Even though I know and remember their WWF run it’s still weird to see them in a WWF ring as they’re so closely associated with the legacy of WCW. (SQUASH)
Cut to Sean Mooney outside of the Manhattan Center where Bobby Heenan tries to sneak into the arena dressed in drag as Rob Bartlett’s aunt.
After a commercial break we go to the ring where McMahon welcomes Razor Ramon to the ring. Ramon is challenging Bret Hart for the WWF Championship at the Royal Rumble. Ramon says he was born ready for this ‘golden’ opportunity. Ramon puts over Hart’s eight-year climb to the top of the WWF but Ramon brags that he became the #1 contender in just 8 ½ months. Cut to video of Ramon’s attack on Hart’s younger brother Owen Hart from an episode of WWF Mania (where’s that on the WWE Network?) over the weekend. Ramon concludes by saying Hart ‘can’t do nothing about’ Ramon taking his WWF Championship at Royal Rumble. Good promo but oh maaan Ramon’s fake Cuban accent is the worst in retrospect. To his credit I totally bought it when I was a kid but nowadays it’s real awkward.
Cut to a pre-taped promo from Tatanka who puts over the WWF’s ‘Headlock on Hunger’ initiative. They’re doing some benefit show at MSG coming up.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels [c] vs. Max Moon
Max Moon might be one of my favorite dumb gimmicks from 90s-era WWF. He’s supposed to be a spaceman or alien or some nonsense, but he just looks like a dork. At least at this point he dropped his jetpack gimmick where he hopped the steps while pretending to be flying. The character was originally supposed to be played by Lucha Libre star Konnan (who was still masked and not known in the States very well at the time) but Konnan balked and instead Paul Diamond took it over, trading his mask as Kato in The Orient Express for another one.
Michaels and Moon trade holds until Moon finally mounts a string of offense with an armdrag and scoop slam, forcing the champ to take a powder in the corner. Moon rolls under a back elbow attempt and catches Michaels with a flying hammerlock, bringing him to the mat. ‘LET’S GO SHAWN’ chant from the smark nerds in the audience. Moon attempts a float-over but Michaels catches him and drops him throat-first across the top rope to take control. Doink The Clown is still hanging out and Rob Bartlett does the ABSOLUTE WORST MIKE TYSON IMPRESSION I’VE EVER HEARD while McMahon tries to play along but can’t. This dude is seriously the worst. Moon rolls Michaels up for a two-count, Michaels catches him with a right hand to stem any momentum. Michaels catches Moon with a back elbow but can only get a two-count so he switches course to a rear-chinlock. Moon counters a dropkick with a slingshot, sending Michaels all the way out to the floor. Moon follows up with a seated senton from the apron. Michaels begs off, Moon mounts his comeback with a leg lariat in the corner and a rolling senton for the 1…2…Michaels barely kicks out. ROB BARTLETT WON’T STOP THIS MIKE TYSON IMPRESSION AND THIS IS HELL. Moon misses a senton and Michaels connects with Sweet Chin Music, at the time still just a regular ‘Savate Kick’. Michaels finishes him off with his finisher at the time, the Side Suplex, and retains en route to facing his former tag team partner Marty Jannetty at the Royal Rumble.
Shawn Michaels [c] defeated Max Moon via pinfall with the Side Suplex to retain the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (7:54 shown)
- A good match, though if you thought Max Moon had any kind of shot to become Intercontinental Champion in 1993 you’re certifiably insane. Michaels did give him spots to shine though, taking a nice slingshot bump and all. This would have been way better without Bartlett’s awful Mike Tyson impression and jokes stinking up the joint though. What a terrible hire. (**)
The Royal Rumble Report
‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is here for some Royal Rumble hype, focusing first on the Intercontinental Championship match between Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty. Whose corner will Sensational Sherri be in for this one? According to Michaels and Jannetty, it’ll be theirs. Okerlund then pivots to the Royal Rumble match itself, going through the announced participants with Mr. Perfect and Yokozuna (okay more Mr. Fuji) getting some time to proclaim victory. Okerlund then announces some new participants: Genichiro Tenryu, Tito Santana, Typhoon, The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu), and ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan who gets to cut a pre-recorded promo. He doesn’t guarantee victory, instead he guarantees he’ll give 100%! SOMEONE ADMITTED THEY WON’T WIN, I CAN DIE HAPPY NOW. Time to contact my local cable company.
Sean Mooney is outside the Manhattan Center, where a line has formed to buy tickets for next week’s show. Bobby Heenan tries to sneak in again, this time dressed as a Hassidic Jew. THWARTED AGAIN.
After a commercial we go to footage of Kamala’s face turn over the weekend on WWF Superstars, seeing the light thanks to the Reverend Slick.
The Undertaker [w/ Paul Bearer] vs. Damien Demento
Apparently Rob Bartlett is on loan from infamous radio douche Don Imus, so now I hate him even more than I did before. Demento is crazy himself so he ain’t scared of Taker, going at him with right hands early. Taker easily fights him off and does his tightrope walk clubbing forearm. Demento catches a charging Taker with a big boot and takes him to the mat with a shoulderblock but Taker sits right up. Taker ducks a clothesline and tries to hit his leaping variant but lands right on him so it’s more of a Thesz Press. Taker follows up with a Tombstone and it’s over just like that.
The Undertaker defeated Damien Demento via pinfall with the Tombstone (2:24)
- Squash city. For some reason I remembered this going longer, but it’s probably better it didn’t. (SQUASH)
As Undertaker leaves McMahon goes into full-hype for next week’s show, which will feature an interview with WWF Champion Bret Hart as well as a match between Ric Flair and Tito Santana. He then makes a real bad joke, with a graphic to boot, saying there will also be a steel cage match between Woody Allen and his estranged wife Mia Farrow. Yuck.
After a commercial McMahon is with Doink The Clown at ringside. Doink doesn’t care that he makes children cry because it makes him laugh, refusing to heed Crush’s warning. Crush himself makes his way out and threatens Doink, threatening to put the rest of his limbs in casts if he keeps playing his practical jokes. Crush chases Doink around the ring and stands tall in the ring as Doink mocks the everloving crap out of him. HEEL DOINK IS THE BEST.
Cut to outside where Sean Mooney finally lets Bobby Heenan into the building but the show’s over so the joke’s on him WAKKA WAKKA.
Final Thoughts: Monday Night Raw would go on to become the show in professional wrestling but this was more of a pilot episode testing the waters. Nothing really interesting went on in the ring outside of a fun Steiner Brothers squash but the presentation and format were really solid and created a solid foundation…that would eventually be ignored but I digress. The Heenan skits were amusing and heel Doink is my favorite so those were the highlights for me. Worth watching for historical purposes, especially since it’s only 40 minutes long.
- Best Squash: The Steiner Brothers vs. The Executioners
- Worst Squash: Undertaker vs. Damien Demento
- Best Moment: Doink clowning Crush while Crush tried to be a cool badass fighting for the kids
- Worst Moment(s): Rob Bartlett making bad jokes, Rob Bartlett almost ruining a fun squash with his terrible Mike Tyson impression, McMahon making a Woody Allen/Mia Farrow cage match joke, ROB BARTLETT OVERALL