James Dixon: This is the second of three shows taped in New Haven, as the WWF continues to expand Raw away from the Manhattan Center.
WWF Intercontinental Championship (vacant)
20-Man Battle Royal
This came about due to Shawn Michaels being stripped of the title for failing a drugs test, having tested positive for steroids. He denies having taken them to this day. I have stated this before, but I love battle royals, even though they are usually pretty much non-descript and dull. I guess it is just the visual, and the novelty of seeing guys go head-to-head who usually wouldn’t. That is something that has been lost in the modern era, with everyone working everyone else week after week. The rules here are that the last two will face off in a decider for the belt next week on Raw. There are some impressive names in this, which really adds to the credibility of the IC title. The likes of Randy Savage, Mr. Perfect, Superfly Jimmy Snuka and Bam Bam Bigelow mean this is star studded. Let’s pretend the debuting MVP (no folks, not Montel Vontavious Porter, but rather a baseball mocking Steve Lombardi) is not in there. Everyone gangs up on Giant Gonzalez right away, in order to give the match a chance of not sucking. Mabel screams “EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF” into the camera as he rakes Tatanka’s eyes. Bless him for getting into the spirit of things. After Gonzalez goes, it is another five minutes until the next elimination, with Diesel throwing out Mabel. Single-handedly no less! Perfect and Savage go toe-to-toe with some ferocity, as Razor dumps IRS. Kid and Savage then save ‘the Bad Guy’ from elimination at the hands of The Quebecers. They clearly do not understand the concept or every man for himself, and Kid then gets thrown out by Bastion Booger, of all people. Serves him right. Back from commercial and the ring has thinned a little, but Booger and MVP are sadly still in there. The camera catches Snuka and Rick Martel going at it, and all of a sudden it feels like 1989 again, though all too fleetingly, as Snuka gets eliminated. Perfect is gone surprisingly early, which is surprising because he must have been one of the favourites for this, especially coming off a SummerSlam title shot against former champion Michaels. He was in a bad way though, and was forced back into retirement not long afterwards. Another former champion in Jannetty goes, and the potential winners are becoming fewer and fewer. Savage saves the WWF the embarrassment of Booger as IC champion by eliminating him, and the action starts getting fast and furious as Bigelow gets thrown out by Razor, and we cut to commercial. Now!? This was just getting good! Vince puts over Randy Savage as someone who wants the title bad and who loves competing more than anyone else. Why don’t you let him WRESTLE more then!? Johnny Polo’s trio of The Quebecers and Adam Bomb join forces with Rick Martel, so Savage and Razor form a union to combat them, though the odds are still very much against them. Heenan asks Vince if anyone has ever held the IC title and the tag belts simultaneously, as The Quebecers were reigning tag champions. Pedro Morales actually achieved this feat back in 1980, as he and WWF champion Bob Backlund (who is in fact, in this match) beat The Wild Samoans at Showdown In Shea 1980. WWF rules at the time stated that a wrestler couldn’t hold more than one title at once, and thus they were forced to vacate them. Bomb and Savage both get dumped, leaving Razor as the only babyface, opposite both Quebecers and Rick Martel making up the final four. Only one of these men is a former champion of course, with Quebecer Jacques having held the title less than two years ago in a previous life as The Mountie. Of course his run only lasted a couple of days, but that is besides the point. Martel unwisely sides with The Quebecers, which is an illogical choice really. If you think about it, The Quebecers are always going to side with each other until they are the only two left, so it stands to reason that if they eliminate Razor, they will then turn on Martel. If he was smarter he would have sided with Razor. It doesn’t matter in the end though, because despite extensive triple teaming on Razor, he manages to cause Pierre to eliminate Jacques and then throw out the remaining Quebecer, meaning it will be Martel against Razor for the title next week. That was a very long battle royal, but that is a good thing because it further emphasised the importance of the belt at stake. Luckily, it was a rather entertaining one, with plenty going on and some top names involved, making this one of the better battle royals you are likely to see in this era.
Final Rating: ***
The Heavenly Bodies vs. Scott Thomas & Mark Taylor
It is another amusing on-screen graphic snafu from the boys in Video Control, because this is actually Scott Taylor and Mark Thomas, with The Fink announcing them as such. Mark Thomas is a goddamn monster! Check out the guns on this guy! I think I have seen him before actually on one of these tapings, but jobbers were ten a penny and I can’t keep up. The match is all Bodies of course, but Del Ray nearly kills himself doing their slingshot clothesline. He just made it. Pritchard hits “whatamanoeuvre” from the top (a spinebuster) on Taylor. Vince changes his name midway through a suplex, referring to him as both “Scott Thomas” and “Taylor” without missing a beat. The Bodies are as innovative as ever, and finish things off with a DDT. Nothing to write home about.
Final Rating: *¼
Next, footage from Superstars as Doink the Clown bumps into Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon on his way to the ring for a squash match. Doink has two buckets with him and looks like he is going to throw water on Bigelow, presumably to put out the fire on his head and tights, but instead throws confetti on him. Bigelow lets him off but he is pissed and says he will break his face next time. Luna shouts at Doink, so he dumps a pail of water over her head. Bigelow chases Doink but can’t catch him, as the squash guy asks Luna if she is ok. Don’t come too close pal, she will rip your balls off. Doink hides under the ring so Bigelow decides to take his rage out on the jobber. Doink comes out of hiding and messes with the guard rail, setting up a tripwire that fells the pursuing Bam Bam. When Doink was doing his tricks and other dastardly things, he looked so much like Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in Dark Knight that I almost wonder if that is where Ledger got his inspiration. Surely not! This was actually entertaining, but tragically it meant the brilliant Doink character had become a babyface, and it killed it completely. Matt Borne soon no longer portraying him didn’t help of course, because he was the man behind the make-up who made it work so well in the first place.
Quite surprisingly, Vince plugs Hulk Hogan’s new movie Mr. Nanny, which is one of the worst films in the history of the world. I am amazed they endorsed the film, what with Hogan having left the company under fairly acrimonious terms.
Doink the Clown vs. Cory Student
Man, even the jobbers have idiotic names/gimmicks. Doink matches used to be something to look forward to on Raw, but not anymore now he is a babyface. Vince encourages Doink to throw his bucket of water on Heenan, who pleads with him not to. Doink does of course, but it turns out to only be popcorn. Vince still thinks it is a riot. This is still Matt Borne, and thus Doink’s offence remains pretty good, though far too aggressive for a babyface. Doink hits a powerslam with plenty of impact, and the Whoopie Cushion finishes things in fairly short order. That was a pretty good move actually, and I am surprised no-one has used it since. It sounds like it should be ridiculous, I mean it’s a butt splash from the top, but it actually isn’t. Bam Bam comes out after the match and trashes Doink’s red toy truck that he rode to the ring on, but Doink finds it funny. Bam Bam just looked like a spoilt kid in doing that. The match was short, but Borne was entertaining with his moveset so it was good fun.
Final Rating: *½
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Doink the Clown. Matt Borne gets no-where near the credit he should considering what an exceptional talent he was, and how well he portrayed what should have been one of the worst gimmicks ever dreamt up. Instead he made it work, for a year or so at least. Consider this a tribute to him.
Least Entertaining: No takers this week, so Video Control gets the nod for its continued incompetence.
Quote of the Night: “I’d love to see Bobby Heenan in a tutu. My goodness!” – Vince McMahon reveals a previously unseen side to his personality.
Match of the Night: Battle Royal. Plenty of action and excitement in a battle royal that had a lot on the line for once.
Summary: There was nothing outstanding, and the battle royal ate up half of the show, but I enjoyed that, and the rest of the card was perfectly entertaining too. The other half was primarily Doink the Clown, what with his segment and subsequent match, but as mentioned already, the character was still good and thus that is not a bad thing. A fun little episode of Raw that flew by at quite a pace. They should put long matches on more often.