Saturday, August 25, 2012

Raw #9 - March 15th, 1993

It's the ninth episode of Raw and... what's this? We're at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York? And that's not Vince McMahon's voice, that's Gorilla Monsoon's. And look who's standing next to him! None other than Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Monsoon and Heenan are on commentary? The only thing better would be if Macho Man were here. And guess who's standing to Monsoon's left.... Crap, it's Rob Bartlett. Doing a Vince McMahon impersonation. Tonight, Vince and Randy are at the Michael Landis Leukemia Awards dinner. They give out awards for that now?

This abdominal stretch is properly executed.
Razor Ramon is out first, and we get a sample of the strange new graphics for tonight's Raw. His opponent, Russ Greenberg, strikes a fabulous pose. As horrible as Rob Bartlett's "Vince McMahon" voice is, he is pretty spot on with this nugget: "Razor Ramon has quite a bit of gold there on the neck area." Vince McMahon was rarely confident enough in his knowledge of the anatomy to identify any specific body part. Instead, we'd hear about kicks to the leg area or slaps to the facial area. With Gorilla Monsoon on commentary, expect to hear about shots to the kisser, the breadbasket, the solar plexus, and, of course, the external occipital protuberance.

We learn tonight that Razor Ramon will take on Bob Backlund at Wrestlemania IX. Five minutes into the show, and the other announcers are already tiring of Rob's Vince McMahon impression. Razor hits his standard moves: abdominal stretch, STF with slaps, chokeslam, fallaway slam, belly-to-back superplex, and the Razor's Edge for the victory.

Typhoon easily makes his way through the entrance this time, scooting to the ring to the beat of a synthesized bass and snare to take on the awesomely-named but garishly-dressed LA Gore. With no (real) Vince McMahon, I will not be counting the number of Maneuvers used, but instead I will record the various Monsoon-isms sprinkled throughout the show. Gorilla asks Bobby, "Will you stop!?" Heenan and Rob-Bartlett-dressed-as-Vince-McMahon discuss Leslie Gore hits, which I don't think was LA Gore's intent when he named himself. Typhoon wins with a splash (Pun? I guess, sort of).

Seriously, what is up with tonight's episode?

We return very briefly from commercial as Heenan berates the production crew. We cut to break again and return with The Brain as he brings out Giant Gonzalez, whom he calls the "biggest athlete today." Well, he's certainly the "biggest," and back on March 15th, 1993, it was "today," but I disagree with Bobby on that middle term. Sadly, Gonzalez is wearing the version of his bodysuit with fur on his backside. The butt-suit would have to wait until Wrestlemania. I never realized until now that Giant Gonzalez had entrance music, nor that that entrance music was some kind of new age mood music. Wrestlemania IX had a sore lack of celebrities, leading me to wonder why Vince didn't get Yanni to play the big man to the ring at Caesar's Palace. Bobby Heenan says that Harvey Wippleman vowed to "drop a bomb" (not Bryan Clark, but Giant Gonzalez).

Back in the day my brothers and I swore that Gonzalez wrestled on stilts. As impractical as that sounds to the mature adult mind, it made sense for two reasons:
  1. He towered over men like The Undertaker, who was billed as a being nearly seven feet tall. Since there was no way that Gonzalez could really be the eight feet tall that he was billed as, we assumed that he must have some extra height artificially added. It hadn't yet occurred to us that, just like Gonzalez's height was grossly exaggerated, so was most every wrestler.
  2. Have you ever seen Gonzalez wrestle? No one on their own two feet could be so immobile.
Heenan closes the interview by addressing Gonzalez personally. The Giant has these frightening words: "Undertaker, I have a *giant* surprise for you." Could Gonzalez do to the Undertaker what the Iron Sheik refused to do to Brian Blair (out of respect for God and Jesus and Mr. McMahon) at Wrestlemania III?

It's like looking into a mirror!
Papa Shango takes on Bob Backlund. These two men have a lot in common. They're both wrestlers, they're both from the U.S., and... that's about it. Rumor has it that Papa Shango's voodoo was planned to be the reason for Bob Backlund's sudden anger and insanity in 1994. Instead, Backlund continues to portray his unbalanced, out-of-touch character to this day, while Papa Shango would be retooled as an MMA fighter, a Black Nationalist, a pimp, and an anti-indecency crusader. Bartlett drives Monsoon up the wall by comparing Bob Backlund to Mickey Rooney.

Monsoon: "I'm gonna knock him out."
Heenan: "Go ahead. I'll hold him. I wanted to do that. Then I'll go for the pockets."
Monsoon: "Do you think there's anything in his pockets?"
Heenan: "Nah. Let's just knock him out."

Heenan points out that it's impressive to hold the title for five years like Bob Backlund did, but that no one has defended the title more than Bret Hart. Are you listening, Hogan? Take notes. At this point, Rob Bartlett starts rambling incoherently at a mile a minute. What a wasted opportunity. In my youth, I could (and still can) do a far superior McMahon impression. When I would play with my WWF figures, my announcer voice would always be Vince's, even after he stopped announcing. McMahon-isms were so ingrained in me that I didn't even realize how strange it was for a commentator to refer to every move as a "maneuver" or to say, "1-2- He got im'! No he didn't" at every near-fall. All Bartlett knows is the gravely voice and the "[body part]-area." In the words of Gorilla Monsoon at this very moment on Raw: "STOP!" You can tell he's mad; he doesn't even phrase his command in the form of a question, like he does with Heenan.

Bob Backlund gets caught in a chinlock for ages, but breaks out with elbows to the breadbasket of Shango. As Shango tries to cut off the former champion's momentum, Backlund rolls him up with a small package. Bob's music blasts through the arena as Papa Shango is left to stew over his loss in the ring.

At the Wrestlemania Report, Mean Gene gets excited about the costumery and decor of the upcoming event at Caesar's Palace, the "World's Largest Toga Party." As sad as it sounds, that is probably the most memorable thing about the entire event. We see a clip from Superstars of Yokozuna demonstrating his power by doing the Banzai Drop on a jobber who may or may not be Diedrich Bader. Regarding the other half of the "Double Main Event," Mean Gene comments on the new mask that Brutus will wear to the ring which, aside from looking extremely stupid, is supposed to protect his surgically-reconstructed face. Unfortunately, Money Inc. announces that they will have a special armored briefcase on hand that can overcome Brutus's mask. It's the Arms Race all over again.

The Nasty Boys come out to a horrible drum loop (not the same horrible drum loop that Brutus Beefcake uses, or that Typhoon uses, but a different one) to take on The Headshrinkers. Both Nasties lay a smooch on the large Raw girl in the ring. Gorilla Monsoon praises the Nasty Boys for letting the Mega Maniacs have their tag title shot at Wrestlemania IX (for all the marbles). Incidentally, this is the Nasty Boys' last match on Raw, ever. Bobby Heenan tries to remind us that even though there's a blizzard outside, inside it's still uncut, uncooked, and uncooked. Damn you, Bartlett.

 The battle of the wrestling archetypes (Wild Samoans vs. White Trash) continues as Monsoon lets out another "Will you stop!?" at an increasingly-irritating Bartlett. Nasty Boys' attempts at headbutting the Headshrinkers fail, as the Samoans have Homer Simpson Syndrome. The match devolves into a brawl as the two teams fight in the concession area and hit each other with condiments and popcorn in a precursor to the Nasty Boys/Harlem Heat match at Uncensored '95. This was a fun match, and I would have loved to see this feud continue at least to Wrestlemania, but the Headshrinkers would instead compete in a solid match against the Steiners, while the Nasty Boys would disappear before getting their tag title shot, turning up later in the year in WCW. Eventually, the Hulkster would repay the Nasty Boys by putting Knobbs on his reality show and later giving them both jobs in TNA in the year two-thousand-freakin'-ten.

Next week's Raw will return to the Manhattan Center and, hopefully, the regular Raw graphics. More importantly, the Bushwhackers will finally be in action after being bumped off the show by an inconsiderate Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair back in January.



Final Tally:

1 Uncut, uncensored, uncooked (Cumulative total: 18)
0 Maneuvers (Cumulative total: 36)
3 Gorilla Monsoon variations on "Will you stop?!"

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