Growing up in central Florida in the 90’s meant that all my friends were wearing Austin 3:16 shirts and asking me if I could smell what they were cooking. I was always peripherally aware of wrestling, but I never watched any of it until this past year. My buddy Rich would take every opportunity to show me some new high-flying Lucha Underground spot, a brutal CZW match, or a Botchamania supercut. Eventually Stockholm Syndrome set in and I started getting into it. I love finding out more of the backstory of everyone involved, but there’s just so much history. Where do you even start? I decided that the best thing to do would be to watch every single episode of Monday Night Raw. I don’t know how long it will take or if I’ll even finish since there’s nearly 1,200 episodes and counting, but I’m gonna give it my best shot! I’ll also be writing down my thoughts of each episode from the perspective of someone who has never seen the vast majority of these matches. They won’t be recaps as much as just a series of hot takes from a virtual outsider. Let’s get things kicked off with Episode 1!
First off, I was very surprised to see both Randy Savage and Vince McMahon on commentary. Having Randy Savage as the color commentator is a real treat. And while I know Vince didn’t become the character we know today until after the Montreal Screwjob, I didn’t expect him to show up as the level-headed play-by-play announcer. And then there’s Rob Bartlett, who I’m sure is a very nice guy.
The first match is between “Birdman” Koko B. Ware (who looks like the human embodiment of a taxi cab) and Yokozuna, who the commentators spend the entire match roasting for how fat he is. These insults take the form of fairly playful middle school put downs (“There’s no word for leftovers in Japan”), but eventually they can’t think of anything creative and just drop all pretense (“That’s one big-butted Oriental.”) I felt bad for him at first, but his finishing move is just sitting on his opponent’s face so I guess he embraces it. Honestly Yokozuna seems pretty unbeatable so I’m curious to see how he does moving forward.
Next we move on to the tag team match of the Steiner Brothers VS the Executioners. Not even the announcers know who is who; that’s the kind of high stakes we’re working with here. While this match is going on, we get our first sighting of Doink the Clown who is terrifying. Apparently his job is to run around distracting the crowd and haunting their dreams. Also I’m pretty sure one of the Steiner brothers has to be Scott Steiner who I know starts wearing a chainmail hood at some point so I have that to look forward to.
Afterwards we get a promo from Razor Ramon, who looks pretty cool even though he’s dressed like Danny Zuko going through a Sinbad phase. Also I’m not sure if he’s actually Latino or if he’s just a racist white dude. Knowing what I know about the WWF/WWE, I have to imagine it’s probably the latter. Same goes for Tatanka. God, I hope he’s actually Native American.
We then move into a match between Max Moon who clearly just escaped from Tron and Shawn Michaels who looks like if the music video for Bad took place on the set of the Road Warrior. Weirdly the commentary team doesn’t even call this match. They get distracted doing Mike Tyson impressions and acting out little improv scenes with him. We do get to see Shawn Michaels deliver some Sweet Chin Music before that was even a thing which is pretty cool.
Lastly we get a match between Damien Demento and The Undertaker, who at this point looks like a literal undertaker, which is hilarious to me. Is he even established as the Dead Man yet? I have no idea. His persona does seem to be basically in place though with the somber organ music and his deathly slow entrance. He even delivers a tombstone piledriver to end the match, crossing his opponent’s arms and then rolling his eyes into the back of his head. No wonder this is the final match. The Undertaker knows what he’s doing.
In between matches they feature ring girls. Very curious to see when they stop doing that. I bet it’s around the same time that the Divas enter the picture.
The announcers accidentally call Doink “Dork” for the first minute he’s on screen. Clearly a vital character to the franchise.
There’s a recurring bit with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan trying to get in to see the match without a ticket. I don’t know who he is but there seems to be some sort of history between him and the other announcers. In any case, it’s cool that they have a running gag through the episode.
They are promoting a food drive to benefit Somalia called “Headlock on Hunger”. You know they were probably pretty proud of themselves for that name.
Is Mr. Perfect a heel or a face? He sucks.
They cut to a black guy dressed as an African native and he’s basically just wearing blackface. So that’s crazy.
- They end the show with a Doink interview, so I’ll do the same. Sweet dreams!