Saturday, August 18, 2012

Raw #1 - January 11th, 1993

We start off the first Raw with Sean Mooney denying Bobby Heenan into the Manhattan Center because he's not on the announce team and he doesn't have a ticket. To put this in perspective, JTG is free to roam around backstage on a modern Raw, yet Bobby Heenan can't even get into the building because  Rob Bartlett took his place. Heenan must really hate Rob Bartlett, and the fans will too over the next hour. Cue the Monday Night Raw theme, featuring arguably the greatest MIDI drums in wrestling history.

Back in the days of squash matches, they would announce that so-and-so would "be in action." Tonight, it's the Steiner Brothers in action. Damien Demento propels himself into the trivia books by facing The Undertaker in the first Raw main event. Rob Bartlett attempts a joke about Yokozuna's sumo thong, leaving Macho Man to try to cover for him. Rob then imitates the Macho Man with, not one, but three "Ooooh"s, in case we didn't hear him the first time.

Sign #1 that Rob Bartlett knows nothing about the product: He claims he "can't wait to see" a Koko B. Ware match.

Sign #2: He calls Koko's opponent, "Yokozuma." I'll cut him some slack on that one; even Yoko's manager Mr. Fuji called him that half the time.

In a seemingly prescient attempt to troll fans of the future, Owen Hart's music hits, but instead we get Koko B. Ware, his High Energy tag team partner. One of those men is a Hall of Famer, and the other one actually won titles in the WWF. Come to think of it, that would have been an awesome way to announce Ware's induction into the Hall of Fame: play the classic Owen Hart theme, then showing Koko flapping his arms in checkered parachute pants and suspenders. It would have been even better than the time Shawn Michaels faked Bret Hart's return to Montreal back in 2005.
The first ever Raw kicks off with a bout between two future Hall of Famers.

The awful humor continues, as Bartlett calls Ware "Gary Coleman," 8 years after the cancellation of "Diff'rent Strokes." In a rare miss by Macho Man, he makes an ethnic joke about Yokozuna being the "world's biggest egg roll." For the record, that's a joke about Chinese food directed at a San Francisco-born Samoan-American representing Japan. Fortunately, Randy Savage comes to the rescue again to cover for Bartlett's hackneyed fat jokes:

Bartlett: This guy's got his own no-fly zone!
Savage: No, that's not right. He doesn't even have a zipper. You gotta understand that.

Compare this to Vince's classic no-sell:

Bartlett: That's one big-butted Oriental, Vince.
McMahon: Uh, in a manner of speaking, yes.

Then there's this gem:

Bartlett: He's got an ass like an amphitheater!
Savage: Wooh! I heard that!
Vince: This is Monday Night Raw, folks! It's uncooked!
Bartlett: Uncut!
Savage: And uncensored! Yeah!
McMahon: Hahahaha!

This is apparently the most shocking thing heard on WWF commentary since Jesse Ventura compared Roddy Piper's whipping of Mr. T to Roots II. While the use of the word "ass" seems tame by, say, Attitude Era standards (which is sort of an oxymoron, isn't it?), it was on the 1000th episode of Raw, in a D-Generation X reunion, no less, that Road Dogg bleeped himself out rather than sully the airwaves by saying, "Bad Ass."

Rob Bartlett remarks that "Yokozuma" has his own gravitational pull, which is technically correct, because all objects with mass have a gravitational pull, no matter how slight.

It is at this point that I must abruptly shift focus in this blog post. I have watched merely the first 5 minutes, 15 seconds of Raw, and I am astounded at how bad Rob Bartlett is. Rather than devote even more energy to documenting every single awful thing Rob says, whether it's "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Yoko?," or suggesting that the big man wear a bra, or assuming that there's no Japanese word for "leftover" (I checked, and it's 残り物, or "nokorimono"), I will simply hope that what I've written so far will serve as proof that Bartlett has no business being on a headset.

Yokozuna, it should be noted, is wearing white tights with a red miwashi, and is billed at 505 pounds. At this point, Yoko actually wore padding in his tights to add visible "bulk." This is 46 months before his last WWF match, where he waddled into Madison Square Garden at 700+ pounds.

If you're watching this episode along with me, you'll notice the slogan, "Uncut. Uncensored. Uncooked." (or some permutation of those three words) being repeated by the announcers. I've heard it twice already on this episode, and I'll be keeping a running tally.

Bobby Heenan is shown hyping the debut of Narcissus, who would turn out to be "The Narcissist" Lex Luger, which is itself a stage name of Larry Pfohl. The man had more nicknames than WWF titles (zero) by the time he left the company in 1995. Bobby Heenan says that comparing Mr. Perfect to Narcissus would be like comparing ice cream to horse manure. I think he means, "horse manure to ice cream." He also hypes Narcissus's "metamorphic" qualities. He must mean "mesomorphic," because Luger never shape-shifted during his stint in the WWF (his failed transformation into Hulk Hogan notwithstanding).

Rick Steiner's patented Nice Maneuver (courtesy of Wrestlecrap)
Remember when I said I'd be keeping track of the uses of "Uncut. Uncensored. Uncooked."? (You should, since it was only two paragraphs ago). I'll also be tallying up the time Vince McMahon says "maneuver." Scott Steiner hits "What a Maneuver!" on one of the Executioners (for the record, it was a tilt-a-whirl slam). Rick Steiner later hits another Nice Maneuver, an Irish whip, which inexplicably causes his opponent to slip and fall into the ropes. He follows this up with another Maneuver, a sort of dominator into the turnbuckle, and yet another Maneuver, a powerslam. Rick Steiner leads his brother in nice maneuvers, 3 to 1. This could have been a great motivation for a Steiner Brothers break-up angle.

Here's a noteworthy exchange:

Bartlett: That's Dork the Clown?
McMahon: That's Dork. What a name for a clown, "Dork."
Savage: His name is--
McMahon: Doink! It's Doink, not...

The future of wrestling.
Vince channels his inner Mike Adamle, which is even more pitiful considering he probably named Doink himself. Perhaps Vince was too preoccupied with the impending WWF debut of the Buffalo Bills' Mitch Frerotte. Randy Savage suggest that "after watching this match with the Steiner Brothers, it might change his mind" about coming to the World Wrestling Federation. Apparently, it did, because I have never heard of this person before in my life. His less-than-stellar stats indicate three seasons on the bench for the Bills, followed by a 1992 season with 2 receptions for a whopping 4 yards.

Razor Ramon cuts a promo on Bret "Hitmang" Hart about squashing his brother Owen like a cock-a-roach. Gotta love the faux-Cuban accent.

Up next, Shawn Michaels, still using the version of his theme sung entirely by Sensational Sherri, defends his Intercontinental Title against Max Moon (Paul Diamond). I don't mean to get technical here, but the moon has no continents, rendering Max ineligible for the championship (Also, as a person not from this planet, he shouldn't be eligible for any sort of world title).

The announcers remind us twice that this show is uncut, uncensored, and uncooked (#3 and 4), especially when Shawn Michaels hits a Maneuver (#5, snake eyes) on Max Moon, who later hits a Maneuver on Michaels (#6, double-leg takedown), evening the score at one Maneuver apiece. Max pulls way ahead, hitting an Unbelievable Maneuver off the ring apron (#7, la silla), which was a High-Risk-Maneuver. This is in between now-dated topical references to Joey Buttafuoco, Mayor David Dinkins, and Fergie, as well as an asinine impersonation of Mike Tyson, all of which are perpetrated by Rob Bartlett.

It's somewhat fascinating (is it acceptable to say something is "somewhat" fascinating?) how Mike Tyson's incarceration is handled here. Bartlett makes light of his remaining six years in prison, while Macho Man feels Iron Mike (Tyson, not Sharpe) got a "raw deal." Vince, ever averse to controversy, clarifies that, "Well, some people say he did." Can you imagine what the sports and entertainment worlds would be like if Mike Tyson had served out his full sentence? There would be no ear-biting incident, no Judge Mills Lane TV show, and the former champ would miss Wrestlemania XIV and instead probably would have been brought in to do the honors of basically ending Bart Gunn's WWF career at Wrestlemania XV.

Shawn Michaels softens up Max Moon with a "savate kick," which is what Sweet Chin Music was called before it became his suddenly effective finisher. Michaels then hits the side suplex, also known as the Back, Teardrop, or Slingshot Suplex. That move always baffled me because in both Acclaim's Royal Rumble and Raw video games for Super NES, his finisher was not the Super Kick but the back suplex, even though I could not remember a single time that the Heartbreak Kid ever actually used it.

As we prepare for the night's main event, tension builds at the announce table, as the commentators stumble over each other telling us that the show is Uncut, Uncooked, Uncensored (#5). But first, we get a replay from that weekend's WWF Superstars, with Kamala joining forces with the Reverend Slick, leading to Kamala's first ever Wrestlemania match just a few months later (a match which was cancelled due to time constraints). Vince thanks (or blames) WFAN Radio for lending him Rob Bartlett. He singles out Don Imus for that dubious "favor," which is exactly the kind of scandal that should have ended his career long before the "nappy-headed hoes" fiasco.

Nothing of note happens during the main event, but Vince hypes up an appearance by "Bret 'The Hitman' Hot" for next week. After the commercial, Crush confronts Doink and warns him not to put his "Size 14 shoe in your size 20 mouth," channeling Jim Ross's affinity for clothing size specificity.

In summary, the first episode of Raw was perhaps less than spectacular, despite a high number of Nice Maneuvers and a lack of cutting, cooking, or censorship. It's difficult to pin down exactly what went wrong for the program, aside from the fact that it's Rob Bartlett's fault because he sucks.


Final Tally:

5 Uncut, Uncensored, and Uncookeds (though, technically, this edition is indeed censored, since WWE has retroactively deleted all uses of the initials "WWF" from the video on their Youtube page)
7 Maneuvers  [edit: In re-watching this episode, I have discovered two extra Maneuvers, a Japanese arm drag performed by Max Moon early in the match, and a "la silla," which Vince McMahon reiterated was a High-Risk Maneuver. To avoid having to edit every single post between this one and #21, two extra Maneuvers will be added as a bonus to the Raw #21 post]


  1. Oh man...I'm following this for sure. Looking forward to all the Raw to come.

  2. I started halfway in on these reviews and now I'm starting from the beginning, Great job, awesome writing.

  3. Why 8 year old daughters reactions? It's a disco man! (Referring to Koko) She's amazed by Yokozuna. He also reminds her of Donkey Kong. Heenan and Bartlett are funny. THERES A CLOWN (Doink) The Executioners didn't even touch the other guys. She doesn't know why they boo Razor Ramon. Max Moon looks ridiculous. Why do so many of them have long hair? She asks. And the Undertaker looks like some kind of "dark cowboy." Kamala confuses her.