Arnold Furious: We start with Jack Tunney who’s suspended Shawn Michaels and stripped him of the IC title. The basic excuse was not fulfilling his contractual requirements with a routine 30 day defence. However the truth depends on who you listen to. Shawn was rumoured to have failed a drug test, something he denies. Shawn himself said his contract was running out and he’d threatened to jump to WCW. When WCW put an offer on the table he turned it down and came back to the WWF at Survivor Series, subbing for Jerry Lawler who’d developed legal complications. At the time Shawn was out of contract and really out of the WWF until a deal was hammered out. It is something that often gets overlooked on Shawn Michaels career retrospectives. Without him bailing however you’d lose one of the biggest matches of his career as this all sets up Shawn vs. Razor at WrestleMania X in a ladder match. We’re in New Haven, Connecticut. Hosts are Vince McMahon, Randy Savage and Bobby Heenan. The crowd is molten. This is the first of three weeks taped in New Haven and might even be live!
Tatanka vs. Rick Martel
Both guys get entrances, that’s how we know it’s a clash of the superstars. Both are in contention for the IC title now it’s vacant. Martel would end up competing with Razor Ramon for that honour. The battle royal for the vacant belt is next week. Martel shows off his agility to confuse Tatanka. The crowd reaction is mixed. There were always heel sections during the early Raw tapings. Martel, without much effort, outsmarts Tatanka. Vince calls him a “wily veteran”. Tatanka blows a rope spot, horribly, and tries to repeat it. Martel just moves and even has time to stand around chortling. If this was ECW, Tatanka would be in trouble. Tatanka regains his mojo in front of the face-friendly WWF crowd and Martel deliberately makes himself boring to give the fans even more of a reason to cheer Tatanka. Martel was too smart a heel for his own good during the Model run. He would sacrifice entertainment to keep himself as the bad guy. As I’m sure I’ve iterated before; it is possible to be entertaining and be a heel. I consider The Brainbusters to be one of the finest examples. Tatanka was boring as a heel too. Tatanka t-t-t-t-takes over with Injun chops, but they spill outside and brawl to a DCO.
Final Rating: **
Video Control takes us to Joe Fowler as Gene Okerlund’s contract expired at SummerSlam. I never liked Okerlund but at least he had a personality. Fowler is just another in the production line of photogenic young men who do pieces direct to camera and have no real talent. He was a sportscaster and infomercial guy. Fowler runs down the participants in the IC title battle royal next week. Savage, Perfect, Gonzalez and Snuka are among the entrants. Mabel and Diesel are both in there as the biggest guys along with Bigelow. There is a fair bit of star power. I’ll let James give you the rundown on the full list of participants next week.
Ludvig Borga vs. Phil Apollo
Borga is slow, green and boring. Vince saw something in him that never materialised. He’s not helped by goofy Finnish ring attire. How many Finland flags do you want on your gear? Five, ok then! I think they should have gone for six. Five isn’t enough flags. If you saw him from the back you might not know he was from the evil foreign nation of Finland. Borga plods through the squash and finishes with the Torture Rack.
Final Rating: ¼*
Superfly Jimmy Snuka vs. Paul Van Dale
This is how desperate the WWF were for talent in 1993; they rolled Snuka out of the retirement home. The WWF do him no justice by pitching him the worst jobber they can find. Van Dale looks like he’s on his first day at training school. He can’t bump, he can’t sell, he can’t do anything. Bobby Heenan aims to stir up shit with Randy Savage by ringing Crush up, brah. Crush complains he wasn’t invited to next week’s battle royal and notes that Savage is in the match. Crush sounds weirdly Jamaican, like he’s trying to put on an accent he already has, and accuses Savage of politics, brah. In the ring Van Dale continues his embarrassing outing while Snuka plods through his offence at less than quarter speed. Snuka looks confused. The squash rumbles on and on. Snuka puts Van Dale in place for the Superfly Splash then picks him up and puts him back in the same exact place. Superfly Splash finishes. One of the most poorly executed enhancement matches you will ever see.
Final Rating: -*
Backstage: IRS is auditing. Vince wants to talk and calls him “Mr. Rotundo”. IRS claims the audit is for Razor Ramon. Are gold chains deductable? IRS’ promo is so boring. He claims he’ll win the vacant IC title.
WWF Tag Team Championship
The Quebecers (c) vs. Barry Horowitz & 1-2-3 Kid
This was supposed to be Reno Riggins but he’s got the flu, so Horowitz selected a replacement in the 1-2-3 Kid. The Quebecers don’t take him seriously. The Kid opens with a back kick to Jacques chest, which the former Rougeau finds amusing. He finds a second one less so as the jobbers clean house. Kid is naïve and gullible so The Quebecers can bait him into sneak tactics. Everyone must have loved wrestling the Kid. You could hit any move on him because he’s about 90lbs. The Quebecers add in unnecessary double teaming. Jacques takes unnecessary to another level with an attempted high crossbody. Just beat the Kid up, you don’t need to leave your feet. Jacques knocks himself out in the process and Johnny Polo calls for a stretcher. Seeing as Jacques isn’t legal, Earl Hebner tell the paramedics to haul him out of here and let the match continue 2-on-1. Pierre continues to boss the match anyway… because its Barry Horowitz. Pierre slams him right in the challengers corner so he can rough up Kid too. Kid tries some lame chops and has to switch up to spin kicks because they’re actually high impact. His chops don’t even qualify as low impact. Kid misses near the ropes and tumbles outside. Kid knew how to take a silly bump. Polo throws him back inside and Pierre pins for the win. I have no idea what they were going for here. Why run the injury angle? Why have Pierre deliberately let Kid in to screw with the hot tag? Why then have such a bad finish? Poor decisions all round.
Final Rating: *
Promo Time: Razor Ramon
Vince brings him out to close to show and allow him to retort to IRS. Razor claims to be “more handsome than ten movie stars”. They talk briefly about the IC title battle royal because Razor is in it, and indeed is booked to win.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Johnny Polo. His theatrics surrounding the injury angle made me smile. As did his reaction to Barry Horowitz’s choice of partner.
Least Entertaining: Jimmy Snuka. I think he may have been legally dead during this performance.
Quote of the Night: “The 1-2-3 Kid? Hahahahaha” – Johnny Polo makes light of Sean Waltman.
Match of the Night: Tatanka vs. Rick Martel
Summary: Weird that a Raw with two supposed marquee matches fails to deliver. It didn’t help that the two squashes in between were just awful. They do seem to be layering their storylines a little and setting up reasonable continuity, but there is too much crap on the shows. The only guy the fans cared about on this was 1-2-3 Kid, and they jobbed him out with Barry Horowitz standing right there on the apron! Just job Horowitz out instead! The booking is enough to drive you nuts on these things.