Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Raw #20 - June 7th, 1993

Rattus quadranturcirculus
To start off the twentieth episode of Raw, the ring announcer who is not Howard Finkel introduces the "new World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Champion" and gives a dramatic pause before Marty Jannetty's music hits. But it's not Jannetty's music, it's Shawn Michael's "Sexy Boy"! The announcer introduces Shawn Michaels, who regained the IC title the previous night in Albany from Marty Jannetty. The audience at home gets to gawk in confusion as the Raw intro plays.


Mr. Perfect's insurance policy was better.
Michaels interrupts Vince McMahon and starts quoting some Carpenters lyrics about being on top of the world. He introduces his new "insurance policy," who would later be known as Diesel. Since Kevin Nash doesn't have his Diesel gimmick yet, he is wearing the finest windbreaker 1993 money can buy. WWF, frankly, would miss a golden opportunity by not teaming up The Insurance Policy with IRS to form the unbeatable tag team of "Medicare." Heenan comments that HBK's bodyguard looks like a movie star, which is true. Vince expresses surprise at the recent IC title change, having thought for sure that Marty Jannetty would have a lengthy title reign. At eighteen days, this would be Jannetty's longest title reign in the Federation. While Michaels wears down Russ Greenberg, Vince announces the match of Adam Bomb vs. El Matador for later tonight. Michaels hits a Devastating Maneuver (#1), a neckbreaker, followed by a Randy Savage elbow drop and a "devastating" piledriver for the victory. The ring announcer announces Michaels as the "winner and still Intercontinental champion." Does he mean the title was on the line against Russ Greenberg? Chalk it up to a rookie mistake for Not Howard Finkel.

Mean Gene Okerlund welcomes us to Raw's final report for the King of the Ring, which takes place in "the heart of America," which is a euphemism for an arena in Dayton, Ohio filled to half capacity. Hulk Hogan, against whom the fans revolted in the final segment of last week's Raw (not to give the impression that the Hulkster was actually present at the arena), defends his title for the first time against former champion Yokozuna. Gene also explains that, due to Michaels regaining his Intercontinental Title, the HBK/Crush match on PPV will be for the title. We cut back to ringside, where Michaels is enraged at Vince McMahon for putting him in a a match with Crush. Two things are wrong with this promo: 1) Michaels already knew that he would face Crush at KOTR; the bombshell is that he must defend his newly-won title against him, and 2) Vince McMahon is not supposed to be the booker or boss; that's WWF President Jack Tunney, whom Michaels references at the very end of his rant. Michaels refers to Kevin Nash as his "Great Wall of China," except this one never made a cameo in a 123 Kid/Joanie Laurer porno.

Adam Bomb is up next to take on El Matador. If WWF had wanted to be edgy (or idiotic; it's a fine line), they could have put Bomb in a feud with Yokozuna, who represents Japan. It's probably not good for Bomb's image to have a dancing Scott Levy as his manager (then again, neither is flinging toy missiles into the crowd, as he would do as a babyface). Johhny Polo was at this point carrying a lacrosse stick to the ring, I suppose to reiterate his privileged New Englander persona. He would later carry a polo club and, on occasion, a hockey stick to the ring when he managed the Quebecers and probably would have carried a cricket bat if he had stuck around long enough to manage Davey Boy Smith (or a baseball bat for Abe Knuckleball Schwartz). Vince calls Tito Santana "one of the Iron Men of the World Wrestling Federation," I suppose for his Cal-Ripken-like streak of Wrestlemania appearances (and Wrestlemania losses). Unbelievable. Or, should I say, uncooked, uncensored, and unbelievable. Heenan makes a fart joke involving mushroom clouds and Tito's mother's enchiladas. Tito opens the match by wrenching Bomb's arm at least three times. Defying all medical logic, Bomb does not proceed to involuntarily flip his entire body over three times due to the incredible tension on his arm. Instead, he grabs the ropes. Tito goes back to wrenching the arm, but Bomb whips "Desi Arnaz" into hte corner. Santana counters with a Maneuver (#2 - arm drag takedown). Bomb does take control of the match, despite a sunset flip (not the sexy Sensational Sherri kind) by El Matador. A chant of, if I am not mistaken, "Break his back!" starts among those fans who are not Tito Santaniacs. Matador tries to trade punches with Bomb, which is not a good Maneuver (#3) by Santana. The bullfighter does score a nearfall on Bomb after a diving forearm, but Bomb catches him from behind with a Maneuver (#4), diving from the apron over the ropes with a clothesline for the victory.


Let's see Peter Weeks try to maneuver out of this Maneuver.
The Undefeated Native American Tatanka is in action, but first, we hear about 1-900-288-KING, the official King of the Ring hotline. His opponent is the 310-pound Peter Weeks. Tatanka is brandishing a real tomahawk, which he must surrender to the referee. When Tatanka eventually turned heel, for some reason he did not use his tomahawk as a weapon. The Native American gets the early advantage with a Maneuver (#5), a hip toss on Weeks over the top rope. Tatanka has been one of the top executors of Maneuvers on Raw, but ever since Marty Jannetty returned, the ex-Rocker has been outshining him. Bret Hart, we are told, is the fan favorite to win the King of the Ring tournament, but Tatanka is the second choice; WWF viewers by now have caught on to Vince's obsession with preserving Tatanka's undefeated streak. He drops a big elbow for another Maneuver (#6), followed by a back body drop. He then goes on the warpath, hitting Weeks with a Devastating Maneuver (#7 - knife edge chop) and a chop from the top rope for the pin.

What most non-wrestling fans imagine
when they hear "pro wrestling."
Jerry Lawler makes his way to the entrance way, which has been decorated with pillars and curtains for the Raw debut edition of the King's Court. The King insults New York, "The Rotten Apple," and its people, whose most common pet "is a cockroach on a leash." This VHS rip includes the commercials, such as a cross-promotion between Burger King (with Seinfeld's male bimbo Tony) and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Last Action Hero. Back from commercial, Lawler welcomes Mr. Fuji and Yokozuna, who faces Hulk Hogan for the WWF title this Sunday. The King apologizes for the disrespect of the "imbecilic idiots" in the crowd. Fuji addresses Lawler as "Your Highness." Classic. Fuji explains that Yoko now eats 20 meals a day and will weigh 550 pounds come Sunday. Yokozuna says, in English, "Hulk Hogan, you will go down!" I never realized he talked so much back then, especially in English. He has also spoken some Samoan, but no Japanese.

The Smoking Gunns and the Steiners come to the ring to the Steiners' music. Tonight, one member of each team in Sunday's 8-man tag match will compete in a standard tag match. The announcer introduces Billy Gunn as Bart's cousin, not brother (as they would later be billed). Perhaps their parents were brother and sister. Come to think of it, they've yet to say that the Gunns are brothers at this point in 1993.

Fatu starts the match as his normal tag team partner Samu and his manager Afa eat WWF ice cream bars at ringside. Fatu is tagging with IRS against Billy Gunn and Rick Steiner. IRS pays Fatu a $100 bill to start the match. Fatu hands the bill to Samu, who gives it to Afa, who eats it. If Lou Albano was such a great manager of the Wild Samoans, why is it that Afa has never seen money before? Fatu tries to suplex Gunn, who lands on his feet with a Maneuver (#8). The two men in the ring will be most successful in two completely unrelated ass-exhibitionist gimmicks. Ah, the Attitude Era. Gunn tags in Steiner, but Fatu lands a Maneuver (#9 - clothesline) on Rick, allowing him to tag in IRS. A double-team backfires, with Irwin accidentally clotheslining Fatu off the apron, sparking a dispute between the Samoans and the rich guys. DiBiase tries to bribe the Headshrinkers, who of course don't understand currency. They apparently wrestle for free.

After commercial, Irwin is in the ring with his former Varsity Club teammate. Irwin tosses Rick outside the ring with a Nice Maneuver (#10). Rick crawls back in, only to be thrown out again and roughed up by DiBiase and the Headshrinkers. Fatu and IRS double-team Steiner in the ring, with Rick eating Fatu's... clothesline. Rick tags in Billy, who hits a Nice Maneuver (#11 - back body drop) on IRS and another back drop on Fatu. Billy takes too much time shooting bullets out of his pointer fingers with his back turned to the action and pays for it with an IRS clothesline to win the match for the heels.

Next week, the night after the King of the Ring, will feature Marty Jannetty vs. Doink, Mr. Perfect in action, and a Jerry Lawler match. Razor Ramon comes down to ringside for an interview with Vince. He has offered the 123 Kid $7,500 for a rematch. Razor claims that the match will take place next week, which Vince rightly disputes. No one on TV ever does anything for a cumbersome sum like seven-thousand-five-hundred dollars. Ramon claims that for that amount of money, he could get everyone in the building to stand on their heads naked. I don't know if he means $7,500 for each person or $7,500 collectively (amounting to $7.50 a person), but either way, he provided me with a priceless sound bite:


A man in a Burger King hat chants 1-2-3 at Razor
as two worlds of anti-heel antagonism collide.
Vince informs the Bad Guy that only 7% of voters on the King of the Ring Hotline believe that Razor Ramon will win the tournament this Sunday. He would have much better fan support the following year, when Art Donovan himself picks him to win the crown, despite having little idea who any of the wrestlers are or even how the sport operates. Razor says that nobody cares what the fans think. To prove this point, Vince would have Mabel win the crown in 1995. Ramon references the name of the arena for the King of the Ring, the hilariously-named Nutter Center, to make a (surprisingly classy, considering the name of the arena) boast about beating Bret Hart, who will be "just 'a nutter' has-been." He then says that the only "1-2-3" Bret will hear is gonna be Razor.... Unfortunately, Vince interrupts and Raw goes off the air before Ramon can finish.

Final tally:

1 uncut, uncensored, uncooked (Cumulative total: 32)
11 Maneuvers (Cumulative total: 108)

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