James Dixon: We start with highlights from 1-2-3 Kid’s memorable upset victory over Razor Ramon 6-weeks ago, and the big rematch with ten grand on the line is tonight! We are in Poughkeepsie with a typically red hot crowd, and hosted by Vince McMahon, Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage.
The Steiner Brothers vs. Barry Hardy & Reno Riggins
The new WWF tag team champions no less. Bizarrely, this is actually The Steiner’s second run with the belts, having first won them a week earlier on a house shown in Columbus, lost them two days later on a house show in Rockford and won them again three days later in St. Louis on yet another house show. You think house show business was down and they wanted to boost attendance by promoting potential title switches by any chance? Business was in a bad way, with typical attendances around the horn ranging from 1000-3500 depending on the market. As has been stated before; 1993 was not a good year for the WWF. This is the second time that Hardy has come up against The Steiners on Raw, and after last time when he got thrown around, I am sure he is really looking forward to this one. Scott busts out the suplexes right away, hitting a sweet t-bone on Riggins before Rick gives Hardy a reverse slam into the buckles. Nasty. Scott puts an exclamation point on things with a beautiful stalling overhead belly-to-belly suplex, and allows Riggins to come in so he can give him the same. Scott hits the Frankensteiner and HOLY SHIT was the timing all wrong on that! Steiner lands on his head, and Riggins lands on his face. He shouldn’t use that move against weak-ass jobbers. Great fun though, as all Steiners’ squash matches are.
Final Rating: **
2/3 Falls Match
Doink the Clown vs. Marty Jannetty
Doink comes to the ring on a unicycle, because he is badass. The match they had last week was a real surprise treat, so I have high hopes for this. “Don’t ask for a clean break here ref, you’re not going to get it” says Vince as Doink gives a clean break from a lock-up. The more I watch Matt Borne work as heel Doink, the more I wish he had stayed around and been given a big push. He was really awesome and criminally underrated. The brilliance of the character is typified with a sequence where he tries to match Jannetty by wrestling, then just shrugs and gives up on it, instead casually throwing him down by the hair. It is subtle but brilliant. Another example sees them run the criss-cross and Jannetty stops to try and make a fool out of him, so Doink responds by just lamping him in the jaw. Jannetty begins to outsmart Doink, like all good babyfaces should against a heel, and they work some smooth sequences from an armbar, including a lucha-esque transition from Jannetty to escape a wristlock and go back into the hold. This has been utterly wonderful so far, with many layers and clever psychology moments. Doink wins a great first fall with the Whoopie Cushion, and his reaction at hitting it successfully is priceless. Time of the first fall: 7:16. If the rest of the match lives up to what has just transpired, we may be in for a real classic here, and yet another top drawer Jannetty match. He deserved much more from SummerSlam than being fodder for Ludvig Borga. He should have worked Doink, and just have the Lawler-Bret match as advertised. They start the second fall with a slugfest and then Doink sends Jannetty hard into the buckles, where he takes the Bret Hart forwards bump. Doink apologises and then slaps the piss out of him. Man, this character is just genius. Doink steals Savage’s top rope axe handle to the outside, which Savage calls him on. Back inside and Jannetty shows life, so Doink puts on the sleeper. It is not a rest hold for the sake of it, and while I don’t doubt they need the brief respite, the reason behind it from Doink’s perspective is that Jannetty was looking too lively. A sleeper is the obvious and correct choice from a kayfabe perspective in that sense. Jannetty manages to get back into it with a suplex then kicks Doink’s head off with a superkick. The sound he got on it was phenomenal, and the crowd and the announcers pop. Doink gets his foot on the rope, but Jannetty hits a top rope fist drop to take the second fall in 4:38. Jannetty hits a long stalling atomic drop to start the third and final fall, and then rather than slowing down, the pace actually quickens! Briefly mind you, and Doink slows Jannetty by wrapping his leg around the post and then putting on the figure four centre ring. Savage knows all about the figure four, and offers advice on what Jannetty needs to do. Jannetty manages to switch it by turning onto his front, but Doink immediately crawls for the ropes. But the damage is done to Jannetty, and Doink continues to target the leg. With his flying taken away from him, all Jannetty can offer is strikes, and when he hits a backbody drop, his leg gives way underneath him allowing Doink to pounce with a half crab into an STF. Doink loses focus by going for the Whoopie Cushion, and Jannetty manages to throw him off the buckles and take over. Another Doink comes out and hides under the ring, and as Jannetty is looking for him, Doink KICKS HIS HEAD OFF from inside the ring. Jesus, that looked absolutely vicious. Jannetty knocks Doink to the outside with an air dropkick that Vince says “barely hit him” in the first minor snafu in the entire match, and Doink rolls under the ring, but doesn’t switch places. He rolls under again after failing to put Jannetty away, and this time he does switch. The fresh Doink hits a piledriver and that is enough to put Jannetty away at 8:44. A pissed off Randy Savage can’t stand the injustice and jumps the fake Doink, then throws the second into the ring to show the referee what shenanigans have occurred. The decision gets reversed and Jannetty wins it on a DQ as Savage and Heenan argue about the decision at ringside. How the hell does this epic gem continually slip under the radar? What an unbelievable match-up. They went 20-minutes and barely paused from breath, everything made sense from a character standpoint, and it was consistently entertaining the whole time. The hot crowd, strong commentary and surprisingly levels of intensity all added to what is one of the best TV matches I have ever seen. Incredible stuff.
Final Rating: ****½
Mr. Hughes vs. Bobby Who
Hughes is accompanied by Harvey Wippleman and has the urn with him. Vince and Heenan run the tired “Who?” jokes at the start, which Vince still found funny in 1996. Just ask Jim Neidhart. Hughes hits a ridiculous standing dropkick for a man of his size, then lifts the halfway across the ring slam that Ken Patera used to do. Awesome, I love that move and wondered why no-one else did it. Hughes has the match won a few times, but keeps lifting Who up and refusing to beat him, so he can dish out more punishment. It seems like a dangerous thing to do in light of what happened to Razor Ramon a few weeks ago. Wasn’t Hughes watching at the start of the show? Anyway, he finally finishes Who off with a Bossman slam, then throws him out of the ring for good measure. Complete annihilation from Hughes. Who got nothing at all.
Final Rating: *
Razor Ramon vs. 1-2-3 Kid
I adore the angle/match they had when Kid first beat Razor, it was a brilliant way to get someone over that has been copied a number of times since, but never with the same impact. The crowd is electric for this, and pop huge when Kid hits a sunset flip and a spinning heel kick, both for near falls. Credit to Razor, he bumps like crazy for Kid before taking over and dominating. Razor hits a chokeslam so vicious that it folds Kid in half, then stretches him instead of finishing him off. The story is that Razor is so pissed off about the loss that he not only needs to win, but he also needs to humiliate Kid for the insult. Razor hits a back suplex off the top and then throws Kid to the outside so he can hit the Razor’s Edge on the EXPOSED CONCRETE, but Kid reverses into a backbody drop. Then, disaster strikes, and Kid slips off the top rope and lands HORRIBLY on the concrete outside. He is lucky he didn’t kill himself there, that was brutal! Kid shows no fear, and manages to recover enough to hit the same moonsault press that beat Razor the last time, but it only gets two. Kid gives up and just steals the bad of swag, and runs to the back where a car is waiting for him and he drives off with the money. Fun match with a great story, though the botch was sickening. I have no problem with the finish being a count out either, because in this instance it makes perfect sense. Count out and DQ finishes are only bad when they are blatant promoter cop outs. This wasn’t.
Final Rating: **¼
Promo Time: Razor Ramon
He is, as you might expect, not happy. He tells Vince he is coming for the “stick mang” and that no-one rips off Razor. It’s on!
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Doink the Clown. Matt Borne is a genius. He played the role to perfection, and was incredibly fun to watch. I don’t know why he later came to hate the gimmick so much.
Least Entertaining: Mr. Hughes because he didn’t learn from others’ mistakes. And his match was crap.
Quote of the Night: “He looks like a dog alright, I’m just not sure which end” – Bobby Heenan about Rick Steiner.
Match of the Night: Marty Jannetty vs. Doink the Clown. For the second week running, the award goes to these two. This match was even better than last week, in fact, it totally eclipsed it. Perhaps I have overrated this ever so slightly, but I don’t think so. If Flair and Michaels had done the same match, people would be raving about it to this day. A 20-minute Raw classic, and my pick for WWF match of the year.
Summary: An absolutely storming episode, perhaps the best yet. The hot crowd certainly helped matters, but the wrestling was great, and there was plenty of it too! Nearly half of the show was taken up by Jannetty and Doink, but when they put on a match of that quality you know the show is a keeper. A very easy watch and my favourite episode of Raw yet. Fantastic.