Fans of a particular vintage will remember him, perhaps not that fondly, as one of the three original hosts of WWF’s ‘Monday Night Raw’ back in 1993. His time with the company was very short-lived, however, but today we ask, Whatever Happened to Rob Bartlett.
Introduced to WWE fans on the first episode of Monday Night Raw, one of Rob Bartlett’s first remarks was to call the recently debuted superstars Yokozuna “Yokozuma” before making a series of jokes about his weight. It didn’t start well and never ever picked up for his short run with the company as a commentator.
Born on the 18 May 1957, Bartlett is best known for his time on the radio show ‘Imus in the Morning’. The impressionist performed a number of characters on his time on the show, which has run since the early 1980s.
With reasonably wide-spread appeal and a career as a comedian and radio personality, it isn’t the worst fit ever for him to be handed a mic as the then WWF tried to crack Monday nights with its ‘Monday Night Raw’ show. Perhaps the company thought he’d add some edge to their programming or bring in some new fans. In the end, it wasn’t to be.
As one of the show’s three original hosts – alongside Vince McMahon and Macho Man Randy Savage – his commentary was poorly received. He called Koko B. Ware ‘Gary Coleman’, repeatedly attempted poor Elvis impressions and made a bizarre remark about Shawn Michaels pulling a knife out on Max Moon backstage.
Mercifully for fans, his stint with the company was fleeting. Raw debuted on January 11, 1993, but Bartlett’s final appearance came as early as April 19, 1993. In interviews, Bartlett has been very open about his failings in the role: “I remember on that first episode I made a joke about Yokozuna and talking about how it looked like he was wearing a diaper. I turned and said on air “that’s one big Oriental, Vince” so I think I set the tone and it went downhill from there.”
When Bartlett stepped aside, his position was taken by the broadcasting legend that is Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan.
Speaking in a recent interview about his departure from the WWF, Bartlett said: “I think Vince knew it wasn’t working. He probably would have let me stay for a while in hopes that we could’ve found some way to make it work. But I basically resigned or quit to Kevin Dunn and he was sad to see me go because he thought we could’ve done something. I just felt like the chemistry wasn’t there. The sensibilities were quite far apart. I wasn’t familiar enough with the world or the rules of the universe as well as I should have been. The kind of comedy I did, didn’t fit in too well with what they were doing. Part of the problem is you can’t make fun of something that doesn’t take itself too seriously, to begin with. Not that the wrestlers weren’t serious, you know they took their craft very seriously but with Doink The Clown and stuff, it was hard to poke fun at it.”
In 2011, Bartlett starred on broadway in ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ alongside Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe. Bartlett played the dual roles of ‘Twimble’ and ‘Wally Womper’. More recently, Bartlett has appeared in the hit CBS drama ‘The Good Wife’. He lives on Long Island with his wife Sharon and their four sons.
You can read all previous ‘Whatever Happened to?’ pieces here.