Next to Sunday, Monday is possibly the least-looked forward to day of the
week. For kids, it marks the first of five grueling days of school. For many
adults, it marks the first of five grueling days of work. Hell, the sheer
anticipation of it is the only factor that holds Sunday back. (Unless you're
religious, then I suppose nothing holds Sunday back. I envy your belief system.)
Since 1993, there's only been one reason for wrestling fans to look forward to
Monday: WWE's Monday Night Raw.
The program colored my childhood since its inception, and was one of the few
excuses my family gave me to eat dinner in front of the television or stay up
past my bedtime on a school night. The wrestlers were loud, colorful, and
charismatic, sporting gonzo nicknames like "Macho Man" or "Mr.
Perfect" to fit their cartoonish personas. Storylines were simplistic,
often ridiculous, and just childish enough to keep me from switching over to, I
dunno, WCW's Nitro or, if it was a late night encore presentation, Red
Shoe Diaries (I had an unwieldy childhood). With Raw having just
passed Episode 900, WWE celebrates the anniversary with Raw: The
Prepare yourself for nearly 12 hours of the most badass, painfully cheesy,
and nostalgia-instilling wrasslin' action you could ever want. We're breakin' it
down match by match, clip by clip, and disc by disc, so hold onto your hat,
brutha, 'cause anything can happen on Monday Night.
• Koko B. Ware vs. Yokozuna
"Was that a butt
drop!?!" Yes, Vince McMahon, as a matter of fact, it was. The set starts us
off with a whimper, rather than a bang, in what feels like a one-sided squash of
a match: Koko stands nary a chance against the zillion pound 'Zuna. Like
watching an elephant have a street fight with a housecat, we all know how this
one's going to turn out. Skip.
• Undertaker vs. Damien Demento
Again, we're given a total
job (re: predictable match), clearly meant to build up the badassitude of
Undertaker. It's meant to set him up for bigger matches later in the set but, as
Undertaker is still super relevant in contemporary WWE, I don't see why this is
• LOSER LEAVES WWE MATCH: "Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs.
"We're pickin' up the Sci-fi Channel on USA!" Randy
Savage inexplicably blurts as blonde narcissists clash. It's an epic match that
starts out with a lot of hilarious face slaps and builds toward a heel-on-heel
Figure Four Climax. Watch for brass knuckles from the heeliest of the two.
• 10 Bell Salute To Andre the Giant
A somber slide show of
the big man accompanies a honorary salute led by McMahon, making for a fitting
remembrance to an unforgettable entertainer.
• Lex Luger vs. Jason Knight
Lex, still in full heel mode,
manages to elevate another "job match" with sheer showmanship alone.
His 'pin by pinky' is the ultimate in jock arrogance. Fun, but thankfully
• Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. "Million Dollar
Man" Ted DiBiase
Everybody has a price and everybody's gonna pay:
DiBiase hams it up with his Troll 2
worthy cackle and ruthless cheating, giving Brutus quite the handful. The
results are too much mullet to keep in one ring.
• The Megamaniacs
"Hulk" Hogan, the real American
and Elvis Presley of 80s wrestling, follows up on the previous match to foretell
a Pay-Per-View prophecy, an alliance against DiBiase and his heel cronies. While
a neat piece of jaw-flapping, it's a total tease, representing Hogan's only
appearance on the set. Still, Hogan's gift-of-gab makes it hard not to like. I
mean, who else can dub his wrestling chums "The Megamaniacs" and still
look like a badass?
• Bret "The Hit Man" Heart vs. Fatu>
rep is built up in this match against Fatu (one-half of the tag team wonders
"The Headshrinkers"). The match is pretty even, and some interference
from Satu makes it sweet when the Hit Man takes care of business. Elvis as a
commentator (a wrestler who I believe later became The Honky Tonk Man) is beyond
stupid, but it's worth hearing "Macho Man" play along with the
• Doink the Clown Pie-Faces Elvis
I find Doink especially
terrifying outside of the ring. Even when hurling pies at Elvis impersonators.
Let's continue, shall we?
• Crush on the Sands of Hawaii
Crush does an interview.
Crush crushes a coconut. Move along, folks, nothing else to see here.
• Mr. Perfect vs. Rich "The Model" Martel
this one plays out a lot like the previous Mr. Perfect match. Martel feels like
a knockoff of the real deal, and when the action finally kicks into gear, it's
over. Chalk this up to more filler.
• Doink the Clown vs. Kamala
"He is…the worst
clown that ever lived!" according to Macho Man. I agree (well, maybe next
to John Wayne Gacy). Though Doink creeps me out, even I have to admit the clown
can wrestle and cheat with equal gusto, as this match proves. He's to the WWF
(he left well before the "WWE" name change) what the Joker is to
Batman, sans the rabid popularity. I find this fact disappointing as I think I
enjoy more of his matches on this set than any of the other second stringers
featured the set. Love it or hate it, he's featured in a lot more matches to
come. I, for one, love it.
• Lex Luger vs. Crush
Luger, still heel, gives it
(non-sexually) to Crush. Here in all its glory is Luger's mirror gimmick, not to
mention a cameo by not one, but TWO Doinks. It's a recipe for roided up fun,
especially for Luger fans.
• Mr. Perfect Attacks Shawn Michaels
interview with sexy Shawn Michaels goes crazy-street-fight when Mr. Perfect
enters the picture. You will believe a man can be pile-driven onto a car.
• LUMBERJACK MATCH FOR THE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Shawn
Michaels vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Jim Duggan, a personal childhood hero of
mine (I wish I still had my foam hacksaw) has a great match Michaels that
devolves into a veritable massacre! For the ladies, there are lumberjack
wrestlers wearing flannel shirts sans pants-surely every woman's fantasy.
• The Kid vs. Razor Ramon
"Say hello to the bad
guy!" No, I didn't mess that Scarface (1983) quote up, that's
Ramon's catchphrase. This is a classic match that turned The Kid into the 1-2-3
Kid. Witness the match for this turning point and to see a pre-Face (re: Good
Guy) Razor Ramon (actually Scott Hall doing a bad Al Pacino impression) in
• INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Marty Jannetty vs. Shawn
This is a pretty high-flying match, featuring lots of rope flips
and drop kicks. Solid, but not mind blowing, and Mr. Perfect makes another
cameo, which is always interesting.
• KING OF THE RING QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT QUALIFYING MATCH: Mr.
Perfect vs. Doink the Clown
Here's the introduction of the Doink
switcheroo, wherein the "evil, evil clown" (Savage's words) has a
double hidden underneath the ring. Will Mr. Perfect pound the prankster? A fun,
if ridiculous match between two solid wrestlers.
• Shawn Michaels vs. Russ Greenberg
Shawn Michaels does what he's good at: be a big douche bag and accomplished
wrestler. Still, he can't quite save this match. Just ask the people in the
background who leave before it ends. Apparently no one thought to tell them the
WWF, unlike High School Football, typically ends their matches with crazy
reversal climaxes (this one's no different). I hope they beat the traffic.
• 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS MATCH: Marty Jannetty vs. Doink the Clown
Hells yeah! This is a solid match, filled with tons of reversals, body slams,
and, fast paced action. Janetty and Doink distinguish themselves athletically
before the plot twist bothers to kick in…and bring "Macho Man"
into the ring with it! Check it out.
• Yokozua Body Slam Competition on the U.S.S. Intrepid
Witness history in the making as American athletes across the professional
sporting sphere attempt to body slam 'Zuna, who mocks the USA with Japanese
stoicism and ginormous girth. It's sort of embarrassing for the non-wrestlers
present (mostly football players), but worth it to see a defining moment in the
career of Lex Luger. Also, you get to hear Savage call Yokozuna and his crew
"gooks." It's…awkward. They don't make gimmicks like this
anymore (or allow such blatant racial slurs on basic cable, thank God).
• Bret "Hit Man" Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
bites off seemingly more than he can chew in the form of the Hitman, but the
match is interrupted by the nefarious Jerry "The King" Lawler. Marvel
at Bret Hart's parents (?) being mocked with-gasp!- old person jokes. The
gimmick fizzles out quick.
• Jim Cornette Arrives in the WWE
Brain" Heenan reunites with the tennis racket carrying heel in question.
• Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs. Doink the Clown
Could there be a more ridiculous pairing? The day-glow clothed Savage seems
licked as Doink exploits his weak, spray-tanned back, but the "Macho
Man" has other plans. Wonderfully cheesy stuff.
• The 1-2-3 Kid vs. "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
This one takes a while to get going, as The 1-2-3 kid is apprehensive to
enter thing ring. Razor Ramon calls in to give some pretty bad commentary on the
action, and, since DiBiase is involved, you can already tell how it's going to
fizzle out. Ho-hum.
• The Quebecers Are New Tag Team Champions
Jacques and Pierre, are probably the lamest wrestlers in the WWF during this
period and are my least favorite part of this DVD. These guys are the Nickelback
of the WWF, right down to bad theme music. Now would be a good time to start
feeling guilty, Canada.
• Doink the Clown vs. Corey Student
More Doink action and
we all know a light-weight like Student doesn't stand a chance. Pass.
• INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Razor Ramon vs. Rick
"The Model" Martel
"After this match, these two will never
be the same!" extols McMahon. He couldn't be more right as we're treated to
an awe-inspiring, tooth-and-nail match between two accomplished, agile
wrestlers. Undoubtedly one of the best matches of the set.
• Crush Hires Mr. Fuji as His New Manager
See Crush become
a heel! See the betrayal of "Macho Man"! See Mr. Fuji look smug!
Continue to the next segment!
• Randy "Macho Man" Savage Attacks Crush
"Macho Man" attack Crush mid-commentary! See "Macho Man's"
last appearance on Raw for more than a few matches! See Vince McMahon get caught
in the crossfire!
• Bret "Hit Man" Hart is Wrestler of the Year
Bret and Lex Luger are honored by the fans, as led by McMahon. Both guys
sort-of-kind-of break kayfabe(character and storyline) and show some genuine
thankfulness for all they've achieved. A softer moment in an otherwise
testosterone boiling set.
• Razor Ramon vs. Diesel
Witness Scott Hall and Kevin Nash
(Diesel) fighting each other long before they were paired up by the WCW. Things
go pretty well until, y'know, the plot kicks in, along with Shawn Michaels and
the 1-2-3 Kid. Speaking of which…
• The 1-2-3 Kid vs. Shawn Michaels
Michaels refuses to give
up the Intercontinental Belt (even though he didn't win it). See above for the
outcome, a twist that's getting a little tired.
• Gorilla Monsoon Throws Out Bobby "The Brain"
"The Brain's" mentor kicks him out of the WWF for being,
well, a big jerk.
• Thurman "Sparky" Plugg is Ready To Race
semi-pointless promo meant to set up a "Sparky" match later on the
disc. Move along.
• Jeff Jarrett vs. PJ Walker
Jeff Jarrett, a
self-proclaimed failed country singer kicked out of Nashville because of the
"corrupt music industry," carries what is surely one of the most
unique wrestling personas of all time. The match is a total job, but Jarrett,
despite his inherent goofiness, manages to show some genuine finesse in the
ring. A guilty pleasure bout to be sure.
• Is Yokozuna Afraid of the Casket?
Undertaker brings a 'Zuna sized casket into the ring and pops out of it, thus
scaring the behemoth out of the ring. I don't get it, either.
• WrestleMania X Coin Flip
A bunch of old guys (WWF's
"board members") flip a coin to see who wrestles who at a Wrestlemania
not included on the set (bah!). Luger and Hart rekindle the romance of their
"Wrester of the Year" moment, with more kayfabe this time, angling
Bret against his own brother-Owen Hart!
• Bret "Hit Man" Hart vs. Tom Prichard
to the Hart-on-Hart match at Wrestle mania. A cameo by Owen spices things up,
but this on goes the way you think it would for superstar Bret.
• WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: The Quebecers vs. Razor
Ramon & the 1-2-3 Kid
Razor Ramon and the 1-2-3 Kid wail on those
annoying French Canadians, and just when my bloodlust is nearly satisfied Shawn
Michaels and Diesel are thrown in. Anti-climactic, anyone?
• SUMO MATCH: Yokozuna vs. Earthquake
Wow, this is like
watching real Sumo wrestling. Oh my God…it IS real Sumo wrestling. The
match is a fun change of pace for the usual rough-and-tumble antics, resulting
in real suspense. Earthquake seems like a wonderful equal to 'Zuna, and it's a
shame he didn't get more appearances here (an injury took him out of the ring
• KING OF THE RING QUALIFYING MATCH: Owen Hart vs. Doink the
Doink is out-Doinked by Owen Hart in this heel-versus-heel match.
I'm not sure if it's great, but it has a clown-sized little person (Doink's
sidekick "Dink") thrown into the mix, and that seems pretty great to
• Duke "The Dumpster" Droese Makes His Raw
Eh. The Dumpster fails to impress with his
"banging-the-trash-can" gimmick. Skip.
• The King's Court with Bret "Hit Man" Hart &
Lawler stirs the flames of hate between Diesel and Hart. It's all a
trap, of course, and an excuse for Lawler to make more old people jokes
("Bret's mother, Ellen, was old as a teenager…she had acne on her
• Not-So-Rowdy on the King's Court
Rowdy Roddy Piper is
mocked on this pretty lame segment. Considering Piper never appears on the set,
I think it a little unnecessary to tease. Dig those They Live references.
• The King's Court with Duke "The Dumpster" Droese
Droes + Lawler = Garbage Man Jokes = Epic fail.
• The King's Court with the King of Harts
Owen appears with
Lawler following his win of "King of the Ring," announcing a new
persona that doesn't really stick. Still, its miles better than the King's Court
• WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Bret "Hit
Man" Hart vs. The 1-2-3 Kid
Here we have two distinguished wrestlers
in the prime of their career battling for both the Championship and one
another's respect. To say anything else would spoil what is the best match on
the set, bar none.
• INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Diesel vs. Lex Lugor
"Mr. Cool" Diesel takes on Luger, post-deal-with-the-devil-DiBiase (he
sold out to the Million Dollar Man on a PPV). Lacking the back-up, Luger gets
some unexpected help when things go brouhaha thanks to the cheating Diesel,
making for an above-average match-up with some good, team-up twists.
• $10,000 CHALLENGE MATCH: Tatanka vs. Nikolai Volkoff
While I could care less about "The Native American" Tatanka or the
Million-Dollar-Sellout Volkoff, seeing Macho Man bellow, "Pay him the
mon-eeeeey!" at the match's climax makes it all worthwhile.
• Alundra Bayze vs. Bull Nakano
The ONLY all-girl match on
the set is a pretty good one. Bayze is an agile performer while Nakano has all
the makings of a female Yokozuna, only she's more fun to watch because she's
fast on her feet. I only wish these ladies were featured more.
• Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon
This match moves with a
breakneck pace, and both performers turn in their "A" game. It would
be perfect if it didn't resort to more interference. But hey, I guess that's why
God made Pay-Per-Views.
• Owen Hart vs. The 1-2-3 Kid
A lot like the match above,
but with a climax that's both frustrating and rewarding. The 1-2-3 Kid proves to
be nary the master of reversals at this time period.
• Undertaker vs. Kwang
Hrm. Undertaker pitted against a
more obscure Japanese wrestler. I wonder how this is going to turn out?
• Mr. Backlund Demonstrates The Chicken Wing
Senator Bob Backlund, the conservative heel, demonstrates his signature move on
a hapless journalist. It's a great heel moment that actually ratchets up the
tension thanks to the awkwardness of the affair.
• INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Razor Ramon vs.
You'd think this one would be a lot cooler than it turns out. Its
great watching RR try to drop 'Zuna, but when a casket appears out of nowhere,
you know where things are going. Enough with the Undertaker wankery!
• Jeff Jarrett vs. The British Bulldog
This one's made
better by Shawn Michaels' commentary (filling a void left by Macho Man). Jarrett
is typically hilarious, counterbalancing Bulldog's milquetoast persona, making
for a decent enough match.
• Bob Backlund vs. Doink the Clown
himself with some actual wrestling, giving Doink a run for his money and showing
his "Chicken Wing" in action. I have to say, it looks pretty painful,
something this match, thankfully, isn't.
• The British Bulldog vs. Tatanka
Milquetoast vs. Minority Milquetoast-boring, uninspired filler, saved by Shawn
Michael's wonky commentary.
• The King's Court with WWE Champion Diesel
Lawler in his place and it's wonderful. The end.
• Undertaker vs. The Brooklyn Brawler
Do you remember the
Brooklyn Brawler? Me neither, making this another half-assed attempt to build up
the Undertaker yet again. I would've just taken away the purple rubber
While it lacks the crazy cinematic montages, soliloquies, complex
storylines, and nu-metal rock songs of contemporary Raw episodes, Raw:
The Beginning validates itself by harkening back to a time when wrestling
took itself a lot less seriously. That's not say the early 90s were a better
period for the sport, but rather to point out a sense of fun (intentional and
non) that feels refreshingly natural and more than a little experimental in
comparison to today's wrestling.
My only real qualm is a lack of Pay-Per-View matches that capped off so many
of the feuds and storylines at work in the set. As is, they're scattered across
the home video spectrum in various formats, forcing fans to do some serious
collecting simply to be complete the plots at hand. WWE could've taken out some
of the filler at work here and replaced it with said events, but unfortunately
that's not the case. Also, what's with bleeping out the "F" whenever
anyone says "WWF"? Is it a legal thing? Revising the history books?
The "WF" logo is still prominent, which makes matters unclear. Anyway,
it's a minor annoyance that sticks in my craw based on sheer principal, but
shouldn't ruin anyone's enjoyment of the DVD.
Technically, this is the best these episodes are going to ever look or
sound, sporting a newly minted transfer that's especially sharp considering the
source material as well as a 5.1 audio mix (compatible with 2-channel DVD
outputs for a good stereo mix if you want to relive the original broadcasts).
Extras wise, we're treated to a series of promotional clips and commercials that
make the matches in question look downright sophisticated in terms of writing
and photography. That is to say, they're hilariously dated and highly