The SmarK DVD Rant for The Kliq Rules (Blu Ray edition)

The SmarK DVD Rant for The Kliq Rules (Blu Ray)

This feels like we’re really scraping the barrel now, but at least there’s a couple of matches on here that I’ve been anxiously awaiting to be released. And hey, someone bought it for me, so what the hell. Let’s celebrate the 1996-ness of the Kliq, in keeping with the theme of the past few months on the blog. The cynical part of me, small as it is, would suggest that this was thrown onto the market to screw with the Young Bucks by creating a trademark claim on the hand signal.

First up, the hour long documentary that was previewed on the Network recently. It’s basically hosted by the Kliqsters themselves, as they reunite in an interview room somewhere.

Shawn and Hall reminisce about AMERICAN STARSHIP and Shawn dubs Hall “Magnum PU” at the time. Shawn saw Nash in WCW and asked Vince to bring him in as Diesel, and they were off to the races.

Hunter came over from WCW and got tired of riding with guys who were just bitching for four hours, because he wanted to learn. So he hooked up with the Kliq and they all ended up buying a big ugly van and going everywhere in that to save money. Hunter does a hilarious impression of Scott Hall. Vince gets a talking head here and he looks like a goddamn zombie or something. No wonder he doesn’t want to be on TV anymore, holy shit.

Lex Luger gets credit for naming them as a clique, but Luger himself credits Bulldog for coming up with it. Kid stole the hand sign from the Turkish mafia, apparently.

We even get a talking head from Sunny here, and they do a hell of a job making her not look like a total trainwreck. And Shane Douglas! Holy cow. Slaughter describes the guys as “an advisory panel to Vince, whether he liked it or not.” Shawn gets a funny bit here as he thinks about Summerslam 94, with people backstage complaining about “How many belts did these guys need?” and now he feels like they might have had a point.

Nash admits that they were just fucking with the other guys when they’d brag about their payoffs backstage, always doubling the real number just to get everyone else angry. This brings up a discussion of the BONE STREET KREW, which is the first time I’ve ever heard that mentioned on one of these. They were basically the anti-Kliq, with Yoko, Kama, Rikishi, Undertaker and a couple of other guys.

At this point we actually get footage of Shawn throwing tantrums backstage and yelling at agents, plus Vince McMahon doing rehearsal stuff with them off-camera. I love that kind of stuff.

Shawn feels like everyone who had a problem with them just should have went to Vince or addressed it with them directly, instead of the “junior high crap” like Shane Douglas did. So they all had a big meeting in Indianapolis and unloaded all their frustrations on Vince, including the famous list of guys who they felt should be pushed or de-pushed. Shawn says they were just guys who had the balls to go talk to Vince, but never threatened him with an “or else”.

So in 1996, Hall goes to Vince and asks what he needs to do in order to make the big money, and Vince didn’t have an answer for him. He and Nash got big money offers from WCW, brokered through DDP, and Nash was waffling until his wife told him that he was taking the money and that was that.

Curtain Call time, and they actually find the guys who videotaped it! Hall notes that the original plan was much more low-key, but being themselves they just took it over the top for the hell of it. Everyone talks about “breaking kayfabe” way more than you’d usually hear on a WWE DVD release. Russo notes that Cornette and Bruce Pritchard were blowing up and basically declaring the business to be dead at the time. Nash’s reaction when he saw Vince’s face: “Well, I guess we’re not going to dinner tonight after all.”

Although Vince was mad at the time, it did trigger something in him and made him realize that he could pull back the fake curtain a bit and show the audience the “real” curtain, which in fact was another fake curtain but made them feel like they were getting a look inside. Hence, the “shades of grey” direction that was upcoming.

Onto the nWo, as Hogan declares it “on the total down-low” that Hall and Nash were under contract to WCW. Yeah, OK, Hulk, whatever you say. Vince’s response (a year and a half later though) was of course D-Generation X. Hall calls it “Kliq North” and “Kliq South” running the business.

This leads to a discussion from the WCW guys and how much everyone hated Hall and Nash, including hilarious accusations from Hulk that they were “too arrogant” and “too cool to hang around”. That’s awesome. Kid’s view is that they just knew how to survive and get over better than everyone else there, so that wasn’t their fault.

Then, in 1998, the moment that changed the Monday Night Wars and in fact wrestling forever, as DX invades WCW with a TANK. The increased resolution of Blu-Ray reveals that in fact it was a jeep, but I blame that on faulty HD transfers.

Onto the downfall to wrap things up, as Kid was self-destructing every night and then waking up in the morning like nothing happened, and then Shawn retired for four years. We jump to 2002 and Vince buries Scott Hall’s performance and Shawn replaces him in the nWo. Jim Ross gives a super-diplomatic “Maybe that wasn’t the best idea from a creative standpoint” and that was it for the group. Really they were pretty honest about how badly the whole thing went for everyone and what a bad idea it was in the first place.

Shawn sums up HHH’s new role: “Ha ha, we won.” And we finish with the various members going into the Hall of Fame.

I kind of loved this documentary, because it was brutally honest most of the way (aside from Hogan’s bullshitting) and it was clearly guys who loved each other and had a lot of self-awareness and insight to share. And nobody died or anything and everyone is doing pretty well for themselves. I mean, obviously we’re not getting the objective viewpoints on things here, but given that it’s called “The Kliq Rules” and basically is produced by HHH, it’s pretty fair all things considered. Thumbs up.

The Matches

Hope you enjoy early 90s RAW matches! Because there’s a lot.

Razor Ramon v. The Kid

No fancy name for Waltman this week. Razor is just crazy over with the fans here. Razor powers him down and throws chops in the corner, then gives him a crazy hiptoss across the ring. Abdominal stretch and he stomps Kid down, then follows with the fallaway slam. Blind charge misses, and Kid finishes with a moonsault press at 2:08, as the place goes BALLISTIC. As did the internet, who had been waiting for the promised Waltman push to start for two weeks.

(Ok, I don’t even wanna get INTO this right now, but basically Word 2016 crashed a bunch of times at this point, wiping out a whole bunch of match reviews that I had redone, and in fact wiping out a previous rant in here about how this had happened the FIRST time. Short version: I typed up the documentary and starting doing the matches, and Word crashed and lost the portion I had already done, claiming that there was no backup, even though I set it to literally back up my work every minute for reasons exactly like this one. So I typed up a new angry rant about how I had lost the hour or so of work from the documentary recap, at which point I found the backup file exactly where Word was supposed to save it and then seemingly was unable to find it. So then I redid a few match reviews and it crashed AGAIN, wiping out the reviews and my original angry rant about the whole situation. Apparently this is a cursed review, and I’m just gonna accept that and copy and paste as many of these matches as I can and hope it doesn’t die on me before I can finish. I don’t know if it’s because I’m using Windows 10 or because of Office 365 itself, but FUCK MICROSOFT either way.)

$10,000 Challenge: Razor Ramon v. The 1-2-3 Kid

From RAW, June 21/93. Kid is understandably hesitant to get in there, but he dives in with a sunset flip for two. Leg lariat gets two. Razor hits him with the fallaway slam, however, and then puts him down with a clothesline and stomps away. Ramon chokeslams him and hooks the abdominal stretch and slaps him around on the mat. Running powerslam and he gets the backdrop superplex as Vince calls it over. Ramon tosses him for some reason and decides to go for the gusto, pulling up the mats for a Razor’s Edge on the concrete, but Kid backdrops out of it and goes up…then slips and lands facefirst on the concrete in a terrifying spot. Apparently he’s still alive, because they head in and Kid gets another moonsault press for two, then decides that discretion is the better part of valor and grabs the money before making a run for it. Double countout at 5:15 and Ramon is out $10,000. Razor’s even more pissed now. **1/2

Razor Ramon v. Diesel

From RAW, November 29/93. I’m pretty sure this would be the first-ever match between Nash and Hall. Razor works on the arm to start, but Diesel powers him down and tries a headlock. Razor gets out of that, so Diesel pounds on the back and gets the running choke. Backbreaker gets two. Sideslam gets two. Snake Eyes gets two. He goes to a bearhug, but runs into a boot in the corner. Razor with a bulldog for two and he makes the comeback, but as you’d expect, Shawn runs in for the DQ at 5:04. 1-2-3 Kid makes the save, and that would be a hell of a tag match right there. Actually, they did have that match on Action Zone in 1994, and it was ****+, come to think of it. This match was less so. *1/2

Shawn Michaels v. 1-2-3 Kid

From RAW, December 6/93. Shawn is of course still wearing the I-C title despite being stripped of it, which marked the first of many titles that he lost without dropping it in the ring. These days he just refuses to win them in the first place. Shawn slugs away in the corner and Kid fires back, and they criss-cross into a great stalemate sequence. Kid follows with a series of kicks to put Shawn on the floor, then follows with a springboard bodypress. He suplexes Shawn back in, then turns it into a bridged german suplex for two and goes to a headlock. Shawn tries a pair of suplexes to escape, but can’t shake him. Finally a third one breaks the hold, but Kid entices Shawn into a chase and then tries a flying headscissors in the corner. Shawn dumps him in a nice bump, but goes after the Kid and ends up taking a bump of his own into the post. Kid follows with a dive off the apron, but Shawn powerslams him onto the floor to counter. We take a break and return with Shawn getting a backbreaker for two. Superplex is countered by Kid with a cross body attempt, but Shawn slams him on the way down and gets two. Backbreaker submission attempt follows, but Kid breaks free and gets a leg lariat for two. They collide for the double KO and Kid makes the comeback, slugging away in the corner. Leg lariat into the corner and Kid goes up with the moonsault for two. To the top again, but a senton bomb misses and we take another break. Back with Shawn hitting the superkick and then going for a Razor’s Edge (complete with mocking gestures), and he actually nails it. That gets two, as Shawn picks him up, and you just know that’s the cue for a run-in. Shawn hits another one and now Razor comes out, wearing the kind of shirt only worn by gay guys or big fat party animals, paired with Zubaz pants no less, and the brawl is on. Double countout at 11:00 or so. Shawn actually gives Razor a pair Razor’s Edges on the floor! And people said this match was DISAPPOINTING? ***1/2 Great piece of business with a hot match and a hot angle to follow.

WWF World tag titles: The Quebecers v. Razor Ramon & 1-2-3 Kid

From RAW, February 21/94. Considering this was advertised as Ramon & Marty challenging, I’d say that marks the end of Marty Jannetty’s career in the WWF for the moment. I believe the standard reasoning (never denied or confirmed by either side) is that the Charles Austin settlement came down and the WWF wanted Marty to be gone when it did. The Quebecers attack and get chased out of the ring, giving us some stalling time while I reflect on TNA still using Ramon & Kid as a team nearly two decades later. We get a LOT of stalling before Kid starts with Pierre and controls with a headlock, and over to Razor to work on the arm. Apparently Ramon will be defending the IC title against Shawn Michaels in some kind of goofy gimmick match at Wrestlemania. Like anyone’s gonna want to see a “ladder match”. Ramon gets sick of Polo pretty quickly and gives him a Razor’s Edge on the floor, which has Vince declaring the match a DONNYBROOK. Them’s fighting words. More stalling as Polo does a (presumed) stretcher job and we take a break. Back with the faces working Pierre over in the corner. Pierre gets away and tries a leapfrog, so Ramon punches him in the nuts to block. OUCH. That was either a badass spot or a huge fuckup. Kid comes in and works on the leg as Macho notes that this is the first time that Ramon & Kid have teamed together. I guess technically as a pair, yeah, but they were part of the same team at Survivor Series. And so was Macho! Still weird that two people as intertwined as Hall & Waltman would actually have a first time teaming. It just seems like they were born suckling at the same whiskey bottle together. They keep Pierre in the corner for an insanely long time, until finally Diesel comes out and glares at the babyfaces long enough for the Quebecers to take over on Ramon. You’d think Kid would be the one to get the heat, but whatever. We take another break and return with heel miscommunication to set up a hot tag to the Kid. Spinkick for Pierre, but he misses a dropkick, and NOW the world is right as Kid gets beaten down as face-in-peril. Macho on Diesel’s presence at ringside: “We’re looking into the eye of the beholder, and Diesel’s not good looking.” I think that’s an old Japanese proverb, actually. Pierre with a big boot for two. Jacques pounds him down for two and Pierre gets a corner clothesline, but the Quebecers miss a double-team and it’s hot tag Ramon. BAAAAAAAAACK BODY DROP….WITH AUTHORITY! And NOGGIN KNOCKER! This is the best Vince McMahon commentary highlight reel I’ve ever heard. Razor’s Edge for Pierre, but Shawn runs in for the DQ at 16:05. Really? Diesel standing at ringside for 10 minutes didn’t telegraph that finish enough? Pretty good tag match, albeit with a lot of dead air and stalling. ***1/4

WWF Intercontinental title, ladder match: Razor Ramon v. Shawn Michaels

People question a lot whether this match “holds up”, although thinking about, I think that’s the wrong question to ask. Wrestling as an artform is very in-the-moment and as a rule never truly intended to say the same thing to fans in 2010 as it did in 1994. So anyway, I’ve seen this match a million times, but here’s one more go, probably the last one. For me, this was the match where my worldview switched for good to “getting it”. The first time I watched it, I admired the beating delivered by Razor Ramon. Every time after that, I admired the bumps taken by Shawn.

Shawn blocks a hiptoss and pokes Ramon in the eye, but gets chokeslammed as a result, then comes back with a neckbreaker. Razor puts him down with a shoulderblock, but Shawn tosses him for some abuse by Diesel. The referee sends him back to the dressing room, thus fulfilling the purpose for both of them on the night and leaving Shawn and Razor alone to do their thing. Razor slugs away in the corner and clotheslines Shawn to the floor, but they fight back in again. Razor sets up for a Razor’s Edge onto the floor, but Shawn backdrops him out instead and retrieves the ladder for the first time. Razor gets it and puts it on the apron, so Shawn baseball slides it for our first ladder spot. Back in, Shawn rams it into Razor’s chest and then tosses it at his back. Given Razor wasn’t looking and took it square in the back, that HAD to hurt. Shawn does the first climb, but gets his tights pulled down by Razor to stop him. So he drops the elbow on Razor and then climbs the ladder in the corner, hitting a flying splash off it for one of the iconic images of his career. Another try for the belts, but Razor pushes the ladder over and Shawn clotheslines himself on the top rope. They collide and Shawn recovers first, setting up the ladder in the corner for more bad news. Razor whips him into it, allowing Shawn to bump to the floor in dramatic fashion, and then follows and uses the ladder to ram Shawn into the post. He catapults Shawn into the ladder for another crazy bump, and then spears him out of the ring with the ladder for good measure. That seems to be enough to allow Razor to climb, but Shawn dives in from the top rope and knocks him off again. They both climb the ladder and slug it out on top, leading to Razor slamming Shawn off the top and then bumping off himself. The ladder almost breaks, leading to a weird moment as we have to ponder a time when there WASN’T 17 ladders under the ring, just in case. Razor manages to climb again, but Shawn dropkicks him off and adds a superkick. Razor is out, so Shawn adds a piledriver for good measure. Then another iconic moment, as he climbs the ladder in the corner and rides it down onto Razor in a bump that was likely totally safe but looked awesome. So Shawn puts the ladder over top of Razor for one last bit of humiliation, and climbs, but that allows Razor to shake the ladder and knock Shawn off. And he gets tied into the ropes, the victim of his own hubris, allowing Razor to climb unstopped and reunify the Intercontinental title at 18:45. Still tells a great story, still has amazing bumps, still one of the greatest matches of all time. *****

Intercontinental title: Razor Ramon v. Diesel

From Superstars, April 21/94. I don’t think I’ve ever ranted on this particular match, in fact. Funny to think that was only a month after Ramon “unified” the titles with Shawn at Wrestlemania. Ramon quickly goes for the Edge and slugs away on Diesel to send him out to the floor. Diesel catches him with a necksnap and follows with a sideslam for two as we take a break. Back with Diesel holding a chinlock, but Razor powers out with an electric chair and makes the comeback. Flying bulldog gets two. Slam gets two. Shawn even takes a bump to run distraction, but he undoes a turnbuckle in the process and Razor gets whipped into it. Jackknife powerbomb finishes at 7:46 to give Diesel his first title. Razor of course sells the powerbomb from his buddy like death. **1/2 They’d have an even better one at Summerslam, which is curiously not included.

WWF tag titles: Shawn Michaels & Diesel v. Razor Ramon & 1-2-3 Kid

From the Action Zone, October 30/94, and this is of course a match I’ve been waiting to see released for a long time. It’s a donnybrook to start and Ramon quickly hits Shawn with the Edge for two, so the heels bail. Kid rolls up Shawn for two on the way back in, and they trade near-falls before Shawn gets a powerbomb off a rana attempt. Diesel comes in and throws the Kid around like the proverbial lawn dart, but he dropkicks Diesel and makes the tag to Ramon. So now the heels bump like crazy for Razor, but some cheating turns the tide and we take a break. Back with Diesel beating on him in the corner after some nifty double-teaming, and a sideslam gets two. I should take note here of how annoying the Vince/Todd combo are on commentary, since Pettingill doesn’t really know anything about how to call a match properly. Shawn with the chinlock on Razor, who escapes with a backslide for two. Vince gives it his highest praise, calling it a see-saw matchup back-and-forth. That’s like ***** in Vince speak. Ramon gets choked in the heel corner and Diesel drops elbows on the back for two. Ramon powers out of a chinlock and then Shawn cheats AGAIN to cut off the comeback and this time goes to an abdominal stretch to keep him in the corner. They do all the classic stuff with the illegal switching and Kid getting all frustrated to distract the ref and the crowd just eats it all up. Vince is AGHAST at all the latitude being given with the rules, and we take another break. Back with Shawn slugging away, but Razor hits him with a chokeslam and it’s HOT tag Kid…but the ref didn’t see it. Shawn tries a superkick on Razor, but hits Diesel by mistake and now it’s finally the tag. He runs wild and the crowd is losing it while Diesel is completely dead. Kid with a crazy dive onto Shawn outside, and back in with a missile dropkick for two. Razor with the blockbuster suplex on Shawn and then another one that tosses Kid into Shawn for two, and a crossbody gets two. Kid goes up for a Rocket Launcher that gets two, and Shawn desperately tries to revive Diesel, but Ramon clotheslines him for two in the meantime. Shawn comes back with a sleeper in desperation, but Kid breaks that up. Finally Diesel wakes up on the outside, so Razor catapults Shawn into the ringpost and everyone is out. Kid comes back in with a Lightning legdrop for two, but Diesel revives with the big boot and Shawn gets the pin at 21:55. Yeah, this is definitely one of my favorite matches of all-time, 20 minutes of perfect tag team fun with a finishing sequence that’s incredible. ****1/2

The Teamsters (Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart & Jeff Jarrett) v. The Bad Guys (Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, British Bulldog, Fatu & Sionne)

Well, the Teamsters ARE known for their laziness and greed, so it would fit that Nash would be captaining this team. Interesting that only the team captains get entrance music this year. The storyline was more that Shawn and Diesel were having a domestic squabble as tag champions than any real issue between Ramon and Diesel. Kind of weird what a non-issue Ramon was even though he was IC champion for another three months after this. Owen starts with the Kid while Fatu is forced into wearing boots by THE MAN, and this is apparently an issue for him. Kid fights off both Harts but runs into an Anvil elbow in a weird spot, allowing the heels to take over. Kid spinkicks JJ out of the ring (giving us our first “right in the mush” of the evening) and Barbarian comes in with a press slam. Jarrett comes back with a flying clothesline for two. Next up, it’s Owen v. Bulldog and they do the cool wristlock sequence, leading to Owen getting pummelled in the face corner and slammed. Bulldog with a sunset flip for two, but Owen lays him out with the enzuigiri and the New Foundation tries some double-teaming. That backfires because Neidhart is useless, and Fatu comes in but has trouble with his footwear. What a stupid storyline that was. And really, wasn’t there ANY other Samoans available to replace Samu? They just had to give Barbarian another payday? Just use Fatu’s brother! Jarrett grabs a headlock on Ramon and quickly gets tossed for his troubles, and back in he gets double-teamed by Ramon & Kid. Razor tosses the Kid at him for a bodypress that gets two, but Jarrett comes back with an abdominal stretch to slow things down. Kid reverses, so Jarrett hiptosses him over the top rope in a cool spot missed by the camera. Back in with Fatu, who still can’t get his shit together, and Owen gets a leg lariat for two. Fatu comes back, finally acting like a human being months into his babyface run, but Diesel comes in and finishes him with the powerbomb at 13:30. Kid tries next and flies in with a sunset flip off the top, but Diesel casually shrugs him off and another Poochiebomb ends the night at 14:14. Sionne in next and he slugs away, but he walks into ANOTHER powerbomb at 14:45. Bulldog comes in and gets booted to the floor and apparently gets counted out at 16:00. Razor tries a cradle on Diesel for two and the flying bulldog for two, but Diesel puts him down with a clothesline and now Shawn finally wants into the match. He had a legit broken hand at the time, which explains his not factoring into the match thus far. Razor keeps fighting against Diesel and manages to slam him, but can’t get the Razor’s Edge. Diesel finally gets the powerbomb and Shawn tags himself in for the big finish, but then demands that Diesel hold Ramon steady for the fateful superkick. And of course Ramon moves and Diesel eats it. And now he’s had ENOUGH and turns babyface, fighting off his own team members and chasing Shawn back to the dressing room, giving Ramon the countout win over all five heels at 21:26. Survivor: Razor Ramon. Good action before the rapid-fire eliminations and storyline kicked in and killed the match dead, but man what a stupid finish. And really none of the match went anywhere. **1/4

Razor Ramon v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

From RAW, January 22/96. So this marks another historic first, as HHH brings his first skank with him as arm candy (Shae Marks) in an angle that would eventually lead to the introduction of Sable. Razor slugs away and works the arm to start as Hunter bumps all over and we take a break. Back with Razor on the floor, and Hunter suplexes him into the ring and works on the back. Clothesline gets two. Hunter chokes away on the ropes while 1-2-3 Kid comes out and shoves a baby bottle in Razor’s mouth, resulting in Razor chasing Kid around for the countout at 8:00. Shit finish and the match fell apart after the break. *1/2 This would also lead to one of the low points of Kid’s career and the year in general.

Crybaby Match: Razor Ramon v. 1-2-3 Kid

From In Your House VI, one of the most forgettable shows of the era. This was the final breakup of the Kid-Ramon team, and the loser gets diapered and powdered, Because Jim Cornette. You know what’s kind of weird? The video quality on the PPV shows is actually worse than the syndicated show footage on here, with a really soft look and muted sound. The Action Zone match and Razor-Diesel title swtich earlier on the disc had really sharp and crisp colors and great crowd noise. I don’t know where the difference would come from. Kid gets dumped to start, but comes back in with a springboard clothesline and some kicks in the corner. Jerry makes a dumb joke about Ramon and Vince dismisses him with “But enough about Hall…” KAYFABE, Vinnie! Ramon comes back with the blockbuster slam and Kid bails, allowing Dibiase to hit Ramon with the BABY POWDER OF DOOM for two. Come on, REALLY? How distracted do you need to be to get enough baby powder in your eyes that you’re blinded by it? Kid with a flying splash for two. He goes to a sleeper and that goes on for a while, but Razor finally escapes by crotching him on the top rope, and he makes the comeback with the usual. Kid with a spinkick for two. Ramon suplexes him off the middle, but Kid goes for the powder again, only to have the cruel hand of irony boot it back into his face. Razor’s Edge gets two, and then Ramon picks him up and does it again to finish at 12:00. Pretty lethargic outing from both guys, which then leads to the most ridiculous scene of the year, as Kid gets put into a diaper and powdered. Nothing really wrong with the match otherwise. *** That was pretty much the blowoff for the 1-2-3 Kid character, as he did some more RAW matches as a heel and then left for WCW with his buddies.

Disc Two

WWF World title match: Shawn Michaels v. Diesel.

From In Your House: Good Friends Better Enemies, a match that has already been on a zillion DVD releases before. This is the ultimate blowoff for their long-simmering feud, as Diesel was leaving for WCW and made it known that he was on one final run of destruction before he left. Shawn was hot off beating Bret Hart at WM12 and needed credibility. This is no-holds-barred. Shawn uses his speed to avoid Diesel, then dropkicks him out and hits a moonsault tope onto him. He steals a boot from Hugo Savinevich and nails Diesel for two. Diesel gets pissed and knocks Shawn onto the railing, then tosses him back in and absolutely wallops him. Shawn sells like he’s dead. Diesel keeps shooting evil glances at Vince. Jumping side slam nearly puts Shawn though the mat, then Diesel undoes his wrist tape…and chokes out Hebner! He steals Earl’s belt and lays in some wicked shots on Shawn, then hangs him from the top rope and ties him there. As Shawn struggles to free himself, Diesel calmly grabs a chair and blasts Shawn. Back in for another solid chairshot. Lord, what a beating. One more, but Shawn ducks and Shawn gets the chair. That proves temporary, as a low blow gets two for Diesel. Diesel absolutely lays into him with forearms, sending him crashing to the floor. Vince keeps yelling at Shawn to “stay down”. Cool spot of the year: Diesel starts a long tradition, powerbombing Shawn through the announce table. He parades around with the title belt while Shawn, who is nearly dead, pulls himself out of the wreckage. Vince, his own microphone dead, does his usual awesome acting job, yelling “Just let it be over!” at Shawn. Shawn crawls to the ring, and finds a fire extinguisher, which he discharges into Diesel’s face. Flying forearm puts him down, and Shawn grabs a chair to even the odds. Two vicious shots follow, but Diesel won’t go down, and in fact hits the big foot to the face right away to KO Shawn. He takes too long, however, and Shawn escapes the powerbomb. Flying elbow sets up Sweet Chin Music, but Diesel calmly grabs his foot and rips his head off with a lariat. What is this, All Japan? He tosses Shawn out again and drops him on the railing, then gets inspired. He heads over to the front row and beats up Maurice Vachon, who is seated ringside, and STEALS HIS ARTIFICIAL LEG. Major, major heel heat for that. Shawn lowblows him, however, and steals the leg. He knocks Diesel cold with a shot from the leg, then waits for him to recover, warms up the band, and superkicks him for the pin to retain at 17:51. He didn’t win the match, he SURVIVED it. What a horrific beating and an AWESOME brawl. ****3/4 Shawn’s “in your FACE!” post-match celebration is amazing acting on his part, too, and it really makes the match. 

Shawn Michaels v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

OH MY GOD I’M SO SICK OF THIS FUCKING MATCH…oh wait, I guess this is the first one. Never mind. This of course marks the last time HHH would get anywhere NEAR the main event for a long time afterwards. Hunter uses some scientific wrestling to frustrate Shawn, and we take a break. Back with Shawn taking him to the floor with a Cactus clothesline, and Shawn stops to hit on Hunter’s arm candy. Now, keeping in mind that the main storyline is that Shawn is supposed to be falsely accused of going after Bulldog’s wife, how does that possibly help his cause? Clearly he’s a womanizing sleazebag. Those kind of details drive me crazy. Back in the ring, Shawn hits Hunter in the nose a few times and showboats, but Hunter dumps him as Mr. Perfect joins us at ringside and we take a break. How many fucking angles that consist of “Some guy comes down to ringside to scout some other guy” can they run at the same time? COME UP WITH NEW IDEAS! Back with Hunter getting two and he slugs away in the corner before going to a chinlock. Shawn fights out and Hunter punts him in the ribs to put him down again. Shawn makes the comeback, but Hunter hammers him into the corner. Gee, Shawn is sure happy to sell for HHH for some reason…is the headline of the Obvious News Weekly. We take a THIRD commercial break and return with another chinlock for Shawn to fight up from. HHH tries the Pedigree, but Shawn catapults him into the corner and makes the comeback for real. Flying elbow gets two. Hunter actually tries a powerbomb, which Shawn reverses into a rana, and Hunter turns that into a sunset flip for two. Vince trying to call that sequence was the most brain-meltingly stupid thing I’ll see this week, I’m sure. Shawn backdrops out of another Pedigree and finishes with the superkick at 19:01. This was pretty great, and I feel like they might even have something better in them if they, say, wrestle sixty million more times over the period of a decade to work out the bugs. ***3/4

For those who like to keep track of this stuff, everything from here on will be redone fresh.

Hey, it’s the Curtain Call, via the raw footage those dudes apparently sold. I wonder if they got a bunch of money for it or if they just donated it and were happy to do so? This is the whole thing from Shawn superkicking Diesel all the way until they all leave at the end.

WCW/nWo tag team titles: The Outsiders v. The Steiner Brothers

This is from Nitro, January 12 1998, which I believe is on the Network now. I’m incredibly pumped to literally have years of material to go through now, because I’ve never seen most of those 1997 Nitro episodes and there’s so much trainwreck potential to discuss. Michael Buffer is doing commentary, but by this time the feud had long gone cold, like WWE business during football season cold, and it was just building up to the Steiner Brother split AND the Outsider split. I guess the Steiners were the actual tag champs, but the Outsiders were carrying around those weird redesigned tag titles with the huge WCW sideplates. I think Nash is actually in better shape today than he was here. Hall exchanges pleasantries with Scott Steiner to start and gets beat up in the corner as a result. Video quality update: Turner had a HELL of a technical division because this looks pristine, like broadcast HD quality that happens to be 4×3 instead of 16×9. And I’m watching this on a 4K TV so that’s doubly impressive for a master that’s two decades old. Everyone putzes around for the first few minutes while the EVIL MEGAPOWERS strategize at ringside on behalf of the nWo and everyone is breaking up with everyone else at this point. So finally Nash beats on Rick in the corner while Tony surmises that in fact “nWo 4 Life” might just be a marketing slogan. YOU THINK? Rick powerslams Nash and everyone is on different pages for some reason, as Nash won’t go with what the Steiners want to do and Hall cuts off Scott’s comeback right away with the chokeslam. Scott suplexes him right back and now Rick works on the leg with a kneebar, and then Nash comes in and they work on his knee as well. NOT THE QUAD! You’ll cripple him! They keep stumbling around as Rick clumsily escapes Snake Eyes, but Hogan nails him from outside and the Outsiders take over. That goes nowhere exciting, and suddenly the ref gets bumped and all the circus acts at ringside brawl, resulting in Savage accidentally dropping the elbow on Rick Steiner while aiming for Nash, even though he was still a heel, to give Nash the pin and the titles at 11:20. I’m so incredibly confused about what was going on but it would hurt my brain too much to think about it anyway. *1/2

Scott Hall v. Kevin Nash

From Halloween Havoc 98, which was a very underrated show, although this was not a match that was a part of the good portion. It’s also the third Hall v. Nash match on this set, and yet they couldn’t put the Summerslam one on there. So this is well into the Wolfpac era, as Nash is Red and Hall is White and I had long since stopped caring enough to keep track of who wore what color shirt on what week. Hall tosses booze in Nash’s face and beats on him outside, which gives Hall time to cut his promo. The trainers want Nash to give it up and stop, but if there’s one thing we know about Kevin Nash, it’s that he would never no-show a match on PPV that he was scheduled to wrestle! Well, I mean, unless it was a really bad fake heart attack, but that just goes without saying. Hall tries the Outsider Edge, but Nash escapes, so Hall slugs away in the corner and Nash just stands there doing nothing. The announcers surmise that he doesn’t want to fight back, although I would question how you’d tell the difference from his normal work ethic at that time. Nash finally fights back after Hall messes up his hair, because you have to take a stand at some point and good conditioner isn’t cheap. We get a dramatic lockup battle as Nash adds “competitive hugging” to his moveset and then he pounds away on Hall to take over. The super-hot Vegas crowd is dead for all this. Nash pounds him with knees in the corner, right in the liver where he’s vulnerable, while yelling at him about his drinking problems. Given his real life troubles, that’s just not cool. Nash finally goes to finish with the big boot and Poochiebomb, but then walks away from the match and gets counted out at 13:51, having made his point or something. And then they were back together two months later anyway. DUD

HHH v. X-Pac

From Backlash 99, and I remember getting heat at the time for giving this an overly high rating. So let’s see how it holds up! HHH has weird generic rock music for his entrance, which doesn’t fit him at all. They slug it out and X-Pac puts him down with spinkicks before taking a giant bump over the top. They brawl outside while the camera gives us a very clear view of Chyna’s ass-cheeks, back when they were still a mystery. Now we’ve seen far too many things going into them for one lifetime. They slug it out and Pac gets more kicks in the corner to set up the broncobuster, but that misses and HHH takes over. Sign in the background: “Billy Gunn tosses salad”. Well, I mean, he IS Mr. Ass at this point. The song says that he loves to lick ‘em. Just saying. Hunter pounds him down for two while the camera is more concerned with Chyna and her non-existent pants, and a neckbreaker gets two. Jim Ross calls X-Pac by his real name at this point, which makes me wonder why they didn’t just go with that in this era. Hunter with a long facelock and I’m pretty sure 1999 Scott must have been drunk to come up with a **** rating, even though I claimed at the beginning of the rant that I was sober. Of course these days I’ve traded booze for energy drinks as my poison of choice. Hunter uses the knee for two and goes to another facelock, and a facebuster gets two. JR is all “Oh my god, Hunter is trying to win the match by focusing on the body part that everyone knows is vulnerable! What a monster and yet magnificent genius at the same time!” Six more months of this yet to come before he even gets the title, you poor bastards watching in 1999. Hunter keeps working on the neck, but X-Pac gets a small package for two before Hunter puts him down again for two. And back to the facelock, which X-Pac reverses into a sleeper as I’m actually starting to get ANGRY at myself for wasting my own time by defending this piece of shit match 16 years ago. I could have been doing something valuable like drinking or warning the world about Chyna’s porn career! X-Pac makes the comeback with a tornado DDT and the camera is like “fuck it, let’s just follow Chyna around and shoot her ass like a Japanese director”, but he takes ANOTHER stupid bump to the outside. No wonder his neck is so wrecked today. He was taking simple stuff like that HARD, full-speed to the floor for no reason. Speaking of taking things hard and full-speed, Chyna now positions her ass in front of the main camera before interfering. And the ref is bumped, forgot to mention. Too much excitement going on, ya know. And then Kane comes out because he’s decided that 17 minutes of this bullshit match is too boring even by HIS standards and everyone gets chokeslammed. So with everyone out, Kane just leaves again, assuming that X-Pac has things under control I guess. Broncobusters for both HHH and Chyna, but KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 19:17. Jesus fucking Christ this match fucking sucked. *

Hulk Hogan, The Rock & Kane v. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash & X-Pac

This is from Smackdown, March 28/02, the first show after the original brand split on RAW. The hack-job on Hogan’s music has to be heard to be believed here. Although I have been accused of not having my finger on the pulse of current wrestling fans, I’m pretty sure that no one would have been sitting at home and thinking “Wow, I hope they put a couple of matches from the shitty nWo reunion in 2002 when everyone was terrible!” Rock beats on X-Pac and clotheslines Hall for two, but walks into the blockbuster slam. Nash comes in with the knees in the corner, but Rock hits Hall with the spinebuster and it’s over to Hogan with a hot tag 3:00 in. Big boot and legdrop for Hall, but Nash saves. Hogan takes a beating in the corner for a bit, and you know this has to be getting to him because there’s nothing he hates more than black and white mixing together. Random note: X-Pac in short tights is just weird. Kane comes in with a sideslam on Hall, but everyone brawls and Kane blocks a broncobuster with a chokeslam and pins X-Pac at 6:35. I think in my original TV review I called it a perfectly acceptable Coliseum video dark match, and that’s a good summation still. Everyone got their shit in, but it was short enough to be inoffensive. **1/2

World title: HHH v. Kevin Nash.

From Judgment Day 2003, which was a DIRE show. Why put this dog on there instead of the better Hell in a Cell match they had the next month? Fuck it, here’s the reposted version so I can get to the next match. Here’s WCW logic for you: They advertise Shawn Michaels & Ric Flair for weeks as being in the corners of the competitors, but they don’t want them out there because their presence would overshadow that of the people in the ring. So everyone gets their own entrances, at which point Flair & Michaels brawl to the back with each other and disappear. It just amuses me to no end when Vince makes sure to bilk the paying customer out of any little bit of satisfaction he might get from a match, just so that HHH won’t be offended. HHH is wearing his manly purple tights and matching boots, so I guess Stephanie is dressing him now. Nash elbows him down to start and uses the devastating knees in the corner and a backdrop. HHH is so overcome by pain that he rolls out of the ring, but Nash follows and introduces him to the post. Back in, big boot and a DEVASTATING bodyslam set up another elbow. And another! AND ANOTHER! He’s a heartless monster! He’ll kill him! HHH goes to the eyes to gain a moment, and then shoves down the ref. But it’s HHH, so he’s not DQ’d. Nash keeps up the onslaught, however, but falls prey to a neckbreaker, thus slowing the frantic pace set by both guys. Whew, I was having trouble keeping up with the transcript. HHH returns fire with punches, but gets clotheslined. Nash goes back to the punching again, and shoves the ref. We’ve had two ref bumps and Hebner won’t go down, thus showing that no one is going to sell anything here. Earl PULLS KEV’S HAIR in retaliation. If there’s anything that can motivate violence in Nash, it’s messing up his hair. HHH bumps the ref again as this turns more into a self-parody by the minute, and goes low on Nash. Just steal his conditioner, same thing. HHH undoes the turnbuckle (he’s the best wrestler in the world according to Ric Flair. Just reminding you), but Nash makes the comeback with a sideslam. That move is so midcard RAW now. Another big boot as Nash cycles through the moveset and comes around to the start again, and the ref gets bumped a fourth time as HHH sends Nash into the steel and Pedigrees him for two. At this point I would have taken HHH getting the pin there. Nash, of course, gets to be the first guy to kick out of the Pedigree, just to make sure that it means nothing if Goldberg ever does it. Nash backdrops him out to block another Pedigree, but HHH grabs his trusty sledgehammer, and the ref gets bumped with it, for the fifth time, and that’s finally a DQ at 7:44, for whatever arbitrary reason. We’ll do this mathematically: (Number of ref bumps) x (Number of times Nash touched his hair in lieu of a transition move) x (Number of stars better that the match would be had the managers wrestled instead of the wrestlers) x (Months of boring HHH title reign thus far) x (Knee or leg surgeries that Nash has gone through) = Hot pokers for the match. So by my count, that’s 5 x 5 x 4 x 9 x 15 (at last count, I believe) for a whopping total of 13500 hot pokers up the shitter of HHH’s blushing bride. Better get her some Preparation H for a wedding present. DUD Don’t you love when they book PPV finishes to build for another PPV instead of giving a finish to the people who paid to see one? Who says they didn’t learn anything from WCW?

WWE tag titles, TLC: Jeri-Show v. Shawn Michaels & HHH

Another one I’ve never seen. Everyone quickly brawls to the floor and a table gets set up at ringside, but just lurks there as Jericho and Shawn are unable to use it. Into the ring for Shawn’s first flurry and he goes for the flying elbow, but hits knee. Jericho goes after HHH up at the entranceway, and the champs double-team him while Shawn disappears to the back and retrieves his own personal chair. Show manages to fight him off and they head to the ring with a ladder, but HHH gets it and beats on Jericho. This brings up Matt Striker’s take on the match, as he notes that winning a tag title would really help HHH’s Hall of Fame case. You know what would help it more? Marrying the boss’s daughter and running the company. I mean, I’m not gonna be the guy to criticize them for trying to make the tag titles seem important at that point, especially given how far they fell into the toilet after D-X won them (whoops, spoiler), but that’s kind of a stretch even by Striker’s standards. D-X double-teams Jericho with a ladder suplex and tries to climb, but Show makes the save and dumps Shawn. Jeri-Show beats on HHH and slams him into the ladder in various ways, but HHH gets rid of Jericho and goes to work on Show. He reverses a chokeslam into a DDT, and Shawn drops the elbow off that, but walks into a Codebreaker and everyone hits finishers. It’s funny how the hierarchy works here, as HHH is always the thorn in Jericho’s side over the years, but Jericho is the thorn in Shawn’s side. But then Shawn is the thorn in HHH’s side! I don’t know what my point is. Show is the last man standing and he climbs, but HHH saves with a chair…and Show punches it back in his face in a cool spot. Show climbs again, so D-X teams up to push over the ladder and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE to put Show on the floor again. Shawn climbs now, but Jericho pushes him off and into the arms of Show on the floor. Good timing there. Jericho climbs and HHH saves, powerbombing him off the ladder. HHH climbs and gets chokeslammed off the ladder and Show is so mad that he smashes the ladder. That ladder was two days until retirement! He has a wife and a bunch of little stepladders at home! So now Jeri-Show sandwiches D-X in a ladder and do various vile things to them, which results in another ladder being cruelly ripped asunder. Where’s the New Day to defend the honor of furniture everywhere? So Jericho tries to climb with half a ladder despite the laws of physics, and then just decides to stand on Show’s shoulders instead. That’s pretty clever. This leaves them vulnerable, however, and Show just has to stand there with a goofy look on his face while Shawn superkicks him. And Jericho hits that table on the floor from the beginning of the match, but misses the mark and doesn’t break it. Glad to see some mercy at work. And with the champs gone, HHH holds up the broken ladder and Shawn climbs for the belts at 22:35. Really it ended up being quite a pointless reign, but at least they were trying. There was obviously a lot of thought put into that finish, too. ***1/2

I’m pretty over this set now, but there’s still BLU RAY EXCLUSIVES. Don’t worry, I’m all hopped up on taurine and b-vitamins, so let’s hit it hard.

Syxx & Scott Hall v. Harlem Heat

From Nitro, July/97. They were doing Freebird rules with the Wolfpac at this point, but I don’t think this was for the tag titles anyway. Syxx gets a spinkick on Booker and drops the leg, but Booker spins up and puts him down with the sidekick. Stevie comes in and pounds on Hall in the corner, but Hall takes over on Booker and works the arm. The announcers completely ignore the match and talk about how Dennis Rodman is now a force in the sport because he armdragged Lex Luger. Seriously. But hey, the show did something like the second biggest buyrate in their history at that point, so maybe he should be a WON Hall of Fame candidate like Sting. The Heat take over on Hall in dull fashion while the announcers again just pay no attention to the match, talking about Konnan’s defection to the nWo now while Nash clowns at ringside from his wheelchair. The Heat clean house, but Nash miraculously recovers and nails Booker, which results in the Outsider Edge to finish at 9:00.

Kevin Nash v. The Rock

From Smackdown, March 21/02. What a weirdly random match to include on this set. They slug it out and Nash drops him with Snake Eyes. Now, this was a week after Wrestlemania, but Nash has always claimed that he was injured and thus unable to do the job to Steve Austin there. So it was apparently a very specific injury that allowed him work TV the week before and the week after the show. Nash pounds away in the corner with the help of Hall and tosses Rock to cut off a comeback. Nash with the devastating bearhug as poor Rock has to turn down the intensity about 14500 notches to not totally gobble Big Kev up for the entire match. And Rock finally makes the comeback, only to have Hall stagger in for the DQ at 7:10. ½* Also of note: Rock does the People’s Elbow away from the hard camera and gets himself fired from NXT. The Outsiders try the beatdown and Nash powerbombs Rock through the table, but Hogan makes the save after the fact. Almost as though he didn’t want to support Rock for some reason I can’t put my finger on. Hogan holds off the nWo alone, but X-Pac returns to the WWF in an nWo shirt and lays Hogan out with a chair as Michael Cole asks what he’s doing out there. Um, he’s clearly wearing an nWo shirt and attacking Hulk Hogan, was there some subtext I’m missing that needs further explanation?

Sledgehammer on a pole: HHH v. Kevin Nash

This was of course the final blowoff of the CM Punk v. John Cena feud at TLC 2011. To this day I don’t even understand what the storyline was supposed to be about or how they got from A to B to C. So yeah, the deal is that it’s a ladder match (A LADDER MATCH!) with Kevin Nash (KEVIN NASH!) and instead of a belt, there’s a sledgehammer, and because Nash can’t climb ladders it’s pinfall only. And no one in the creative division managed to veto this or raise objections in time to stop it from happening. And now they’re putting it on a DVD set! Nash with his sad dyed hair and goatee is just beyond pathetic here. Putting him in the Rumble for a quick nostalgia spot was one thing, but making us endure him in a ladder match is just cruel and unusual. Nash pounds away as I realize this was the last PPV appearance of HHH’s glorious locks before he went corporate for good. They brawl on the floor and HHH dives off the table, giving us all the highspots you’d expect from a Nash match and then some. Nash drops him on the railing, visibly wincing with every attempt to carry a 270 pound man on his bad knees, so HHH sends him into the post and they both have a rest. HHH is then nice enough to go for the knees so that Nash has a reason to sell them. So HHH smashes a giant metal ladder into Nash’s knees so that he can’t walk, and Cole is like “That’s why he’s known as the Cerebral Assassin!” Yes, HHH, master of subtlety. They do a goofy spot where HHH tries a figure-four with the ladder wrapped around Nash’s legs, but physics would like a word. And then he just lets it go. Because 18 ladders aren’t enough of a weapon, you have to get the sledgehammer, I guess. HHH bumps out of the ring, trying his damnedest to do this on his own. Nash takes over with a sideslam on the ladder as the crowd is just scary quiet for all of this. Nash slowly clears an announce table, but HHH reverses out of the powerbomb and we finally get a climbing attempt at 12:00 into this thing. Nash saves and poor HHH continues taking bumps to hide Nash, and then Kev goes under the ring for a table. Sadly, he makes the fatal error of pulling down his straps before trying anything, and HHH is able to climb again, since he’s the only person in the match physically capable of doing so. So Nash actually pulls out his big highspot by climbing the ladder himself and then falling through the table, which gives HHH time to look all intense and unhook his hammer. And HHH is so angry about whatever nebulous thing that Nash did in storyline that he just has to beat on him with the hammer to the point where Nash can’t even flip his hair anymore. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE and Nash can’t even get his head down to sell the move properly. The crowd wants one more, but I’m not on board with anything that lengthens this match. So HHH hits him in the face with the hammer and pins him at 18:08. What a payoff to the Summer of Punk! *

And finally, from Wrestlemania 31…

HHH v. Sting

Sting’s entrance just lacks something in the bright sunlight. Hard to be mysterious at four in the afternoon, I guess. Meanwhile, HHH’s entrance is a literal commercial for the new Terminator movie. And the announcers are making fun of WCW?!? Well, credit to HHH for being willing to go out and embarrass himself with this shit. They trade shoulderblocks to start and Sting dropkicks him into the corner, but HHH slugs him down. Sting no-sells the facebuster, but HHH bails as JBL continues randomly bouncing between heel and babyface. Back in, Sting dumps him, but debuts the “dive at the railing and miss” spot. Back in, HHH with a suplex for two. The announcers constantly burying WCW on commentary is really irritating. You won the war FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Get over it. HHH with the chinlock and some really loud spot-calling, and a spinebuster gets two. HHH has some kind of really ugly bruise on his thigh and it’s kind of scary. Sting fights back and the feed suddenly jumps to the Scorpion Deathlock, but now D-X (New Age Outlaws & X-Pac) runs in and Sting fights them off. I think it would be more awesome if DX was played by the chicks in the Max Landis video. And then Sting hits them with a dive from the top, which is a sight to behold. Back in, KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. HHH grabs his trusty sledgehammer, but now the New World Order (Hogan, Nash and Hall) does the world’s slowest run-in and the Scorpion Deathdrop gets two. Scorpion Deathlock while the senior citizens battle at ringside, but HHH makes the ropes. And then Shawn Michaels comes in to superkick Sting in the name of DX, but that only gets two. So it’s the sledgehammer v. bat showdown, and the hammer breaks under the awesome force of WCW’s bat. Stinger splash, but HHH manages one last sledgehammer for the pin at 18:16. Everyone who thought HHH was laying down here were being very naïve. This was more of a wacky spectacle than a match, but it was fine for what it was. ** I suspect it’ll get a lot of love for all the nostalgia stuff, which is also fine. I’m not saying it wasn’t neat to have D-X facing off against the nWo at Wrestlemania, but let’s not get silly about it.

The Pulse

I’d say check out the surprisingly good documentary portion on the WWE Network when it gets there, but the match selection is really suspect and mostly comes across as a series of people randomly picking times where the Kliq members interacted, rather than anything meaningful. And as usual, there’s almost no representation from WCW, even during the time when they were supposedly running the business from both sides!

Recommendation to avoid.