WrestleMania has come and gone once again, and as is new norm, the show was bloated beyond belief. This year, I went with a new tactic and skipped the pre-show entirely; I love Neville and all, but two more hours of video packages and inane commentary just wasn’t happening with this old boy. Especially when I remembered what happened twelve short months ago.
You know. The Gooker.
With those awful memories chargrilled into my noggin, I was determined to pace myself. It didn’t help that I was sick as a dog (and honestly still am as I write this, so if this induction sucks, well, blame it on the fact that I am coughing up small pieces of what’s left of my lungs every 30 seconds). But I was able to make it through the entire show with the help of my Facebook friends, who flooded the thread with over 1,700 comments. So thank you all for making Mania an enjoyable event.
As for the show itself? I thought it was ok. I didn’t think it was great, but I can tell you, it was a lot better than last year’s show so it’s a win in my book. Sure you had some stinkers – I thought Taker vs. Roman was among the most boring of Mania main events, and we had the usual Hunter match that really didn’t need to go 30 minutes, but it’s Hunter, so of course it did. On the plus side, Shane vs. AJ was better than it had any right to be. And then there was this:
And just like that, we have our Gooker front-runner for the year. Yeesh.
Of course, the biggest news happens not on the Mania show itself, but on Raw the following night. It’s the show with all the disclaimers, wherein the company attempts to tell us that whatever the crowd is chanting, you should just ignore that, because that’s not really the way things actually are. Folks don’t REALLY hate Roman Reigns; why a normal crowd will even let him speak more than five words in the span of 10 minutes! There people here tonight are just a bunch of wackos!
As I was watching the show this week, I wondered…has the post WrestleMania Raw crowd always been this self-obsessed and vocal about what they’re presented?
Let’s find out.
Today we’re going back to 1993, to the first ever post WrestleMania Raw as our test case. That means, dear friends, we’re getting the Raw after WrestleMania 9.
As a bit of backstory, WrestleMania 9 was the infamous night in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace wherein just about anything horrible you could possibly imagine took place. We got Jim Ross making his WWF debut by wearing a toga, Undertaker battling Giant Gonzalez in what had to be the worst match of The Streak, and of course…
…Hulk Hogan winning the WWF World Title without ever being in an actual match for it.
If that doesn’t give you a good idea just how horrendous it was, then perhaps this will. The first book I ever wrote, the original WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling, had a cover that featured photos of the worst stuff I could possibly find.
Of those photos, HALF of them came from WrestleMania 9. And there were two photos on the back, and one of them was also from Mania 9!
THAT SHOW WAS AWFUL.
So if ever there was a reason for a crowd to be screaming bloody murder, this would be it. Do us proud, Manhattan Center!
Vince welcomes us to the show with a very tan “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Look how young and happy Vince is! He tells us that last night we saw Randy wearing a Macho Toga. Savage seems thrilled to be reminded of that, so hurriedly changes the subject to tonight’s jam packed card, which is going to feature Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Virgil!
Yes THAT Virgil.
And get this – the crowd even seems to be ok with that, cheering him as he makes his way to the ring. They seem legit happy to see the guy.
That would be a trend for this entire show.
Heck, they cheer him when he hit this Erik Watts level dropkick!
They roared for him when he was Virgil’ing up (or maybe he was peeing his pants, not sure)!
And they didn’t even chant “You f***ed up!” at whatever this was supposed to be!
No, these folks are seemingly downright ok with everything, cheering and being happy with whatever crap is being presented in the ring. By golly, that’s almost refreshing!
Meanwhile on commentary, Vince and Savage talk about how awesome it is that Hulk Hogan won the WWF title one more time, sticking it to that no good Yokozuna and his manager Mr. Fuji. Vince is absolutely beaming, telling us that “WrestleMania 9 will go down unquestionably as the greatest WrestleMania of all time!”
Vince has told some whoppers in his day, but that has to be his biggest lie ever.
On the plus side, Rob Bartlett, who was their HORRIBLE color commentator at the time, apparently lost all his money in Vegas and can’t make his way back. That may be the best way I’ve ever heard of someone being written out of a wrestling promotion. No wonder these fans are so happy.
Even when their hero Virgil eats a diving headbutt and loses.
Things are looking up even before we head to commercial, as we are informed that Jerry Lawler is going to make his in-ring debut next. That’s a staple of post-Mania Raws, as Vince always likes to bring in fresh blood to liven things up. And this should be great, as 1993 King is one of my all-time favorite heels. Whenever I’m asked to name the match I would show to people to get them wanting to watch pro wrestling, without hesitation I say “Lawler-Hart SummerSlam 93.” You wouldn’t think a match prominently featuring Doink the Clown would be my choice, but I’ll defend to my last breath that heel Doink was an amazing character.
And man…that match is so fantastic, with Lawler playing the self-righteous heel injured in a car wreck earlier in the day. Despite “pulling himself out of the burning wreckage” and valiantly wanting to fight Bret, he’s unable to do so. Of course everyone knows Lawler is lying; that’s part of the schtick that makes it so great. And when he winds up waffling Bret from behind during the match with his ‘court jester’ Doink we all knew it was coming. Jack Tunney showing up and forcing Lawler to fight Bret is icing on the cake, as Lawler gets beaten from pillar to post, only ‘winning’ the match when Bret refuses to release the Sharpshooter after locking on him for a legit 3+ minutes.
Seriously, go watch it if you’ve never seen it.
Heck, go watch it even if you HAVE seen it.
It’s everything I love about pro wrestling.
As opposed to the fact Vince dressing the Rosatti sisters up as ring girls who are apparently so stupid they can’t figure out how to flip a card.
That would be everything (or at least one thing) I hate about pro wrestling.
But who cares, here comes Jerry Lawler for his first ever WWF match. I cannot get over how awesome Lawler is here, from his scowl to his ridiculous bowl hair cut. Lawler explains that he deserves to be treated with respect, and if these fans keep chanting “Burger King”, he’s going to leave. This leads them to chanting it even louder of course, and true to his word…
…Lawler simply walks out.
Easy and effective. Man do I miss heels like this.
We get backstage commentary from Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji next, explaining that they are filing a formal protest about Hogan winning the WWF title since it wasn’t an actual signed match. Actually, neither Fuji nor Yoko say a single word, instead Gene telling us the whole story while Fuji grunts and Yoko smiles.
I do NOT miss heels like that.
Back from commercial, and my fingers may refuse to type this, we get Bob Backlund vs…
KIMCHEE! Even Bill Alfonzo looks like he can’t believe it.
Seriously, it’s just Kimchee out there, no Kamala anywhere to be seen, no other manager, just a dude in a pith helmet looking proud of his attire.
RD REYNOLDS FUN FACT: Until literally last year, I had no idea that Kimchee (or kimchi) was actually a food item. Mrs. Deal was in the kitchen making something that smelled absolutely awful, and she explained to me that it was kimchi. I thought she was ribbing me. Turns out that I am the one who is an idiot. Who knew?
Perhaps even more stunning than my living in a bubble in regards to Korean side dishes is the fact we’re getting Bob Backlund before he turned insane nutcase who forced autograph seekers to rattle of all US presidents in order before he would sign.
Good guy Bob Backlund in 1993 vs. Kimchee. I am literally shaking my head at this. I don’t think I could come up with a more random match with 47 lottery tumblers and a 397-sided die. But as Randy Savage explains, this one is going to be “Raw! Uncooked…uncensored…and unsomethingelse!”
Despite this match admittedly being pretty dang horrible, the crowd continues to cheer for Bob, thrilled when he picks up the duke with a bridge. Even Vince is happy for the guy, which is also kinda throwing me for a loop considering the last time I wrote about a show featuring Bob with Vince commentating, he was burying the guy six feet under. What a strange relationship these two have had.
As if to show us that Backlund-Kimchee wasn’t all THAT random, we next get legendary WrestleCrap Radio foe DAMIEN DEMENTO taking on leopard spot trunked JIM BRUNZELL.
But my brain isn’t even given a chance to process this before Rob Bartlett calls in (DAMMIT!), doing some insipid comedy about having lost all his money and how Vince needs to fly him back home. Ten thousand strokes of my poison pen can’t even come close to the idiocy on display here, but if you’re game, give it a listen.
But I’m going to make you look at THIS visual as you do. Because that’s what I was forced to witness.
But amazing, despite this being what the crowd had to look at…and they didn’t get all uppity and try to get themselves over.
No, they just sat there and cheered Brunzell and his goofy tights and were sad when he lost.
And when Jerry Lawler came out one more time?
They booed him right back out of the building.
And when he did it a THIRD time?
You’d think this crowd would be ready to just walk out and never come back, but no. They stuck in there and played their part without ever BECOMING the show.
And for that, they were rewarded with…
…the STEINER BROTHERS IN THEIR PRIME.
Over the years, I’ve come to absolutely love Scott Steiner in all his forms, but if you’ve only seen Big Poppa Pump era Scotty you really have no idea what an amazing performer he was prior to putting on all that muscle mass. He and Rick would toss even the largest guys around with reckless abandon, and it was always awesome. Getting to watch them demolish geeks like the Beverly Brothers is something everyone should witness.
So Scott finishes off Beau or Blake or whatever with a picture perfect Frankensteiner after beating the crap out of them for 10 minutes straight. Trust me, if Vince had a team like this in 2017, there’d be no hijacking of Raw no matter what night it was.
So Jerry Lawler comes out for the no joke FOURTH time, but before he can turn around and leave this time, he is attacked from behind by Jim Powers.
Or at least that’s what we are told.
I’ve seen a lot of Jim Powers matches in my day, far more than I would honestly want to ever admit. I bet many of you are in the same boat.
Like me, you likely remember mid 80’s jobber Jim Powers…
…and probably Young Stallions Jim Powers…
…and maybe even mid 90’s WCW jobber Jim Powers.
But I sure the heck never remembered…
….POST MANIA IX RAW JIM POWERS!!!!!
I don’t want to accuse the poor guy of anything but….I’m sorry, I have no way to finish that sentence.
Despite having a new more…svelte, shall we say, physique, Powers is unable to reverse his normal fortunes, and is piledriven in short order. Despite not needing to, Lawler hooks the tights because a heel’s gotta heel.
The show ends like they all the good ones do, with a skanky ring girl telling us to “Open Wide and Say Copyright 1993 Titan Sports, Inc. All Rights Reserved.”
So yeah, I don’t know when post-Mania Raw crowds started being the post-Mania Raw crowds we all know and love today. Back in 1993, they weren’t like that at all. In fact…
Wait a minute…this was taped two weeks prior to broadcast?
Well, there you go Vince, that’s the solution to your woes. You just need to tape weeks in advance and not tell anyone.
Oh, and make sure you have this guy on the show.
I’m dying to find out what he looks like these days.