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Friday, 26 August 2011


We've reached May 1993, and this week's Raw starts with Hacksaw Jim Duggan carrying an American flag, wearing a singlet adorned with Stars and Stripes, and the USA network logo in the bottom corner.

Any guesses which nation we might be in??

Yes, it's Raw from New York City (That's in the United States of America) and we're kicking off with the advertised Intercontinental title match between Shawn Michaels and Jim Duggan. Shawn is in the ring as the show starts, so doesn't even get a ring entrance on the show. Duggan does his (can I say retarded?) odd walk around the ring and brandishes his piece of wood. I never, ever got Duggan's gimmick. It basically screams "America is represented by this unathletic, mentally deficit moron."

(That's not true by the way. It's a wonderful country, genuinely my favourite I have visited save for my own, with welcoming, hospitable people. At least in the places I have visited anyway. Now after that disclaimer, back to the action...)

The action finally starts three minutes and twenty five seconds into the broadcast. The interim is filled with "USA", "Hoooooooo" and "Shawn is Gay" chants from the crowd. You're all class, Big Apple. Let's hear it for New York.

Heenan (still on commentary, thank goodness) says that people are complaining about Lex Luger's loaded forearm, but not Duggan's 2 X 4, which leads to a classic Vince McMahon line, when you think about it. He says "The two by four has not been surgically implanted anywhere on Hacksaw Jim Duggan". Now there's an image.

Michaels sells like a lunatic for a bit, then walks away, prompting Duggan to go and fetch him, then it's a break. After the break, Michaels drops Duggan on the top rope and takes control. Shawn actually does a great job in this match of looking like a little guy bumping for the big fella, then hitting and running afterwards.

Duggan makes the occasional fightback (basically consisting of running into his opponent a bit) but Shawn keeps him at bay. Duggan is fired up by the crowd's USA chant. Funny, I always thought Michaels from America too. Wouldn't it inspire him, as well? Perhaps in New York they think San Antonio is in Mexico.

Duggan makes a comeback as Vince says the fans will be behind him when he faces Yokozuna - but he doesn't say when. Michaels stops the fightback again and locks in a chinlock. Eventually Hacksaw makes the full babyface comeback.....which consists of solely punching Shawn, then a bodyslam. Talk about basic. This is starting to make Great Khali look like William Regal.

Hacksaw leans down for his three-point stance thing, and basically hits a running clothesline. That was his finisher, as well. Man alive. Shawn bumps to the outside and starts to leave again. Duggan retrieves him again,  because Vince says that Duggan can't win the belt via count out. Ah, you see, smart guy is Jim. Don't let appearances fool you, he is sharp as a............

Oh. He's just won via count out. You see, Shawn created some separation with a the old Greco Roman poke to the eye, but Jim clotheslined him over the barrier. Then got back in the ring. And Shawn got counted out.

If you've ever been horse racing in the UK, you'll know that even in a three mile race where the horses have to go round a couple of times, there will a collection of wallies who think the race is finished when they pass the post for the first time, despite the fact that the horses are cantering and the jockeys not pushing them. The same people that get confused in this situation cheer when a babyface wins a title match via count out. Half the audience go wild for Duggan getting his arm raised, but have neglected, apparently, to ever pay attention during a title bout in their lives, because he doesn't win the belt this way.

This was a staggeringly bad opening fifteen minutes or so. Dull, simple action and moronic jingoistic 'patriotism' on top of strange booking. I know Shawn did ok in the long term, but did it make sense to have the middle age guy that couldn't work destroy the IC champion? Really?

Oh wait, it's not done. Duggan has a mic. He says WWF does a lot of things right, but they have this wrong. He beat Shawn from pillar to post, he says, and when Shawn knew he was about to be taken down, he took a run for it. Yes, and you sent him over the barricade, Jimbo, and got back in the ring. He says he isn't leaving until he gets another piece of Shawn Michaels (tough guy!)

He throws two chairs (well, three, but the last one bounces off the ropes) into the ring. Not folding chairs, padded wooden ones. He sits on one (back to the hard camera) and claps along with the fans. I don't know what they are chanting, though.

After an ad break, Hacksaw is now circling the chair, still in the ring. We're approaching fifteen minutes of show time (not including ads). Duggan circles for thirty seconds and Vince then gets bored and starts talking about something else. Namely Hulk Hogan against Yokozuna. Vince throws to Gene Mean to tell us more about King of the Ring, and says he hopes Duggan will leave soon. You speak for us all, Vin Man.

A fanfare heralds the arrival of Gene Mean on a Green Screen (GMGS) where he says the report is brought to you by ICOPRO (that was the WWF's bodybuilding supplement). He then says "Do it like Crush does it". Yeah, I'm going to leave that one.

Crush lifts some weights and says ICOPRO is great, basically. Gene says Bret Hart is 'number one seed for obvious reasons' and tells us that Luger qualified over the weekend. Perfect and Doink drew, apparently. Gene says there might be a rematch. The main event is Hogan v Yoko.

Gene then does the old 'hand-to-the-ear', I've just received word (it's a pretape) routine, and says that Duggan has left the ring and is calling President Jack Tunney. Actually that was pretty good acting by Gene. Well, quite good. Well, passable.

Gene says Tito Santana v Razor Ramon is on Superstars, and Duggan v Papa Shango on Wrestling Challenge. Back to the arena, and it's the aforementioned Clown, the Doinkster.

His opponent is.......The Kamikaze Kid. Ring any bells? Nope? Well, it's a fresh-faced Sean Waltman, weeks away from his twenty first birthday. He weighs about forty pounds at this point.

Doink shows his nice technical skills, rocking an STF (a proper one) amongst other things. He eventually locks in the Stump-puller, his submission finisher which the announcers don't call by name. The referee and time-keeper seem to completely forget their jobs (perhaps they nodded off during the Duggan segment) and there is about seven seconds between Kid submitting and the bell being rung. Vince says Duggan will be back when they return. Oh joy.

It's not Duggan, but Backlund, who appears first. And he's against......GILLBERG! Well, it's actually Dwayne Gill, but it would only be a few short years until he morphed into his alter ego.

It's funny how I recall Backlund as being a technical master, but watching this he is quite clunky, and frankly Doink was smoother in there. In fact Gill looks slightly better in this one. Vince says he has received a note saying that Duggan has had success on the phone to Tunney, and next week it'll be a rematch - and it's a Lumberjack match. Can't. Flipping. Wait. Backlund eventually wins with a bridging pin.

Back after some ads and.........oh, it's Duggan again. He says he spoke to Jack Tunney, and that the Prez told him that Shawn can run but can't hide, and that the match is set for next week.........tough guy. (I doubt Tunnet said Tough Guy)

Hacksaw says Shawn is pretty and wrestles well but can't fight a lick (just assume he says "Tough Guy" from time to time. Saves me doing it). They talk blah about the title and lumberjacks. That was pointless. Savage on comms says Headshrinkers, Kamala and a very special surprise after the break.

First, though, it's Billy & Bart playing with guns. Wholesome. But I suppose it's their name, so they have to do it. They say hear there is trouble from the Headshrinkers, Money Inc and the Beverley Brothers.

Back in the arena, there are two (presumed) jobbers in the ring, and Howard Finkel is talking. It's difficult to hear what he is saying, because the announcers (all three, including Vince) talk over him. I can make out that he is introducing one of the premier managers of all time - and it's Captain Lou Albano. He's barking. Presumably he is out here to make Duggan look sane. Nice shell suit. Must be the mid-90s.

He shakes hands with the jobbers, who Finkel namechecks but the announcers are still talking, so I miss them. The opponents are the Headshrinkers, so I think I am starting to see where this is going, since Capt. Lou later became their manager. Though I might have my timeline off - I thought they turn face much later than this. Albano joins the commentary team. I won't repeat what he says, because it's basically nonsense. Although at one point he says that he used to manage the Wild Samoans, but now they are the Headhunters. Vince doesn't correct him. Albano rants about Heenan while the Samoan crew look on.

The Shrinkers attack the jobbers from behind. Albano, meanwhile talks such little sense he makes Booker T sound like Noel Coward. Samu and Fatu are pretty dominant, and even hit a spike piledriver as a transition move. As Samu pulls up an opponent to stop a pin, Heenan says he can't understand a word Albano says. Actually Captain Lou's nonsense is worth it for Heenan's comeback, witticisms and asides.

Vince asks about Lou's earring, and I think he says it is "an eclectic rubber band from an eclectic tree in Borneo". What?? The Headshrinkers hit a double "Skull crushing finale", as it were, then Fatu hit's his big splash that genuinely did look great. Vince says to Albano to come back soon. Heenan says "no, don't".

We get a shot of the Bushwhackers trying 'home improvement", which consists of them loosening a pipe so that it empties on Lord Alfred's head. I think it was a plug from Coliseum Video, thought I have no idea which title. Still, probably better than the Tim Allen series.

Kamala is next in town. I didn't catch the name of the jobber. Haven't we seen Kamala team up with Reverend Slick on Raw before this, or did I imagine that? Anyway, he is alone this time. On comms they say Yokozuna and Mr Perfect will be lumberjacks in the Duggan/Michaels match. The jobber runs into Kamala unsuccessfully a few times.

A little while into the match (about a minute, so quite near the end) Vince says Slick has been teaching Kamala social graces, but doesn't think he needs them any more. I assume that means Slick left the company.

Kamala splashes his opponent, who lies on his front. Kamala try to pin his this way several times, then realises and turns him over. Kamala wins, and the director cuts to the obvious shot - a lady eating an ice cream. Fine.

McMahon says it's Typhoon v Bam Bam Bigelow next week in a King of the Ring qualifier. Heenan has disappeared to interview Shawn Michaels. Heenan says Shawn has been stabbed in the back by "Jack Tunney Incorporated". Michaels bemoans that he has to wrestle Duggan again, and feels mistreated. Heenan asks what Shawn has up his sleeve, but Michaels won't tell the camera. Vince says it is the "first ever lumberjack match" as we go off air. That sounds a fanciful claim, but I can't deny it or back it up.

Anyone want to check that for me?