Best Sets

Played WWF No Mercy for the first time in a long time got me thinking: probably the only downside of the WWE’s entry into the HD era (2007 I think) is the phasing-out of entrance set pieces. Almost every entrance set piece now consists of just LCD walls and panels. Sucks, too, because the entrance sets really emphasized the theatrics about pro wrestling.  Everything looks so bland, wrestling sucks nowaday, no characters etc etc etc. Wanted to know the favorite entrance sets of yours and readers of the blogs.  Two of the best, I think, were Royal Rumble 2000 and Backlash 2000, two that were faithfully recreated in WWF No Mercy.  They were both ingenious and extremely visual.  Not to exclude WCW, the Bash at the Beach set was always fun.

 

Oh, WCW had some awesome set visuals.  The Hog Wild set was great, the Spring Break poolside ones were tremendous (can you imagine what the current WWE games could do with that?), the original Spring Stampede sets with the inventive cowboy themes…all good stuff that ended up getting homogenized into the Russo era.  For WWE, I always liked the Backlash set with the giant swinging sickles, and the Over the Edge set where Austin and Dude Love brawled into the junkyard was fabulous too.  Nowadays, as noted, there’s barely any whimsy to them aside from new ways to put things on giant video screens.

Best Sets

Played WWF No Mercy for the first time in a long time got me thinking: probably the only downside of the WWE’s entry into the HD era (2007 I think) is the phasing-out of entrance set pieces. Almost every entrance set piece now consists of just LCD walls and panels. Sucks, too, because the entrance sets really emphasized the theatrics about pro wrestling.  Everything looks so bland, wrestling sucks nowaday, no characters etc etc etc. Wanted to know the favorite entrance sets of yours and readers of the blogs.  Two of the best, I think, were Royal Rumble 2000 and Backlash 2000, two that were faithfully recreated in WWF No Mercy.  They were both ingenious and extremely visual.  Not to exclude WCW, the Bash at the Beach set was always fun.

 

Oh, WCW had some awesome set visuals.  The Hog Wild set was great, the Spring Break poolside ones were tremendous (can you imagine what the current WWE games could do with that?), the original Spring Stampede sets with the inventive cowboy themes…all good stuff that ended up getting homogenized into the Russo era.  For WWE, I always liked the Backlash set with the giant swinging sickles, and the Over the Edge set where Austin and Dude Love brawled into the junkyard was fabulous too.  Nowadays, as noted, there’s barely any whimsy to them aside from new ways to put things on giant video screens.

Best Sets

Played WWF No Mercy for the first time in a long time got me thinking: probably the only downside of the WWE’s entry into the HD era (2007 I think) is the phasing-out of entrance set pieces. Almost every entrance set piece now consists of just LCD walls and panels. Sucks, too, because the entrance sets really emphasized the theatrics about pro wrestling.  Everything looks so bland, wrestling sucks nowaday, no characters etc etc etc. Wanted to know the favorite entrance sets of yours and readers of the blogs.  Two of the best, I think, were Royal Rumble 2000 and Backlash 2000, two that were faithfully recreated in WWF No Mercy.  They were both ingenious and extremely visual.  Not to exclude WCW, the Bash at the Beach set was always fun.

 

Oh, WCW had some awesome set visuals.  The Hog Wild set was great, the Spring Break poolside ones were tremendous (can you imagine what the current WWE games could do with that?), the original Spring Stampede sets with the inventive cowboy themes…all good stuff that ended up getting homogenized into the Russo era.  For WWE, I always liked the Backlash set with the giant swinging sickles, and the Over the Edge set where Austin and Dude Love brawled into the junkyard was fabulous too.  Nowadays, as noted, there’s barely any whimsy to them aside from new ways to put things on giant video screens.

Best Sets

Played WWF No Mercy for the first time in a long time got me thinking: probably the only downside of the WWE’s entry into the HD era (2007 I think) is the phasing-out of entrance set pieces. Almost every entrance set piece now consists of just LCD walls and panels. Sucks, too, because the entrance sets really emphasized the theatrics about pro wrestling.  Everything looks so bland, wrestling sucks nowaday, no characters etc etc etc. Wanted to know the favorite entrance sets of yours and readers of the blogs.  Two of the best, I think, were Royal Rumble 2000 and Backlash 2000, two that were faithfully recreated in WWF No Mercy.  They were both ingenious and extremely visual.  Not to exclude WCW, the Bash at the Beach set was always fun.

 

Oh, WCW had some awesome set visuals.  The Hog Wild set was great, the Spring Break poolside ones were tremendous (can you imagine what the current WWE games could do with that?), the original Spring Stampede sets with the inventive cowboy themes…all good stuff that ended up getting homogenized into the Russo era.  For WWE, I always liked the Backlash set with the giant swinging sickles, and the Over the Edge set where Austin and Dude Love brawled into the junkyard was fabulous too.  Nowadays, as noted, there’s barely any whimsy to them aside from new ways to put things on giant video screens.

World Titles

Scott,

Quick question regarding the ‘World Titles’:

If WWE intended on doing the brand extension and carrying a pair of ‘World Titles’, should they have just passed on the Undisputed/Unified title in late 2001?  They would not have needed to call it the WCW Championship, just take it back to World Heavyweight Championship (since the lineage predated ‘WCW’ anyway).  Unifying the titles at a throwaway PPV in December 2001, only to invent a new one for HHH by late summer 2002 seemed a bit pointless, if the intention was to have separate brands with separate titles anyway.

 

I know this will probably come as a huge shock, but WWE is not exactly known historically as a company that thinks particularly far in advance.  I can tell you that there was zero indication of this coming in the Observers around 2001, and it was basically a thing that they decided one week would happen, and stuck around for a decade afterwards.  The original intention was not to have a RAW World title, but to use HHH to elevate the IC title (which he held in mid-2001, you’ll recall) and then unify it with all the secondary titles to create a SUPER TITLE which would act as the RAW belt.  Didn’t work out that way, of course, although part of the plan was enacted in 2002 when RVD unified the Hardcore and Euro titles into the IC title, and then ended up losing to HHH anyway.

 

 

World Titles

Scott,

Quick question regarding the ‘World Titles’:

If WWE intended on doing the brand extension and carrying a pair of ‘World Titles’, should they have just passed on the Undisputed/Unified title in late 2001?  They would not have needed to call it the WCW Championship, just take it back to World Heavyweight Championship (since the lineage predated ‘WCW’ anyway).  Unifying the titles at a throwaway PPV in December 2001, only to invent a new one for HHH by late summer 2002 seemed a bit pointless, if the intention was to have separate brands with separate titles anyway.

 

I know this will probably come as a huge shock, but WWE is not exactly known historically as a company that thinks particularly far in advance.  I can tell you that there was zero indication of this coming in the Observers around 2001, and it was basically a thing that they decided one week would happen, and stuck around for a decade afterwards.  The original intention was not to have a RAW World title, but to use HHH to elevate the IC title (which he held in mid-2001, you’ll recall) and then unify it with all the secondary titles to create a SUPER TITLE which would act as the RAW belt.  Didn’t work out that way, of course, although part of the plan was enacted in 2002 when RVD unified the Hardcore and Euro titles into the IC title, and then ended up losing to HHH anyway.

 

 

World Titles

Scott,

Quick question regarding the ‘World Titles’:

If WWE intended on doing the brand extension and carrying a pair of ‘World Titles’, should they have just passed on the Undisputed/Unified title in late 2001?  They would not have needed to call it the WCW Championship, just take it back to World Heavyweight Championship (since the lineage predated ‘WCW’ anyway).  Unifying the titles at a throwaway PPV in December 2001, only to invent a new one for HHH by late summer 2002 seemed a bit pointless, if the intention was to have separate brands with separate titles anyway.

 

I know this will probably come as a huge shock, but WWE is not exactly known historically as a company that thinks particularly far in advance.  I can tell you that there was zero indication of this coming in the Observers around 2001, and it was basically a thing that they decided one week would happen, and stuck around for a decade afterwards.  The original intention was not to have a RAW World title, but to use HHH to elevate the IC title (which he held in mid-2001, you’ll recall) and then unify it with all the secondary titles to create a SUPER TITLE which would act as the RAW belt.  Didn’t work out that way, of course, although part of the plan was enacted in 2002 when RVD unified the Hardcore and Euro titles into the IC title, and then ended up losing to HHH anyway.

 

 

World Titles

Scott,

Quick question regarding the ‘World Titles’:

If WWE intended on doing the brand extension and carrying a pair of ‘World Titles’, should they have just passed on the Undisputed/Unified title in late 2001?  They would not have needed to call it the WCW Championship, just take it back to World Heavyweight Championship (since the lineage predated ‘WCW’ anyway).  Unifying the titles at a throwaway PPV in December 2001, only to invent a new one for HHH by late summer 2002 seemed a bit pointless, if the intention was to have separate brands with separate titles anyway.

 

I know this will probably come as a huge shock, but WWE is not exactly known historically as a company that thinks particularly far in advance.  I can tell you that there was zero indication of this coming in the Observers around 2001, and it was basically a thing that they decided one week would happen, and stuck around for a decade afterwards.  The original intention was not to have a RAW World title, but to use HHH to elevate the IC title (which he held in mid-2001, you’ll recall) and then unify it with all the secondary titles to create a SUPER TITLE which would act as the RAW belt.  Didn’t work out that way, of course, although part of the plan was enacted in 2002 when RVD unified the Hardcore and Euro titles into the IC title, and then ended up losing to HHH anyway.

 

 

World Titles

Scott,

Quick question regarding the ‘World Titles’:

If WWE intended on doing the brand extension and carrying a pair of ‘World Titles’, should they have just passed on the Undisputed/Unified title in late 2001?  They would not have needed to call it the WCW Championship, just take it back to World Heavyweight Championship (since the lineage predated ‘WCW’ anyway).  Unifying the titles at a throwaway PPV in December 2001, only to invent a new one for HHH by late summer 2002 seemed a bit pointless, if the intention was to have separate brands with separate titles anyway.

 

I know this will probably come as a huge shock, but WWE is not exactly known historically as a company that thinks particularly far in advance.  I can tell you that there was zero indication of this coming in the Observers around 2001, and it was basically a thing that they decided one week would happen, and stuck around for a decade afterwards.  The original intention was not to have a RAW World title, but to use HHH to elevate the IC title (which he held in mid-2001, you’ll recall) and then unify it with all the secondary titles to create a SUPER TITLE which would act as the RAW belt.  Didn’t work out that way, of course, although part of the plan was enacted in 2002 when RVD unified the Hardcore and Euro titles into the IC title, and then ended up losing to HHH anyway.

 

 

World Titles

Scott,

Quick question regarding the ‘World Titles’:

If WWE intended on doing the brand extension and carrying a pair of ‘World Titles’, should they have just passed on the Undisputed/Unified title in late 2001?  They would not have needed to call it the WCW Championship, just take it back to World Heavyweight Championship (since the lineage predated ‘WCW’ anyway).  Unifying the titles at a throwaway PPV in December 2001, only to invent a new one for HHH by late summer 2002 seemed a bit pointless, if the intention was to have separate brands with separate titles anyway.

 

I know this will probably come as a huge shock, but WWE is not exactly known historically as a company that thinks particularly far in advance.  I can tell you that there was zero indication of this coming in the Observers around 2001, and it was basically a thing that they decided one week would happen, and stuck around for a decade afterwards.  The original intention was not to have a RAW World title, but to use HHH to elevate the IC title (which he held in mid-2001, you’ll recall) and then unify it with all the secondary titles to create a SUPER TITLE which would act as the RAW belt.  Didn’t work out that way, of course, although part of the plan was enacted in 2002 when RVD unified the Hardcore and Euro titles into the IC title, and then ended up losing to HHH anyway.

 

 

World Titles

Scott,

Quick question regarding the ‘World Titles’:

If WWE intended on doing the brand extension and carrying a pair of ‘World Titles’, should they have just passed on the Undisputed/Unified title in late 2001?  They would not have needed to call it the WCW Championship, just take it back to World Heavyweight Championship (since the lineage predated ‘WCW’ anyway).  Unifying the titles at a throwaway PPV in December 2001, only to invent a new one for HHH by late summer 2002 seemed a bit pointless, if the intention was to have separate brands with separate titles anyway.

 

I know this will probably come as a huge shock, but WWE is not exactly known historically as a company that thinks particularly far in advance.  I can tell you that there was zero indication of this coming in the Observers around 2001, and it was basically a thing that they decided one week would happen, and stuck around for a decade afterwards.  The original intention was not to have a RAW World title, but to use HHH to elevate the IC title (which he held in mid-2001, you’ll recall) and then unify it with all the secondary titles to create a SUPER TITLE which would act as the RAW belt.  Didn’t work out that way, of course, although part of the plan was enacted in 2002 when RVD unified the Hardcore and Euro titles into the IC title, and then ended up losing to HHH anyway.

 

 

Wrestlemania Countdown: 13

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 13

(2012 Scott sez:  I had thought there was a later version of this rant, but apparently I’ve only done it once.  This was definitely an off-year for the show in general, as it was promoted essentially like just another PPV on the schedule and as such made it easy for me to pass up.)  

– Here’s an interesting bit: Before Zen’s copy of WM13, there’s a copy of Bret Hart’s tirade from Albany where he loses to Sid and then goes off on a curse-filled rant about getting screwed while Vince looks on. Eerily prescient of what would happen at Survivor Series later that year.

– Live from Chicago, Illinois.  Original airdate:  March 24, 1997

– Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon.

Free-For-All match: Flash Funk v. Billy Gunn.

This is only included here because I find it amazing that Gunn went from nothing low-midcarder to “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, DX member and major star with catchphrase. (And then back to midcarder again) This is a total nothing time-waster as Gunn spends most of it chinlocking Scorpio. I make sure to bug my roommate about wearing his hair exactly like Gunn. This was pre-Rockabilly, btw. That would be the *next* PPV. Match gets moderately good at the end as Scorp makes the comeback with a victory roll off the top rope, something which I haven’t seen before or since. A moonsault hits the knees, however. Gunn goes to the top and gets crotched, yet pulls out a tornado DDT for the pin. Now *there’s* a good finisher for him today. Not a bad match. **

Opening match proper: The Headbangers v. The Blackjacks v. Furnas & Lafon v. The Godwinns.

The winners get a tag title shot at some indeterminate time in the future, which never comes into play. Hmm, there’s two members of the Ministry of Darkness here: Phineas Godwinn, who would become known as Mideon, and Bradshaw, who would become known as Bradshaw. No one in the ring is over in the standard sense of the word. As a rough guide, the periods with {Furnas or Lafon or Mosh or Thrasher} v. {Not Godwinns} are quite watchable, and the rest is not. Blackjacks and Furnas/Lafon get themselves disqualified fairly quickly, leaving the epic Headbangers/Godwinns feud to reach it’s zenith. Mosh should jump to WCW and become Saturn’s partner. He’s got the look and the music…hey, this *is* a little coincidental, isn’t it? (In fact, Mosh got repackaged as Beaver Cleavage and then as D-Lo Brown’s loser partner, so maybe he should have done that after all.)  Crowd is dead for this. The Headbangers have the gall to work in a highspot to boost it a 1/2*, with Mosh doing a springboard bodypress to send Henry to the floor, then Rocket-Launching Thrasher onto Henry on the floor. Thrasher tries a moonsault back in the ring but misses. A pier-six erupts and Mosh hits a cannonball on Phineas for the pin. Oddly enough, at Badd Blood, Mosh would try that very spot and get powerbombed to lose the tag titles to the Godwinns. Ah, yes, the announcers refresh my memory by pointing out that the Bangers will meet Owen and Bulldog the next night on RAW. The match ended up being nothing. (Much like all four teams in the match, no disrespect to the dead, of course.)  **

– Brian Pillman and Sunny hype the hotline. Man, life turned to shit for both of them, didn’t it?

– The Honky Tonk Man is out to remind us he’s here and do commentary for…

Intercontinental title match: Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan. Wow, welcome to Bizarro World. (Isn’t that Toronto?) Who would have EVER, I mean, EVER thought that Rocky would end up main-eventing what should turn out to be the biggest Wrestlemania ever?  (Well, 15 wasn’t the biggest ever, but Rock WOULD end up doing it at X-7 and then probably again this year to break the record of the Trump show.)  And a three-time WWF champion with a huge following? And that the Sultan would get successfully repackaged as a dancing sumo wrestler and get almost equally over?  (Yeah, by 2001 had far surpassed Rikishi, of course.)  Rocky gets *no* pop. For the record, this was supposed to be Rocky getting beaten like a dog by “Wildman” Marc Mero, but the injury to Mero that put him out for almost a year prevented it, and so we get the Sultan, evil Arab.  (I don’t actually remember if the Mero theory was ever proven, but it certainly sounds logical given his push at the time, win streak, and impending heel turn.  All the pieces would fit.)  Rocky tries more stuff here than today (dropkick and a couple of other moves) but it doesn’t look very good. The dreaded “Rocky Sucks” chant makes it’s PPV debut here. Several times, and very loud. (“Let’s go Rocky! / Rocky Sucks!”) Terrible match. The Sultan is former Headshinker Fatu, for those who don’t know. (Wow, thanks, doofus.)  The Sultan hits a headbutt off the top but only gets two. Sultan…moves…so…slow. Lots of resting. I’m soooo glad Rocky had a personality transplant in late 97. Faarooq is probably less glad, of course. (I’m sure he got over it after all the APA merchandise cheques came in.)  The crowd is downright hostile towards the Rock, even booing him as he powers out of a chinlock. Rocky makes the superman comeback, hulking up and drawing no reaction from the crowd. He nails a belly-to-belly for two and hits his “Layin the Smack Down” DDT, setting up a flying bodypress, but the Iron Shiek is distracting the ref. (The world needs Iron Sheik managing Jinder Mahal if they want to get him over.  That would be GOLD.)  Sultan gets a superkick and a piledriver for a couple of two counts, but Rocky rolls Sultan up out of nowhere for three. Crowd isn’t appreciative. Vince, who is many things, is not stupid. He heard the crowd reaction and took the title off Maivia soon after, then re-tooled him into The Rock a few months later. The rest is history. The Evil Foreigners work over Rocky, but Rocky Johnson makes the save. -* A horrible match.  (Rock got a bit better.)  

Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust.

Geez, who’s the chick with no breasts, a huge jaw, and thin hair? (HHH in 2002 after the HGH kicked in?) Oh, wait, it’s Chyna. And since when is “Amazonian” a word? HHH gets no heat. Goldust gets less. Man, if you were in the crowd for this show, I’m sorry for you.  (Plus if you live in Chicago in general.)  This is the less-than-enthralling blowoff for the feud that introduced Chyna. The more I watch these old HHH matches, I more I’m amazed that he’s currently one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. HHH gets beat on for a while, which is Good, because The Mantra of the Smark says that Hunter is a good seller but has lousy offense. (That of course changed drastically.)  Fabulous bump from Goldust, as they fight on the top rope and HHH shoves him to the floor. The bump is less impressive on replay as you can see Goldust slamming the mat for effect on the way down. HHH goes into his punch and kick offense (and knee, can’t forget the knee). Oh my GOD, Hunter uses a swinging neckbreaker AND an abdominal stretch, and that’s TWO moves which don’t involve his knee. (That used to be the easiest running joke in wrestling before HHH totally changed his character and offense in 1999.)   Doesn’t last long as Helmsley pulls out the high knee and kneedrop. They exchange some two counts and Goldust makes a comeback with a buttbutt. He gets a bulldog for two. Chyna starts to go after Marlena. Goldust goes for the Curtain Call, but Hunter reverses to the Pedigree. Goldust reverses that and slingshots him, but tries to save Marlena, only to accidentally send her into the arms of Chyna, and then get Pedigreed for the HHH win. Oh, the crushing jaws of irony. Crowd couldn’t possibly be less excited. *1/2, mostly for the last sequence and Goldust’s bump.

WWF World tag team title match: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. Vader & Mankind.

(What a strangely random tag match for Wrestlemania.)  This is just before the tearful Hart family reunion on RAW. Vader and Mankind were both managed by Paul Bearer at this point. Vader pulverizes Owen to start, not selling anything of consequence. It gets really ugly and disjointed from there, as Bulldog does a lot of kicking and punching. Everyone is a heel here, so the crowd chants for Owen. Go fig. Bulldog gets hit with the urn and becomes heel in peril. This is a very dull match. Mick is looking downright skinny here. Vader does his patented “try something off the second rope and get powerslammed” spot and Davey tags Owen. Owen with a flying bodypress for two, but gets nailed by Vader and becomes heel in peril #2. Vader and Mankind do Demolition Decapitation on Owen on the floor. Cool. Boring “beat up Owen” segment, although Owen does a nice bit with Mankind in the corner. Then a nice belly-to-belly on Mankind on the floor. Owen and Mick really need to do a feud. (They did one later at the house shows and it was indeed legendary, featuring the infamous “sell the bag of popcorn” spot.)  Owen gets the hot tag and Bulldog cleans house…but get Mandible Claw’d. Both guys fall to the floor and get counted out. Yawn. *1/2 Again, some nice spots, nothing else. For those who don’t know, Mankind and Vader were originally promised the tag titles here, but Bret Hart pulled a power play and demanded that the Harts keep the belts to set up the Hart Foundation angle.  (I’m pretty sure that was incorrect, actually.  I forget what I was basing that one on but it was debunked.)  

– We see a review of the Hart-Austin storyline, and it’s SOOOOOOOO precognizant that it’s SCARY. Bret becomes increasingly paranoid and worried about being screwed over by his friends, he’s bitter towards Shawn Michaels, he thinks Steve Austin is taking his place and the WWF is turning into a bunch of degenerates…I mean, my god, it couldn’t have been any more perfect if you had written it to turn out like it did. Watching this footage really undermines Bret’s case and makes him look like the Boy Who Cried Wolf with regards to Montreal. I mean, he’s been crying about being screwed for months before right? Wow. Vince is an evil genius.  (Now he’s just evil.)  

Submission match: Bret Hart v. Steve Austin.

Ken Shamrock is the guest referee. Brawl outside the ring to start, with Austin crotching Hart on the STEEL railing and clotheslining him to the floor. They brawl into the crowd, with Austin ramming Bret into the boards and pounding on him. Hitman comes back and they brawl up the stairs. Back to the ring, and Hart takes a MAN-SIZED bump to the stairs. Austin clotheslines him off the apron. Austin tries to use the steel steps but Bret kicks them out of his hands. Austin rams Bret to the post. We actually go the ring. Austin stomps on Bret, but Bret pulls out a neckbreaker and an elbow off the second rope. Vince starts badmouthing Bret, nothing that he’ll probably have an excuse if he loses. Wow, I mean, WOW, this shit is brilliant in retrospect. I stand in awe of Vincent K. McMahon. Bret works on Austin’s knee viciously. Austin suddenly hits the stunner out of nowhere, but can’t capitilize fast enough. Big Austin chant. Bret goes back to the knee. The ringpost figure-four makes it’s PPV debut to a monster pop. Bret grabs the bell and a chair, and opts to try the Brian Pillman Maneuver (Now known as “Pillmanizing”) on Austin, to a big pop. Austin gets loose and WHACKS Hart with the chair, to a big pop. Another monster shot and a monster pop. Crowd is INTO Austin, big time. Austin with a slam, cross-corner whip and a suplex. Elbow off the second rope. Austin hits a russian legsweep and applies an odd cross-armbreaker. Crowd is 50/50. Boston crab from Austin to a big pop. Bret makes the ropes, so Austin goes for a Sharpshooter instead. Jerry: “Wouldn’t that have been incredible, to have to submit to the Sharpshooter?” Vince: “Hey, it could happen.” No shit. Bret escapes and Austin tosses him to the floor. Whip reversal sends Austin crashing into the timekeeper. Austin rips open a huge gash on his head. Now that’s some high-quality blading. Austin gets rammed to the stairs and the ringpost. Austin is literally dripping blood on the ring. Hart drops an elbow and stomps away. Crowd doesn’t feel so good about Bret now. He grabs a chair and smashes it into Austin’s knee. You can almost feel the crowd changing sides. (Here’s the brilliance — Bret Hart was doing the same storyline as Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 8, but unlike Piper, Bret GAVE IN TO THE DARK SIDE and couldn’t resist the temptation to be evil.  Kind of neat.)  Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but Austin blocks. Bret pounds Austin in the corner, but Steve counters with a greco-roman ballshot. Austin whips Bret to the corner, then does some stomping of his own. Austin with a superplex. Austin’s face is literally covered in blood. Austin grabs a cable from ringside and chokes out Bret, but Bret grabs the bell that he brought in 10 minutes earlier and rings it on Austin’s head. Sharpshooter. We get the famous shot of Austin bleeding all over the ring and screaming in pain. (And that’s the moment that truly turned Austin into the biggest superstar ever.)  Austin fights the pain and powers out…but Bret hangs on. He reapplies the move and moves to the center of the ring. Austin passes out and Shamrock stops the match. Crowd is less than thrilled. Austin is DEAD. Bret soaks in some cheers, then goes back to pounding on Austin. Shamrock takes him down and gets a big pop. Hart leaves to huge boos. Austin leaves to the crowd chanting his name. Hogan and Flair WISH they could pull this off. (Well, they used to be able to, and Hogan certainly pulled it off 5 years after this…)  This would set off the Steve Austin v. Hart Foundation war that carried the WWF through all of 1997, and was supposed to culminate in Bret returning the job to Austin at Wrestlemania XIV, but, well, you know…shit happens. *****

Chicago Street Fight: The Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson v. Faaaarrrooqqq, Crush & Savio Vega.

Did I get the spelling right? That many double letters always throws me off. I miss PG-13 as the white boy rappers. (I believe WWE mashed them together in a car crusher and created John Cena, just like Clark Kent and Evil Superman in the third Superman movie.)  D-Lo Brown makes his Wrestlemania debut, albeit as a non-speaking flunky in a suit. The NOD brings plunder with them. Total brawl, of course. Ahmed has a SWEET spot, doing a plancha over the railing onto Crush. Animal tries to piledrive Faarooq through a table, but blows the spot. There’s just too much going on here to follow. Faarooq gets slammed through a table by Ahmed, causing him internal damage. Fire extinguishers get used a couple of times. Savio puts a noose around Ahmed’s neck and the NOD B-Team tries to hang him. Y’know what’s really sad and ironic: Out of everyone involved in this match, the one with the most success and respect is D-Lo Brown, and he’s not even wrestling here. (Well, Faarooq is the guy in the Hall of Fame now whereas D-Lo basically got himself Miz’d, so I’d dispute that now.)  There’s a point there somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Faarooq takes a sweet bump, getting yanked over the top to the floor by Hawk. His huge ass padded him. The match starts to drag, indicating it’s about 3 minutes too long. Ahmed goes for the Pearl River Plunge on Faarooq, but the NOD B-Team attacks. LOD finish Crush with the Doomsday Device and a 2×4 shot for good measure. Ahmed gives the unnamed D-Lo two PRPs and the PG-13 gets Doomsday Deviced simultaneously. Pretty good garbage match. ***1/2

WWF World title match: Sid v. The Undertaker.

Because it’s a special occasion, UT is wearing his original “grey rubber gloves and torn sleeves” outfit. HBK is doing commentary, working through the pain of the smile-ectomy he went through which put him out. Undertaker has gone through a year of shitkickings from Mankind, and this is his reward for loyalty. Sid gets the clear-cut heel pop. Bret Hart makes his way to the ring and grabs a mike, sending threats to Shawn, telling off Undertaker, and claiming Sid screwed him. So Sid powerbombs him. Served him right. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your heel turn. Undertaker attacks Sid from behind and we’re underway. Undertaker hammers Sid a few time and slams him for a two count. Ropewalk shot, but Sid won’t sell. UT charges the corner but gets caught in a bearhug for resthold #1. And that uses up a couple of minutes. Big boot and Sid pushes him over the top rope, then into the Spanish announce table. Bad night for the foreign announcers. Sid drops UT on the railing a couple of times, then slams him through the table. Vince announces that this was changed to a no-DQ match beforehand. Sid rolls UT in for two. CAMEL CLUTCH OF DEATH is resthold #2. Double axehandle off the 2nd rope, and Sid stalls. Ugly powerslam gets two. And a couple more. Sid drops the leg for two. And a couple more. I like that he keeps trying for the pin, forcing UT to keep kicking out. UT hits the flying clothesline, but Sid no-sells. They fight to the floor. Back in the ring, UT misses an elbowdrop. Sid goes into resthold #3. UT breaks and powerslams Sid for two. UT applies a VULCAN NERVEGRIP OF DOOM for resthold #4. Sid escapes and they both hit a big boot at the same time for a double KO spot. Sid is up first for a two count. Another double axehandle. A sort of clothesline-like type thing off the second rope gets two. Match…..moving……so……slow. UT blocks another 2nd rope attempt, but Sid no-sells again and slams UT, then heads to the top rope. UT does the zombie situp and crotches Sid. Slam off the top, and UT goes to the top. Flying clothesline gets two. UT goes for the tombstone, but Sid reverses to his own. It only gets two. Sid dumps UT, and Bret is back. He wallops Sid with a chair from behind and gets dragged off by referees. UT takes advantage and rams Sid into the steel. Back in the ring, UT chokeslams Sid for two. UT misses…whatever…coming off the ropes and Sid powerbombs him. Nope, here’s Bret again. Sid knocks him off the apron, but walks right into the tombstone and gets pinned. Way screwy ending. UT wins his second World title. Crap match. 1/2* This was, for all intents and purposes, the last appearance of Sid.

The Bottom Line: I’d suggest picking up a copy of “Cause Stone Cold Said So”, which has the Austin-Hart match on it and can be bought for $6 at Wal-Mart. I wasn’t terribly into the WWF at this point, and remained so until the Hart Foundation angle went through the roof shortly after this. Wrestlemania 9 was the worst, but this is second. The big highlight is available elsewhere, so don’t bother checking this dog out.

Wrestlemania Countdown: 13

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 13

(2012 Scott sez:  I had thought there was a later version of this rant, but apparently I’ve only done it once.  This was definitely an off-year for the show in general, as it was promoted essentially like just another PPV on the schedule and as such made it easy for me to pass up.)  

– Here’s an interesting bit: Before Zen’s copy of WM13, there’s a copy of Bret Hart’s tirade from Albany where he loses to Sid and then goes off on a curse-filled rant about getting screwed while Vince looks on. Eerily prescient of what would happen at Survivor Series later that year.

– Live from Chicago, Illinois.  Original airdate:  March 24, 1997

– Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon.

Free-For-All match: Flash Funk v. Billy Gunn.

This is only included here because I find it amazing that Gunn went from nothing low-midcarder to “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, DX member and major star with catchphrase. (And then back to midcarder again) This is a total nothing time-waster as Gunn spends most of it chinlocking Scorpio. I make sure to bug my roommate about wearing his hair exactly like Gunn. This was pre-Rockabilly, btw. That would be the *next* PPV. Match gets moderately good at the end as Scorp makes the comeback with a victory roll off the top rope, something which I haven’t seen before or since. A moonsault hits the knees, however. Gunn goes to the top and gets crotched, yet pulls out a tornado DDT for the pin. Now *there’s* a good finisher for him today. Not a bad match. **

Opening match proper: The Headbangers v. The Blackjacks v. Furnas & Lafon v. The Godwinns.

The winners get a tag title shot at some indeterminate time in the future, which never comes into play. Hmm, there’s two members of the Ministry of Darkness here: Phineas Godwinn, who would become known as Mideon, and Bradshaw, who would become known as Bradshaw. No one in the ring is over in the standard sense of the word. As a rough guide, the periods with {Furnas or Lafon or Mosh or Thrasher} v. {Not Godwinns} are quite watchable, and the rest is not. Blackjacks and Furnas/Lafon get themselves disqualified fairly quickly, leaving the epic Headbangers/Godwinns feud to reach it’s zenith. Mosh should jump to WCW and become Saturn’s partner. He’s got the look and the music…hey, this *is* a little coincidental, isn’t it? (In fact, Mosh got repackaged as Beaver Cleavage and then as D-Lo Brown’s loser partner, so maybe he should have done that after all.)  Crowd is dead for this. The Headbangers have the gall to work in a highspot to boost it a 1/2*, with Mosh doing a springboard bodypress to send Henry to the floor, then Rocket-Launching Thrasher onto Henry on the floor. Thrasher tries a moonsault back in the ring but misses. A pier-six erupts and Mosh hits a cannonball on Phineas for the pin. Oddly enough, at Badd Blood, Mosh would try that very spot and get powerbombed to lose the tag titles to the Godwinns. Ah, yes, the announcers refresh my memory by pointing out that the Bangers will meet Owen and Bulldog the next night on RAW. The match ended up being nothing. (Much like all four teams in the match, no disrespect to the dead, of course.)  **

– Brian Pillman and Sunny hype the hotline. Man, life turned to shit for both of them, didn’t it?

– The Honky Tonk Man is out to remind us he’s here and do commentary for…

Intercontinental title match: Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan. Wow, welcome to Bizarro World. (Isn’t that Toronto?) Who would have EVER, I mean, EVER thought that Rocky would end up main-eventing what should turn out to be the biggest Wrestlemania ever?  (Well, 15 wasn’t the biggest ever, but Rock WOULD end up doing it at X-7 and then probably again this year to break the record of the Trump show.)  And a three-time WWF champion with a huge following? And that the Sultan would get successfully repackaged as a dancing sumo wrestler and get almost equally over?  (Yeah, by 2001 had far surpassed Rikishi, of course.)  Rocky gets *no* pop. For the record, this was supposed to be Rocky getting beaten like a dog by “Wildman” Marc Mero, but the injury to Mero that put him out for almost a year prevented it, and so we get the Sultan, evil Arab.  (I don’t actually remember if the Mero theory was ever proven, but it certainly sounds logical given his push at the time, win streak, and impending heel turn.  All the pieces would fit.)  Rocky tries more stuff here than today (dropkick and a couple of other moves) but it doesn’t look very good. The dreaded “Rocky Sucks” chant makes it’s PPV debut here. Several times, and very loud. (“Let’s go Rocky! / Rocky Sucks!”) Terrible match. The Sultan is former Headshinker Fatu, for those who don’t know. (Wow, thanks, doofus.)  The Sultan hits a headbutt off the top but only gets two. Sultan…moves…so…slow. Lots of resting. I’m soooo glad Rocky had a personality transplant in late 97. Faarooq is probably less glad, of course. (I’m sure he got over it after all the APA merchandise cheques came in.)  The crowd is downright hostile towards the Rock, even booing him as he powers out of a chinlock. Rocky makes the superman comeback, hulking up and drawing no reaction from the crowd. He nails a belly-to-belly for two and hits his “Layin the Smack Down” DDT, setting up a flying bodypress, but the Iron Shiek is distracting the ref. (The world needs Iron Sheik managing Jinder Mahal if they want to get him over.  That would be GOLD.)  Sultan gets a superkick and a piledriver for a couple of two counts, but Rocky rolls Sultan up out of nowhere for three. Crowd isn’t appreciative. Vince, who is many things, is not stupid. He heard the crowd reaction and took the title off Maivia soon after, then re-tooled him into The Rock a few months later. The rest is history. The Evil Foreigners work over Rocky, but Rocky Johnson makes the save. -* A horrible match.  (Rock got a bit better.)  

Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust.

Geez, who’s the chick with no breasts, a huge jaw, and thin hair? (HHH in 2002 after the HGH kicked in?) Oh, wait, it’s Chyna. And since when is “Amazonian” a word? HHH gets no heat. Goldust gets less. Man, if you were in the crowd for this show, I’m sorry for you.  (Plus if you live in Chicago in general.)  This is the less-than-enthralling blowoff for the feud that introduced Chyna. The more I watch these old HHH matches, I more I’m amazed that he’s currently one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. HHH gets beat on for a while, which is Good, because The Mantra of the Smark says that Hunter is a good seller but has lousy offense. (That of course changed drastically.)  Fabulous bump from Goldust, as they fight on the top rope and HHH shoves him to the floor. The bump is less impressive on replay as you can see Goldust slamming the mat for effect on the way down. HHH goes into his punch and kick offense (and knee, can’t forget the knee). Oh my GOD, Hunter uses a swinging neckbreaker AND an abdominal stretch, and that’s TWO moves which don’t involve his knee. (That used to be the easiest running joke in wrestling before HHH totally changed his character and offense in 1999.)   Doesn’t last long as Helmsley pulls out the high knee and kneedrop. They exchange some two counts and Goldust makes a comeback with a buttbutt. He gets a bulldog for two. Chyna starts to go after Marlena. Goldust goes for the Curtain Call, but Hunter reverses to the Pedigree. Goldust reverses that and slingshots him, but tries to save Marlena, only to accidentally send her into the arms of Chyna, and then get Pedigreed for the HHH win. Oh, the crushing jaws of irony. Crowd couldn’t possibly be less excited. *1/2, mostly for the last sequence and Goldust’s bump.

WWF World tag team title match: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. Vader & Mankind.

(What a strangely random tag match for Wrestlemania.)  This is just before the tearful Hart family reunion on RAW. Vader and Mankind were both managed by Paul Bearer at this point. Vader pulverizes Owen to start, not selling anything of consequence. It gets really ugly and disjointed from there, as Bulldog does a lot of kicking and punching. Everyone is a heel here, so the crowd chants for Owen. Go fig. Bulldog gets hit with the urn and becomes heel in peril. This is a very dull match. Mick is looking downright skinny here. Vader does his patented “try something off the second rope and get powerslammed” spot and Davey tags Owen. Owen with a flying bodypress for two, but gets nailed by Vader and becomes heel in peril #2. Vader and Mankind do Demolition Decapitation on Owen on the floor. Cool. Boring “beat up Owen” segment, although Owen does a nice bit with Mankind in the corner. Then a nice belly-to-belly on Mankind on the floor. Owen and Mick really need to do a feud. (They did one later at the house shows and it was indeed legendary, featuring the infamous “sell the bag of popcorn” spot.)  Owen gets the hot tag and Bulldog cleans house…but get Mandible Claw’d. Both guys fall to the floor and get counted out. Yawn. *1/2 Again, some nice spots, nothing else. For those who don’t know, Mankind and Vader were originally promised the tag titles here, but Bret Hart pulled a power play and demanded that the Harts keep the belts to set up the Hart Foundation angle.  (I’m pretty sure that was incorrect, actually.  I forget what I was basing that one on but it was debunked.)  

– We see a review of the Hart-Austin storyline, and it’s SOOOOOOOO precognizant that it’s SCARY. Bret becomes increasingly paranoid and worried about being screwed over by his friends, he’s bitter towards Shawn Michaels, he thinks Steve Austin is taking his place and the WWF is turning into a bunch of degenerates…I mean, my god, it couldn’t have been any more perfect if you had written it to turn out like it did. Watching this footage really undermines Bret’s case and makes him look like the Boy Who Cried Wolf with regards to Montreal. I mean, he’s been crying about being screwed for months before right? Wow. Vince is an evil genius.  (Now he’s just evil.)  

Submission match: Bret Hart v. Steve Austin.

Ken Shamrock is the guest referee. Brawl outside the ring to start, with Austin crotching Hart on the STEEL railing and clotheslining him to the floor. They brawl into the crowd, with Austin ramming Bret into the boards and pounding on him. Hitman comes back and they brawl up the stairs. Back to the ring, and Hart takes a MAN-SIZED bump to the stairs. Austin clotheslines him off the apron. Austin tries to use the steel steps but Bret kicks them out of his hands. Austin rams Bret to the post. We actually go the ring. Austin stomps on Bret, but Bret pulls out a neckbreaker and an elbow off the second rope. Vince starts badmouthing Bret, nothing that he’ll probably have an excuse if he loses. Wow, I mean, WOW, this shit is brilliant in retrospect. I stand in awe of Vincent K. McMahon. Bret works on Austin’s knee viciously. Austin suddenly hits the stunner out of nowhere, but can’t capitilize fast enough. Big Austin chant. Bret goes back to the knee. The ringpost figure-four makes it’s PPV debut to a monster pop. Bret grabs the bell and a chair, and opts to try the Brian Pillman Maneuver (Now known as “Pillmanizing”) on Austin, to a big pop. Austin gets loose and WHACKS Hart with the chair, to a big pop. Another monster shot and a monster pop. Crowd is INTO Austin, big time. Austin with a slam, cross-corner whip and a suplex. Elbow off the second rope. Austin hits a russian legsweep and applies an odd cross-armbreaker. Crowd is 50/50. Boston crab from Austin to a big pop. Bret makes the ropes, so Austin goes for a Sharpshooter instead. Jerry: “Wouldn’t that have been incredible, to have to submit to the Sharpshooter?” Vince: “Hey, it could happen.” No shit. Bret escapes and Austin tosses him to the floor. Whip reversal sends Austin crashing into the timekeeper. Austin rips open a huge gash on his head. Now that’s some high-quality blading. Austin gets rammed to the stairs and the ringpost. Austin is literally dripping blood on the ring. Hart drops an elbow and stomps away. Crowd doesn’t feel so good about Bret now. He grabs a chair and smashes it into Austin’s knee. You can almost feel the crowd changing sides. (Here’s the brilliance — Bret Hart was doing the same storyline as Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 8, but unlike Piper, Bret GAVE IN TO THE DARK SIDE and couldn’t resist the temptation to be evil.  Kind of neat.)  Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but Austin blocks. Bret pounds Austin in the corner, but Steve counters with a greco-roman ballshot. Austin whips Bret to the corner, then does some stomping of his own. Austin with a superplex. Austin’s face is literally covered in blood. Austin grabs a cable from ringside and chokes out Bret, but Bret grabs the bell that he brought in 10 minutes earlier and rings it on Austin’s head. Sharpshooter. We get the famous shot of Austin bleeding all over the ring and screaming in pain. (And that’s the moment that truly turned Austin into the biggest superstar ever.)  Austin fights the pain and powers out…but Bret hangs on. He reapplies the move and moves to the center of the ring. Austin passes out and Shamrock stops the match. Crowd is less than thrilled. Austin is DEAD. Bret soaks in some cheers, then goes back to pounding on Austin. Shamrock takes him down and gets a big pop. Hart leaves to huge boos. Austin leaves to the crowd chanting his name. Hogan and Flair WISH they could pull this off. (Well, they used to be able to, and Hogan certainly pulled it off 5 years after this…)  This would set off the Steve Austin v. Hart Foundation war that carried the WWF through all of 1997, and was supposed to culminate in Bret returning the job to Austin at Wrestlemania XIV, but, well, you know…shit happens. *****

Chicago Street Fight: The Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson v. Faaaarrrooqqq, Crush & Savio Vega.

Did I get the spelling right? That many double letters always throws me off. I miss PG-13 as the white boy rappers. (I believe WWE mashed them together in a car crusher and created John Cena, just like Clark Kent and Evil Superman in the third Superman movie.)  D-Lo Brown makes his Wrestlemania debut, albeit as a non-speaking flunky in a suit. The NOD brings plunder with them. Total brawl, of course. Ahmed has a SWEET spot, doing a plancha over the railing onto Crush. Animal tries to piledrive Faarooq through a table, but blows the spot. There’s just too much going on here to follow. Faarooq gets slammed through a table by Ahmed, causing him internal damage. Fire extinguishers get used a couple of times. Savio puts a noose around Ahmed’s neck and the NOD B-Team tries to hang him. Y’know what’s really sad and ironic: Out of everyone involved in this match, the one with the most success and respect is D-Lo Brown, and he’s not even wrestling here. (Well, Faarooq is the guy in the Hall of Fame now whereas D-Lo basically got himself Miz’d, so I’d dispute that now.)  There’s a point there somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Faarooq takes a sweet bump, getting yanked over the top to the floor by Hawk. His huge ass padded him. The match starts to drag, indicating it’s about 3 minutes too long. Ahmed goes for the Pearl River Plunge on Faarooq, but the NOD B-Team attacks. LOD finish Crush with the Doomsday Device and a 2×4 shot for good measure. Ahmed gives the unnamed D-Lo two PRPs and the PG-13 gets Doomsday Deviced simultaneously. Pretty good garbage match. ***1/2

WWF World title match: Sid v. The Undertaker.

Because it’s a special occasion, UT is wearing his original “grey rubber gloves and torn sleeves” outfit. HBK is doing commentary, working through the pain of the smile-ectomy he went through which put him out. Undertaker has gone through a year of shitkickings from Mankind, and this is his reward for loyalty. Sid gets the clear-cut heel pop. Bret Hart makes his way to the ring and grabs a mike, sending threats to Shawn, telling off Undertaker, and claiming Sid screwed him. So Sid powerbombs him. Served him right. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your heel turn. Undertaker attacks Sid from behind and we’re underway. Undertaker hammers Sid a few time and slams him for a two count. Ropewalk shot, but Sid won’t sell. UT charges the corner but gets caught in a bearhug for resthold #1. And that uses up a couple of minutes. Big boot and Sid pushes him over the top rope, then into the Spanish announce table. Bad night for the foreign announcers. Sid drops UT on the railing a couple of times, then slams him through the table. Vince announces that this was changed to a no-DQ match beforehand. Sid rolls UT in for two. CAMEL CLUTCH OF DEATH is resthold #2. Double axehandle off the 2nd rope, and Sid stalls. Ugly powerslam gets two. And a couple more. Sid drops the leg for two. And a couple more. I like that he keeps trying for the pin, forcing UT to keep kicking out. UT hits the flying clothesline, but Sid no-sells. They fight to the floor. Back in the ring, UT misses an elbowdrop. Sid goes into resthold #3. UT breaks and powerslams Sid for two. UT applies a VULCAN NERVEGRIP OF DOOM for resthold #4. Sid escapes and they both hit a big boot at the same time for a double KO spot. Sid is up first for a two count. Another double axehandle. A sort of clothesline-like type thing off the second rope gets two. Match…..moving……so……slow. UT blocks another 2nd rope attempt, but Sid no-sells again and slams UT, then heads to the top rope. UT does the zombie situp and crotches Sid. Slam off the top, and UT goes to the top. Flying clothesline gets two. UT goes for the tombstone, but Sid reverses to his own. It only gets two. Sid dumps UT, and Bret is back. He wallops Sid with a chair from behind and gets dragged off by referees. UT takes advantage and rams Sid into the steel. Back in the ring, UT chokeslams Sid for two. UT misses…whatever…coming off the ropes and Sid powerbombs him. Nope, here’s Bret again. Sid knocks him off the apron, but walks right into the tombstone and gets pinned. Way screwy ending. UT wins his second World title. Crap match. 1/2* This was, for all intents and purposes, the last appearance of Sid.

The Bottom Line: I’d suggest picking up a copy of “Cause Stone Cold Said So”, which has the Austin-Hart match on it and can be bought for $6 at Wal-Mart. I wasn’t terribly into the WWF at this point, and remained so until the Hart Foundation angle went through the roof shortly after this. Wrestlemania 9 was the worst, but this is second. The big highlight is available elsewhere, so don’t bother checking this dog out.

Wrestlemania Countdown: 13

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 13

(2012 Scott sez:  I had thought there was a later version of this rant, but apparently I’ve only done it once.  This was definitely an off-year for the show in general, as it was promoted essentially like just another PPV on the schedule and as such made it easy for me to pass up.)  

– Here’s an interesting bit: Before Zen’s copy of WM13, there’s a copy of Bret Hart’s tirade from Albany where he loses to Sid and then goes off on a curse-filled rant about getting screwed while Vince looks on. Eerily prescient of what would happen at Survivor Series later that year.

– Live from Chicago, Illinois.  Original airdate:  March 24, 1997

– Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon.

Free-For-All match: Flash Funk v. Billy Gunn.

This is only included here because I find it amazing that Gunn went from nothing low-midcarder to “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, DX member and major star with catchphrase. (And then back to midcarder again) This is a total nothing time-waster as Gunn spends most of it chinlocking Scorpio. I make sure to bug my roommate about wearing his hair exactly like Gunn. This was pre-Rockabilly, btw. That would be the *next* PPV. Match gets moderately good at the end as Scorp makes the comeback with a victory roll off the top rope, something which I haven’t seen before or since. A moonsault hits the knees, however. Gunn goes to the top and gets crotched, yet pulls out a tornado DDT for the pin. Now *there’s* a good finisher for him today. Not a bad match. **

Opening match proper: The Headbangers v. The Blackjacks v. Furnas & Lafon v. The Godwinns.

The winners get a tag title shot at some indeterminate time in the future, which never comes into play. Hmm, there’s two members of the Ministry of Darkness here: Phineas Godwinn, who would become known as Mideon, and Bradshaw, who would become known as Bradshaw. No one in the ring is over in the standard sense of the word. As a rough guide, the periods with {Furnas or Lafon or Mosh or Thrasher} v. {Not Godwinns} are quite watchable, and the rest is not. Blackjacks and Furnas/Lafon get themselves disqualified fairly quickly, leaving the epic Headbangers/Godwinns feud to reach it’s zenith. Mosh should jump to WCW and become Saturn’s partner. He’s got the look and the music…hey, this *is* a little coincidental, isn’t it? (In fact, Mosh got repackaged as Beaver Cleavage and then as D-Lo Brown’s loser partner, so maybe he should have done that after all.)  Crowd is dead for this. The Headbangers have the gall to work in a highspot to boost it a 1/2*, with Mosh doing a springboard bodypress to send Henry to the floor, then Rocket-Launching Thrasher onto Henry on the floor. Thrasher tries a moonsault back in the ring but misses. A pier-six erupts and Mosh hits a cannonball on Phineas for the pin. Oddly enough, at Badd Blood, Mosh would try that very spot and get powerbombed to lose the tag titles to the Godwinns. Ah, yes, the announcers refresh my memory by pointing out that the Bangers will meet Owen and Bulldog the next night on RAW. The match ended up being nothing. (Much like all four teams in the match, no disrespect to the dead, of course.)  **

– Brian Pillman and Sunny hype the hotline. Man, life turned to shit for both of them, didn’t it?

– The Honky Tonk Man is out to remind us he’s here and do commentary for…

Intercontinental title match: Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan. Wow, welcome to Bizarro World. (Isn’t that Toronto?) Who would have EVER, I mean, EVER thought that Rocky would end up main-eventing what should turn out to be the biggest Wrestlemania ever?  (Well, 15 wasn’t the biggest ever, but Rock WOULD end up doing it at X-7 and then probably again this year to break the record of the Trump show.)  And a three-time WWF champion with a huge following? And that the Sultan would get successfully repackaged as a dancing sumo wrestler and get almost equally over?  (Yeah, by 2001 had far surpassed Rikishi, of course.)  Rocky gets *no* pop. For the record, this was supposed to be Rocky getting beaten like a dog by “Wildman” Marc Mero, but the injury to Mero that put him out for almost a year prevented it, and so we get the Sultan, evil Arab.  (I don’t actually remember if the Mero theory was ever proven, but it certainly sounds logical given his push at the time, win streak, and impending heel turn.  All the pieces would fit.)  Rocky tries more stuff here than today (dropkick and a couple of other moves) but it doesn’t look very good. The dreaded “Rocky Sucks” chant makes it’s PPV debut here. Several times, and very loud. (“Let’s go Rocky! / Rocky Sucks!”) Terrible match. The Sultan is former Headshinker Fatu, for those who don’t know. (Wow, thanks, doofus.)  The Sultan hits a headbutt off the top but only gets two. Sultan…moves…so…slow. Lots of resting. I’m soooo glad Rocky had a personality transplant in late 97. Faarooq is probably less glad, of course. (I’m sure he got over it after all the APA merchandise cheques came in.)  The crowd is downright hostile towards the Rock, even booing him as he powers out of a chinlock. Rocky makes the superman comeback, hulking up and drawing no reaction from the crowd. He nails a belly-to-belly for two and hits his “Layin the Smack Down” DDT, setting up a flying bodypress, but the Iron Shiek is distracting the ref. (The world needs Iron Sheik managing Jinder Mahal if they want to get him over.  That would be GOLD.)  Sultan gets a superkick and a piledriver for a couple of two counts, but Rocky rolls Sultan up out of nowhere for three. Crowd isn’t appreciative. Vince, who is many things, is not stupid. He heard the crowd reaction and took the title off Maivia soon after, then re-tooled him into The Rock a few months later. The rest is history. The Evil Foreigners work over Rocky, but Rocky Johnson makes the save. -* A horrible match.  (Rock got a bit better.)  

Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust.

Geez, who’s the chick with no breasts, a huge jaw, and thin hair? (HHH in 2002 after the HGH kicked in?) Oh, wait, it’s Chyna. And since when is “Amazonian” a word? HHH gets no heat. Goldust gets less. Man, if you were in the crowd for this show, I’m sorry for you.  (Plus if you live in Chicago in general.)  This is the less-than-enthralling blowoff for the feud that introduced Chyna. The more I watch these old HHH matches, I more I’m amazed that he’s currently one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. HHH gets beat on for a while, which is Good, because The Mantra of the Smark says that Hunter is a good seller but has lousy offense. (That of course changed drastically.)  Fabulous bump from Goldust, as they fight on the top rope and HHH shoves him to the floor. The bump is less impressive on replay as you can see Goldust slamming the mat for effect on the way down. HHH goes into his punch and kick offense (and knee, can’t forget the knee). Oh my GOD, Hunter uses a swinging neckbreaker AND an abdominal stretch, and that’s TWO moves which don’t involve his knee. (That used to be the easiest running joke in wrestling before HHH totally changed his character and offense in 1999.)   Doesn’t last long as Helmsley pulls out the high knee and kneedrop. They exchange some two counts and Goldust makes a comeback with a buttbutt. He gets a bulldog for two. Chyna starts to go after Marlena. Goldust goes for the Curtain Call, but Hunter reverses to the Pedigree. Goldust reverses that and slingshots him, but tries to save Marlena, only to accidentally send her into the arms of Chyna, and then get Pedigreed for the HHH win. Oh, the crushing jaws of irony. Crowd couldn’t possibly be less excited. *1/2, mostly for the last sequence and Goldust’s bump.

WWF World tag team title match: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. Vader & Mankind.

(What a strangely random tag match for Wrestlemania.)  This is just before the tearful Hart family reunion on RAW. Vader and Mankind were both managed by Paul Bearer at this point. Vader pulverizes Owen to start, not selling anything of consequence. It gets really ugly and disjointed from there, as Bulldog does a lot of kicking and punching. Everyone is a heel here, so the crowd chants for Owen. Go fig. Bulldog gets hit with the urn and becomes heel in peril. This is a very dull match. Mick is looking downright skinny here. Vader does his patented “try something off the second rope and get powerslammed” spot and Davey tags Owen. Owen with a flying bodypress for two, but gets nailed by Vader and becomes heel in peril #2. Vader and Mankind do Demolition Decapitation on Owen on the floor. Cool. Boring “beat up Owen” segment, although Owen does a nice bit with Mankind in the corner. Then a nice belly-to-belly on Mankind on the floor. Owen and Mick really need to do a feud. (They did one later at the house shows and it was indeed legendary, featuring the infamous “sell the bag of popcorn” spot.)  Owen gets the hot tag and Bulldog cleans house…but get Mandible Claw’d. Both guys fall to the floor and get counted out. Yawn. *1/2 Again, some nice spots, nothing else. For those who don’t know, Mankind and Vader were originally promised the tag titles here, but Bret Hart pulled a power play and demanded that the Harts keep the belts to set up the Hart Foundation angle.  (I’m pretty sure that was incorrect, actually.  I forget what I was basing that one on but it was debunked.)  

– We see a review of the Hart-Austin storyline, and it’s SOOOOOOOO precognizant that it’s SCARY. Bret becomes increasingly paranoid and worried about being screwed over by his friends, he’s bitter towards Shawn Michaels, he thinks Steve Austin is taking his place and the WWF is turning into a bunch of degenerates…I mean, my god, it couldn’t have been any more perfect if you had written it to turn out like it did. Watching this footage really undermines Bret’s case and makes him look like the Boy Who Cried Wolf with regards to Montreal. I mean, he’s been crying about being screwed for months before right? Wow. Vince is an evil genius.  (Now he’s just evil.)  

Submission match: Bret Hart v. Steve Austin.

Ken Shamrock is the guest referee. Brawl outside the ring to start, with Austin crotching Hart on the STEEL railing and clotheslining him to the floor. They brawl into the crowd, with Austin ramming Bret into the boards and pounding on him. Hitman comes back and they brawl up the stairs. Back to the ring, and Hart takes a MAN-SIZED bump to the stairs. Austin clotheslines him off the apron. Austin tries to use the steel steps but Bret kicks them out of his hands. Austin rams Bret to the post. We actually go the ring. Austin stomps on Bret, but Bret pulls out a neckbreaker and an elbow off the second rope. Vince starts badmouthing Bret, nothing that he’ll probably have an excuse if he loses. Wow, I mean, WOW, this shit is brilliant in retrospect. I stand in awe of Vincent K. McMahon. Bret works on Austin’s knee viciously. Austin suddenly hits the stunner out of nowhere, but can’t capitilize fast enough. Big Austin chant. Bret goes back to the knee. The ringpost figure-four makes it’s PPV debut to a monster pop. Bret grabs the bell and a chair, and opts to try the Brian Pillman Maneuver (Now known as “Pillmanizing”) on Austin, to a big pop. Austin gets loose and WHACKS Hart with the chair, to a big pop. Another monster shot and a monster pop. Crowd is INTO Austin, big time. Austin with a slam, cross-corner whip and a suplex. Elbow off the second rope. Austin hits a russian legsweep and applies an odd cross-armbreaker. Crowd is 50/50. Boston crab from Austin to a big pop. Bret makes the ropes, so Austin goes for a Sharpshooter instead. Jerry: “Wouldn’t that have been incredible, to have to submit to the Sharpshooter?” Vince: “Hey, it could happen.” No shit. Bret escapes and Austin tosses him to the floor. Whip reversal sends Austin crashing into the timekeeper. Austin rips open a huge gash on his head. Now that’s some high-quality blading. Austin gets rammed to the stairs and the ringpost. Austin is literally dripping blood on the ring. Hart drops an elbow and stomps away. Crowd doesn’t feel so good about Bret now. He grabs a chair and smashes it into Austin’s knee. You can almost feel the crowd changing sides. (Here’s the brilliance — Bret Hart was doing the same storyline as Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 8, but unlike Piper, Bret GAVE IN TO THE DARK SIDE and couldn’t resist the temptation to be evil.  Kind of neat.)  Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but Austin blocks. Bret pounds Austin in the corner, but Steve counters with a greco-roman ballshot. Austin whips Bret to the corner, then does some stomping of his own. Austin with a superplex. Austin’s face is literally covered in blood. Austin grabs a cable from ringside and chokes out Bret, but Bret grabs the bell that he brought in 10 minutes earlier and rings it on Austin’s head. Sharpshooter. We get the famous shot of Austin bleeding all over the ring and screaming in pain. (And that’s the moment that truly turned Austin into the biggest superstar ever.)  Austin fights the pain and powers out…but Bret hangs on. He reapplies the move and moves to the center of the ring. Austin passes out and Shamrock stops the match. Crowd is less than thrilled. Austin is DEAD. Bret soaks in some cheers, then goes back to pounding on Austin. Shamrock takes him down and gets a big pop. Hart leaves to huge boos. Austin leaves to the crowd chanting his name. Hogan and Flair WISH they could pull this off. (Well, they used to be able to, and Hogan certainly pulled it off 5 years after this…)  This would set off the Steve Austin v. Hart Foundation war that carried the WWF through all of 1997, and was supposed to culminate in Bret returning the job to Austin at Wrestlemania XIV, but, well, you know…shit happens. *****

Chicago Street Fight: The Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson v. Faaaarrrooqqq, Crush & Savio Vega.

Did I get the spelling right? That many double letters always throws me off. I miss PG-13 as the white boy rappers. (I believe WWE mashed them together in a car crusher and created John Cena, just like Clark Kent and Evil Superman in the third Superman movie.)  D-Lo Brown makes his Wrestlemania debut, albeit as a non-speaking flunky in a suit. The NOD brings plunder with them. Total brawl, of course. Ahmed has a SWEET spot, doing a plancha over the railing onto Crush. Animal tries to piledrive Faarooq through a table, but blows the spot. There’s just too much going on here to follow. Faarooq gets slammed through a table by Ahmed, causing him internal damage. Fire extinguishers get used a couple of times. Savio puts a noose around Ahmed’s neck and the NOD B-Team tries to hang him. Y’know what’s really sad and ironic: Out of everyone involved in this match, the one with the most success and respect is D-Lo Brown, and he’s not even wrestling here. (Well, Faarooq is the guy in the Hall of Fame now whereas D-Lo basically got himself Miz’d, so I’d dispute that now.)  There’s a point there somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Faarooq takes a sweet bump, getting yanked over the top to the floor by Hawk. His huge ass padded him. The match starts to drag, indicating it’s about 3 minutes too long. Ahmed goes for the Pearl River Plunge on Faarooq, but the NOD B-Team attacks. LOD finish Crush with the Doomsday Device and a 2×4 shot for good measure. Ahmed gives the unnamed D-Lo two PRPs and the PG-13 gets Doomsday Deviced simultaneously. Pretty good garbage match. ***1/2

WWF World title match: Sid v. The Undertaker.

Because it’s a special occasion, UT is wearing his original “grey rubber gloves and torn sleeves” outfit. HBK is doing commentary, working through the pain of the smile-ectomy he went through which put him out. Undertaker has gone through a year of shitkickings from Mankind, and this is his reward for loyalty. Sid gets the clear-cut heel pop. Bret Hart makes his way to the ring and grabs a mike, sending threats to Shawn, telling off Undertaker, and claiming Sid screwed him. So Sid powerbombs him. Served him right. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your heel turn. Undertaker attacks Sid from behind and we’re underway. Undertaker hammers Sid a few time and slams him for a two count. Ropewalk shot, but Sid won’t sell. UT charges the corner but gets caught in a bearhug for resthold #1. And that uses up a couple of minutes. Big boot and Sid pushes him over the top rope, then into the Spanish announce table. Bad night for the foreign announcers. Sid drops UT on the railing a couple of times, then slams him through the table. Vince announces that this was changed to a no-DQ match beforehand. Sid rolls UT in for two. CAMEL CLUTCH OF DEATH is resthold #2. Double axehandle off the 2nd rope, and Sid stalls. Ugly powerslam gets two. And a couple more. Sid drops the leg for two. And a couple more. I like that he keeps trying for the pin, forcing UT to keep kicking out. UT hits the flying clothesline, but Sid no-sells. They fight to the floor. Back in the ring, UT misses an elbowdrop. Sid goes into resthold #3. UT breaks and powerslams Sid for two. UT applies a VULCAN NERVEGRIP OF DOOM for resthold #4. Sid escapes and they both hit a big boot at the same time for a double KO spot. Sid is up first for a two count. Another double axehandle. A sort of clothesline-like type thing off the second rope gets two. Match…..moving……so……slow. UT blocks another 2nd rope attempt, but Sid no-sells again and slams UT, then heads to the top rope. UT does the zombie situp and crotches Sid. Slam off the top, and UT goes to the top. Flying clothesline gets two. UT goes for the tombstone, but Sid reverses to his own. It only gets two. Sid dumps UT, and Bret is back. He wallops Sid with a chair from behind and gets dragged off by referees. UT takes advantage and rams Sid into the steel. Back in the ring, UT chokeslams Sid for two. UT misses…whatever…coming off the ropes and Sid powerbombs him. Nope, here’s Bret again. Sid knocks him off the apron, but walks right into the tombstone and gets pinned. Way screwy ending. UT wins his second World title. Crap match. 1/2* This was, for all intents and purposes, the last appearance of Sid.

The Bottom Line: I’d suggest picking up a copy of “Cause Stone Cold Said So”, which has the Austin-Hart match on it and can be bought for $6 at Wal-Mart. I wasn’t terribly into the WWF at this point, and remained so until the Hart Foundation angle went through the roof shortly after this. Wrestlemania 9 was the worst, but this is second. The big highlight is available elsewhere, so don’t bother checking this dog out.

Wrestlemania Countdown: 13

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 13

(2012 Scott sez:  I had thought there was a later version of this rant, but apparently I’ve only done it once.  This was definitely an off-year for the show in general, as it was promoted essentially like just another PPV on the schedule and as such made it easy for me to pass up.)  

– Here’s an interesting bit: Before Zen’s copy of WM13, there’s a copy of Bret Hart’s tirade from Albany where he loses to Sid and then goes off on a curse-filled rant about getting screwed while Vince looks on. Eerily prescient of what would happen at Survivor Series later that year.

– Live from Chicago, Illinois.  Original airdate:  March 24, 1997

– Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon.

Free-For-All match: Flash Funk v. Billy Gunn.

This is only included here because I find it amazing that Gunn went from nothing low-midcarder to “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, DX member and major star with catchphrase. (And then back to midcarder again) This is a total nothing time-waster as Gunn spends most of it chinlocking Scorpio. I make sure to bug my roommate about wearing his hair exactly like Gunn. This was pre-Rockabilly, btw. That would be the *next* PPV. Match gets moderately good at the end as Scorp makes the comeback with a victory roll off the top rope, something which I haven’t seen before or since. A moonsault hits the knees, however. Gunn goes to the top and gets crotched, yet pulls out a tornado DDT for the pin. Now *there’s* a good finisher for him today. Not a bad match. **

Opening match proper: The Headbangers v. The Blackjacks v. Furnas & Lafon v. The Godwinns.

The winners get a tag title shot at some indeterminate time in the future, which never comes into play. Hmm, there’s two members of the Ministry of Darkness here: Phineas Godwinn, who would become known as Mideon, and Bradshaw, who would become known as Bradshaw. No one in the ring is over in the standard sense of the word. As a rough guide, the periods with {Furnas or Lafon or Mosh or Thrasher} v. {Not Godwinns} are quite watchable, and the rest is not. Blackjacks and Furnas/Lafon get themselves disqualified fairly quickly, leaving the epic Headbangers/Godwinns feud to reach it’s zenith. Mosh should jump to WCW and become Saturn’s partner. He’s got the look and the music…hey, this *is* a little coincidental, isn’t it? (In fact, Mosh got repackaged as Beaver Cleavage and then as D-Lo Brown’s loser partner, so maybe he should have done that after all.)  Crowd is dead for this. The Headbangers have the gall to work in a highspot to boost it a 1/2*, with Mosh doing a springboard bodypress to send Henry to the floor, then Rocket-Launching Thrasher onto Henry on the floor. Thrasher tries a moonsault back in the ring but misses. A pier-six erupts and Mosh hits a cannonball on Phineas for the pin. Oddly enough, at Badd Blood, Mosh would try that very spot and get powerbombed to lose the tag titles to the Godwinns. Ah, yes, the announcers refresh my memory by pointing out that the Bangers will meet Owen and Bulldog the next night on RAW. The match ended up being nothing. (Much like all four teams in the match, no disrespect to the dead, of course.)  **

– Brian Pillman and Sunny hype the hotline. Man, life turned to shit for both of them, didn’t it?

– The Honky Tonk Man is out to remind us he’s here and do commentary for…

Intercontinental title match: Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan. Wow, welcome to Bizarro World. (Isn’t that Toronto?) Who would have EVER, I mean, EVER thought that Rocky would end up main-eventing what should turn out to be the biggest Wrestlemania ever?  (Well, 15 wasn’t the biggest ever, but Rock WOULD end up doing it at X-7 and then probably again this year to break the record of the Trump show.)  And a three-time WWF champion with a huge following? And that the Sultan would get successfully repackaged as a dancing sumo wrestler and get almost equally over?  (Yeah, by 2001 had far surpassed Rikishi, of course.)  Rocky gets *no* pop. For the record, this was supposed to be Rocky getting beaten like a dog by “Wildman” Marc Mero, but the injury to Mero that put him out for almost a year prevented it, and so we get the Sultan, evil Arab.  (I don’t actually remember if the Mero theory was ever proven, but it certainly sounds logical given his push at the time, win streak, and impending heel turn.  All the pieces would fit.)  Rocky tries more stuff here than today (dropkick and a couple of other moves) but it doesn’t look very good. The dreaded “Rocky Sucks” chant makes it’s PPV debut here. Several times, and very loud. (“Let’s go Rocky! / Rocky Sucks!”) Terrible match. The Sultan is former Headshinker Fatu, for those who don’t know. (Wow, thanks, doofus.)  The Sultan hits a headbutt off the top but only gets two. Sultan…moves…so…slow. Lots of resting. I’m soooo glad Rocky had a personality transplant in late 97. Faarooq is probably less glad, of course. (I’m sure he got over it after all the APA merchandise cheques came in.)  The crowd is downright hostile towards the Rock, even booing him as he powers out of a chinlock. Rocky makes the superman comeback, hulking up and drawing no reaction from the crowd. He nails a belly-to-belly for two and hits his “Layin the Smack Down” DDT, setting up a flying bodypress, but the Iron Shiek is distracting the ref. (The world needs Iron Sheik managing Jinder Mahal if they want to get him over.  That would be GOLD.)  Sultan gets a superkick and a piledriver for a couple of two counts, but Rocky rolls Sultan up out of nowhere for three. Crowd isn’t appreciative. Vince, who is many things, is not stupid. He heard the crowd reaction and took the title off Maivia soon after, then re-tooled him into The Rock a few months later. The rest is history. The Evil Foreigners work over Rocky, but Rocky Johnson makes the save. -* A horrible match.  (Rock got a bit better.)  

Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust.

Geez, who’s the chick with no breasts, a huge jaw, and thin hair? (HHH in 2002 after the HGH kicked in?) Oh, wait, it’s Chyna. And since when is “Amazonian” a word? HHH gets no heat. Goldust gets less. Man, if you were in the crowd for this show, I’m sorry for you.  (Plus if you live in Chicago in general.)  This is the less-than-enthralling blowoff for the feud that introduced Chyna. The more I watch these old HHH matches, I more I’m amazed that he’s currently one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. HHH gets beat on for a while, which is Good, because The Mantra of the Smark says that Hunter is a good seller but has lousy offense. (That of course changed drastically.)  Fabulous bump from Goldust, as they fight on the top rope and HHH shoves him to the floor. The bump is less impressive on replay as you can see Goldust slamming the mat for effect on the way down. HHH goes into his punch and kick offense (and knee, can’t forget the knee). Oh my GOD, Hunter uses a swinging neckbreaker AND an abdominal stretch, and that’s TWO moves which don’t involve his knee. (That used to be the easiest running joke in wrestling before HHH totally changed his character and offense in 1999.)   Doesn’t last long as Helmsley pulls out the high knee and kneedrop. They exchange some two counts and Goldust makes a comeback with a buttbutt. He gets a bulldog for two. Chyna starts to go after Marlena. Goldust goes for the Curtain Call, but Hunter reverses to the Pedigree. Goldust reverses that and slingshots him, but tries to save Marlena, only to accidentally send her into the arms of Chyna, and then get Pedigreed for the HHH win. Oh, the crushing jaws of irony. Crowd couldn’t possibly be less excited. *1/2, mostly for the last sequence and Goldust’s bump.

WWF World tag team title match: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. Vader & Mankind.

(What a strangely random tag match for Wrestlemania.)  This is just before the tearful Hart family reunion on RAW. Vader and Mankind were both managed by Paul Bearer at this point. Vader pulverizes Owen to start, not selling anything of consequence. It gets really ugly and disjointed from there, as Bulldog does a lot of kicking and punching. Everyone is a heel here, so the crowd chants for Owen. Go fig. Bulldog gets hit with the urn and becomes heel in peril. This is a very dull match. Mick is looking downright skinny here. Vader does his patented “try something off the second rope and get powerslammed” spot and Davey tags Owen. Owen with a flying bodypress for two, but gets nailed by Vader and becomes heel in peril #2. Vader and Mankind do Demolition Decapitation on Owen on the floor. Cool. Boring “beat up Owen” segment, although Owen does a nice bit with Mankind in the corner. Then a nice belly-to-belly on Mankind on the floor. Owen and Mick really need to do a feud. (They did one later at the house shows and it was indeed legendary, featuring the infamous “sell the bag of popcorn” spot.)  Owen gets the hot tag and Bulldog cleans house…but get Mandible Claw’d. Both guys fall to the floor and get counted out. Yawn. *1/2 Again, some nice spots, nothing else. For those who don’t know, Mankind and Vader were originally promised the tag titles here, but Bret Hart pulled a power play and demanded that the Harts keep the belts to set up the Hart Foundation angle.  (I’m pretty sure that was incorrect, actually.  I forget what I was basing that one on but it was debunked.)  

– We see a review of the Hart-Austin storyline, and it’s SOOOOOOOO precognizant that it’s SCARY. Bret becomes increasingly paranoid and worried about being screwed over by his friends, he’s bitter towards Shawn Michaels, he thinks Steve Austin is taking his place and the WWF is turning into a bunch of degenerates…I mean, my god, it couldn’t have been any more perfect if you had written it to turn out like it did. Watching this footage really undermines Bret’s case and makes him look like the Boy Who Cried Wolf with regards to Montreal. I mean, he’s been crying about being screwed for months before right? Wow. Vince is an evil genius.  (Now he’s just evil.)  

Submission match: Bret Hart v. Steve Austin.

Ken Shamrock is the guest referee. Brawl outside the ring to start, with Austin crotching Hart on the STEEL railing and clotheslining him to the floor. They brawl into the crowd, with Austin ramming Bret into the boards and pounding on him. Hitman comes back and they brawl up the stairs. Back to the ring, and Hart takes a MAN-SIZED bump to the stairs. Austin clotheslines him off the apron. Austin tries to use the steel steps but Bret kicks them out of his hands. Austin rams Bret to the post. We actually go the ring. Austin stomps on Bret, but Bret pulls out a neckbreaker and an elbow off the second rope. Vince starts badmouthing Bret, nothing that he’ll probably have an excuse if he loses. Wow, I mean, WOW, this shit is brilliant in retrospect. I stand in awe of Vincent K. McMahon. Bret works on Austin’s knee viciously. Austin suddenly hits the stunner out of nowhere, but can’t capitilize fast enough. Big Austin chant. Bret goes back to the knee. The ringpost figure-four makes it’s PPV debut to a monster pop. Bret grabs the bell and a chair, and opts to try the Brian Pillman Maneuver (Now known as “Pillmanizing”) on Austin, to a big pop. Austin gets loose and WHACKS Hart with the chair, to a big pop. Another monster shot and a monster pop. Crowd is INTO Austin, big time. Austin with a slam, cross-corner whip and a suplex. Elbow off the second rope. Austin hits a russian legsweep and applies an odd cross-armbreaker. Crowd is 50/50. Boston crab from Austin to a big pop. Bret makes the ropes, so Austin goes for a Sharpshooter instead. Jerry: “Wouldn’t that have been incredible, to have to submit to the Sharpshooter?” Vince: “Hey, it could happen.” No shit. Bret escapes and Austin tosses him to the floor. Whip reversal sends Austin crashing into the timekeeper. Austin rips open a huge gash on his head. Now that’s some high-quality blading. Austin gets rammed to the stairs and the ringpost. Austin is literally dripping blood on the ring. Hart drops an elbow and stomps away. Crowd doesn’t feel so good about Bret now. He grabs a chair and smashes it into Austin’s knee. You can almost feel the crowd changing sides. (Here’s the brilliance — Bret Hart was doing the same storyline as Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 8, but unlike Piper, Bret GAVE IN TO THE DARK SIDE and couldn’t resist the temptation to be evil.  Kind of neat.)  Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but Austin blocks. Bret pounds Austin in the corner, but Steve counters with a greco-roman ballshot. Austin whips Bret to the corner, then does some stomping of his own. Austin with a superplex. Austin’s face is literally covered in blood. Austin grabs a cable from ringside and chokes out Bret, but Bret grabs the bell that he brought in 10 minutes earlier and rings it on Austin’s head. Sharpshooter. We get the famous shot of Austin bleeding all over the ring and screaming in pain. (And that’s the moment that truly turned Austin into the biggest superstar ever.)  Austin fights the pain and powers out…but Bret hangs on. He reapplies the move and moves to the center of the ring. Austin passes out and Shamrock stops the match. Crowd is less than thrilled. Austin is DEAD. Bret soaks in some cheers, then goes back to pounding on Austin. Shamrock takes him down and gets a big pop. Hart leaves to huge boos. Austin leaves to the crowd chanting his name. Hogan and Flair WISH they could pull this off. (Well, they used to be able to, and Hogan certainly pulled it off 5 years after this…)  This would set off the Steve Austin v. Hart Foundation war that carried the WWF through all of 1997, and was supposed to culminate in Bret returning the job to Austin at Wrestlemania XIV, but, well, you know…shit happens. *****

Chicago Street Fight: The Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson v. Faaaarrrooqqq, Crush & Savio Vega.

Did I get the spelling right? That many double letters always throws me off. I miss PG-13 as the white boy rappers. (I believe WWE mashed them together in a car crusher and created John Cena, just like Clark Kent and Evil Superman in the third Superman movie.)  D-Lo Brown makes his Wrestlemania debut, albeit as a non-speaking flunky in a suit. The NOD brings plunder with them. Total brawl, of course. Ahmed has a SWEET spot, doing a plancha over the railing onto Crush. Animal tries to piledrive Faarooq through a table, but blows the spot. There’s just too much going on here to follow. Faarooq gets slammed through a table by Ahmed, causing him internal damage. Fire extinguishers get used a couple of times. Savio puts a noose around Ahmed’s neck and the NOD B-Team tries to hang him. Y’know what’s really sad and ironic: Out of everyone involved in this match, the one with the most success and respect is D-Lo Brown, and he’s not even wrestling here. (Well, Faarooq is the guy in the Hall of Fame now whereas D-Lo basically got himself Miz’d, so I’d dispute that now.)  There’s a point there somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Faarooq takes a sweet bump, getting yanked over the top to the floor by Hawk. His huge ass padded him. The match starts to drag, indicating it’s about 3 minutes too long. Ahmed goes for the Pearl River Plunge on Faarooq, but the NOD B-Team attacks. LOD finish Crush with the Doomsday Device and a 2×4 shot for good measure. Ahmed gives the unnamed D-Lo two PRPs and the PG-13 gets Doomsday Deviced simultaneously. Pretty good garbage match. ***1/2

WWF World title match: Sid v. The Undertaker.

Because it’s a special occasion, UT is wearing his original “grey rubber gloves and torn sleeves” outfit. HBK is doing commentary, working through the pain of the smile-ectomy he went through which put him out. Undertaker has gone through a year of shitkickings from Mankind, and this is his reward for loyalty. Sid gets the clear-cut heel pop. Bret Hart makes his way to the ring and grabs a mike, sending threats to Shawn, telling off Undertaker, and claiming Sid screwed him. So Sid powerbombs him. Served him right. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your heel turn. Undertaker attacks Sid from behind and we’re underway. Undertaker hammers Sid a few time and slams him for a two count. Ropewalk shot, but Sid won’t sell. UT charges the corner but gets caught in a bearhug for resthold #1. And that uses up a couple of minutes. Big boot and Sid pushes him over the top rope, then into the Spanish announce table. Bad night for the foreign announcers. Sid drops UT on the railing a couple of times, then slams him through the table. Vince announces that this was changed to a no-DQ match beforehand. Sid rolls UT in for two. CAMEL CLUTCH OF DEATH is resthold #2. Double axehandle off the 2nd rope, and Sid stalls. Ugly powerslam gets two. And a couple more. Sid drops the leg for two. And a couple more. I like that he keeps trying for the pin, forcing UT to keep kicking out. UT hits the flying clothesline, but Sid no-sells. They fight to the floor. Back in the ring, UT misses an elbowdrop. Sid goes into resthold #3. UT breaks and powerslams Sid for two. UT applies a VULCAN NERVEGRIP OF DOOM for resthold #4. Sid escapes and they both hit a big boot at the same time for a double KO spot. Sid is up first for a two count. Another double axehandle. A sort of clothesline-like type thing off the second rope gets two. Match…..moving……so……slow. UT blocks another 2nd rope attempt, but Sid no-sells again and slams UT, then heads to the top rope. UT does the zombie situp and crotches Sid. Slam off the top, and UT goes to the top. Flying clothesline gets two. UT goes for the tombstone, but Sid reverses to his own. It only gets two. Sid dumps UT, and Bret is back. He wallops Sid with a chair from behind and gets dragged off by referees. UT takes advantage and rams Sid into the steel. Back in the ring, UT chokeslams Sid for two. UT misses…whatever…coming off the ropes and Sid powerbombs him. Nope, here’s Bret again. Sid knocks him off the apron, but walks right into the tombstone and gets pinned. Way screwy ending. UT wins his second World title. Crap match. 1/2* This was, for all intents and purposes, the last appearance of Sid.

The Bottom Line: I’d suggest picking up a copy of “Cause Stone Cold Said So”, which has the Austin-Hart match on it and can be bought for $6 at Wal-Mart. I wasn’t terribly into the WWF at this point, and remained so until the Hart Foundation angle went through the roof shortly after this. Wrestlemania 9 was the worst, but this is second. The big highlight is available elsewhere, so don’t bother checking this dog out.

Wrestlemania Countdown: 13

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 13

(2012 Scott sez:  I had thought there was a later version of this rant, but apparently I’ve only done it once.  This was definitely an off-year for the show in general, as it was promoted essentially like just another PPV on the schedule and as such made it easy for me to pass up.)  

– Here’s an interesting bit: Before Zen’s copy of WM13, there’s a copy of Bret Hart’s tirade from Albany where he loses to Sid and then goes off on a curse-filled rant about getting screwed while Vince looks on. Eerily prescient of what would happen at Survivor Series later that year.

– Live from Chicago, Illinois.  Original airdate:  March 24, 1997

– Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon.

Free-For-All match: Flash Funk v. Billy Gunn.

This is only included here because I find it amazing that Gunn went from nothing low-midcarder to “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, DX member and major star with catchphrase. (And then back to midcarder again) This is a total nothing time-waster as Gunn spends most of it chinlocking Scorpio. I make sure to bug my roommate about wearing his hair exactly like Gunn. This was pre-Rockabilly, btw. That would be the *next* PPV. Match gets moderately good at the end as Scorp makes the comeback with a victory roll off the top rope, something which I haven’t seen before or since. A moonsault hits the knees, however. Gunn goes to the top and gets crotched, yet pulls out a tornado DDT for the pin. Now *there’s* a good finisher for him today. Not a bad match. **

Opening match proper: The Headbangers v. The Blackjacks v. Furnas & Lafon v. The Godwinns.

The winners get a tag title shot at some indeterminate time in the future, which never comes into play. Hmm, there’s two members of the Ministry of Darkness here: Phineas Godwinn, who would become known as Mideon, and Bradshaw, who would become known as Bradshaw. No one in the ring is over in the standard sense of the word. As a rough guide, the periods with {Furnas or Lafon or Mosh or Thrasher} v. {Not Godwinns} are quite watchable, and the rest is not. Blackjacks and Furnas/Lafon get themselves disqualified fairly quickly, leaving the epic Headbangers/Godwinns feud to reach it’s zenith. Mosh should jump to WCW and become Saturn’s partner. He’s got the look and the music…hey, this *is* a little coincidental, isn’t it? (In fact, Mosh got repackaged as Beaver Cleavage and then as D-Lo Brown’s loser partner, so maybe he should have done that after all.)  Crowd is dead for this. The Headbangers have the gall to work in a highspot to boost it a 1/2*, with Mosh doing a springboard bodypress to send Henry to the floor, then Rocket-Launching Thrasher onto Henry on the floor. Thrasher tries a moonsault back in the ring but misses. A pier-six erupts and Mosh hits a cannonball on Phineas for the pin. Oddly enough, at Badd Blood, Mosh would try that very spot and get powerbombed to lose the tag titles to the Godwinns. Ah, yes, the announcers refresh my memory by pointing out that the Bangers will meet Owen and Bulldog the next night on RAW. The match ended up being nothing. (Much like all four teams in the match, no disrespect to the dead, of course.)  **

– Brian Pillman and Sunny hype the hotline. Man, life turned to shit for both of them, didn’t it?

– The Honky Tonk Man is out to remind us he’s here and do commentary for…

Intercontinental title match: Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan. Wow, welcome to Bizarro World. (Isn’t that Toronto?) Who would have EVER, I mean, EVER thought that Rocky would end up main-eventing what should turn out to be the biggest Wrestlemania ever?  (Well, 15 wasn’t the biggest ever, but Rock WOULD end up doing it at X-7 and then probably again this year to break the record of the Trump show.)  And a three-time WWF champion with a huge following? And that the Sultan would get successfully repackaged as a dancing sumo wrestler and get almost equally over?  (Yeah, by 2001 had far surpassed Rikishi, of course.)  Rocky gets *no* pop. For the record, this was supposed to be Rocky getting beaten like a dog by “Wildman” Marc Mero, but the injury to Mero that put him out for almost a year prevented it, and so we get the Sultan, evil Arab.  (I don’t actually remember if the Mero theory was ever proven, but it certainly sounds logical given his push at the time, win streak, and impending heel turn.  All the pieces would fit.)  Rocky tries more stuff here than today (dropkick and a couple of other moves) but it doesn’t look very good. The dreaded “Rocky Sucks” chant makes it’s PPV debut here. Several times, and very loud. (“Let’s go Rocky! / Rocky Sucks!”) Terrible match. The Sultan is former Headshinker Fatu, for those who don’t know. (Wow, thanks, doofus.)  The Sultan hits a headbutt off the top but only gets two. Sultan…moves…so…slow. Lots of resting. I’m soooo glad Rocky had a personality transplant in late 97. Faarooq is probably less glad, of course. (I’m sure he got over it after all the APA merchandise cheques came in.)  The crowd is downright hostile towards the Rock, even booing him as he powers out of a chinlock. Rocky makes the superman comeback, hulking up and drawing no reaction from the crowd. He nails a belly-to-belly for two and hits his “Layin the Smack Down” DDT, setting up a flying bodypress, but the Iron Shiek is distracting the ref. (The world needs Iron Sheik managing Jinder Mahal if they want to get him over.  That would be GOLD.)  Sultan gets a superkick and a piledriver for a couple of two counts, but Rocky rolls Sultan up out of nowhere for three. Crowd isn’t appreciative. Vince, who is many things, is not stupid. He heard the crowd reaction and took the title off Maivia soon after, then re-tooled him into The Rock a few months later. The rest is history. The Evil Foreigners work over Rocky, but Rocky Johnson makes the save. -* A horrible match.  (Rock got a bit better.)  

Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust.

Geez, who’s the chick with no breasts, a huge jaw, and thin hair? (HHH in 2002 after the HGH kicked in?) Oh, wait, it’s Chyna. And since when is “Amazonian” a word? HHH gets no heat. Goldust gets less. Man, if you were in the crowd for this show, I’m sorry for you.  (Plus if you live in Chicago in general.)  This is the less-than-enthralling blowoff for the feud that introduced Chyna. The more I watch these old HHH matches, I more I’m amazed that he’s currently one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. HHH gets beat on for a while, which is Good, because The Mantra of the Smark says that Hunter is a good seller but has lousy offense. (That of course changed drastically.)  Fabulous bump from Goldust, as they fight on the top rope and HHH shoves him to the floor. The bump is less impressive on replay as you can see Goldust slamming the mat for effect on the way down. HHH goes into his punch and kick offense (and knee, can’t forget the knee). Oh my GOD, Hunter uses a swinging neckbreaker AND an abdominal stretch, and that’s TWO moves which don’t involve his knee. (That used to be the easiest running joke in wrestling before HHH totally changed his character and offense in 1999.)   Doesn’t last long as Helmsley pulls out the high knee and kneedrop. They exchange some two counts and Goldust makes a comeback with a buttbutt. He gets a bulldog for two. Chyna starts to go after Marlena. Goldust goes for the Curtain Call, but Hunter reverses to the Pedigree. Goldust reverses that and slingshots him, but tries to save Marlena, only to accidentally send her into the arms of Chyna, and then get Pedigreed for the HHH win. Oh, the crushing jaws of irony. Crowd couldn’t possibly be less excited. *1/2, mostly for the last sequence and Goldust’s bump.

WWF World tag team title match: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. Vader & Mankind.

(What a strangely random tag match for Wrestlemania.)  This is just before the tearful Hart family reunion on RAW. Vader and Mankind were both managed by Paul Bearer at this point. Vader pulverizes Owen to start, not selling anything of consequence. It gets really ugly and disjointed from there, as Bulldog does a lot of kicking and punching. Everyone is a heel here, so the crowd chants for Owen. Go fig. Bulldog gets hit with the urn and becomes heel in peril. This is a very dull match. Mick is looking downright skinny here. Vader does his patented “try something off the second rope and get powerslammed” spot and Davey tags Owen. Owen with a flying bodypress for two, but gets nailed by Vader and becomes heel in peril #2. Vader and Mankind do Demolition Decapitation on Owen on the floor. Cool. Boring “beat up Owen” segment, although Owen does a nice bit with Mankind in the corner. Then a nice belly-to-belly on Mankind on the floor. Owen and Mick really need to do a feud. (They did one later at the house shows and it was indeed legendary, featuring the infamous “sell the bag of popcorn” spot.)  Owen gets the hot tag and Bulldog cleans house…but get Mandible Claw’d. Both guys fall to the floor and get counted out. Yawn. *1/2 Again, some nice spots, nothing else. For those who don’t know, Mankind and Vader were originally promised the tag titles here, but Bret Hart pulled a power play and demanded that the Harts keep the belts to set up the Hart Foundation angle.  (I’m pretty sure that was incorrect, actually.  I forget what I was basing that one on but it was debunked.)  

– We see a review of the Hart-Austin storyline, and it’s SOOOOOOOO precognizant that it’s SCARY. Bret becomes increasingly paranoid and worried about being screwed over by his friends, he’s bitter towards Shawn Michaels, he thinks Steve Austin is taking his place and the WWF is turning into a bunch of degenerates…I mean, my god, it couldn’t have been any more perfect if you had written it to turn out like it did. Watching this footage really undermines Bret’s case and makes him look like the Boy Who Cried Wolf with regards to Montreal. I mean, he’s been crying about being screwed for months before right? Wow. Vince is an evil genius.  (Now he’s just evil.)  

Submission match: Bret Hart v. Steve Austin.

Ken Shamrock is the guest referee. Brawl outside the ring to start, with Austin crotching Hart on the STEEL railing and clotheslining him to the floor. They brawl into the crowd, with Austin ramming Bret into the boards and pounding on him. Hitman comes back and they brawl up the stairs. Back to the ring, and Hart takes a MAN-SIZED bump to the stairs. Austin clotheslines him off the apron. Austin tries to use the steel steps but Bret kicks them out of his hands. Austin rams Bret to the post. We actually go the ring. Austin stomps on Bret, but Bret pulls out a neckbreaker and an elbow off the second rope. Vince starts badmouthing Bret, nothing that he’ll probably have an excuse if he loses. Wow, I mean, WOW, this shit is brilliant in retrospect. I stand in awe of Vincent K. McMahon. Bret works on Austin’s knee viciously. Austin suddenly hits the stunner out of nowhere, but can’t capitilize fast enough. Big Austin chant. Bret goes back to the knee. The ringpost figure-four makes it’s PPV debut to a monster pop. Bret grabs the bell and a chair, and opts to try the Brian Pillman Maneuver (Now known as “Pillmanizing”) on Austin, to a big pop. Austin gets loose and WHACKS Hart with the chair, to a big pop. Another monster shot and a monster pop. Crowd is INTO Austin, big time. Austin with a slam, cross-corner whip and a suplex. Elbow off the second rope. Austin hits a russian legsweep and applies an odd cross-armbreaker. Crowd is 50/50. Boston crab from Austin to a big pop. Bret makes the ropes, so Austin goes for a Sharpshooter instead. Jerry: “Wouldn’t that have been incredible, to have to submit to the Sharpshooter?” Vince: “Hey, it could happen.” No shit. Bret escapes and Austin tosses him to the floor. Whip reversal sends Austin crashing into the timekeeper. Austin rips open a huge gash on his head. Now that’s some high-quality blading. Austin gets rammed to the stairs and the ringpost. Austin is literally dripping blood on the ring. Hart drops an elbow and stomps away. Crowd doesn’t feel so good about Bret now. He grabs a chair and smashes it into Austin’s knee. You can almost feel the crowd changing sides. (Here’s the brilliance — Bret Hart was doing the same storyline as Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 8, but unlike Piper, Bret GAVE IN TO THE DARK SIDE and couldn’t resist the temptation to be evil.  Kind of neat.)  Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but Austin blocks. Bret pounds Austin in the corner, but Steve counters with a greco-roman ballshot. Austin whips Bret to the corner, then does some stomping of his own. Austin with a superplex. Austin’s face is literally covered in blood. Austin grabs a cable from ringside and chokes out Bret, but Bret grabs the bell that he brought in 10 minutes earlier and rings it on Austin’s head. Sharpshooter. We get the famous shot of Austin bleeding all over the ring and screaming in pain. (And that’s the moment that truly turned Austin into the biggest superstar ever.)  Austin fights the pain and powers out…but Bret hangs on. He reapplies the move and moves to the center of the ring. Austin passes out and Shamrock stops the match. Crowd is less than thrilled. Austin is DEAD. Bret soaks in some cheers, then goes back to pounding on Austin. Shamrock takes him down and gets a big pop. Hart leaves to huge boos. Austin leaves to the crowd chanting his name. Hogan and Flair WISH they could pull this off. (Well, they used to be able to, and Hogan certainly pulled it off 5 years after this…)  This would set off the Steve Austin v. Hart Foundation war that carried the WWF through all of 1997, and was supposed to culminate in Bret returning the job to Austin at Wrestlemania XIV, but, well, you know…shit happens. *****

Chicago Street Fight: The Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson v. Faaaarrrooqqq, Crush & Savio Vega.

Did I get the spelling right? That many double letters always throws me off. I miss PG-13 as the white boy rappers. (I believe WWE mashed them together in a car crusher and created John Cena, just like Clark Kent and Evil Superman in the third Superman movie.)  D-Lo Brown makes his Wrestlemania debut, albeit as a non-speaking flunky in a suit. The NOD brings plunder with them. Total brawl, of course. Ahmed has a SWEET spot, doing a plancha over the railing onto Crush. Animal tries to piledrive Faarooq through a table, but blows the spot. There’s just too much going on here to follow. Faarooq gets slammed through a table by Ahmed, causing him internal damage. Fire extinguishers get used a couple of times. Savio puts a noose around Ahmed’s neck and the NOD B-Team tries to hang him. Y’know what’s really sad and ironic: Out of everyone involved in this match, the one with the most success and respect is D-Lo Brown, and he’s not even wrestling here. (Well, Faarooq is the guy in the Hall of Fame now whereas D-Lo basically got himself Miz’d, so I’d dispute that now.)  There’s a point there somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Faarooq takes a sweet bump, getting yanked over the top to the floor by Hawk. His huge ass padded him. The match starts to drag, indicating it’s about 3 minutes too long. Ahmed goes for the Pearl River Plunge on Faarooq, but the NOD B-Team attacks. LOD finish Crush with the Doomsday Device and a 2×4 shot for good measure. Ahmed gives the unnamed D-Lo two PRPs and the PG-13 gets Doomsday Deviced simultaneously. Pretty good garbage match. ***1/2

WWF World title match: Sid v. The Undertaker.

Because it’s a special occasion, UT is wearing his original “grey rubber gloves and torn sleeves” outfit. HBK is doing commentary, working through the pain of the smile-ectomy he went through which put him out. Undertaker has gone through a year of shitkickings from Mankind, and this is his reward for loyalty. Sid gets the clear-cut heel pop. Bret Hart makes his way to the ring and grabs a mike, sending threats to Shawn, telling off Undertaker, and claiming Sid screwed him. So Sid powerbombs him. Served him right. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your heel turn. Undertaker attacks Sid from behind and we’re underway. Undertaker hammers Sid a few time and slams him for a two count. Ropewalk shot, but Sid won’t sell. UT charges the corner but gets caught in a bearhug for resthold #1. And that uses up a couple of minutes. Big boot and Sid pushes him over the top rope, then into the Spanish announce table. Bad night for the foreign announcers. Sid drops UT on the railing a couple of times, then slams him through the table. Vince announces that this was changed to a no-DQ match beforehand. Sid rolls UT in for two. CAMEL CLUTCH OF DEATH is resthold #2. Double axehandle off the 2nd rope, and Sid stalls. Ugly powerslam gets two. And a couple more. Sid drops the leg for two. And a couple more. I like that he keeps trying for the pin, forcing UT to keep kicking out. UT hits the flying clothesline, but Sid no-sells. They fight to the floor. Back in the ring, UT misses an elbowdrop. Sid goes into resthold #3. UT breaks and powerslams Sid for two. UT applies a VULCAN NERVEGRIP OF DOOM for resthold #4. Sid escapes and they both hit a big boot at the same time for a double KO spot. Sid is up first for a two count. Another double axehandle. A sort of clothesline-like type thing off the second rope gets two. Match…..moving……so……slow. UT blocks another 2nd rope attempt, but Sid no-sells again and slams UT, then heads to the top rope. UT does the zombie situp and crotches Sid. Slam off the top, and UT goes to the top. Flying clothesline gets two. UT goes for the tombstone, but Sid reverses to his own. It only gets two. Sid dumps UT, and Bret is back. He wallops Sid with a chair from behind and gets dragged off by referees. UT takes advantage and rams Sid into the steel. Back in the ring, UT chokeslams Sid for two. UT misses…whatever…coming off the ropes and Sid powerbombs him. Nope, here’s Bret again. Sid knocks him off the apron, but walks right into the tombstone and gets pinned. Way screwy ending. UT wins his second World title. Crap match. 1/2* This was, for all intents and purposes, the last appearance of Sid.

The Bottom Line: I’d suggest picking up a copy of “Cause Stone Cold Said So”, which has the Austin-Hart match on it and can be bought for $6 at Wal-Mart. I wasn’t terribly into the WWF at this point, and remained so until the Hart Foundation angle went through the roof shortly after this. Wrestlemania 9 was the worst, but this is second. The big highlight is available elsewhere, so don’t bother checking this dog out.

Wrestlemania Countdown: 13

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 13

(2012 Scott sez:  I had thought there was a later version of this rant, but apparently I’ve only done it once.  This was definitely an off-year for the show in general, as it was promoted essentially like just another PPV on the schedule and as such made it easy for me to pass up.)  

– Here’s an interesting bit: Before Zen’s copy of WM13, there’s a copy of Bret Hart’s tirade from Albany where he loses to Sid and then goes off on a curse-filled rant about getting screwed while Vince looks on. Eerily prescient of what would happen at Survivor Series later that year.

– Live from Chicago, Illinois.  Original airdate:  March 24, 1997

– Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon.

Free-For-All match: Flash Funk v. Billy Gunn.

This is only included here because I find it amazing that Gunn went from nothing low-midcarder to “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, DX member and major star with catchphrase. (And then back to midcarder again) This is a total nothing time-waster as Gunn spends most of it chinlocking Scorpio. I make sure to bug my roommate about wearing his hair exactly like Gunn. This was pre-Rockabilly, btw. That would be the *next* PPV. Match gets moderately good at the end as Scorp makes the comeback with a victory roll off the top rope, something which I haven’t seen before or since. A moonsault hits the knees, however. Gunn goes to the top and gets crotched, yet pulls out a tornado DDT for the pin. Now *there’s* a good finisher for him today. Not a bad match. **

Opening match proper: The Headbangers v. The Blackjacks v. Furnas & Lafon v. The Godwinns.

The winners get a tag title shot at some indeterminate time in the future, which never comes into play. Hmm, there’s two members of the Ministry of Darkness here: Phineas Godwinn, who would become known as Mideon, and Bradshaw, who would become known as Bradshaw. No one in the ring is over in the standard sense of the word. As a rough guide, the periods with {Furnas or Lafon or Mosh or Thrasher} v. {Not Godwinns} are quite watchable, and the rest is not. Blackjacks and Furnas/Lafon get themselves disqualified fairly quickly, leaving the epic Headbangers/Godwinns feud to reach it’s zenith. Mosh should jump to WCW and become Saturn’s partner. He’s got the look and the music…hey, this *is* a little coincidental, isn’t it? (In fact, Mosh got repackaged as Beaver Cleavage and then as D-Lo Brown’s loser partner, so maybe he should have done that after all.)  Crowd is dead for this. The Headbangers have the gall to work in a highspot to boost it a 1/2*, with Mosh doing a springboard bodypress to send Henry to the floor, then Rocket-Launching Thrasher onto Henry on the floor. Thrasher tries a moonsault back in the ring but misses. A pier-six erupts and Mosh hits a cannonball on Phineas for the pin. Oddly enough, at Badd Blood, Mosh would try that very spot and get powerbombed to lose the tag titles to the Godwinns. Ah, yes, the announcers refresh my memory by pointing out that the Bangers will meet Owen and Bulldog the next night on RAW. The match ended up being nothing. (Much like all four teams in the match, no disrespect to the dead, of course.)  **

– Brian Pillman and Sunny hype the hotline. Man, life turned to shit for both of them, didn’t it?

– The Honky Tonk Man is out to remind us he’s here and do commentary for…

Intercontinental title match: Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan. Wow, welcome to Bizarro World. (Isn’t that Toronto?) Who would have EVER, I mean, EVER thought that Rocky would end up main-eventing what should turn out to be the biggest Wrestlemania ever?  (Well, 15 wasn’t the biggest ever, but Rock WOULD end up doing it at X-7 and then probably again this year to break the record of the Trump show.)  And a three-time WWF champion with a huge following? And that the Sultan would get successfully repackaged as a dancing sumo wrestler and get almost equally over?  (Yeah, by 2001 had far surpassed Rikishi, of course.)  Rocky gets *no* pop. For the record, this was supposed to be Rocky getting beaten like a dog by “Wildman” Marc Mero, but the injury to Mero that put him out for almost a year prevented it, and so we get the Sultan, evil Arab.  (I don’t actually remember if the Mero theory was ever proven, but it certainly sounds logical given his push at the time, win streak, and impending heel turn.  All the pieces would fit.)  Rocky tries more stuff here than today (dropkick and a couple of other moves) but it doesn’t look very good. The dreaded “Rocky Sucks” chant makes it’s PPV debut here. Several times, and very loud. (“Let’s go Rocky! / Rocky Sucks!”) Terrible match. The Sultan is former Headshinker Fatu, for those who don’t know. (Wow, thanks, doofus.)  The Sultan hits a headbutt off the top but only gets two. Sultan…moves…so…slow. Lots of resting. I’m soooo glad Rocky had a personality transplant in late 97. Faarooq is probably less glad, of course. (I’m sure he got over it after all the APA merchandise cheques came in.)  The crowd is downright hostile towards the Rock, even booing him as he powers out of a chinlock. Rocky makes the superman comeback, hulking up and drawing no reaction from the crowd. He nails a belly-to-belly for two and hits his “Layin the Smack Down” DDT, setting up a flying bodypress, but the Iron Shiek is distracting the ref. (The world needs Iron Sheik managing Jinder Mahal if they want to get him over.  That would be GOLD.)  Sultan gets a superkick and a piledriver for a couple of two counts, but Rocky rolls Sultan up out of nowhere for three. Crowd isn’t appreciative. Vince, who is many things, is not stupid. He heard the crowd reaction and took the title off Maivia soon after, then re-tooled him into The Rock a few months later. The rest is history. The Evil Foreigners work over Rocky, but Rocky Johnson makes the save. -* A horrible match.  (Rock got a bit better.)  

Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust.

Geez, who’s the chick with no breasts, a huge jaw, and thin hair? (HHH in 2002 after the HGH kicked in?) Oh, wait, it’s Chyna. And since when is “Amazonian” a word? HHH gets no heat. Goldust gets less. Man, if you were in the crowd for this show, I’m sorry for you.  (Plus if you live in Chicago in general.)  This is the less-than-enthralling blowoff for the feud that introduced Chyna. The more I watch these old HHH matches, I more I’m amazed that he’s currently one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. HHH gets beat on for a while, which is Good, because The Mantra of the Smark says that Hunter is a good seller but has lousy offense. (That of course changed drastically.)  Fabulous bump from Goldust, as they fight on the top rope and HHH shoves him to the floor. The bump is less impressive on replay as you can see Goldust slamming the mat for effect on the way down. HHH goes into his punch and kick offense (and knee, can’t forget the knee). Oh my GOD, Hunter uses a swinging neckbreaker AND an abdominal stretch, and that’s TWO moves which don’t involve his knee. (That used to be the easiest running joke in wrestling before HHH totally changed his character and offense in 1999.)   Doesn’t last long as Helmsley pulls out the high knee and kneedrop. They exchange some two counts and Goldust makes a comeback with a buttbutt. He gets a bulldog for two. Chyna starts to go after Marlena. Goldust goes for the Curtain Call, but Hunter reverses to the Pedigree. Goldust reverses that and slingshots him, but tries to save Marlena, only to accidentally send her into the arms of Chyna, and then get Pedigreed for the HHH win. Oh, the crushing jaws of irony. Crowd couldn’t possibly be less excited. *1/2, mostly for the last sequence and Goldust’s bump.

WWF World tag team title match: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. Vader & Mankind.

(What a strangely random tag match for Wrestlemania.)  This is just before the tearful Hart family reunion on RAW. Vader and Mankind were both managed by Paul Bearer at this point. Vader pulverizes Owen to start, not selling anything of consequence. It gets really ugly and disjointed from there, as Bulldog does a lot of kicking and punching. Everyone is a heel here, so the crowd chants for Owen. Go fig. Bulldog gets hit with the urn and becomes heel in peril. This is a very dull match. Mick is looking downright skinny here. Vader does his patented “try something off the second rope and get powerslammed” spot and Davey tags Owen. Owen with a flying bodypress for two, but gets nailed by Vader and becomes heel in peril #2. Vader and Mankind do Demolition Decapitation on Owen on the floor. Cool. Boring “beat up Owen” segment, although Owen does a nice bit with Mankind in the corner. Then a nice belly-to-belly on Mankind on the floor. Owen and Mick really need to do a feud. (They did one later at the house shows and it was indeed legendary, featuring the infamous “sell the bag of popcorn” spot.)  Owen gets the hot tag and Bulldog cleans house…but get Mandible Claw’d. Both guys fall to the floor and get counted out. Yawn. *1/2 Again, some nice spots, nothing else. For those who don’t know, Mankind and Vader were originally promised the tag titles here, but Bret Hart pulled a power play and demanded that the Harts keep the belts to set up the Hart Foundation angle.  (I’m pretty sure that was incorrect, actually.  I forget what I was basing that one on but it was debunked.)  

– We see a review of the Hart-Austin storyline, and it’s SOOOOOOOO precognizant that it’s SCARY. Bret becomes increasingly paranoid and worried about being screwed over by his friends, he’s bitter towards Shawn Michaels, he thinks Steve Austin is taking his place and the WWF is turning into a bunch of degenerates…I mean, my god, it couldn’t have been any more perfect if you had written it to turn out like it did. Watching this footage really undermines Bret’s case and makes him look like the Boy Who Cried Wolf with regards to Montreal. I mean, he’s been crying about being screwed for months before right? Wow. Vince is an evil genius.  (Now he’s just evil.)  

Submission match: Bret Hart v. Steve Austin.

Ken Shamrock is the guest referee. Brawl outside the ring to start, with Austin crotching Hart on the STEEL railing and clotheslining him to the floor. They brawl into the crowd, with Austin ramming Bret into the boards and pounding on him. Hitman comes back and they brawl up the stairs. Back to the ring, and Hart takes a MAN-SIZED bump to the stairs. Austin clotheslines him off the apron. Austin tries to use the steel steps but Bret kicks them out of his hands. Austin rams Bret to the post. We actually go the ring. Austin stomps on Bret, but Bret pulls out a neckbreaker and an elbow off the second rope. Vince starts badmouthing Bret, nothing that he’ll probably have an excuse if he loses. Wow, I mean, WOW, this shit is brilliant in retrospect. I stand in awe of Vincent K. McMahon. Bret works on Austin’s knee viciously. Austin suddenly hits the stunner out of nowhere, but can’t capitilize fast enough. Big Austin chant. Bret goes back to the knee. The ringpost figure-four makes it’s PPV debut to a monster pop. Bret grabs the bell and a chair, and opts to try the Brian Pillman Maneuver (Now known as “Pillmanizing”) on Austin, to a big pop. Austin gets loose and WHACKS Hart with the chair, to a big pop. Another monster shot and a monster pop. Crowd is INTO Austin, big time. Austin with a slam, cross-corner whip and a suplex. Elbow off the second rope. Austin hits a russian legsweep and applies an odd cross-armbreaker. Crowd is 50/50. Boston crab from Austin to a big pop. Bret makes the ropes, so Austin goes for a Sharpshooter instead. Jerry: “Wouldn’t that have been incredible, to have to submit to the Sharpshooter?” Vince: “Hey, it could happen.” No shit. Bret escapes and Austin tosses him to the floor. Whip reversal sends Austin crashing into the timekeeper. Austin rips open a huge gash on his head. Now that’s some high-quality blading. Austin gets rammed to the stairs and the ringpost. Austin is literally dripping blood on the ring. Hart drops an elbow and stomps away. Crowd doesn’t feel so good about Bret now. He grabs a chair and smashes it into Austin’s knee. You can almost feel the crowd changing sides. (Here’s the brilliance — Bret Hart was doing the same storyline as Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 8, but unlike Piper, Bret GAVE IN TO THE DARK SIDE and couldn’t resist the temptation to be evil.  Kind of neat.)  Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but Austin blocks. Bret pounds Austin in the corner, but Steve counters with a greco-roman ballshot. Austin whips Bret to the corner, then does some stomping of his own. Austin with a superplex. Austin’s face is literally covered in blood. Austin grabs a cable from ringside and chokes out Bret, but Bret grabs the bell that he brought in 10 minutes earlier and rings it on Austin’s head. Sharpshooter. We get the famous shot of Austin bleeding all over the ring and screaming in pain. (And that’s the moment that truly turned Austin into the biggest superstar ever.)  Austin fights the pain and powers out…but Bret hangs on. He reapplies the move and moves to the center of the ring. Austin passes out and Shamrock stops the match. Crowd is less than thrilled. Austin is DEAD. Bret soaks in some cheers, then goes back to pounding on Austin. Shamrock takes him down and gets a big pop. Hart leaves to huge boos. Austin leaves to the crowd chanting his name. Hogan and Flair WISH they could pull this off. (Well, they used to be able to, and Hogan certainly pulled it off 5 years after this…)  This would set off the Steve Austin v. Hart Foundation war that carried the WWF through all of 1997, and was supposed to culminate in Bret returning the job to Austin at Wrestlemania XIV, but, well, you know…shit happens. *****

Chicago Street Fight: The Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson v. Faaaarrrooqqq, Crush & Savio Vega.

Did I get the spelling right? That many double letters always throws me off. I miss PG-13 as the white boy rappers. (I believe WWE mashed them together in a car crusher and created John Cena, just like Clark Kent and Evil Superman in the third Superman movie.)  D-Lo Brown makes his Wrestlemania debut, albeit as a non-speaking flunky in a suit. The NOD brings plunder with them. Total brawl, of course. Ahmed has a SWEET spot, doing a plancha over the railing onto Crush. Animal tries to piledrive Faarooq through a table, but blows the spot. There’s just too much going on here to follow. Faarooq gets slammed through a table by Ahmed, causing him internal damage. Fire extinguishers get used a couple of times. Savio puts a noose around Ahmed’s neck and the NOD B-Team tries to hang him. Y’know what’s really sad and ironic: Out of everyone involved in this match, the one with the most success and respect is D-Lo Brown, and he’s not even wrestling here. (Well, Faarooq is the guy in the Hall of Fame now whereas D-Lo basically got himself Miz’d, so I’d dispute that now.)  There’s a point there somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Faarooq takes a sweet bump, getting yanked over the top to the floor by Hawk. His huge ass padded him. The match starts to drag, indicating it’s about 3 minutes too long. Ahmed goes for the Pearl River Plunge on Faarooq, but the NOD B-Team attacks. LOD finish Crush with the Doomsday Device and a 2×4 shot for good measure. Ahmed gives the unnamed D-Lo two PRPs and the PG-13 gets Doomsday Deviced simultaneously. Pretty good garbage match. ***1/2

WWF World title match: Sid v. The Undertaker.

Because it’s a special occasion, UT is wearing his original “grey rubber gloves and torn sleeves” outfit. HBK is doing commentary, working through the pain of the smile-ectomy he went through which put him out. Undertaker has gone through a year of shitkickings from Mankind, and this is his reward for loyalty. Sid gets the clear-cut heel pop. Bret Hart makes his way to the ring and grabs a mike, sending threats to Shawn, telling off Undertaker, and claiming Sid screwed him. So Sid powerbombs him. Served him right. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your heel turn. Undertaker attacks Sid from behind and we’re underway. Undertaker hammers Sid a few time and slams him for a two count. Ropewalk shot, but Sid won’t sell. UT charges the corner but gets caught in a bearhug for resthold #1. And that uses up a couple of minutes. Big boot and Sid pushes him over the top rope, then into the Spanish announce table. Bad night for the foreign announcers. Sid drops UT on the railing a couple of times, then slams him through the table. Vince announces that this was changed to a no-DQ match beforehand. Sid rolls UT in for two. CAMEL CLUTCH OF DEATH is resthold #2. Double axehandle off the 2nd rope, and Sid stalls. Ugly powerslam gets two. And a couple more. Sid drops the leg for two. And a couple more. I like that he keeps trying for the pin, forcing UT to keep kicking out. UT hits the flying clothesline, but Sid no-sells. They fight to the floor. Back in the ring, UT misses an elbowdrop. Sid goes into resthold #3. UT breaks and powerslams Sid for two. UT applies a VULCAN NERVEGRIP OF DOOM for resthold #4. Sid escapes and they both hit a big boot at the same time for a double KO spot. Sid is up first for a two count. Another double axehandle. A sort of clothesline-like type thing off the second rope gets two. Match…..moving……so……slow. UT blocks another 2nd rope attempt, but Sid no-sells again and slams UT, then heads to the top rope. UT does the zombie situp and crotches Sid. Slam off the top, and UT goes to the top. Flying clothesline gets two. UT goes for the tombstone, but Sid reverses to his own. It only gets two. Sid dumps UT, and Bret is back. He wallops Sid with a chair from behind and gets dragged off by referees. UT takes advantage and rams Sid into the steel. Back in the ring, UT chokeslams Sid for two. UT misses…whatever…coming off the ropes and Sid powerbombs him. Nope, here’s Bret again. Sid knocks him off the apron, but walks right into the tombstone and gets pinned. Way screwy ending. UT wins his second World title. Crap match. 1/2* This was, for all intents and purposes, the last appearance of Sid.

The Bottom Line: I’d suggest picking up a copy of “Cause Stone Cold Said So”, which has the Austin-Hart match on it and can be bought for $6 at Wal-Mart. I wasn’t terribly into the WWF at this point, and remained so until the Hart Foundation angle went through the roof shortly after this. Wrestlemania 9 was the worst, but this is second. The big highlight is available elsewhere, so don’t bother checking this dog out.

Wrestlemania Countdown: 13

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 13

(2012 Scott sez:  I had thought there was a later version of this rant, but apparently I’ve only done it once.  This was definitely an off-year for the show in general, as it was promoted essentially like just another PPV on the schedule and as such made it easy for me to pass up.)  

– Here’s an interesting bit: Before Zen’s copy of WM13, there’s a copy of Bret Hart’s tirade from Albany where he loses to Sid and then goes off on a curse-filled rant about getting screwed while Vince looks on. Eerily prescient of what would happen at Survivor Series later that year.

– Live from Chicago, Illinois.  Original airdate:  March 24, 1997

– Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon.

Free-For-All match: Flash Funk v. Billy Gunn.

This is only included here because I find it amazing that Gunn went from nothing low-midcarder to “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, DX member and major star with catchphrase. (And then back to midcarder again) This is a total nothing time-waster as Gunn spends most of it chinlocking Scorpio. I make sure to bug my roommate about wearing his hair exactly like Gunn. This was pre-Rockabilly, btw. That would be the *next* PPV. Match gets moderately good at the end as Scorp makes the comeback with a victory roll off the top rope, something which I haven’t seen before or since. A moonsault hits the knees, however. Gunn goes to the top and gets crotched, yet pulls out a tornado DDT for the pin. Now *there’s* a good finisher for him today. Not a bad match. **

Opening match proper: The Headbangers v. The Blackjacks v. Furnas & Lafon v. The Godwinns.

The winners get a tag title shot at some indeterminate time in the future, which never comes into play. Hmm, there’s two members of the Ministry of Darkness here: Phineas Godwinn, who would become known as Mideon, and Bradshaw, who would become known as Bradshaw. No one in the ring is over in the standard sense of the word. As a rough guide, the periods with {Furnas or Lafon or Mosh or Thrasher} v. {Not Godwinns} are quite watchable, and the rest is not. Blackjacks and Furnas/Lafon get themselves disqualified fairly quickly, leaving the epic Headbangers/Godwinns feud to reach it’s zenith. Mosh should jump to WCW and become Saturn’s partner. He’s got the look and the music…hey, this *is* a little coincidental, isn’t it? (In fact, Mosh got repackaged as Beaver Cleavage and then as D-Lo Brown’s loser partner, so maybe he should have done that after all.)  Crowd is dead for this. The Headbangers have the gall to work in a highspot to boost it a 1/2*, with Mosh doing a springboard bodypress to send Henry to the floor, then Rocket-Launching Thrasher onto Henry on the floor. Thrasher tries a moonsault back in the ring but misses. A pier-six erupts and Mosh hits a cannonball on Phineas for the pin. Oddly enough, at Badd Blood, Mosh would try that very spot and get powerbombed to lose the tag titles to the Godwinns. Ah, yes, the announcers refresh my memory by pointing out that the Bangers will meet Owen and Bulldog the next night on RAW. The match ended up being nothing. (Much like all four teams in the match, no disrespect to the dead, of course.)  **

– Brian Pillman and Sunny hype the hotline. Man, life turned to shit for both of them, didn’t it?

– The Honky Tonk Man is out to remind us he’s here and do commentary for…

Intercontinental title match: Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan. Wow, welcome to Bizarro World. (Isn’t that Toronto?) Who would have EVER, I mean, EVER thought that Rocky would end up main-eventing what should turn out to be the biggest Wrestlemania ever?  (Well, 15 wasn’t the biggest ever, but Rock WOULD end up doing it at X-7 and then probably again this year to break the record of the Trump show.)  And a three-time WWF champion with a huge following? And that the Sultan would get successfully repackaged as a dancing sumo wrestler and get almost equally over?  (Yeah, by 2001 had far surpassed Rikishi, of course.)  Rocky gets *no* pop. For the record, this was supposed to be Rocky getting beaten like a dog by “Wildman” Marc Mero, but the injury to Mero that put him out for almost a year prevented it, and so we get the Sultan, evil Arab.  (I don’t actually remember if the Mero theory was ever proven, but it certainly sounds logical given his push at the time, win streak, and impending heel turn.  All the pieces would fit.)  Rocky tries more stuff here than today (dropkick and a couple of other moves) but it doesn’t look very good. The dreaded “Rocky Sucks” chant makes it’s PPV debut here. Several times, and very loud. (“Let’s go Rocky! / Rocky Sucks!”) Terrible match. The Sultan is former Headshinker Fatu, for those who don’t know. (Wow, thanks, doofus.)  The Sultan hits a headbutt off the top but only gets two. Sultan…moves…so…slow. Lots of resting. I’m soooo glad Rocky had a personality transplant in late 97. Faarooq is probably less glad, of course. (I’m sure he got over it after all the APA merchandise cheques came in.)  The crowd is downright hostile towards the Rock, even booing him as he powers out of a chinlock. Rocky makes the superman comeback, hulking up and drawing no reaction from the crowd. He nails a belly-to-belly for two and hits his “Layin the Smack Down” DDT, setting up a flying bodypress, but the Iron Shiek is distracting the ref. (The world needs Iron Sheik managing Jinder Mahal if they want to get him over.  That would be GOLD.)  Sultan gets a superkick and a piledriver for a couple of two counts, but Rocky rolls Sultan up out of nowhere for three. Crowd isn’t appreciative. Vince, who is many things, is not stupid. He heard the crowd reaction and took the title off Maivia soon after, then re-tooled him into The Rock a few months later. The rest is history. The Evil Foreigners work over Rocky, but Rocky Johnson makes the save. -* A horrible match.  (Rock got a bit better.)  

Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust.

Geez, who’s the chick with no breasts, a huge jaw, and thin hair? (HHH in 2002 after the HGH kicked in?) Oh, wait, it’s Chyna. And since when is “Amazonian” a word? HHH gets no heat. Goldust gets less. Man, if you were in the crowd for this show, I’m sorry for you.  (Plus if you live in Chicago in general.)  This is the less-than-enthralling blowoff for the feud that introduced Chyna. The more I watch these old HHH matches, I more I’m amazed that he’s currently one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. HHH gets beat on for a while, which is Good, because The Mantra of the Smark says that Hunter is a good seller but has lousy offense. (That of course changed drastically.)  Fabulous bump from Goldust, as they fight on the top rope and HHH shoves him to the floor. The bump is less impressive on replay as you can see Goldust slamming the mat for effect on the way down. HHH goes into his punch and kick offense (and knee, can’t forget the knee). Oh my GOD, Hunter uses a swinging neckbreaker AND an abdominal stretch, and that’s TWO moves which don’t involve his knee. (That used to be the easiest running joke in wrestling before HHH totally changed his character and offense in 1999.)   Doesn’t last long as Helmsley pulls out the high knee and kneedrop. They exchange some two counts and Goldust makes a comeback with a buttbutt. He gets a bulldog for two. Chyna starts to go after Marlena. Goldust goes for the Curtain Call, but Hunter reverses to the Pedigree. Goldust reverses that and slingshots him, but tries to save Marlena, only to accidentally send her into the arms of Chyna, and then get Pedigreed for the HHH win. Oh, the crushing jaws of irony. Crowd couldn’t possibly be less excited. *1/2, mostly for the last sequence and Goldust’s bump.

WWF World tag team title match: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. Vader & Mankind.

(What a strangely random tag match for Wrestlemania.)  This is just before the tearful Hart family reunion on RAW. Vader and Mankind were both managed by Paul Bearer at this point. Vader pulverizes Owen to start, not selling anything of consequence. It gets really ugly and disjointed from there, as Bulldog does a lot of kicking and punching. Everyone is a heel here, so the crowd chants for Owen. Go fig. Bulldog gets hit with the urn and becomes heel in peril. This is a very dull match. Mick is looking downright skinny here. Vader does his patented “try something off the second rope and get powerslammed” spot and Davey tags Owen. Owen with a flying bodypress for two, but gets nailed by Vader and becomes heel in peril #2. Vader and Mankind do Demolition Decapitation on Owen on the floor. Cool. Boring “beat up Owen” segment, although Owen does a nice bit with Mankind in the corner. Then a nice belly-to-belly on Mankind on the floor. Owen and Mick really need to do a feud. (They did one later at the house shows and it was indeed legendary, featuring the infamous “sell the bag of popcorn” spot.)  Owen gets the hot tag and Bulldog cleans house…but get Mandible Claw’d. Both guys fall to the floor and get counted out. Yawn. *1/2 Again, some nice spots, nothing else. For those who don’t know, Mankind and Vader were originally promised the tag titles here, but Bret Hart pulled a power play and demanded that the Harts keep the belts to set up the Hart Foundation angle.  (I’m pretty sure that was incorrect, actually.  I forget what I was basing that one on but it was debunked.)  

– We see a review of the Hart-Austin storyline, and it’s SOOOOOOOO precognizant that it’s SCARY. Bret becomes increasingly paranoid and worried about being screwed over by his friends, he’s bitter towards Shawn Michaels, he thinks Steve Austin is taking his place and the WWF is turning into a bunch of degenerates…I mean, my god, it couldn’t have been any more perfect if you had written it to turn out like it did. Watching this footage really undermines Bret’s case and makes him look like the Boy Who Cried Wolf with regards to Montreal. I mean, he’s been crying about being screwed for months before right? Wow. Vince is an evil genius.  (Now he’s just evil.)  

Submission match: Bret Hart v. Steve Austin.

Ken Shamrock is the guest referee. Brawl outside the ring to start, with Austin crotching Hart on the STEEL railing and clotheslining him to the floor. They brawl into the crowd, with Austin ramming Bret into the boards and pounding on him. Hitman comes back and they brawl up the stairs. Back to the ring, and Hart takes a MAN-SIZED bump to the stairs. Austin clotheslines him off the apron. Austin tries to use the steel steps but Bret kicks them out of his hands. Austin rams Bret to the post. We actually go the ring. Austin stomps on Bret, but Bret pulls out a neckbreaker and an elbow off the second rope. Vince starts badmouthing Bret, nothing that he’ll probably have an excuse if he loses. Wow, I mean, WOW, this shit is brilliant in retrospect. I stand in awe of Vincent K. McMahon. Bret works on Austin’s knee viciously. Austin suddenly hits the stunner out of nowhere, but can’t capitilize fast enough. Big Austin chant. Bret goes back to the knee. The ringpost figure-four makes it’s PPV debut to a monster pop. Bret grabs the bell and a chair, and opts to try the Brian Pillman Maneuver (Now known as “Pillmanizing”) on Austin, to a big pop. Austin gets loose and WHACKS Hart with the chair, to a big pop. Another monster shot and a monster pop. Crowd is INTO Austin, big time. Austin with a slam, cross-corner whip and a suplex. Elbow off the second rope. Austin hits a russian legsweep and applies an odd cross-armbreaker. Crowd is 50/50. Boston crab from Austin to a big pop. Bret makes the ropes, so Austin goes for a Sharpshooter instead. Jerry: “Wouldn’t that have been incredible, to have to submit to the Sharpshooter?” Vince: “Hey, it could happen.” No shit. Bret escapes and Austin tosses him to the floor. Whip reversal sends Austin crashing into the timekeeper. Austin rips open a huge gash on his head. Now that’s some high-quality blading. Austin gets rammed to the stairs and the ringpost. Austin is literally dripping blood on the ring. Hart drops an elbow and stomps away. Crowd doesn’t feel so good about Bret now. He grabs a chair and smashes it into Austin’s knee. You can almost feel the crowd changing sides. (Here’s the brilliance — Bret Hart was doing the same storyline as Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 8, but unlike Piper, Bret GAVE IN TO THE DARK SIDE and couldn’t resist the temptation to be evil.  Kind of neat.)  Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but Austin blocks. Bret pounds Austin in the corner, but Steve counters with a greco-roman ballshot. Austin whips Bret to the corner, then does some stomping of his own. Austin with a superplex. Austin’s face is literally covered in blood. Austin grabs a cable from ringside and chokes out Bret, but Bret grabs the bell that he brought in 10 minutes earlier and rings it on Austin’s head. Sharpshooter. We get the famous shot of Austin bleeding all over the ring and screaming in pain. (And that’s the moment that truly turned Austin into the biggest superstar ever.)  Austin fights the pain and powers out…but Bret hangs on. He reapplies the move and moves to the center of the ring. Austin passes out and Shamrock stops the match. Crowd is less than thrilled. Austin is DEAD. Bret soaks in some cheers, then goes back to pounding on Austin. Shamrock takes him down and gets a big pop. Hart leaves to huge boos. Austin leaves to the crowd chanting his name. Hogan and Flair WISH they could pull this off. (Well, they used to be able to, and Hogan certainly pulled it off 5 years after this…)  This would set off the Steve Austin v. Hart Foundation war that carried the WWF through all of 1997, and was supposed to culminate in Bret returning the job to Austin at Wrestlemania XIV, but, well, you know…shit happens. *****

Chicago Street Fight: The Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson v. Faaaarrrooqqq, Crush & Savio Vega.

Did I get the spelling right? That many double letters always throws me off. I miss PG-13 as the white boy rappers. (I believe WWE mashed them together in a car crusher and created John Cena, just like Clark Kent and Evil Superman in the third Superman movie.)  D-Lo Brown makes his Wrestlemania debut, albeit as a non-speaking flunky in a suit. The NOD brings plunder with them. Total brawl, of course. Ahmed has a SWEET spot, doing a plancha over the railing onto Crush. Animal tries to piledrive Faarooq through a table, but blows the spot. There’s just too much going on here to follow. Faarooq gets slammed through a table by Ahmed, causing him internal damage. Fire extinguishers get used a couple of times. Savio puts a noose around Ahmed’s neck and the NOD B-Team tries to hang him. Y’know what’s really sad and ironic: Out of everyone involved in this match, the one with the most success and respect is D-Lo Brown, and he’s not even wrestling here. (Well, Faarooq is the guy in the Hall of Fame now whereas D-Lo basically got himself Miz’d, so I’d dispute that now.)  There’s a point there somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Faarooq takes a sweet bump, getting yanked over the top to the floor by Hawk. His huge ass padded him. The match starts to drag, indicating it’s about 3 minutes too long. Ahmed goes for the Pearl River Plunge on Faarooq, but the NOD B-Team attacks. LOD finish Crush with the Doomsday Device and a 2×4 shot for good measure. Ahmed gives the unnamed D-Lo two PRPs and the PG-13 gets Doomsday Deviced simultaneously. Pretty good garbage match. ***1/2

WWF World title match: Sid v. The Undertaker.

Because it’s a special occasion, UT is wearing his original “grey rubber gloves and torn sleeves” outfit. HBK is doing commentary, working through the pain of the smile-ectomy he went through which put him out. Undertaker has gone through a year of shitkickings from Mankind, and this is his reward for loyalty. Sid gets the clear-cut heel pop. Bret Hart makes his way to the ring and grabs a mike, sending threats to Shawn, telling off Undertaker, and claiming Sid screwed him. So Sid powerbombs him. Served him right. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your heel turn. Undertaker attacks Sid from behind and we’re underway. Undertaker hammers Sid a few time and slams him for a two count. Ropewalk shot, but Sid won’t sell. UT charges the corner but gets caught in a bearhug for resthold #1. And that uses up a couple of minutes. Big boot and Sid pushes him over the top rope, then into the Spanish announce table. Bad night for the foreign announcers. Sid drops UT on the railing a couple of times, then slams him through the table. Vince announces that this was changed to a no-DQ match beforehand. Sid rolls UT in for two. CAMEL CLUTCH OF DEATH is resthold #2. Double axehandle off the 2nd rope, and Sid stalls. Ugly powerslam gets two. And a couple more. Sid drops the leg for two. And a couple more. I like that he keeps trying for the pin, forcing UT to keep kicking out. UT hits the flying clothesline, but Sid no-sells. They fight to the floor. Back in the ring, UT misses an elbowdrop. Sid goes into resthold #3. UT breaks and powerslams Sid for two. UT applies a VULCAN NERVEGRIP OF DOOM for resthold #4. Sid escapes and they both hit a big boot at the same time for a double KO spot. Sid is up first for a two count. Another double axehandle. A sort of clothesline-like type thing off the second rope gets two. Match…..moving……so……slow. UT blocks another 2nd rope attempt, but Sid no-sells again and slams UT, then heads to the top rope. UT does the zombie situp and crotches Sid. Slam off the top, and UT goes to the top. Flying clothesline gets two. UT goes for the tombstone, but Sid reverses to his own. It only gets two. Sid dumps UT, and Bret is back. He wallops Sid with a chair from behind and gets dragged off by referees. UT takes advantage and rams Sid into the steel. Back in the ring, UT chokeslams Sid for two. UT misses…whatever…coming off the ropes and Sid powerbombs him. Nope, here’s Bret again. Sid knocks him off the apron, but walks right into the tombstone and gets pinned. Way screwy ending. UT wins his second World title. Crap match. 1/2* This was, for all intents and purposes, the last appearance of Sid.

The Bottom Line: I’d suggest picking up a copy of “Cause Stone Cold Said So”, which has the Austin-Hart match on it and can be bought for $6 at Wal-Mart. I wasn’t terribly into the WWF at this point, and remained so until the Hart Foundation angle went through the roof shortly after this. Wrestlemania 9 was the worst, but this is second. The big highlight is available elsewhere, so don’t bother checking this dog out.

The King's Recap: WWF Raw Is War 4.16.2001

WWF RAW IS WAR
Monday, April 16th, 2001

Live from Knoxville, TN

List of WWF Champions at the time:
WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin (4/01/2001)
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Hardy (4/12/2001)
WWF World Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian (4/01/2001)
WWF European Champion: Eddie Guerrero (4/01/2001)
WWF Hardcore Champion: Kane (4/01/2001)
WWF Women’s Champion: Chyna (4/01/2001)
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Crash Holly (3/18/2001)

~ Raw comes on the air with highlights of Jeff Hardy’s upset title win over Triple H on Smackdown. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman welcome us to the show and announce that tonight Kurt Angle takes on Chris Jericho. Plus the Hollys get their Tag Team title shot and Triple H gets his Intercontinential Title rematch with Jeff Hardy.

~ Things kick off with Vince McMahon swaggering his way to the ring to make sure we get an opening promo. Vince gets on the mic and mentions how he tried to reason with his wife last week only for her to demand a divorce. Vince says in his view, when two people exchange vows the marriage should literally last until death do them part. Vince says is should be unlawfur for marriage to end in a divorce since it causes half the world’s problems. Vince asks te fans to think of the hardships and heartaches of divorce, which also forces someone to divide his assets. Vince announces he will not grant Linda a divorce and will fight her to the bitter end for the sancity of their marriage. Suddenly a glum-looking Debra starts making her way to the ring and I don’t foresee this segment getting any better. Debra gets on the mic and says she doesn’t believe Vince and accuses him of being a negative inflence on her husband. Vince denies that, saying him beating The Rock and sending him out of here and joining up with Triple H was his idea. Vince also says that he can’t be blamed for Austin beating JR down and brutalizing The Hardys and Lita last week. Vince says he’s proud to know the “real” Stone Cold Steve Austin and he’s a great man who became WWF Champion. Vince then mentions how behind every great man is a great woman but feels that Debra is an exception to that rule. Debra gets offended and says she does blame Vince before slapping the taste out of his mouth and storming off. Well that was 10 minutes I’ll never get back, and it sure felt like a lot longer than that. Way to go, guys.

~ Back from break we get a replay of Debra slapping Vince in the face. Don’t know why I’d want to see it again. We then see Vince makins his way to his limo and pauses to shout “Women!” before climbing in and driving off.

~ Elsewhere we see Steve Austin dragging Debra into their dressing room and yelling at her for slapping Vince before demainding she sit in a chair for the rest of the show.

  • WWF World Tag Team Titles: Edge & Christian © vs. Crash & Hardcore Holly (w/Molly Holly)

This is E&C’s first title defense since winning the belt at Wrestlemania, and was originally scheduled for Smackdown but Rhyno took Crash out before it happened. So the Hollys get their tag title match tonight. E&C come out and give Heyman a paper containing phrases he uses to praise the champs during the match. The Hollys are out and stare down E&C … when Rhyno comes out and Gores Hardcore before the bell rings! Rhyno leaves the ring while Edge demands the bell be rung then covers Hardcore but only gets a two count! Christian helps Edge double-team Hardcore then takes over without a tag and chokes Hardcore with his boot. Edge tags back in for some more stomping when Hardcore starts to fight back but Edge regains the advantage. Christian tags back in and hits a Russian legdweep for a near fall but Hardcore starts to fight back again. Edge nails Hardcore from behind so Hardcore decks him but Christian nails him with a Slop Drop for a two. Christian draws Crash in to distract the referee while Edge helps with a double-team before taking over. Hardocre rallies again but Edge rakes the face to stop that and drops him on the ropes before tagging Christian. Christian then goes for a piledriver but Hardcore counters it into the Alabama Slam and both men are down. Christian grabs Hardcore’s ankle while tagging Edge back in and Edge hits a clothesline followed by a snapmare then slaps on a chinlock. Hardcore fights out of it then comes off the ropes and connects with the dropkick. Hardcore makes the tag to Crash who takes it to E&C then dropkicks Edge and drills Christian with a DDT. Crash drills Edge with a tornado bulldog then does the same to Christian but Edge nails him with a Spear. Molly climbs to the top rope and hits Edge with the Molly-Go-Round and Crash covers him but only gets two. Hardcore comes in and clotheslines Christian and himself over the ropes while Crash climbs to the top rope. Crash hits Edge with a crossbody but Edge rolls through it into a rollup and grabs the tights to steal the pin. (4:16) Not a bad match, actually, and the crowd was somewhat into it. **

~ Backstage The Hardys are arriving at the building when Michael Cole intervews Jeff on facing Triple H again. Jeff calls winning the Intercontinential Title on Thursday an amazing accomplishment for him but there was more to it because what Steve Austin and Triple H did to Lita was wrong. Jeff says he’s fine with giving Triple H his rematch tonight but he and Matt have some unfinished business to take care of first and the two head off.

~ Back from break we get a look at the ‘WCW 1’ limo driving in the garage and sure enough Shane McMahon is here.

  • Bubba Ray Dudley (w/D’Von Dudley) vs. Justin Credible (w/X-Pac and Albert)

Bubba sidesteps Credible to start and peppers him with jabs then whips him into a corner and hits a suplex. Bubba clubs Credible in the back and hits a chop in a corner then whips him and connects with an elbow. Bubba goes for a whip but Credible reverses and X-Pac grabs Bubba’s leg so Bubba pulls him onto the apron. X-Pac snaps Bubba on the ropes and Credible follows it up with a superkick then gets in his offense on him. D’Von then goes after X-Pac on the floor but X’Pac dodges him while Albert nails him witha bicycle kick. Credible snapmares Bubba and snaps him back then hits a clothesline and chokes him on the middle rope. Credible distracts the referee while X-Pac gets in a shot from the floor then hits a DDT that gets a two count. Bubba starts to fight back but Credible regains control then stomps Bubba down in a corner and chokes him. Credible goes for a whip and goes into a waitslock but Bubba switches behind him and hits the BubbaBomb. Bubba whips Credible and hits a backdrop and a cltohesline and Credible begs him off but Bubba won’t have it. Bubba whips Credible into a corner and Credible nearly flips over the ropes then Bubba hits a sidewalk slam. Bubba climbs to the middle rope and goes for a senton but misses it. Credible climbs to the middle rope and leaps off but Bubba catches him with a Diamond Cutter. Bubba covers Credible but Albert pulls Credible away and the referee argues with Albert but that allows X-Pac to come in nail Bubba with the spinkick. X-Pac slips back out while Credible covers Bubba but only gets a two count. X-Pac argues with the referee when Bubba decks him off the apron and the referee keeps Albert from coming in. Bubba slams Credible and sets him up while D’Von climbs to the top rope and hits the “Wassup” headbutt which gets the three. (4:25) And there’s no post-match attack this time around. Pretty blah match that was just there to further this feud.

~ Backstage Shane McMahon runs into Grandmaster Sexay who mumbles some rap asking about the latest with WCW and Shane responds with some incoherent rhyming of his own. The Big Show appears and sends Sexay on his way then asks Shane if he’s here to watch his match. Shane explains he actually came here to confront his father but Vince took off so he’s going to do the same. Show insists he watch him take on Kaientai and Shane says he’ll watch the match from his hotel room and takes off as Show says he has some ideas to run by him. So why did they even bother to bring Shane on the program anyway?

~ We then get a shot of Michael Cole waiting to interview Steve Austin in mere moments as we go to commercial.

~ Back from break Johnathan Coachman interviews Steven Richards about the Right To Censor disintegrating. Richards says what happened last Thursday was the culmination of months of frustration in recruiting new members. Richards then says that he will right the wrong tonight by leading the charge to rid the WWF of the Hardcore Title. Richards says that once he beats Kane the RTC will be united once again, even if he has to sacrifice himself to do so.

~ Elsewhere Kurt Angle whines to Edge & Christian about facing Chris Jericho while William Regal gets Chris Benoit. Angle figures Regal must have mad cow disease for that decision but doesn’t notice Regal waling up behind him. E&C try to warn Angle of Regal’s presence as Angle claims Regal has a fake accent when Regal gets his attention. Angle finally notices Regal and tells him that he wants to face Benoit while Regal should be fighting Jericho. Regal asks Angle to join him in his office for tea and they leave while E&C try to warn him not to drink the tea.

~ Still elsewhere Michael Cole interviews Steve Austin about Triple H losing the Intercontinential Title on Smackdown after he and Debra let the building and now Debra slapping Vince McMahon’s face. Austin mentions how it took two men for the Hardys to beat Triple H when Matt Hardy suddenly jumps Austin! The referees manage to pull Matt off Austin and Austin is curing up a storm as we go to commercial.

~ Back from break we get a replay of Matt Hardy’s sneak attack against Austin. We then find the Hemlseys reacting to what they saw on a monitor when Austin barges in wanting some retaliation. Triple H says that’s what the Hardys want, for them to beat Jeff up so he can’t defend the Intercontinential title tonight, and he doesn’t want Austin to do anything to jeopardize it shot to regain the IC title. So Austin offers to be in Triple H’s corner to help him but Triple H tells him that his state of mind might get him DQ’ed. Triple H suggests Austin instead go cool off at his hotel and let him handle this and Austin relucantly leaves the room.

  • WWF Hardcore Title: Kane © vs. Steven Richards

Richards tosses some plunder in the ring then greets Kane with some garbage can shots but they have no effect. Kane decks Richards and throws him over the ropes then pounds on him as they head past the ramp to the back. Kane throws Richards against a garage door and into a guardrail then nails him with a plastic garbage can. Richards tries to crawl away when Kane grabs a 2×4 then takes a swing but Richards is able to dodge the swing. Richards tries to hide under a semi and Kane grabs him with the rest of the RTC run out and gang up on Kane. Kane tries to fight them off and gets overwhelemed but sure enough here comes The Undertaker for the save. Taker quickly dispatches Goodfather and Val Venis while Kane tosses Bull Buchanan through a nearby door. With his plan in shambles Richards tries to climb up a stack of bleaches to escape but Kane cuts off his escape. Kane scoops Richards up and lawn darts him into a semi trailer and Richards is out for the three count. (3:08) Yeah. Taker then tells the unconcious Richards to forget about fighting the good fight and find a good woman. DUD

~ Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho are shown heading to the ring, signaling they’re up next as we go to commercial.

~ Back from break we get a shot of Debra pacing when Austin comes in and tells her to pack her gear because they’re leaving. Funny how Austin leaving didn’t work out so well for Triple H the last time. Then again…

  • Chris Jericho vs. Kurt Angle

Angle gets on the mic to address the fans but Jericho’s entrance cuts him off as he asks Angle to shut up. Jericho goes right to work on Angle with punches and chops then whips him but Angle hits a shoulderblock. Angle comes off the ropes but Jericho leapfrogs over him and chops him down then follows up with an armdrag. Jericho slaps on an armbar when Angle counters it with a headscissors but Jericho slips out of that into a cover. Angle briges out of it into a backslide for a near fall and Jericho hits more chops but Angle starts fighting back and stomps Jericho down in a corner. Angle whips Jericho into a corner but Jericho comes out with a clothesline. Jericho whips Angle and hits a hiptoss then kncoks him out through the ropes with the springboard dropkick. Angle tries to recovers but Jericho nails him with a baseball slide then goes out and drops him onto the barricade. Jericho throws Angle onto the timekeeper’s chair but Angle grabs the ringbell and jabs Jericho in the chest with it. Angle throws Jericho over the announce table as Heyman tells both guys to leave since they don’t speak Spanish. Angle throws Jericho in the ring and lays the boots to him then hits a suplex and another suplex for a near fall. Jericho starts fighting back and and goes for a whip, Angle reverses him into a corner but eats a boot. Jerihco hops to the middle rope and goes for an axehandle but Angle catches him into a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle plants Jericho with a back suplex that gets a near fall then slaps on a chinlock but Jericho fights out of it. Jericho goes for a whip, Angle reverses it but Jericho rolls him up for a two count then goes for a waistlock. Angle trips Jericho by the leg then goes for the Anklelock but Jericho grabs the ropes before he can get it on. Angle stomsp Angle down whips him into a corner then blocks a kick but Jericho comes back with an enzuigiri. Both men get to their feet and Angle gets a waistlock but Jericho rolls through it into a rollup for a near fall. Jericho goes for a whip, Angle reverses but Jericho hits a flying forearm then goes for the bulldog but misses. Angle goes for the Olympic Slam but Jericho lands on his feet then tries the bulldog again and this time hits it. Jericho goes for the Lionsault and misses Angle but lands on his feet while Angle bails out to the floor and decides he’s had enough of this. Angle starts walking up the ramp when Jericho decides to go after him but William Regal jumps Jericho and there’s a DQ! Lame! (6:52) Terrible finish to what was a pretty sweet match. ***

Anyway Regal fights Jericho down the ramp and throws him in the ring but Jericho takes him down by the legs and puts him in the Walls of Jericho. Regal starts tapping out when Angle comes back in the ring. However Jericho catches Angle coming in and plants him with a fireman’s carry slam then hits the Lionsault. Jericho then stomps Regal down in a corner but Angle nails him from behind and the numbers start to take over. Angle plants Jericho with a suplex and slaps on the Anklelock while Regal also applies the Regal Stretch. Chris Benoit runs in and takes on both men then drills Angle with a DDT and hits Regal with a German suplex. Benoit then suplexes Angle right onto Regal and both heels roll out to the floor while Benoit is left standing.

~ Back from break we get a replay of the previous match’s finish…but it sounds like someone is talking in the ring. Turns out that voice belongs to Regal (with Angle standing near him) who yells at Benoit for meddling in his affairs. Regal demands to have his match with Benoit right now and Benoit does come back out but he’s not coming alone…

  • Chris Benoit (w/Chris Jericho) vs. William Regal (w/Kurt Angle)

The Chrises rush the ring and Benoit goes to work on Regal while Jericho clotheslines Angle over the ropes and the two take their places in the corners. Benoit whips Regal into a corner and htis a suplex then climbs to the top rope and goes for the diving headbutt already but misses it. Regal gets in his shots and hits a dropkick for a near fall then hammers Benoit with forearms and caps off with a European uppercut. Regal hits a suplex that get a two count then grinds his forearm into Benoit’s face but still can’t get three. Regal kicks Benoit in the back and hits an elbowdrop for another near fall then whips him and hits an elbow. Regal hits the kneelifts and an European uppercut then scoops him up but Benoit shifts his weight and falls on top. Regal clotheslines Benoit for a two count then slaps on a modified submission hold but Benoit doesn’t submit. Benoit fights back and comes off the ropes but runs into a knee to the chest and Regal stomps him in the face. Regal hits Benoit with a double kneelift to the face and a forearm to the back but still only gets a two count. Regal applies a chinlock over his knee and Benoti tries to fight out but Regal stops that with a Euro uppercut. Benoit grabs a wasitlock, Regal elbows him away and whips him but Benoit rolls him in a cradle for a two count. Regal knocks Benoit down and works him over in a corner but Benoit reverses position and chops away at him. Benoit whips Regal into the other corner and charegs then eats a boot but comes back with a German suplex. Benoit holds on and hits a second German suplex then goes for a third but Regal tosses him through the ropes. Angle rams Benoit into the apron before throwing him back in the ring but Jericho is over to pounce on him. Regal puts Benoit in the Regal Stretch while the referee tries to break up the Jericho/Angle brawl on the floor. The referee then tries to keep Angle from going in the ring but Jericho makes it in and breaks up Regal’s hold. Benoit quickly puts Regal in the Crossface and the referee makes it back in the ring to see Regal give it up. (5:00) Not exactly their match at the Brian Pillman Memorial Show, but still a good TV bout. Jericho goes in to make sure Angle can’t get a piece of Benoit and helps Benoit clear their foes from the ring, officially cementing Benoit’s face turn. ***

~ JR now hypes the XFL’s Million Dollar Game between the Los Angeles Xtreme and San Francisco Demons which is Saturday Night on NBC. It could be your last chance to catch the XFL (in more ways than one).

~ Backstage we find Billy Gunn walking somewhere with Test who seems unnatually happy about something. Test tells Billy he understands why they’re teaming up against The Radicals but doesn’t get why Raven is their partner. Raven says something about making our own choices and having choices made for us and having no choices in life. Raven calls it his pleasure and torment to team with Billy and Test and mentions something about fate, destiny and pain. Billy wonders if they can trust him, while Test wonders what he just said. I wonder why we wasted our time with this.

~ Back from break Matt Hardy urges Jeff to be on his game tonight, feeling that Triple H will be out to cripple him. Jeff asks Matt about his attacking Steve Austin earlier and Matt says it felt good, just like him retaining his title. The Hardys are interupted by the appearence of Lita, and Matt reminds her how they told her to stay back at the hotel. Lita tells them she couldn’t just watch them on TV with all this action but Matt tries to get Lita to realize it isn’t safe here. Lita says she’s not concerned about safety and insists she stay with them and the Hardys reluctantly agree with her.

  • Test, Raven & Billy Gunn vs. Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn (w/Terri Runnels)

We have one extablished stable against a thrown-together squad. Can you guess who wins? The Radicalz are out first followed by Billy and Test who decide not to wait for Raven and gets things going. Billy goes after Eddie as Malenko and Saturn double-team Test when Raven finally makes his way to the ring. Raven tosses Saturn over the ropes and Test does the same to Malenko while Billy stomps Eddie out as well. The Radicalz try to regroup on the floor before Malenko goes in the ring against Test who pounds on him. Malenko jabs the eyes and goes for a whip but Test reverses ad hits a spinning sidewalk slam for a two count. Test whips Malenko but lowers the head, Malenko kicks the face but Test comes back with a shoulderblock. Billy tags in and gets an armwringer but Malenko jabs his eyes then tags Eddie when Billy regains his sight. Eddie tries offering a hand of friendship but Billy pulls him down by the hair then hits a pair of clotheslines. Billy whips Eddie and presses him up but Saturn made a blind tag and knocks the pile over with a superkick. Saturn hits an elbowdrop and a suplex for a two count then tags Malenko in and Malenko lays the boots to him. Malneko goes for a whip when Billy counters it and hits the Rocker Dropper but is too hurt to make the cover. Eddie clotheslines Billy from the apron then tags in and slings himself over the ropes, connecting with the hilo. Eddie peppers Billy with jabs in his corner when Billy tries to fight out of it but Eddie regains the advantage. Saturn snaps Billy on the top rope then pulls him out to the floor and rams him back-first into the steps. Saturn tosses Billy in the ring and Eddie hits a suplex then tags Malenko in and Malenko kicks Billy in the ribs. Malenko wrenches Billy’s arm then tags Saturn in and Saturn hits a kneedrop to the arm then works it over. Saturn goes for a whip and Billy reverses it but Saturn comes back with an exploder suplex for a near fall. Billy nails Saturn with a jawbreaker then whips him and hits a tilt-o-whirl slam and both men are down. Both men head for the corners and Eddie gets his tag but Billy tags in Raven who greets him with a right hand. Saturn is in and Raven whips him right into Malenko but Eddie gets in a kick and works him over in a corner. Eddie goes for a whip but Raven reverses him into a corner and hits a clothesline followed by the bulldog. Raven covers Eddie and Saturn makes the save but Test comes in and plants Saturn with the Full Nelson slam. Test decks Malenko and knocks Saturn through the ropes with a boot but Malenko knocks him through as well. Malenko turns and slams Raven while Eddie climbs to the top rope and goes for the Frogsplash but misses it. Eddie rolls up to his feet but Raven drils him with the Evenflow DDT then covers and grabs the pin. (5:56) Yes, the makeshift team won. And you’d think Raven pinning the European Champion would have earned him a title shot but it didn’t quite happen that way. **

~ Backstage Kevin Kelly interviews The Big Show on Kaientai challenging him to a handicap match tonight. Show mentions how Kaientai are always saying how they’re evil, while he’s 7-foot-2, 500 pounds of bad attitude. Show then says Kaientai will get every bit of it because Shane McMahon is watching and he has something to prove. On that note Show throws an anvil case just to show how mean he is or something as we go to commercial.

~ Back form break we get a special music video about The Undertaker and Kane set to Marilyn Manson’s “Fight Song”.

~ Big Show makes his way to the ring followed by Kaientai but Taka gets on the mic and in his dubbed voice claims they’ve lured Show into a trap because not even Godzilla is a match for cold, hard cash and they will show Big Show not to mess with true evil. Funaki adds in an “Indeed!” just before The Acolytes make their way out, presumibly having heen hired by Kaientai. Show tries to fight them off and grabs Bradshaw by the throat but Faarooq save him from a chokeslam with a low blow. Bradshaw follows up with the Clothesline from Hades and the Acolytes double-team Show as Kaientai look on. The Acolytes whip Show and plant him with a double spinebuster before finally heading out, having done their job.

  • The Big Show vs. KaientaiHandicap Match

With Show down both guys climb to the top rope and Funaki hits an elbowdrop while Taka adds in a kneedrop. The Kaientai guys start celebrating for some reason then head back to the top as Show starts to get to his feet. Both guys leap off again but this time Show catches both of them in a choke and hits a double chokeslam then covers both guys for the pin. (0:33) Waste of time, let’s just move on. NR

~ Back from break we get footage of Trish Stratus arriving at WWF New York earlier as we prepare to hear from her. We then get Trish’s promo as she says she was attracted to Vince McMahon, more for his money than anything else. Trish says she would do anything for the right cause and found it when she realized the kind of man Vince really was. Trish says that’s why she took Linda McMahon off her medication and will support her duing her divorce proceedings. Trish finishes by saying she may be nice but there will always be a part of her that’s naughty. Okay then.

~ JR and Heyman then hype the IC Title rematch by showing the video we already saw at the beginning of the program.

~ We then see the Helmsleys making their way to the ring which means the main event is next. The Hardys and Lita also head out but William Regal stops them and yells at Matt for what he did to Steve Austin and because of his actions earlier he’s banning him from ringside. The group doesn’t like that as Regal also warns Matt that should he take even one step towards the ring, Jeff will be stripped of the title on the spot. Regal walks off while Matt assures Jeff that he doesn’t need him out there and Jeff and Lita head off without him.

~ Back for break the XFL Championship game is hyped again, this time with a special look at Tommy Maddox. JR mentions the game will be held in the Colliseum and good seats are still available. Eh, the joke is too obvious.

  • WWF Intercontinential Title: Jeff Hardy © (w/Lita) vs. Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon)

The participants file out to the ring as we get a shot of Matt Hardy watching the match on a backstage monitor. Triple H wastes no time pounding on Jeff and stomphing him down in a corner then decks him with a hard right. Triple H shoulderblocks Jeff in a corner and Earl Hebner orders him to back off then whips him but eats a boot. Jeff comes off the ropes but Triple H drops him to the mat then grabs his hair and unloads on him with rights. Triple H hits a delayed suplex and follows up with a kneedrop for a two as Matt urges Jeff on from the back. Triple H continues his assault then goes for another delayed suplex but Jeff lands on his feet and gets in his shots. Jeff comes off the ropes but runs into a powerslam. Triple H tosses Jeff through the ropes then goes after him and drops him onto the steps before rolling him back in the ring. Jeff desparately tries to fight back and comes off the ropes but Triple H clotheslines him down for a near fall then covers again for another two. Triple H puts Jeff in an Abdominal Stretch and even grabs the ropes for leverage while pounding on Jeff’s chest. Triple H grabs the rope again but Hebner sees it and kicks the arm off, allowing Jeff to escape with a hiptoss. Jeff comes off the ropes yet again and yet again Triple H cuts him down, this time with a knee to the chest. Jeff comes back with a jawbreaker and whips Triple H but lowers the head and Triple H hits the facebuster. Triple H covers Jeff but Lita pulls him off so Stephanie goes over to slap her but Lita manages to block it. Lita then chases Stephanie around the ring but Triple H goes out to stand in her way forcing Lita to back off. Stephanie gets Hebner’s attention while Triple H tosses Jeff through the ropes then goes after him on the floor. However Jeff manages to grab the IC belt and clocks Triple H with it, sending him acorss the announce table!

Jeff rams Triple H into the ringpost and the steps then into the announce table before rolling him in the ring. Jeff climbs to the top rope and connects with a missile dropkick … but only gets a two count! Jeff goes for a whip, Triple H reverses him into a corner but Jeff lifts himself over Triple H and dropkicks him. Triple H sets Jeff up for the Pedigree when Jeff counters it into the backslide but that only gets a near fall. Jeff hits a hedscissors then climbs to the top rope and goes for the Whisper in the Wind but Triple H dodges it. Triple H hops to the mddile rope but Jeff cuts him off with a dropkick then goes up and hits a Frankensteiner. Jeff climbs to the top again and goes for the Swanton Bomb but Triple H avoids it and both men are down. We cut to the back to see Matt’s reaction .. when Steve Austin suddenly appears and assaults Matt with a chair. Lita sees this on the TitanTron and doesn’t know whether to go to the back and check on Matt or stay with Jeff. Lita eventually chooses Matt over Jeff and starts heading up the ramp, but Steve Austin emerges and cuts her off. Austin starts stalking after Lita with an evil look on his face … when we suddenly hear the bell ring? The heck? Apparenlty while everyone’s attention was diverted Triple H hit Jeff with the Pedigree and got the clean pin to regain the title. (11:28) So Triple H gets his win back after just four days, rendering Jeff’s big victory on Smackdown virtually meaningless. Match was okay but this was a blown oppertunity to cement the Hardys as the next big stars and lead to them possibly getting a main event shot at Backlash, which would have been something different that the usual fare. Instead, just check out what happened next. **½

Austin goes in and helps Triple H double-team Jeff then takes off his belt and whips Jeff with it. Matt comes in with a chair but Triple H cuts him off then grabs the chair himself and whacks Matt with it. Austin and Triple H continue assaulting Matt and Jeff with the chair and belt then dare Lita to come in the ring. Lita tries to back away but Stephanie tosses her in the ring and it looks like a repeat of last Monday is coming. Austin and Triple H move in … when the lights go out before The Undertaker and Kane come out to the stage. Taker and Kane slowly make their way down the ramp with Austin and Triple H signaling they’re ready to go. However once Taker and Kane slide in the ring Ausitn and Triple H bail out to the floor and back up the ramp. Yep, after the past week suggested Matt and Jeff would be the next big stars, it’s Undertaker and Kane who are going to be challenging Austin and Triple H, instantly killing any shot the Hardys had at a push.

Conclusion: Up and down episode that continued the WWF’s stunning fall from their highest point. The first hour wasn’t much to sit through with some boring matches and skits but things got better with two great bouts in Angle/Jericho and Benoit/Regal. The main event was okay but again it rendered the past few shows became moot as Undertaker and Kane just swooped right in to take the main event spot while the Hardys were swept back to the midcard. And it wouldn’t be the last time the bookers started to push someone new only to abort it. Not to mention Backlash was less than two weeks from this show yet not one match had been booked for it up to this point. It just felt like the bookers most likely felt they didn’t have to really try as hard anymore since they were the lone top promotion in the U.S. So not really a bad show and there is some good stuff to see here, but I am going to have to go thumbs in the middle.

For more reviews visit my archive at: http://kingsrecaps.wordpress.com

The King's Recap: WWF Raw Is War 4.16.2001

WWF RAW IS WAR
Monday, April 16th, 2001

Live from Knoxville, TN

List of WWF Champions at the time:
WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin (4/01/2001)
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Hardy (4/12/2001)
WWF World Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian (4/01/2001)
WWF European Champion: Eddie Guerrero (4/01/2001)
WWF Hardcore Champion: Kane (4/01/2001)
WWF Women’s Champion: Chyna (4/01/2001)
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Crash Holly (3/18/2001)

~ Raw comes on the air with highlights of Jeff Hardy’s upset title win over Triple H on Smackdown. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman welcome us to the show and announce that tonight Kurt Angle takes on Chris Jericho. Plus the Hollys get their Tag Team title shot and Triple H gets his Intercontinential Title rematch with Jeff Hardy.

~ Things kick off with Vince McMahon swaggering his way to the ring to make sure we get an opening promo. Vince gets on the mic and mentions how he tried to reason with his wife last week only for her to demand a divorce. Vince says in his view, when two people exchange vows the marriage should literally last until death do them part. Vince says is should be unlawfur for marriage to end in a divorce since it causes half the world’s problems. Vince asks te fans to think of the hardships and heartaches of divorce, which also forces someone to divide his assets. Vince announces he will not grant Linda a divorce and will fight her to the bitter end for the sancity of their marriage. Suddenly a glum-looking Debra starts making her way to the ring and I don’t foresee this segment getting any better. Debra gets on the mic and says she doesn’t believe Vince and accuses him of being a negative inflence on her husband. Vince denies that, saying him beating The Rock and sending him out of here and joining up with Triple H was his idea. Vince also says that he can’t be blamed for Austin beating JR down and brutalizing The Hardys and Lita last week. Vince says he’s proud to know the “real” Stone Cold Steve Austin and he’s a great man who became WWF Champion. Vince then mentions how behind every great man is a great woman but feels that Debra is an exception to that rule. Debra gets offended and says she does blame Vince before slapping the taste out of his mouth and storming off. Well that was 10 minutes I’ll never get back, and it sure felt like a lot longer than that. Way to go, guys.

~ Back from break we get a replay of Debra slapping Vince in the face. Don’t know why I’d want to see it again. We then see Vince makins his way to his limo and pauses to shout “Women!” before climbing in and driving off.

~ Elsewhere we see Steve Austin dragging Debra into their dressing room and yelling at her for slapping Vince before demainding she sit in a chair for the rest of the show.

  • WWF World Tag Team Titles: Edge & Christian © vs. Crash & Hardcore Holly (w/Molly Holly)

This is E&C’s first title defense since winning the belt at Wrestlemania, and was originally scheduled for Smackdown but Rhyno took Crash out before it happened. So the Hollys get their tag title match tonight. E&C come out and give Heyman a paper containing phrases he uses to praise the champs during the match. The Hollys are out and stare down E&C … when Rhyno comes out and Gores Hardcore before the bell rings! Rhyno leaves the ring while Edge demands the bell be rung then covers Hardcore but only gets a two count! Christian helps Edge double-team Hardcore then takes over without a tag and chokes Hardcore with his boot. Edge tags back in for some more stomping when Hardcore starts to fight back but Edge regains the advantage. Christian tags back in and hits a Russian legdweep for a near fall but Hardcore starts to fight back again. Edge nails Hardcore from behind so Hardcore decks him but Christian nails him with a Slop Drop for a two. Christian draws Crash in to distract the referee while Edge helps with a double-team before taking over. Hardocre rallies again but Edge rakes the face to stop that and drops him on the ropes before tagging Christian. Christian then goes for a piledriver but Hardcore counters it into the Alabama Slam and both men are down. Christian grabs Hardcore’s ankle while tagging Edge back in and Edge hits a clothesline followed by a snapmare then slaps on a chinlock. Hardcore fights out of it then comes off the ropes and connects with the dropkick. Hardcore makes the tag to Crash who takes it to E&C then dropkicks Edge and drills Christian with a DDT. Crash drills Edge with a tornado bulldog then does the same to Christian but Edge nails him with a Spear. Molly climbs to the top rope and hits Edge with the Molly-Go-Round and Crash covers him but only gets two. Hardcore comes in and clotheslines Christian and himself over the ropes while Crash climbs to the top rope. Crash hits Edge with a crossbody but Edge rolls through it into a rollup and grabs the tights to steal the pin. (4:16) Not a bad match, actually, and the crowd was somewhat into it. **

~ Backstage The Hardys are arriving at the building when Michael Cole intervews Jeff on facing Triple H again. Jeff calls winning the Intercontinential Title on Thursday an amazing accomplishment for him but there was more to it because what Steve Austin and Triple H did to Lita was wrong. Jeff says he’s fine with giving Triple H his rematch tonight but he and Matt have some unfinished business to take care of first and the two head off.

~ Back from break we get a look at the ‘WCW 1’ limo driving in the garage and sure enough Shane McMahon is here.

  • Bubba Ray Dudley (w/D’Von Dudley) vs. Justin Credible (w/X-Pac and Albert)

Bubba sidesteps Credible to start and peppers him with jabs then whips him into a corner and hits a suplex. Bubba clubs Credible in the back and hits a chop in a corner then whips him and connects with an elbow. Bubba goes for a whip but Credible reverses and X-Pac grabs Bubba’s leg so Bubba pulls him onto the apron. X-Pac snaps Bubba on the ropes and Credible follows it up with a superkick then gets in his offense on him. D’Von then goes after X-Pac on the floor but X’Pac dodges him while Albert nails him witha bicycle kick. Credible snapmares Bubba and snaps him back then hits a clothesline and chokes him on the middle rope. Credible distracts the referee while X-Pac gets in a shot from the floor then hits a DDT that gets a two count. Bubba starts to fight back but Credible regains control then stomps Bubba down in a corner and chokes him. Credible goes for a whip and goes into a waitslock but Bubba switches behind him and hits the BubbaBomb. Bubba whips Credible and hits a backdrop and a cltohesline and Credible begs him off but Bubba won’t have it. Bubba whips Credible into a corner and Credible nearly flips over the ropes then Bubba hits a sidewalk slam. Bubba climbs to the middle rope and goes for a senton but misses it. Credible climbs to the middle rope and leaps off but Bubba catches him with a Diamond Cutter. Bubba covers Credible but Albert pulls Credible away and the referee argues with Albert but that allows X-Pac to come in nail Bubba with the spinkick. X-Pac slips back out while Credible covers Bubba but only gets a two count. X-Pac argues with the referee when Bubba decks him off the apron and the referee keeps Albert from coming in. Bubba slams Credible and sets him up while D’Von climbs to the top rope and hits the “Wassup” headbutt which gets the three. (4:25) And there’s no post-match attack this time around. Pretty blah match that was just there to further this feud.

~ Backstage Shane McMahon runs into Grandmaster Sexay who mumbles some rap asking about the latest with WCW and Shane responds with some incoherent rhyming of his own. The Big Show appears and sends Sexay on his way then asks Shane if he’s here to watch his match. Shane explains he actually came here to confront his father but Vince took off so he’s going to do the same. Show insists he watch him take on Kaientai and Shane says he’ll watch the match from his hotel room and takes off as Show says he has some ideas to run by him. So why did they even bother to bring Shane on the program anyway?

~ We then get a shot of Michael Cole waiting to interview Steve Austin in mere moments as we go to commercial.

~ Back from break Johnathan Coachman interviews Steven Richards about the Right To Censor disintegrating. Richards says what happened last Thursday was the culmination of months of frustration in recruiting new members. Richards then says that he will right the wrong tonight by leading the charge to rid the WWF of the Hardcore Title. Richards says that once he beats Kane the RTC will be united once again, even if he has to sacrifice himself to do so.

~ Elsewhere Kurt Angle whines to Edge & Christian about facing Chris Jericho while William Regal gets Chris Benoit. Angle figures Regal must have mad cow disease for that decision but doesn’t notice Regal waling up behind him. E&C try to warn Angle of Regal’s presence as Angle claims Regal has a fake accent when Regal gets his attention. Angle finally notices Regal and tells him that he wants to face Benoit while Regal should be fighting Jericho. Regal asks Angle to join him in his office for tea and they leave while E&C try to warn him not to drink the tea.

~ Still elsewhere Michael Cole interviews Steve Austin about Triple H losing the Intercontinential Title on Smackdown after he and Debra let the building and now Debra slapping Vince McMahon’s face. Austin mentions how it took two men for the Hardys to beat Triple H when Matt Hardy suddenly jumps Austin! The referees manage to pull Matt off Austin and Austin is curing up a storm as we go to commercial.

~ Back from break we get a replay of Matt Hardy’s sneak attack against Austin. We then find the Hemlseys reacting to what they saw on a monitor when Austin barges in wanting some retaliation. Triple H says that’s what the Hardys want, for them to beat Jeff up so he can’t defend the Intercontinential title tonight, and he doesn’t want Austin to do anything to jeopardize it shot to regain the IC title. So Austin offers to be in Triple H’s corner to help him but Triple H tells him that his state of mind might get him DQ’ed. Triple H suggests Austin instead go cool off at his hotel and let him handle this and Austin relucantly leaves the room.

  • WWF Hardcore Title: Kane © vs. Steven Richards

Richards tosses some plunder in the ring then greets Kane with some garbage can shots but they have no effect. Kane decks Richards and throws him over the ropes then pounds on him as they head past the ramp to the back. Kane throws Richards against a garage door and into a guardrail then nails him with a plastic garbage can. Richards tries to crawl away when Kane grabs a 2×4 then takes a swing but Richards is able to dodge the swing. Richards tries to hide under a semi and Kane grabs him with the rest of the RTC run out and gang up on Kane. Kane tries to fight them off and gets overwhelemed but sure enough here comes The Undertaker for the save. Taker quickly dispatches Goodfather and Val Venis while Kane tosses Bull Buchanan through a nearby door. With his plan in shambles Richards tries to climb up a stack of bleaches to escape but Kane cuts off his escape. Kane scoops Richards up and lawn darts him into a semi trailer and Richards is out for the three count. (3:08) Yeah. Taker then tells the unconcious Richards to forget about fighting the good fight and find a good woman. DUD

~ Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho are shown heading to the ring, signaling they’re up next as we go to commercial.

~ Back from break we get a shot of Debra pacing when Austin comes in and tells her to pack her gear because they’re leaving. Funny how Austin leaving didn’t work out so well for Triple H the last time. Then again…

  • Chris Jericho vs. Kurt Angle

Angle gets on the mic to address the fans but Jericho’s entrance cuts him off as he asks Angle to shut up. Jericho goes right to work on Angle with punches and chops then whips him but Angle hits a shoulderblock. Angle comes off the ropes but Jericho leapfrogs over him and chops him down then follows up with an armdrag. Jericho slaps on an armbar when Angle counters it with a headscissors but Jericho slips out of that into a cover. Angle briges out of it into a backslide for a near fall and Jericho hits more chops but Angle starts fighting back and stomps Jericho down in a corner. Angle whips Jericho into a corner but Jericho comes out with a clothesline. Jericho whips Angle and hits a hiptoss then kncoks him out through the ropes with the springboard dropkick. Angle tries to recovers but Jericho nails him with a baseball slide then goes out and drops him onto the barricade. Jericho throws Angle onto the timekeeper’s chair but Angle grabs the ringbell and jabs Jericho in the chest with it. Angle throws Jericho over the announce table as Heyman tells both guys to leave since they don’t speak Spanish. Angle throws Jericho in the ring and lays the boots to him then hits a suplex and another suplex for a near fall. Jericho starts fighting back and and goes for a whip, Angle reverses him into a corner but eats a boot. Jerihco hops to the middle rope and goes for an axehandle but Angle catches him into a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle plants Jericho with a back suplex that gets a near fall then slaps on a chinlock but Jericho fights out of it. Jericho goes for a whip, Angle reverses it but Jericho rolls him up for a two count then goes for a waistlock. Angle trips Jericho by the leg then goes for the Anklelock but Jericho grabs the ropes before he can get it on. Angle stomsp Angle down whips him into a corner then blocks a kick but Jericho comes back with an enzuigiri. Both men get to their feet and Angle gets a waistlock but Jericho rolls through it into a rollup for a near fall. Jericho goes for a whip, Angle reverses but Jericho hits a flying forearm then goes for the bulldog but misses. Angle goes for the Olympic Slam but Jericho lands on his feet then tries the bulldog again and this time hits it. Jericho goes for the Lionsault and misses Angle but lands on his feet while Angle bails out to the floor and decides he’s had enough of this. Angle starts walking up the ramp when Jericho decides to go after him but William Regal jumps Jericho and there’s a DQ! Lame! (6:52) Terrible finish to what was a pretty sweet match. ***

Anyway Regal fights Jericho down the ramp and throws him in the ring but Jericho takes him down by the legs and puts him in the Walls of Jericho. Regal starts tapping out when Angle comes back in the ring. However Jericho catches Angle coming in and plants him with a fireman’s carry slam then hits the Lionsault. Jericho then stomps Regal down in a corner but Angle nails him from behind and the numbers start to take over. Angle plants Jericho with a suplex and slaps on the Anklelock while Regal also applies the Regal Stretch. Chris Benoit runs in and takes on both men then drills Angle with a DDT and hits Regal with a German suplex. Benoit then suplexes Angle right onto Regal and both heels roll out to the floor while Benoit is left standing.

~ Back from break we get a replay of the previous match’s finish…but it sounds like someone is talking in the ring. Turns out that voice belongs to Regal (with Angle standing near him) who yells at Benoit for meddling in his affairs. Regal demands to have his match with Benoit right now and Benoit does come back out but he’s not coming alone…

  • Chris Benoit (w/Chris Jericho) vs. William Regal (w/Kurt Angle)

The Chrises rush the ring and Benoit goes to work on Regal while Jericho clotheslines Angle over the ropes and the two take their places in the corners. Benoit whips Regal into a corner and htis a suplex then climbs to the top rope and goes for the diving headbutt already but misses it. Regal gets in his shots and hits a dropkick for a near fall then hammers Benoit with forearms and caps off with a European uppercut. Regal hits a suplex that get a two count then grinds his forearm into Benoit’s face but still can’t get three. Regal kicks Benoit in the back and hits an elbowdrop for another near fall then whips him and hits an elbow. Regal hits the kneelifts and an European uppercut then scoops him up but Benoit shifts his weight and falls on top. Regal clotheslines Benoit for a two count then slaps on a modified submission hold but Benoit doesn’t submit. Benoit fights back and comes off the ropes but runs into a knee to the chest and Regal stomps him in the face. Regal hits Benoit with a double kneelift to the face and a forearm to the back but still only gets a two count. Regal applies a chinlock over his knee and Benoti tries to fight out but Regal stops that with a Euro uppercut. Benoit grabs a wasitlock, Regal elbows him away and whips him but Benoit rolls him in a cradle for a two count. Regal knocks Benoit down and works him over in a corner but Benoit reverses position and chops away at him. Benoit whips Regal into the other corner and charegs then eats a boot but comes back with a German suplex. Benoit holds on and hits a second German suplex then goes for a third but Regal tosses him through the ropes. Angle rams Benoit into the apron before throwing him back in the ring but Jericho is over to pounce on him. Regal puts Benoit in the Regal Stretch while the referee tries to break up the Jericho/Angle brawl on the floor. The referee then tries to keep Angle from going in the ring but Jericho makes it in and breaks up Regal’s hold. Benoit quickly puts Regal in the Crossface and the referee makes it back in the ring to see Regal give it up. (5:00) Not exactly their match at the Brian Pillman Memorial Show, but still a good TV bout. Jericho goes in to make sure Angle can’t get a piece of Benoit and helps Benoit clear their foes from the ring, officially cementing Benoit’s face turn. ***

~ JR now hypes the XFL’s Million Dollar Game between the Los Angeles Xtreme and San Francisco Demons which is Saturday Night on NBC. It could be your last chance to catch the XFL (in more ways than one).

~ Backstage we find Billy Gunn walking somewhere with Test who seems unnatually happy about something. Test tells Billy he understands why they’re teaming up against The Radicals but doesn’t get why Raven is their partner. Raven says something about making our own choices and having choices made for us and having no choices in life. Raven calls it his pleasure and torment to team with Billy and Test and mentions something about fate, destiny and pain. Billy wonders if they can trust him, while Test wonders what he just said. I wonder why we wasted our time with this.

~ Back from break Matt Hardy urges Jeff to be on his game tonight, feeling that Triple H will be out to cripple him. Jeff asks Matt about his attacking Steve Austin earlier and Matt says it felt good, just like him retaining his title. The Hardys are interupted by the appearence of Lita, and Matt reminds her how they told her to stay back at the hotel. Lita tells them she couldn’t just watch them on TV with all this action but Matt tries to get Lita to realize it isn’t safe here. Lita says she’s not concerned about safety and insists she stay with them and the Hardys reluctantly agree with her.

  • Test, Raven & Billy Gunn vs. Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn (w/Terri Runnels)

We have one extablished stable against a thrown-together squad. Can you guess who wins? The Radicalz are out first followed by Billy and Test who decide not to wait for Raven and gets things going. Billy goes after Eddie as Malenko and Saturn double-team Test when Raven finally makes his way to the ring. Raven tosses Saturn over the ropes and Test does the same to Malenko while Billy stomps Eddie out as well. The Radicalz try to regroup on the floor before Malenko goes in the ring against Test who pounds on him. Malenko jabs the eyes and goes for a whip but Test reverses ad hits a spinning sidewalk slam for a two count. Test whips Malenko but lowers the head, Malenko kicks the face but Test comes back with a shoulderblock. Billy tags in and gets an armwringer but Malenko jabs his eyes then tags Eddie when Billy regains his sight. Eddie tries offering a hand of friendship but Billy pulls him down by the hair then hits a pair of clotheslines. Billy whips Eddie and presses him up but Saturn made a blind tag and knocks the pile over with a superkick. Saturn hits an elbowdrop and a suplex for a two count then tags Malenko in and Malenko lays the boots to him. Malneko goes for a whip when Billy counters it and hits the Rocker Dropper but is too hurt to make the cover. Eddie clotheslines Billy from the apron then tags in and slings himself over the ropes, connecting with the hilo. Eddie peppers Billy with jabs in his corner when Billy tries to fight out of it but Eddie regains the advantage. Saturn snaps Billy on the top rope then pulls him out to the floor and rams him back-first into the steps. Saturn tosses Billy in the ring and Eddie hits a suplex then tags Malenko in and Malenko kicks Billy in the ribs. Malenko wrenches Billy’s arm then tags Saturn in and Saturn hits a kneedrop to the arm then works it over. Saturn goes for a whip and Billy reverses it but Saturn comes back with an exploder suplex for a near fall. Billy nails Saturn with a jawbreaker then whips him and hits a tilt-o-whirl slam and both men are down. Both men head for the corners and Eddie gets his tag but Billy tags in Raven who greets him with a right hand. Saturn is in and Raven whips him right into Malenko but Eddie gets in a kick and works him over in a corner. Eddie goes for a whip but Raven reverses him into a corner and hits a clothesline followed by the bulldog. Raven covers Eddie and Saturn makes the save but Test comes in and plants Saturn with the Full Nelson slam. Test decks Malenko and knocks Saturn through the ropes with a boot but Malenko knocks him through as well. Malenko turns and slams Raven while Eddie climbs to the top rope and goes for the Frogsplash but misses it. Eddie rolls up to his feet but Raven drils him with the Evenflow DDT then covers and grabs the pin. (5:56) Yes, the makeshift team won. And you’d think Raven pinning the European Champion would have earned him a title shot but it didn’t quite happen that way. **

~ Backstage Kevin Kelly interviews The Big Show on Kaientai challenging him to a handicap match tonight. Show mentions how Kaientai are always saying how they’re evil, while he’s 7-foot-2, 500 pounds of bad attitude. Show then says Kaientai will get every bit of it because Shane McMahon is watching and he has something to prove. On that note Show throws an anvil case just to show how mean he is or something as we go to commercial.

~ Back form break we get a special music video about The Undertaker and Kane set to Marilyn Manson’s “Fight Song”.

~ Big Show makes his way to the ring followed by Kaientai but Taka gets on the mic and in his dubbed voice claims they’ve lured Show into a trap because not even Godzilla is a match for cold, hard cash and they will show Big Show not to mess with true evil. Funaki adds in an “Indeed!” just before The Acolytes make their way out, presumibly having heen hired by Kaientai. Show tries to fight them off and grabs Bradshaw by the throat but Faarooq save him from a chokeslam with a low blow. Bradshaw follows up with the Clothesline from Hades and the Acolytes double-team Show as Kaientai look on. The Acolytes whip Show and plant him with a double spinebuster before finally heading out, having done their job.

  • The Big Show vs. KaientaiHandicap Match

With Show down both guys climb to the top rope and Funaki hits an elbowdrop while Taka adds in a kneedrop. The Kaientai guys start celebrating for some reason then head back to the top as Show starts to get to his feet. Both guys leap off again but this time Show catches both of them in a choke and hits a double chokeslam then covers both guys for the pin. (0:33) Waste of time, let’s just move on. NR

~ Back from break we get footage of Trish Stratus arriving at WWF New York earlier as we prepare to hear from her. We then get Trish’s promo as she says she was attracted to Vince McMahon, more for his money than anything else. Trish says she would do anything for the right cause and found it when she realized the kind of man Vince really was. Trish says that’s why she took Linda McMahon off her medication and will support her duing her divorce proceedings. Trish finishes by saying she may be nice but there will always be a part of her that’s naughty. Okay then.

~ JR and Heyman then hype the IC Title rematch by showing the video we already saw at the beginning of the program.

~ We then see the Helmsleys making their way to the ring which means the main event is next. The Hardys and Lita also head out but William Regal stops them and yells at Matt for what he did to Steve Austin and because of his actions earlier he’s banning him from ringside. The group doesn’t like that as Regal also warns Matt that should he take even one step towards the ring, Jeff will be stripped of the title on the spot. Regal walks off while Matt assures Jeff that he doesn’t need him out there and Jeff and Lita head off without him.

~ Back for break the XFL Championship game is hyped again, this time with a special look at Tommy Maddox. JR mentions the game will be held in the Colliseum and good seats are still available. Eh, the joke is too obvious.

  • WWF Intercontinential Title: Jeff Hardy © (w/Lita) vs. Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon)

The participants file out to the ring as we get a shot of Matt Hardy watching the match on a backstage monitor. Triple H wastes no time pounding on Jeff and stomphing him down in a corner then decks him with a hard right. Triple H shoulderblocks Jeff in a corner and Earl Hebner orders him to back off then whips him but eats a boot. Jeff comes off the ropes but Triple H drops him to the mat then grabs his hair and unloads on him with rights. Triple H hits a delayed suplex and follows up with a kneedrop for a two as Matt urges Jeff on from the back. Triple H continues his assault then goes for another delayed suplex but Jeff lands on his feet and gets in his shots. Jeff comes off the ropes but runs into a powerslam. Triple H tosses Jeff through the ropes then goes after him and drops him onto the steps before rolling him back in the ring. Jeff desparately tries to fight back and comes off the ropes but Triple H clotheslines him down for a near fall then covers again for another two. Triple H puts Jeff in an Abdominal Stretch and even grabs the ropes for leverage while pounding on Jeff’s chest. Triple H grabs the rope again but Hebner sees it and kicks the arm off, allowing Jeff to escape with a hiptoss. Jeff comes off the ropes yet again and yet again Triple H cuts him down, this time with a knee to the chest. Jeff comes back with a jawbreaker and whips Triple H but lowers the head and Triple H hits the facebuster. Triple H covers Jeff but Lita pulls him off so Stephanie goes over to slap her but Lita manages to block it. Lita then chases Stephanie around the ring but Triple H goes out to stand in her way forcing Lita to back off. Stephanie gets Hebner’s attention while Triple H tosses Jeff through the ropes then goes after him on the floor. However Jeff manages to grab the IC belt and clocks Triple H with it, sending him acorss the announce table!

Jeff rams Triple H into the ringpost and the steps then into the announce table before rolling him in the ring. Jeff climbs to the top rope and connects with a missile dropkick … but only gets a two count! Jeff goes for a whip, Triple H reverses him into a corner but Jeff lifts himself over Triple H and dropkicks him. Triple H sets Jeff up for the Pedigree when Jeff counters it into the backslide but that only gets a near fall. Jeff hits a hedscissors then climbs to the top rope and goes for the Whisper in the Wind but Triple H dodges it. Triple H hops to the mddile rope but Jeff cuts him off with a dropkick then goes up and hits a Frankensteiner. Jeff climbs to the top again and goes for the Swanton Bomb but Triple H avoids it and both men are down. We cut to the back to see Matt’s reaction .. when Steve Austin suddenly appears and assaults Matt with a chair. Lita sees this on the TitanTron and doesn’t know whether to go to the back and check on Matt or stay with Jeff. Lita eventually chooses Matt over Jeff and starts heading up the ramp, but Steve Austin emerges and cuts her off. Austin starts stalking after Lita with an evil look on his face … when we suddenly hear the bell ring? The heck? Apparenlty while everyone’s attention was diverted Triple H hit Jeff with the Pedigree and got the clean pin to regain the title. (11:28) So Triple H gets his win back after just four days, rendering Jeff’s big victory on Smackdown virtually meaningless. Match was okay but this was a blown oppertunity to cement the Hardys as the next big stars and lead to them possibly getting a main event shot at Backlash, which would have been something different that the usual fare. Instead, just check out what happened next. **½

Austin goes in and helps Triple H double-team Jeff then takes off his belt and whips Jeff with it. Matt comes in with a chair but Triple H cuts him off then grabs the chair himself and whacks Matt with it. Austin and Triple H continue assaulting Matt and Jeff with the chair and belt then dare Lita to come in the ring. Lita tries to back away but Stephanie tosses her in the ring and it looks like a repeat of last Monday is coming. Austin and Triple H move in … when the lights go out before The Undertaker and Kane come out to the stage. Taker and Kane slowly make their way down the ramp with Austin and Triple H signaling they’re ready to go. However once Taker and Kane slide in the ring Ausitn and Triple H bail out to the floor and back up the ramp. Yep, after the past week suggested Matt and Jeff would be the next big stars, it’s Undertaker and Kane who are going to be challenging Austin and Triple H, instantly killing any shot the Hardys had at a push.

Conclusion: Up and down episode that continued the WWF’s stunning fall from their highest point. The first hour wasn’t much to sit through with some boring matches and skits but things got better with two great bouts in Angle/Jericho and Benoit/Regal. The main event was okay but again it rendered the past few shows became moot as Undertaker and Kane just swooped right in to take the main event spot while the Hardys were swept back to the midcard. And it wouldn’t be the last time the bookers started to push someone new only to abort it. Not to mention Backlash was less than two weeks from this show yet not one match had been booked for it up to this point. It just felt like the bookers most likely felt they didn’t have to really try as hard anymore since they were the lone top promotion in the U.S. So not really a bad show and there is some good stuff to see here, but I am going to have to go thumbs in the middle.

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