Best pre-Rock Rocky Maivia Match?

Hey Scott. I've been watching a lot of wrestling on Youtube lately and realized that I haven't really run across any pre- The Rock era Rocky Maivia matches. Would  you or any of the other readers recommend anything from Rocky Maivia or even the Flex Kavana days?


​No, he was pretty terrible in that era.  He was a guy who looked like a star and who was a project of the top people, but he didn't really develop into a good worker until the NOD era.  I'd call the HHH match where he won the IC title pretty decent and I recall the match where he lost the title to Owen Hart being not bad, but nothing else really stands out for him. ​

PTBN Reaction Show: ROH Best In the World 2015…and more

Will and Dylan Hales (Wrestling Culture) discuss the latest PPV offering from ROH. We discuss the character work of Dalton Castle, the awesome year from Roderick Strong, the questionable booking of Moose and the advantages and disadvantages of making Jay Lethal your top title holder. We also discuss our disappointment in the tag title match. Where does Jay Briscoe go from here? All this and more!

PTBN Reaction Show: ROH Best In the World 2015

Also from this week…

In our What If series, we discussed potential King of the Ring winners in year that no PPV tournament occurred: PTBN’s Wrestling What If… King of the Ring Winners

In our Rewind podcast series, we revisited King of the Ring 1994: Place to Be Network Rewind Series: WWF King of the Ring 1994

Kevin Kelly was joined by Dr. Tom Prichard to pay tribute to the late, great Dusty Rhodes: The Kevin Kelly Show Episode 37 – A Tribute to the American Dream

Best of the Worst

Hi Scott As lists appear to be all the rage around here, I thought I’d send one for when you’re in a masochistic mood. What would you consider to be the best (or least horrible) match in the following categories: 1) Undertaker-Kane
2) Cena-Orton
3) HHH-Orton
4) Undertaker prior to 1996
5) Flair after 2001
6) Big Show
7) Kane
8) Khali
9) ‘Hollywood’ Hogan in WCW
10) Vince
11) Dusty
12) Miz
Cheers

Good morning, and welcome to Day 2 of the post-dated extravaganza.  As you read this, it’s currently Victoria Day here in Canada, during which we celebrate the life and career of Lisa Varon.  It’s a very specific stat holiday.  OK, a list, that’s just terrific.  Thanks heaps. 1.  The first one at WM14 is still my favorite of a bad lot. 2.  The Iron Man match, complete with Orton trying to murder Cena like a cartoon supervillain via exploding pyro table.  It’s not a great match technically and fails on a lot of levels, but I can appreciate the sentiment. 3.  The last man standing match they had at that PPV where HHH wrestled 14 times after Cena was injured.  You know, that one. 4.  I gotta go with him squashing the shit out of Jake Roberts at WM8.  Really kicked off the babyface formula for him that worked incredibly well for years to come.  I was about to throw Bret v. UT from Rumble 96 in your face, but then I realized you technically asked for “prior” to 96 and thus that one is just outside qualification.  5.  The HHH cage match at Taboo Tuesday.  6.  In general?  He’s had some good matches.  I’ll go with the stunningly great series against Lesnar in 2003, for example, when Show was wearing pants for some reason.  Runner up would be his Hogan impression against Kurt Angle at Backlash 2000 for sheer entertainment value.    7.  Kane’s also had his share of good matches.  He was on a really impressive run from 2001-2004, in particular, before the unmasking.  Discounting MITB and such, gotta go with the Kurt Angle miracle match featuring Mirror Universe Angle as my favorite.  Close second would be the IC title match with Albert that almost hit **** somehow.  8.  Now you’re just fucking with me.  His initial series against Undertaker wasn’t terrible.  9.  Probably one of the Flair matches, because Ric could get ***1/2 out of him in his sleep.  The Luger title change on Nitro was hella-exciting but total horseshit as a match. 10.  Street Fight with Shane at WM17! 11.  Dusty actually had lots of great matches when he gave enough of a shit in the ring.  Unfortunately by the time he was on the national stage with Crockett, that time had long passed.  I’ve seen more than a few really good ones with Harley Race from the 70s in Florida, so I’d go with that.  12.  Cena actually got a really good one out of him after their shit WM match, I think.  I’ll go with the safe choice, however, and say the Daniel Bryan US title change match, unless someone can think of a really epic **** Miz singles match that I’m blocking out of my mind.  

Lesnar: best ever businessman in This Business?

Hey Scott,


Is Brock Lesnar the smartest businessman in the history of the industry? Given his current payouts, the way he's always done whatever the hell he want, I think it's a given. Even when it's not been especially good for business (New Japan) he's held the main title and gone over. The argument is made that Lesnar would lay down for anyone, yet he rarely does.

Best,
Ioan Morris

I still feel like Hogan is, for maintaining that level of money day in and day out for nearly a decade even when all he had to offer was smoke and mirrors.  Brock made some really dumb business decisions for a while there, whereas Hulk would still be a multimillionaire many times over if not for his divorce and assorted lawsuit issues.  Hulk managed to convince WCW to pay him 25% of PPVs that he wasn't even on!  You have to respect that a little.  

Best Wrestlemania matches at Paste Magazine

Scott,

Would love for the blog regulars to come tell us how awful our picks are for this list of the best Wrestlemania matches. I lobbied hard for the WM 27 8-man but no dice.

​It's no Bret-Austin, but it's close.  No love for Lawler v. Cole either?  COME ON.​

Second Best WM

There has been a lot of talk on the blog in the last day or two about the worst WrestleMania.  If we take the opposite of that and say that WM 17 is the best (which I think would be very hard to argue against), what do you think is the second best WM?  I personally think it’s WM 19.  What say you?
Daring choice with 19!  I’d go with 20 myself but I can see why that one would lose points now. 

Best women’s matches of all time

I saw you ranked last night's women's match as four stars.  I certainly wouldn't disagree. 

So is that the first time you've given a women's match four stars?  I said the match from the last NXT special (Charlotte/Banks) was the best women's match I've ever seen.  Last night may have topped it.

-Will  

​I also gave Trish Stratus v. Lita from RAW that rating (upon second viewing years later) and I think I gave one or two of the Jumping Bomb Angels matches that rating as well.  I belive Stephanie v. Trish was shockingly great as well.  But really, this shows how amazing that Sasha Banks has become and how effective their development system for the women really is.  Unfortunately it's a total waste once they get to the main roster and have to do shitty skits with Jerry Springer and the Bella twins instead of wrestling.  ​

The Royal Rumble home to the best title matches?


Scott,

The Royal Rumble the most prestigious battle royal ever devised but what about the title matches that take place on the show, there have been some true classics.

Angle vs Benoit from 2003 and Cena vs Umaga from 2007 instantly spring to mind as being the best but do you have any other favourite title matches which took place at the Rumble?

Thanks.

​I'm pretty fond of the Randy Orton v. Jeff Harvey match where they got me to buy into the "Elevation of Jeffrey Nero" storyline and then were like "Psych! We're gonna keep pushing Orton instead for a while".  Even if the usual RKO Outta Nowhere finish was a letdown, it was still a good match.  I think there was also a hell of a World title match between Undertaker and Rey Mysterio on that show, featuring Taker ragdolling Rey all over the ring in what was actually a fresh matchup for once.  
Also, HHH v. Scott Steiner.  Duh.  ​

The Best and Worst Royal Rumble Matches


There's a Royal Rumble on Sunday. Good time to look back on the past. Paste has ranked the best and worst Rumble matches. What do you think?

​Swap out 1998's desperation booking of three Mick Foley aliases and a bunch of tag teams and swap in 2010's CM Punk storytelling and you've got a winning list.  I'd maybe go with 2007 over 2008 just because the last 10 minutes with Shawn v. Undertaker were nearly a ****1/2 classic on their own, but it's a fair opinion.  Nothing touches 1992 regardless, and 95/96 are clearly two of the worst.  ​

Best wrestlemania main event build


Scott, how would you rank the main events of wrestlemania as far as which had the best build, money drawn is not a factor, just from a storyline perspective, what was the best?

Well, which one are we still talking about 25 years later?  MEGAPOWERS EXPLODE, motherfuckers.  Everything about wrestling done exactly right at exactly the right time.  Except Savage was so ridiculously hot as a heel that they should have delayed the Hogan win until Summerslam, but that's picking nits as far as the storyline goes.  
Hogan-Andre was tremendous as well.  Last gasp of the giant and Hogan cementing himself as an all-time legend, blah blah blah.  
Flair-Savage "She was mine before she was yours" had me dying to order the show, so throw that one in there too.  
In short, they used to know how to promote shit.  And now, fuck them.  

Best Survivor Series match post 2000

Hi Scott,

You recently mentioned that you enjoyed the Survivor Series matches from 87. Is there anything more modern that you may have also enjoyed?

Thanks.


I literally couldn't name a single Survivor Series match past 2002, outside of "the one where Shawn Michaels superkicks Mike Knox and then shrugs with confusion"​.  It just doesn't mean anything to me as an event anymore.  

Best ECW tv matches


Hey Scott,

Long time reader. May have read almost all of your material. Curious about ECW Hardcore tv and any other tv matches. Watched ECW exposed 1 and 2, which are very good by the way. It was mentioned that Malenko and Guerrero had a 2/3 falls farewell match. Could there be some hidden gems and **** plus matches? Any plans to review Hardcore tv after Raw and Nitro?

ECW is a really hard TV show to review because it's not typically a show that builds to anything, and is frequently just bits and pieces of the bigger arena shows cut into hour long pieces.  It wasn't until the PPV era that it started to become more serialized.  Plus I hate ECW, so there's that.  

Best traditional Survivor Series match?


This year's match looks good on paper, and I wonder if it could be a classic if given proper time, say an hour?


Is there a defacto "best" traditional Survivor Series match? The one that always comes to mind is the ten team match from 1987. Has that one been topped from a workrate standpoint? Yes, I realize that Doink, Dink, Wink, and Pink and HBK and his Knights would like to have a word with me.

Oh yeah, for sure I'd go with either the 87 or 88 tag team ones.  The 88 one had the better storyline with the Fuji turn that made Demolition into actual money-drawing babyfaces, but the 87 one had an incredible pace and the all-star lineup of 80s tag teams.  Tough call for sure.  

Maggle Cole – Best of all time (?!!)


Hi Scott,


Although it's just JBL's opinion, it still speaks very loud for how Michael Cole is viewed by his peers in the company:

JBL: "I do think Maggle is the best play by play guy WWE has ever had."  

I personally think he's pretty bad at this point, but I understand the pressure he has.  But I would never EVER confuse him as the best ever.  Ugh.  He wasn't half bad during the 2001-2005 Taz era.  Taz is another story though.

Your thoughts on Cole as best ever?

thanks,  Anthony V., NY, NY


Am I being trolled here?  

Best Matches

Hey Scott,

 
Lightning round
 
What are the best Singles' matches you can think of for the following guys, some of the best B+ players of the 80s and 90s? (Let's limit it to North America)
 
Tito Santana
Rick Martel
Dynamite Kid
Greg Valentine
Big Bossman
Ted Dibiase (Sr.)
Dustin Rhodes
Shane Douglas
Paul Orndorff
Jeff Jarrett
 
Thanks

Tito:  IC title match against Hennig on SNME.
Martel:  AWA World title match against Stan Hansen, maybe?
Kid:  The match with Tiger Mask, duh.
Valentine:  I know he's had some really good ones with Flair, but for ones I've seen the cage match with Tito.
Bossman:  The cage match with Hogan.
Dibiase:  Probably the famous one against Dr. Death from Mid South.
Dustin:  That match he had with Vader on the Clash?
Douglas:  His stirring victory over Shawn Michaels at IYH3.
Orndorff:  He had some really good ones with Steamboat near the end, I'll go with one of them.
Jarrett:  The Shawn match at IYH2 where he dropped the IC title.

Best Under 5 Minute Matches


I saw your comment in the review of the Nitro about how the Flair/Pillman match, how it was as good as it could be for 5:24, which led me to wonder, what are the best under 5 minute matches ever? 
 
First one, just for a pure mark out moment has to be Honky Tonk Man/Ultimate Warrior…

My favorite is still 1-2-3 Kid v. Owen Hart from King of the Ring 94.  And yes, Warrior-Honky was classic, of course.  

Best Opinion

Hey Scott,
                    Longtime yada yada, yada.  Simple question for you and the blog. Of the rash of signees: Steen, KENTA, Devitt, and Willie Mack….which one(s) do you think have the best shot of reaching Punk/Bryan level (indy darling makes good) or Hero/Cabana (can't do nothing wit ya) and back to the indies??
 

Steen:  Totally depends on how they use him and if he buys into the system.  I don't know how much of a place there is for a brawler on the main roster, but variety is good and he's certainly a different worker.  He'll need a lot of time in the NXT system, though.

Hideo Itami:  They really want him to go far, for international money reasons and because this is really HHH's baby, so he'll do a bit of time in NXT and then probably get a shot on RAW.  He can absolutely do it all in the ring and if he can get his promos to an acceptable level, they'll have something there.

Prince Devitt:  He's the dark horse choice here, and as a super-asshole heel he could be really, really big.  He's another one where he's not giving up big NJPW money to rot in NXT, so expect to see him sooner rather than later.  

Willie Mack:  Never heard of him until he got signed and indy geeks started creaming over him, so I have no idea.  Couldn't even pick him out of a police lineup.  

Were I to guess I would say Devitt will be the next CM Punk level guy, but then I thought Adam Rose would work well on RAW too and they managed to fuck that up, so take any predictions with several shakers of salt.  

                     

AJ Styles – Best In The World

Coming down the home stretch now in the G1.  Some have already been eliminated from the finals, while others are standing strong atop the leaderboard (Nakamura leading Block A, three-way tie for first in Block B). AJ Styles may or may not win, but he’s done something more important: He’s separated himself from the pack. A year ago many called him over the hill (including myself, absolutely), and this week he has silenced them all.

This is from earlier today, as the Phenomenal One stakes his claim to the title of BITW in this epic versus Minoru Suzuki.


G1 Climax 24 Block B Match AJ Styles vs… by original_bonski

Mega Powers angle: best ever?

While revisiting the Mega Powers angle in your SNME re-rants, where you would rank that in the "best angles ever" debate.  It started in October 87 on SNME and if you end it at WM5 it's till nearly a year and a half of perfect slow burn.  It elevated Savage to full time main eventer forever and drew shit loads of money.  I'm born in 82 and grew up a WWF fan.  For my money, that was the best ever.  Austin/Hart Foundation 97, Austin/McMahon 98, and the NWO are up there too in my opinion.

Certainly it was the biggest money drawing angle ever for a single match.  Creatively as well I'd have no problem putting it up there.  It was the kind of year long planning they just don't do anymore.  

Bret Hart: The Best There Is DVD Review (Disc 3)

Bret Hart: The Best There Is, the Best There Was, and the Best There Ever Will Be (Disc Three)

Unfortunately, the disc I was lended didn’t want to play any of the extra features. It kept freezing, and I couldn’t locate the disc anywhere online either. So I guess we’re just going to have to do without it. Click here if you missed part one. Also, after I was done previewing this review, it for whatever reason erased the scheduled time and decided to post itself. So, if you read it for the small amount of time it was up, I guess you got a sneak-peak before anyone else did.

WWF Heavyweight Title: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (9/29/94).

This was from the very first “WWF Action Zone, and it was just after their cage match at SummerSlam ’94. Bret throws Owen into the buckle for two. Owen complains about a hair pull, so Jim Neidhart comes down to find out what’s wrong. Owen screams, “He’s cheating!” Back in, Bret slaps Owen and schoolboys him for two. Bret gets a two off a Crucifix. Neidhart trips up Bret from the outside. Out comes Davey Boy to even things up. Owen starts pulling Bret’s hair. Bret fights back, but he runs into a belly-to-belly suplex. Bret counters with a sunset flip that gets two. Owen attacks him, but Bret kicks him in the gut. Owen reverses a corner whip, sending Bret chest-first into the turnbuckle. Anvil attacks Bret’s leg behind the ref’s back. Owen tries to lock in a side leglock, but Bret fights out. Bret picks up a two off the Hart Attack Clothesline and a small package gets two as well. Bret hits the backbreaker and then the second-rope elbow. Neidhart puts Owen’s foot on the ropes to break up the pin. Bret yells at Neidhart, allowing Owen to roll him up from behind. Bret rolls through for a two count. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, but Owen counters it with a thumb to the eye. He hits a leg lariat for two. Bret places Owen up on the top for a superplex, but Neidhart holds on to Owen’s leg. Bret falls back into the ring. The ref checks on him, so Davey Boy crotches Owen on the top rope. Bret drags Owen to the center and pins at 14:48.


Analysis: Weak finish aside, this was a very good effort. I could watch these two wrestle every day. Their fluidity, smoothness, and crispness together were on a nonpareil level, to the point where it was like watching poetry in motion. The entire feud was so effective because of how relatable was. There were so many people that could sympathize with Bret for having to deal with an overly jealous brother, and there were others that actually could sympathize with Owen for having to always take a backseat to his older brother. (although it was easier to dislike Owen, because he was so exceptional at being a self-righteous and contemptible heel). Quite frankly, there is nothing better than a feud that possesses well-defined characters who behave in an entirely understandable manner. *** ½


Bret Hart vs. Hakushi (w/Shinja) (5/14/95)
Hakushi goes for a headlock, but Bret pushes it off. Hakushi pulls Bret down by his hair and holds on to a wristlock. Bret fights out and armdrags Hakushi. Hakushi fights back and sends Bret chest-first into the corner. Hakushi hits Vader bomb that gets two. Hakushi chokes Bret in the corner and hits a Bronco Buster. Hakushi hits Bret with the Handspring Elbow Smash and then a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker that gets two. He goes for a springboard splash, but he misses. Bret hits all his five movez of doom and tries to lock in the Sharpshooter. Shinja jumps on the apron to distract Bret. Hakushi tries to take advantage, but Bret picks him up for an inverted atomic drop and then hits a clothesline. Bret’s has enough of Shinja and lays him out with a suicide dive. Back in, Hakushi’s hits Bret with a dropkick for two. They both suplex each other to the floor. Back in, Bret flips out of a suplex. Hakushi fights back, but Bret blocks a German suplex into a rollup for the win @ 14:50 

Analysis: Good match, though it doesn’t hold up well. Even when this DVD came out, American fans were becoming more accustomed to a puroresu-esque style (that was because a lot of people, like John Laurinaitis, brought the style over to America). Them being on different wavelengths at times marred this as well. Hakushi was more focused on shoehorning in his trademark spots in, whereas Bret was more focused on trying to narrate a cohesive story. *** 1/4


WWF Heavyweight Title: Big Daddy Cool Diesel (c) vs. Bret Hart (Survivor Series 1995)
This is part three of the Bret vs. Diesel feud. At King of the Ring ’94, Diesel defeated Bret by DQ. At the Royal Rumble, the referee threw out the match because of interference. This time, there must be a winner! Both wrestlers unfasten a top turnbuckle. Bret goes after the leg, but Diesel throws him off and starts pounding on him. Bret takes a break by going to the floor. Diesel comes out and drops Bret throat-first onto the guardrail. Back in, Bret goes after the knee, but Diesel fights back with forearms. Back outside, Diesel tosses Bret into the steps and slams Bret’s back into the ringpost. Diesel picks up a chair and smashes Bret with it. Back in, Diesel tosses Bret from one corner to the other. Diesel tries to go for the Jacknife, but Bret hooks Diesel’s leg. He then proceeds to bite his way out of danger. He figures a way to take Diesel off his feet and goes to work on the knee. Bret locks in the Figure-Four.

Diesel makes the ropes, but uh-oh, there’s no DQ. Bret releases the hold to go for the Sharpshooter. Diesel claws Bret’s face to avoid it. Bret goes for it again, but Diesel kicks him into the exposed turnbuckle. Bret remains in control. He rolls out and puts Diesel’s knee near the turnbuckle. Bret finds a cord and ties Diesel’s ankle up to the post. Bret runs at Diesel with the chair, but Diesel kicks him back. Diesel tries to get the chair, but Bret steps on his hand and picks it up. Bret slams the chair across Diesel’s back and then jabs the chair onto his knees. Even win Diesel’s ankle still tied up, Bret manages to give him a backbreaker. He tries to come off the top with the chair in hand, but Diesel Bret down. It buys himself enough time to release his ankle. Diesel is in a lot of pain, but he still manages to hit a Side Slam. Diesel throws Bret into the exposed corner chest-first. Diesel cannot run, so he limps over to deliver the Bossman Straddle. He goes for Snake Eyes, but Bret shoves Diesel into the exposed turnbuckle. Bret pounds away and then takes the big man down with a huge clothesline for two. Bret hits a flying bulldog that gets two. The Russian Legsweep gets two. He takes Diesel to the floor with a clothesline. He goes for his pescado, but Diesel moves out of the way. As Bret makes it up to the apron, Diesel runs him off the apron through the Spanish Announce Table. One of my favorite spots of all time. Diesel calls for the Jackknife, but Bret slumps back down on the mat like he’s out cold. Nash picks Bret up off the mat again, but Bret sneaks an inside cradle on him for a pin. @ 22:23.Nash screams into the camera some naughty words. Out of discretion, he gives Hart two Jackknife Powerbombs.

Analysis: This started off rather tedious, but it slowly escalated all the way to an intensified culmination. The main story was about Diesel simply being too gigantic and powerful for Bret to handle, which caused Hart to use “No DQ” stipulation to his benefit by restoring to underhanded tactics. From the way the story was narrated, the fans could fathom why Hart had to use those sorts of tactics, though. His character portrayed a protagonist that was desperate to not only discover a way to weaken the uber-antagonist, but also to protect himself from being seriously injured. They walked a very thin line here between desperation and heel turn with Bret, but they ended up delineating the story in an appropriate and efficacious manner.

Hart could seriously adapt to just about anyone he worked with and refashions his style in order for the psychology and story to become more believable. This was not a carry-job, though. Nash was effectual in his role, as he sold the knee impeccably, exhibited great in-ring characterizations, and wrestled precisely how an uber-big man should. **** 1/4


WWF Heavyweight Title: Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith (In Your House V) 
Leading up to this, Davey Boy Smith kept bringing up his victory at SummerSlam 1992 to play mind games with Bret. Bret takes Davey down with an armbar. Davey tries to maneuver his way out, but he cannot break out of the hold. Davey is able to break out and hits Bret with the kitchen sink. He hangs him up in the tree of woe and then gives him a mudhole stomping. Davey locks in a chinlock. Bret fights out, but Davey whips him in the corner chest-first. Davey goes back to the chinlock. Bret breaks out of it and sends Davey flying with a monkey flip. Bret delivers an inverted atomic drop and then a running bulldog for two. Bret delivers a piledriver for another two. He hits the Russian legsweep and then the vertical flying elbow drop for two again. Hart goes for a superplex, but Davey blocks it. He crotches Bret on the top rope and sends him to the floor. Bret hits the stairs and starts bleeding from the forehead. Davey slams Bret’s back into the ringpost and throws him back inside. Davey hits a Piledriver for two. He hits a suplex for another two. He even hits the Press Slam, but that can only get a two. Davey delivers a flying headbutt to Bret’s lower back. Bret fights back and goes for the Sharpshooter, but Davey wiggles out of it. Davey knocks Bret out to the floor and beats him up on the apron. Bret reverses a suplex and hits a bridging German suplex for two. Bret backdrops Davey all the way to the floor. Bret hits the pescado. Davey Boy fights back and hits the Running Powerslam on the floor. He goes for a suplex, but Bret counters and drops him crotch-first on the guardrail. Back in, Bret nails a backbreaker and superplex for both two Bret rolls through Davey’s O’Connor roll attempt for two. Davey Boy runs into a boot in the corner, and Bret cradles him for the win @ 21:20.


Analysis: This was hard-hitting, physical and heated. Bulldog bumped around like a fish out of water. This was just as good as their Summerslam contest. The only differences were it didn’t quite have the amount of importance or the breathtaking atmosphere. ****

Submission Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (Wrestlemania XIII)
These two were both incredibly gifted wrestlers who clicked with each other. On an otherwise uninspiring WrestleMania card, both of these ring magicians defined the suspension of disbelief. This had nuclear heat, giving off a notion that they sincerely wanted to annihilate each other. Right off the bat, this turns into a vehement brawl. Bret hits Austin with a swinging neckbreaker. Bret tries to lock in the Sharpshooter, but Austin fights it off and gets back on his feet. Austin hits Bret with a Stone Cold Stunner. Austin cannot capitalize, though, so Bret kicks him in the leg and then debuts the Ringpost Figure-Four Lock. Bret goes to work on Austin’s leg, although Austin fights back and crushes Bret with a chair shot. Austin hits a suplex and then hits the Vertical Flying Elbow. Austin hits a Russian legsweep and then locks in the Koji Clutch. Bret tries to fight out, causing Austin to lock in a Boston Crab instead. Bret makes it to the ropes, though. Austin tries to lock in the Sharpshooter, but Bret rakes his eyes. Bret tries to mount a comeback, but Austin tosses him to the outside.

Outside, Bret reverses an Irish whip and it sends Austin over the timekeeper’s table. Austin is bleeding from hitting his head on the guardrail. Bret smashes his face off everything around ringside, causing Austin to bleed like a stuck pig. Back inside, Bret hits a backbreaker and then the Vertical Elbow drop. He grabs a chair and goes to work on Austin’s knee. Hart tries to lock in the Sharpshooter, but Austin kicks him in the nuts. Austin starts stomping a mudhole into Hart. He hits a superplex and then goes outside to grab an extension cord from ringside. He tries to lynch Bret on the apron, but Bret knocks Austin in the face with the ringbell. Awesome, stiff spot that came out of nowhere. Bret locks in the Sharpshooter. Austin will not quit, though, but he ends up passing out because of the pain @ 22:05. Afterwards, Hart keeps attacking Austin, causing Shamrock to pick Bret up and slam him to get him to stop. 

Analysis: This had everything you could want in a brawl: intensity, abhorrence, psychology, storytelling, lots of color, conceivable selling, facial expressions that helped articulate the narrative, an incredible atmosphere, and some truly elegant booking. They pulled off exactly what McMahon wanted them to do: a double-turn. Hart turned into a narcissist heel that only was concerned about winning, and Austin turned into a venerated babyface.

Even though Austin wasn’t a conventional babyface, this ended up revealing some of his inner face-like qualities, like his resiliency and perseverance. The finish exemplified those two exact things, since he refused to tap out to the Sharpshooter, causing him to pass out from the pain. This was significant, historical, and just flat-out tremendous. I cannot think of a match that was better than this one in WWE’s history. *****

World Heavyweight Title: Bret Hart (c) vs. Undertaker (One Night Only ’97)

After their controversial Summerslam match, these two locked up again in the United Kingdom. Bret immediately tears off a turnbuckle pad, but this one doesn’t stay in the ring too long. Outside, Taker smashes Bret into the ringpost. They brawl up the aisle and then back into the ring. Bret delivers a DDT. He tries to whip Taker into the exposed corner, but Taker sends Bret in chest-first into the turnbuckle. Taker works over the chest. Taker pulls back on the arms to get a quick pinfall on Bret. Bret fights back and kicks at the knee to get out of the corner, but Taker throat punches him down and goes to work on Bret’s back. Taker charges the corner, but Bret ducks and Taker hits his knee on the top turnbuckle. Bret goes to work on the knee. Bret locks in the ringpost Figure-Four and then applies the Figure-Four in the center of the ring. Taker fights out, but his knee is still hurting him. Bret kicks and attacks at the knee, then delivers a Russian Legsweep for two. Bret delivers a snappy suplex that gets two. Bret delivers the backbreaker and goes up for the flying elbow, but Taker gets a boot up. Taker hits Bret with a couple legdrops between the legs, but Bret catches one of the legdrops and turns him over into the Sharpshooter.

Taker manages to break out and punches Bret when he tries to lock in the Sharpshooter again. Taker goes for the Chokeslam, but Bret attacks the bad knee. On his knees, Taker lands the some quick body punches. Taker hits a big boot and the legdrop that picks up a two. Bret brings the ring bell into the ring. Taker takes it away from him, but the referee takes it away from Taker. Off the distraction, Bret clips his leg from behind. Outside, Taker throws Bret into the steps. Back inside, Taker goes for Old School, but Bret yanks him off the ropes. Taker fights back and goes for the Tombstone, but Bret O’Connor rolls him for two. Bret goes for the Tombstone, but Taker reverses it. Bret holds onto the ropes, but he ends up landing on the apron with his head caught in between the ropes. Since Taker is pounding on a defenseless Bret, the referee calls for the bell for the DQ @ 28:30. Taker gives the referee a Chokeslam. Both Gerald Brisco and Owen Hart come out to help Bret get out of the ropes. Taker chokeslams Brisco, as Bret and Owen run away.

Analysis: Bret attempted to trade strikes against the Undertaker until he quickly realized that it was an asinine idea to trade blows with the “Best Pure Striker in the WWE” (thank you, Cole). He then started to be more opportunistic,  which triggered Taker into a mistake that ended up making his knee a vulnerable target.

Hart exhibited some of the most intense and calculating limb work I’ve ever seen, although one of the main reasons it was so excellent was because of the Undertaker’s consistent and believable selling. He moved around like he could hardly put any pressure on his leg, he adjusted to the injury by avoiding doing moves that put a lot of duress on it, and he displayed some immensely agonized-looking facial expressions. Just some awesome, awesome limb psychology.

They paced this in a way wherein every moment felt important and maximized the significance of each spot by executing moves with force behind them and selling them in a spectacular manner.  Everything was very fundamentally sound, as just about every spot was tremendously crisp and polished. This also told a handful of compelling stories and had transitions that smoothly shifted one story to the other.

So, what is this missing from receiving the full monty? A smartly booked non-finish. I understood why they protected Undertaker here. He was involved in a heated feud with Shawn Michaels and the pay-off was the first ever Hell in the Cell match, so they had to make him look as strong as possible heading towards it. Be that as it may, they could have still done a better non-finish. I am a fan of finishes where a heel does some thing so degrading that sends the monster heel over the edge and causes him to get DQ. For that reason, I think a finish like that would have been perfect for this. I obviously still vehemently recommend this match, particularly to those who prefer substance over style. **** 1/2

Owen Tribute: Chris Benoit vs. Bret Hart (10/04/99)
This was one of the greatest moments in Nitro history. Bret counters an armbar into a Russian legsweep. Bret hits him with a knee lift. Bret nails Benoit with some forearms in the corner. Bret goes for a kneelift, but Benoit reverses it with a schoolboy. Bret locks in a Boston Crab, but Benoit makes it to the ropes. Benoit misses an elbow, so Bret delivers a headbutt to the gut. Bret hits a vertical suplex for two and then a backbreaker. They go outside and brawl for a bit. Bret tries for another backbreaker inside, but Benoit counters into a Tombstone Piledriver. Benoit hits Northern Light suplex with a bridge for two. Benoit delivers a knee to the gut and lights Bret up with a chop. Hart dodges a dropkick and elbows Benoit in the face. Hart hits backdrop suplex for two. Benoit ducks out of the way, causing Bret to clothesline himself on the ropes. Benoit jumps on him with a tope. Bret tries to suplex him in, but Benoit counters with a reverse rollup. Benoit hits a forearm uppercut for two. Bret goes for a vertical suplex, but Benoit counters with a small package for two. Bret hits a big superplex. He goes for the Sharpshooter, but it’s countered to a Crippler Crossface. Bret makes it to the ropes. Benoit delivers the Triple Verticals. He comes off and delivers the flying headbutt for two. Bret fights back and hits a back elbow off an Irish Whip. Bret nails a piledriver, but Benoit is too close to the ropes. Benoit attacks Bret, but Bret gets a boot up to counter. Benoit ducks under a haymaker and then delivers Rolling German suplexes. Benoit goes up for a Northern Light suplex, but Bret counters by pounding the lower back. Benoit reverses a suplex to the Crippler Crossface, but Bret counters it into the Sharpshooter. Benoit submits at 23:05.

Analysis: This was proof that the little psychology things can all add up to one big thing. In fact, those little things can actually make a vast difference between something that is good or bad or something that looks real or fake. Both wrestlers made this look a real as possible by augmenting in little psychology things, such as the way they put a ton of snap behind their punches, the way they moved their head when selling a punch, the way they fought for a submission hold because their opponent was trying to stop it, and the way how a move or counter realistically and naturally fitted into each part of the match.

These two also never got away from what a wrestler’s ultimate (kayfabe) purpose was supposed to be: trying to find a way or ways to win, and that is how fans rally behind wrestlers and become emotionally invested into what they do in the ring. Surely, back-and-forth match with a fast pace and tons of crazy high spots can be some good popcorn entertainment and can receive some “This is Awesome” chants. When winning, however, is not the essential reason behind the match, the high spots and sheer craziness are likely what is getting over with the crowd. Not the wrestlers themselves.

This was almost purely unadulterated, as the only real thing that marred it were the commercial breaks. It just had superb psychology, crisp moves, ultra-realistic chain/mat-wrestling and incomparable emotion. This was definitely the greatest Nitro match ever. **** 1/2

Final Verdict: Disc 3 picks up right where Disc 2 left off. There are so many important, historical, and flat-out awesome matches on both discs. There is no doubt about it: Bret Hart was one of the finest in-ring workers of all time. If I were going to wrestle someone in their prime, Bret would be on the very top of that list. He never injured anyone in his career, yet he could make everything look extremely real. He was a firm believer in the philosophy of give-and-take. Meaning: he always wanted to make someone else look credible, even if they were booked to lose. He was someone who always could adjust to the wrestler’s style he was working with by changing up his, and he was one of those wrestlers who could envision things in his mind that would work and then execute them exactly how he schemed it out. There weren’t many – if any – wrestlers better than Hart at telling a compelling story in the ring, either. Concisely, Hart’s in-ring career was an elegant representation of art. From all the DVDs I’ve seen, this had the greatest collection of matches up to this point.

Thumbs Way Up

QOTD #38: Best Promos

Today’s Question:
What’s the best promo you
ever saw?
If you want to skip yesterday’s discussion and start right
away, scroll to the end or hit “Comments”. Otherwise please stick around to
talk about your own personal bizarro world.

I should have known that fantasy booking would draw out the
comments en masse, and it did. What match finish would YOU change if you had
the power to do so? Of course, this would theoretically set off a chain of
events that would change the potential direction of entire companies at times,
but that’s part of the fun.
PrimeTimeTen: In the 174th match between Dolph Ziggler and
Kofi Kingston, I would have had it end in a double-disqualification.
Here we go.
Thebraziliankid: Cena vs Brock at ER 2012. My finish would be
like this, Cena hits the AA on the steps and goes for the cover, 1…2..NO!
Brock kicks out, that was Cena’s last straw of strenght. Brock does that evil
smirk, picks him up F-5 put his foot on Cena’s chest, 1…2.. Brock takes the
foot off, grabs him again does another F-5 and locks the kimura, the referee
stops the match when he sees that Cena is out. That would make Brock a even
bigger monster than 92 Vader and would still make Cena strong for Surviving
that punishment. Brock only became a monster once more because he conquered the
streak.
We are off to the races with one of the most heavily debated
finishes in recent years (as Brock Lesnar matches are wont to do), starting
with his arrival. Cena was right off of losing to The Rock at Wrestlemania, and
a fresh Brock Lesnar was waiting in the wings. Brock, armed with a WORLD of
credibility after backing up his legitimacy by becoming UFC champion comes
back, and sets the stage by bloodying Cena’s nose during the closest thing to a
“shoot brawl” you’ll see. Then Cena wins. What the hell? By following your
story, Lesnar continues to look like the unbeatable machine we all believe him
to be, and Cena’s story of “worst year EVER~!” doesn’t change. I like this.
 Brian MacLeod: The first one
that pops to mind is the main event of WrestleMania 2000. The Rock clearly
should’ve won there instead of at Backlash. Because Rock won the next month, I
suppose it didn’t really “damage” anything long term, but I always
liked the “face walks out of WrestleMania champion” tradition and it
was kind of a bummer to see that broken…
Brian, the only reason I’m going to disagree with you here,
is because Wrestlemania 2000 was the last time Wrestlemania didn’t feel like
WRESTLEMANIA. It was built like another PPV. It wasn’t in a major stadium, it
wasn’t shot any differently, and aside from the 98-hour pre-game show, there
wasn’t anything to truly differentiate it from the other shows of the year.
They were still another year away from remembering exactly what it was that
made Wrestlemania, Wrestlemania. So with that in mind, I don’t hate the
decision of Triple H going over; and in fact stacking the deck even further
against The Rock just made the crowd even more rabid to see him take home the
gold the following month.
LScisco: Luger over Yokozuna at SummerSlam ’93 for
the title. I think that match would’ve made Luger’s WWF career.
Who needs the gold when you’ve got this:
DJ Sprite: Matt Hardy vs Edge summerslam 2005. Maybe
not the fact that edge won, but stopping the match via blood loss? Hardy was
one of the hottest acts in wwe and that’s the finish in the grudge match? Have
Lita-ferance cost Matt the match, leading to the cage match the next month.
Not a bad choice, and it truly doesn’t change much in the
grand scheme… except maybe keeping Matt Hardy hot a little longer. He lost so
much steam from not being able to come back and avenge himself for having lost
his job AND his girl to the guy with the movie-star good looks who was anointed
the future. Of course, it’s Vince McMahon we’re talking about. I figure when he
gave Matt Hardy the finish to the match, he told him “LIFE SUCKS … THEN YOU
DIE!”
 YankeesHoganTripleHFan: Hogan
vs Warrior at WM VI. Don’t get me wrong it was totally the right booking
decision, but I was 11, a Hogan fan, (obviously) and to this day it’s the only
match that actually made me feel sick to my stomach…I just never thought
Hogan would lose
My advice: Avoid all of 2002 through SummerSlam. By King of
the Ring you might be in need of CPR.
Ryan Yoder: Maybe Orton vs Undertaker at Wrestlemania
21. I really liked the Legend Killer gimmick, but I think at the time, Orton
was going to have to get surgery after Wrestlemania, so him winning and then
having to be out would probably have killed his momentum.
This probably denies us the Shawn Michaels series. You might
have to face a lifetime ban from the blog for that stunt.
Stranger in the Alps:
John Cena vs. The Miz at Mania 27. First,
because it was Wrestlemania and it deserved a better match. Second, sending the
fans home on a heel victory at Mania just feels wrong. The ending of the show
needs to be the babyface celebrating in victory……….even if it means
CenaWinsLOL
What revisionist history forgets, is that the net was FULLY
on board with The Miz. For god knows what reason, people saw star power in the
guy and were fine with him running with the belt. It wasn’t until he failed to
show *anything* new after dropping the belt that he was finally regurgitated.
In retrospect, yes, he should have been sent packing sooner, and Wrestlemania
would have been a fine time to stop.
VintageECW: No doubt, Taz v Sabu from Barely Legal. I
would’ve had Sabu pin Taz a hundred percent of the time. And I would have
murdered whoever came up with that double turn, dumbest move ever.
Great choice. Sabu had the cult following to end all cult
followings, and in his first PPV foray, he should have absolutely been built as
one of the biggest stars in the company. For hardcore fans, Sabu had been
tormented by the bully Taz, and after 18-months, it was time to stand his
ground. Instead, he taps like a bitch. Granted, to the toughest guy in the
company, but still. Then AFTER losing, he enlists the help of Bill Alphonzo?
Why not call on his assistance BEFORE having all your joints ripped apart by a
killing machine? They got too cute here, probably feeling the pressure to do
something special. They missed.
Johnny Polo: Shawn vs. Bulldog at One Night Only. Looking
back, I’m surprised Shawn didn’t also go over Owen in their title vs title
match on Raw to become IC champion. And then as both IC and Euro champ, he
could beat Bret at Survivor Series to hold all three belts by beating all three
Harts. Surly Shawn and HHH ran this idea by Vince.
This is one of those spots where it seems more clear that
Bret’s departure was premeditated. There was no reason for them to take the
European belt off of Bulldog, especially when the title was virtually
meaningless. It didn’t add anything to Shawn Michaels’ overall heat, and
considering Bulldog dedicated the match (non-kayfabe) to his sister Tracy who
would soon lose a battle with cancer, it was a pretty lousy thing to do. All it
did was get a belt off a prospective Hart ally who might jump ship a month
later if anything “screwy” might occur.
Daniel Lewis: I would have kept the WWF title on Chris
Jericho in 2000. Have Rock and HHH wrestle at Backlash in a grudge match, and
have Jericho defend against Benoit. Then move Jericho into a feud with either
Rock or HHH. Jericho at that time was the 2nd most over man on the active
roster.
I’m torn. Triple H still had unfinished business with The
Rock; but the chance to run with a surprise champion who DID get the job done
could have been a lot of fun. I don’t think Rock’s heat would have suffered in
the long run, so this is one bizarro world scenario I’d love to see play out.
Glen4321: Kurt Angle vs HHH Unforgiven 2000 would be
the one match ending I’d change Instead of Steph low blowing Angle while still
seeming like she cares about Angle (a terrible end to a very hot feud), Steph
should have came in the ring, low blowed HHH and then made out intensely with
Angle. Then the feud could have concluded at the next PPV in a much better blow
off match (hopefully with much blood). Also, if HHH and Steph were broken up on
TV this early on, maybe they would have broken up in real life if they weren’t
together so much. Changing the ending to this match could have prevented HHH’s
reign of terror from 2002-2005 on Raw.
Now Glen is a man who is into the spirit of the column. We
have it all here! A swerve finish! Live gratuitous tongue wrestling! Real life
divorce implications! I think we’re overstating the importance of a single
match just a little here, but having Angle steal Triple H’s girl would have
been the right ending here. In a world where nothing ever turns sour for Lord
Hunter, a man with the might of a thousand penises, it would have been great to
see him get his comeuppance and lose the girl here. Angle would have had killer
momentum going into No Mercy where he’d take the title, and logically he’d drop
the belt back to Triple H at Mania in this scenario. Austin still likely turns
heel, and sets his eyes on H. I like everything about this.
ts14: Raven going over Jarrett in TNA. The crowd
was nuclear for it, it should have happened. I know Raven as a champion would
have probably been a disaster but they should have gone with it for a little
while.
A forgotten classic from the weekly PPV era. I fully
disagree Raven would have been a disaster as champion. Fans were eating up
everything he was involved in for months afterwards. This was a bitter
disappointment, and moving the belt to AJ Styles weeks later was the inferior
move. Raven should have been able to take the belt and run with it. He could
have just as easily have carried it into the impending feud with the New
Church, done business with Shane Douglas, lost his hair, had his comeuppance,
and then … in the Internet wet dream … have CM Punk turn on him and recycle
their ongoing feud in ROH and MLW. I hope someone who can influence Jeff
Jarrett is currently building a DeLorean.
Starscreamlive: Sting winning clean at Starrcade ’97. Would
have brought closure to that storyline once and for all instead of the debacle
it turned into. The nWo could have still hung around afterward, but it’s
mission would have changed from destroying WCW to just being a stable of four
or five core members.
It’s mind boggling how obvious this decision was in 1997. We
don’t need retrospect for this. We need Hulk Hogan to do the right thing. And
there lies your root cause.
davidbonzaisaldanamontgomery:
Easily Booker going over HHH at WMXIX.
Not only does it erase the inane “HHH goes racist for five weeks then wins
at Mania” angle, but Booker was on the cusp of legit stardom; only HBK was
more over on RAW at the time. Instead, back down the card went Booker and it
took him three years to get back to the main event scene.
This was heavily debated on the blog today. As we may
recall, this was during the “Triple H can’t put over Booker because he needs
his heat for Nash … and he can’t put over Nash because he needs his heat for
Goldberg … and he can’t put over Goldberg, because Goldberg needs more heat
…” era. I like changing the result, I just cringe at the idea of Booker T
eating the “Miz” treatment of wrestling in the 3rd match of the card
against World Title challengers Bubba Dudley and Jeff Hardy until it comes time
to drop the belt to the first “real” main eventer he faces.
BobSacamento: Orton over Triple H at WrestleMania 25. Fuck
that shit. Orton was hot as you could be and that loss really did him no
favors. Beat Hunter, punt that son of a birch and then move to feud with MVP
and then Batista until Triple H returns for Vengeance….and loses again.
You’ve laid out a very well thought out scenario that I
would never want to watch in a million years.
ARRRRGH THE BARBARIAN:
Del Rio’s cash-in on Punk has to be up
there. I don’t think that did anyone any favors.
Now we’re talking! If we manage to avoid Alberto Del Rio,
which for the record I try VERY hard to do, Punk’s title reign now extends to
roughly 17 months on top of the promotion which is something that will likely
never be topped again. Granted, neither will the 400+ days, but I’m just trying
to pile it on at this point.
David: Barrett beating Orton at Survivor Series for
the title. He only had 1 real ppv win over those 6 months (making cena join the
nexus). Fine they lost at summerslam. However, barrett never got his big title
win. He got screwed by cena for the title at the ppv before. He lost to orton
that night and the next night on raw after the nexus kicked orton’s butt before
the match (then the miz cash-in). Next month, he lost a chair’s match to cena.
Ever since then, he has looked like a chump except as bad news barrett. Who
knows where barrett would be if he actually beat orton that night?
He might be as revered as former champion Jack Swagger. In
all seriousness, winning that match is not going to overcome the lack of
personality he showed up until he became Bad News Barrett.
Devin Harris: The Flair-Hogan double-turn at Uncensored
99. This was supposed to be Flair finally beating Hogan for the title as a
babyface and then WCW cheats us, the fans, out of it by doing a double-turn. Of
course, the fans cheered it anyway
Devin, let’s recap. Hogan comes back, and steals Goldberg’s
title away with the Finger Poke of Doom. Reunites the nWo. Has Flair driven out
to the desert, where he is beaten and left for dead. Steals Flair’s son David
away with sex (like THAT would ever work on a 19-year old). Flair retaliates by
smacking Hogan with a tire iron. And HE’S the bad guy? I’m with you. NO TURN.
Darren X: Thats easy: DDP & David Arquette vs.
Jeff Jarrett & Eric Bischoff. More than any one match, killed the business
as we know it, and put it in the hands of Vince McMahon.
I really hate to burst your bubble, but WCW was long gone by
this point. Still, I am happy to live in a world where David Arquette is NOT a
former champion.
Adam Wright: Wrestlemania 4 main event, Dibiase Vs
Savage. Have Andre move to attack Elizabeth which distracts Savage allowing
Dibiase to roll him up. After the match you can have Andre, Virgil &
Dibiase beat on Savage until Elizabeth goes for Hogan for the save to still get
the megapowers. Except now you have Dibiase as a hell champ, the first heel
champ in 4 years. Suddenly there’s a lot of faces who can get a quick run on
top as challenger, whilst Megapowers fight Virgil/Andre. You can still have the
Megapowers Vs MegaBucks match at Summerslam, and at Wrestlemania 5 you have
Savage over Andre & Hogan over Dibiase.
The only heart-breaking part of this is that Savage never
gets his proper due until about Wrestlemania 8 in your world. I’m absolutely ok
with seeing DiBiase get the run he deserves with all the hard work he put
behind his Million Dollar Man character, it’s just unfortunate that Macho winds
up on the back seat again.
greaterpower99: Nexus over Team WWE at Summerslam. After
taking the beating from Barrett and Young in the final stage of the match, Cena
manages a flurry and tags Bryan. Bryan steps in, and flattens him with a
roundhouse kick. All three men then finish him off.  The Nexus angle was more or less killed off
as any sort of serious threat by Supercena, putting them over in that scenario
(or something like it) would have given them monster heel heat and kept it
going for much longer.
This isn’t just fine fantasy booking, this is EXACTLY how it
should have played out. I rarely get excited for pay-per-views any more, but I
had a good friend over for this one and we were pretty stoked for what we
figured was either a changing of the guard, or a sure-fire Cena heel turn. Then
CENAWINSLOL. I am okay with changing this finish of this match to do one of a
thousand different things, as long as it leads to the Nexus getting the big
win.
Thank you for the quality discussion points today, good
stuff from everyone who contributed in the thread – even you Vince Jordan.
Back at it again tomorrow folks, as we kick off my last week
of doing the QOTD feature. (For those of you who’ve been waiting for this
moment – you can rejoice!) I current work nights, which allows me the free time
to do this every single day because no one’s awake at the god awful hours I put
this together. However, mirroring my wife’s schedule is gonna make it
impossible to run a daily piece.
We’ll address this more next weekend when I wrap this up,
but in the meantime, have a great Monday with whatever you’ve got planned.

Best Match of the G1 So Far?

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma, from yesterday’s fantastic G1 Climax Day 4 PPV. I know I’ll catch some heat for not going with Tanahashi/Shibata. That was a masterpiece. However, if I’m only allowed to watch ONE match back from the tournament so far, it’s gotta be this one. A rematch of their brutal MOTYC in early May. This one is only 12 minutes and it flies right by. I’d have to say Styles has been the star of the tournament so far, but this is your classic war of attrition.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma (7/26/14)