James Dixon: We start with NEW WWF Intercontinental champion Shawn Michaels, who won the title last night on a house show. For the first time on TV, he is accompanied by Diesel, making his TV debut. The story goes that Michaels saw Kevin Nash toiling away in WCW as Vinnie Vegas and was amused by him. He told Vince he wanted him, and a few days later he was signed. It helped that Nash was everything Vince looks for in a wrestler. Namely, he was tall. Michaels briefly stops by the commentary team to gloat about the title and his new “insurance policy” and Savage amuses me by taking a good look at Diesel in the same way an inquisitive puppy would.
Shawn Michaels vs. Russ Greenberg
Greenberg is sporting a poor choice of pink and black tights, which he can’t pull off, and has a bad mullet. He is awkward and gets lost after a few slams. He does keep showing life though, going for a punch and a cradle, which is met with typical Michaels disdain. Diesel doesn’t even have a name yet, and the commentators speculate as to what he might be called. Bobby Heenan helpfully offers that he looks like a movie star. In later years he was a movie star, appearing in The Punisher and a couple of other films. Michaels hits a neckbreaker and Greenberg sells his throat, and then he sells his HAND after a top rope elbow drop. What a goon. A stalling piledriver finishes it for Michaels. Entertaining enough for a TV squash, but it had Shawn Michaels in it, so of course it was.
Final Rating: *¾
Mean Gene runs down the King of the Ring card coming up the following Sunday, and mentions Hogan defending the WWF title for the first time since WrestleMania IX. Shouldn’t he technically have been stripped due to the “30-day rule”? They used that to strip Michaels of the belt later in the year when he failed a drugs test. A bit of consistency wouldn’t go a miss!
Michaels finds out that his match with Crush at KOTR is now a title match, and he is pissed. The question is; why the hell was Michaels-Crush booked in the first place in kayfabe land, prior to Michaels regaining the belt? It is such a random match.
Adam Bomb vs. Tito Santana
Tito was still around? He can’t be far off leaving by this stage. Adam Bomb was fairly new in the WWF, and as I have said before he fit the bill perfectly as far as what Vince wanted his wrestlers to look like, so it is almost surprising that he wasn’t given a bigger push. Bomb is managed by the superb Johnny Polo, who brightened up many a Coliseum release in Volume #3 with his tremendous commentary. He went onto stardom in later years as Raven, where he had success in ECW, WCW and back again in WWF/E. Never in my opinion though, was he more entertaining than when he played Polo. Tito is used to playing fodder for the less talented slugs having put over the likes of The Warlord, The Barbarian and Papa Shango in years past. By now he was no longer relevant in the company, as the shitty El Matador gimmick had completely nullified his popularity. Savage refuses to use the El Matador name and so do I, because it is so preposterous. Vince makes sure to emphasise “EL MATADOR!” next time he calls one of his moves. Bomb kicks out of the flying forearm then hits his slingshot clothesline finisher for the win. The crowd and the commentators are both suitably impressed. That was alright for an extended squash but I hate seeing Tito get demolished so easily. He could have remained a relevant factor and a key player in the 90s WWF if he had retained his 80s physique and just worked as plain old Tito Santana.
Final Rating: *½
Next up, Tatanka! Christ, Tatanka is ALWAYS next up. Will his ridiculous push and monopolising of TV time never end?
Tatanka vs. Peter Weeks
Weeks is one of the infrequently seen “fat jobbers”. He looks like Typhoon, only he can move and bump. The crowd entertains themselves by singing native American songs, and it winds Tatanka up because he chops the living hell out of Weeks. Weeks!? What a stupid name! Heenan calls him a “300lbs cabbie from Chicago”. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true. Tatanka continues to bring the chops and then lets Weeks have a second or two of token offence so he can do his dancing comeback. The Tomahawk chop from the top finishes it, because Weeks is too fat for the End of Trail. Tatanka looks pissed off after the match. His hand is probably sore from the chops, he absolutely leathered poor Weeks. It made for fun viewing though.
Final Rating: **
“Ico-Pro, you’ve gotta want it!” Shame for Vince that no-one did!
The King’s Court
Jerry Lawler comes out dressed in all pink, which seems to be a theme for the evening. He does his typical run-down of Randy Savage and then blasts New York. Lawler loved the cheap heat, that was all he had. Lawler says whoever wins the King of the Ring will only be an imposter because he is the true king of the WWF. He brings out his guest for the show; Yokozuna. It is not a riveting choice, because he doesn’t speak English. Lawler rips on Hulk Hogan for being in Hollywood rather than in the WWF, which I would bet was a directive from Vince. Fuji says “excuse me your highness” before speaking, which is a fantastic touch, then tells how Yokozuna is even fatter than he was previously billed as. “Hogan, you will go DOWN!” bellows Yoko in his only speaking part. Succinct and to the point I guess!
Billy Gunn & Rick Steiner vs. IRS & Fatu
It’s mixed tag team madness! This isn’t quite as random as it first appears, because it is just one man from each team from the forthcoming eight-man tag match at King of the Ring. They got Billy Gunn and Fatu right, but this would have been much better with Scott Steiner and Ted DiBiase representing their teams. We get a long, long shot of Afa at ringside eating a WWF ice cream bar, because the WWF had no shame when it came to gratuitous product placement and shilling their stuff. Savage and Heenan go off on a tangent and Vince brings them back to focus by suggesting someone might die in this match, saying “someone here might not see their next birthday”. Incredibly for a wrestling match involving eight guys from twenty years ago, none of the participants in this ARE dead at the time of writing. Dissention in the heel ranks leads to DiBiase paying The Headshrinkers to co-operate, but they are “savages” and thus don’t understand what money is. This argument has been made before about Kamala, but if they can get on a plane and make their wrestling dates, then they know what money is. It is ridiculous cartoon nonsense that is a real detriment to the product. The majority of this match is shenanigans outside of the ring, because all of the respective partners are seconding their teammate. Eventually there is a heat on Rick, but it doesn’t last long and Gunn comes in to clean house after the hot tag. In the ensuing melee he knocks DiBiase off the apron but gets caught in the back of the head with IRS’s Write Off finisher as the heels win it.
Final Rating: *½
Promo Time: Razor Ramon
Fresh off his shock defeat to 1-2-3 Kid in an incredible angle, Razor offers “the stick mang” (Kid) $7500 for a rematch next week. Razor doesn’t care that he is not the favourite for his match with Bret Hart at King of the Ring. He also thinks the name of the Nutter Center, which is hosting the King of the Ring, is appropriate, because “when I beat the Hitmang (sic), he is going to be a-nutter loser”. Oh, snap!
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Tatanka. I am not a fan, but the chops were violent and unrelenting.
Least Entertaining: No-one stands out as especially bad, so I will give it to IRS by default.
Quote of the Night: “You people paint your trash cans red and gold so the kids think they’re eating at McDonalds” – Jerry Lawler endears himself to the New York crowd.
Match of the Night: Tatanka vs. Peter Weeks. Because it was a fat boy massacre, not because it was particular great from a technical standpoint or anything.
Summary: Even though it might not be reflected in the score due to the lack of anything that was particularly good, this show had a nice steady pace to it, some fun TV squash matches and a modicum of direction. Nothing dragged or deserved singling out for criticism, and the time breezed by. Certainly not a memorable episode (except for Kevin Nash fans), but it wasn’t bad.