Wow, when I wrote the first one of these back in September, I honestly thought I’d be writing these every week. Fast forward to February 2015. So much for those plans! A combination of poor health and numerous computer problems has led to a rather monstrous gap in productivity. I would apologize to my readers, but approximately one and a half blogs hardly allows me to be delusional enough to believe I have any.
Anyway, enough talking about what I haven’t done. From now on, it’s time to get back on the saddle and so, without further ado I present to you:
WWF Raw Episode 2 – January 17, 1993
We’re at the go-home show for the Royal Rumble and we begin with a bird’s eye view of the Manhattan Centre. Joining us once again are our hosts Macho Man Randy Savage, Vince McMahon and (God help us) Rob Bartlett. Incidentally, Savage is still twitchy enough so as to appear coked up out of his mind. I’m guessing that his commentary tonight won’t do much to change my first impression. Bartlett tells us to “fight the real enemy!” Before ripping up a picture of Bobby Heenan. Yeah, don’t get me started…
Moving on, Vince McMahon is about to tell us what’s on tap for tonight, when Repo Man attacks and steals Macho Man’s hat, thus starting our first official Raw feud. Repo Man disappears and Macho regains his bearings and chases after him. It’s actually a nice chaotic beginning to try and put over the idea that anything can happen on this new “live” show.
Mr Perfect versus Terry Taylor
By this point, Mr Perfect is in the tail end stages of a feud with Ric flair (who is on his way out of the company after a decent run of just under a year and a half) after he recently undertook a rather sudden face turn after Ultimate Warrior’s sudden departure. Terry Taylor is literally directionless, but he’s an underrated good hand in the ring. Also on the plus side, he no longer has to pretend to be a rooster. This is his first (and I believe last) Raw appearance.
As far as the match goes, this is effectively an extended squash for Perfect. It is solidly wrestled however. Randy Savage returns fairly quickly and quickly takes attention away from the match by cutting a rumbling promo on Repo Man. I don’t mind this too much as the match itself is pretty inconsequential and immediate follow-up on the budding Repo versus Savage situation is only logical. However, Rob Bartlett ruins any intensity that Randy may be going for by prattling on about his lost car. For someone who is supposed to be a comedian, I don’t “get” Bartlett’s attempts at humour at all. That explains why Vince seemed to like him, huh?
I would tell you about the match at this point, but it seems like even this show doesn’t want to focus on it. As if we hadn’t had enough distraction already, we now have Bobby Heenan on the phone, to continue his pointless rivalry with Bartlett and do double duty with his managerial role with flair by back talking Mr Perfect. One thing of note is that “The Brain” basically sums up my negative feelings of his impostor pretty damn well. I’ll be damned if Bobby came across as the heel to me!
Okay okay, the match it really is just decent. There are a couple of nice flurries of technical wrestling even, but this contest only serves to further the feud between “The Nature Boy” and Hennig. Flair blindsides perfect while he’s outside only to drive him back in the ring. Curt recovers immediately, reversing a normal suplex with his own Perfectplex.
Winner by pinfall (Perfectplex): Mr Perfect
Recommendation (Watch, Viewer’s Choice or Avoid): Viewer’s Choice. Although I wouldn’t mark this contest as recommended viewing, it has some solid action and some of the extracurricular activities could be mildly amusing to some.
We will return from commercial (and “promotional considerations”) to a fairly generic babyface promo from WWF Champion Bret Hart. It’s essentially a counterpoint to Razor’s promo the week prior Bret calls “The Bad Guy” the scum underneath the bottom of the barrel and says that he plans to throw the rulebook out of the window at the Royal Rumble for Ramon’s unprovoked attack on his younger brother Owen. We’re still a good 4 years away from Hart’s true prime as a talker, but this was far from offensive and served its purpose well enough.
At this point we get a brief shill for an upcoming Headlock on Hunger charity event. Funny really, as people like to say that WWE patting themselves on the back is a fairly recent phenomenon…
Marty Jannetty versus Glenn “don’t call me Thrasher” Ruth
This match is even more basic than the first. It’s also merely a backdrop for another phone call interview; Shawn Michaels in this instance. Michaels still seems to be growing as a character at this moment in time, although his cocky charisma is obviously evident. He still doesn’t seem quite fleshed out though. In a nutshell, he tells us that Sherri will be in his corner the Royal Rumble and that Jannetty was always the weak link of The Rockers tag team.
I really have very little to say about the in-ring action though as it really is just 70 to 80% rest holds and the most basic of wrestling manoeuvres. Bar a bit of token Ruth offence, Jannetty wins relatively quickly with a Rocker Dropper. It made Marty look pretty good in preparation for his Intercontinental championship opportunity at the Royal Rumble against his former tag team partner, but I was surprised to not see at least a little bit more fast-paced offense.
Winner by pinfall (Rocker Dropper): Marty Jannetty
Recommendation (Watch, Viewer’s Choice or Avoid): Avoid. This isn’t the worst match ever, but there’s also no real reason to watch it. The action in the ring is pedestrian and the phone interview with Michaels does nothing to really move the story on any further. There are better ways to spend your time on the WWE Network.
We get a re-cap of Doink attacking Crush with his lead-filled fake arm. I personally loved the evil version of Doink, but I was bored by the this feud even as a kid. Moving on…
Sean Mooney finds Repo Man outside with Macho Man’s hat. This antagonizes Savage and leads to the setting up of the obvious match for next week: Repo Man versus Randy Savage.
As we come to the Royal Rumble report featuring Gene Okerlund, I’m reminded of how much these recaps used to treat matches relatively equally. Nowadays, 1 or 2 matches are excessively promoted and the rest are just treated as literal filler.. Just something I noticed.
We return to the Manhatten Center to find Randy outside playing “Chicken” with the oncoming traffic. Okay, in complete honesty, he’s out there looking for Repo Man. Still though, he really does seem pretty reckless out there. I don’t think it was fake traffic either. You know, for a match that would obviously amount to little more than an extended squash, they dedicated a fair amount time to it for just a 60 minute show. Just think what today’s mid-card could be like with a similar kind of philosophy. Oh wait, it’d be called NXT…
“El Matador” Tito Santana vs “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
The funny thing is that ten years earlier, this would’ve been a potentially career-making match for Tito. By this point though, he’s lumbered with a Matador gimmick and a “jobber to the stars” at best. This is one of those situations where you wonder what could’ve been…
As far as the match itself goes, it’s a bit of an oddity. Flair just goes through his trademark spots and Tito is allowed a surprising amount of offense. The start of the match isn’t too interesting, as Santana spends 80% of the time before the break keeping Flair grounded with a headlock. It’s true that we’re in a different time where matches still had a pretty deliberate pace, but these kind of tactics feel like something Flair should be doing. Things improved after the break though, as Tito finally busts out some faster paced, high-flying offense to properly wake the crowd up. Ric gets some shots in here and there, but he’s pretty much reeling until he desperately avoids Santana’s flying forearm, leading “El Matador” to crash and burn on the outside.
You’d think this would lead to Ric dominating and winning in quick fashion from here on out, but interference from “Mr Perfect” just moments later leads to a puzzling DQ victory for Flair. I know, “The Nature Boy” is pretty much half way out of the door at this point, but this result would lead the unaware casual fan to think Tito Santana was a protected up and comer. Obviously, it makes complete sense for Perfect to be involved, but you could’ve had Flair get a more impressive victory then had a heated attack after the bell. Just weird.
Winner by DQ (from interference): “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
Recommendation (Watch, Viewer’s Choice or Avoid):
What comes next is something pretty cool. Flair and Perfect engage in a brawl which would fit in pretty well with the heyday of the Attitude Era. I did find it amusing that Tito Santana was immediately forgotten about though. Anyway, the two get pulled apart and dragged backstage. They fight back out onto ringside after the break though, with Flair cutting a promo on how he can’t stand Perfect. You get the kind of energy you’d expect from Ric, with him practically frothing at the mouth. Flair takes it to another level though, explicitly saying he wants permanently rid of his arch rival. Hennig returns to accept the challenge and make it official: career vs career for next week. I look forward to rewatching that!
Ric Flair & Mr Perfect give us our first truly “Raw” moment!
As Vince Mcmahon signs off, we get a final plug for Randy Savage vs Repo Man next Monday and Repo turns face by towing Bartlett’s car. I kid, I kid. On the babyface part. Sort of.
Mr Perfect beat Terry Taylor by pinfall
Marty Jannetty beat Glenn Ruth by pinfall
Ric Flair beat Tito Santana by DQ
Moments of Historical significance
Show Recommendation (Watch, Viewer’s Choice or Avoid): Viewer’s choice. There’s nothing bad on this show. It does suffer from the typical problems of a go-home show though; everything is in hype mode. Other than the mildly interesting Repo Man/Savage situation and the basic setup of Flair/Perfect for next week, there isn’t much here. Episode #3 though…
Next up, Royal Rumble ’93! I promise it won’t take as long this time!