WWF Wrestling Challenge – January 3, 1993
Dane County Coliseum – Madison, WI
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels [Intercontinental Champion] vs. “Jumping” Jim Brunzell
Result/Analysis: Michaels via pinfall (5:29) following the superkick. HBK was the reigning Intercontinental Champion but this TV match, of course, is a non-title bout. Sensational Sherri was still out following her run-in with Michaels’ mirror from Shawn’s altercation with former Rockers tag-team partner Marty Jannetty in October1992. Brunzell, as any wrestling aficionado would know, was a former Killer Bee alongside B. Brian Blair in the mid-1980’s golden era for The Federation. Michaels was his typical showboaty self here which backfires against the savvy ring vet Brunzell. Solid TV match with good back-and-forth action though. Michaels hadn’t yet refined himself on but he looked the part of a star and in professional wrestling that was 95 percent of making it. Brunzell gets to show off his signature dropkick but Shawn catches him with a superkick to score the fall.
Gorilla promotes what’s still ahead on Wrestling Challenge while bantering with “The Brain,” the fountain of misinformation, so he calls him. Monsoon tells us The Steiner Brothers will debut in tag-team action, Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka will be in singles competition and Kamala will have a special interview segment. Heenan, meanwhile, is all about his unveiling of “Narcissus,” at the Royal Rumble which we see air again like it had on SuperStars a day earlier with a special report from his Lordship, Lord Alfred Hayes.
George Petrovsky vs. “Native American” Tatanka
Result/Analysis: Tatanka via pinfall (2:29) following The End Of The Trail (Samoan Drop). The big Lithuanian Petrovsky was mincemeat for the Lumbee Indian as Tatanka remained undefeated. And given the roster, plus the push he was receiving, Tatanka was a contender for the upcoming Royal Rumble. Doink, meanwhile, was in the aisle up to his usual tricks.
Sean Mooney highlights an upcoming WWF Live Event card at Madison Square Garden for which the proceeds go to Somalia relief fund. We hear from Ric Flair, who is scheduled to face Mr. Perfect.
As aired on SuperStars, we get a clip from the debuting WWF Mania that was one weekend away wherein Razor Ramon roughs up Owen Hart during an interview which only provokes the ire of WWF Champion Bret “Hit Man” Hart. Razor challenges Hart for the gold at the pay-per-view.
Dale Wolfe vs. Bob Backlund
Result/Analysis: Backlund via pinfall (2:49) with a rolling cradle. What a relic Backlund was back in 1993 after returning to the WWF after a 10 year hiatus. His amateur style was not in vogue AT ALL. The fans didn’t cheer for him yet he was a babyface. I don’t understand to this day why Vince McMahon re-employed Backlund? I guess to fill out the roster? Dale (Dusty) Wolfe, an all-time jobber in the business is your loser here. During the match, Virgil, yes Virgil, tells everyone why he’s going to win the Royal Rumble. Random. This was bad!!!
A Royal Rumble promo airs that features comments from WWF Champion Bret Hart and his opponent/challenger Razor Ramon.
Raymond Rougeau is at the interview stage. This week, he welcomes “The Ugandan Giant” Kamala joined by his handler Kimchee and manager Doctor Harvey Wippleman. Rougeau asks Wippleman if the Kamala we see now isn’t the same Kamala we all saw before the Survivor Series, and before Kamala was placed inside the coffin by The Undertaker. Wippleman says it’s not the same Kamala, for that Kamala at Survivor Series was trying to think for himself and everyone knows Kamala is a stupid, ignorant and backwards savage. Kimchee is berating Kamala with his own verbal insults off to the side as Wippleman is badmouthing him to Rougeau. Wippleman says that Kamala will only listen to what he and Kimchee say from here on out because Kamala has no mind (brain) of his own and can only understand their positive reinforcement (such as slaps to the face?). As Wippleman goes on languishing Kamala and Kimchee does his part, out to the interview platform comes the Reverend Slick. Slick says he was listening to Wippleman and had to come out and remind him and Kimchee that Kamala is a man and a human being. He needs kindness and respect. Kimchee and Wippleman force Kamala to leave with them despite Kamala’s hesitation to do so. Slick chants out “You are not an animal!” The crowd chimes in, too. Kamala is whisked away with more slaps to the face and the like. What an interesting side storyline this was. It would continue.
Buck Zumhofe vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Result/Analysis: Bigelow via pinfall (2:24) following a diving headbutt off the top turnbuckle. Squash match, of course. I was thinking Bam Bam was a babyface until I heard the boos from the crowd. And come to think of it, The Big Boss Man, Bigelow’s Royal Rumble opponent, was still in his face run as 1993 began and his WWF contract was nearing its end.
“Mean” Gene Okerlund gives us a Royal Rumble report. Bret Hart has the same comments to Razor Ramon that aired on SuperStars a day earlier. “Macho Man” Randy Savage endorses himself as the winner of the Royal Rumble and the next WWF Champion at WrestleMania IX. The Undertaker, meanwhile, has his sights on going to WrestleMania, yes, but also on the 29 souls he’ll first claim by competing in the Rumble. Yokozuna, so says Mr Fuji, will take the Rumble. He is the odds-on favorite. Ric Flair says he’s coming for Mr. Perfect in the Rumble and he’ll repeat his Rumble victory from 1992. Mr. Perfect is confident he’ll win, naturally, being “perfect” and all. Jerry Lawler says he’ll win because he’s the only “King” in the Rumble amongst 29 other peasants. Everyone says he’ll win, and in the early days of the PPV, that’s what made the Royal Rumble something everyone highly anticipated.
Red Tyler & W.T. Jones vs. The Steiner Brothers [Rick & Scott]
Result/Analysis: The Steiner Brothers via pinfall (2:32) when Scott pins Tyler following the doomsday DDT. This finishing move was the one where Rick positioned the opponent on his shoulders and Scott ascended to the top turnbuckle and turned a front face lock into a DDT. Sick. Both Steiner’s were on point in this, their Wrestling Challenge debut. We’ll see them again on WWF SuperStars coming up the following weekend. The Beverly Brothers are on deck at the Royal Rumble.
Sean Mooney has a live event update. He promotes the debuting Monday Night Raw at the Manhattan Center in mid town Manhattan on January 11 (and 18). There’s also a live event at Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey two days before. Mr. Fuji and Yokozuna give remarks about going against The Big Boss Man. Mr. Perfect directs his comments at Razor Ramon, whom he’ll be facing in the night’s main event.
Monsoon tells the television audience that next week on Wrestling Challenge scheduled to be in action are Marty Jannetty, The Headshrinkers. Crush, Yokozuna and The Nasty Boys.
Hernan closes the show by telling everyone “Shawn Michaels has left the building!”
The Verdict: Michaels is pushed by Brunzell in an entertaining non-title match. The Steiner Brothers look awesome. Backlund, Bam Bam and Tatanka notch easy victories. The interview segment with Kamala was most interesting. That angle I had forgotten about. The debut of WWF Mania was the next programming to come in early January 1993.