James Dixon: This is the second in a monster set of Raw tapings from Poughkeepsie, as the WWF taped four show’s worth of material in one go, with the holiday season imminent. A month of Raw from 1993 all in one sitting? Christ, I hope they were giving out uppers free with the tickets. Vince McMahon hosts, with Shawn Michaels doing guest commentary alongside him. This sounds better than it actually is, because I have suffered through Michaels’ scattershot style in Volume #3 of the Complete WWF Video Guide, and it was not pretty. Michaels was a great performer, perhaps the greatest wrestler of all time, but he was not a particularly great promo guy and he was definitely a bad commentator.
Jeff Jarrett vs. PJ Walker
This is Jarrett’s WWF TV debut, and he has picked some appalling attire for his first appearance. Vince buries him right off the bat, saying what a failure he was in country music. If you fail to break into that shitty field, then what chance do you have in wrestling? A good one apparently, as evidenced from Double-J being here. What does that say about wrestling? Jarrett was not especially thrilling to watch in his 1993-1996 run with the company (with the notable exception of a surprise classic with Shawn Michaels in 1995), and for a while here he spends more time strutting than wrestling. Jarrett wins a completely forgettable encounter with a sloppy looking jumping DDT, and the crowd join me with my apathy.
Final Rating: ½*
Men on a Mission vs. Duane Gill & Barry Hardy
Shawn Michaels does not like rap music. Vince apparently does, and shows how “hip” he is by getting his groove on: “it’s christmaaaaas time coming at ya!” and singing along with “whoomph there it is”. Following his best singing performance since ‘Stand Back’, Vince goes right into besmirching the jobbers, asking Shawn which is which. I guess he eventually learnt who Gill was, because it was Vince who introduced him following a glowing testimony, as Mankind’s opponent at Survivor Series ’98. Some big guys can move around the ring with grace, appearing light on their feet, guys like Vader, Bam Bam Bigelow and Umaga. Mabel on the other hand, appears to be made of pure lead enveloped in soft putty. Every time he lands you worry that the ring is going to just give up and collapse around him, On the other hand, when Mo is in the ring, you HOPE that the ring is going to collapse around him. Throw Oscar in there too. I never hated Men on a Mission as a kid, because they wore insanely stupid bright gear and had a quirky entrance, but now older and wiser, my opinion has changed significantly. They were of course, the drizzling shits. As noted before, Mabel was the star performer in a three man unit. MABEL! He is the star performer in this as well, moving around far more than Mo does, and with much more impact in everything he does. Mo should have just changed his name to “Weak Link”. Mabel kills Hardy with a splash from the second rope to win it. I have seen worse MOM squashes.
Final Rating: ½*
Ludvig Borga vs. Tatanka
The wrestling on this show so far has been bad. We have to turn to Tatanka and Ludvig Borga to try and salvage it, which is a daunting prospect. Actually, the match they had where Borga ended Tatanka’s excessive winning streak a few weeks prior to this, was pretty damn good. Borga has a really good match with Razor Ramon for the IC title after this as well. He is not as bad as Furious might have you believe! We have had some heated debates about this in the HOW offices, and I refuse to relent! Furious thinks he would have been better as a babyface, but I think he was just fine as a heel. His gimmick was a bit naff, because I mean, who hates Finland? But he had the look of a real dick heel. Tatanka is as aggressive as I have seen him in this, and beats on Borga early on, inside and outside the ring. I appreciate him showing fire, as well he should after his precious streak was broken in such unfair circumstances. This is an out-and-out slugfest, and the crowd cares. As with any match that is building momentum on Raw, it gets ruined by outside interference, with Mr. Fuji and Yokozuna interjecting themselves. Yoko comes in, but Tatanka is ready for him and attacks him first, but Borga nails him from behind. Lex Luger comes in to even the odds, and cracks Yoko with the steel forearm and slams Yokozuna. The crowd is red hot for the whole thing. The match was going fairly well until it was cut short.
Final Rating: **
Captain Lou Albano comes out to take a bow. What a waste of time!
Adam Bomb vs. Mark Thomas
Did they not test the jobbers for steroids? Mark Thomas is jacked! You know, Bomb’s pre-match stare into the camera week after week is really starting to get stale. Vince suddenly gets all passionate and excited… about Lex Luger and Tatanka. You know your career is going no-where when Vince completely ignores your matches. Vince then loses his mind, claiming Mark Thomas is a big fan of Barney the Dinosaur because of his purple tights. The rest of the match sees Vince and Shawn have a discussion about the large purple one, and Vince gets all outraged at people scalping tickets way above their mark-up price to see his show. What am I watching!? I am sick of sub 2-minute Adam Bomb squash matches.
Final Rating: DUD
A vignette airs for Thurman Plugg, whose friends call him “Sparky”. Lee quipped to me in the office one day that it would have been more amusing if they called him “Butt” and then had a laughing fit for about half an hour. He is a simple kind. Anyway, I mention this because Plugg says: “when they ring that bell, I’m gonna be wide open” and I nearly choke on my coffee with that alternative nickname floating around in my brain. For those unaware, this was of course one Bob Holly, who had an alternative job like everyone else in the WWF at the time, in this case he was a NASCAR driver. The problem there, is that NASCAR is so popular in the States that people would have heard of the guy if he was a success, so it just makes it obvious to a large portion of the audience what a crock of shit it all really is.
In a sit-down interview in the locker room with Vince, Owen Hart challenges his brother Bret to a match so he can get out of his shadow. Bret responds by saying he will never, ever fight his brother.
Owen Hart vs. Mike Bell
Bell appears to be wearing Virgil’s red and white striped tights as a singlet. This is after Survivor Series and Owen’s famous falling out with Bret, but he still plays hand-slapping babyface here. He hasn’t turned fully. Yet. Owen impresses with some swanky chain wrestling and a nice bridge, then inadvertently plants Bell with a head-scissor driver, because Bell can’t bump properly. Owen’s style is still exciting and fun to watch, so this is pretty entertaining. Owen gives Bell a few things, as he usually did with enhancement guys, but then he continues to pick him apart with move after move. This is like an Owen Hart highlight reel! Owen wins it with the Sharpshooter, in by far the best squash of the show so far.
Final Rating: *½
Elsewhere, The Undertaker reshapes his wood to accommodate Yokozuna. Erm, or something like that.
The Headshrinkers vs. Phil Apollo & Jerry Seavy
It’s actually spelt “Seavey” but I would expect nothing else from the WWF graphics department. Seavey was known as ‘The Candyman’ outside of the WWF, and had a long career working around the circuit. His biggest claim to fame actually came in 2009 as a contestant on the US version of Deal or No Deal. He looks like a skinny Marty Jannetty, only with none of the flair, selling or ability. In fact, he is pretty dire at bumping, and takes a powerbomb on his arm. Apollo, who was actually alright, is barely involved in this at all, other than being clotheslined over the top at the start. Seavey takes a kicking and Fatu pins him with the fat man splash to win.
Final Rating: ¾*
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Tatanka. I was going to say Ludvig Borga, just to piss off Furious, but Tatanka was energised and intense for once, and that is enough in itself for recognition.
Least Entertaining: Mo. One of the least likely WWF “superstars” in history. A flat blob of ineptitude.
Quote of the Night: “Well, we know he can wrestle and we know he can spell” – Vince McMahon gives his assessment of the debuting Jeff Jarrett.
Match of the Night: Ludvig Borga vs. Tatanka. Not much else happened outside of this marquee match, and it was merely alright rather than good, but still better than the plethora of squashes.
Summary: For the second week running, absolutely nothing interesting happened. This was just a carbon copy of last week’s tame effort, only with different guys in the matches. Everything trundled along at a very slow pace, and a 45-minute show felt like a full pay-per-view at times. The show has lost stalwarts Mr. Perfect, Matt ‘Doink’ Borne and Bobby Heenan over the last few weeks (as well as Savage from commentary to sell his injuries), and the talent that has come in to replace them has not been up to scratch. Another massive pass for this show.