James Dixon: Rob Bartlett introduces the show and says he has learned that wrestling fans can’t spell. Yeah nice one pal, we have learned that you can’t do comedy, you unbearable dickhead.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Scott Taylor
Yes, the same Scott Taylor who went onto become a reasonable level star as Scotty 2 Hotty. He really did have to pay some serious dues to make it in the WWF. It is another reminder about just how easy some of the WWE guys have it these days. Bam Bam is impressive and the crowd pops him, continuing to give a lot of love to the heels show after show. A vicious electric chair drop is a particular highlight from him. Taylor gets nothing of course, and is little more than a bump dummy for Bigelow to do his arsenal of moves on. I am a big fan of Bam Bam; he is very entertaining to watch. Guys like Yokozuna should have watched how he kept his squash matches interesting and fun throughout. Bigelow wins with a diving headbutt.
Final Rating: *½
Vince McMahon refers to himself in the third person as he introduces an interview with “Vince McMahon and The Hulkster” from the same studio that they did an interview in prior to WrestleMania VIII. Hogan talks about how his Hulkamaniacs have gone from being his friends to his heroes. Hogan admits he has made mistakes, and this is essentially a thinly veiled apology for his involvement in the steroid trial controversy the year prior. He goes into a tirade against the media digging up dirt and making up news stories, and says he wants to leave his mistakes in the past. What he means is; he wants to rebuild his severely tarnished image after the P.R disaster of his appearance on Arsenio Hall which resulted in him being outed as a steroid user. We forgive you Hulk, come back and save the WWF… for three months…
Shawn Michaels & The Beverly Brothers vs. Tatanka & The Nasty Boys
This doesn’t have too much promise, though Michaels tries his damndest by nearly breaking his neck on a backdrop over the top rope. He pretty much lands on his head. Rob Bartlett says: “The Nasty Boys are gentle guys who like the fine arts”. Of course he does. The Nasties work over Michaels for a bit, but he hightails it out of there when ‘Mania opponent Tatanka tags in. Tatanka actually shows a lot of fire in throwing Beau all over the ring, and the heel Beverly ends up taking the heat. It is not a shine section, they are working him over like a heel team would. We cut to commercial, and when we return the babyfaces are STILL in control. Bartlett says: “they have just started, they weren’t really wrestling during the commercial” which is probably not that far from the truth. Certainly in modern day Raws you would see a chinlock applied and that would be commercial time. It is actually almost business exposing. I suppose if you stop and think about things like that in wrestling you will drive yourself crazy though. Like, why does EVERY pay-per-view always fit snugly into a 3-hour time limit? Why does a show never end after an hour because everyone won real quick? Maybe I am going strange from listening to Bartlett talk nonsense too much and it is rubbing off. We finally get a heat, with Knobbs taking the punishment, as this match becomes formulaic and mundane. Still, after the last few shows it is nice to see a match go longer than 5-minutes. Tatanka finally gets his hands on Michaels after the hot tag, and their exchanges suggest a far better match at WrestleMania than what they ended up doing. Michaels goes for the teardrop suplex but Tatanka switches it into “WHATAMANOEUVRE” (sunset flip) to win it. Michaels’ doing the job here should have made it crystal clear he was going over at WrestleMania. Not much to this, but it was alright for a thrown together TV six-man tag.
Final Rating: *½
We get another advert for the awfully promoted WrestleMania IX. Like everyone else, I hate that show, it is just so boring and the card is all wrong. This may well be a Raw review, but I am going to go off on a rant now about how the card could have been changed. If you want to read about the joys of the 02.22.93 Raw and simply cannot wait any longer to find out what happened next, skip the next few paragraphs…
First of all, let’s start with the venue. Caesar’s Palace might have been unique looking, but use that for one of your other shows, like SummerSlam, not for the biggest event of the year. The outside setting was a distraction and it didn’t ever feel important or like a Mania event. Business was down and they couldn’t attract huge crowds like they had done in the past, but why not just go back to MSG, the safe option, where the crowd would have reacted to everything?
Next, the main event should never have featured someone as unproven and boring as Yokozuna. He was fat and thus Vince’s steroid freak nicotine patch equivalent, I get that. But he was a sideshow attraction, and he should have been used as one. I often read or hear what a great worker Yoko was, but the truth is; people only say that about him because he is dead. He was not a good worker, he was boring. Incredibly, unbearably boring. He could do impressive things for his size, sure, but he was not a main event guy and that alone didn’t warrant a push to that spot. A challenger to the belt on TV or even King of the Ring, fine, but not the hallowed grounds of WrestleMania. Instead Yokozuna should have faced the returning Hulk Hogan, back for revenge after Yoko put Duggan on the shelf and nearly killed him. They could do the usual WWF bullshit patriotic thing, and have Hogan vanquish the monster. It would have hurt Yoko’s stock less than the 10-second job did at the real show. To replace Yoko in the main event, they should have gone with Randy Savage in the top spot, turning him heel and having him win the Royal Rumble. From what I understand, this was something bandied about, possibly by Savage himself, and the match would have served to elevate Bret and give him the rub from beating a bona fide legend and a former two time champion to boot. Savage was far from past it by then, and people often forget that he was WWF champion just six months prior. Not only that, but a match between Bret and a motivated and reinvigorated Savage would have been a superb one to watch. If they really wanted to do the Hogan thing, they still could have, because there was money in Hogan-Savage in a top line nostalgia program, as WCW proved years later, and losing in seconds would have been even more motivation for a deranged heel Savage to get revenge.
Vince should have asked Ric Flair to stay on for a few more months, and ran the “loser leaves the WWF” match at WrestleMania instead of on Raw. If they had a match to the same standards, with it being at WrestleMania it would have been one for the ages and probably still talked about to this day. New York appreciates great wrestling, and MSG would have ate up a match between these two, especially one with so much on the line.
Tatanka was never a credible challenger to Shawn Michaels, and they barely had an issue going into their IC title match. Marty Jannetty was of course the obvious option, and a match between the two would probably have produced the third 4* match on the show. I understand that Jannetty had problems, but if he had kept clean he was the most logical choice by far, with over a year’s worth of history behind it.
Crush against Doink I have no real problem with, because it had a decent angle to set it up, and it is just midcard stuff telling a story. There is a place for that, and that was one of the few bouts actually booked right, incredibly.
Money Inc. were stale and tedious, and had been tag champions for what seemed like an eternity. Putting them on with the impressive and very over Steiners would have been a smart move, and it would have been an even bolder one to put The Steiners over for the belts. Ok, they had only been with the company for a matter of months, but so had Yokozuna and they put the WWF title on him! The Steiners actually got some ok matches out of Money Inc. and could have again here.
Lex Luger was given a gimmick which fairly accurately reflected real life, though his gear was awful. But it was a waste of Mr. Perfect, and as mentioned there was a far better potential use for him. Instead I would have put Luger on with the returning Brutus Beefcake. The booking would be simple, but it would make sense. You simply transplant Luger in for DiBiase for Beefcake’s return match, with Luger saying he is here to beat the best and accepts Brutus’ open challenge. Then instead of the briefcase, use the steel forearm, which keeps Beefcake on the shelf until a rematch at Mania. This can end in a screwy non-finish, or Luger going over if they were serious about really pushing him. I would have put him over and then had him feud with new champion Hulk Hogan. There was definitely money in that one, with Hogan being Brutus’ friend. If the belt didn’t still go to Hogan then Luger could just have easily have worked around the horn with Bret. Beefcake didn’t need to win on his big return, he didn’t win at the real WrestleMania IX anyway, and he could have gone over on the house show run or in a revenge match at King of the Ring or SummerSlam.
I would scrap the abhorrent Undertaker-Gonzalez match and indeed whole feud, and instead swap in the vastly superior Bam Bam Bigelow. It is somewhat ridiculous that Bam Bam was not even on the WrestleMania card, because he was one of the best workers they had in the company. The set-up wouldn’t need to change at all, just hold off Bigelow’s re-debut with the company until Royal Rumble ’93 and have him demolish Taker in the same way that Gonzalez did, which would instantly establish him as a monster, only one who could actually, yanno, move. Their match would have been much better, infinitely better, than the Gonzalez fiasco, and Taker could have happily gone over or done a non-finish leading to a rematch. Bam Bam was good enough that jobs didn’t hurt him anyway.
That leaves Tatanka, Razor, Backlund and The Headshrinkers from the original card who wouldn’t make it onto this one. You can solve that by throwing Tatanka and Razor in there together for a throwaway undercard match-up, but Backlund I would just leave off entirely. I hated his babyface persona and awkward, sloppy ring style, and he didn’t fit into 1993 WWF at all.
So there you have it, a thousand word rant, but WrestleMania IX fixed from being probably the worst Mania the WWF ever did, to potentially one of the best ever, and without a great deal of unrealistic or far-fetched scenarios.
Are you guys still with me? Good, back to Raw then…
Sean Mooney gets some rare Raw airtime, and interviews some marks about Hogan’s return to the WWF. One prophetically says he thinks Hogan will beat everyone and win the title again. Well he was half right. I blame that guy for giving Vince the idea!
Crush vs. Terry Taylor
This is a mismatch. Crush works a headlock and no-sells a bit before hitting a fairly impressive standing dropkick and an effortless gorilla press slam. Time to rethink your strategy, Mr. Taylor. Rob Bartlett does an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, and Vince plays along. They talk politics and Savage says Hogan is neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but a Hulkamaniac. If I was American, I would probably trust Hogan and vote for him ahead of candidates from either of those parties. Even though I know how famously full of shit Hogan is, I would still trust him more. When I am talking politics instead of about the match, it should give you an idea as to its quality. Extended squash for Crush, who goes over with the melon squeezer after a typically wooden performance.
Final Rating: ½*
Video Control show us footage of the excellent angle from last week where IRS rearranged Brutus Beefcake’s face with his briefcase, which leads to Hulk Hogan coming out for his big WWF return. The response to him is decent, but not exactly roof-raising. To be honest, New York was not a good audience for him to return in front of, because they were the same fans who had started to turn against him in 1991/92. Hogan talks about watching the angle with Beefcake last week, and thanks God and Jimmy Hart for being there for him. This is pretty lame. It all rather has the feel of Beefcake’s big brother coming to sort out the bullies who picked on him. Hogan brings out Beefcake, who is dressed in sycophantic red and yellow attire. He is also sporting two black eyes and tape over his nose, painted on for effect of course. Beefcake cuts essentially the same promo that Hogan just did, thanking God and Jimmy Hart. Hogan brings out Hart as their new manager, and he is clad in red and yellow too. He brown-noses his way through a promo, confessing to idolising Hogan. I am just waiting now for Hogan to whip out his member for Vince, Brutus and Jimmy to all stroke, and bring an end to this love fest. All hail, the saviour hath returned!
“Yeahhhh, rip it oooffffff” shouts Vince in the midst of climax as Hogan removes his shirt and poses.
The Undertaker vs. Skinner
There is about two minutes left, and once Taker actually gets in the ring, this will probably go about 30-seconds. A commercial break leads to another commercial break. What are they playing at? Just show the damn match! In progress now of course, and Skinner is slightly on top, choking Taker with his gator claw. We are out of time, and the match will continue next week on Raw (only it inexplicably doesn’t).
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Bam Bam Bigelow. Just takes it ahead of Shawn Michaels.
Least Entertaining: Crush. He is just a big boring sod, isn’t he?
Quote of the Night: “And I’m from Sat-urn” – Randy Savage in response to Rob Bartlett making wild and nonsensical claims about The Nasty Boys.
Match of the Night: Six-man tag. By default, not because it was especially good. There is a theme here.
Summary: Another big fat dog of a show, with nothing really going on outside of HULK HOGAN BEING HERE FOR AN INTERVIEW, which we were reminded of every two minutes. Perhaps I am expecting too much, or I am bitter because Furious got to watch Perfect-Flair, but I have been deeply dissatisfied with the wrestling on these shows for the duration of February. Another lousy Raw, with too much of nothing happening outside of Hogan.