Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Monday Night Raw
Date: January 11, 1993
Location: Manhattan Center, Manhattan, New York
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Rob Bartlett, Randy Savage
This is the first ever Monday Night Raw, making it the start of the most important weekly wrestling show ever. It’s also not the best time for the company, as things are getting rather dull as we move towards the 1993 Royal Rumble. Bret Hart is WWF Champion but there is a certain monster called Yokozuna on the horizon. Let’s get to it.
Sean Mooney is on the streets of Manhattan and welcomes us to the first ever show but has to stop one Bobby Heenan from going inside. He has been replaced by Rob Bartlett and since Mooney is security, Heenan stops to bicker.
Commentary welcomes us to the show and Bartlett is already getting annoying.
Yokozuna vs. Koko B. Ware
So here’s your first trivia of the night as we have the first ever match in the history of the show. Bartlett: “This guy has his own no fly zone!” Savage: “He doesn’t even have a zipper.” We also get some Japanese/fat jokes from Bartlett until Ware is shoved across the ring. It works a second time but Koko is back up with a dropkick. A big charge misses though and Ware is sent HARD into the top rope. The big legdrop sets up the corner splash and the Banzai Drop finishes Ware in a hurry.
Rating: D+. Total squash and a good example of the Yokozuna who was that scary of a monster. He looked great and could still move around out there, with the running splash coming off as athletic. This is the Yokozuna who could be the top heel for a long time, and it’s easy to see why he was pushed so hard.
Bobby Heenan talks about Narcissus, who has Mr. Perfect scared. Yes, Narcissus is beyond perfect and comparing the two of them is like comparing ice cream to horse manure. Narcissus will be unveiled at the Royal Rumble and Perfect will think he is from another world.
Steiner Brothers vs. Executioners
Scott isn’t playing around and tilt-a-whirl slams #1 as Doink the Clown is playing around a bit in the audience. Rick comes in and whips #2 into the ropes so hard that #2 falls down. #2 is driven ribs first upside down into the corner and it’s a double noggin knocker from Scott on the floor. Back in and the referee has to get out of the way of a Scott belly to belly and there’s the tiger driver to make it worse. The Steiner Bulldog ends the masked goons.
Rating: C-. I could watch the Steiners beat up goofs forever and this was a good example of how effective it can be. Those suplexes and the bulldog had the Executioners flying all over the place and it was absolutely glorious. They were brand new at this point and even 1993 WWF couldn’t screw them up.
Bobby Heenan, this time in drag, still can’t get into the building. He thought he was getting into the building normally, so he just had that in his bag?
Here is Razor Ramon for a chat with Vince McMahon. He is happy to have a WWF Title shot at the Royal Rumble because it has his name written all over it. Vince says it took Bret eight and a half years to get his title shot but now Razor is happy with getting his shot after eight and a half months. That’s not good enough for Vince, who wants to know why Razor jumped Owen Hart over the weekend. Razor says it was fun and there is nothing Bret can do about it. You know what else Bret can’t do anything about? Razor winning the WWF Title. Good interview here, as Razor was still in serious mode.
There will be a Headlock On Hunger show later this month, with Randy Savage not exactly knowing what is on the card (“Shawn Michaels vs. Bob Backlund for another title. The Intercontinental Title!”).
Tatanka wants us to put a headlock on hunger.
Intercontinental Title: Shawn Michaels vs. Max Moon
Shawn is defending. Moon flips around a bit as Bartlett does a bit about the WWF version of the Amy Fisher story and Savage….thinks Heenan looked good in drag? Shawn gets thrown into the corner and can’t figure out what to do here, so Moon armdrags him down. We take a break and come back with Shawn dropping him throat first across the middle rope as commentary gets in “uncooked, uncut and uncensored” as many times as they can.
Shawn hits…something as Doink comes out to watch again and Bartlett “calls in” with a bad Mike Tyson impression. This gag keeps going as Shawn sends him face first into the buckle as Bartlett (still as Tyson) makes up matches for the Royal Rumble. Moon grabs a small package for a quick two and gets punched in the face some more. The chinlock goes on and Tyson wants to know what it’s called.
Back up and Moon catapults Shawn over the top and out to the floor (Bartlett: “He disappeared!”) for the crash. Moon scores with a spinwheel kick in the corner and a cradle gets two. Shawn is back up with the superkick, which isn’t his finisher yet so here it’s just a thing. Instead it’s the tear drop suplex (kind of a cross between a belly to back suplex/Angle Slam) to retain Shawn’s title.
Rating: C. The wrestling was fine but the commentary was one of the dumbest, most annoying things I can imagine. The bit itself, a confused Mike Tyson calling in, is fine enough but it JUST KEPT GOING and wasn’t all that funny in the first place. It’s not the kind of comedy that fits in on a wrestling show and that’s why Bartlett never fit. He was funny in a different format, but here it feels so forced and it never worked.
WATCH WWF MANIA! I liked that show.
It’s time for the Royal Rumble Control Center. This week we’re talking about the Intercontinental Title match between Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty. The question is whose corner Sensational Sherri will be in, with both guys saying she’s going with them. Marty and Sherri were never a thing so this always felt a bit weird.
Moving on, Gene Okerlund runs down the Royal Rumble lineup, with Mr. Perfect saying he isn’t worried because no one else in the match is perfect. On the other hand, Mr. Fuji says no one can get Yokozuna over the top so he’ll win. Oh and Jim Duggan thinks he’ll….fight. He might not win, but he’ll fight. Of note: this segment went on so long that Tito Santana beat the Brooklyn Brawler in a dark match as it aired.
Bobby Heenan, now as Rob Bartlett’s uncle Morty, still can’t get in. The stereotypes here are rather strong.
We look at Kamala’s face turn, as he leaves Kim Chee and Harvey Wippleman and joins up with Reverend Slick. That pairing could bowl some people over.
Undertaker vs. Damien Demento
Demento is a weird guy and billed “from the Outer Reaches Of Your Mind”. Vince and Bartlett go into a bit about Paul Bearer being from a famous family and needing an iron supplement. Demento’s right hands have no effect and the very Young School connects, with Vince ignoring it to talk about the Royal Rumble. Demento gets in a few shots out of the corner but Undertaker sits up and hits the jumping clothesline. The Tombstone finishes in a hurry.
Doink talks about enjoying making kids cry but Crush comes out and threatens him with that Hawaiian accent. If Doink keeps it up, his bad arm will have another arm and both legs for company in that cast. Doink squirts him with water and the chase is on.
Bobby Heenan is allowed in now that the show is over.
Overall Rating: C-. I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground by saying that this first show is not very good. The wrestling was more miss than hit and Bartlett was a nightmare, but what mattered here was that they had to start somewhere. It’s the first episode of the most famous wrestling series ever and it took place live from New York City. The content isn’t important here, but rather the fact that the show happened. Not a terrible show, but it’s all about the history instead of the content.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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