Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 9/27/93

*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV and TV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***


Monday Night Raw #33

September 27, 1993
New Haven Coliseum
New Haven, CT
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Randy Savage & Bobby Heenan

Fun Fact: While Shawn Michaels never admits to this day that he did not take steroids, here in September 1993 he is suspended for testing positive for steroids. In storyline, he is stripped of the IC title for having not defended it within a 30 day period.

*** We open the show with an announcement from WWF President Jack Tunney. Tunny announces that Shawn Michaels has not fulfilled his contractual obligations and was being stripped of his Intercontinental Title. A battle royal will occur next week and the last two men will face off in two weeks time to determine the new champion. ***

1) Tatanka and Rick Martel wrestle to a no contest at 10:48

Fun Fact: For most of ’93, Rick Martel was an undercard performer. We see him make his TV return here against Tatanka.

Scott: Pardon me while I wipe the tear from my cheek… my beloved New Haven Coliseum hosts its first Raw, and I have to say the crowd (we LOL) was jacked for our first RAW. My first live Raw after six years of house shows in my home base. Seriously, it was great for Raw to be in a legit arena with a change of scenery. We begin with the return of the Model, who really hasn’t been on since the Survivor Series match with Tatanka about one year earlier. Tatanka has been one of the MVPs of this first year of Monday Night Raw, being on consistently and winning all the time. Of course as I always lament, he hasn’t gotten one title shot since the win over Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania. Tatanka did blow a move and slipped off the turnbuckle on a reversal and almost fell over. Martel is, like some of the other veterans on the roster, good glue to help the younger superstars and advance the shows and the talent to the next level. This match has been fun but somewhat sloppy, as I think Tatanka got a bit exposed here with his limited repertoire. They battle outside and the referee counts both of them out. It was a sloppy fun match to get the show started. Grade: **

JT: We are live and we have massive breaking news to open this jam packed episode as Jack Tunney revealed that Shawn Michaels had been in breach of his contract and was being stripped of his Intercontinental Title immediately. Next week we get a battle royal as step one to determine the new champion, but for now we open with a pretty interesting match and a reignition of an old feud. Rick Martel has been gone for nearly a year on TV but he of course had a good little feud with Tatanka in late 1992 that culminated at Survivor Series. Martel makes his TV return here tonight against Tatanka, who was still sitting undefeated and being looked at as potential top threat to the now vacated IC gold. We are also in a brand new arena for Raw, as we emanate from New Haven, CT. Tatanka, a big time Raw stalwart, gets a warm welcome as always and it was great to see Martel back in the old baby blues too. We open with a fiesty lockup and some basic feeling out with both men trading time working the arm. Martel went to the eyes but Tatanka shrugged it off and chucked the Model over the top rope and to the floor. Martel took his time getting back inside, and when he did Tatanka kept the pressure on. The Model finally caught a break when Tatanka tried a blind reverse cross body block off the middle rope and came up empty. Martel took advantage, hitting a back suplex and then kicking Tatanka to the floor. After a break, Tatanka was back in the ring and grabbed a sunset flip for a near fall but Martel kicked him and regained control, hooking an abdominal stretch to catch a breather. Tatanka would escape and grab an abdominal stretch of his own but Martel went to the eyes again to break it up. Martel kicked away and hit another back suplex for a near fall. Tatanka absorbed a backbreaker but got his knees into the gut of Martel to slow him up. That was short lived as Martel took Tatanka down and got to working over the lower back again, locking in a rear chinlock. Tatanka rallied and got a cross body block for two and then fired up his war dance, including cutting Martel down with a series of chops to the head. Tatanka would charge at Martel, but the Model side stepped him and pitched him to the floor again. Tatanka would yank him out to the floor where the two traded blows until they were both counted out. Kind of a surprising match and finish there as Tatanka wasn’t protected much at all, with Martel eating up most of the offense and Tatanka getting a brief spurt before the weird finish. The match was really basic and technically fine with Martel really carrying things and keeping it all together. Tatanka looked a bit off but it was fine enough for what it was. Grade: **

*** Joe Fowler is in the Event Center and he runs down the participants for next week’s IC Title Battle Royal and they are as follows: IRS, Randy Savage, Adam Bomb, Giant Gonzalez, Mr. Perfect, Owen Hart, Rick Martel, Jimmy Snuka, Bob Backlund, Pierre, Jacques, Razor Ramon, Mabel, Diesel, MVP, 1-2-3 Kid, Bam Bam Bigelow, Marty Jannetty, Tatanka and Bastion Booger. ***

2) Ludvig Borga defeats Phil Apollo with the torture rack at 3:15

Fun Fact: For more information on Ludvig Borga’s background, check out our SummerSlam 1993 Vintage Vault entry. 

Scott: The bad man from Helsinki makes his Raw debut against legendary Raw jobber Phil Apollo. I loved Borga and that great heel entrance theme music. Borga called out Luger after SummerSlam, probably to siphon Luger off the main event feuds with Yokozuna since he wasn’t winning the WWF Title anyway. Not much more to say here, just a nice squash. Grade: DUD

JT: After plying his trade on the syndicated circuit since his arrival, Ludvig Borga makes his big Raw debut in a showcase match with the ever present Phil Apollo. Borga is hot off his big SummerSlam win a month ago and has been hellbent on challenging Lex Luger and punishing Americans everywhere. Borga pounds the piss out of Apollo, making quick work out of Portly Phil and nabbing yet another win to remain undefeated. Grade: DUD

3) Jimmy Snuka defeats Paul Van Dale with the Superfly Splash at 4:34

Fun Fact: Tonight, Jimmy Snuka returns to the WWF after a year and a half absence. During his time away, Snuka has been working in smaller promotions around the country, including playing a role in the creation of a new promotion in the northeast, Eastern Championship Wrestling. He would become the first Eastern Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion on April 25, 1992.

Scott: Now bringing back recent veterans is one thing, but Snuka is probably close to 50 at this point. Is this another incident of a poor broke stiff coming back for a payday? During the match Bobby Heenan called Crush to continue stirring the pot between he and Randy Savage, which means no one really cares about this match. Sure the old school New Haven crowd probably popped for the return of the Superfly, but otherwise guys like this need to be low on the card and the young guys need to be focused on the shows. Grade: DUD

JT: The night of returns continues as Jimmy Snuka is back on the scene in the WWF. We last saw Superfly in early 1992 but he had been working consistently across the country since and was brought back for a small bump to fill in some depth. Even at his advanced age, Snuka was in damn good shape here. As the match wears on, Bobby Heenan dials up Crush and asks him if he is going to be in the Battle Royal next week. Crush says he wasn’t invited and is pissed off about it. Heenan tells Crush that Randy Savage is in the match and Crush is even more aggravated by that. Savage tries to interject but Crush ignores him and basically hints at being stabbed in the back by his good friend, with a push from the Brain of course. Crush eventually hangs up as Savage tells him to show up and talk things out. In the ring, Snuka smacks Paul Van Dale around a bit before unleashing the Superfly Splash for the win. It was neat to Snuka back for the pop and he will be around next week too, but this match was really here to be a vehicle for pushing along the Savage/Crush feud. Grade: DUD

*** We revisit footage from last week when Razor Ramon cost IRS a match against jobber PJ Walker. Vince McMahon then interviews IRS in his office and calls him Mr. Rotundo for some reason. IRS tells Razor Ramon he earned himself an audit as a result of his shenanigans and then promises to take him out of the Battle Royal next week. ***

4) Quebecers defeat 1-2-3 Kid & Barry Horowitz to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Pierre pinned Kid after he fell over the top rope to the floor at 9:47

Scott: So, Barry Horowitz was supposed to team with Reno Riggins to face the champions, but Barry chose the 1-2-3 Kid to be his replacement. Although not obviously a top ten team, having the Kid on it does bring some sort of slight possibility that we have a huge upset on our hands. As expected the champs pummel the underdogs until Jacques gets “injured” and is stretchered out. The referee decides that the match will continue, so Pierre has to wrestle a handicap match against the upstarts and the match keeps going back and forth until the Pierre escapes with a late pinfall. I didn’t think they’d lose the titles here but having some doubt with the Kid in the match does give it extra entertainment value. Having Johnny Polo wear Harvard stuff in the heart of Yale country was a nice touch. BOOLA BOOLA! Grade: **

JT: Last week, Johnny Polo and the Quebecers announced that they wouldn’t give the Steiners their rematch and instead would offer a title shot to another top ten tag of the WWF. Vince would ponder which of the great teams of the promotion would get the shot but after a break it was revealed that the team was legendary jobber connection Barry Horowitz and Reno Riggins. And with the depth of the division here in 1993, you could argue they were legit top ten. However, we get a monkey wrench tossed in as Riggins is home with the flu and Horowitz recruits the beloved 1-2-3 Kid to step in his spot. The Quebecers laugh it off and accept the offer but Bobby Heenan warns the champs that the Kid is known for pulling upsets here on Raw and that they need to be careful. Johnny Polo rocking the Harvard gear on was an awesome touch to teak the local Yale ball washers. Kid and Horowitz could have been a pretty great team if given a push and time to gel, probably a top four team on the roster at that point. Digression aside, Jacques and Kid open things up as the crowd chants for the underdog. Vince promotes tonights Silk Stalkings as Kid started to take it to both champs with Horowitz hopping in as well and clearing the ring of the champs. The commentators are great here, reminding us all of the rash of upsets we have seen since Raw began. The champs regrouped and quickly took control, using heavy power offense and double teams to punish the Kid. The Quebecers were so good at using their weight and leverage when on offense, utilizing smooth double teams and quick tags to cut a crisp pace. Jacques gave the challengers a window when he missed a blind cross body off the middle rope. Kid dropkicked him to the floor, where he took a nasty sell and was apparently knocked unconscious. Polo attended to his fallen champion as Pierre pounding on the Kid. After Polo showed no attention towards a possible neck or head injury by shaking Jacques around, officials eventually showed up and carried Jacques off on a stretcher. Thus, Pierre was left to go it alone now, ratcheting up the drama another notch.

After a break, Pierre was in charge of things, slamming Horowitz and then hitting a leg drop off the middle rope for a near fall. Kid would tag in eventually but Pierre remaining in control, dropping him with a flapjack and then smacking him with a clothesline. Kid came back with a spin heel kick but when he tried a jump kick, Pierre dodged him and yanked the top rope down and Kid flew hard to the floor. Polo would pitch his limp body back inside and Pierre covered to win and survive. This was some pretty odd booking but it worked in the end. I was surprised Kid ate the pin but they sold it well as he suffered a pretty gnarly bump at the end. The Jacques stuff was weird too and almost made Pierre feel like a face at times. I think a quicker squash with one big hope spot from Kid would have been better booking. Regardless, the big hook here was the Quebecers playing mindgames and continuing to outwit the Steiners. Grade: *1/2

*** Razor Ramon struts out and tells Vince McMahon that if IRS wants a piece he is easy to find. Vince also reminds everyone that the Battle Royal is every man for himself and Randy Savage says that the strong will survive and friendships will be put aside. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: I will grade this show ridiculously high because I was there and it was the first Raw inside one of Vince’s go-to house show venues dating back to its opening in 1972. I first went there in 1987 and went to a boatload of house show from then till now but to be at a legit TV taping was really cool. The crowd popped for standards like Rick Martel and Jimmy Snuka. Tatanka is still undefeated but treated like just another guy. We get the weird switcheroo with the tag team champions but that’s fine. The fact that Shawn Michaels was stripped of the titles and a new IC Champ would be crowned in my presence was pretty cool. At the time I wasn’t sure what Shawn’s situation was but in any event we will have a new champion. This show was solid, but the next two would be better here. Final Grade: A

JT: We had some nice energy this week as we were back live and in a new arena and the card was full of interesting twists and turns and one major announcement that served as through line for it all. For a show that was devoid of the top stars, this episode felt pretty important and never really waned. Obviously, we started with a pretty historically memorable segment as Jack Tunney stripped Shawn Michaels of his gold. We have spent all of 1993 tracking Michaels’ run as champ and watched him dodge challenger after challenger and now ends so abruptly, it just felt weird. They did do a nice job of hyping the battle royal, really selling the significance of the match and having everyone put it over strongly. The squashes were fine and then two big matches got their points across well enough for TV. I can’t say this was a stellar episode across the board, but it was certainly memorable and fun to watch. Final Grade: B