Mike Reviews – WWF Backlash 1999 + Sunday Night HeAT (25/04/1999)

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I reviewed WCW’s April 99 offering last week, so I decided I’d take a glance at what the WWF was doing at the same time, and as an additional bonus I’ll also be watching the Sunday Night HeAT preview show prior to the pay per view portion of the event.

WrestleMania XV had been a bit of a bust for the WWF, as last minute changes to the match card destroyed a chunk of interesting storylines and most of the bouts failed to deliver. It was crash TV of the Attitude Era at its absolute worst.

Thankfully the Main Event between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin was at least a good match, and fans were suitably interested in seeing the two rematch with one another. To set that up The Rock and Shane McMahon teamed up to steal Stone Cold’s “Smoking Skull” Title belt, and then Rock upped the ante even further by flinging Austin into a river!

As for the under card, The Undertaker had been making unwanted advances to Vince McMahon’s daughter Stephanie, so Vince had enlisted the help of Ken Shamrock to try and take Undertaker down. Meanwhile, Triple H had turned on D-X to go Corporate, setting up a match with former stablemate X-Pac.

The other major match of the under card was Big Show Vs Mankind, with Mankind looking for payback on Show after the big man sent him to the hospital at Mania. Big Show had just started working as a babyface though, so they would do battle in a Boiler Room Brawl so as to ensure that Big Show wouldn’t get booed by the fans.

These top matches, combined with what looked to be a solid selection of bouts elsewhere on the card, suggested that Backlash would be one of the WWF’s better pay per view offerings of 99, but would they stick the landing?

Let’s read on and find out!

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Mike Reviews – Southwest Championship Wrestling – August 1983

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Chael Sonnen’s Coke Dealer suggested giving this a go in the comments section last week, so I had a search over on YouTube and picked a show at random. You can watch along with me if you like by clicking HERE.

Southwest Championship Wrestling was based out of San Antonio and run by Joe Blanchard (The father of Tully and grandfather of Tessa). Southwest was apparently the first ever promotion to get a slot on the USA Network, but Vince McMahon ended up bring an end to that by flashing his nickers at USA and getting Southwest dropped for All American Wrestling.

I have no idea what to expect here, so let’s watch some chuffing wrestling and find out!

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Mike Reviews – WCW Spring Stampede 1999 (11/04/1999)

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I was a bit rough on ol’ WCW a couple of weeks back in a Stinker Review, so I thought I’d redress the balance a bit and review one of their notable good shows in the form of Spring Stampede 99. WCW actually had a relatively solid start to 99 pay per view wise, with Souled Out, SuperBrawl IX and Uncensored all featuring some good wrestling, even if some of the booking was pretty head scratching.

For instance, WCW decided to close Uncensored with Ric Flair winning the World Title and the Presidency of the company (something most of the fans would likely be cool with) but also had him go heel in the process. This was mostly down to Flair himself pushing hard for the heel turn as he felt he did his best work that way, but it was still an odd way to take the storyline, especially as Flair had been so beloved since his return in the autumn of 98 and having a babyface authority figure was a nice change of pace after yonks of having a heel one in the form of Eric Bischoff.

Thus not only did Flair go heel but so did his Horsemen cohorts of Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Arn Anderson, which certainly improved the tag division at least but also kind of felt weird too as they’d just done a big babyface quest for the belts and finally won them at Uncensored, only to now go heel. This did lead to a feud between The Horsemen and Raven/Saturn though, which led to a series of great matches and got even better once Rey Mysterio Jr and Kidman were added to the mix.

Flair’s first pay per view Title defence was to be at Spring Stampede, as he’d defend the belt in a four way against freshly face turned Hogan as well as Sting and Diamond Dallas Page. Meanwhile, the big feud on the under card was Goldberg trying to avenge his Starrcade loss to Kevin Nash, which was at least a story the fans could get their teeth into. Combined with what looked to be a solid under card from a wrestling perspective, Spring Stampede promised to be a really good show, but could WCW deliver on the night?

Let’s watch on and find out!

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Mike Reviews – Continental Wrestling (28/10/1989)

I wasn’t really feeling All Japan this week, so I decided to try something different. We might go back to it, we might not, I’ll see how I feel in a few weeks.

This week we’re going for something a bit different, in the form of Continental Wrestling, which was a territory operating out of Knoxville and Dotham that ran from the 50’s to the 80’s before finally going out of business in 1989.

The main reason I chose this particular episode is that it has a young Mick Foley working in one of his first territories, and I believe it was in Continental that he invented the famed “Nestea Plunge” bump off the apron, which of course led to him taking it night after night for a while, because wrestling.

He was also in World Class/USWA around this time as well though and I haven’t sat down to re-read “Have A Nice Day” in a while, so he might have invented it there instead, but he was still young in his career at this stage at any rate, so this should hopefully be an interesting time capsule.

If you’d like to watch along with me you can do by clicking HERE

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Mike Reviews – EVOLVE 8 “Style Battle” (20/05/2011)

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Happy Easter if you’re into that sort of thing

Something new this week as I review an EVOLVE show for the first time. I decided to do this one because it’s got an interesting premise of an 8 man tournament where every wrestler supposedly brings a different wrestling style to the party, which should hopefully mean we get some fun contests as “styles make fights” as they say.

I’ve actually watched this show before but that was a LONG time ago and I honestly don’t remember who even wins the tournament, so it will hopefully all be fresh for me again. It also features Brodie Lee and I felt like watching something with him involved because I miss him and his wild marauding ways.

For those not au fait with EVOLVE, it was created in 2010 by Gabe Sapolsky after Gabe had left ROH. The early days of the company had more of a classic UFC feel to them, as everyone entered to the same entrance track and there was more of a focus on shoot styled grapplers like Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly.

My friend and I were actually going through a period where this was “our” company when it first started up, as we’d both hopped aboard the ROH train once the company had already been around for a year, so we decided that we’d be with EVOLVE from the very start just in case it happened to become the “new” ROH. We of course fell off that waggon after a couple of years and I haven’t personally watched an EVOLVE show since something like 2013, and the company itself was actually bought by WWE in 2020 after a few years of being a feeder promotion for it.

Anyway, let’s set the way back machine to 2011 and enjoy ourselves some Style Battle!

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Mike Reviews Shows Considered To Be Stinkers – WCW Bash At The Beach 1999 (11/07/1999)

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Back with another reader request this time, courtesy of Sean Mooney, as we dive into the deep toxic waters of World Championship Wrestling as it sunk to its eventual doom. 1998 was when the company initially hit the iceberg but they still did great business that year and it wasn’t until 1999 reared its ugly head that it became clear just how waterlogged the company was getting.

The WWF was not only still top of the American Pro Wrestling food chain in the summer of 1999, but they’d also turned The Rock babyface to gigantic financial returns and were in the midst of preparing the likes of Triple H and Test for elevation up the card (It worked out better for one of those two obviously). They were also in the midst of finally taking the spotlight off the Stone Cold Vs Vince McMahon feud for a bit with Vince set to take a few months off TV, thus keeping things fresh atop the card.

By comparison, WCW was so stale that even most ducks wouldn’t touch it if you took it down the local pond. The New World Order storyline had long since run its course and basically didn’t even really exist anymore outside of a few low ranking guys like Vincent and Horace. The Main Event scene was being built around the usual collection of veterans, Diamond Dallas Page was terrorising the mid-card with his Jersey Triad stable and Ric Flair and Roddy Piper were trying to turn the clock back to the mid-80’s so that they could be conniving villainous heels again, when all the crowd wanted to do was cheer them.

Some efforts were being made to push the likes of Buff Bagwell, Chris Benoit and Perry Saturn, but outside of Flair and Piper none of the top guys were willing to put those guys over, and there were only so many jobs Flair could do for guys like that until it started to really lose its effectiveness. Randy Savage had returned and had actually gotten kind of over as a rebellious babyface, so WCW of course promptly turned him heel so that he could feud with Kevin Nash over the World Title, and even decided to punish the fan base even further by bringing Sid Vicious back to the promotion.

The main feuds coming into this show were DDP and The Triad/Benoit and Saturn, Piper and Flair/Bagwell, Savage/Nash and The West Texas Rednecks/Filthy Animals. There were at least some good matches going on in places, but in most cases the wrong people were going over and the face/heel alignments were all out of whack. For instance, The Rednecks were massively outnumbered and were a funny entertaining act whilst The Animals were insufferable jerks who often abused their numbers advantage, yet The Animals were the ones supposed to be the faces!

All in all the company was on its arse and things eventually got so bad that WCW decided to roll the dice on Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara in the hopes that they could turn it around, which had inevitable results.

However, with that all being said, is Bash At The Beach 1999 really that awful? Maybe in a bubble the show has enough good stuff on it that it’s actually enjoyable? I remember I actually had the VHS for this show back in the day as it was one of the few shows from 99 that WCW actually gave a proper home video release here in the UK, so I’ve probably seen it more than most. Will a tinge of nostalgia help me overcome the worse elements of the show?

There’s still time by the way to put in suggestions for what May’s Stinker Review is going to be. I’ll recap what we currently have in the hat at the end of the this review, so shout up in the comments section if you’d like to add a suggestion of your own. April’s Stinker review will be one of my choosing and I’ll announce what May’s is going to be at the end of that review.

Is this show really a stinker? Let’s watch on and find out!

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Mike Reviews – WWF WrestleMania III (29/03/1987)

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I have a Stinker Review scheduled for next week, so I decided I would review something good and historical this week to take the edge off my impending doom, thus we’re going to watch WrestleMania III!

For those of you that aren’t familiar, this was one of the biggest events in WWF history, built around the unfathomable heel turn of long-time babyface Andre The Giant, as manager Bobby Heenan got in his ear and convinced him to challenge WWF Champ Hulk Hogan for the belt. This was of course a gigantic bout (pardon the pun) and the WWF ended up coaxing thousands of fans to part with their hard earned cash to attend the show at the enormous Pontiac Silverdome.

The actual attendance for the show is disputed, with the WWF claiming 93,000 whereas promotor of the event Zane Bresloff claimed it was closer to 78,000. Regardless of which version is correct (My personal view is that the answer likely falls somewhere in the middle) A LOT of people showed up to watch dudes pretend to fight one another, so ultimately I don’t think it really matters.

I’m watching the “Championship Edition” DVD version of the event as opposed to the one on the WWE Network, so if there are any key differences between what I’m watching and what’s on there than that’s why. The DVD comes with a host of extras and the complete run-time of the entire two disc collection is bordering on 7 hours. This version also comes with pop-up factoids and comes in a neat special black DVD case, so if you haven’t completely shunned physical media and fancy having something to stick on your shelf then this could be the way to go.

Anyway, I don’t think we need too much preamble being that this is Mania III and all, so let’s just watch some chuffing wrestling eh?

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Mike Reviews – WCW Uncensored 1997 (16/03/1997)

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Last week we had a look at an episode of WWF Monday Night Raw from March 1997, so this week why don’t we have a look at the other show in town to see what WCW was up to during this period? I’ve actually watched this show quite a bit as I had it on bootleg DVD in the pre-Network days (Getting WCW pay per views in the UK was a nightmare for a long period as the official releases were super hard to track down. Thankfully Extreme Central UK in Manchester had this one for sale) and thus used to dip into it quite a bit.

WCW was easily atop the American Wrestling Mountain in 97 owing to the hot New World Order storyline, fantastic wrestling in the mid-card and the fact the WWF kept bungling any real attempt at a fight back. Of course eventually the New World Order would outstay their welcome, the great wrestlers in the mid-card would never get out of the mid-card and the WWF would stumble across the hottest feud in wrestling with Stone Cold Vs Mr. McMahon, but until then WCW was the undisputed king of Yank Grappling.

Uncensored was traditionally the WCW show where they threw stuff at the wall to see what would stick, with the “non-sanctioned” motif allowing them to book some slightly more out there matches than they would on other events (Such as the cage match debacle from the 1996 event). In keeping with that theme, the Main Event of this show is a big battle royal where WCW takes on both the nWo and The Horsemen. Originally The Horsemen team was supposed to be Roddy Piper and a slew of random guys, but that died a death in the ratings so Piper just recruited The Horsemen instead.

There isn’t really much in the way of big marquee bouts besides that one, with Rey Mysterio Jr actually finding himself in the Semi-Main, which was super rare back during this time period. However, if memory serves there are a couple of really good bouts on the under card and there’s a BIG angle to close out the show, so there should be plenty for us to get our teeth into!

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Mike Reviews – WWF Monday Night Raw 17th March 1997

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Seeing as we’re approaching WrestleMania later in the month, I decided to go back and review the go-home show for WrestleMania 13, seeing as it features quite a famous show closing moment. Mania 13 isn’t always well regarded, but it’s got a couple of good matches buried in amongst the early 97 malaise, along with an excellent match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin. I’ve actually reviewed it before and you can read what I thought if you like by clicking right HERE.

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Mike Reviews – All Japan Pro Wrestling TV (02/03/1985)

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More from All Japan courtesy of Roy Lucier over on YouTube.

Next week is due to be an extended special episode of the show due to the company having a big show in Tokyo that day, so this week would kind of be the go-home show in that case.

The Main Event this week is more of the Riki Choshu and his pals Vs All Japan storyline, with a certain chap known as Bruiser Brody returning for the second match.

So yeah, lots of interesting stuff this week, so let’s get our collective teeth into it!

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Mike Reviews Shows Considered To Be Stinkers – ECW Wrestlepalooza 1998 (03/05/1998)

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Back again with another Stinker review, with us taking a foray into the world of Extreme for the first time with this feature (I have reviewed one of the WWE ECW shows before, but COME ON). For those of you who haven’t read one of these before, what I do is review a show that has a reputation for being stinky in an effort to decide whether it deserves that bad rap or not.

In January we did a reader request and we’ll be doing the same for March’s review as well when we look at WCW Bash at the Beach 1999. April will be my personal choice and then May’s review will be a reader request again, so if you have a show that you want added to the potential list then mention it in the comments and I’ll make sure it’s in the hat when I do the draw. I’ll reveal which lucky show has “won” in April’s review.

Wrestlepalooza was ECW’s fifth attempt at running pay per views, and to say their PPV output prior to this had been a mixed bag would be an understatement. Barely Legal 97 had been a good solid effort, whilst Hardcore Heaven 97 had been an okayish show marred by some poor production and a pokey looking venue. November to Remember 97 had probably been the most professional looking effort but had suffered from a boring Main Event and a catastrophic mess of a match between Sabu and The Sandman. Living Dangerously 98 is a show I’ve actually reviewed before and at least featured a couple of really good matches, including one between Taz and Bam Bam Bigelow.

That event had ended with Al Snow pinning ECW World Champ Shane Douglas in a tag match, which not surprisingly led to him earning himself a Title shot for Wrestlepalooza. Bigelow had defeated Taz for the TV Title at Living Dangerously but had since lost the belt to Rob Van Dam in a fantastic match from Buffalo on Hardcore TV (Well worth hunting that one down). This had sowed further dissension between RVD and his long time tag partner/hated rival Sabu, as Sabu was miffed that RVD had won the belt when he was really just supposed to have softened Bigelow up so that Sabu could win the belt from him at a later date.

Thus Wrestlepalooza had a Semi-Main of RVD defending the TV Title against Sabu and a Main Event of Douglas defending the ECW Title against Snow. If both those matches delivered and the under-card was mostly fine, then the show would be an easy thumbs up on the slightly more generous ECW sliding-scale. Let’s see if that’s the case!

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Mike Reviews – All Japan Pro Wrestling TV (23/02/1985)

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More from the All Japan vaults, courtesy of Roy Lucier over on a little place called YouTube.

Last week we had a great tag match featuring Riki Choshu and Genichiro Tenryu that had an atrocious non-finish but was hot sauce up to that point, followed by a less than stellar Main Event that featured a rare clean finish when Giant Baba submitted Tiger Jeet Singh. However, both feuds are continuing and there’s also the small factor of BRUISER BRODY being on the show this week.

So yeah, that’s going to happen. How’s about we watch some chuffing wrestling?

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Mike Reviews – SuperBrawl III (21/02/1993)

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It’s another Stinker review next week, so as is usually the case I’ve decided to watch a show I actually like this week because I sometimes deserve nice things too!

WCW was still a distant second to the WWF when this show took place, but they had a few things going for them that might have led to a concerted revival in their fortunes. Firstly, Bill Watts’ reign of terror had finally come to an end after his big mouth had written a racist cheque that Turner wasn’t prepared to cash, so they would be permitted to present a more modern product again. Secondly, Ric Flair was returning to WCW after a stint in the WWF, which would hopefully give the company a much needed shot in the arm. Thirdly, British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith had climbed aboard the WCW ship after being booted out of the WWF for a supposed drug failure, meaning that WCW could grab themselves a stronger foothold in Europe, which had become a lucrative territory for the WWF in recent years.

Of course, the new management brought with them a slew of additional issues and it took Flair stepping up and bailing the company out at Starrcade later that year for WCW to see out 1993 in one piece, which led to them bringing in Hulk Hogan to the company in 1994. However, for their first pay per view effort of 1993, WCW more than delivered.

The Main Event for this show is a strap match between Vader and Sting (Set up by Sting visiting Vader in his White Castle of Fear. No, I’m not kidding) along with The Great Muta flying in to defend the NWA Title against Barry Windham. In addition to that we’ve got The Heavenly Bodies and Rock ‘n’ Roll Express paying WCW a visit from Smokey Mountain Wrestling in one of the last deals that Watts brokered before his run came to an end.

So without further ado, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!

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Mike Reviews – All Japan Pro Wrestling TV (16/02/1985)

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Back again with some All Japan TV, courtesy of Roy Lucier over on the Tube of You.

Last week was the usual All Japan show from 1985, in that we got some good wrestling and some strong storyline advancement, but we also got some terrible finishes to go along with them.

This week we have a singles match between Giant Baba and Tiger Jeet Singh as the Main Event, which has potential to be absolutely horrible. Who knows though, maybe we’ll get lucky and the match might be watchable?

Let’s watch on and find out!

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Mike’s Mini Review – Pro Wrestling NOAH – Destination Back To Budokan! (12/02/2021)

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NOAH returned to the Nippon Budokan on Friday, site of some of their bigger shows from back in the company’s heyday. I’ve got quite a bit on my plate at the moment so I can’t do a full on review for it, but I have watched it and I wanted to give some thoughts on it in the form of a Mini Review as some posters expressed an interest.

I’ll be doing this more in a highlight form, where I don’t go in-depth on the matches and instead just give some thoughts on each match and some general opinions without going into deeper detail. If I get a chance down the line I might give this one a proper full review. I picked the show up on FITE for £19.99 (Not sure of what the price will be outside the UK) and it features English commentary from Stuart Fulton and Mark Pickering, who did their usual good job. They’re a low-key good commentary team and I’m glad FITE has been sticking with them. Thankfully they didn’t try the experiment of pairing them up with Muhammed Yone this time, which led to the commentary flowing much better.

I really like the English graphics for the wrestlers too, as it helps someone slightly less familiar with the NOAH product, such as me, to know who everyone is. They do set the names out surname first though, as is the way it’s done over in Japan, so bare that in mind if you watch the show as it takes a second for your mind to adjust.

Anyway, let’s see how the show was!

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Mike Reviews – WWF St Valentine’s Day Massacre In Your House (14/02/1999)

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Last week we looked at the 14/02/99 episode of Sunday Night HeAT, which was essentially a pre-game show for this pay per view, so this week we’ll go and review the event itself seeing as we’re a day away from Valentine’s Day in real life anyway. I hope you have as enjoyable a Valentine’s Day as possible, especially if you can share it with a special someone.

This show was notable for being the first proper pay per view singles match between long-time enemies Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon. They’d met one another in the Royal Rumble, but this time it was scheduled to be one on one, with a cage being set up to ensure no one would be able to help Vince out.

Surprisingly it didn’t do as big a buy rate as expected when you consider how hot the feud was, but it was sandwiched between the Rumble and WrestleMania XV, so that might have had an effect on whether people wanted to purchase it or not.

I didn’t have satellite TV at the time, which was the only way to watch the WWF in the UK until Channel 4 started showing HeAT in 2000, so I didn’t see this show live at the time but I did eventually get the VHS and watched it quite a bit. We’ll see if that nostalgia gives the show a bit of a boost for me or not.

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