Arnold Furious: A helpful message pops up onscreen to tell us this LIVE show has been pre-recorded. Presumably someone makes a comment during the show that makes no sense if its live. Anyway, we start with Video Control who have the Megamaniacs. Hogan claims he’s been bashing Beefcake in the head with a metal case all week to test out the damage. I’m not sure how that helps. This is a typical weird Hulkster promo where he sings and alludes to things that won’t actually happen. They close with a “live from New York” SNL rip-off. It’s not though.
Hosts are Vince McMahon, Randy Savage AND Rob Bartlett. The excitement levels are off the hook. What was Vince feeding these New Yorkers?
Tito Santana & Virgil vs. Money Inc.
Money Inc. was totally played out by 1993 but they had a wicked angle with the Megamaniacs going into WrestleMania, so they’re over big time here. Virgil has a lot of history with DiBiase but he’s been relegated to the undercard and is no longer a realistic threat. Despite their ages getting up there, DiBiase and Santana put on a show. If the match was all DiBiase-Santana it’d be cool. Vince mentions the “ubiquitous” chants of “Irwin”, which immediately stop. Not so ubiquitous now, eh? To be fair to Vince, they start again a little later when Tito and Virgil are running heat on IRS. It really is heat too as they run no tag switches. New York is the perfect crowd to run that in front of because the crowd loves heels. They’ve been getting behind all the heel acts during the opening weeks of Raw. Early Raws had a unique atmosphere. It was positively rowdy. When Vince has problems with his business he always goes back to NYC. Quite right too. You can’t go home but you can shop there. DiBiase picks off Virgil, distracts him from the floor and IRS finishes with a back suplex. This was a weird anti-formula match but it was at an acceptable level.
Final Rating: **
Tatanka vs. Bill Apollo
Bill Apollo might as well be called Bobby Jobber. He’s a somewhat portly scrub who doesn’t even get a name graphic. We get a phone call from Shawn Michaels to brighten things up. He makes lots of gambling analogies, comparing Tatanka’s run of wins to a run of gaming luck. But at WrestleMania, in Las Vegas, he’ll roll snake eyes. Shawn encourages the fans to bet on him, which was a good tip. Apollo works fine as a warm body to take Tatanka’s spots and they keep it short, so it’s alright. Tatanka finishes with the Papoose-to-Go.
Final Rating: ½*
Video Control has the ever orange Mean Gene and the WrestleMania Report. Okerlund is such a liar. He refers to WMIX as the “greatest WrestleMania ever” while confirming the Money Inc. vs. Megamaniacs match has been added to the card. Bret Hart gets a moment to talk about respect. He respects Yokozuna’s undefeated streak and demands respect from the challenger and Mr. Fuji.
During the evening, Rick Martel runs an angle where he takes over the modelling duties from the Raw girls. It’s pointless to do it more than once, but the second girl does give us an upskirt shot on her way out of the ring. Racy for 1993.
Papa Shango vs. Mike Edwards
Papa Shango: great entrance, shit wrestler. The smoking skulls, the face paint, etc. Then he started wrestling and it was all kick and punch. Charles Wright has never been creative in the ring, Ho-Train aside. Shango’s in-ring really took away from the mystique of the character. Compare that to The Undertaker where his moves are in character. The lack of interest is reflected by the New York crowd who sit on their hands. Shango finishes with a backbreaker. Edwards got zilch.
Final Rating: ¼*
Bob Backlund vs. Tony DeMoro
This being New York, Backlund, former WWF champion, gets a nice pop. Unlike Mr. Dixon, I love Bob Backlund. But then his style is more up my alley: shooterish. DeMoro is a musclehead so Backlund uses technique to wear him down. Backlund is at a size disadvantage, but it’s great to see the WWF treat the wrestler as something special over a roided up freak. Backlund loads the match with waistlock reversals and fun stuff. Big suplex sets up the finish, with Backlund shooting the half and using a pinning technique to win it. Wrestling~! I’ve seen Bob do an extended version of this match and he does a masterclass in beating jobbers with nothing but technical excellence. I’m a fan.
Final Rating: *½
Backstage: Rob Bartlett is sent to interview Rick Model. “Gee whiz, can I?” was his reaction. Martel calls everybody and everything disgusting in his weird French-Canadian accent. On facing Mr. Perfect, he calls perfection “boring”.
Rick Martel vs. Mr. Perfect
“Two big guns going at it in a showdown type of situation” – Randy Savage. Quite. Vince claims Perfect-Luger will be “one of the greatest matches of all time”. Sure it will. Putting too much faith in Lex Luger much? Perfect demands that Martel take this match at pace. Martel does a nice cartwheel to dodge a monkey flip and Perfect mirrors it. I do like a bit of mirroring, it makes everybody look good. Martel gets a knee up in the corner and Perfect takes it square in the jaw. Vince and Randy discuss bringing back Elvis as Rob Bartlett isn’t cutting it. SHOOT! That was a shoot. Bartlett goes right into Elvis again and Vince throws to a commercial so he can stop it. The crowd don’t seem too interested in Martel, which means his Raw girl bit worked. They don’t like him, but the early Raw crowds weren’t into booing, they were too raucous. They just wanted to be entertained. Perfect demonstrates some excellent defensive wrestling. Knees up on a slingshot is a highlight. Vince throws to another commercial and Perfect wins during it. What? They missed the finish? We get it via disorganised replay where Martel sets too early and loses to the Perfectplex. I would have liked the match more if it didn’t have two commercial breaks in it. Perfect brings out the two Raw girls from earlier to celebrate. So, he’s getting laid tonight.
Final Rating: **¼
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Bob Backlund. My co-author may not be a fan but I could watch Backlund matches all day long. He was a little anachronistic for 1993 but I’d rather watch his old-timey style over Tatanka’s smashmouth bullshit any day of the week.
Least Entertaining: Papa Shango. All gimmick, no game.
Quote of the Night: “Unbelievable, we’re still rapping” barks Randy Savage during the main event. I’m not sure what he’s talking about but sticking a live mic on Randy Savage produces mixed results.
Match of the Night: Mr. Perfect vs. Rick Martel
Summary: We had ourselves a jobbermeat sandwich on this show. Bookmarked by a hot opener and a main event with stars in it. Raw was still jobber heavy in its early years before picking up during Attitude. It’s easy to forget how aimless some of these shows were. This week was an easy enough watch, nothing hard on the eyes, but nothing to write home about either. Middling for 1993.