We kick off the seventh ever installment of Monday Night Raw with the music of the World Wrestling Federation champion, Bret "The Hitman" Hart who is out for his title defence against.......one of the Headshrinkers. Hmm, big time. This is only the second time, I think, that we have seen Bret in the flesh on Raw. They talk about him a bit, but it's interesting that the focus on the champion, or at least the top babyface, is much less in this era than now. If Cena missed a week, Sheamus only got seen once a month, there'd be uproar.
Friday, 17 September 2010
Bret is out to a strong reaction, despite wearing a highly suspect Sgt Pepper style black and pink coat. Great wrestler, bad wrestler, was ole Bretty. The opponent is actually Headshrinker Fatu, who in years to come would morph steadily into Rikishi - the size of his success corresponding with that of his arse.
The camera switches quickly to the announcers. Vince in the centre with a little red bow tie, Macho Man to his right, bedecked in red and white ..........and a man I assume to be Rob Bartlett, dressed as Elvis. Or a future vision of Scott Hall. I don't know why. Maybe he'll explain. Anyway, there is nothing like a bad comedian doing an Elvis impression to lend itself to the serious, big fight feel of a World Title match, right?
Fatu is taking an age to take off all his ring adornments. Meanwhile flicks back to Bret, who appears to have a massive scar on his nose. Vince asks "Elvis" if he still lives in Las Vegas, and then segues (not very) neatly into talking about Wrestlemania, which of course was in Vegas that year. Was that why they made him dress as Elvis? Meanwhile, two guys run along the second tier of seats at the back of shot, and hold up a poster, very quickly and very childishly. The director cuts away, and the two pre-pubescent's boasts to their buddies that they were on TV will be largely unwarranted. Poor souls.
The irony of this match, if you can call it that, is that Bret is wrestling the cousin of Yokozuna, whom he was scheduled to face at Wrestlemania. Bret takes earlier control working on the arm. There is strange moment where Bret seems to trip over Fatu, who has sunk to the floor with Bret running the ropes. Vince says Afa (Fatu's manager/trainer/keeper/feeder) tripped him, but Afa is on the other side of the ring. Hmm. Bret starts to sell a leg injury, but quickly hops up and rolls Fatu up for a two count. I guess the story was that Bret was playing possum.
Fatu starts to take charge with a nice thrust kick and series of clotheslines. Vince and Savage sell the importance of the match, how Bret can counter, whether a Headshrinker could win the title. Bartlett, meanwhile, still chunters on about Elvis. Seriously, someone tell me he is removed after Mania. He is a pox on this show.
Samu, Fatu's partner, wanders to the ringside area, and while Afa distracts, he attacks Bret on the outside. You know what, when I was kid, I always thought the big guy who is the Headshrinkers manager here was called Arthur. I just thought the diction of the commentators was poor.
Fatu hits a piledriver and gets two. Seems weird seeing piledrivers now. A bit like watching football (soccer) and seeing them pass the ball back to the goalkeeper and him picking it up. Something of another era. Headbutt from the second rope. Also two. Goes to the top and Bret hits a superplex. Bret hits a bulldog - how did that hurt him, I thought their heads were impervious to pain? Backbreaker, Forearm, Sharpshooter. Afa with another distraction, Samu into the ring to club Bret, and the headshrinkers do the old switcheroo. Twice. Bret somehow bumps the two together, gets Samu caught in the ropes. He dropkicks Afa off the apron and then Sharpshooters Fatu. Game over.
Not the greatest match in the world - it was very slow when Fatu was on top, but a well-booked conclusion to get Bret over as a clever, fighting champion. A bloody looking Bret celebrates. He got a bump on the nose, says Vince. McMahon rebukes Elvis for eating on camera, and we go to Gene Mean for a Mania report.
We learn that "The Mega Maniacs" of Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake have been challenged by Money Inc. Gene Mean runs down Taker v Gonzales, Tatanka v Shawn, Luger v Mr Perfect, Bret v Yoko.
Next, it's Coco the Clown. No wait, it's Koko VERSUS the Clown. Well it will be in a minute, because first we head to a slightly portly looking Crush, on a beach in Hawaii. Yeah, that's all very well, but shouldn't you be at work? Crush says "Brudda" about fifteen times, then crushes (get it?) a coconut to show what he'll do to Doink at Wrestlemania.
Speaking of said clown, he's out next, to one of my favourite reactions. When a crowd cheers because they are seeing someone, then boos because they recognise he is a good heel. That used to happen to Santino before his (in my opinion ill-advised) babyface turn. As the weeks go by on these old Raws, I remember more and more what a splendid character Heel Doink was.
Doink has a small present with him, which he teases giving to fans, then changes his mind. He squirts some with his flower. Brilliant.
Koko B Ware......correction, "Hall of Famer" Koko B Ware is out next, with his old "Bird Bird Bird" music I think, rather Owen's, which he entered the ring to previously. Vince says "here is a young man who will thrill youngsters." Yeah, moving on.....
Doink makes fun of "The Birdman's" signature flapping movement, and then attacks him from behind, as any evil clown should. Vince talks about a guy in a clown suit being an accomplished wrestler, and he's right. Doink goes straight for Koko's leg, slapping in a single leg Boston Crab in the first minute of the contest, transitioning it into an STF. He attempts a Figure four, Koko blocks it, and Doink goes for his finisher, the Stump-puller, successfully. It's all over, Koko submits.
Really good outing for Doink. Nice booking again, making him look menacing and legit.
Of course, the serious tone is soon shattered because Bartlett, sorry, I mean "Elvis" decides he wants to meet Doink. As you would expect, 'Elvis' asking for food results in a custard pie to the face, and therefore a big cheer from the crowd. What was the point of that? You just started to get a guy over as a heel, then he pie-faces this idiot, drawing cheers. Nonsense.
After a break, Savage again appeals for Donations towards the "Headlock on Hunger" appeal. I wonder if Money Inc have donated. And whether IRS ticked the Gift Aid box. Speaking of the Tag Team champs, it's interview time for them, in the ring with Vinny Mac.
They talk about some guy who was Chief Exec of American Express. I guess he got a massive, scandalous payoff, and DiBiase makes it sound like a million plus in severance pay and $700,000 a year is a pittance. I get it, Ted has loads of money, feels sorry for someone who is earning a fortune, ergo is a dickhead. Fair enough.
(Vince's haircut is out of control, by the way. A massive quiff. And he has the temerity to be taking the piss out of Elvis on this show.)
Ted has a go at Hogan, belittling him, and says they were happy to get rid of Jimmy Hart. IRS says they gave Beefcake a wake-up call. Irwin has a very sweaty brow. Mike Rotunda was a good wrestler, but a relatively poor promo. DiBiase asked the fans if they should put their titles on the line. IRS says the odds are against Hogan and Beefcake. OK promo, nothing special.
Luger is next, and poses in a mirror outside the ring. The damn Elvis thing is still going, incidentally. Luger's opponent is a fresh faced youngster called PJ Walker, who went on to be The Portuguese Man O War Aldo Montoya, and more famously Justin Credible.
Bobby Heenan is on the line, while Luger is in the ring. Heenan says he is going to Philadelphia soon, but fears he will get killed. Things get ever more bizarre as Heenan denies to Vince that it's really Elvis. He says it's George Steinbrenner (Wiki-ed for your ease of reference if you don't know who he is - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Steinbrenner). To prove it, he says, here's Priscilla. What sounds like an old lady mumbles something about this not being Elvis.
What the hell is going on here? This is a wrestling show, with a (supposedly) hot talent in the ring, and they are talking about Baseball owners and Elvis, with potentially cameo from Bobby Heenan's mother. Insane.
Finally Bobby gets round to talking about Luger, and starts putting him over, but is interrupted by 'Elvis' asking Bobby to make Lex 'do that booby dance'. (Before Chris Masters, Lex used to flick his muscles too.) Bobby, in all this insanity, hits the line of the night, saying "You're a strange man, George." Trust me, in context - this strange, strange context - it was funny.
Luger basically just hits an odd shoulderblock on Walker, who drops like a ton of bricks. Luger pins him with one finger. Vince says speculation is building about the use of the forearm, but goes no further. Luger throws his victim outside, and put his face to the mirror. He shouts that the guy is an "atypical American Male". Either he meant to say Typical, or he is second confused about who Scotty Riggs is again.
He basically runs down 'Aldo' for being skinny, and says he is the envy of all man. Vince says coming up next are the Steiner Brothers, "Rob and Scott". Don't have a go at me, that's what he said. He called Rick Steiner "Rob". I know it is a highly desirable name, but in this case it isn't correct.
When eventually The Steiners emerge, they are wrestling premier jobbers Duane Gill and Barry Hardy. Savage calls Vince on getting the name wrong, and Vince says he hopes they take it out on the opponents and not him. He then says that the Steiners will wrestle The Headshrinkers at Mania.
This is another rather effective squash for the Steiners, because they looked like everything they did hurts. That probably is because it did. Especially the Frankensteiner that ends this match.
Plug for WWF Mania, and we are pretty much done here. Vince advertises Perfect v Martel for next week - first Raw appearance for Martel I think. And we're out!