Hello, friends! This week has a theme of sorts, as I've been going through the year 1993 in WWF Monday Night RAW, and I've watched the first seven episodes, with some matches that stood out, some others that were squash matches, and one match that really let me down upon a new viewing.
Here is a selection of five matches from the first seven episodes of WWF Monday Night RAW in 1993, is my point.
Shawn Michaels vs Max Moon (WWF Monday Night RAW #1, 1/11/93)
The first episode of RAW featured an Undertaker vs Damien Demento main event, but the show-stealer was Shawn Michaels taking on Max Moon for Michaels' Intercontinental title, making it the first title match of any kind in RAW history. Michaels and Paul Diamond put on a fine match here, not a given considering it could have easily just been a pure squash, but the WWF had invested in the Max Moon character quite foolishly, and Michaels and Diamond knew each other quite well, so they deliver a strong TV match with Shawn retaining his belt.
Ric Flair vs Mr. Perfect (WWF Monday Night RAW #3, 1/25/93)
This one has a big reputation as it's Flair's final WWF TV match for his first stint with the company, the gloriously wasted late '91 to early '93 run. And people still talk about it like it's a great match. Well...
It's closer to "sucks" than it is to "great." Flair and Hennig appear on different pages through much of the match, and for a grudge match where the company just ain't big enough for the both of 'em no more, it sure is tame. Hennig gets busted open and takes a couple Hennig style nasty bumps, but the match is really pedestrian otherwise, and so much of it feels like pure filler just to stretch the time out. Do you remember that IC title match from 2004 on PPV where Randy Orton and Edge apparently brainfarted simultaneously so there was a series of long chinlocks? This match reminded me of that one. That match stinks. This match kinda stinks. Let no one tell you just because something is long or has good wrestlers that it is automatically a good match. If anything, that makes this match worse, because it just drags on and you keep waiting for it to get genuinely good, but it never does.
Real talk: the matches these two had the week before (Perfect vs Terry Taylor, Flair vs Tito Santana) are better than this far more famous match.
Shawn Michaels & The Beverly Brothers vs Tatanka & The Nasty Boys (WWF Monday Night RAW #6, 2/22/93)
Pretty good six-man, with Tatanka on the hunt for Shawn's IC title, having pinned him in a non-title match on Superstars recently. This match sees Michaels and both Beverlys bumping all over the joint, Tatanka looking sharp, and Brian Knobbs gassing out so hard it's unreal. That or this is the best selling of Brian Knobbs' entire career. DISCLAIMER: I like the Nasty Boys generally, so I might like this more than you will. But I thought it was Pretty Dang Good overall.
Bret Hart vs Fatu (WWF Monday Night RAW #7, 3/1/93)
Easily -- easily -- the best match here, and the best match of the first seven episodes of RAW. Fatu was always good, but he needed to be carried beyond that, and Bret Hart goes all-out in this one, which is the first WWF championship match in RAW history. Fatu pretty much dominates the match, which makes this sort of a role reversal of Flair's old TV studio world title matches from the 1980s, where he'd face some midcarder, or even someone like George South, and make them look like a million bucks before eventually getting the win, often cheating to do so. Since Bret's the babyface here, he doesn't cheat, though he does pull a lie-cheat-steal knee injury fakeout early on in the match.
Dig Samu's interference where he bodyslams that crap out of Bret on the floor, and also note that even Afa takes a big bump to the floor from the apron eventually. So you've got Bret going balls out, Fatu killing it, Samu and Afa great in their roles, and this whole thing has gone off so excellently -- and then Earl Hebner counts to three on a Sharpshooter. Earl Hebner is the worst referee ever.
The Steiner Brothers vs Duane Gill & Barry Hardy (WWF Monday Night RAW #7, 3/1/93)
Just a squash, but the best squash of the early episodes, as the jerk Steiners do their best to revel in their domination and ability to toss two high-level job guys around. Unlike prior Steiner squashes on these shows (there are three of them, counting this one), they're not in with two greenhorns who don't know what they're doing here. Gill and Hardy both know how to professionally wrestle, so that makes it all the more fun as Rick and Scott hurl their bodies every which way. The Steiners were the British Bulldogs of the 90s in just about every way.