Sunday, March 22, 2015

Raw History: Episode 1

WWF Monday Night Raw Episode 1
January 11th, 1993 – Manhattan Center in New York City, New York

I'm really going through the years as I start reviewing the available programs on the WWE Network in order, starting with the first ever episode of Monday Night Raw. That means that I will be reviewing every episode of Raw and the Pay-Per-Views that they lead up, chronologically. I felt that this would be a cool experiment. Fun fact, Raw premiered on my third birthday! Hope you all enjoy it!

The first ever Raw opens with a shot of Sean Mooney outside of the Manhattan Center, a place I've been numerous times. Bobby Heenan tries to enter but is told that he's been replaced. For those who don't know, it will be a recurring theme throughout the night. We get the Raw intro video which is standard stuff for 1993. The crowd at the Grand Ballroom in the Manhattan Center is pretty jacked. Commentary consists of Vince McMahon, Randy Savage and Rob Bartlett. Already in the crowd I spot Vlad the Superfan and I think Mikey Whipwreck. I could be wrong about the second one though. 

Koko B. Ware vs. Yokozuna
“The Birdman” is part of High Energy at this time, so he comes out to Owen Hart's future “King of Harts” theme. It is noted that Yokozuna is undefeated and Bartlett chimes in that “he has an ass like an amphitheater.” Koko tries to tie up with Yoko but keeps getting tossed across the ring. Yoko drops a big leg, or really his rear end on Koko. How strange is it that Koko is in the Hall of Fame? Yoko charges into the corner to squash Koko before hitting the Banzai Drop, actually squashing him to end it.

Winner: Yokozuna in 3:45
This was exactly what you'd expect during this time period. Yokozuna was headed towards a big push and Koko wasn't. *

A promo airs for the Royal Rumble, which is about two weeks away. We are told that Bret Hart is set to defend his WWF Title against relative newcomer Razor Ramon. Back in the arena, a ring girl walks around with a Monday Night Raw sign as if this were boxing. I get the logic behind this though.

A pre-taped promo airs of Bobby Heenan badmouthing Mr. Perfect while talking up the Narcissist. A feud between the Narcissist and Mr. Perfect writes itself actually.

The Steiner Brothers vs. The Executioners
Much like the opening match, it's clear how this will go. The Steiner Brothers joining the WWF was a big deal at the time. Doink the Clown can be seen in the crowd interacting with the fans which is relatively cool. Scott and Rick take turns beating on an Executioner. He botches falling into the ropes before Rick drives him into the turnbuckle. Scott tags in and hits a belly to belly suplex, which I saw about 400 of when I watched his Royal Rumble match with Triple H ten years later. Scott hits a butterfly suplex before they nail their bulldog finisher to end it.

Winners: The Steiner Brothers in 3:01
Nice little showcase for the Steiners. It was all Steiners as it should be and they looked good. **

Bobby Heenan, dressed as a woman, is trying to enter the building still. He claims to be Rob Bartlett's aunt until he's found out. Back in the ring, Razor Ramon gets interviewed by Vince McMahon about his upcoming WWF Title match. They show clips of Razor attacking Owen Hart. The biggest issue here is that it was hard to buy Razor as a credible threat since he had just debuted a few months prior.

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Max Moon

For those who don't know, Max Moon was Konan and somehow he got an Intercontinental Title match. Moon looks like a spaceman of sorts. They have a nice exchange to start as Moon hits some hip tosses and a bodyslam that causes HBK to take a breather. Moon applies a hammerlock out of a cross body which was cool. Shawn gets out and starts to work over Moon, hitting a nice dropkick. Commentary discusses Shawn's upcoming title defense, if he retains here, against Mart Jannetty at the Royal Rumble. Middle of the match “Mike Tyson” calls in but it's just Rob Bartlett and an awful impersonation. Moon surprises with a near fall using a small package so Shawn gets mad and wails on him. He applies a headlock but Moon gets out and slingshots HBK over and to the outside. He leaps from the apron onto him and this is more competitive than I expected. Spinning heel kick in the corner, followed by a rolling press gets Moon two. Moon misses a somersault and eats the Superkick and teardrop suplex to end it.

Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels in 10:00
Match of the night. I enjoyed this and thought it was better than it had any right to be. Michaels should've got in more of the offense though. **1/2

Royal Rumble Report! Brought to you by...ICOPRO! I used to love these reports. They discuss the Shawn Michaels/Marty Jannetty Intercontinental Title match and the side story of how Sherri will be at ringside and they aren't sure which side she will be on. They also touch on the WWF Title match and the Royal Rumble itself.

Outside, Bobby Heenan is trying to get in again, with a fake beard and everything. Next, we see action from this past week's SuperStars where Kamala turned faced and sided with Slick. I wonder what the fans in the arena did during all of this since there weren't any jumbo trons to watch this on. Were they just sitting there?

Damien Damento vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
This should be short. Damien Damento makes the mistake of trying a back body drop and gets slammed face first to the mat. Undertaker follows with what is now known as Old School. He chokes the jobber in the corner but eats a boot. Damento hits a poor looking double axe handle and a shoulder block but Undertaker sits up. Taker hits a big flying clothesline that comes off like a shoulder block, before planting him with the Tombstone to win.

Winner: The Undertaker in 2:26
The squash match you expected this to be. *

Vince McMahon makes another dumb pop culture joke about a Steel Cage match next week between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. To end the show, he interviews Doink and Crush interrupts. Crush tries to be tough but sounds stupid with his awful Hawaiian accent, so Doink sprays him with water and runs away. 

Overall: 7/10. Good.
 Obviously as a fan you should watch this, if only for the historical purposes. However, this was fine for a first episode. It introduced the next big star in Yokozuna, showcased the hot new tag team in the Steiner Brothers and another big and different star in The Undertaker. You also get a solid Intercontinental Title match and some fun Bobby Heenan stuff. The only real issue I had was the constant dumb pop culture references as the WWF tried too hard to be cool.

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