Repost: The SmarK Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIII (08.15.96)

(Not a new post, as I did this one while going through the entire run of Clash shows last year after they got added to the Network.  But since we’re at that point, might as well post it again.)  The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXIII (August 1996) Dedicated to the memory of Mark “OfficerFarva” Haas.  (I will also just add that I was going through my inbox tonight to continue my quest of cleaning out stuff that no longer applies or is too dated to answer, and I was saddened to have to archive a bunch of stuff from Mark, because he always had really good discussion material to add but I just couldn’t get to all of it.)  Live from Denver, CO Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan Into the nWo era now, shortly after Hogan won the title at Hog Wild, and it’s an entirely different promotion from the last Clash we saw. Hall and Nash are here, Hogan is a heel, Luger is 100% babyface and so are the Four Horsemen. Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Dean Malenko Ever notice that Rey and Dean’s music are basically the same thing? Malenko attacks before the bell with a suplex and dumps Rey, but he slides back in and hits Dean with the rana off the apron. Back in, they trade acrobatics and Rey gets a moonsault for two and kicks Dean to the floor. Back in, Dean drops him on the top rope via a powerbomb to take over, and goes to a chinlock. We take a break to shill the official Hog Wild denim jacket (only $89.95!) and return with Dean flinging Rey around the ring until Rey flips into a rollup for two. Rey used to be so fun before all the steroids. Dean goes to the legbar and then launches him into a faceplant for two. Rey tosses Dean and follows with a somersault dive, then moonsaults off the railing in a spot that could have went horribly for him. Back in, springboard dropkick gets two. Rey reverses a tilt-a-whirl for two. West Coast Pop gets two. They fight on top and Dean gets the SUPER EXPLODING GUTBUSTER for the pin, but Rey’s foot is on the ropes. The ref rings the bell, but then takes it back and Rey rolls him up for the pin at 14:20 to retain. This is the time when the cruiserweight division launched into the stratosphere. ***3/4 GLACIER is coming, muthafucka! Keeping in mind this is August 1996 and he didn’t even show up on TV until, what, mid-97? VK Wallstreet v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan The VK Wallstreet gimmick was of course another oh-so-subtle dig at Vince McMahon and his mainstream aspirations. We all know who got the last laugh on that one. Wallstreet immediately makes the mistake of pointing to his head to indicate intelligence, resulting in Duggan beating on him in the corner. Wallstreet bails and gets a cheapshot to take over, and goes to the chinlock. Duggan fights out with a slam and tapes up the fist, but VKM rolls him up and grabs the tights at 3:46. ½* Meanwhile, the Nasty Boys are upset at getting passed over for title shots and people talking shit about them. Well, they can rest easy knowing Sags would soon get forced into early retirement anyway. Konnan v. Ultimo Dragon This could be ugly. Konnan slugs him down and wraps him up in a cloverleaf, but Dragon dropkicks him to the floor and Sonny Onoo gets some kicks in. Back in, Dragon with a moonsault into a cradle for two. German suplex gets two, but Konnan rolls him over and pulls the tights at 3:00 to finish. What agent let them do the same finish two matches in a row? * Meanwhile, Scott Norton attacks Ice Train to break up a Compuserve chat. He’s the ultimate internet troll! Meng v. Randy Savage Macho appears to be a no-show due to nWo beatdown, so Meng wins by forfeit. They show replays to emphasize the point, and Hogan’s chairshots didn’t improve any after WWF mercilessly mocked him on the Billionaire Ted skits. So with that out of the way, Mean Gene interviews the new improved Dungeon of Doom (Sullivan, the Faces of Fear, Hugh Morrus) and Kevin points out that he was trying to destroy Hogan all long and thus should be thanked by everyone. Oh, and then the Leprechaun runs around ringside (not to be confused with Hornswoggle) because WCW. Madusa v. Bull Nakano At least Bull had little worry about getting fired for doing coke in WCW. They practically gave it out at the door. Madusa misses a dropkick and gets tossed around the ring by the hair, but then gets greedy and beats on her with nunchuks. Somehow the ref misses this and the match continues. Madusa comes back with a bad bodypress, but Nakano sits on her for two. Bull goes up and Madusa dropkicks her to the floor and follows with a dive on Onoo. Onoo tries a kick to retaliate, but hits Nakano and Madusa rolls her up for the pin at 2:30. Really, three rollup finishes in a row? *1/2 Meanwhile, Ric Flair and his harem are ready for Hogan’s nonsense. Flair gets a great play off Hogan’s previous promo about how Hogan beat up his best friend by noting that he can’t beat up his own best friend, and neither can Hogan. Diamond Dallas Page v. Eddie Guerrero Last run for heel DDP before the nWo started courting him to lead to his face turn. Eddie gets a headscissors into a dropkick, but charges and hits the post to allow DDP to take over. Gutbuster and tilt-a-whirl slam gets two. Eddie fights back and hits the springboard senton for two, but Page powerbombs him for two. They fight to the top and Eddie shoves him off and finishes with a frog splash at 4:20 to win DDP’s Battlebowl ring. DDP offers a handshake, but then turns on him with a pair of Diamond Cutters to spoil Eddie’s glorious moment. ** Meanwhile, Hogan notes that Flair will be known in the ratings as the stupid little man who couldn’t get the job done. That would be some pretty specific quarter hour information. GLACIER is still kicking stuff! ROADHOUSE! Chris Benoit v. The Giant Very morbid on the Horsemen side, as Benoit and both his valets are gone. Giant was rapidly improving at this point, but this was a quick dropkick and chokeslam at 0:25. It is insinuated that Woman accidentally cost him the match, but I don’t think that went anywhere. This whole period is a blur for me, so I forget if she ended up turning on the Horsemen. WCW Tag titles: Harlem Heat v. The Steiner Brothers v. Sting & Lex Luger Luger gets beat up in the Heat corner but returns fire on Stevie Ray, then Rick Steiner lays both guys out with clotheslines and bulldogs Stevie for two. The Heat takes over on Rick and we take a break. Back with Rick powerslamming booker, but Sting tags himself in and hits a flying chop on Booker for two. Sting with a press slam for two. We get a shockingly boring heat segment with Luger pounding on Rick and nothing of note going on, until Scott comes in with a belly to belly on Lex and it’s a six-way donnybrook. In this commotion, Hall and Nash join us while Scott hits the frankensteiner on Booker, and Nick Patrick calls for the DQ in the middle of his count to screw the Steiners over at 13:00. So I guess it’s a no-contest? Who do you disqualify in a three-way match? *1/2 Nick Patrick gives an interview with Mean Gene afterwards, explaining his actions and sounding like Kenny Powers. WCW World title: Hulk Hogan v. Ric Flair So in the bizarre after-effect of Hogan’s heel turn, people are now cheering him again since the act was so incredibly hot and thus fresh again. Flair works a headlock and they trade taunts, but Hulk goes to work on the arm and Flair fights back with chops. More stalling from Hulk and they do a test of strength before Flair gets tossed out now. Geez, they’ve wrestled each other a zillion times, you’d think they could get something going here. Hogan slugs away in the ring, but Flair suplexes him and Hogan hulks up. The crowd goes nuts for this, so thankfully Hogan phased it out pretty quickly. Legdrop misses and Flair gets the figure-four, so Hogan throws the ref down and the Outsiders run in for the DQ at 8:04. Pretty brutal. * The Pulse Bunch of short, bad matches and TERRIBLE finishes here. Strong recommendation to avoid.

Repost: RF Shoot Interview with Dusty Rhodes

The SmarK Rant for the RF Video Shoot Interview with Dusty Rhodes This was taped late in 1999, from what I can tell. As a reminder, this and all other shoot interviews I talk about are available at www.rfvideo.com. Footage from ECW opens things up. We start in West Texas State, pre-wrestling era for Dusty, as he went there with the likes of the Funks and Tully Blanchard. He got a football scholarship under dubious circumstances, but wrestling was his true calling. Dusty remembers himself booking shows as early as childhood in the backyard. I’m not sure about the rumors that he invited a young Ric Flair over to his house and then put himself over. He was trained in wrestling by a local named Bill Graham (no relation to anyone else with that name) and got started from there. Graham’s only question: “Can you do a dropkick?” At that point, he COULD, of course. Joe Blanchard (Tully’s dad and AWA President in that promotion’s dying days) taught him the essentials. Early on he went to Australia with Dick Murdoch and met Jim Barnett. Barnett switched things up a bit, making Dusty the talker on the team and paying him more money. Back to the states, as Dusty tells the story about his dad dying on the same day as Dustin being born. Fritz Von Erich paid for the funeral. Talks a bit about the importance of Living the Gimmick. Over to the AWA, and a feud with Crusher & Bruiser. Dusty was still a heel at this point, keep in mind. Went to Florida and did tons of hour-long draws with Jack Brisco, until the fans had apparently turned him babyface by default, which led to the angle with Pak Song where he turned for real. Talks about Kevin Sullivan’s devil-worship stuff in the 70s and how much the crowds were into it, to the point where there would be organized devil-worshipping groupie sessions, who were opposed by redneck bikers. And you thought Vince Russo’s fans were weird. Eddie Graham started grooming Dusty to book in 1974. Dusty then stops to reflect on how much power he really did have over the years and how some MIGHT see that as a knock on him. He then takes credit for a shitload of stuff, including training Paul Heyman to book and making just about major star in the 80s. He then trashes Meltzer and thinks that if he started his own promotion, he’d just put himself on top. Hello, Kettle? This is the Pot. I just called to say that you’re black. Onto Dory Funk, who was a great wrestler, but wasn’t so great as a booker. Dusty notes he always seemed to get the booking jobs to clean up Dory’s mess. Apparently everything Dory said or did was a work. Starrcade ’83 came about because Jim Crockett came to Dusty one day looking for a “special” aura to his big show. Dusty rejected early name suggestions from Barry Windham like “Autumn Bomb” and settled for a play-on-words for “Decade” instead – Starrcade. Eddie Graham let him go from his Florida obligations so he could book the NWA. Jim Crockett offered Dusty crazy money to name his big shows and book. No word on whether Dusty actually set up the rings and sold all the tickets door-to-door by himself, too, but it wouldn’t shock me to hear about that from him one day. His first experiment in sportz entertainment was the Boogie Woogie Man video that led to the Valiant-Jones haircut angle. He regrets not copyrighting his event names, because when Eric Bischoff came along he took all of Dusty’s and added some lame ones of his own. Dusty named all of WCW’s PPVs from 1983 until 1993. That actually makes sense, since Bischoff’s contributions were “Uncensored” and “World War III”. Wargames was thought up on a car trip to a house show, and is his favorite gimmick match. He describes the party atmosphere of the 80s. He continues to make friends, talking about what a shitty booker George Scott is. Dusty actually hates “the b word” and prefers “executive producer”. The buck always stopped with Dusty. Piper & Steamboat apparently couldn’t deal with that and left for the WWF in 1984. That’s a unique interpretation of their reasons for leaving. He was ready to pass the torch to Magnum before he accident killed his career. Dusty claims Magnum had more charisma than Hogan, and that he got way more chicks. Magnum got 40,000 letters a day from fans after the car accident. Talks about the Andersons cage match that turned Nikita babyface and we get a clip of that. Barry Windham, who once had tons of potential as a wrestler and booker, just prefers to stay home these days. Barry was Dusty’s #1 guy backstage and a protégé. Onto the Midnights/RnR stuff and how Dusty came up with videos to get them over. Says the RnR were like the Beatles in terms of crowds and money. Says they could go 30-60 with ease, but it wasn’t believable for Ricky Morton to get beat up that long, so he didn’t book them longer than 20. A bit on managers, with Paul E & Jim Cornette being his favorites. Thinks Cornette had the edge in talent. Knew Steve Austin would be a superstar right from the start. Yeah, that’s why he booked him to bump like a pinball for Dustin, because he knew he’d be a superstar. Talks about warring with Vince in the 80s. Takes credit for selling out the building in a match against Bubba Rogers and thinks they’d still be around (presumably on the strength of those Bubba-Dusty matches) had Crockett not gotten greedy. Yeah, THAT’S why the NWA died, because Crockett got greedy. Dusty’s booking had NOTHING to do with it. Thinks Hogan beat him because he had Hollywood Connections and Dusty didn’t. Tully: Good worker, bit of a crybaby. Thinks he was a spinoff of Flair. Onto Flair, who’s the “ultimate flim-flam man” and doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself. Dusty takes credit for creating the Ric Flair character, and naming him as such. See, Flair wanted to called “Ricky Rhodes”, and Dusty told him “Ricky, you gotta find your own way, if you will” and Flair was so inspired by these words from the Dream that he went on to draw millions of fans around the world, all for Dusty. Dusty doesn’t think Flair is God, but then he’s kinda biased. Clip of Dusty calling out Flair on an episode of Worldwide, as David Crockett has heart failure. Dusty Rhodes v. Ric Flair. Stalling to start. Hiptoss & elbow and Flair begs off. Rhodes wins a slugfest and Flair bails. Back in, Flair pounds him in the corner and drops the knee for two. Dusty comes back with a press slam and a lariat for two. Flair goes up and gets slammed off, cue the Horsemen run-in. 4-on-1 beatdown follows, and the usual suspects save. *1/2 On another episode, Dusty calls out Tully, resulting in another beatdown. Back to the interview… Talks about the early days of Ric Flair. Doesn’t think Ric’s a good booker, but notes he has a rabid following of people who don’t know anything about the business. Onto the UWF and the wasted interpromotional war. Dusty actually ADMITS A MISTAKE, as he notes he was too focused on Vince and didn’t see the potential in the UWF guys. The Bunkhouse Stampede: Well, he took a lot of heat from the boys on this one. It was a basically a throwaway PPV. When the boys questioned him going over in his own match, his response involved a naughty word. Ah, Dusty, truly a wrestler’s booker. Onto Sting and his trials and tribulations, and Luger’s. Funny story about a Luger-Wahoo match in Florida gets thrown in, but he admits to not knowing the details on the Bruiser Brody incident. The Turner buyout and Dusty’s departure come next, as Jim Herd fired him as booker and wanted to turn him heel. So he told Herd where to stick it and went back to Florida to book until Vince called him. Funny how he skipped over the whole Road Warrior incident there, where Herd specifically told him not to blade on TV anymore and he did a five-alarm bladejob on TBS shortly after and got fired. Dusty wanted Pat Patterson’s job in the WWF and made no secret about it. The polka dots were NOT to humilate him, apparently, but rather a test to see if he could it over, which he did. His original choice for Sapphire was not Juanita, but rather a black hooker off the street. Vince wanted a family image, and by gum he was right in this case. This interview is becoming more surreal by the moment. Went back to WCW in 1991 to finish unfinished business and try to forge the new WCW out of the dogshit given to him. He did his best for two years and fought kicking and screaming when Bischoff came in 1993, but finally gave way for Hulkamania. Talks about Dustin and missing his childhood. He knows a bad father for not being there. Loved the Goldust gimmick and thinks they didn’t even scrape the surface of it. On the WWF War: Thinks they could have won if three things happened. 1) They needed a PR company to promote the shit out of Magnum & Flair and get them on talk shows. They needed to make “NWA” the same kind of brand name that the WWF had. 2) Contracts suck, period, and guys needed to work for their money. 3) TBS had to change their image as a hick station. That’s actually the most astute thing Dusty’s said in this entire interview. History pieces piss him off because they leave out the 70s and act like wrestling died in 1964 and reawakened in 1984 when the WWF went national. The Dusty Finish? He liked it. Veers off onto the Shockmaster and how funny it was, and Jeff Jarrett’s guitarshot on Moolah in 1999. He’s proud to be associated with a finish forever, when most bookers aren’t even remembered. On today’s product: Times dicate T&A and storylines, so Vince delivers. Thinks three hours of Nitro is way too much, and thinks that ECW kids should slow down all the highspots. Most astuteness from Dusty. Talks about the origins of his name. Thinks Jerry Lawler is a flim-flam man in the Flair mold. Big fan of JR, but knew from Day One that Ross wanted his job. Talks about WCW’s big run. Doesn’t think it’ll happen again because Vince adapts so fast and wouldn’t let Turner beat him again. Talks about his TCW and aspirations to write & direct a movie. Plus the Dusty Rhodes Fantasy Camp, where you get to book yourself to the World title whether or not you deserve it. Okay, just kidding. He wants a piece of the ECW action with Paul Heyman. Dusty Rhodes & Tommy Dreamer v. Steve Corino & Jack Victory. Dreamer & Corino brawl into the crowd, and Tommy garbage cans Corino and tosses him into a ticket window. Back to ringside, Dusty beats on poor Steve. Dusty & Tommy double-team Victory, but Corino superkicks Dreamer. He refuses to use a ladder, and Tommy plays face-in-peril. Victory stomps away and Corino makes lewd gestures at Dusty. Corino goes up, but gets planted into a ladder facefirst. Hot tag Dusty, usual follows. Stereo DDTs on the heels and double bionic elbows finish at 8:40. Rhyno attacks, Sandman saves. *1/4 He talks a bit about Japan and how he wasn’t a big fan of Giant Baba (now there’s an understatement), and so he got caught up in the NJ-AJ wars when he worked a New Japan show and defended the NWA title there. Backstory: All Japan was an NWA member at the time, but Baba HATED Dusty, and in fact his booking of himself to the World title in 1986 caused a major PR problem between Crockett and Baba. We wrap things up. Classic footage time: From 86, the Horsemen trail Dusty’s car with a video camera in an angle stolen nearly shot-for-shot in 1997 for an Outsiders/Steiners angle. They follow him to Jim Crockett’s office, then jump out of the car and tie Dusty to a glass repair truck and break his arm with a baseball bat. Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff. From NWA TV: The James Boys, a pair of masked outlaws who just didn’t care about nothin’, attack the Midnight Express and kidnap Jim Cornette, then drag him outside and try to hang him from the back of a moving truck. The James Boys then cut a promo, sounding suspiciously like Magnum TA & Dusty Rhodes. From 88, Magnum & Tully mouth off at each other about the “I Quit” match from 85, as Tully gripes that no matter where he goes all he hears from the fans is “I Quit”. Tully cuts an awesome heel promo running down Magnum, then when Magnum won’t back down Tully attacks the crippled TA. Dusty saves with a baseball bat and just brutalizes Tully, nailing Jim Crockett on the backswing. This leads to Dusty getting suspended for 120 days, and we see the “board meeting” where this occurs, where of course Dusty cuts a tough-guy promo to declare his forthcoming vengeance on JJ Dillon for orchestrating the whole thing. The next week, the mysterious Midnight Rider comes into town and demolishes a jobber with a DDT and bionic elbow. The angle never ended up drawing a dime and was dropped very soon after. Barry Windham explains his heel turn, but gets confronted by the Dream. The new Horsemen beat Dusty down until Luger saves him and takes his own licks. Back in the dressing room, Dusty and pals head out to the ring and Dusty calls out Windham. Dusty kicks his ass as wrestlers surround the ring. Barry keeps running and the boys keeps throwing him in. Dusty DDTs him twice as the clip ends. Dusty Rhodes & The Rock N Roll Express v. The Midnight Express & Bubba Rogers. Same match that I covered on the Cornette shoot tape. From NWA TV: Ivan Koloff kills Dusty and goes after Nikita, but gets nailed. Vladimir Petrov gets Nikita, but Dusty comes back to clean house…and then gets killed again. Petrov & Nikita have a Bald Russian Staredown. The Four Horsemen v. The Road Warriors & The Superpowers. This is from Worldwide in 1987, just prior to Ole’s forced departure from the group. Mega-brawl to start, faces clean house. The Horsemen sacrifice Ole and let him take the initial beating, until he bails. Flair tries with Hawk, who totally no-sells the chops. Flair regroups and tries again as we go to commercial and return with a bunch of Horsemen down from the Sickle. Nikita chokes Tully down, same for Ole. Flair wants a piece of Animal, so they go. Flair chops the shit out of him, no effect. Press slam for Flair and he bails. Back in, Animal gets caught in the Horsemen corner, but he shoulderblocks out and Hawk comes in. He slams everyone as TV time runs out at 6:26. No finish shown, so no point rating it. The Bottom Line: Another interesting shoot interview from RF Video, as Dusty interprets history in his own unique manner. I was a little disappointed that stuff like the Midnight Rider flop and his later booking days for WCW weren’t addressed, and the Dusty Finish question was TOTALLY dodged, but the footage of Dusty getting his ass kicked is classic and Dusty certainly has the charisma to make for an interesting interview no matter what the subject. Recommended, but with reservations. Check it out at RFVideo.com.

TIMELY REPOST: The SmarK DVD Rant for The Elimination Chamber Anthology

The SmarK DVD Rant for Satan’s Prison: The Complete Anthology of the Elimination Chamber
Setting aside the fact that the title sounds like a bad Tarantino B-movie homage, you had to figure that they’d be coming out with this collection sooner rather than later. This is basically just a collection of the matches in chronological order, hosted by Todd Grisham. A quick word on video presentation, as much of these matches are from the HD era and thus presented in 16×9. However, the older stuff is 4×3, and just like on the Ricky Steamboat DVD, the matches are presented window-boxed with “Elimination Chamber” graphics on the sides of the screen to fill the space. Either leave it black or let the DVD player handle it, production monkeys.
Anyway, I never thought this was such a hot idea for a match in the first place, but they sunk a LOT of money into developing and building the equipment, so you knew it was going to be a yearly thing whether we liked it or not. The one thing that REALLY bugged me, however, was the series of nicknames given to the match, none of which any fan ever has ever called it outside of the WWE marketing offices.

Disc One

RAW World title: HHH v. Shawn Michaels v. Chris Jericho v. Booker T v. Kane v. Rob Van Dam. (Survivor Series 2002)

I would be remiss in not noting how gay HBK is looking tonight, complete with his girlish haircut, tights-and-cowboy-boots look, and 120 pound frame. I mean, seriously, I’m not one to advocate drug use, but sometimes you need to shoot up with roids in order to give the match SOME degree of cred. I’ve seen Jeff Hardy look more butch than Shawn. HHH and RVD start the match, with five-minute intervals for the other guys. The small bolt holding the main door shut reminds me of the Rhino cages on the Simpsons. Rob gets a leg lariat to start, and kicks away. HHH comes back by USING THE KNEE, and gets backdropped onto the grating while trying the Pedigree. Rob stomps him down and sends him into the main door a couple of times, breaking the high-quality lock clean off. So much for craftsmanship. Rob monkey-flips him onto the grating (it kinda detracts from the intensity when you do three flips before a move), and gets Rolling Thunder onto the grating. Back into the ring, Rob climbs above Jericho’s cage (you have to question THAT wisdom) and of course gets tripped up as a result. They head back down again as Rob gets a sloppy somersault dive off the cage, only making contact in a general sense. HHH eats the cage again and they head back in, as Jericho joins us after the first interval. Rob hits him with a leg lariat and a standing moonsault for two. Springboard dropkick and Rob dumps Jericho, then follows him out with a dive that misses. He grabs the cage like Spider-Man (as noted by JR and King), and follows Jericho back in. HHH nails him with a lariat, however. Jericho hits RVD with a backdrop suplex, but Rob fights back on both heels. Jericho hits him with a senton for two. HHH tosses Rob again and they ram him into the cage and generally beat him down. HHH whips Jericho into Rob, but it misses and Rob hits both of them with kicks to come back. HHH DDTs him as we await the entrance of Booker T to hopefully get this thing moving a little faster. Booker cleans house and stops for a Spinarooni, then does a sequence with RVD that ends with a spinkick that gets two for Booker. Rob spinkicks him for two. Blind charge misses and Booker sidekicks him for two. HHH comes back in, but gets axe kicked. RVD goes up to the top of an empty cage for the frog splash, but physics is NOT his friend, as he runs out of room and blows the move, driving his knee into HHH’s throat as a result. Hebner gives the dreaded “X” sign to indicate legitimate injury, and HHH takes a breather while Booker hits Rob with a missile dropkick for the pin at 13:39. I think RVD blew out his knee on that move, too. Booker covers HHH for two. Jericho chops away on Booker and bulldogs him, but misses the Lionsault and gets hit with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. Booker gets two, and Kane is in next. Weird thing: The order of entrance into the ring is the same as the order of entrance into the match. Kane gives Booker a corner clothesline and tosses Jericho into the cage. Next stop: The plexiglass, which turns out to be less bulletproof than advertised. Kane pounds on HHH and blocks Booker’s sidekick, then chokeslams him. Jericho Lionsaults Booker for the pin at 17:40. Note to everyone still holding out hope for a Booker push: Give it up. Kane and Jericho fight on the cage and Jericho gets slammed back into the ring, while HHH lies around and bleeds. You know, if HHH was injured, he should have just been a professional and bowed out of the match early and actually put someone over rather than waiting to give the Almighty Rub of God to his best friend. Kane slams HHH off the top, but Jericho goes low and gives him a missile dropkick. Shawn arrives on the scene and cleans house (which is a pretty ridiculous visual given the size difference) and hits Kane with the flying forearm. JR’s assessment: “He’s not quick, he’s sudden” Well, that certainly clears it up. Kane chokes Jericho down and chokeslams everyone, but goes for exactly zero pins. A superkick, a Pedigree and a Lionsault later and Kane is gone at 22:52. Poor Kane is always booked to look like an incompetent boob, and they wonder why he never gets over. Jericho sends Shawn into the cage a few times and opens a cut (using verbal encouragement for good measure), and HHH tosses Shawn. Some cheese grater action results. Back in, Jericho abuses Shawn while HHH does nothing, but looks REALLY INTENSE while doing it. Shawn fights back and goes for a piledriver on the grating, but Jericho backdrops out of it. Back in, Shawn hits HHH with his forearm (time to update the moveset, Shawn, it’s the 21st century), but gets Lionsaulted for two. Shawn gets a moonsault press for two. He puts Jericho in a Boston Crab, but HHH DDTs Shawn to break it, and Jericho gets two. The heels fight over the pin and HHH uses the knee for two. Pedigree is reversed to the Walls, but Shawn superkicks him to break it, which was a pretty obvious spot. Jericho is gonzo at 30:44. HHH & Shawn slug it out, and HHH gets the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER for two. Shawn charges and gets dumped, but they fight over the Pedigree and Shawn gets catapulted into the plexiglass. Back in, HHH gets two. They slug it out again and HHH gets yet another facebuster and dumps Shawn. I think they’re running out of spots to use tonight. Another Pedigree attempt is reversed to yet another catapult, which is like the fifth one in the match. Nice bald spot, Shawn. Back in, Shawn goes up and drops the big elbow off the cage, almost adding his contribution to the “kill HHH fund” in the process, and the band is warming up. He passes a move to HHH via Hebner on-camera, telling him to tell HHH to block the first one. And indeed, HHH blocks it and hits the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE, but doesn’t go for the pin. He finally gets two. Another try is reversed by Shawn to the superkick, and he wins the title at 39:21. A good first effort, but it didn’t seem like it would be enough to justify the cost of the apparatus in the future. ***1/4

RAW World title, Elimination Chamber: HHH v. Randy Orton v. Chris Jericho v. Goldberg v. Kevin Nash v. Shawn Michaels. (Summerslam 2003)

They don’t even bother to explain the rules this time, which is pretty stupid. Goldberg is so pumped that he slips on the way to the ring. Jericho starts with Michaels in the ring while the other four are locked away. Shawn elbows out of a hammerlock to start, but Jericho rolls through a cross body for two. Shawn backslides him for two. They work off a headlock and into a pinfall reversal sequence (possibly for Flair’s benefit at ringside) and Shawn tries a sunset flip, blocked by Jericho for two, and reversed by Michaels for two. They slug it out and Michaels backdrops him, but Jericho goes for the Walls. Shawn reverses for two. Jericho bulldogs him but misses the Lionsault, and recovers with a clothesline. Again with the goofy title lineage, as JR notes that this title has only changed hands once in Arizona – the Halftime Heat match in 1999. But that’s the WWE title, which is the one held by Angle, not HHH’s made-up belt. They’re totally different things. Randy Orton is in next and dropkicks Shawn out, but gets chopped down by Jericho. Orton takes him down with a neckbreaker for two. Jericho with an enzuigiri on Shawn for two. Orton dropkicks him down and stomps away. He sets up for the RKO, but gets backdropped out and Jericho stomps away. JR notes that with flesh on steel, steel wins. I’d like to see Yu-Gi-Oh cards to back that assertion up. Jericho gets the Walls on Shawn as Big Blondie is next in, and he slugs everyone down. Jericho gets speared into the cage a few times and eats COLD, UNFORGIVING STEEL. Sideslam on Orton gets two. Short-arm clothesline on Shawn gets two. Big boot for Jericho sets up a Poochiebomb, but Shawn superkicks him over for the pin at 8:09. Nice to see Big Kev earning his pay out there. However, just because he has to be a role model for children everywhere, he throws a tantrum and powerbombs everyone to keep his nonexistent heat. Next in: HHH, sort of. Shawn immediately superkicks him, and it’s such a powerful one that he ends up unconscious for about 10 minutes. This match is like a grade school primer on how to play political games in wrestling. Everyone is dead and buried from the awesome power of the Poochiebombs, but they manage to crawl back to life and slug it out. I’m surprised they weren’t instructed to stop and cut a promo about how lucky they were to not have Nash in there to beat them up any longer. Goldberg is the last man in and he kills everyone, which shockingly, SHOCKINGLY, gets him over with the crowd. Press spinebuster on Orton, but Jericho and Michaels try a double-team and get clotheslined. Spear for Orton gets rid of him at 13:01. Jericho tries a missile dropkick and gets two, but Goldberg presses him into the cage. Shawn gets in Goldberg’s face and gets whipped into the corner for his troubles. Goldberg then deals with Jericho, spearing him through the mini-chamber, albeit not very cleanly. Shawn tries making a comeback, dropping an elbow and prepping the superkick, but the stomping only gives away his position and the spear and Jackhammer send him back to meet Jesus at 15:21. Jericho is dead and buried already, and the spear and Jackhammer are academic at 16:05. HHH hides in his chamber, as Flair goes nuts trying to prop the door closed and kick him out, but Goldberg kicks in the plexiglass to break him loose. He never learns about punching and kicking glass, does he? Goldberg pounds on him for a bit, but sets up for a spear and falls prey to the SLEDGEHAMMER OF DOOM and gets pinned at 19:15, thus sucking all the life out of a previously-hot crowd. Match was more energetic than the first EC thanks to shorter intervals, but as a match wasn’t as good and didn’t tell as good a story. ***

RAW World title, Elimination Chamber: Chris Jericho v. Chris Benoit v. Batista v. Randy Orton v. HHH v. Edge. (New Year’s Revolution 2005)
So our first two guys are Benoit and Jericho. Benoit takes Jericho into the corner to start and they fight over a lockup, and Jericho takes him down. They trade headlocks and go back to the lockup. Jericho breaks with a knee and pounds on him, but Benoit fires back with a chop or two or ten, and so does Jericho. Benoit takes him down and gets reversed to the Walls, but fires back with the german suplex, and when Jericho blocks that he tries the crossface. Jericho blocks that and Benoit counters by taking him down for a beating, but Jericho escapes. Jericho hits him with the Flashback for two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Jericho goes up and Benoit follows, and the result is a superplex, and 5:00 is up. Next in, it’s HHH, and he lays out Benoit and slugs away in the corner. He whips him into the other corner and then hits Jericho with a high knee and gets two on Benoit from another whip. Jericho starts throwing chops in response, but eats a lariat out of the corner. They head to the outside, where HHH sends Benoit into the chains and then goes after Jericho. Benoit starts an admirable gusher. Well, when in Rome. HHH sends him back into the chain, and gets two. Jericho saves him from a Pedigree, and then backdrops HHH onto the steel surrounding the ring. Out there, he drops HHH backfirst on the steel, and then suplexes him back into the ring again. That gets two. Benoit reappears with a neckbreaker on Jericho for two, and the (late) timer counts Edge into the match. Quick story about Edge: The original plan for the first Chamber match in 2002 was for Edge to get eliminated from the three-way tag title match early, jump to RAW mid-show, and replace Shawn Michaels (who would be injured by HHH) to win the title from HHH in his place. Anyway, Edge cleans house on everyone, but gets dropkicked by Jericho, and Jericho chooses to cover HHH for two. Why he’d do that, I dunno. He hits Edge with a springboard dropkick and goes back to Benoit, hitting him with a knee to the gut. HHH lays out Edge with a knee of his own and tries a Pedigree on the steel, but Edge reverses to a catapult into the steel and goes up with a flying clothesline on Benoit that gets two. Jericho starts bleeding elsewhere as Benoit takes Edge down with a crossface attempt that gets blocked. Jericho comes back in with an enzuigiri on Edge for two. HHH hits Jericho with a spinebuster for two. Benoit gets a northern lights suplex on Edge for two. HHH hits Jericho with a KICK WHAM PEDIGREE, but Randy Orton is in to save before he can make the pin. Orton goes up with a high cross on HHH and hammers away, and then stomps a mudhole in the corner. He dumps HHH and tosses him into the chain, as everyone else lays around. Jericho tries to intervene and gets RKO’d, but Benoit goes for the crossface to counter another attempt. HHH taunts Orton, so Benoit releases and puts HHH in the Sharpshooter instead. Man, there’s a time and place for the badmouth, and we just learned what it WASN’T. Orton breaks that up by RKO’ing Benoit. Edge, still fresh, sets up Orton for the spear, but misses and hits Shawn instead. He gets another one on Orton, but there’s no ref. He probably lost his smile. Edge argues with him and gets superkicked. That doesn’t seem legal. Lionsault gets rid of Edge at 19:21. Next victim looks to be Jericho, but Benoit breaks up the Pedigree with the rolling germans (en Espanola) and he climbs to the top of the cage and hits the diving headbutt on HHH. Jericho then puts HHH in the Walls and Benoit adds the crossface for the MOST AWESOME SUBMISSION MOVE EVER, but Batista is in last. HHH hangs on until he can be saved by Batista, and Dave is ON FIRE. He tosses everyone with a pulse and hits Orton with the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, and then the crowd goes nuts when HHH is the only one left standing. However, it gets broken up by Benoit and Jericho, so he kicks their asses. Then, in the coolest spot I’ve seen all year (sure, it’s only 10 days old, but…) he press-slams Jericho into the CAMERAMAN. Now that’s badass. He chokes out Orton until Benoit clips him to save, and the faces all work Batista over until Jericho rolls up Orton for two. HHH sends Orton into the chain, but then gets bulldogged by Jericho while Batista makes Benoit his bitch. Figuratively speaking. Benoit fights back and sends Batista into the cage, and HHH starts bleeding next. Things really slow down at this point, as Batista then saves things by getting the spinebuster on Benoit, then a spinebuster on Jericho, ON BENOIT, and pins Benoit at 26:17. That’s two unique power moves from Big Dave tonight. Jericho is game to fight back, but gets powerslammed, powerbombed, and powerpinned at 27:39 to leave Batista, Orton and HHH, aka the Wrestlemania main event. Batista’s next victim is Randy Orton, and he sends him into the cage, and HHH catapults him into it as well. Orton does a girlie blade job (it’s PUERTO FUCKING RICO, you wuss) and Evolution starts working him over. Batista gets a powerslam for two. HHH adds a spinebuster for two. HHH stands him up and knocks him down with a nasty lariat for two. Batista hammers away as the match kind of grinds to a halt again, but Orton fights back on his own. He tries the RKO, but HHH shoves him into Batista. Orton goes low and gets the RKO for the pin at 32:33, however. Beating Batista is a really bad idea right now. The crowd totally turns on Orton for that, in fact, since Dave’s the guy they believe in right now. Orton and HHH battle by the cage and HHH eats cage a few times before eating an RKO, but Batista is still in the ring and kills Orton dead with a lariat before KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gives HHH World title #10 at 34:57. Orton is booked like such a loser now it’s not even funny. Well, kind of funny. Match was lots of fun and the best of the series thus far, but needs about 10 minutes of dead spots shaved off it to achieve the kind of instant classic status that the WarGames matches all had until the 90s killed them off. ****

Disc Two

RAW World title: John Cena v. Kurt Angle v. Shawn Michaels v. Kane v. Carlito v. Chris Masters. (New Year’s Revolution 2006)
Joey Styles endears himself to his core audience, I’m sure, as he declares that this match is more hardcore and brutal than anything he’s seen in 7 years as ECW’s voice. He must be a ventriloquist, because otherwise it’d be impossible to talk with Vince’s cock wedged down his throat all the time. Michaels is course the first guy in, and he starts with Cena, who gets an amazingly bitter reaction. Shawn works the arm to start, but gets slugged down, which draws MEAN boos. Not even good-natured jeering, but real hatred. That’s cold, man. It takes some specific hatred to even boo individual punches. Shawn whips him into the corner for two. Shawn then calls a reverse into the corner, while standing in front of the camera, and lo and behold that’s what happens. You’d think he would stop doing that after all these years. Cena clotheslines Shawn out of the ring, as Carlito is next into this thing. He attacks Cena to a babyface reaction, but dives at Shawn and misses. He comes back with a Flatliner on Cena for two, and slams Shawn off the top for two. Carlito suplexes both guys to control things by himself, but Shawn rolls him up for two. Cena slugs away and now I think the crowd is just booing him because everyone else is doing it. Cena & Shawn double-team Carlito with a flapjack, giving Cena two. Another double-team and now it’s Angle time! German suplexes for everyone! It’s a Boxing day sale! Do Americans get that reference? Anyway, Shawn gets suplexed onto the steel, as does Carlito, and Angle catapults Shawn into the cage. Blood results. Angle sends him into the plexiglass for good measure, but Cena makes the comeback. Angle suplexes him to the delight of the crowd, and then goes after Carlito. The Angle Slam is reversed, but the anklelock is not, and Carlito has to hang on until Chris Masters enters the match to save him. He cleans house and tries the Masterlock on Angle, but that’s not smart. Anklelock time, but Cena breaks, so Angle puts HIM in the move instead. The crowd goes apeshit for that, but Shawn superkicks Angle to break…and pins him at 13:39? What’s up with that bullshit? Carlito and Masters work Cena & Michaels over with their lame offense, and Shawn eats cage as the Shitty Wrestler Alliance beats on Cena. The match is definitely feeling a gaping void already without Angle. Kane is last into the match and cleans house, but gets caught by Masters on the top. He gets the clothesline anyway and chokeslams both victims. Carlito and Masters continue their guerrilla warfare and overwhelm him, but he no-sells it. Finally Masters presses Carlito onto Kane, and they dogpile him for the pin at 19:26, beyond even Kane’s zombie powers to save himself. I should note that most of Shawn’s output thus far has been lying around and bleeding, which is why the match isn’t great or anything. Carlito & Masters work Shawn over, but he comes back with the flying forearm and fights them off. Flying elbow for Cena, but he’s got nothing left. And indeed, hitting the superkick takes the last out of him, and Carlito & Masters again jump him and quickly hit Carlito’s finisher on him for the pin at 23:36. Interesting strategy there, actually. Sadly, it leaves John Cena against Carlito and Chris Masters for a major title. Cena comes back against all odds, as usual, and now the crowd is cheering Chris Masters to win the WWE title. Think about THAT. Cena tries the FU on Carlito, but Masters breaks. He DDTs Cena on the steel and they go to work on him with a double suplex and double backdrop suplex off the middle rope. It appears to be Masterlock time, but Carlito turns on his partner with a low blow for the pin, and then Cena rolls up Carlito for the pin to retain at 28:27. I hate rollup finishes in major matches, especially when there’s TWO of them. Shawn did nothing here and Angle didn’t have a chance to do anything, so the results weren’t great. **3/4
Speaking of not great…
ECW World title / EXTREME Elimination Chamber: Big Show v. Rob Van Dam v. Bob Holly v. Test v. Lashley v. CM Punk (“ECW” December to Dismember 2006)
So we start with RVD v. Holly, and Rob clotheslines him before walking into one of Holly’s. Rob slugs away, but gets whipped onto the STEEL walkway, where he does the Spider-Man spot by clinging onto the chains, before missing a dive at Holly and clotheslining himself on the ropes. Holly sends him into the chains and goes up, as though anyone would expect him to hit a splash onto the steel like that. And indeed, Rob gets his foot up in the spot I hate so much. Rob follows with a nice Rolling Thunder over the top and onto the steel, but Holly suplexes him back into the ring. That gets two. Holly gets the dropkick for two, but CM Punk is the next guy into the ring. He springboards in with a clothesline on RVD to wake up the crowd, but Rob hits him with the chair and monkey-flips him onto it. Punk ducks a spinkick and legdrops RVD onto the chair, albeit in an awkward spot. He puts the chair in the corner and sends Rob into it, but goes after Holly and gets sent into the chains outside. That gets two for Holly. Back in, sideslam gets two for Holly. Holly suplexes Punk on the top rope and turns his attention back to RVD, but then superplexes Punk, which allows RVD to sneak in and get two. And Holly gets two as well. Punk isn’t exactly getting much offense here.
Next into the trainwreck: Test and his crowbar. Punk takes more abuse as a result and Test works on Rob’s cut with it, but Rob keeps fighting. He superkicks Holly and gives Test an EXTREMEly protected chairshot, then dropkicks the chair at Punk, who is looking like the extreme jobber. Frog splash gets rid of Punk, and the crowd is PISSED. Test boots Holly for two, but Holly disappears so I guess that was a pin. Rob hits Test with a dropkick and goes up on top of Big Show’s pod, which allows Test to hit him with a chair and bring him down the hard way. Test also goes up onto the pod and drops an elbow to finish Rob at 13:58. And if you thought the crowd was pissed before, that’s nothing. Who booked this crap? I guess the idea is supposed to be Lashley fighting against all odds against Heyman’s goons, but C’MON.
Next up, it’s Lashley and his table, but Heyman’s hired goons prevent him from coming in. Fine by me. Lashley comes in via the top of the pod and goes after Test, and he’s a house of fire! He whips Test into the pods, but Test comes back with the choke in the corner. Lashley boots a chair back at him and throws his dizzying array of clotheslines, then grabs a crowbar. Uh oh, black guy with a crowbar. Spear finishes at 19:46, and we’re left with everyone standing around while we wait for Show’s pod to open. Why even wait for the rest of the minute? It’s not like it’s some big shock who’s coming out last.
And yes, Big Show is the last guy out, and he’s got a barbed wire baseball bat. Lashley blocks the BAT OF RAGE with a chair, but Show gets his bat caught in the chains and loses it. Lashley sends him through the pod’s “glass” and Show starts bleeding, but he tosses Lashley back into the ring to take over. Clothesline and AAAAAAAAAAAAHchokeslam, but Lashley reverses into the DDT. They slug it out and Show misses a charge, and Lashley spears him for the pin and the title at 24:47. *1/2
Show could barely even move out there, and Lashley was never really put in any peril, as all the work was done for him by the other guys. Even worse, the rest of the match was disorganized and poorly booked, with people that the crowd had no interest in seeing. This was supposed to be a big deal, but the crowd is so burned out that they barely even pop for it.
Undertaker v. Batista v. Finlay v. MVP v. Big Daddy V v. The Great Khali (No Way Out 2008)

Sadly, I never saw this PPV, so this is my first exposure to this match. It doesn’t look promising. Winner faces Edge at Wrestlemania for the Smackdown World title. Or ECW World title if an ECW guy happens to win. Yeah, I know. Batista starts with Undertaker and pounds him with shoulders in the corner, but Taker tosses him over the top and into the cold unforgiving forged steel fence. Or, as those of us who aren’t Michael Cole would say, the chains. Back in, they slug it out and Taker puts him down with a big boot and chokes away in the corner. Batista fights back and wins a slugfest, then puts Taker down with an elbow for two. They knock each other out with a big boot as the first 5:00 period comes to an end, and Big Daddy V is next in.
He hits both guys with chops and samoan drops Taker, but doesn’t go for a pin. Instead, he decides to chops at Batista in the corner as Cole questions the conditioning of V. I hope they pay him well for insight like that. V headbutts Taker on the apron and the sell is so dramatic that Taker goes right through the door. I question the physics of that. Avalanche on Batista in the corner as this boring segment continues, but Batista gets a spinebuster out of nowhere in a visually impressive spot. He clotheslines Big Daddy out of the ring and pins him at 9:00. He tries the same thing on Taker, but only gets two. And next in is Great Khali, as the crowd groans again. So it’s the same story again, with the monster beating on both Batista & Undertaker and giving UT the tree slam for two. Same deal with Batista. He follows with the KONA KRUSH on Batista, but the Animal goes low and spears him to escape. Taker makes the comeback and finishes Khali with the Gobot Ladder. So it’s back to UT & Batista again. Taker gives him a boot on the apron and gets two. Nice spot as he drags Batista across the steel apron. That’s slightly uncomfortable!
Finlay is the next cannon fodder into the match, but he manages to dodge a charging Undertaker and tosses Batista to the apron again. Celtic Cross gets two on Undertaker. Another Cole-ism: The steel grating around the apron is “concrete-like”. I’d say it’s more like steel. Back in, Undertaker clotheslines Batista and Finlay sneaks in for two. He fights with Taker out to the apron and rams him into the fence, and that gets two. He runs Taker into the unbreakable plexiglass, which breaks, but Batista suplexes Finlay back into the ring for two. MVP is the next guy in, and Undertaker immediately destroys him, before he even gets out of the pod. Batista pounds on Taker in the corner, but MVP sneaks in with the running kicks on both of them and gets two on Undertaker. He chokes Finlay out for two. Coachman’s turn for stupidity: “Even though everything is legal, I don’t think anyone expected MVP to use that chain!” Yeah, that’d be CRAZY for him to choke a guy out with the giant gold chain around his neck. MVP gets arrogant and jumps to the top of the pod, but Taker chokeslams him off the top and Finlay pins him to get rid of him.
Undertaker misses an elbow off the top, which allows Hornswaggle to throw the shillelagh in for Finlay, and that gets two on Batista. Taker has had enough of these Irish shenanigans, however, and chokeslams Finlay for the pin. So that leaves Undertaker and Batista, and they slug it out until Batista is able to get the Batistabomb for two. But then he stupidly hammers away in the corner, and it’s Last Ride for two. Undertaker uses some ground-and-pound on Batista, but Batista tosses him and then drives his head into the chain. However, in a spectacular reversal, Taker pulls himself back into the ring from Batista’s shoulders and reverses into the chokeslam for the pin at 30:00. I’d have much rather just seen an Undertaker-Batista match than have the four dead weights in there, so this kind of fell in into the middle of the road for me. ***
HHH v. Umaga v. JBL v. Jeff Hardy v. Chris Jericho v. Shawn Michaels (No Way Out 2008)

This would be the RAW half of the Chamber matches for this show, and the potential looks much better here. Jericho starts with HBK, back when Jericho was a babyface with long tights and referees still had names. How times have changed. They trade chops and Shawn gets a sunset flip for two, which turns into a cool series of reversals and a northern lights suplex from Jericho for two. Shawn bridges out of that and into the backslide for two. They trade chops and a chunk of commentary is edited out for some reason, before a slugfest leads to Shawn going up with a flying elbow that hits knee. Jericho with a Lionsault that is blocked by knees in turn, but Jericho one-ups Shawn with a Lionsault attempt. Shawn reverses to a Sharpshooter, and Jericho reverses that into a small package for two. Hey, they should put these two together in a program, it might win Feud of the Year and produce some **** matches. The first period is up, and Umaga is the next guy in.

He runs through both Y2J and HBK, hitting them with a double clothesline, but Shawn saves Jericho from the samoan drop by diving on top. But then Umaga just hits both of them with the samoan drop, which is pretty awesome. Umaga gets rid of Shawn and concentrates on Jericho, beating him down before going outside to buttdrop Michaels on the steel. Back in, Umaga slugs Jericho down, but misses a splash, and Shawn goes up with the flying elbow on him. Jericho tries to capitalize with the Walls, but Umaga threatens to power out, so Michaels puts the crossface on the other end of Umaga, and how does that not get the submission? More importantly, how do you not immediately make Shawn and Jericho a tag team and have that be their finisher? Either way, JBL is the next one in. JBL was feuding with Jericho in a totally forgettable program at that point, so he goes right after him, while Umaga beats on Shawn outside. And there’s blood! Quick, someone make a Youtube video and use it against Linda McMahon! Call Mattel! So the heels are absolutely kicking the shit out of the babyfaces as HHH is the next one in.

He hits JBL with a facecrusher and runs Umaga into him, then it’s a spinebuster for anyone standing and a DDT on JBL for two. He runs Umaga into the corner and up into the pod, but Jericho hits HHH with a bulldog. Lionsault misses, but JBL hits HHH with the clothesline from hell. Codebreaker on JBL finishes him, however. That was a great sequence. JBL is nothing if not reasonable and fair, however, and returns with a chair to murder everyone in the match with shots to the head. Everyone bleeds, as we get blood AND chairshots to the head in the same match. Umaga was the only one dumb enough not to protect himself, though. After all that, Jeff Hardy is the last one in and he goes on the offensive with all his stuff on everyone. Umaga ends the run with a thrust kick, and hits Jericho with that stupid spinning uranage that was all the rage a few years ago. He hangs HHH in the Tree of Woe and whips Shawn into him. Jericho is recovering against the pod, so Umaga hits him with the running butt splash and breaks the plexiglass. Again. That would be much cooler had they not wasted that spot in the Smackdown match. Umaga rages in the ring, but superkick, Codebreaker, Pedigree, and Swanton Bomb in sequence all combine to give Jericho the pin. Shawn superkicks Jericho and Hardy pins him in turn. Hardy hits Shawn with the Twist of Fate and finishes Shawn with KICK WHAM PEDIGREE. So that leaves Hardy v. HHH.

HHH tosses him to the apron, but Hardy comes back with a DDT out there and rams HHH into the chain a bunch of times. He dives at HHH and gets caught, but backdrops HHH into the ring again and goes up. Swanton misses, and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE and HHH gets…two? So he grabs a chair and tries again, but Jeff reverses out. HHH reverses again and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes to give us yet another HHH v. Randy Orton match at Wrestlemania, albeit with John Cena thrown in. And that was it for Hardy’s main event push until late in the year, when they suddenly pulled the trigger and put the belt on him out of nowhere. This was a hell of a deal, the first real example of a Chamber match that lived up to the potential. ****1/2

Disc Three

Smackdown World title, Elimination Chamber: Edge v. Undertaker v. HHH v. Jeff Hardy v. Vladimir Kozlov v. Big Show
So we have Edge and Jeff Hardy starting as JR stumbles all over explaining the rules. It’s been 7 years, you’d think they would have it down by now. Jeff gets a pair of clotheslines, but Edge puts him down with a big boot for two. A splash on the ropes gets two. Edge smacks Jeff around in the corner and mocks Big Show, but Hardy takes him down with an atomic drop into the low dropkick. Twist of Fate and Jeff goes up already, but misses the swanton. Edge sets up for the spear, but Hardy rolls him up for the pin at 3:05. Huh. Surprised we’ve never seen that finish before. Edge is shocked at losing his title, but given all the title changes I’m sure he’ll get it back soon anyway.
So next in is Kozlov and he pounds away on Hardy in the corner and puts him down with a headbutt. He runs Hardy into the cage a few times in the gentlest manner possible, then tosses him into the ring for two. Headbutts in the corner and he follows with a blockbuster slam for two. Note to Kozlov: Sneering before every move isn’t the same as charisma or ring psychology. Backbreaker gets two. Kozlov bearhugs him on the mat and elbows him down, but Hardy dropkicks him into the corner and follows with the mule kick. Whisper in the Wind and finally it’s time for someone who isn’t awful to come in. Oh, wait, it’s Big Show, never mind. Show and Kozlov double-team Jeff and pound him down, giving us cute series where they each try to abuse Hardy with more impressive stuff. Finally Kozlov takes his moment and puts Show down with the headbutt, and they slug it out. HHH is next in and he fires away on Show and puts Kozlov down with the high knee, then hits the spinebuster on Show. Hardy tries to sneak in with a Twist of Fate, but HHH puts him down again with a clothesline. 3-on-1 is NOTHING to HHH! He runs Kozlov into the cage and tries the Pedigree out there, but Show breaks it up. I agree with JR — why bother stopping him? Back in the ring, Show gets a sideslam for two. Meanwhile, Kozlov drops elbows on Hardy. HHH escapes a chokeslam, but walks into a press slam instead. Show runs him into the cage and splashes him against it, then runs Hardy into HHH as well. Sadly, he misses another charge and puts himself down.
Back in the ring, HHH and Hardy team up with a double-team suplex on Kozlov, and it’s Undertaker time. He drops Kozlov with Snake Eyes and follows with the big boot, then hits Hardy and HHH with corner clotheslines. Show attacks him from behind, however, and Taker comes back with a DDT on the steel outside the ring. Finally Kozlov puts him down with a headbutt and pounds him in the corner with elbows, but it’s Last Ride from there and Vlad is done at 23:00. OK, he’s been pinned, he’s not undefeated, so shut up about it announcers. HHH recovers and tries to Pedigree Show again, but he gets backdropped to the steel. Show tosses Hardy onto HHH for good measure. Hardy climbs to the top of the pod to escape and Show follows, but you have to think that’s a bad idea. And indeed Undertaker brings Show down with a superplex. Show’s still moving, so KICK WHAM PEDIGREE and a swanton from the pod put him out at 26:12.

Hardy misses a Whisper on Undertaker, so HHH and UT slug it out in the corner and HHH bumps to the steel as a result. Taker goes Old School on Hardy, but HHH brings him down to break it up. Hardy catapults himself off the recovering Undertaker and hits HHH with a plancha, but Undertaker is having none of that shit and tombstones Hardy out of it at 28:35. Note to self: Never launch off Undertaker when he’s laying on the mat. Apparently it upsets him. So we’re down to HHH v. Undertaker, which we actually haven’t seen in so long that it’s interesting again. Taker boots him down as JR dubs this match “Satan’s vacation house in Hell.” That’s uh, quite the metaphor. Taker charges and crotches himself in the corner, allowing HHH to ram him into the cage, but Taker comes back with the chokeslam. That gets two. Taker follows with Snake Eyes, but runs into the spinebuster and HHH gets two. HHH sends him into the cage and tries a Pedigree, but Taker catapults him into the cage to counter and they trade tombstone attempts before Taker gets it. But HHH’s foot is on the ropes at two. From a kayfabe perspective, you have to have huge balls to do that. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. They slug it out in the corner and the crowd doesn’t really know what to do here. Taker puts him down, but HHH fires away in the corner. Don’t people KNOW not to do that? Last Ride, but HHH escapes and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE wins him the title at 35:58. I kinda want to see HHH v. Undertaker at Wrestlemania now. Without the Kozlov stuff it’s an easy Match of the Year, but it’s still excellent even with it, especially once it was down to the last four guys. ****1/2

Elimination Chamber, RAW World title: John Cena v. Chris Jericho v. Rey Mysterio v. Kane v. Mike Knox v. Edge
Edge attacked Kofi Kingston and took his place during the ring entrance, which actually draws a good reaction from the fans. Probably because he’s smarter and cooler than everyone else right now. So the match starts with Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio. Jericho takes Rey down with a headlock, but Rey monkey-flips him and sets up for the 619. Jericho escapes that, but Rey somersaults into him and they go into the cage. Rey slugs away in the corner, but misses a blind charge and hits the post. Jericho with a suplex for two and goes to a chinlock, but Rey fights up. Jericho tries to catapult him into the cage, but Rey grabs on in the Spider-Man spot and hits Jericho with a rana from there. Butt splash gets two. Bulldog and Kane is the next man in. Kane puts both guys down and hits Rey with a sideslam for two. Low dropkick gets two. Kane goes after Jericho and clotheslines him to the steel outside, then rams his knee into the floor. Rey attacks Kane from behind and baseball slides him, but Kane pounds him down again. Rey fights off both Kane and Jericho, but Kane sets up for a chokeslam on Rey. Rey reverses that to a 619 on Kane and Jericho hits Kane with the Codebreaker, allowing Rey to hit the flying butt splash and pin him at 9:47.
Next in, Mike Knox. He goes after both Jericho and Rey and drops a knee on Jericho for two. Jericho backdrops him out of the ring, but tries a bodypress and gets rammed into the cage as a result. Rey sneaks up and dives at Knox, but he goes into the cage too. Back into the ring and Knox uses the clubbing forearms on Rey, but walks into a Codebreaker to thankfully get rid of him at 14:40. So next in is Edge, and Rey attacks him before he can even leave the pod. Rey with the high kicks, but he runs into a Jericho clothesline. Jericho puts Edge down with a bulldog and elbows Rey down, but Lionsault misses. Edge-o-Matic gets two on Jericho. Edge tries the spear on Rey, but misses, and Jericho’s attempt at another sneak Codebreaker misses this time. Rey and Jericho fight to the top, and Edge follows, giving us a Tower of Doom spot that doesn’t get over as well as they were probably hoping. And finally John Cena is the last man in and he hits Edge with a belly to belly suplex and Jericho with a fisherman’s suplex. Backdrop suplex for Edge sets up the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but a Codebreaker breaks up the FU, and Edge pins Cena with a spear at 22:22. HUGE face pop for that.

Rey fights off both heels and gets a rana on Jericho, then hits a 619 on Jericho and runs Edge into the post. West Coast Pop is blocked by the Walls, but Rey rolls up Jericho for the pin at 23:55. So it’s Edge v. Rey Rey, and Rey dodges a spear and gets a rollup for two. Bodypress gets two. Low kick gets two. Tornado DDT gets two. Edge puts him down with a big boot and tries a powerbomb on the steel, but Rey reverses to a facebuster and gets a rare inverted 619, hitting the move on the back of Edge’s head. He charges again, however, and Edge launches him into the pod, and that should about do it. Spear, new champion at 29:45. First 20 minutes were shit, but everything past Cena’s entrance made up for it. ****

RAW World title: Sheamus v. John Cena v. Ted Dibiase v. Kofi Kingston v. Randy Orton v. HHH (Elimination Chamber 2010)

Kofi starts with Sheamus and gets a crossbody for two, and a dropkick for two. Kofi slugs away in the corner with forearms, but gets put down with a shoulderblock. Sheamus hiptosses him onto the apron, but Kofi lands on his feet and comes back with a high cross for two. He tries a sunset flip, but Sheamus blocks it and pounds him down for two. They fight onto the apron and Sheamus rams Kofi into a pod, and back into the ring for a backbreaker that gets two. Sheamus chokes him down as HHH is the next one in. He slugs it out with Sheamus and puts him down with the high knee, and the kneedrop gets two. Corner clothesline for two as Lawler reminds us that you can only pin someone inside the ring. Since when? Sheamus comes back and tries the Razor’s Edge, but HHH escapes with a neckbreaker for two. Kofi, who was apparently dead all this time, returns with a high cross on Sheamus for two. He pounds on Sheamus in the corner and follows with a clothesline, then hits HHH with the springboard boomdrop on the apron. “Not the BOOMDROP!” declares Cole. He hurts himself in the process and Sheamus gets two. Randy Orton is the next one in and goes right after Kofi, then adds a Garvin Stomp on Sheamus. DDT on HHH gets two. Quick question: Randy Orton and Junior Dos Santos are twin brothers split up and sent to different families at birth, right?

Orton pounds on Sheamus outside the ring, and blocks a Kofi springboard dropkick with a dropkick of his own. HHH comes back with a facecrusher, but Orton catches him with the powerslam and sets up for the RKO. That misses, and Kofi kicks Orton into a Pedigree attempt. Orton backdrops out of it and then backdrops Kofi to the apron, but Sheamus runs him into the post. Next guy in is Ted Dibiase, and he hits HHH with the family fistdrop and then goes to Orton…and helps him up. So Legacy works together and goes after HHH in the corner, then they tie Kofi into the fence by his dreads. That’s unique. They ram HHH into the fence and Orton gives him the middle rope DDT onto the apron, then they go trash-talk Cena until he enters the match. He cleans house on Legacy and FU’s Dibiase onto the steel, but Orton saves and attacks from behind. Should someone get an EMT to check on Sheamus? He’s been gone forever. Cena slaps the STFU on Dibiase, but Orton saves and sets up for the RKO. Cody heads out and gives Dibiase a steel pipe, but he hits Orton by mistake and then decides to pin him, because why not? That ended up being a whole big steaming pile of nothing when all was said and done, which is a shame because the pop for Dibiase turning on Orton was pretty good. Kofi recovers and hits the wacky kick on Dibiase to eliminate him right after.

Sheamus puts Kofi down with the bicycle kick and finishes with the Razor’s Edge. He goes after Cena next, but walks into an FU, which he reverses into a backbreaker for two. He hangs Cena in the Tree of Woe and pounds him with knees, but HHH goes low on him. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE and the champ is done, leaving us with Cena v. HHH for the title. Yes, again. Cena puts the STFU on HHH, and he taps to give Cena the title yet again. Kind of slow in the middle, but generally enjoyable. ***1/2

BUT WAIT! One last twist, as Vince McMahon offers congratulations, but makes an immediate title defense against Batista. I don’t like Cena’s chances here.

RAW World title: John Cena v. Batista

This was the proper start of an awesome heel run for Batista. Cena acts like he’s half-dead, but you just don’t buy Cena’s selling, especially with the announcers upping the elapsed time of the Chamber match with every sentence. But indeed, Batista spears him and finishes with the Batista Bomb to reclaim the WWE title and set up a damn good rematch at Wrestlemania.

Smackdown World title: Undertaker v. Rey Mysterio v. John Morrison v. Chris Jericho v. R-Truth v. CM Punk (Elimination Chamber 2010)

So we’ve got Punk and Truth starting out here. Punk gets a quick backdrop suplex for two. Truth comes back with the flipping high kick to put Punk onto the apron, and he follows with a somersault plancha off the top. Not really much room to move there, but still nice. Punk eats the cold, unforgiving steel and they head back in, but Truth misses a spinning body attack of some sort, and Goes 2 Sleep. Please let Punk cut a promo now! And yes indeed, that’s what he does, talking shit to everyone who is locked behind the glass. Rey Mysterio is the next one in, and he immediately flies in with a springboard bodypress for two. Low kick gets two. Punk misses a blind charge and Rey sets up for the 619, but Punk counters into a powerslam for two. Rey reverses the GTS into a rollup for two, and Punk bails to the apron. Rey follows with an attempted rana, but Punk swings him into the fence in one of those Wargames-style spots. That gets two back in the ring.
Punk continues abusing Rey by running him into the pod, and they fight for the superplex on top. Rey brings him down and climbs to the top of the pod, but Punk tries for a GTS from the top. Rey escapes from that and takes Punk down to the apron with a rana instead, then eliminates him with the flying splash. So it’s over to Jericho, who clotheslines Rey for two. Faceplant sets up the Lionsault, but it misses and Rey gets the 619. Jericho escapes to the apron and Rey dives out for the Spider-Man spot on the fence, but Jericho hauls him down facefirst. It’s kind of a boring heat segment on Rey as Jericho works him over, but Rey spins into a guillotine choke (which Matt Striker calls a “dragon sleeper”) and Jericho reverses into the Walls with John Morrison in to make the save. Quick rant: Morrison is one of the most clear-cut recent cases of a guy who I was starting to get invested in as a character completely getting lost in the shuffle and seemingly losing all focus. And yeah, a lot was the fault of the booking, but there was also something to be said about his stupid finisher and terrible interviews. Anyway, Morrison gets his highspots in to mostly silence from the crowd, but he misses a charge and ends up on the apron. He hits both Rey & Jericho with a diving clothesline and back in for a standing shooting star press that gets two. There’s another example of my disappointment in him – something that even 10 years ago would have been a killer finish has become nothing more than a lame spot for a near-fall. He does a freakin’ SHOOTING STAR PRESS and can barely get the crowd to pop for it. By contrast, Miz took a severely limited toolset (to be diplomatic) and is on the verge of being a major star.
OK, enough on that. Rey sets Morrison up for the 619, but walks into a backbreaker from Jericho that gets two. Morrison hits Jericho with his springboard kick (another killer finish 10 years ago that means nothing now) and follows with Starship Pain on Mysterio to eliminate him. I would not have guessed that. Morrison gets distracted by the Undertaker, however, and Jericho puts him in the Walls as a result. Undertaker is the last man in, and makes the save, going right for Jericho. Snake Eyes and big boot set up the legdrop for two. Jericho and Morrison come back with a double suplex on UT, then team up to clothesline him out of the ring. Morrison turns on Jericho and rolls him up for two, but gets backdropped onto the grating. Jericho slaps the groggy Undertaker around , and then runs like hell for a pod to hide. What a great coward heel spot. So with Jericho hiding, Taker goes after Morrison exclusively, only to walk into the springboard kick. Morrison follows with Starship Pain, but lands on the knees because he’s a MORON who should have gone for the pin.
Taker comes back and runs Morrison into the pod so as to prove a point to Jericho, and then tries to powerbomb him on the grating, but Jericho chooses to leave the pod now and save, running Undertaker into another pod. In the ring, Morrison hits a Shining Wizard on Jericho for two, but walks into a chokeslam on the grating from Undertaker. And that about does it for Morrison. And here I thought he might be going to Wrestlemania to defend the World title. So that leaves Undertaker v. Jericho, which the crowd is surprisingly subdued about. Taker pounds away in the corner, but misses a blind charge, allowing Jericho to superplex him. That gets two. Another quick rant since this is boring: Matt Striker really is as terrible as advertised. The whole match he’s trying to get himself over as some kind of Gordon Solie and it gets increasingly obnoxious. Jericho reverses a chokeslam into the Walls, then fights off a LadyGaga attempt into the Walls, which Undertaker fights out of again. Jericho bails and Taker hauls him back in for a tombstone attempt, but Jericho turns it into the codebreaker for two. Jericho stupidly pounds away in the corner and falls victim to the Last Ride. Undertaker goes for the finish, but Shawn Michaels pops in from under the ring, superkicks Undertaker, and Jericho pins him to win the World title. That reign proved to be disappointingly short and uneventful. I was also pretty disappointed with this match because the crowd was dead and the elimination of Mysterio kind of sucked the life out of things, but the finish proved to be the best one for business. ***1/2
So not a great DVD set, but it’s one where the quality is strictly limited by the quality of the original matches. It promises a complete collection of Chamber matches, and that’s what you get. I’m pretty indifferent to the gimmick as it really only produces great matches if there’s great workers, and you can generally say that about most wrestling matches in general. The only two un-screw-up-able gimmick matches remain the Royal Rumble (unless you’re Vince Russo) and WarGames, and hopefully we get an anthology of the latter. As for this one, much like the Hell in the Cell set, 9 hours is a LOT of Elimination Chamber to take, so buyer beware. Mildly recommended.

Repost: The SmarK Rant for WCW Uncensored 1996

(2015 Scott sez:  I actually don’t have the original file for this one stored on OneDrive for some reason, so I had to use Google-Fu and find it on 411 from the original 2003 posting.  Thankfully I created a new Word document for posterity as well.  For those of you who care about that sort of minutia of my life. Also, to those who want a full re-rant, fuck you.  In the most loving way.  That is all.)  The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Uncensored ‘96 – I decided to finally redo the rant for this one when I was sick, so that it couldn’t do any more damage to me than it already has. The way I figure it, the cold medication should be enough to fight off any mental or physical illness I may suffer from watching it again. I may, however, need to stop and vomit at various points, so I’ll be sure to give you fair warning before I do. By the way, in a kind of cosmic warning to me, the tape arrived broken, probably as a way for the universe to try to keep me from sacrificing myself by watching this again, but I was able to transplant the reels into a fresh casing, because that’s the kind of thing you learn to do after years of trading tapes on the ‘net.  (Man, those were the days.  Thankfully the Great VHS Purge of 2004 was coming and I would soon convert everything over to DVD once and for all.)  – Live from Tupalo, MS. – Your hosts are Tony, Dusty & Bobby. – Opening match, US title: Konnan v. Eddie Guerrero. It’s full blown mulletude for Eddie here. They fight over a lockup to start and head to the mat, where Konnan rides him with an armbar and stays on it. Eddie escapes with the flying wristlock and Konnan bails. Back in, Eddie starts working on the leg with a toehold, and then a figure-four, after teasing a headstand on the ankle. Konnan makes the ropes. They exchange rollups and each get two. Eddie takes him down into a chinlock and quickly into a surfboard, but Konnan takes him down into a kneebar. He turns it into a Boston Crab, which the crowd can better understand, but Eddie makes the ropes. Back up, Konnan counters an armdrag, but Eddie gets one of his own, and they do another stalemate sequence. Really nice. They back off and work the crowd, but Eddie’s attempts work better. Eddie dropkicks him down and they go up, as Eddie brings him down with a rana for two. Camel clutch, but Konnan powers out. He grabs a headlock, but Eddie counters out, and they do another stalemate sequence that ends with Eddie on the floor, but he evades a highspot attempt. Back in, Eddie grabs a headlock, but Konnan escapes with an armbar. Eddie comes back with a monkey flip and a headscissors to put Konnan out, and he follows with a plancha. This is the type of match where Mike Tenay would have been invaluable. Back in, Eddie slingshots in for two. Eddie uses a headscissors on the mat, but Konnan rolls over into a leglock, and then hits him with rolling germans, but Eddie reverses to a rollup for two. Another rollup is reversed by Konnan for two. Clothesline puts Eddie down as Konnan is obviously blown up by this point. Eddie gets a rana for two. Konnan gets Splash Mountain for two. He’s got NOTHING left. He goes up and Eddie follows, but Eddie ends up on the floor and Konnan follows with a weak tope suicida. Back in, Eddie reverses a suplex, but gets clotheslined for two. Konnan goes up again, but Eddie brings him down with a superplex for two. Eddie goes up to finish, but Konnan slams him off, which Eddie reverses into a cradle for two. Awesome. Konnan slugs away, but Eddie tries a leapfrog, so Konnan hits him in the nuts and pins him at 18:26 to retain. This was ALL Eddie after about the 10 minute point. ***1/2  (I obviously had much less hatred for Konnan in my heart even 12 years ago.  I guess time does heal all wounds and shitty booking.)  – Lord Steven Regal v. Fit Finlay. Finlay was just The Belfast Bruiser at this point. Fit pounds away with STIFF forearms in the corner to start, but Regal takes him down and gets his own. He runs into a knee and Finlay drops an elbow for two. He stomps away with glee and gets a short-arm clothesline for two. Vicious kick to the back, but Regal fires back with a forearm and grabs a cravat on the mat. Regal pounds the palm into his nose, but Fit rams a knee into his forehead to escape and drives another knee before tossing him. He drops Regal on the railing and then wraps the arm around the post. He keeps working the arm as Regal comes in, and cranks on an armbar. Regal knees out of it and slugs away with forearms, then blocks a rollup attempt with a dropkick for two. He grinds a forearm into Fit’s head on the mat, but Fit takes him down with another armbar, but Regal knees out of it and controls on the mat again. He chokes away and fires off more forearms, but Fit headbutts him down and drops a knee. Slam and senton gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Regal fights out, so Fit drops him with a lariat for two. He brings Regal to the apron and rams the throat into it, then sends him into the railing again. They keep brawling and end up back in the ring again, fighting over a suplex on the apron, which ends with Fit hitting the floor. Regal follows with a Cactus elbow and heads back in, then pounds him with boots on the way in. Elbow gets two. Regal goes to the headlock, but Fit kicks in the shoulder to escape in super-stiff fashion. Regal takes him to the corner and gives him a soccer kick to the nuts to retaliate, then drops an elbow for two. More kicks to the back, but Fit goes to the eyes and drives a knee to the back of the neck to block a sunset flip. Regal goes back to the arm and crossfaces him a few times, but Fit backdrops him out of the corner and pounds the kidneys with forearms. Regal takes him down for two. Regal slugs him down and keeps pounding on the apron, but Fit gives him a straight shot to the jaw to drop him. Good lord. Fit takes him into the apron and they brawl on the floor, won by Fit. Back in, Fit sends him into the turnbuckle, but Regal alley-oops him to the floor as a defense mechanism. They slug it out on the floor and Regal sends him into the Doomsday Cage, and then they head back, but the Bluebloods run out for the DQ at 17:30. Really bad finish to a horrifically stiff match. It wasn’t GREAT as a wrestling match or anything, but as a total war of attrition, it was amazing, something out of a UFC almost. *** (I’m pretty pumped that the Nitro rematch is coming up soon too!)  – Col. Rob Parker v. Madusa. (That’s Hall of Famer Alundra Blayze, you know.)  Parker gives a clean break out of the corner to start, which has Dusty in amazement. Another try, but Madusa takes him down with an armdrag. Parker comes back with an airplane spin, but she reverses to a sunset flip for two. Slam and he bails, getting advice from Dick Slater (who was Debbie Micelli’s real-life husband at that point). (What, no secret advice joke?  I really must have been feeling shitty that day.  Here, I’ll throw in a freebie:  “That advice?  Never do a southern rebel gimmick in a New York-based wrestling promotion.”)  Back in, he takes her down with the choke, but misses an elbow and gets dropkicked. He bails again and she follows with a bad plancha. Back in, she gets a german suplex for two, but Slater puts Parker on top for the pin at 3:43. Total freakshow. DUD – Retirement match: Diamond Dallas Page v. The Booty Man. OK, quick word of explanation. This was supposed to be the blowoff of the DDP-Johnny B Badd feud, which had been going for the past million PPVs, but Marc Mero got fired from WCW (on purpose) and jumped to the WWF, leaving the storyline without an ending, so they repackaged Ed Leslie again, into The Booty Man (a kind of disco version of Brutus Beefcake) and suddenly had him fighting for Kimberly’s honor. (Longer and more accurate story:  Mero’s contract expired at the end of February while still champion and he agreed to sign a new deal, but wanted assurances that he would make his usual salary while working without a contract instead of the job-guy money that other free agents made per show.  Bischoff jerked him around on the details of the talks as well as some personal apperances, and then wanted to continue the Kimberly angle that Badd hated so much.  Finally Mero basically said “Screw you, I’m going to the WWF” and Bischoff terminated him after he dropped the title to Lex Luger and told him not to come back.)  Tony buries Mero before the match, and then in the same breath they talk about how Booty Man was actually a spy in the Dungeon of Doom on behalf of Hulk Hogan, which is how they explain his sudden face turn. I wonder if that would work in real life. “Um, I wasn’t trying to deal cocaine out of a subway terminal, I was spying for internal security” Maybe not. (Eh, Brutus Beefcake drug bust jokes don’t hold up very well, unfortunately.)  This match also proved to be a major problem for DDP, because he likes planning out his matches in advance and improvising something with ED LESLIE of all people is just asking for trouble. Mucho stallo to start. Page starts with a wristlock and they reverse off that, but Page goes to the ropes. Booty goes to a headlock and overpowers Page, and he bails. Back in, Booty slugs him down and goes to the armbar, as Dusty claims that he’s “very skilled at mat wrestling”. I can’t make this stuff up. Page charges and misses, ending up on the floor. This match is going nowhere. Page stalls forever outside, so Booty Man follows him out and they brawl. Back in, Page gets rammed into the turnbuckle a few times and Page bails AGAIN. He stumbles around on the floor like a clown and Kimberly joins us at ringside, dressed as a cheerleader. HOOCHIE MAMA. Back in, Page grabs a headlock, but Booty powers out, so they criss-cross and stall. Booty slugs him out to the apron again. They manage to fuck up a shoulderblock and then Booty whiffs on a crossbody attempt, and Page chokes away. Even Tony gave a disgusted “What was THAT?” before catching himself. (Ed Leslie was a special kind of terrible in his WCW run.)  Page gets a backdrop suplex and stalls, but gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Booty fights out, so Page knees him down for two. Back to the chinlock, and Page uses the ropes as the match drags on. Soon I fear that I will die of old age before this chinlock ends. Finally Booty fights out, but Page drops him on the top rope as Kimberly turns to the camera and says with a straight face “I want him to be my boyfriend”. And people wonder why her acting career didn’t take off. Page goes after her, but gets slapped, and Booty Man hits him with a high knee to finish at 16:00. Absolutely horrible. -* Poor Kimberly has to sell a kiss from steroid-bloated, balding Ed Leslie as the sexiest thing since Ricky Martin or whatever was sexy in 1996. (Hey wow, that joke got funnier in hindsight.)  But then she sleeps with DDP in real life, so who knows what weird stuff she’s into. – The Giant v. Loch Ness. Suddenly I yearn for the salad days of Booty Man v. DDP, all those minutes ago. When Paul Wight is the skinny one, you’ve got a problem. Although he WAS really lean at this point. Giant chops away in the corner to start and uses the Nash choke, but Loch Ness hammers back with the CLUBBING FOREARMS. Giant fires back with boots in the corner, but misses a charge and takes a nice bump to the floor. Back in, Loch Ness slaps him down and drops the elbow, but misses another one, and Giant makes the comeback, booting him down. Legdrop finishes at 2:34. Well, at least it was short. DUD Giant would win the World title the next night on Nitro.  (Nope, another month yet.  Never seen that match, either!)  – Chicago Street Fight: The Road Warriors v. Sting & Booker T. How you have a Chicago street fight in Tupelo is a mystery unsolved to this day. (I really feel like we were robbed off the payoff with Luger having to participate in the street fight he unknowingly agreed to.)  They brawl outside to start and head into the ring for a slugfest, but Sting runs into Animal’s boot. Animal pounds away in the corner while Hawk backdrops Booker on the floor, and back in the ring it’s another donnybrook. Booker hits Animal with the ax kick for two, while Hawk & Sting fight outside. Animal powerslams Booker and drops an elbow for two. Sting comes back in, but Animal necksnaps him on the top rope and posts him. Sting returns the favor as the split screen is helpfully labeled “Chicago Street Fight” in case we’ve forgotten what we’re watching. (I was heavily medicated at that point.  So it could have happened.  God knows I’ve fallen asleep watching boring wrestling shows late at night.)  In the ring, Sting hits Animal with a fistdrop, but gets clotheslined for two. Elbow misses and Sting bulldogs him, but Hawk chokes Sting down. Everyone brawls outside and Booker covers Animal for two on the floor. Back in, Booker gets caught with a shot coming down, and Animal dropkicks him for two. Sting retreats to the back, while Booker gets a lazy cross-armbreaker on Hawk in the ring. Sting chairs Animal over by the back, and heads to the ring for a chairshot on Hawk. But then Animal gets it and uses it in incredibly weak fashion, getting two on Booker. Booker comes back with a sidekick on Animal and Sting piledrives Hawk, and of course he no-sells that. Since when does Sting ever use a piledriver? Hawk powerbombs Sting and goes to the chinlock, then tosses him and it’s more dull brawling outside. This match has ZERO flow. It’s all “two guys do stuff in the ring while the other two brawl, switch off, repeat.” Hawk hits them with some wussy chairshots and tries a powerbomb on Sting, but it’s reversed. Animal clubs on Sting with the forearms, but Booker breaks it up, and it’s more dull brawling. Back in with Sting and Hawk, as Sting hits him with a shot off the top that Hawk doesn’t sell, but misses the Stinger splash. Hawk drops a fist and Animal goes up, but Booker crotches him, so Hawk covers Sting for two. Booker hits Animal with a flying clothesline for two. Once again the mystery of falls count anywhere matches arises, as you can pin somewhere anywhere in the arena, except when he has his foot on the ropes. Sting gets a headbutt low on Animal, and Hawk hits Booker with a backdrop suplex. Booker comes back with a weak sideslam on Hawk, but misses an elbow, and they do a sloppy collision in the corner. Sting goes up and misses a splash on Animal. Hawk goes up and gets dropkicked by Booker coming down. Animal chokes away in the corner, but Booker goes low, and they fight outside again. Oh, joy. Meanwhile, Hawk hits Sting with a move I can only jokingly call a gutwrench suplex for two. Sting and Booker finally get organized and double-team Hawk with a clothesline, then Sting suplexes him on the top rope while Animal suplexes Booker. Sooooooo slow and boring. Hawk & Sting brawl outside again while Booker crotches himself on the top rope, and they switch off for no reason in particular, with Animal taking on Sting outside and Hawk beating on Booker inside. Booker comes back with a spinkick on Hawk for two. Hawk boots him down for two. Back to the floor as Sting goes up on Animal, but gets caught with a powerslam. Animal works the count, but Sting comes back with a clothesline and both guys are out. The boredom of this match is crushing my soul. Hawk and Booker head back into the ring, but Hawk misses a fistdrop and Booker misses an elbow. He comes back with a sidekick, however, and both guys are out. On the floor, Animal goes nuts with a chair (as nuts as anyone can go in this snoozefest) and the Warriors double-team Booker, but Sting heads to the back again and returns with BROOMS. Now I’m scared. The Warriors choke them down, but Booker comes back with his own choking on Animal, but he gets tossed by Animal and decides to leave. In the ring, Hawk gets two on Sting. We follow Animal and Booker to the back, where Luger is posing in front of a mirror in a bizarre moment, but Animal interrupts and gets beat up by Luger and Stevie Ray as a result. Some things you just don’t mess with. Back in the ring, Hawk dumps Sting and they brawl, but now Booker T returns as Sting misses his charge into the railing. Booker sends Hawk into the stairs and brings him back in, getting a sideslam and going up with the Harlem Hangover, but misses it. Stevie Ray runs out and adds a chairshot for good measure, and Booker FINALLY pins Hawk to end it at 29:35. Not a terrible brawl, but ridiculously long and dull. It did foreshadow Booker’s single career, however, as he managed to outwork both of the washed-up Road Warriors and held his own with the unmotivated Sting. **  (Meltzer actually gave this one ***1/2 and called it the best match on the show.  Sorry, I just don’t see it.)  DOOMSDAY CAGE: Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage v. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Z Gangsta, The Ultimate Solution, Kevin Sullivan, Lex Luger, Meng and the Barbarian. I wish I could be making up that listing, but I’m not. They really did book Hogan & Savage 8-on-2. The heels are The Alliance to End Hulkamania, or TAEH. That of course is the opposite of heat. The idea here, if you can wrap your head around it, is that there’s a three-story cage, with Hogan & Savage starting at the top with Flair & Anderson and moving downwards. Now keep in mind there’s no actual RULES for this announced, only vague notations about Hogan & Savage having to “fight their way down”. (Original plan was to re-use the triple cage thing from Bash 88, because apparently it was still stored in Kevin Sullivan’s garage or something.)  Michael Buffer actually has to introduce this mess with a straight face. Well, I guess that’s why they pay him the big bucks. Hogan starts with Arn in the top cage and they fight it out, with Flair chopping Savage, and Arn clubbing on Hogan. The lighting is terrible and you can’t see anything. They keep brawling and Hogan rams Flair into a pole and chokes him down. Flair & Anderson stop and work over Savage, however. Anderson goes after Hogan and gets a figure-four, so Flair does the same to Savage. Hogan and Savage use powder to escape, however, and move down to the next cage. Uh huh. So now it’s 4-on-2, as it’s Sullivan, Luger, Meng and Barbarian to contend with. Hogan fights with Luger & Sullivan, while Savage takes on the Faces of Fear. (I should also note what a giant waste of Luger this was, as they had spent weeks masterfully building up the Sting storyline and creating this awesome slimy heel character for him before suddenly turning him into cartoon villain again for the sake of having an eighth guy in this mess.)  The heels control, but Hogan fights off Sullivan and saves Savage, and then locks the Faces of Fear in their own cage, leaving it 2-on-2. Oh, such strategy. Flair and Anderson head down into the lower cage to try and help, and Hogan and Sullivan fight out to the scaffolding while Luger continues the thrilling brawl with Savage in the cage. However, soon all four end up on the floor, and into the ring. Hogan hits Sullivan with the big boot and stomps away. They switch off, with Hogan hitting Luger with a bucket and Sullivan ramming Savage into the cage. Tony, in an actual quote, says “This has been spectacular.” Well, people describe car crashes the same way. Hogan brings Luger to the ring and gets a corner clothesline, then hammers away while Savage & Sullivan fight on the floor. Wasn’t the point supposed to be that they were fighting in the CAGE? Hence the name, DOOMSDAY CAGE? Luger hits Savage with the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH, but brawls out with Hogan again. You have to wonder what exactly the Horsemen and Faces of Fear are DOING while trapped in that other ring. Luger clubs Savage down with a chair and then goes after Hogan, but he makes the comeback and the heels get whipped together. And now the other heels, Jeep “Painful Constipation” Swenson and Z Gangsta (Zeus) head out and drag our heroes back to the DOOMSDAY CAGE, and into the ring on the bottom of that cage. Was there something wrong with the ring they were in before? Somehow, the match gets WORSE, as Permanent Vacation overpowers Hogan and Gangsta chokes Savage down. He pops up with a double axehandle, however, while Hogan goes to the eyes of Traffic Citation and then turns his attention to Gangsta. He gets choked down, which to Tony is the most thrilling thing to happen all match, and Notable Quotation press-slams Savage. Hogan comes back on Gangsta, but now the Horsemen rejoin the match (which of course makes no sense, but god forbid either of THESE goofs do the job when Flair is available) and things look bleak for the Megapowers. The heels pound away, as Catalytic Conversion uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but now Booty Man gives them powder (oh man, this stuff just writes itself) and frying pans. That’s how you cook the crack old-school, I guess. Now Luger runs in as well and turns the tide, using a loaded glove, but it hits Flair by mistake and Savage pins him at 25:09. This would prove to be the last hurrah for Hulkamania, as fan reaction to this mess was so overwhelmingly negative that his heel turn was necessary to keep his career alive. Without a doubt the WORST PPV main event ever, lacking not only internal logic and interesting action, but the entertainment value of Heroes of Wrestling. This one gets the full negative monty. –*****  (I stand by that one.)  The Bottom Line: You may stumble across this show and accidentally watch it, then, like a victim of prison rape, blame yourself for the pain, humiliation, and rectal bleeding, but DON’T. This was WCW’S fault, not yours! There are support groups for survivors of this PPV out there to help you, and I would advise you to make use of them. Other people have been through the same thing. We can help you. Strongest recommendation to avoid humanly possible.  (Or, you know, get really drunk and watch it for free on the WWE Network.  Whatevs.) 

Repost: In Your House 4

The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF In Your House IV – Originally aired October 22, 1995, this show not only was so humdrum that they couldn’t think of a witty subtitle, but it also has the distinction of earning the lowest buyrate ever for a WWF PPV, at 0.4. Kevin Nash, just call him “Money”.  (Actually, on the RAW shows building this up, they were trying to make “Great White North” into a thing as the subtitle, but it didn’t happen.  I’d like to go with Davey Boy’s summation from one of his promos as a subtitle:  “That 50 below hellhole Winnipeg”  Spoken like someone who spent years touring the Prairies.  – By the way, thank you to the Russians for inventing vodka, so I was able to make it through this one. On a related note, thank you to the makers of ibuprofen.  (I’ve heard conflicting reports over the years about my roommate’s patented “take three Tylenol and a giant glass of water before bed to prevent a hangover” advice.  At the time this rant was originally posted on the blog, it triggered a firestorm of discussion about the merits of Tylenol v. Advil for booze-related headaches, with each side saying that the other is the one that will cause your liver to implode.  That being said, even though I don’t really drink any more because I’m old as fuck, I did partake recently at my work conference and found that cheap pizza at 3 in the morning works remarkably well to prevent barfing and headaches as well.)  – Live from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. – Your hosts are Vince, Jerry & JR. – In a pretaped segment, President Gorilla strips Shawn Michaels of the IC title because he has a boo-boo and is incapable of laying down for Dean Douglas. If you want to stop and get some Kleenex in case of bursts of tears now, I’ll wait for you. – … – Okay, all done? On with the show… – Opening match: Makin’ a Difference Fatu v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Welcome to Gimmick Hell, as Fatu gets repackaged in one of the dorkiest gimmicks in history – The Caring Samoan. See, the WWF was then gonna bring in his evil cousins, the Samoan Gangsta Party, who were kinda streetwise, rappin’ samoan with attitudez. They’d try to corrupt him like D-Von Dudley did with Buh Buh Ray in ECW, but they’d probably fail because he’s Makin’ a Difference for the kids on the streeet. Sadly, Fatu’s career collapsed in on itself when everyone released what a moron he must have been for taking this gimmick, and the Gangsta Party never saw the light of day. (Those guys are like the lost Samoans or something.  They spent FOREVER in developmental and then just vanished.)  More’s the pity. I’m not sure if Wrestlecrap has a section for Fatu, but they really should. Fatu gets a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack bodydrop to start (ah, Vince McMahon, play-by-play guy, those were the days). They brawl outside, and back in where Hunter stalls. Fatu does this horrible leapfrog out of the corner, but gets hung up in the ropes, and Hunter pounds on him. He hits a piledriver, which is no-sold by Fatu. They slug it out, but Hunter hits a neckbreaker for two. Kneelift gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK. Vince notes Hunter’s undefeated record. Oh man, even back in 1995 that guy wouldn’t job. Lariat leads to the 360 clothesline sell by Fatu, although with Marty Jannetty on this card he might have competition later. Hunter gets two, but Fatu rolls him up for two. Pedigree is reversed, and a superkick cues the comeback. A pair of clotheslines and a backbreaker for Fatu set up the flying headbutt, which gets a one count. Running Diamond Cutter out of the corner sets up a flying splash, which misses. Pedigree finishes at 8:00. As blueblood snob v. streetwise samoan matches go, this was pretty decent. **  (Meltzer’s note on HHH at the time:  “They’re clearly protecting and building him for the future.”  You don’t say?)  – The drama continues as Henry O Godwinn stalks Hunter with a bucket of slop, setting up the allegory for the Monday Night Wars that was the Hogpen Match at In Your House V. – WWF tag team title match: The Smoking Gunns v. 1-2-3 Kid & Razor Ramon. This was to set up the heel turn that would turn Sean Waltman into the character that eventually became X-Pac. So think about that – he’s essentially been playing the same annoying little creep heel for 6 years, and people wonder why the gimmick’s stale? Anyway, the Cliquesters have matching lavender tights here. Both teams were ostensibly babyfaces, although the crowd likes Ramon the best. Kid & Billy start, as Billy debuts the short hair look that remains to this day. (Even shorter on top these days, if you know what I mean.  Unintentionally short.  HE’S FUCKING BALD, OK?)  Billy wins a hiptoss sequence, so Razor tries next with Bart. Bart holds him off pretty well, and stalling follows. Kid cheapshots Bart, and the Red Eye Express takes over. Ramon pounds on Bart in full heel mode, but still draws mad face heat. Kid hits his kick combo and a pair of snap legdrops, then Razor suplexes him onto Bart for two. Beating continues, but Bart gets a hair takedown for a double KO. Taggery abounds. Billy cleans house and drops an elbow on Kid for two. Bart comes in and kills him with backbreakers for two, and the Gunns hit their suplex/dropkick combo for two. Billy misses a blind charge, but Kid is still out and Bart rolls Billy on top of him, and then Razor sneaks in and reverses that for two. Hot tag Razor, and he cleans house. Razor’s Edge for Billy, but the Kid wants the tag. Razor obliges, and Kid promptly gets pinned at 12:44. D’oh! Kid heels on the Gunns and steals the belts, but Razor makes peace. How sweet. **1/4  (And then they all went out and did a shitload of pot together to celebrate.)  Marty Jannetty v. Goldust. This is Goldust’s in-ring debut after months of bizarre promos. The morality factor is somewhat in question here, as you’ve got your alcoholic drug addict taking on the sexual deviant son of Dusty Rhodes. However, the presence of Rhodes DNA swings things to Marty’s side by my count. I’m shocked Jannetty didn’t try to snort the gold confetti that fell from the ceiling during the entrances. (High five!  Anyone?)  Jannetty attacks and dumps Goldust, who takes a walk up the aisle. Back in, he bails again. Stalling follows. Goldust gets a rollup for two, but Marty comes back with a rana, and you guessed it, Goldust stalls again. They exchange leapfrogs and Goldie gets a lariat (allowing Marty to work the 450 clothesline sell in) and chokes him out. That goes on for a while, then he changes things up with a chinlock. Backdrop gets one as the match drags JUST A BIT. Marty gets dumped and they brawl for a bit, then he hits the post. Suplex back in gets two for Dustin. Back to that thar chinlock. Jannetty escapes and fucks up a backdrop reversal spot, then hits the post again. Goldust DDTs him for two. Jannetty gets a Rocker Dropper and goes up, but misses the fistdrop. However, in the most intelligent spot of the show, he doesn’t sell it because it wouldn’t actually hurt to miss that move. He goes up again and this time Goldust holds up his foot, and that gets sold. Front suplex finishes for Goldust at 11:12. Amazingly, his push actually continued after that performance. ¼*  (You have to give Vince some credit for patience here, because the Goldust gimmick was flopping on every level during the buildup and this debut, but he stuck with it when normal modus operandi would be to cut him loose.) – Yokozuna v. King Mabel. Yes, you read that right. Just accept it. Both guys were still heels, but were being punished for putting Undertaker out of action for three months. That’s all well and good, but there’s no need to cause misery for the poor fanbase, too. Slugfest to start, and Mabel bails. Back in, he gets a lariat and now Yoko bails. Back in again, Mabelanche hits and he takes over. Mabelanche #2 misses, but Yoko misses the Hulkbuster. Mabel misses an elbow as I’m having trouble keeping up with the torrid pace. They brawl outside for the merciful double countout at 5:12. And the fans actually BOOED the end of the match. As if they wanted it to continue. Well, that’s Winnipeg for ya. -** – We get our Heartfelt Moment as Shawn Michaels comes out to surrender the Intercontinental title to Dean Douglas, due to his being horsewhipped by 12 guys in a bar in Syracuse. (FIFTEEN!) My heart bleeds. Here’s a hint on Wrestling Ethics and why Shawn isn’t in the WON Hall of Fame: If you’re healthy enough to WALK, you’re healthy enough to do the right thing. (Well, Shawn at least is in the Hall of Fame now.)  On the other hand, if anyone deserved to get screwed over this badly, it’s Shane Douglas, so really it’s just funny on all sides. – Oh, and since the fans DEMAND a title match tonight, Douglas has to defend against Razor Ramon. But the Clique didn’t have any backstage power, nope. – Intercontinental title: Dean Douglas v. Razor Ramon. Douglas bails early. Back in, Ramon works the arm. That lasts a while. Dean comes back and stomps Ramon, but walks into a blockbuster suplex and gets dumped. Stalling follows. Suplex back in and Ramon stomps him. Douglas bails again to keep up the excitement level. Back in, Ramon goes back to that arm. Razor’s Edge is reversed, and they brawl outside. Back in, Douglas goes upstairs and gets caught with a chokeslam. Slugfest is won by Ramon, and he goes for a superplex, which is blocked. Bodypress by Douglas is rolled through for two. Douglas takes over, but gets suplexed and pinned out of nowhere at 11:00, despite having his feet in the ropes. Nice of Ramon to basically give him no offense and then pin him with a transition move. No wonder Douglas is so bitter. This, by the way, is the shortest IC title reign ever. ½*  (Ramon was a total shithead here, as he barely even sold anything for Douglas and looked like he wanted to be somewhere else, while winning his fourth IC title.)  – WWF World title: Diesel v. The British Bulldog. Yes, kids, this is actually the main event of a PPV. To spite Lex Luger, Vince McMahon actually pushed his partner to the main event for three PPVs to end 1995 (In Your Houses 3,4 and 5). Bret Hart joins us for commentary, replacing Jerry Lawler. Diesel hits an elbow and Bulldog bails. Stalling follows. Back in, but Diesel bails and jaws with Bret. Back in, Bulldog works the leg. That lasts a while. They head outside and Cornette pounds on Diesel’s leg. Back in, Bulldog gets a half-crab to work on it. Diesel uses his POOCHIE POWER to escape, but Bulldog goes back to it. Legdrop gets two. Diesel fights back, but Bulldog goes back to the leg. IT JUST KEEPS GOING. Diesel reverses a suplex for the double KO. Bulldog goes to a bad-looking Sharpshooter, but Diesel powers out. Powerslam is escaped and Diesel gets the big boot, but Cornette comes in and gets tossed, as does Bulldog. They brawl outside and Diesel eats post, drawing Bret into the ring for the DQ at 18:13. The crowd just boos that finish out of the building, and after the show went off the air Vince threw his headset down in disgust and chewed Diesel out right at ringside, basically sealing his fate then and there. He jobbed the title to Bret Hart at the very next PPV and was gone to WCW six months later. * The Bottom Line: Aside from the Shawn Michaels farce and the seeds of the 1-2-3 Kid’s heel turn, this may be quite possibly the most unremarkable show in the history of WWF PPV. Several horrible matches on top of the card didn’t help matters, either. But hey, if you like that early Goldust stuff, this is the show for you! Strong recommendation to avoid. (STRONGEST recommendation to avoid. This one is legendarily bad.  I think the Jets left because they were so ashamed of playing hockey in the same arena that hosted this show.) 

Repost: In Your House 3

(Just for the sake of context, here’s my most recent rant on IYH3 to go along with the RAW from last night.)  The SmarK Retro Rant for WWE In Your House #3: Triple Header! (September 1995) – This is another redo of a rant I did back in the bad old days where I thought it really needed an upgrade, and since I was watching this show anyway, here it is. – Live from Saginaw, MI. – Your hosts are Vince and Jerry and Jim. Opening match: Savio Vega v. Waylon Mercy Waylon was a timely take on Robert DeNiro’s villain in Cape Fear, because Vince has a habit of watching a movie and then suddenly coming up a new and original character that he immediately trademarks as his own original creation. Savio chops away to start and works the arm, but gets tossed. Back in, Mercy gets a hotshot for two and chokes him down. Sideslam gets two. Sleeper, and Dan Spivey shows off his great facial expressions here, but Savio escapes. Back to it, and this time he suplexes out of it. They slug it out and Vega gets the big boot and a spinkick for two. Bulldog gets two. Half-nelson rollup gets two. Mercy catches a clothesline and follows with a scary brainbuster for two. Backdrop driver gets two, but Savio comes back with a german suplex and a leg lariat for the upset. (Savio Vega d. Waylon Mercy, leg lariat — pin, 7:05, **3/4) It turned into an interesting suplex battle, but Spivey’s body just couldn’t hold out and he was sent into retirement from a neck injury soon after. Meanwhile, we learn that Owen Hart is not here yet, but they will absolutely live up to the stipulations of the main event, because the WWF doesn’t bait and switch and always delivers what they promise. And murder angles, they don’t do those either. Or rape angles. Or market to children. Sid v. Henry Godwinn. This was early in the long and storied HOG legacy. Henry slugs away to start and clotheslines Sid to the floor. Sid returns the favor by kneeing him to the floor and starts working on the back. Sid throws some running kicks, yelling like Monica Seles to really sell the drama. Or is that too dated of a tennis reference? Anyway, Sid goes to his favorite rear chinlock. Points for psychology, but yawn. Blind charge misses and HOG comes back with the Slop Drop for two. Dibiase makes the save, then trips HOG up and it’s good night sweet farmer. (Sid d. Henry Godwinn, powerbomb — pin, 7:23, *) Not much challenge for Sid here. Attacks after the match tease us with HOG & Bigelow v. Sid & Kama, but I don’t know that the universe could have taken that kind of suck power in one ring. The British Bulldog v. Bam Bam Bigelow This was fresh off Bulldog’s heel turn against Diesel. Bulldog gets overpowered to start and Bigelow hiptosses him, but misses an elbow. We hit the chinlock early, but Bigelow escapes. Bulldog suplex, but Bammer no-sells it. His comeback gets cut off and Bulldog sends him to the floor. Bam Bam suplexes him onto the top rope and comes back in with a diving headbutt for two, but Bulldog clips him and starts working on the knee. Another clip after a lazy leg submission, but Bam Bam responds with an enzuigiri. Bulldog goes back to the leg, opting for a half-crab this time. Bigelow fights back, but walks into a knee for two. Back to the chinlock, but Bigelow fights out and falls back on a slam attempt, for two. He blocks a sunset flip using the POWER OF THE ASS, which sets up the moonsault. That misses, however, and Bulldog gets two off a diving headbutt before finishing clean. (British Bulldog d. Bam Bam Bigelow, powerslam — pin, 12:01, ***) Quite an enjoyable little heavyweight match, which was setting up Bulldog for a title match with Diesel at the next In Your House. Mr. Bob Backlund joins us to rant about youth today and introduce… Dean Douglas v. Razor Ramon This was set up by an attack at Summerslam 95, but in reality there was tons of stuff going on behind the scenes that Shane Douglas would likely whine for hours about if given a chance. I don’t normally side with Shawn Michaels in personality clashes, but in this case his little group of schoolgirls was in the right and Douglas was being a whiner. Razor attacks to start and dumps him, and they do a headlock sequence in the ring. Ramon dumps him again, but that goes nowhere. They fight over a wristlock and Ramon goes to a hammerlock, then catches a crossbody attack and gets the blockbuster slam for two. Back to the arm and Ramon holds an armbar, but Dean comes back with a sunset flip for two. Lariat from Razor gets two. Back to the armbar, but Douglas dumps him and follows with a half-assed pescado. He works Razor over on the floor and sends him into the stairs, and then into the post. Back in, a flying axehandle gets two. Douglas works the back and rams him into the mat for two. Surfboard as they plan things out, but Douglas works the ribs and whips him into the corner, and a splash gets two. He goes to a rear chinlock, but Razor escapes with an electric chair. Douglas revives first and gets two. Ramon comes back with a northern lights suplex for two. Backdrop superplex is blocked by Douglas, but a high cross is reversed by Razor for two. Ref is bumped and it’s the Razor’s Edge, but 1-2-3 Waltman runs in, in the know-it-all teenager phase of his character growth, which means that Ramon has to take the time to get him out of the ring. This allows Douglas to roll him up for the pin. WEAK. (Dean Douglas d. Razor Ramon, rollup — pin, 14:55, ***) Perhaps the Kid’s volatile relationship with Ramon foreshadowed his relationship with Chyna? Maybe if MySpace had been around in 1995, Waltman would have written heartbroken poetry to Ramon on there. Bret Hart v. Jean Pierre LaFitte The fact that Bret got stuck in every shitty feud they could think up for him (like here, for instance, where the pirate dude stole his jacket) but still emerged as WWF champion I think shows how great he was. Bret dives on LaFitte and pounds away in the ring, but gets hammered down. Bret takes him down and grabs an arm, and a crucifix gets two. Back to the armbar, but LaFitte clotheslines him and does some choking. Bret rollup gets two, and Lafitte goes back to the pounding. Bret tries a charge, but hits the post, and Lafitte sends him back there for good measure. We get the Bret Hart Running Turnbuckle Bump and Lafitte gets two. Bret dumps him, but that backfires as Lafitte yanks him out and sends him into the stairs. Vince writes off Bret at that point. Geez, give the guy a LITTLE credit. Bret fights back, but a spinebuster gets two. Lafitte goes to the chinlock. Bret fights up and goes down, and Lafitte drops a leg for two. Bret comes back with a sunset flip for two, but a clothesline puts him down again. Sideslam and Lafitte goes up with a legdrop for two. Back up, but the swanton misses. Bret comes back with an atomic drop and Sharpshooter, but Lafitte powers him out of the ring. He follows with a somersault plancha, but splats on the floor and Bret returns that trip into the stairs. Back in, legsweep gets two. Small package gets two. Backbreaker and elbow, but he hits boot coming down. You don’t usually see someone block that. Bret tries another crucifix, but Lafitte has learned and counters to a Regal Roll for two. Bret blocks a slam for two and pounds away, but charges and hits knee, giving Lafitte two. Bret tries a bulldog, but gets sent into the corner for two. He fights back, but charges and crotches himself. Lafitte goes up and misses again, and they clothesline each other. Bret, however, takes advantage on the ground and hooks the Sharpshooter to finish. (Bret Hart d. Jean Pierre LaFitte, Sharpshooter — submission, 16:34, ****1/4) This had all sorts of cool stuff that you didn’t see in 1995, with great psychology and both guys adjusting to each others’ strategy and mistakes. Probably should have made Carl Ouelette into a star, but it didn’t. WWF Tag team titles / WWF title / Intercontinental title: Yokozuna & British Bulldog v. Diesel & Shawn Michaels So the idea is that he who is pinned loses his title, but Owen Hart mysteriously was not there and Bulldog takes his place, which means that you can smell the screwjob coming a mile away. Shawn starts with Bulldog, and they trade hammerlocks. Bulldog tries to take him down,but gets backdropped, and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA as the Dudes With Attitudes clean house. Yokozuna tries against Shawn and they engage in a sumo battle, but Shawn runs into an elbow. Yoko misses his own elbow and Diesel comes in, but gets clobbered. Diesel uses the POWER OF THE BOOT to put Yoko on the floor, but Bulldog comes in and pounds away. Delayed suplex gets two. We hit the chinlock and Bulldog tries the powerslam, but Diesel throws elbows in the corner. Corner clothesline and Shawn comes in with a flying splash for two. Bulldog crotches him, however, and Shawn is face-in-peril. Yoko sends him into the corner and out, and back in Bulldog backdrops him for two. We hit the chinlock, and Shawn gets a sunset flip for two. Bulldog clotheslines him down again, and Yoko comes in with the VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DOOM. The Banzai Drop misses, however, and it’s hot tag Diesel. Backdrop and Snake Eyes for Bulldog, and a sideslam triggers another brawl. They launch Bulldog into Yoko and Diesel walks into a samoan drop, but Shawn superkicks Yoko to the floor. Like a turtle on its back, Yoko is thus removed from the equation. Bulldog powerslams Diesel for two, but now Owen Hart suddenly appears, at which point Diesel immediately powerbombs and pins him. (Diesel & Shawn Michaels d. Bulldog & Yokozuna, Diesel powerbomb — pin Owen Hart, 15:44, **1/2) This match of course eschewed standard practices of thinking, like having someone in the match taking the pinfall, and as a result the title victory was overturning the next night on RAW and the title went to the Smoking Gunns instead. As a punishment for the fans, we had to watch Diesel v. Bulldog in a god-awful main event at the next In Your House, too. So it was lose-lose for everyone. The Pulse: Bret Hart v. Pierre the Pirate is a lost classic, but the rest is pretty pedestrian stuff, including the main event title match that turned out to be not a title match. I kinda wish that the Bret match had been on his DVD so you could just buy that instead of tracking this down, but mildly recommended if you get a chance to see it.

Repost: The SmarK Rant for WCW World War III 1995

The SK Retro Rant for WCW World War III 1995 (This was originally done around 2001.)  – For those of you who follow my little personal asides in these rants, you’ll know that this was actually the show that ended my WCW boycott in 1995. I had actually stopped watching WCW entirely once the Orange Goblin won the WCW World title and killed Ric Flair’s career dead in the process, and after almost 18 months of waiting, Hogan finally lost it and WCW, probably not coincidentally, put together a card that looked good enough on paper for me to part with my $29.95 and come back into the fold. – Live from Norfolk, VA – Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan. – Okay, so the Hogan Retardation Factor kicks in right away, as Hogan, Savage and Sting come out with a garbage pail and Hogan’s “dark side” black costume (not to confused with his nWo black costume, which would come later), and burn the costume. Hogan was only fooling, you see, and was playing mindgames to lull Kevin Sullivan into a sense of security. (Now there’s a Vince Russo motif if we’ve ever heard one.)  Then we pump up the surrealness as Hogan declares that Savage’s crippling arm injury was just another plan on their part, and THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH IT. Keep this in mind later, and also note that Savage has a HUGE bandage wrapped around his arm while giving this speech. Finally, Hogan finishes with a flurry by burning a copy of the Observer and calling it a “rag sheet”, noting that it said Giant would win the title tonight and Savage was injured, and that it’s the internet that really has the scoop on things. (In fact, Meltzer never wrote anything about the Giant winning in the issue he was burning, as Dave’s guess was either Sting or Savage.  Maybe Hogan got it from PWInsider and just assumed Meltzer wrote it? )  No, honestly, this interview really happened, just like that. You know, I almost miss the days of Hogan being on top, just for the yuks involved in listening to him distort the truth for his own means.  (Yeah, well, more of that was coming.)  – Opening match, TV title: Johnny B. Badd v. Diamond Dallas Page. DDP put Kimberly on the line here in exchange for the title match, as they were having domestic problems in the storyline. Badd and DDP do a shoving match and hairpulling bit to start, and roll out onto the floor. Back in, Badd crossbody is reversed by DDP for two. Badd gets a samoan drop for two, and he works a headlock. Page rolls him over for a few two-counts. They fight over a wristlock and DDP cheats to win. He works the arm, but Badd pulls the hair to break. DDP charges and misses, ending up on the floor. Badd fakes a highspot and then follows with a pescado. Page then tosses Kim at Badd to gain the advantage in an innovative spot. I’m surprised Savage didn’t do that one more. Back in, DDP gets a backdrop suplex out of the corner and stomps away. He gets a tombstone and showboats, but Kimberly no-sells and won’t give him a 10. Kimberly’s job was to stand around and hold up scores for DDP at this point, in case you don’t know. Badd catches his foot, but DDP clotheslines him for two. DDP keeps jawing with Kim, leading to him missing a blind charge. Badd then sidesteps a kick, which is a cute spot that looked better than it sounds. Badd makes a comeback, getting an inverted atomic drop and lariat. Kim gives Johnny a “10+”, which I’m sure isn’t Olympic standard. Ligerbomb gets two for Badd. Blind charge misses and DDP uses the ropes for two. He gets a sideslam for two, but Badd rolls him over for two. Flying headscissors and Badd goes up, but DDP lifts the knees to block the splash. DDP works on the ribs with a gutbuster for two, although the move actually looked like a blown rotation bomb. Tombstone is reversed, for two. KO punch puts DDP on the floor, and Badd follows with a somersault plancha, then tosses Page back in and finishes with a slingshot legdrop for the pin at 12:33, giving him the services of Kimberly, which he retained until his firing in 1996. DDP absolutely worked his ass off from 95-98 or so in an effort to get himself over, and the sequence of near-falls to end this thing were great. ***1/2 – Big Bubba Rogers v. Hacksaw Duggan. This is taped-fist match under knockout rules. Tony and Bobby spend the first part of the match relaying, in a completely serious tone of voice, a story about how Jim Duggan’s grandmother was a taped-fist champion in Ireland. I can’t parody stuff like that, kids. Duggan attacks outside to start, and into the ring where he threatens to use the 2×4, only to get cheapshotted. Duggan clotheslines him out, however, and they retreat to Ring #2 for some reason. Duggan jams his head in between two of the ringposts in an innovative spot, then comes off the apron and gets sent to the STEEL railing. Stallamania X7 results. Back in, Bubba does some choking. Slugfest leads to Bubba’s enzuigiri. Bubba adds some more tape to his fists, but Duggan punches him to the floor. Bubba, however, actually takes the advice Bobby Heenan has been giving all match and tapes Duggan to the top rope, allowing him a bunch of free shots. In one of the most retarded spots I’ve ever seen, Bubba charges at him, but Duggan HOLDS OUT HIS FIST and Bubba runs into it, and gets knocked down.  (“Yeah, well, I’m gonna hold out my fist like this, and if you run into it, then it’s your own fault!”)  It’s hard to truly comprehend this unless you keep in mind how slow Bubba runs and that Duggan wasn’t looking while holding out his fist. Bubba charges again and gets backdropped out, slamming his back into the apron in the process. Good one, Ray. Back in, Duggan hits the three-point stance clothesline, but VK Wallstreet sneaks in and gives Bubba a chain, which he uses to knock Duggan out for the win at 10:08. About what you’d expect from Duggan v. Bubba. ½* – Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki v. Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto. I have no idea why they decided to toss this on here, but god bless ‘em for it. Sonny Onoo is managing the heels, just so we know that they’re evil. Heels attack to start, and they clobber Ozaki. Bull tosses Ozaki around the ring, and Hokuto teases allowing a tag. Bull does some biting and brutally drags Ozaki around the ring by the hair like a caveman. Ozaki comes back but Bull no-sells. Hokuto chokes her out, but gets DDT’d to allow a tag to Suzuki. Dropkick gets two as the faces apply stereo half-crabs. They work on Akira’s leg. Bull comes in and quickly powerbombs Suzuki. Moonsault misses and the faces take turns with double stomps off the top, which the crowd pops huge for. Double-suplex attempt on Bull is reversed, as Nakano suplexes both at once. Hokuto comes off the top but misses the splash. The faces try to double-superplex her, but Nakano pulls them down off the top. Nakano & Hokuto go for stereo powerbombs, but they get reversed to stereo ranas for a pair of two counts. Suzuki gets a flying bodypress on Hokuto for two. Hokuto hits a nasty half-nelson suplex for two, but Ozaki comes back and drops her square on her head with a german suplex. Good lord. Bull tags in and kills Ozaki in retaliation. Hokuto comes off the top with a missile dropkick on both girls at once and they bail. Hokuto follows them out with a somersault tope off the top rope, and back inside the heels hit a Doomsday Device that gets two. Bull goes up and finishes Ozaki with a guillotine legdrop at 9:18. Slow start with a REAL good finish. ***1/4 (I think that’s low, actually.  I remember it being more like ****.)  They never really got another shot on PPV again, however. – US title match: Kensuke Sasaki v. Chris Benoit. I’ve never been a big Sasaki fan, and his position in Japan at the time as Hawk’s partner didn’t help things. And check the mullet on Benoit here. Attaboy. Benoit starts with some Canadian Violence right away, but Sasaki gets his own chops. He tries the armbar, but Benoit takes him down and works a hammerlock. Sasaki backdrops out and grabs a wristlock. Two bodyslams get a two count. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, leading to a leapfrog sequence and Sasaki press slam. Benoit manages to get him out of the ring and follows with a suicide dive. Back in, snap suplex gets two. Sasaki gets a powerslam for two. Benoit tries to debut the rolling germans, but Sasaki clotheslines him after the second one. (He actually debuted them on that episode of Nitro I just reviewed where they had their first match, so that’s actually a nice touch to show how Sasaki was learning.)  Tombstone is reversed and Benoit hits the diving headbutt for two. More Canadian Violence and a top rope rana gets two. Sasaki stops a slugfest with something resembling a chokeslam and goes for an armbar. Benoit clotheslines him, but Sasaki no-sells, hits a Northern Lights Bomb, and gets the pin to retain at 10:02. Nothing special at all. *1/2 (That sounds way low, too.)  – Randy Savage v. Lex Luger. Now remember, at the beginning of the show Hogan said that Savage did not have an arm injury, and he’s at 100%. Heenan immediately takes umbrage to that claim by pointing out the gigantic bandage on Savage’s arm, and Tony actually tries to argue that Savage is okay. Savage attacks to start and chokes Luger down. Blind charge hits boot, but Savage clotheslines Luger anyway. Into a Boston Crab, but Lex makes the ropes. They brawl on the floor and back in for the ELBOWDROP OF DOOM, but the ref is distracted with Jimmy Hart. Savage tosses Luger and they brawl some more. Luger catches Savage with a torture rack for some bizarre reason, and back in for an armbar, to Savage’s heavily bandaged arm, which gets a very quick submission at 5:25. Yeah, that’s arm’s just fine. In fact, Savage DID have a torn tricep muscle, so ignore the funny looking orange person with the male pattern baldness. DUD – Sting v. Ric Flair. This is the blowoff from Halloween Havoc and the Horsemen reformation. Slugfest to start, and Flair bails to Ring #2 and struts. Sting follows and continues the beating. Press slam, but Flair goes to the eyes. He chops away and does some stylin’ and/or profilin’. Sting clotheslines him to end that. Hiptoss and dropkick and Flair bails to Ring #3, thus making it a running gag. Sting follows and no-sells some chops. Slugfest won by Sting, and Flair bails again. He takes a walk, and back in Sting keeps no-selling. Press-slam and Flair bails AGAIN, back to Ring #1. Sting charges and splashes the railing by mistake. Back in, Flair goes low in dramatic fashion to gain the advantage. Kneedrop leads to more stalling. He goes after the leg and tosses Sting, and they head over to Ring #3 just to pound the joke into the ground. Figure-four, but Sting powers out and reverses. Backslide gets two. Flair bails to Ring #1 and Sting presses and clotheslines him. Flair cheats and goes upstairs, but gets slammed off as usual. Flair Flip and back in for the Sting comeback. Superplex and Scorpion Deathlock finish at 14:29. This was good in comparison to lots of other matches at the time, but not in comparison to the other, more awesome, matches these two have had. In fact, it was more like a Cliff’s Notes version of Sting v. Flair with some comedy tossed in. Still, Sting v. Flair is never too shabby. *** (Again, that’s low.  It was **** all day.)  WCW World title match, World War III: Okay, take a deep breath, because here’s the 60 guys in the match: Arn Anderson, Alex Wright, Brian Knobbs, Ricky Santana, David Taylor, Scott Armstrong, Sting, Joey Maggs, Pez Whatley, Disco Inferno, Meng, Stevie Ray, Mark Starr, Buddy Lee Parker, James Earl Wright, Lex Luger, Eddy Guerrero, Cobra, The Giant, Paul Orndorff, Khris Kanyon, Bobby Walker, Bobby Eaton, Chris Benoit, Randy Savage, Marcus Bagwell, The Yeti, Kurosawa, Hugh Morrus, Zodiac Man, VK Wallstreet, DDP, Scott Norton, Brian Pillman, Craig Pittman, One Man Gang, Super Assassin #1, Mr. JL, Bunkhouse Buck, Kensuke Sasaki, Mike Winner, Hawk, Shark, Steve Armstrong, David Sullivan, Scotty Riggs, Johnny B. Badd, Black Bart, Steven Regal, Dick Slater, Maxx Muscle, Super Assassin #2, Fidel Sierra, Kevin Sullivan, Jerry Saggs, Jim Duggan, Booker T, Big Bubba, Ric Flair and The Orange Goblin. – Okay, so 20 men per ring, and after 10 guys are out in each the rings will merge into one. Until then, they split the screen into three small squares with each ring covered by one of them. The end result is that it’s absolutely impossible to tell what the hell is going on at any one point, a problem compounded by WCW’s usual shitty camera work, and I’m pretty much dependant on the announcers to follow who gets eliminated, and even then that’s a problem given the announce team. Believe me, this match brings new meaning to the term “Three ring circus”. I’m not even gonna bother doing play-by-play because I have no idea what’s going on, but the order of elimination of jobbers goes Yeti, Mike Winner, Mark Starr, Buddy Lee, James Earl, Cobra, Bagwell, Kanyon, Black Bart, Maxx Muscle, Fidel Sierra, Steve Armstrong, Dave Sullivan, Mr. JL, Knobbs, Santana, Alex Wright, Pez Whatley, Scotty Riggs, Bobby Eaton, Dick Slater, VK Wallstreet and Scott Norton and apparently 23 guys is good enough for WCW because they merge the rings into one. Unless I missed 7 guys getting eliminated, which is very much possible given the amateur quality of this match. – Okay, so we’re down to one regular battle royale with all the jobbers out, thus making me wonder what the point of having them all in there in the first place was. Well, that’s WCW for you. One Man Gang and Regal fight on the floor as Joey Maggs gets to go first. Bubba goes out by Duggan’s hand, but hangs on and takes Duggan with him. Disco gets tossed. Luger hangs out on the floor and takes cheapshots now and then. Dave Taylor gets tossed by Hogan. Hogan then puts both Booker and Saggs out, as well as Kevin Sullivan. Savage & Luger head off to another ring for a private fight as Regal gets tossed out. DDP & Badd eliminate each other as Giant goes on a rampage, tossing Pittman and Benoit. Meng gets rid of Kurosawa, but Giant gets rid of him. Giant tosses some people around as Hogan and Orndorff renew their battle. Morrus and Pillman get rid of Zodiac, but Sasaki dumps Morrus. Hawk then dumps Pillman, who hangs onto Sasaki as Hawk tries to keep him in. Hogan of course sneaks up and dumps everyone. What a guy that Hogan is, always thinking of others first. Sting splashes Eddy as Hogan reverses an Orndorff piledriver and, you guessed it, eliminates him. 9 guys left. Eddy goes up with a missile dropkick on Anderson, but the Horsemen come back and work him over. Eddy gets dumped, missed by the camera. Sting splashes the Horsemen in sequence as Giant chokeslams Savage. Sting slingshots AA into Flair, putting both Horsemen out. 6 guys left. Sting & Luger double-team Giant, but Hogan…wait for it…dumps all three guys out. Giant, the scoundrel, pulls Hogan out under the bottom rope while the camera totally misses Savage tossing Gang. However, the refs were looking at Savage taking Gang out, and they assume Hogan went over the top, thus giving Savage the World title at 29:42. I don’t rate battle royales. Hogan, sportsman of the year, throws a huge temper tantrum and won’t endorse Savage, and the arena just completely turns on him ala Royal Rumble 92. Hulk Hogan, hero to millions. The Bottom Line: Aside from the god-awful main event abortion of a battle royale (which they considered such a good idea that they ran it for THREE MORE YEARS), this is a pretty decent show that started a good run for WCW. Of course, all the good workers that caused it got buried during the nWo era, but that’s WCW for ya. Recommended show. (It’s a HELL of a show, probably the best of 1995 up and down the card.) 

Repost: King of the Ring 95

(All right, you broke me down, but I’m not rewatching it.  This was originally written circa 1999.)  – So you’re the WWF. WCW pumps out Uncensored, Renegade, the Dungeon of Doom and Ric Flair in a dress…so what do you do to retaliate? Simple: Go back to the thing that defined the WWF: Really bad wrestling. (And big fat guys.)  – Live from Philadelphia, PA. Mistake #1. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Dok Hendrix. – Pre-game show match: Savio Vega v. IRS. See, Razor Ramon had already qualified, but got injured, so we got this to see who would face Yokozuna in the first round. Decent but unspectacular match which sees Jobbio hit a leg lariat for the pin. *1/2  (Final PPV appearance of IRS, in fact.)  – Okay, so the tournament looks like this… – Mabel (d. Adam Bomb) v. Undertaker (d. Jeff Jarrett) – Kama (d. Duke Droese) v. Shawn Michaels (d. King Kong Bundy) – Roadie (d. Doink) v. Bob Holly (d. Mantaur) – Savio Vega (d. IRS) v. Yokozuna (d. Lex Luger) Conventional wisdom on RSPW at the time said that the tournament was merely a formality to put Shawn over.  (Also conventional wisdom from Dave Meltzer and anyone else with half a brain.)  – Opening match: Savio Vega v. Yokozuna. Yes, THIS is the match they picked for the opener. Savio had just made his debut as Ramon’s buddy at the first In Your House. Yokozuna, who at this point had breasts larger than Debra, kicks the crap out of Savio for a while with devastating restholds and stomps. Wow, way to get the crowd going. It should be noted that Dok Hendrix is trying to do a less-edgy Michael Hayes-type color commentator here and not doing very well at it.  (He had his moments, but had to tone it down a LOT.)  Yoko misses the FAT-ASSED LEGDROP OF DOOM, and Savio makes the Pissed Off Racial Stereotype comeback. But Owen Hart appears at ringside to get some shots in on Ramon, triggering a sort-of brawl outside. Vega beats the count back into the ring for the win. DUD  (Gotta protect Yokozuna, you know.)  – The Roadie v. Bob “Not Hardcore” Holly. Okay, ya gotta admit that this match would be pretty cool today. (Ugh, OK then.)  Poor Jesse was still playing Jarrett’s lackey at this point, and they were about to start the “With My Baby Tonight” angle. Good stuff to start as they trade two counts, but Holly goes for a rana and gets powerbombed for a two-count and the Roadie advantage. Jammes was very inexperienced at this point and dances between moves too much. (As opposed to the smooth technical worker he became in the late 90s?) Plus his hair extensions are idiotic. Match is fine otherwise, and would turn out to be the only one of the show to be any good. Holly makes the comeback and they end up on the top rope, but Holly goes for something and hits Roadie’s foot…and Roadie gets the pin? That was a pretty innocuous spot to get a pin from, and further it looked like Holly kicked out, but the ref counted three. Anyone know what happened there? ***  (Nothing of note in the WON about it, that was just the finish they came up with.)  Shawn Michaels v. Kama Shango Mustafa, the Supreme Pimpin’ Machine. The first hint that something was severely fucked up with this show: Shawn Michaels stops by the throne to goof around…and the crown doesn’t fit. Kama is still wearing the melted-down urn around his neck at this point, and he gets a black wreath from the weird Undertaker fans at ringside, who are NOT Shane and Stephanie McMahon, by the way. (Really, was that a thing at the time?  Obviously Steph would be way too young for the part at that point anyway.) A closeup reveals that quite clearly. (Thank you Sherlock.)  Shawn bounces around to stay out of Kama’s way for the first little bit. Kama hits a pretty stiff roundhouse kick to the gut and knocks Shawn over the top to take control. Kicks abound. Shawn bumps like a pinball for Kama as the announcers keep making reference to the time limit. Kama misses an early prototype of the Ho Train and we get the double KO spot. They lay around for a while to waste time. Once the timer counting down the remaining 2:25 appears, you can guess the ending. Michaels makes the comeback with the KIP-UP OF DEATH and the other Shawn stuff. Shawn gets a few pin attempts, but the time limit expires and the crowd is PISSED. Well, no problem, the Undertaker is still in the tournament, right? **  (Considering the tournament was essentially sold on Shawn’s involvement and the idea that Shawn is the star of the moment and ready to go to the next level, the crowd had a right to be pissed.  Why even put him there?  Guys like Lex Luger, Owen Hart, Jeff Jarrett or even the newbies like Man Mountain Rock or HOG weren’t even on the show and could have been stuck in that kind of death slot.)  – We take a look at Bob Backlund campaigning for President in Philadelphia. – Mabel v. The Undertaker. UT chokes a bunch, but Mabel hits the World’s Worst Bossman Slam to take control. Mabel does a job of selling that can only be described as “looking mildly distracted”. He hits a belly-to-belly and applies quite possibly the laziest rear chinlock this side of Stevie Ray. Man, that’s just BAD. The match s.l.o.w.l.y progresses with Mabel taking every opportunity to rest that is humanly possible. (Well, he had to work TWO matches in one night, do you think he’s Tarzan or something?  No human being could sustain that kind of gruelling schedule!)  UT comes back and the ref gets bumped. Chokeslam, but Kama runs in, kicks UT in the head, and Mabel drops the leg for the pin. Talk about a brainfart. –*  (Yeah, of all the people to waste a clean-ish Undertaker job on, they go with MABEL?  They barely even had Taker appearing on TV at this point to keep him special.  Again, so many other guys at a decent level who weren’t even booked on the show that could have put Barney over.)  – May I just ask who booked this crap?  (Jim Ross.)  – We take a look at the Hall of Fame inductions from the night before. – Semi-final: Savio Vega v. The Roadie. The “Road Dog” nickname is coined in the pre-match interview. And what the FUCK is this doing on a major PPV anyway? Vince spends much of the match talking about how Savio is living a dream and all that crap. (That’s another problem with his “inspirational” run through the tournament, as he couldn’t actually beat Yokozuna and then his semi-final opponent was Jeff Jarrett’s bitch.  How is this supposed to be impressive?)  And speaking of crap, we have this match. Jammes kicks and punches, Vega does nothing. Crowd rapidly grows bored with this. Jarrett hops up on the apron, Roadie gets whipped into him, Vega gets the pin. DUD  (That’s probably harsh, it was at least watchable.)  – Funny bit after the match as Carlos Cabrera interviews Savio and Dok provides “translation”.  (Now THIS was funny.  I saw this again recently and it was the kind of edge that Hayes used to have.)  – Kiss My Foot: Bret Hart v. Jerry Lawler. What is with Jim Cornette booking humiliation matches? (Well it’s a southern wrestling thing but this wasn’t Cornette booking.)  They brawl for a bit, but go outside the ring and Bret gets tossed to the steps. Lawler alternates between pounding on Bret and jawing with the fans. Three piledrivers doesn’t stop Bret, who makes the comeback. Lawler tosses him out of the ring and takes off his boot, nailing Bret with it for a two count. The story is that Lawler has been soaking his foot in horse manure for weeks, so the sock is colored brown and black in places. Fistdrop gets two. Hakushi makes the run-in, but hits Lawler by mistake and Bret goes into…wait for it…wait for it….THE FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! Jerry submits. (This was actually a pretty good finish with Bret convincingly beating the shit out of Lawler once and for all, and this time remembering to release the hold so as to avoid any reversed decisions.)  Bret takes off *his* boot and shoves his foot in Lawler’s mouth, then makes Lawler kiss his own foot. This finally ended the years-long feud between the two. 1/2* (It was better than that, like **1/2.)  Vince sells it as the most humiliating moment of Lawler’s career, although I’m pretty sure wrestling on an ECW PPV is right up there, too…  (And then they actually managed to tie this in with the debut of Isaac Yankem in an impressive bit of booking gymnastics, so kudos to whoever pulled that one off.)  – Promo for the Special Olympics. So *that’s* who booked this show… – King of the Ring: Mabel v. Savio Vega. This is, by the way, a special unadvertised match that I put on the end of Netcop Busts. (Yeah, no one would pay money for it even on that tape.)  Yes, Vince, Savio’s rise to the finals is indeed unbelievable — it’s NOT BELIEVABLE! (Well, the thing is, the character had only been introduced literally a month beforehand, so we didn’t even know who he was. You can’t do an inspirational story with a guy who’s basically a generic babyface.  If it was 1-2-3 Kid, then absolutely they would have earned the underdog comeback story and it would have tied in with his character perfectly.  Plus you also get the “Razor Ramon’s buddy” side-story out of it.)   So we go punch, kick, punch, kick. And bearhug. Can’t be a fat black man unless the bearhug is in your repertoire. I think it’s a law. And, amazingly, Mabel even has a lazy bearhug. Then we go into the chinlock. Crowd gets so bored they start chanting “ECW” and Vince is suddenly at a loss for words. (Funny story behind that, as Vince heard the chants and demanded that the sound guys turn up the crowd noise because he thought they were chanting for Savio due to him not having any clue what ECW was.  Then when he realized what was happening, he freaked out and had them turn the noise down equally fast.)  Savio comes back and hits the leg lariat, but Mabel kicks out, thus sealing it right there. Big splash finishes it for Mabel and ends this joke of a tournament. DUD – Men on a Mission destroy Ramon and Savio. The Kid tries a save but gets pummelled too. – Mabel gets crowned, and the fans surrounding him absolutely pelt him with crap. Too funny.  (And yet they STILL didn’t take the hint from that reaction.)  – Sadly, this show isn’t over yet. – Main event: Diesel & Bam Bam Bigelow v. Sid & Tatanka. You know, they blew the whole Tatanka heel turn from the get-go. If he had changed his name back to Chris Chavis and stopped dressing like an indian it would have worked, but the Evil Native American thing never flew. (Yeah yeah, we know, this has only been in the last bazillion RAW rants.) I would also be remiss in not mentioning Bam Bam’s…uh…interesting ring outfit, complete with flame-shooting gauntlets. I wonder if the Clique used to get stoned and think of shit like that to mess with the Bammer’s mind. Okay, so the match: Diesel has a bad elbow, which the heels hit a bunch. Vince notes that they’re “blatantly” hammering on the elbow…and it’s legal! As opposed to what? Being disqualified for an *illegal* shot to the elbow? Bam Bam gets a hot tag, but falls prey to some devastating forearms to the back from Sid, and an admittedly impressive top rope chokeslam. Hey, that brings it above DUD. Tatanka with more kicks. Man, this is exciting. Viva la New WWF Generation. Sid comes in and kicks some more. Bigelow heads out of the ring, and trips Sid. Sid suddenly drops down and sells it as though he’s been shot in the head with a high powered rifle at close range. Well, you have to admire the effort, but he missed the Oscars by several weeks. Diesel makes the hot tag, but drops an elbow using his bad elbow and has to tag Bigelow back in. More kicking and resting from Tatanka. He wasn’t that great to begin with, but his workrate absolutely went to shit once he turned. (Not to disagree, but I think it was more that he could disguise his weakness by selling a bunch as a babyface and limiting his offense to short comebacks.)  Finally, Diesel gets the hot tag and powerbombs the shit out of Tatanka, but picks him up at two. He wants Sid. Sid disagrees and walks, so Diesel drops an elbow on Tatanka and pins him to put everyone out of their misery, finally. Call it about 1/4*  (What a TERRIBLE finish, making Sid look like a coward to build up another match between them.  This was supposed to be the match to put Bigelow on the main event level and just made him look like another midcard geek like Tatanka.)  The Bottom Line: While certainly not the *worst* PPV of all time, it’s certainly one that best makes the case for mandatory drug testing on the booking committee. (Was Michael Hayes booking yet?)  But then, I think we all want to know what the WWF was thinking between 1993 and 1996. Sadly for Vince, King Mabel didn’t quite turn the industry on it’s ear the way he had hoped, and the whole stupid idea was dropped a few months later, but not before making everyone suffer through Diesel v. Mabel.  (And what a funeral dirge the march to THAT main event was.)  Strongest recommendation to avoid this show.

Repost: WWF In Your House #1–05.14.95

The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF In Your House #1 (So now that we’re at this point in the RAW rants, here’s the rant for IYH #1.  This was done fairly recently so there’s not much to add.)  – Lots of people asked in the past why I’ve never done this show, and the answer was probably disappointingly simple:  I just never had a good copy before.  Well, now I do, so let’s get at ‘er. – Live from Syracuse, NY.  Someone better tell Shawn to avoid any Marines. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Dok Hendrix (Michael Hayes) – Opening match:  Bret Hart v. Hakushi.  Quite the opener, no?  Hakushi (Jinsei Shinzaki in Japan these days) was actually quite the breath of fresh air in 1995, getting over without speaking English or wrestling WWF Main Event Style.  This of course was far too threatening to those on top and he was crushed by the Clique as a result.  He was managed by “Shinja”, who was former Orient Express member Akio Sato in white-face makeup. Hakushi grabs a headlock to start and they do a stalemate sequence. Hakushi uses the hair to take Bret down and they exchange wristlocks before Hakushi gets a shoulderblock for two.  To the armbar and they work off that for a bit before messing something up on a criss-cross, so Bret improvises with a hiptoss and armdrags to send Hakushi to the outside.  He sneaks back in and attacks Bret from behind, but Bret pounds him in the corner.  Bret gets reversed with his turnbuckle bump and Hakushi gets a pump splash for two.  He stomps a mudhole and actually gets an early form of the Broncobuster, without the obvious gay undertones like with Sean Waltman.  Bret tries a rollup, but gets reversed to the floor and attacked by Shinja.  Back in, Hakushi pounds away with nothing of consequence and chokes him out in the corner.  He starts chopping and gets a handspring elbow and more choking.  There’s just too much dead space in between moves.  They slug it out and Hakushi uses the good ol’ thumb to the eye and gets a backbreaker for two.  To the top and a beautiful diving headbutt gets two.  He heads to the apron and springboards in with a splash, but misses, and Bret makes the comeback.  Wait for it…wait for it…FIVE MOVES OF DOOM!  Russian legsweep, bulldog, backbreaker, second-rope elbow and Sharpshooter in this case.  He gets distracted by Shinja, but manages an atomic drop and clothesline (with a great 0.8 Jannetty sell by Hakushi) to keep Hakushi down.  Bret hammers away on the ropes, but gets tripped up by Shinja and stops to hit him with a tope suicida.  Back in, Hakushi dropkicks him coming in for two.  “Not this way!” cries Vince.  Not with a dropkick?  Is there something inherently bad about dropkicks?  Bret reverses a suplex and they do an INSANE double bump over the top and to the floor. I mean, they barely even touched the apron on the way down.  Bret goes after Shinja again, and Hakushi hits him with an Asai moonsault that gets nearly 3 seconds of hangtime.  The crowd actually starts chanting for HAKUSHI.  Bret fights his way back to the apron and reverses a suplex in, and they reverse off that into a reverse rollup by Bret for the pin at 14:41. Hakushi’s offense was a bit plodding in the middle, but there was some CRAZY stuff in here that you didn’t see at the time and Bret gave his usual 110% PPV effort.  ***3/4   Bret, however, with another match later against Jerry Lawler, twists his ankle leaving the ring and may be hurt. – Stephanie Wiand (who definitely falls into the “What the hell were they thinking?” file) hypes the upcoming draw for the house.   When Todd Pedophile threw it over to “Stephanie”, I had sudden horrible thoughts of a 16-year old Stephanie McMahon doing interviews with an even SCREECHIER voice. – Razor Ramon v. Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie.  This was supposed to be a tag match with Ramon & Kid v. Jarrett & Roadie, but an injury (or rehab, I forget which) prevented that.  Storyline reason was injury, though.  (Career-ending neck injury, which he thankfully recovered from in time for a heel turn in the fall.)  Poor JJ – he spent most of 1995 being the only sober guy in the match.  (Allegedly.)  Ramon starts with Jarrett and slugs him down.   Jarrett stalls and tries a comeback, but gets dumped and leads Ramon in a chase that results in a cheapshot from Roadie to turn the tide.  Jarrett gets an enzuigiri and does some strutting, but walks into a blockbuster slam for two.  Roadie comes in with a clothesline (this would be his PPV debut as a wrestler) and drops a few elbows.  Jarrett back in with a sunset flip, blocked by Ramon for two, reversed by JJ for two.  Ramon counters a suplex with a cradle for two.  Roadie comes back in and stomps away, but Ramon comes back until a 2-on-1 situation puts him down again.  It’s odd (although generally the way of wrestling) that the worst of the Armstrong family became the most famous of them.  Ramon does his “I’m going to give you a Razor’s Edge despite facing the wrong way and being 5 inches from the ropes and oh shit you just backdropped me out to the floor” spot, and Jarrett nails him from behind to keep Ramon out until 9.  Back in, Jarrett goes up with a bodypress, rolled through for two. Jeff dropkicks him for two.  Neckbreaker and he chokes Ramon out, but crotches himself.  That’s normally where Ramon would make a hot tag, but it’s a handicap match, so he makes his own comeback after a double KO. Vince helpfully points out the tape on Ramon’s boots that says “Kid” in 1-2- 3 Kid’s honor.  I was thinking that maybe Ramon just took the wrong boots because he was so drunk at the time, but even Waltman wouldn’t get stoned enough to wear banana yellow boots.  (Allegedly.)  Backdrop suplex and it’s a lot of laying around to sell the beatings, but Jarrett tags Roadie in.  He drops a knee from the second rope for two.  That looked botched for some reason. Roadie hits the chinlock, but Ramon comes back with the backdrop suplex from the top.  Jarrett attacks from behind and goes for the knee to set up a figure-four, but Ramon shoves him into Roadie and finishes with the Edge at 12:39.  Well, that was certainly long.  **1/2  Jarrett does the post-match beatdown, but clips the knee and puts the figure-four on the wrong leg. Aldo Montoya makes the save for about three seconds before getting tossed again.  If I was Ramon I’d rather take the beating than get saved by him. Then, OUT OF NOWHERE, Caribbean Legend Savio Vega (back before he had a name) makes his debut and chases off the heels.  Thinking him to be a crazed fan, the police drag him off.  Or it might have been for that little- known New York State law banning grown men from calling themselves “Kwang” within state lines, I dunno.  (Why not just make it a tag match in the first place?  It’s not like Savio Vega has never been a disappointing mystery partner since then.)  – King of the Ring Qualifying match:  Mabel v. Adam Bomb.  Yes, they actually put this match on a PPV and expected people to like it.  Although Bryan Clarke wasn’t THAT bad at this point, Mabel wasn’t the guy to motivate him to anything special.  Mabel pounds away to start and gets a corner splash, but Adam ducks a second try and slugs away.  Shoulderblock puts Mabel on the floor, although the physics of that wouldn’t seem to agree with the bump taken by Mabel.  Bomb follows with a pescado and they head back in, as Bomb comes in with a slingshot clothesline for two.  To the top with another clothesline for two.  Bryan is working his ASS off here, no shit.  Mabel reverses him into the corner and gets his ridiculous rolling kick and a big fat splash for the pin at 2:08 to completely deflate the crowd. DUD  Vince might have taken a hint from that in later years, but we were still on the verge of the Mabel Mega-Push at this point.  Remember – no matter how bad A-Train is, remember that some of us had to live through MABEL. – Meanwhile, Razor Ramon introduces us to Savio Vega.  His English got remarkably better in the years following. – WWF Tag titles:  Owen Hart & Yokozuna v. The Smoking Gunns.  Ah, the days when Billy was 220 and had a mullet and porn star mustache.  Billy evades Yoko and gets a pair of dropkicks, and Bart comes in and walks into a shot from Yoko.  Owen comes in and gets slammed by Bart, and the Gunns get a double-team for two.  Owen lures Billy back into the corner and Yoko hammers away on him and goes to the VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DEATH.  Yoko was just getting grosser by the day at this point.  Owen gets a neckbreaker for two.  Billy sunset flips him for two.  Leg lariat sends Billy to the floor, but he dodges a Yoko splash attempt and heads back in.  Owen misses a charge and Bart gets the hot tag (?)  and a slam gets two.  Backdrop suplex and they hit a primitive version of 3D for two.  Bart dives at Owen and misses, landing him on the floor.  Yoko adds a big fat legdrop and Owen finishes at 5:43.  Very rushed – I guess they were running long.  *1/2 The Gunns would eventually regain the titles in September of ’95. – Lawler interviews his “mother” (a twenty-something model) to hype the match with Bret Hart later tonight.  Bret reveals that he was faking the leg injury all along.  At least he didn’t give a 20-minute interview afterwards about how he lost his smile. – Jerry Lawler v. Bret Hart.  Bret attacks to start and Lawler runs for the hills, but gets rammed into the table and stairs.  Back in, he keeps begging for mercy, but Bret keeps punching him and drops the leg.  Backdrop and Bret chokes him out, but Lawler comes back with a piledriver.  Bret no-sells it.  If it was Memphis, fans would riot.  Bret bulldogs him and gets his OWN piledriver, which Lawler does not no-sell.  Lawler asks for help from his “mom”, so Bret steps on his head.  Lawler goes to the eyes and slams Bret, but stupidly goes up (jawing with the crowd all the way), and of course gets pounded coming down.  Bret elbows him and headbutts him low, and beats on him until Shinja comes out and runs interference.  Ref bumped and Bret legsweeps Lawler and gets the elbow, with no count.  Hakushi then joins us and nails Bret off the top a couple of times, which sadly the ref misses completely, and Lawler gets the pin at 5:01.  This wasn’t exactly Bret’s finest match, and they’re obviously running long given how rushed this was. 1/2* – Todd and Stephanie draw the winning entry in the house sweepstakes. – WWF World title:  Diesel v. Sid.  I’m sure if there’s a hell it’ll involve watching THIS match for all eternity, with New Jack v. Messiah as your curtain-jerker.  (Oh man, Messiah.  I must have been watching those awful XPW tapes around this time.)  The fans were teased with a Shawn-Diesel rematch for this show before a worked shoulder injury put Sid in his place because presumably there was someone on the planet who wanted to see this match. Okay, it was Vince, but that one vote counts for a LOT.  (90% of the voting shares in the company!)    Diesel whips Sid around to start and elbows him in the corner, prompting Sid to bail.  Nash update:  He has currently gone 1:05 in this match without tripping and tearing his quad muscle.  I think that beats his involvement in the RAW six- man last year.  Back in, Diesel gets two and Sid bails again.  They brawl outside and back in, but Dibiase distracts Diesel and they head out AGAIN. You sense a theme here?  Sid update:  He has now gone 2:45 without jumping off the second rope and shattering his ankle.  Sid pounds away outside and “rams” him into the post (because I’m not sure “gently places” works quite right in a main event title match) and heads back in for some stalling.  Well, good thing they rushed the other matches to accommodate this classic.  Back in, Sid pounds away with minimal effort (still sucking wind), but Diesel fights back.  Sid clotheslines him and stalls some more. More ogre-like clubbing and stalling as Sid shows why he’s been a draw* all over the world**. (*By “draw”, I mean “not a draw”)  (**By “all over the world”, I mean “nowhere”) Sid goes to the REAR CHINLOCK OF DEATH and can’t even be bothered to do THAT properly (I mean, it makes the Steiner Recliner look painful by comparison) and THEY JUST SIT THERE like that for like two minutes. Sid opts for a legdrop, and that gets two.  Back to the clubbing, and that sets up yet another camel clutch.  Vince notes that a lesser man would have surrendered to this punishment by now.  Well, call me lesser, because I SURRENDER.  Stop the horrible match!  Please!  Diesel breaks loose of the impenetrable hold, but gets chokeslammed.  Powerbomb and Sid chooses to play to the crowd rather than covering.  Finally, he gets two.  Diesel starts no-selling offense and makes the comeback, and Snake Eyes and the big boot result.  Powerbomb gets two and Tatanka runs in for the DQ at 11:41. 1/4*   Bigelow saves, and they actually stretched this feud out for TWO MORE SHOWS as a result. The Bottom Line: This was obviously a learning experience for the WWF, as they experimented with a two-hour show and ended up having to rush through the midcard after a lengthy opener.  Bret-Hakushi is good, take a pass on the rest.  (It was definitely a learning experience for them and it was intended more as an experiment to keep up with the WCW Joneses rather than a blowaway show.)  Recommendation to avoid.  (Honestly, it’s only 90 minutes and it’s worth a look on the Network just for that one match.  I wouldn’t sit through Sid v. Diesel or anything but the rest is totally watchable.) 

Repost: AWA Superclash 85

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for AWA SuperClash ’85 (September 28 1985) (As per the Flair v. Magnum discussion in the previous question, here’s the one major show where the did face off in ‘85, reposted for fun.)  – For some reason the full show didn’t appear on Sasktel until yesterday’s update, so I’ve been holding off until now. But I’ve been dying to see the full show for years now, so this is continued evidence of the awesomeness of the people who program this channel. The concept is that all the major non-WWF promotions are working together to beat the WWF, but since they can’t agree on ordering a cup of coffee, let alone running a show, things don’t work out. But it was quite the attempt. The most awesome story I’ve heard about this mess is that David Crockett, acting as the agent for the NWA, spent most of the time signing up AWA stars for his brother. Now those are some balls. – Taped from Chicago, IL, in the sadly empty baseball stadium. It drew about 20,000, but it would have been better served in an arena. – Hosted by Larry Nelson AWA Light heavyweight title: Steve Regal v. Brad Rheingans I didn’t even know they had a light heavyweight title, frankly. Larry Nelson notes that Rheingans was having trouble making the 220 pound weight limit. Maybe he should try the Gina Carano method and weigh in naked. Brad works on a hammerlock to start and Regal makes the ropes, so Rheingans goes with a headlock instead. Regal escapes, so Brad monkey-flips him and starts working on the arm. Rheingans misses a dropkick, however, and Regal stomps him and takes over. Regal is all punch, kick, punch, kick for two and hits the chinlock. And that goes on forever, as the fans quickly lose patience. Regal slams him, but misses an elbow, allowing Rheingans to make the comeback. Backdrop out of the corner gets two. Atomic drop gets two, but Jimmy Garvin acts as a distraction and Regal gets the cheap rollup to finish at 9:11. Not exactly a hot match to get the crowd pumped up. *1/2 AWA Women’s title: Candy Devine v. Sherri Martell Big stall to start as the ref wants to check Sherri over and she’s offended by it. Obviously it’s a chilly night in Chicago, as well. Devine takes her down with a pair of armdrags, but Sherri goes to work on the arm. Devine reverses it, but Sherri makes the ropes and then slugs her down. Sherri throws boots and then runs away to stall, but Devine slingshots her back in and goes to a boston crab. Sherri reverses out for two, but Candi reverses that for two. Sherri takes her down again and drops a leg, and a small package gets two. Slam gets two. Candi gets dumped (onto the pitcher’s mound!) and Sherri keeps kneeing her off the apron, but Candi finally catches the leg and wraps it around the post. Slam on the grass follows. You know, if they did more shows in stadiums with natural turf, they might reduce injuries a lot because at least bumping onto grass and dirt doesn’t wreck your body like concrete does. Back in the ring, Candi goes back to working on the arm (uh, what happened to the leg you just targeted?) but Sherri rolls into a headlock to counter. And the match drags on as Sherri works her over with cheapshots and adds a backdrop. Candi comes back with a sunset flip for two, but Sherri clotheslines her and goes up with a flying splash to finish at 11:22, winning the title for the first time. The match had no flow or story, with one woman working on an arm for a while and then the other taking over without building to anything. Plus it was way too long. * Asian (?) Six Man titles: Giant Baba, Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v. Harley Race, Scott Irwin & Bill Irwin OK, I KNOW there weren’t any AWA six-man belts, so I don’t know what they’re pulling out of their ass for this one. Tenryu pounds on Scott to start and hiptosses him into a dropkick, so he quickly tags out to Harley Race. Holy crap, Tenryu v. Race would be a hell of a match around this time. Jumbo comes in and gets caught in the heel corner right away, as Wild Bill boots him down and adds a back elbow for two. Baba comes in and chops Race into a legsweep, which gets two. The Long Riders come back on Tenryu as the crowd makes the heels into the faces for some reason, but Tenryu chops away on Race and adds the enzuigiri for two. Shoulderbreaker and piledriver get two. The Irwins get a double team elbow for two. Bill drops a dramatic knee for two. Backdrop and it’s over to Scott Hog Irwin again, but Tenryu makes the hot tag to Jumbo, who rams the Irwins’ heads together. Baba whips Bill out of the ring, and back in a slam from Tenryu gets two. But the Long Riders take over again and Irwin drops an elbow for two, but a brawl erupts and Baba boots Bill down for the pin at 10:51. This was really weird, aside from the fact that I have no idea what the hell the “Asian six-man titles” are supposed to be, as they were doing the standard face-in-peril formula but the crowd was cheering for the heels, totally throwing off the dynamic of the match. Bill Irwin was the highlight here, showing crazy energy. ** World midget title: Little Tokyo v. Little Mr. T. Boy, that gimmick isn’t dated at all. Tokyo runs away and gets slingshotted back in, then goes to work on the arm to come back. Tokyo throws chops, but T slugs him down in response. Tokyo pounds away and T no-sells it and makes the super-midget comeback, with a headbutt getting two. T goes to work on the arm, but Tokyo boots him down and adds a floatover suplex for two. T goes to the chinlock, but Tokyo uses the Mohawk to reverse out, and gets a backdrop for two. Weird spot as everyone stops and points to the sky for no reason, which I guess was midget psychology or something because Tokyo tries it and gets slugged down by T. They do a test of strength and T stomps the bare feet of Little Tokyo. Tokyo slugs away in the corner, but T comes back with the butt-butt. Tokyo backdrops and adds a double chop for the pin at 9:28 to retain. They pretty much played it straight here. ** Mexican title: Mil Mascaras v. Buddy Roberts Joined in progress for some reason. Mascaras takes Buddy down with a headscissors and monkey-flips him into a full-nelson, then blocks Buddy’s counter and retains the hold. Roberts makes the ropes, so Mil drops him on his head and then goes to the armbar. Buddy goes to the eyes and chokes him out on the ropes, then goes up with an elbow and a low blow for two. They slug it out and Buddy misses a blind charge, getting himself tied up in the ropes. Mil with a suplex and the flying forearm, but a blind charge hits Buddy’s boot. Mil comes back with a backdrop and finishes with a high cross at 6:10. This was fine. **1/4 Buddy winning the Mexican title and doing vignettes in Tijuana to celebrate would have been awesome. World Class Texas title: Kerry Von Erich v. Jimmy Garvin Kerry wins the lockup and does a little strutting, then follows with a pair of dropkicks that send Garvin running. Back in, Kerry adds an atomic drop into the discus punch, and that gets two. Garvin comes back with a cheapshot and Garvin slugs away in the corner and drops an elbow, but it misses. Kerry misses a kneedrop and they get into a slugfest, which leads to an abdominal stretch from Kerry. Garvin escapes and takes him to the mat with a chinlock. Kerry escapes, but gets distracted on the floor by Precious, which allows Garvin to knock him off the apron and then drag him in for a trip over the top again. Back in, Kerry fakes him out and then comes back with a neckbreaker, but Garvin blocks the Iron Claw. Kerry tries a charge and hits the post as a result, but Garvin goes up and falls on his crotch, allowing Kerry to get the weak pin at 6:36. Kerry was just crazy over here and this felt like it should have been better than it was, but I’m thinking that about a lot of the matches on this show. ** Nick Bockwinkel, Ray Stevens & Larry Zbyszko v. Curt Hennig, Scott Hall & Greg Gagne Scott Hall with tassles = MONEY. Greg Gagne in camo outfit with torn shirt = OPPOSITE OF MONEY. Like seriously, Greg is supposed to look tough in that ridiculous getup? Special announcer Jack Brickhouse rambles forever and then forgets to announce the heel team. Hennig starts with Bockwinkel and they exchange armdrags, but Nick gets a pair of slams. Hennig comes back with his own, and Bockwinkel brings Larry in. And we’re suddenly clipped to Hennig getting an armdrag. That was a rather abrupt edit. Curt controls with armdrags and brings Hall in, and he holds an armbar and then runs interference so Greg can get a cheapshot in. Greg comes in and works the arm himself, then takes him down with a flying headscissors before going back to Hennig. Larry backdrops out of a headlock, and Bockwinkel takes over for the heels, putting Hennig down with a knee. Stevens and Zbyszko take turns choking Hennig out in the corner, and then they toss him for a slam on the grass from Larry. Back in, Larry gets the abdominal stretch, and after a false tag Hennig gets dragged back to the heel corner for more abuse. Hennig fights back, but Bockwinkel necksnaps him and cuts off the tag. Hennig gets a bodypress for two, but can’t make the tag, and they collide for the double KO. Hot tag to Greg Gagne, the one guy I wouldn’t want in my corner with a major match on the line, and the match is breaking loose in Tulsa! The heels collide and Hall powerslams Stevens for the pin at 12:21. Ray didn’t even tag into the match! That’s gotta suck for him. This was the formula stripped down so simple that even the AWA couldn’t fuck it up. *** AWA World tag titles: The Road Warriors v. The Freebirds This is the famous match where the Freebirds have painted their faces with the Confederate flag. Hawk beats on Terry Gordy to start, and that quickly brings Hayes into things. He too gets pounded, as Hawk messes up his hair and makeup in the corner! Some things are just going too far. Back to Gordy as he tries with Animal, and Gordy tries for the power approach, which gets him whipped into the corner and beat up again. The Warriors double-team him and Gordy tags out again, so Hayes tries a headlock for lack of anything better to do. He tries a sunset flip, but gets punched out and pinballed in the Warrior corner. Hayes tries to tag out to Gordy, but it takes some convincing to get him back in there. Gordy pounds on Hawk in the corner, and gets Hawk to charge him, which results in Hawk hitting the post. Gordy suplex follows and Hayes comes in to press things, but Hawk is done selling again and elbows Hayes down. Hayes gets a sideslam for two and they double-team Hawk with an elbow, setting up a piledriver from Gordy. Hawk only does a half no-sell of it, so he must not have met Jerry Lawler yet. However, Hawk fights back on both Freebirds, but can’t tag. Hayes clotheslines him down again and goes up, you just know that’s not going to accomplish anything. And indeed Hawk slams him off. Gordy comes back in and collides with Hawk, and both are out. Hot tag Animal and he beats on Gordy and gets the powerslam for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and even Buddy Roberts and Paul Ellering are brawling, but heel miscommunication results in Gordy getting press-slammed by Animal. Hayes nails him off top, however, and Gordy covers for the pin and apparently the titles at 10:12. However, this being the AWA where no title change went unreviewed for weeks on end, Verne Gagne comes out and reverses the decision. Dude, that’s bullshit — Hayes wasn’t legal, but at worst it should have only drawn a warning from the ref. The Freebirds were clearly screwed out of a clean win and the AWA tag team titles there. And it takes a lot to make me sympathize with Michael Hayes. **1/4 NWA World Six-Man titles: Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff & Khrusher Khruschev v. Crusher, Bruiser & Baron Von Raschke Big brawl to start and Crusher ends up as the legal man over in the Russian corner, but brings Khrusher over to the face side where Baron grabs a headlock. Nikita comes in and no-sells the shit out of Baron’s stuff, then overpowers him, looking like a star with a capital S. Baron decides to retaliate with the claw, but Nikita backs off and lets Ivan have a go. Baron backdrops him and pounds away, and Dick the Bruiser comes in and lives up to his name. Ivan is already bleeding and Bruiser pounds him in the corner, and we get the test of strength. Ivan cheats to win that one and we get Crusher v. Khrusher. That proves less epic than expected, and Baron gets caught in the heel corner, but manages to tag Crusher back in. Crusher works on Ivan’s leg and Baron sets up for the claw, while Crusher and Bruiser keep the other Russians from interfering. The camera follows them, and returns to the ring as Ivan somehow pins Baron to retain at 8:58. Larry Nelson is no help, either, as he’s watching the monitor and not the ring. Kind of messy but pretty fun. ** America’s title: Sgt. Slaughter v. Boris Zhukov Boris attacks to start, but Slaughter slugs him into the corner and whips him into the post. He grabs a flag and plays bullfighter with Zhukov, then slugs Boris down. However, as Slaughter’s contract stipulates, he takes his nightly bump into the post (and goes flying over the top for good measure), allowing Zhukov to take control. Back in, Zhukov rams him into the corner and adds a neckbreaker for two. He stomps away in the corner and they brawl on the floor, but Zhukov is unable to piledrive him on the ground. Back in, Sarge slams him off the top to make the comeback, and backdrops him out of the corner. He sets up for the Slaughter cannon, but hits the ref by accident. Boris loads up his elbowpad with an international object and puts Slaughter down, drawing blood, then shoves the ref for the lame DQ at 8:40. Just when it’s going somewhere, they cut to the finish? *1/2 $10,000 Bodyslam challenge: Jerry Blackwell v. Kamala Kamala pounds on Blackwell while Wally Karbo holds up the cheque at ringside for the camera. See, video evidence that Verne DID pay someone for this show! Thank you, I’m here all week. Anyway, Kamala continues his array of chops, but Blackwell slugs back and clotheslines him. They try to bodyslam each other and get nowhere, so Kamala splashes him for one. He goes to the nerve hold, but Blackwell fights up and gets the avalanche, and the slam to win it at 6:39. Pretty awful. 1/2* AWA World title: Rick Martel v. Stan Hansen Hansen comes out swinging and tosses Martel, and they fight so much that the ref initially calls for the bell and then changes his mind and restarts it. Into the ring, Martel wins a slugfest and gets a sunset flip for two, then dodges a charging Stan and slams him. Hansen chokes him out and they take it to the field again, as Hansen nails him with chairs until the ref calls for the bell again at 3:08. Barely even a match. 1/2* Then things get a little crazy as they brawl into the dugout until Verne Gagne pulls them apart to end it. NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Magnum TA Yup, the one time this match actually headlined a major show and it wasn’t even for Crockett. Magnum works on the arm to start and holds a hammerlock, then wins a wristlock battle and powers him into the corner. Flair begs off to recover, and chops Magnum down. TA reverses him out of the corner with a backdrop, however, which gets two. He goes to work on the arm again, but Flair dumps him to escape. TA is pissed now, though, and slugs away in the corner before missing a dropkick. Don’t fight angry! Flair drops a knee on him and gets a butterfly suplex for two. He goes to the abdominal stretch and then whips Magnum into the corner, then snapmares him into another kneedrop. That misses and Magnum pops up with a figure-four, however. Flair pulls himself to the ropes and Magnum drags him back out for another go, but Flair fights him off and goes low. Magnum keeps fighting with a suplex for two, and then a slick backslide gets two. Magnum fires away in the corner, but Flair goes to the eyes and tosses him, and they brawl on the turf. Flair sends the shoulder into the post and chops it , but Magnum manages a sunset flip back into the ring. Flair slugs him to block that and goes back to work on the arm with a hammerlock and his good friend the ropes. Flair cranks on the arm with a standing armbar, then takes him to the corner for a few chops before going back to the ropes for more cheating. Flair slugs away, but Magnum catches him in a sleeper. He releases after some great desperation selling by Flair, but a splash attempt hits knee. They slug it out and Flair swoops right in with a kneecrusher and goes into the figure-four without missing a beat. Magnum turns it over and Flair releases to try again, but Magnum reverses for two. They slug it out again and Magnum wallops him, and we get a Flair Flip to put him on the floor. Larry Nelson says “And that’s gonna do it!” but the lack of a bell would seem to indicate that it’s not a DQ. Does he even WATCH wrestling? Flair meets the post and starts bleeding, and Magnum goes after it back in the ring. Flair Flops and Magnum gets two off it. He backdrops Flair out of the corner for two, and they go into the pinfall reversal sequence. Backslide gets two for Magnum and he hits the belly to belly to seemingly finish, but the ref gets knocked down and it only gets two. Magnum rolls him up, but Flair grabs the tights and reverses to finish at 25:46. OK, why didn’t this one make more comps? Because it’s pretty great. Magnum was fired up like crazy here and they did the standard “Flair v. Unbeatable Power Wrestler” formula to great effect. Had they headlined Starrcade ’86 with this as planned, it would have been epic. **** Unfortunately, the show is a major letdown overall, with really only one good match and a whole lot of mediocre ones. Not worth your three and a half hours, but track down the main event and give it a look, for sure.

REPOST: The Monday Night Wars–09.11.95

(As requested, week 2 of the Monday Night Wars show from 24/7) The SmarK 24/7 Rant for the Monday Night Wars – September 11 1995 – So one of the reasons why this channel likely would have annoyed me in the long run anyway (besides the god-awful “Large and In Charge” motif for April) is that they’re resetting the Monday Night Wars shows all the way back to the beginning in 1995 again. So instead of two 97/98 era shows per month, it’s now one show per month and two 95 era shows. Like I really want to watch 1995 RAWs again. (I didn’t really want to watch 94 RAWs either but here I am slogging through THAT bullshit for y’all.)  But in the spirit of “review everything before it’s done next week”, I figured I might as well do weeks 2 and 3 of the Monday Night Wars. On the bright side, it’s only 90 minutes total for both shows instead of the unwieldy 3.5 hours or so it’s up to now. (Yeah, sadly Sasktel dropped 24/7 before I could get very far into this series.)  WCW Monday Nitro! – Live from Miami, FL – Your hosts are Uncle Eric, Mongo and the Brain. Sounds like a morning radio show, actually. – I should note that although the first show from the mall was a drastically different look for a wrestling show, this show looks 100% like any episode I’ve ever seen of Nitro, minus the nWo logos everywhere. They really hit the formula right off the bat. Sabu v. Alex Wright Sabu takes Wright down and chokes him right away, then hits a springboard kneedrop and a rana that puts them on the floor. Sabu follows with a baseball slide and somersault press, then dives off a chair and splats on the railing. Wright with a dropkick and he comes back in with a missile dropkick to put Sabu on the floor again. Wright baseball slides him and follows with a tentative tope, but Sabu goes up, so Wright brings him in with a superplex. Sabu sends him into the turnbuckles and gets a springboard leg lariat, but Wright hits the german suplex for two. Wright goes up, but Sabu brings him down with a weak victory roll off the top for the pin at 4:00. What was that shitty finish? Fast-paced and crazy before that, though. **1/2 Sabu puts him through a table afterwards, so they reverse the decision. Weak sauce. Ric Flair comes out to talk about his disappointment in Arn Anderson’s behavior as of late, but Lex Luger quickly interrupts and has nothing to say. OK then. Sting v. VK Wallstreet Oh, in case you’re tempted to change the channel, Shawn Michaels beats the big guy with a superkick that wouldn’t win a green belt at the local YMCA. (What, like Warrior’s alternate-color WWF title belt?) Sting controls with armdrags and Wallstreet bails. Back in, Wallstreet tosses Sting, but Sting springboards back in with a sloppy clothesline. Wallstreet elbows him down again and drops elbows, but Sting reverses a samoan drop into a sunset flip for two. Sting rams him into the turnbuckles and drives him into the corner with a high knee, and the Stinger splash follows. High cross finishes at 4:06. Didn’t they just have a big promo for Wallstreet in the first show and build him up as a big deal? *1/2  (Things change fast in WCW!  That’s why they’re #1!)  Scott Norton v. Randy Savage Norton attacks and gets a short clothesline, then blocks a sunset flip with a two-handed choke. Savage comes back with a hiptoss and clotheslines him out, then back in with a pretty nice clothesline that Norton actually SELLS. Savage to the top, but Norton catches him in a bearhug and pounds the back. Powerbomb gets two. Norton hits a backbreaker and carries him up into a press slam, and a powerslam gets two. Bischoff has this ridiculous deathly serious concern going for Savage’s back, even though the match is only 3 minutes in. Savage bails and Norton brings him back in with Randy Orton’s DDT, then goes up. Savage faceplants him on the way down and hits a high knee to the back, but the Dungeon of Doom runs in. Sharkalanche falls on top of Norton, pinning him down, and Savage drops the big elbow for the pin at 5:39. That is a truly retarded finish. Norton wouldn’t even lay down for the pinfall finish without an additional 400 pound guy on top of him. ** WCW World title: Hulk Hogan v. Lex Luger Mongo notes that if you’ve never watched a wrestling match in your life before, you should get on the edge of your seat and watch this one. Wouldn’t it be assumed that you’ve seen a wrestling match before in your life, given that there’s been three of them in this show so far? Mongo makes my ears bleed. Luger goes with the headlock and catches Hogan with a suplex, but Hulk no-sells it. Lex with another headlock as Mongo notes that “the owners of WCW aren’t fining these guys for excessive hitting”. What the FUCK is this guy talking about? (Given a couple of years to think about it, I’m guessing he was saying that WCW’s brass were encouraging hard-hitting action by not levying fines against those who hit too hard?)  Luger with a powerslam and he’s already go the rack, but Lex releases too soon and acts like he’s won. He gets two instead and it’s time to Hulk up. Big boot and legdrop, but the Dungeon runs in AGAIN for the DQ at 5:30. * – So we take a break, and with everyone upset at Luger for not getting attacked, Mean Gene comes out for the interview. Hogan and Savage are all over Lex, but Sting sticks up for him and wants him to be a part of the Hogan team for WarGames. Again I ask: Who was so stupid not to put Sting & Luger v. Hogan & Savage on PPV in a giant stadium? Anyway, of course it turned out that Luger and Jimmy Hart really were in cahoots with the Dungeon, so there’s one rare bit of forethought from the WCW bookers. WWF Monday Night RAW! – Taped from somewhere “two or three weeks ago” according to Bischoff.  (Probably even four, actually.)  – Your hosts are Vince & King, green-screened in at ringside in an awful-looking open. It’s the new fall season, you know. Razor Ramon v. The British Bulldog Ramon works the arm with an armbar, but Bulldog whips him into the corner and follows with a delayed suplex. Bulldog works on the back, but Ramon slugs him down, so Bulldog clotheslines him for two. Bulldog with a press slam and we take a break, and return with him getting a slam for two. He sets up for the powerslam, but Razor grabs the ropes and falls on top for two. Bulldog slams him again and goes up, but Ramon slams him off the top and slugs him down. Fallaway slam gets two. Ramon comes back and the ref gets bumped, allowing Ramon to hit the Razor’s Edge. Dean Douglas runs in and hits Ramon off the top, however, and takes out the 1-2-3 Kid as an afterthought, allowing Bulldog to get the powerslam. Kid comes off the top and hits Ramon by accident, and it’s a DQ at 7:10. What is this, a competition to see who can come up with the lamest finishes tonight? Slow and dull. (Wasn’t that the name of the Batista/Orton team?)  *1/2 – Vince follows up with a hard-hitting interview of the spurned lovers, as Kid is sick of getting treated like dirt by Ramon and challenges him to a match next week. The Smoking Gunns v. Rad Radford & The Brooklyn Brawler Billy gets tossed to start , but Bart slingshots him back in off an irish whip in a really slick spot. Someone should swipe that. Bart comes in and runs into a knee from Radford, as the grungry jobbers take over and Vince makes pop culture references so we totally know that it’s totally not taped. Brawler goes up and gets slammed off by Bart, and Billy pounds him in the corner, then the Gunns finish with the Sidewinder at 3:00. * Isaac Yankem DDS v. Scott Taylor Taylor of course went on to fame as Scotty 2 Hotty. Yankem chokes away on the ropes and drops an elbow, then uses a hangman choke before dropping Taylor on the top rope. Yankem with the DDS to finish at 1:46. WWF Intercontinental title: Shawn Michaels v. Sid Thanks to that bastard Bischoff I already know the finish now! Although more accurately at the time I already knew the finish because of the internet. Shawn evades Sid and gets a flying clothesline, then slugs him out of the ring. Back in, Shawn can’t knock him down and gets tossed, but skins the cat back in and dropkicks Sid out again. Back in, Sid grabs a headlock and chokes away in the corner, then whips him into the other corner and out of the ring, then drops him on the apron. Dibiase gets his cheapshots in and they milk the countout tease, but Shawn heads back in and we take a break. We return with Sid holding a bearhug, but Shawn fights out, so Sid chokeslams him. Sid calls for the belt and I’m shocked Vince didn’t run down and yell at him for calling it that. It’s a CHAMPIONSHIP, Sid, don’t you attend the meetings? Sid sets up for the powerbomb, but Shawn fights out and gets the flying forearm before going up. Flying bodypress gets two. Shawn gives him three superkicks to put him down, and that gets the pin at 7:21. Hey, just like Bischoff said! This was fine. **1/2 The Verdict: It’s not like Nitro was doing anything revolutionary at that point in terms of the presentation. It was the same stupid run-in finishes that RAW was presenting and the same dumb booking mistakes, but at least it wasn’t stale and boring like RAW. RAW gets the best match of the week with Shawn v. Sid, so it’s a very close win for RAW. Both shows were pretty crappy, though.

Repost For Fun: Monday Nitro #1

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Monday Nitro #1 (September 4 1995) – Holy COW what a week of content. Why must I work for 8 hours a day? – Live from the Mall of America – Your hosts are Eric Bischoff & Steve McMichael & Bobby Heenan. Brian Pillman v. Jushin Liger. Liger catches a kick in the corner and a moonsault press gets two. Pillman takes him down with a headscissors for two. Rollup gets two. Liger comes back with a bow-and-arrow, but Pillman gets another headscissors before missing a charge and landing on the floor. Liger follows with a senton off the apron, but Pillman suplexes him off the apron and follows with a cross body to the floor. Back in, they fight on top and Liger superplexes him for two. Back up, but Pillman dropkicks him for two. Pillman comes back with a swinging DDT for two and reverses a suplex attempt into a victory roll for the, well, victory, at 6:42. Too short to be worth much, but it really kicked off the new era of cruiserweights on Monday nights. **1/2 – Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan shills Pastamania, as he proves that yes, marking up a can of Spaghettios to $6 CAN be a losing proposition. Whatcha gonna do when Chapter 11 runs wild on YOU, brother? Sting v. Ric Flair. It is of course fitting that this match bookended the history Monday Nitro, but this match is also historic for being the atomic bomb that launched the Monday Night Wars. Namely, Lex Luger, who walks down to ringside while supposedly being a part of the WWF at the time. I think that later he may have regretted that move. Lockup to start and Flair grabs the headlock, but Sting escapes and gets the military press. Another one for fun and he follows with the hiptoss and dropkick to put Flair on the floor. Back in, Flair goes for the eyes and throws the first chops of the Monday Night Wars, but Sting no-sells as we’re apparently doing the abbreviated version of their matches. Another press slam, but Flair goes low and takes Sting to the floor with a bodypress. Flair takes a run at him on the floor, but Sting catches him in another press and dumps Flair back into the ring. Stinger splash misses, but Sting no-sells that too and keeps coming with a bulldog instead. Finally he runs into an elbow, and we have to take a break. Back with Flair going up, and Sting slamming him off for the first time on Nitro. Not the last. Yet another press slam (OK, you’re strong, we get it), but he misses a flying splash while Arn Anderson wanders out. Flair with the delayed suplex, but Sting no-sells and comes back and sets up the Flair Flip before pounding away in the corner. They do a low-grade version of the pinfall reversal sequence and Sting puts Flair on the top for a superplex, but doesn’t cover. Flair clips him while he’s jawing at AA and gets the figure-four, but he uses the ropes and gets caught. Arn simply walks in and it’s a DQ at 9:20. Arn attacks Flair to build towards the Horsemen reunion at Halloween Havoc, showing that Sting, as usual, is a moron for buying any of it. This was the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of their usual match, but it’s Flair v. Sting, so it’s pretty much an automatic thumbs up. ***1/4 – And now, another huge shock, as Scott Norton invades WCW! Oddly, people don’t still talk about that one today like they do with Luger. Randy Savage gets in his face to set up a feud that no one cared about anyway. – Sabu: Coming soon to a do a quick job and then leave. – Meanwhile, Michael Wallstreet returns to WCW. Don’t know how they managed to screw up that gimmick. Take Ted Dibiase’s just-as-talented former partner, give him Dibiase’s gimmick, and then give him no more promo time and do nothing with him. OK, I guess I do know how they screwed it up. WCW World title: Hulk Hogan v. Big Bubba Rogers. Bischoff announces that Norton v. Savage will be next week’s main event. Whew, glad I don’t have to sit through it. Bubba grabs the headlock to start, but Hogan shoulderblocks him down. Bubba slugs away in the corner and follows with an avalanche, then chokes him out in the corner. Hulk comes back and rams Bubba into the turnbuckle, but gets poked in the eye. Bubba pounds on the ribs in the corner, but walks into a boot, and Hogan pounds away on the mat. Bubba comes back with the running choke, but goes after Jimmy Hart and gets attacked by Hogan again as a result. Hulk throws punches in the corner and follows with the corner clothesline, and slams him to set up the elbow drops. It’s interesting that after the initial star pop that Hogan got, the crowd is no longer interested in his act and really dies off, foreshadowing Hogan’s future problems in that regard. Bossman Slam gets two, but it’s time to hulk up. Big boot, legdrop, goodbye at 7:04. Short and pretty painless, although it felt like a Saturday morning cartoon at times. ** And speaking of cartoons, the Dungeon of Doom attacks Hulk afterwards, but Luger saves and teases a confrontation with Hulk. Sting and Randy Savage intercede to calm things down, and I’ll say what I’ve said before again: Whoever couldn’t put 2 and 2 together and book Sting & Lex Luger v. The Megapowers on PPV is a giant idiot and should be beaten with a large piece of wood. If they done a passing the torch deal with those guys at Starrcade 95 it would have drawn HUGE money. – Next week: Hulk Hogan v. Lex Luger for the World title! Well, this was pretty close to a perfect debut for Nitro, as they led off with a pair of good matches and dropped a huge surprise on the fans, then headlined with two of the bigger stars of the WWF’s biggest era and set up a match for the next week that people wanted to see. Hell, I’d watch again. Thumbs way up for this show.

Repost: The Netcop Smackdown Rant– 04.27.00

(Apparently I used to rant on this show back in 2000.  Who knew?  This one was just posted to the Network, so here’s my thoughts on it when it originally aired 14 years ago.)  The Netcop Rant for Smackdown, April 27, 2000 – I have nothing extraneous to add before we start this week. – Your hosts are Michael Cole the Little Goatee Wearing Bitch & Jerry Lawler. Opening match: Eddie Guerrero & Chyna v. Val Venis & Essa Rios. Wasn’t it enough that Chyna wrecked a bunch of potential **** matches during the Jericho era, and now she has to do the same for Eddie? Hey, Joanie, you’re a VALET, deal with it. Lita makes faces at her before we start. Val overpowers Eddie, who responds with an enzuigiri to the face. Ouch. Val gets a blue thunder bomb for two, but walks into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Chyna comes in and go after Rios, with Rios getting caught in the corner and double-teamed by a nice series of stuff. Chyna hits the handspring elbow, and Eddie follows with a brainbuster for two. Essa reverses a tilt-a-whirl attempt and does the rope-bounce rana, allowing him to tag Val in. Val drops Eddie with a pancake move, face-first onto the upraised feet of Rios. Now THAT’S cool. Eddie counters an irish whip with a rana. Chyna looks to get the hot tag, but the ref was elsewhere and escorts her out. Meanwhile, Rios hits a gorgeous moonsault onto Eddie for the pin at 4:40, and Lita follows with her own. Eddie needs to dump Chyna and bring in Juventud Guerrera so we can really crank up the latino goodness. **1/2 – 20-minute interview this week features the Rock. He tells the McMahons to hurry up and book him in whatever dumb gimmick match they want to this week, with a list of choices ranging from “cage match” to “Stephanie’s dirty panties on a pole match”. That last one is just BEGGING for an internet fanboy joke, but I’m bigger than that. HHH declines a match tonight on the grounds of redundancy (no shit), and sets up Road Dogg v. Christian instead. And if Edge interferes, the champs are stripped of the titles, because the McMahons don’t like other people interfering. Nyuk, nyuk. Oh, and Shane is the special ref for Backlash. Rock finally drops the bomb: Stone Cold is here TONIGHT. Huge pop for that. The McMahons freak out and call him a liar. – The McMahon clan arrives back at the DX Express and finds Stone Cold foam fingers on the windshield wipers. – WWF Lightheavyweight title: Scotty 2 Hotty v. Dean Malenko. Enough with the sportz entertainment, on with the sports! Dean blindsides Scotty and beats on him in the corner. Scotty reverses a kneelift with a cradle, but Dean hits a backdrop suplex. Running lariat in the corner follows, but Scotty blocks a superplex and hits a missile dropkick. They fight over a suplex, resulting in Dean winning but Scotty turning it into a cradle for two. Backdrop from Dean, but he misses a blind charge and Scotty bulldogs him down and hits the Worm. Dean tosses him, but he comes right back with a sunset flip in, and Dean sits down for the pin and his second light heavyweight title at 3:55. A bit lacklustre, but hey, Prince Iaukea is nowhere to be seen, so I’m happy. ** – Back in the bus, HHH gets the 3-1-6 on his pager. Neat bit of continuity there harkening back to Austin’s mindgames with Rocky in 1997. – T&A v. The Hollies. Sadly, the long cool woman in the black dress is representing the other team. And the dress is pink. Ah hell, there’s probably only 3 or 4 people who even get that joke. Backlash’s hardcore match is now including the Hardyz. Hey, that’s great, even though I don’t think they ever made mention of the hardcore match more than once in the first place, so it’s not really earth-shattering news or anything. Test & Hardcore do bad things to each other to start. Crash comes in with a tornado DDT for two, but eats a powerbomb. Albert comes in and yells a lot. It’s the Monica Seles of wrestling, except he’s not as attractive. Hardcore hits the DROPKICK OF DOOM for two, and Crash wants the chance to finish. He misses a top rope splash, however, and T&A finishes him with the powerbomb-elbowdrop combo at 3:13. Before Hardcore has the chance to turn on Crash, the Dudleys rush the ring and take out T&A. They set up a table for Trish, but she retorts by rubbing her fake boobs in Buh Buh’s face until he goes into a trance and lets her go. T&A put Buh Buh through the table for good measure. She’s a table teaser! Match was bleh. * – Vince & Shane attack a cardboard cutout of Steve Austin. Or was it Hulk Hogan? It’s hard to tell. – Kurt Angle tries to impress Stephanie, but she’s too busy looking for Austin. – Tazz & Chris Jericho v. Chris Benoit & Perry Saturn. Color coordination this week: Purple and black. Jericho and Saturn start, with Saturn pancaking him. Jericho quickly gets the Liontamer, however. Benoit uses the title belt to break, and Saturn gets two. Tazz and Staurn go, with Tazz suplexing him for two. Saturn gets his own for two. Benoit comes in and clotheslines Tazz for two, and a snap suplex gets two. The Radicals hit their version of Demolition Decapitation for two. Crippler Crossface, but Jericho breaks it up. Tazz escapes the triple suplex, and makes the hot tag to Jericho. Bulldog on Benoit gets two. Tazz hooks the Tazzmission on Saturn and they tumble out of the ring, leaving Jericho to hit the Lionsault on Benoit for the pin at 4:13. Too short, but a way hot finish. **1/4 – Road Dogg v. Christian. Brawl on the floor to start, and Christian baseball slides Dogg and hits a springboard bodyblock. It gets two. To the top, but Dogg catches him with a lariat coming down, for two. Christian comes back with an inverted DDT off the top. Slugfest, and Christian hits a shoulderblock. Front drop suplex gets two. Dogg gets the pumphandle slam for the pin at 3:05. Never really clicked. *1/4 Jesse snaps and beats the crap out of Christian after the bell, so the ref reverses the decision. Hella-weak. – The McMahons attack a JVC Kaboom Box. Hey, I thought that you weren’t supposed to be ABLE to smash them that easily! – Kurt Angle, Big Bossman & Bull Buchanan v. Rikishi Phatu & The Big Show. Show cleans house on everyone for a bit, then Rikishi gives Bull the Salad Tosser, as Bossman and Angle seem to have disappeared. Chokeslam finishes him at 1:50. Well, that was certainly right to the point. DUD Dance Fever follows. – The McMahons attack a bald guy in the bathroom. – Al Snow wants a reconcilliation with Steve Blackman, but Blackman blows him off and makes fun of Head. Ouch. – Hardycore title: Matt Hardy v. Jeff Hardy. Matt offers Jeff a cookie sheet, then wallops him with a trash can lid. Jeff responds in kind. Flying broom gets two for Jeff. The other participants in the hardcore match on Sunday join us at ringside. Jeff does a Flair flip in the corner and ends up in a garbage can, which Matt dropkicks. He moonsaults the trash can, which looked like it would have crushed Jeff’s head. Both find ladders and have a duel, which Jeff wins by dropkicking Matt’s ladder. He sets his own up and hits the leapfrog legdrop over it for two. He goes for the swanton off the top of it, but Matt sprays him with a fire extinguisher and knocks him to the floor, onto Tazz and Saturn. Back in, and suddenly Crash Holly charges in, nails Matt with a cookie sheet, and pins him to win the title himself at 4:32. Kind of a silly finish to a pretty insane match. ** – A delivery man brings a cement mixer with 4 tons of concrete for Vince’s Corvette. – The Godfather v. Steve Blackman. Kicky-punchy for a minute, then Al Snow runs in and attacks Godfather for the DQ. Pretty pointless. DUD – The McMahons find a rattlesnake in their room. – Main event interview: The McMahons call Austin out because they’re tired of all the games. No bald people are evident, so they decide to call the Rock out instead. Much standing around is involved. Finally, the Rock emerges, summarizes the skits from tonight for anyone watching the news on another channel, and introduces Austin on the video wall. He drops a steel girder on the DX bus, which EXPLODES. Jesus, was it a Ford Pinto or something? Were DX carrying a load of pyro with them in case they needed to cut a promo by the side of the road or something? Didn’t someone at the state line look in the back and note that they had 50 pounds of C4 sitting on the back seat and warn them about potential explosions? The Bottom Line: Well, that was a pretty laughable ending, but as usual the wrestling stole the show. Oh, and NO CELEBRITIES WON THE WORLD TITLE. That one’s pretty important. Nothing really super-outstanding about the show, though, just another great buildup to the PPV, as is the usual for the WWF right now.

REPOST: Clash of Champions XXII

(Apparently this is up on the Network in some form, although you can only find it on computer.  HIGHLY DUBIOUS, BRAIN.  Anyway, assuming Stranger isn’t a big fat lying liar, here’s the original rant for it.) The SmarK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions XXII: THUNDERCAGE! (Jan 13 / 1993) – This is another one of those shows that I could swear up and down on a stack of Bibles that I’ve already done, but don’t seem to have anything actually done for it. So here ya go, courtesy of reader David J. Mann. – Live from Milwaukee, WI. – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura. – Opening match: Cactus Jack v. Johnny B. Badd. Badd is subbing for Erik Watts, who was “arrested” after his brawl with Arn Anderson at a gas station. Oh, shucks. Sadly, no prison rape resulted. Then, in an amazing turn of events, they actually put together a BACKSTORY for this match, since Badd & Jack were partners in the Lethal Lottery at Starrcade and broke up to end the match. Jack hammers out of a hammerlock to start and gets into a fistfight, which goes badly. He offers Badd a “bang bang” for his troubles. Jack hammers away again, but Badd leapfrogs him and rolls him up for two. Dropkick and Badd grabs an armbar, but Jack slugs out of it. Badd rams him into the turnbuckles, and Jack runs into a foot and gets punched down. Badd cradles for two. Elbow and Badd goes up and whiffs on the sunset flip from the top, which allows Jack to drop an elbow for the pin at 2:48, drawing a scary face pop. Kind of quick, to say the least. *1/2 – We get a video for 2 Cold Scorpio, who dances for some kids in a basketball court. I was hoping he’d advise them against doing drugs so I get a cheapshot in. – 2 Cold Scorpio v. Scotty Flamingo. If Scorpio hadn’t debuted in the redneck-centered promotion of the deep south, he might have ended up something special. Flamingo grabs a wristlock to start and Scorpio flips out of it and hiptosses him for one. Flamingo grabs a headlock and they do a lucha-esque sequence that ends with Flamingo bailing off a weak kick, and Scorpio follows with a dive off the apron. Back in, Flamingo kicks him down and dropkicks him out of the ring, and follows with a low-rent tope con hilo. Scott must have been feeling particularly frisky. Back in, it gets two, but Scorpio cradles for two. Flamingo stomps him down and gets a nice snap suplex for one. Choking follows and we hit the chinlock. They slug it out and Scorpio comes back with a hiptoss and a dropkick, and goes up with a twisting splash for two. Corner splash misses and Flamingo rolls him up for two and gets a lariat for two. Blind charge misses and Scorpio superkicks him into a legdrop and finishes with the 450 at 4:11. Good action here that was WAY ahead of its time. *** – Chris Benoit v. Brad Armstrong. This was Benoit’s WCW debut as a part of the roster, long before he meant anything. He made his official debut in the NWA tag tournament in a crazy match against Pillman & Liger, but that was intended as a one-shot deal. At this point, as far as WCW was concerned, he was just a promising junior heavyweight from Japan who survived Stu Hart’s Dungeon. They criss-cross off a headlock to start and Benoit dodges a dropkick and gets a straight foot to the gut to set up a powerbomb, which Armstrong counters and they do an insane stalemate sequence, leading to an armdrag from Brad. Yikes. Armstrong works the arm as Benoit tries to escape by kipping up, but Armstrong keeps him on the mat. Into a knucklelock, as Benoit bridges out of it in a spot he can’t do anymore due to his neck, and then Armstrong does the same thing, and suplexes Benoit into an armbar. He stays on the arm and Benoit reverses, and they work off that for a bit until Brad leverages him out of the ring. Back in, they again trade hammerlocks and Benoit tries the same strategy as Armstrong, but Brad goes back to the arm to counter. Benoit takes him down and goes for a crab, but Brad powers out, only to get pounded by Benoit. He suplexes him onto the top rope, putting him on the apron, and then hits him with a springboard clothesline to the floor ala Jericho’s dropkick. That woke up the crowd. Back in, Benoit gets the now-patented clothesline and snap suplex, for two. He starts chopping and headbutting, earning him the Jesse Ventura Seal of Approval ™. Brad fights back with a kneelife, but Benoit pounds him down again, and a backbreaker turns into a submission move. To the top, but Armstrong blocks him. Benoit casually shoves him down and tries the flying headbutt, but misses. Brad comes back with a neckbreaker and drops an elbow for two. Benoit KILLS HIM DEAD with a dragon suplex (full-nelson suplex) for the pin at 9:13. The seeds of awesome were there, all right. ***1/4 – We take a look at some SMW footage of the RNR winning the tag titles from the Heavenly Bodies, setting up the SMW guest appearance at Superbrawl III. – Jesse Ventura holds an arm-wrestling match between Vinnie Vegas & Tony Atlas, because Van Hammer is injured and thus unable to defend his “Strongest Arm” title. Nothing cooler than Kevin Nash in pink jogging pants. As if Nash would last three seconds in a legit arm-wrestling match with Atlas. This goes on forever, left-handed no less, and Vinnie wins a grueling contest to claim the vacant Strongest Arm title. He’s gassed, too. – And just to really amp up the brutal realism of the show, we get Vader’s “White Castle of Fear” video challenge to Sting for Superbrawl III. No midgets in this one, just Vader. – Video package details the US title tournament, which ended up with Dustin Rhodes going over Ricky Steamboat to win the belt. – The Wrecking Crew v. Tom Zenk & Johnny Gunn. The Crew was one of Animal’s brothers and another guy. Zenk grabs a headlock on Rage to start, and escapes a press-slam. He dodges Rage and goes up with a high cross for one, and dropkicks him out. The heels regroup, so Gunn nails them with a tope con hilo. Didn’t see that coming. Back in, Gunn dodges the heels and rolls up Rage for two. He gets caught in the corner, but armdrags Fury. Fury comes back with a clothesline. Backbreaker, but Gunn faceplants him and makes the tag to Zenk. Hiptoss and he pounds away, but Fury gets a gutwrench suplex and stomps him. Truly a technical classic. Sideslam brings in Rage, who gets a bad powerslam and Fury comes back in. Hew whips Zenk around, but comes off the second rope and gets superkicked as a result. Hot tag Gunn, and bodyslams abound. A real bad forearm and some double-noggin-knocker action follow, but Gunn gets cheapshotted and the Crew finish him with a double-team backbreaker at 6:05. Rage & Fury disappeared again after this, perhaps to seek anger management therapy. Ѕ* – Unified World tag title: Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas v. Steve Austin & Brian Pillman. Austin knees Steamboat and pounds away to start, but gets cradled for two. Rollover gets two. Criss-cross and Steamboat gets a bodyblock for two and it’s BONZO GONZO right away. The Blonds bail and regroup. Back in, Austin offers a handshake and then turns on Steamboat, allowing Pillman to come in and start chopping. Steamboat dodges him and gets a dropkick, and the faces pinball him into a Dragon armdrag. Douglas keeps on the arm, and they work it incessantly with cool quick tags. Pillman whips out of it and they criss-cross, but he hurts his knee. Well, better stop the match and call a stretcher. But IT’S A MIRACLE! Pillman slingshots in again, but Douglas powerslams him for two. Austin comes in to try, and Douglas immediately goes to the arm and works on it. Austin escapes, but Douglas goes back to it and brings Steamboat in for some more double-teaming. Steamboat gets the hammerlocked slam and tags back out, as Douglas gets a sunset flip for two. Austin reverses to a rollup for two, and they go into a pinfall reversal sequence that leads to Douglas getting a butt-butt off the second rope for two. Good stuff. Douglas & Steamboat double-team with a hiptoss and Steamboat slams Douglas onto Austin, then slams Pillman onto Austin. He goes back to the arm with a wristlock on Austin, but a quick cheapshot from Pillman allows Austin to slam Steamboat and put the heels in control. Pillman comes in and works the back with a whip into the corner and a slam for two. He suckers Shane in and then tosses Dragon out, which is TEXTBOOK NWA heel stuff. Austin adds a slam on the concrete while he’s out there. Pillman necksnaps him on the way in, but Steamboat fights back, so Austin kicks him in the back to allow Pillman to suplex him back in. That gets two. The Blonds work Steamboat over, and Pillman chops him down. I again wonder why Bischoff couldn’t let them become the Midnight Express of the 90s. Steamboat comes back with a sunset flip, but the ref was busy with Austin. Austin with a gutwrench and again suckers Douglas in, allowing more damage. Ricky fights back, but gets suplexed while crawling for a tag. Austin gets two. Man, you don’t have to ask Steamboat twice to play face-in-peril in a tag match. Austin goes to a body-vice, but Steamboat uses leverage to escape. Austin goes back to it because Steamboat doesn’t have the gas to capitalize, but Pillman tries Air Pillman and hits Austin by mistake. Steamboat gives both of them a flying chop, and finally makes the hot tag to Douglas after one last tease spot to really drive the fans into a frenzy. Douglas keeps it simple, slugging everyone down and dropkicking them, then moving to clotheslines. Belly to belly for Pillman, but Austin nails him off the top behind the ref’s back and then takes out Steamboat. That gets two. Steamboat brawls with Austin outside, and grabs a title belt, which he nails Douglas with for the DQ at 13:34, kicking off an epic feud that ended with the Blonds winning the titles after weeks of great matches. Great match, bad finish. ****1/4 – Thundercage: Dustin Rhodes & Sting v. Vader, Paul Orndorff & Barry Windham. Ron Simmons was eliminated by a pre-match attack from Vader in the previous segment. Rhodes backdrops Windham out of the corner to start and they slug it out, but Windham misses an elbow. Rhodes slugs away in the corner and gets a clothesline, bringing Sting in for a bulldog. Press slam and Windham brings Vader in for a go. Sting slugs him on the ropes, but Vader returns fire with mustard on it. Sting keeps punching and gets an atomic drop, and a DDT finally puts Vader down. Stinger splash and he keeps slugging away, and adds some for the other heels, too. Vader actually does a Flair Flip, but catches Sting with a shot to the head on a charge. He goes up with a flying clothesline and then adds a flying splash from the second rope, which misses. Sting kicks away and clotheslines him out, but Orndorff sneaks in with a german suplex to break up the jubilation. Orndorff comes in and stomps away, clotheslining Sting down and dropping an elbow. He drops an elbow on the lower abs, and Windham comes in with a shot off the top and slugs Sting down. Suplex gets two. Dustin gets suckered in and allows some double-teaming by the heels, and they continue working him over in the corner. Vader splash in the corner and a clubbing forearm put Sting down, and a press slam (with a shot on the way down) follows. That’s so cool. Windham sets up for a superplex , but Sting fights out and collapses to the mat. Hot tag to Rhodes is made, and he valiantly tries it 1-on-3, catching Windham with a lariat and slugging the other two down. Corner clothesline and he slugs away, but now Cactus Jack runs in with bolt-cutters to let himself in, and attacks the heels with his boot, laying them all out. I guess he’s your substitute for Simmons. Orndorff finally tosses him, leaving himself one-on-one with Rhodes, but a piledriver attempt is foiled by a boot to the head and Jack gets the pin at 11:22 to officially turn face. Match was going okay until the non-sensical finish. *** The Bottom Line: This was quite the great wrestling show that kind of snuck up on me. Much like the PPV it was hyping, Superbrawl III. The main event was rushed and disappointing due to substitutions and time limitations, but the tag title match is the usual amazing Blonds exhibition and Benoit’s WCW singles debut is already great stuff. Highly recommended.

Repost: 10 Best Warrior Moments

I'd just post the original file from my computer but I think legally I can't.  Anyway, I wrote this piece a month or so ago when Warrior's induction was originally announced, and it was intended to be followed by a "Warrior's 10 craziest moments" article, but I didn't want to write that one.  And yes, I know Brother Love came back in 1996.