Welcome everyone to Monday Night Raw! This is a review of the very first episode of Monday Night Raw. Why? Because WWE had it up on YouTube in its entirety and I, for some unknown reason, decided to watch it. Let’s get to reviewing!
Cold Open (Literally)…
We’re in New York, outside the Manhattan Center in January with Sean Mooney (remember him) when Bobby “The Brain” Heenan shows up. Heenan is insistent that he has to get into the building for this momentous occasion. Mooney informs Heenan that the entire building is sold out so Heenan has to stay outside. Heenan asks about entering with a press pass but is similarly rebuked.
The show’s theme song is some super early 90s saxophone and wailing guitar thing while random videos of wrestlers doing wrestling moves get shown.
To The Announcers…
We head inside where we meet our commentary team for the evening: Vince McMahon, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and…Rob Bartlett? Vince welcomes us again and tells us that the show is coming to us live from the Manhattan Center in New York City.
Vince hypes up a tag team match with the Steiner Bros. and an interview with Razor Ramon. Bartlett says that he’s looking forward to the match between Koko B. Ware and Yokozuna, though it sounded like he said “Yokozuma.” Macho Man, meanwhile is stoked for Damien Demento and the Undertaker happening later in the evening.
They then head to the ring for action!
Match 1: Koko B. Ware vs. Yokozuna
Koko B. Ware makes history by becoming the first wrestler to set foot in a WWF Monday Night Raw ring, and he does so in all his High Energy finery. Frankie, however, is nowhere to be seen.
Rob Bartlett is under the impression that Mister Ware is actually Gary Coleman. Vince McMahon does not disagree. The politically incorrect insults were not reserved for Koko B. Ware alone though. Yokozuna heads out and Savage calls him “the world’s biggest eggroll,” and Bartlett makes some comment about how Yokozuna should spend “less time at the sushi bar and more time at the salad bar.”
The match gets underway with the two men locking up and Koko B. Ware getting hurled into the corner. Bartlett continues to make lame jokes and Vince McMahon does fake laughter. About five minutes into the show Bartlett says “ass,” which at the time was probably a big deal since it leads to the trio of chucklehead commentators to utter Raw’s original catchphrase “Uncooked! Uncut! Uncensored!”
The match continues with Koko attempting to get Yokozuna off his feet with shoulder charges and dropkicks while Barlett talks about Yokozuna needing to wear a bra. The Birdman does not succeed in his quixotic quest and gets hit by a 500 pound Stinger Splash in the corner followed by a Banzai Drop for the win.
A total squash match…literally. Yokozuna looks like an absolute monster here which is good since the Royal Rumble is only a few weeks away. I like that Vince and Macho Man put over how hard it would be for Yokozuna to be eliminated in the Royal Rumble match. I suppose this is why Savage would later attempt to pin Yokozuna instead of throwing him over the top rope in the Rumble.
I greatly disliked Rob Bartlett. He seems like some dumbass morning zoo crew DJ, which perhaps is what he actually was. He made lame dad boner jokes the entire time that distracted from what was transpiring in the ring.
To The Ring…
We come back from commercial break to a ring girl with the biggest hair ever carrying around a signboard. She looks like she hates her life. The announcers tell us we’re going to see a previously recorded video from Bobby Heenan.
To Bobby Heenan…
Heenan cuts a promo directly at Mister Perfect telling him that his new wrestler, Narcissus is beyond perfection. Bobby Heenan drops some great lines here saying that comparing Mister Perfect to Narcissus is like “comparing ice cream to horse manure.”
Heenan says “Narcissus” about a thousand times and tells everyone that Narcissus will be debuting at the Royal Rumble. Spoiler Alert…Narcissus would become “The Narcissist” Lex Luger, because Heenan saying Narcissus a bajillion times in this promo caused everyone to realize how stupid it sounded.
Match 2: The Steiner Brothers vs. The Executioners
The Steiner Brother make their entrance to face perhaps the greatest “enhancement talent” tag team of all time, The Executioners. As befitting a team of their standing, the Executioners are already in the ring.
The match begins with a pre-Big Bad Booty Daddy Scott Steiner wrecking some Executioner’s shit while the announcers point out Doink the Clown cavorting in the audience.
“Is that Dork the Clown?” asks Bartlett.
Vince confirms that it is indeed “Dork the Clown.” Randy Savage is like, “He’s actually named Doink.”
I’d probably be annoyed if this stupidity distracted from a really great match, but the Executioners couldn’t even run the goddamn ropes without tripping over their feet…
Anyway we hear that The Steiners are going to face the Beverley Brothers at the Royal Rumble. The Steiners hit the Steinerizer for the win.
Winners: The Steiner Brothers
A sub-par squash match made worse by shitty announcing. The internet tells me that the Executioners were the man who would become Gillberg, Duane Gill, and Barry Hardy. I wonder which one tripped all over his feet when he got whipped into the ropes by Rick.
Sean Mooney is standing alone in the cold New York night when a commotion breaks out behind him. A woman is trying to convince a security guard to let her into the building because her nephew, Rob Bartlett, left tickets for her. Mooney goes to interview the woman. Oh, it’s really Bobby Heenan in drag. This is hilarious…
Heenan is again denied entry into the building for some reason.
Back In The Ring…
Razor Ramon comes down to the ring to get interviewed by Vince McMahon. Razor will be taking on Bret “The Hitman” Hart for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble. Vince asks Razor if he’s ready. Razor is like, “Chico, I was born ready.”
Vince says it took Hart eight years to become the champion, and points out that Razor’s only be in the WWF for a short time. Razor looks pissed and replies, “Hitmang, it has taken you eight years to climb the ladder. It took Razor Ramon eight months to catch you.” Vince takes the microphone away while Razor is talking, but Razor pulls it back to finish what he was saying.
Vince asks him why he attacked Owen Hart if he’s such a great number one contender, and instead of showing the footage of the attack and then letting Razor continue his promo, like they’d do now, we get the footage from WWF Mania with the audio still intact and Razor talking over it about crushing Owen like a cock-a-roach and doing whatever he wanted. He says he’s going to take Bret’s precious gold and then throws his toothpick in Vince’s face.
This interview is the best thing to happen on Raw up to this point.
Match 3: Max Moon vs. Shawn Michaels
Max Moon is being played by Paul Diamond tonight and this match is for Shawn’s Intercontinental Championship. Shawn comes out to the worst version of this theme song. Max Moon is already in the ring.
The two lock up and Michaels takes down Moon with an arm drag. Good back and forth between the two. Watching old ECW episodes, I’ve kind of started to enjoy Paul Diamond’s work and here he’s a pretty good opponent for Michaels since both men can work a fast paced style. Moon actually gets the upper hand for awhile, taking down Michaels with a hammerlock as we go to commercials. TAPE MACHINES ARE ROLLING!
We return from break to find Shawn Michaels in control. Bartlett informs us this is because Shawn Michaels pulled a knife on Max Moon during the commercials. Vince is quick to inform us that, no, Shawn did not actually pull a knife during the match.
The two men go back and forth a bit more. Shawn drops Moon on the top rope and as Shawn goes up top, Doink reappears at the top of the entrance and for some goddamn reason Barlett starts doing a horrible Mike Tyson impression. He does not stop. This shitty impression continues for the duration of the match.
Vince talks about how if Michaels wins tonight he will be facing his former tag team partner, Marty Jannetty, at the Royal Rumble with the Intercontinental Championship on the line. Bartlett, meanwhile, talks about a version of The Amy Fisher Story with Vince McMahon playing the part of Joey Buttafuoco.
Back in the ring, where a wrestling match is taking place, Moon slingshots Michaels over the top rope and then leaps of the apron at a standing Shawn Michaels so his crotch hits Shawn in the face and takes him to the ground.
Moon gets Michaels back in the ring and goes for a pin, earning a two count. He goes for some somersault thing, but misses so Michaels hit him with a superkick (it’s not Sweet Chin Music yet). Moon gets back to his feet and Michaels hits him with a suplex to get the one, two, three.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
If you mute this, this is actually a really good match. If I did stars or whatever I’d give it maybe 2.5 or 3 stars, but with the commentary? Fuck…Rob Bartlett is the goddamn drizzling shits. He was never funny and just didn’t know when to stop with already tedious bits. Fuck Rob Barlett.
The main event is coming up next! We got the Undertaker going one on one with…Damian Demento? Why?
We come back from commercial to see Sean Mooney still outside. He informs us that people are already lining up to buy tickets for next week’s show. Bobby Heenan tries one more time to get in. This time he is dressed as a rabbi and claims to be Rob Bartlett’s uncle, Morty Feldman. Heenan’s fake beard is falling off and Mooney looks so disgusted. This is actually kind of hilarious in how terrible it is. Bobby Heenan might be the MVP of the night.
Highlights for Children!
For some reason instead of the main event we get footage of Kamala being harassed by Kimchee and Harvey Whippleman and then Slick coming out and Kamala turning face.
Match 4: Damien Demento vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
Damien Demento is already in the ring laughing and talking to himself. The Undertaker heads out with Paul Bearer. It’s weird how unimportant he seems here. He’s just a big guy with a cheesy gimmick, same as Damien Demento.
The bell rings and Demento hits Taker in the face a bunch but Taker no-sells it. Taker gets in control and hits “Old School,” which I suppose at this point in his career is just “School.”
Taker gets Demento in the corner and tries to choke him out. Demento fights back and hit Taker with a boot to the face to get back in control. Demento hits an ax-handle and a shoulder charge to knock Taker down, but Taker sits straight up right away.
Demento goes for a clothesline but misses and gets laid out by a leaping clothesline from Taker. The Undertaker then gets him up and hits an ugly looking Tombstone for the win.
Vince then hypes next week’s show and tells us it includes Mr. Perfect (good), Papa Shango (bad), Ric Flair (good), El Matador (bad), and Bret Hart (good) in an interview (bad).
Winner: The Undertaker
An okay squash match I guess. It’s weird seeing “Just a Wrestler” Undertaker after years and years of watching him be “The Phenom.”
Back In The Arena…
How is the show not over? We had our main event and Vince did the, “Tune in next week for more action,” bit. This is just weird.
Vince welcomes us back and commences to interview Doink, asking him what he thought about Crush’s warning not to make children cry. Doink shrugs and says it’s not his fault that some children don’t have a sense of humor. The only thing that matters is whether or not he laughs. Doink continues by saying if Crush were there he’d cry too. Oh look, it’s a giant, bemulleted Hawaiian guy in a neon singlet stalking up behind Doink.
Crush cuts a promo on Doink in which he says, “Bruddah,” about as many times as Bobby Heenan had said Narcissus in his earlier promo. Crush threatens to put Doink’s other arm in a cast.
Doink, unafraid if the giant man who threatened to break his arm, shoots Crush with a water pistol and then flees. Crush slowly gives chase and almost slips and falls. Doink rolls into the ring and Crush stops chasing him for some reason.
Bobby Heenan is still outside. Sean Mooney tells Heenan that he can now go inside, and the episode finally comes to an end.
This was pretty bad on a lot of fronts. Neither Macho Man nor Vince McMahon were that great on commentary. Vince is still a face at this point and is in total “WHADDA MANEUVER!” commentary mode. The placement of the Doink/Crush segment was really weird and gave the show a really awkward flow. The vast majority of the matches were mediocre at best.
All of that, however, are minor nits that I’m picking when compared to the awfulness that was Rob Bartlett. Anyone who complains about the current WWE announcers needs to go back and watch this episode. Making it through an hour of Rob Bartlett commentary was an ordeal. He was loud, distracting, completely unfunny, and clearly knew nothing about wrestling. I will take Pervert Jerry “The King” Lawler over Rob Bartlett any day of the week.
Now I don’t want to be totally negative, and I shouldn’t be, since there was some decent stuff in this episode. On the wrestling side of things the Shawn Michaels vs. Max Moon match was pretty great, Max Moon’s goofy costume not withstanding.
The Razor interview was so good, that I’m actually considering watching Royal Rumble ’93 just to see him take on Bret Hart.
And then there was Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. His Narcissus promo was decent and his skits with Sean Mooney, were solidly in the “so stupid they’re funny,” realm. Hopefully Bartlett pissed of Vince in this episode and we get Heenan back on commentary shortly.
Avoid this unless you’re interested in it as a historical curiosity, and if you are, try to ignore everything Bartlett does.