Have you ever sat there and wondered how WWE’s flagship program, Monday Night RAW became the cable ratings giant it is today? No, you say? Well that’s good because if you figured it out on your own then there is no need for me. With that said, welcome to the very first edition of the RAW Rewind. This is a new column where I take you back in time and review the episodes of RAW from yesteryear. I will do these in chronological order so we can see how RAW went from very humble beginnings to being can’t miss TV for wrestling fans.
The date was January 11, 1993. The site was the Manhattan Center in New York City. When laying eyes upon this facility you’d be shocked to think that RAW started here considering that it is now held weekly in 10-15 thousand seat arenas. This was a big risk for Vince McMahon going live with original content each Monday night. WWF was no stranger to Monday television as for years they had been broadcasting a studio show, Primetime Wrestling on Mondays. That show was hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan and featured matchups from house shows across the country while filling you in on all the big happenings in WWF. RAW however was a whole different animal. WWF was in a big transition point in its history in 1993. The era of Hulkamania was coming to the end and WWF was in search of a new man to carry them. That along with this fresh new live show made it one of the most pivotal years in company history. So without any further ado, let’s get started where it all began.
WWF RAW 1/11/93
Sean Mooney is outside the Manhattan Center hyping the debut of Monday Night RAW when Bobby Heenan tries to gain access to the building. Mooney informs Heenan that he’s been replaced. Replaced as what? This is the show’s first episode. Anyway we are told that Rob Bartlett would be taking Bobby’s spot. Apparently, Google says Mr. Bartlett is a comedian. I guess he’s the only one that found it funny that he called Yokozuna “Yokozuma”. Mooney and Heenan argue as the opening video for RAW plays.
We head inside the Manhattan Center where we are greeted by Vince McMahon who will be joined on commentary by Bartlett and Macho Man Randy Savage. Vince gets up ready for tonight’s action and we are set for our first bout.
Yokozuna defeated Koko B. Ware (SQUASH)
Here’s the answer to a very popular WWF/E trivia question, what was the first ever match on Monday Night RAW? It was this battle between WWE Hall of Famers. Don’t get me started on what the hell Koko ever did to be a Hall of Famer. The match, if you want to call it that lasted about three minutes. Koko decided his best course of action was to run at Yoko and then get bounced around the ring. Yoko decided to stop playing around and hit a big leg drop and the Bonzai Drop to pick up the win.
When we come back from commercial there’s some random hoeski in the ring walking around in a bathing suit. Her job? Well, she was the ring card girl. Yes, in the early days of RAW WWF employed a ring girl.
We cut to a video where Bobby Heenan hypes the debut of The Narcissist at the Royal Rumble. If you’ve ever seen the 1993 Royal Rumble then you know this debut was no Chris Jericho in 1999 and that’s being extremely nice about it.
The Steiner Brothers defeated The Executioners (SQUASH)
Just a general rule for wrestling promoters, it really isn’t a good idea to have an announcer out there that has to ask which Steiner is which. It’s not an Uso situation where they’re twins. It’s a situation where some goof had no idea what the hell was going on. Speaking of goofs, Doink the Clown was in the crowd doing clown like things during the match. This match was another squash. Whatever geeks they had under the Executioner masks had no business in the ring. One of them didn’t even know how to run the ropes. In the end the Steiners picked up the win with their top rope bulldog.
We check in with Sean Mooney outside and some woman is trying to get into the building. The woman turned out to be Bobby Heenan in drag. Only in wrestling can you be allowed on TV cutting a taped promo but then they won’t even let you in the ring.
After the commercial, Vince McMahon is in the ring with Razor Ramon. In just under two weeks Razor faces Bret Hart for the WWF Title at the Royal Rumble. Early in Razor’s WWF career he was supposed to be a Scarface knockoff. Too bad when he talked he didn’t sound like a Cuban Drug Lord. He sounded like a Spanish guy with a mental disability. Vince and Razor hype the upcoming title match and then show video of Razor attacking Bret’s brother, Owen. Razor ends the interview by saying there’s nothing Bret can do about Razor taking his title. Thank God that’s over.
Intercontinental Championship Match- Shawn Michaels pinned Max Moon to Retain the Championship (**)
On the first episode of Monday Night RAW we have our first title match in the show’s history. Now you can impress your friends at home with that fun fact. It was a solid encounter ruined by the shenanigans (what a fun word) of Vince and company. Vince said that they had Mike Tyson (who was in jail at the time) watching RAW and was joining them on the phone. Tyson was actually Bartlett doing the worst and I mean worst Tyson impersonation. So, instead of letting the viewers at home enjoy the match we were treated to this crap. Oh, and Doink was back too.
The match went about ten minutes and Max Moon, who was WCW Star Konnan in an outfit so ridiculous there is no way to describe it, control most of the match. Moon missed a rolling senton and Michaels caught him with a Superkick and a Tear Drop Suplex to pick up the win.
We head back outside where Bobby Heenan is now trying to get inside the building dressed as a rabbi. Spoiler alert, it didn’t work.
The Undertaker beat Damien Demento (SQUASH)
The first main event of RAW was no classic. Demento got some sloppy looking chops to the throat in on The Undertaker but he was really no match for the Deadman. Taker finished him with the Tombstone in about two minutes.
Vince was interviewing Doink when Crush came out. Crush was no fan of clowns and threatened to put the clown in a cast. Doink squirts him with a water gun. Crush begins to chase him and in a stroke of genius he goes in the ring while the clown lies on the ground.
The announcers hype next week’s episode of the show goes off the air.
It’s really hard to rate this show on a 1-10 scale like I normally do. As just a wrestling show watching it 20 years later it’s a 1/10, no doubt. It was pretty awful but you have to look at this as the first episode of 1,050+ episodes the show has done. The show was used to display a lot of various things that WWF was doing at the time. It was probably a mistake that they didn’t have the WWF Champion at least on the show but they did a good job of hyping the PPV that was two weeks away. I will end this by saying we were all lucky that the Rob Bartlett experiment didn’t last long.
(That’s what she said.)
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