Episode 11 - April 5, 1993: Hail to the King, Baby

In recent years, the Raw after Wrestlemania is generally considered to be the best one of the year. I don’t know if I can say the same is true for this inaugural one, but Rob Bartlett is missing from the commentary team so that alone makes it a good episode in my book. The explanation given for Bartlett’s absence is that he gambled away too much money and was stuck in Vegas still. If our luck is better than his, hopefully he stays gone. Jim Ross was calling Wrestlemania 9. Put him in instead!

 Bartlett misses one show and suddenly everyone's smiling. Coincidence?

Bartlett misses one show and suddenly everyone's smiling. Coincidence?

Our first match is a pretty lackluster one between Virgil and Bam Bam Bigelow. At one point about halfway through, Bam Bam gets Virgil in some sort of a headlock. When it appears that Virgil has passed out, the ref does that “pick up the arm to see if they’re still conscious” thing. Naturally the arm falls limp the first two times, but on the third and final check, Virgil is able to keep his arm in the air and rally himself for a comeback. Now I wouldn’t describe this as boring (even though it is a very predictable occurrence that comes after an extended rest hold), but they immediately go into yet another one of these spots. This is either bad writing or bad wrestling.

After that we get the first appearance of Jerry “The King” Lawler on Raw. It seems that he’s already firmly known as a heel because the crowd interrupts his promo with chants of “Burger King” which causes him to storm out in a huff. He’ll be back later, but for now we move on to our second match of the night: Bob Backlund (yay!) VS Kimchee (wait, what?). The night before he was wrestling Razor Ramon and this is the followup match? It doesn’t make any sense, but to Backlund’s credit he wrestles just as hard as he would against any other legitimate wrestler and subsequently looks awesome because of it. Backlund wins the match with an insane pin.

 Bob Backlund just watched The Exorcist.

Bob Backlund just watched The Exorcist.

When we get back from the commercial break, the match between Damien Demento and Jumping Jim Brunzell is already underway and the commentary team is on the phone with Rob Bartlett. I don’t care about this match or this skit. I did look up Jim Brunzell and was sad to find out that he’s one half of the Killer Bees. I’ve been watching old pay-per-views to catch up to 1993 and the Killer Bees are featured pretty prominently in the tag team matches. At some point between Wrestlemania 3 and now, the Killer Bees were broken up by the management team. Jim’s match on this episode of Raw ends up being his first and last one with the WWF. From winning tag team bouts at Wrestlemania, to getting beaten by Damian Demento in a throwaway match, that’s a pretty sad ending to Jim’s career.

 But at least it was dignified.

But at least it was dignified.

Let’s not get too down in the dumps though, because we move on to the Steiner Brothers and their opponents the Beverly Brothers. This is one of the first tag team matches that actually has good pacing and a sense of drama. The ref must be given a lot of the credit for knowing when to turn his back and when to be paying attention. Several times during the fight, he misses seeing the Beverlys double team Scott Steiner and at one point after getting beaten up pretty badly, Scott makes the tag, but the ref fails to see it and sends Rick back to his corner. After taking a few more bumps, Scott is finally able to get out of there and Rick cleans house and delivers a Frankensteiner for the win.

For our main event, we finally get Jerry Lawler in the ring. But as he’s approaching, he’s ambushed by Jim Powers. Just who is Jim Powers and why is he the guy they put up against The King of Memphis Wrestling? I get that they want Lawler to win and that they don’t want to have him defeat somebody like the Undertaker, but couldn’t they have given him an upper-midcarder like Crush or Bam Bam or like, anyone that we recognize? Maybe I’ll get my wish because after winning, Jerry Lawler goes on to taunt the Macho Man from the ring. Are we going to get a Macho Man/Jerry Lawler feud? Probably not!

 Lawler is asking for ten gallons of trouble here.

Lawler is asking for ten gallons of trouble here.

Other Observations

  • Why is Rick Steiner's nickname "The Dog-Faced Gremlin"?
 He's always seemed like more of a gremlin-faced dog to me.

He's always seemed like more of a gremlin-faced dog to me.