Arnold Furious: A lot of June’s Raw shows were designed to hype the WWF’s 4th of July weekend activities and in particular the famous USS Intrepid slam challenge, where evil frrrnrrr Yokozuna had challenged anyone in the sports world to try and slam his fat ass. We start with footage of various wrestlers and famous types trying and failing to slam the big man.
We’re in Manhattan, New York. Hosts are Vince McMahon, Randy Savage and Bobby Heenan. Savage has a ridiculous amount of stars and bars on his clothing. The patriots in attendance are flag waving and USA chanting like the US of A is going out of fashion. Vince throws us straight back to the USS Intrepid, yesterday. Vince does a good job of shilling the event billed as Yokozuna vs. the USA. I appreciate this whole challenge made Lex Luger, but I’d have put Scott Steiner over. T-t-t-t-t-t-t-tatanka f-f-f-f-f-f-fails. He confuses it with a match too so Yoko gives him the Hulkbuster. As James mentioned, Bill Fralic was involved and almost got the slam. That might have been a decent angle. Crush gets Yoko off his feet but his stupid Hawaiian back gives out. Savage has a go after that and comes up short. Todd Pettengill calls the job done; nobody can slam Yokozuna, BUT out comes a suddenly patriotic Lex Luger, landing via helicopter. The face turn is sudden but the angle worked. He slams Yoko and immediately gets over as a top tier face. It’s not helped by Lex’s inability to retain consistency between his face and heel personas. It’s like two different guys. Also the Lex Express was bordering on sickening. But hey, this was his moment. USA, USA, USA, USA!
Blake Beverly vs. 1-2-3 Kid
This would be Kid’s first match where he’s probably the favourite coming in. Its clever of the WWF to job out a tag specialist like Blake Beverly. He’s still a name guy, against the jobber guy so they can still call it an upset. The fans have totally bought into the Kid as the ultimate underdog. Blake doesn’t take him seriously, which inevitably leads to him taking some of Kid’s trademark highflying. Just when Blake thinks he’s got Kid, the Kid flips the tables on that son of a bitch. Dropkick out of a backdrop. Reverse enzuigiri out of the leg catch. It wouldn’t work as an all-Kid match though, so Blake takes over with a powerslam and a neckbreaker. The crowd have to think Kid will lose. Blake has fun slapping the Kid around, as everyone would. Blake hits a great diving headbutt to the back of the neck, which is sick enough, but his next move is to throw Kid over the ropes. Not allowing Kid to grab them either. Now it’s getting to the point where the fans are concerned for the Kid’s wellbeing, which means they’ve got the storyline over. Blake hits the Oklahoma Stampede but pulls Kid up, which isn’t a smart move against a guy who’s MO is upsets. Kid even misses with the moonsault press. Kid’s best asset is how sickening his bumps are, people were genuinely worried he’d get hurt. His size worked in his favour when it came to telling a story. Kid busts out the high spots too with a spinning heel kick TO THE FLOOR. He lands it ass-first but it still pops the crowd, who are loving it. They run a fun leapfrog spot where Blake catches Kid on a reverse one into a back suplex. Kid sneaks up top and leg jams the back of Blake’s head for the win. This was a fun match and the crowd were really biting on Kid as the underdog who could still win. Blake had fun throwing him around and kept the finish in doubt.
Final Rating: ***
Video Control takes us to a promo tape from Men on a Mission. A fat guy, a fatter guy and a rapper. It tries to make them look “street” but fails.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Joey Maggs
Jumpin’ Joey Maggs is one of the WWF’s better jobbers but Bigelow isn’t getting paid by the minute and squashes Maggs in seconds.
Final Rating: SQUASH (Too short to rate)
Samu vs. The Undertaker
Looks like we’re jobbing tag team guys this week. I was never a big Undertaker fan, but his spooky entrance always freaked out the live crowds. Taker has been having problems with Giant Gonzalez, as well as Mr. Hughes, and indeed the antics have left him without Paul Bearer or the urn. Samu doesn’t sell the gimmick, which is weird. Did he miss a memo? They completely blow a leapfrog spot and collide in mid-ring. I’m stunned the New Yorkers don’t shit on it. Taker immediately switches to a drop toehold, as if to say he’s all business now. He busts out a dropkick too. He can wrestle! He then misses with a clothesline and it’s an ugly spot. The timing was all wrong. I appreciate the effort, but the execution is off. You have to learn to walk before you can run, which is appropriate because most of Taker’s matches are done at walking pace. Samu batters Taker for a while but the Dead Man keeps sitting back up. He don’t need no stinking urn! Samu hits a diving headbutt, which leaves Taker motionless but he sits up on a second one. Chokeslam. Tombstone. Goodnight. The structure was better than the implementation.
Final Rating: *
Promo Time: Yokozuna & Mr. Fuji
Vince is once again ENRAGED about the foreigners, but this time he’s smug too because Luger slammed Yoko and Luger is American like him. So technically Vince slammed Japan too. Fuji claims Yoko has an open contract and anyone can challenge for the title if they want. This brings out Crush, brah. He puts Luger over, brah, for seeing the big American light, brah. Crush wants a piece of that open contract, brah. Fuji’s backtracking is terrific. What open contract? What are you talking about? Vince makes the match for next week.
Mr. Perfect vs. Brian Costello
Costello gets no audible introduction, but Vince McMahon names him shortly after the match starts. Mr. Perfect chops the bejesus of the poor guy and the jobberific treatment of jobbers tonight continues as Perfect finishes very quickly with a Perfectplex.
Final Rating: SQUASH (Too short to rate)
Next Week: Yokozuna defends the WWF title against Crush. Vince leaves us with Lex Luger slamming Yokozuna. It’s amazing to think they didn’t have Luger on Raw the day after such a momentous change in personality.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: 1-2-3 Kid. Every time out his bumps are crazy. He’s like a breath of fresh air and the crowd love him.
Least Entertaining: Nobody really deserves it this week.
Quote of the Night: “This is the Big Apple, when the lights go out you hit the deck” – Bobby Heenan on New York and The Undertaker’s entrance.
Match of the Night: Blake Beverly vs. 1-2-3 Kid.
Summary: The show flew by. The angles all worked and the opening match was good. I liked the way they turned the squash matches into just that. Maggs and Costello were both counting lights in almost record time, as if Raw was now too important for these things to be anything but filler.