Inside Pulse Wrestling » michaels Wrestling news, rumors, reviews and commentary, from WWE to TNA to ROH and everything in between... Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:05:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Wrestling news, rumors, reviews and commentary, from WWE to TNA to ROH and everything in between... Inside Pulse Wrestling no Wrestling news, rumors, reviews and commentary, from WWE to TNA to ROH and everything in between... Inside Pulse Wrestling » michaels The SmarK RAW Supershow Rant – 02.13.12 Tue, 14 Feb 2012 06:35:21 +0000 The SmarK RAW Supershow Rant – 02.13.12

Get well soon, Jesse Sorenson.  Figures that I’m bored on a Sunday night and decide to watch a TNA PPV for the hell of it, and the first match sees the poor guy basically have his career ended.  I’d give the show a mild thumbs up otherwise, as Aries-Shelley was an easy ****1/4 even with the idiot crowd and everything before that was enjoyable enough.

Live from San Diego, CA

Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler

Kane starts us out with a cold open in the back, and he STILL won’t shut up about “embrace the hate”.  Someone’s going out in an ambulance tonight.  I’d bet on Miz’s opponent.

Sign that they’re out of ideas:  We start with an Elimination Chamber DEBATE.  Oh god, this is gonna be a bad night.  Everyone in the match is in the ring and has a podium, but sadly the opening question from Jerry Lawler is interrupted by Big Johnny, who is still Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim General Manager of Monday Night RAW.  Punk promises that the debate will NOT end in violence, which draws boos.  Vickie wants to make a rule that no booing is allowed, which of course draws exactly the intended reaction.  R-Truth makes his election promises and reaffirms his hatred of spiders.  Miz once again won’t let go of last year’s Wrestlemania.  Kofi promises that he won’t be an afterthought.  Yeah right.  Jericho (looking every bit of his age in HD) once again declares himself the actual best in the world, but Punk brings him back down with a crack about finishing seventh in Dancing With The Stars.  And then Kofi lays him out with the wacky kick.  Tonight:  They all pair off in singles matches so that we can have more people doing jobs going into the PPV main event!  If this was their cutting satire of political debate season, they should stick to wrestling.   What a god-awful opening segment.

Kofi Kingston v. Chris Jericho

Kofi stomps him down in the corner and tosses him, then follows with a dive.  Back in, he hammers away in the corner, but Jericho takes him down and follows with a backdrop suplex.  Senton gets two.  Kofi fights back, but misses a dropkick and Jericho gets two.  Kofi with a crossbody out of the corner for two and he makes the comeback and chops away, but springboards right into the Walls .  He makes the ropes and hits the Trouble In Paradise on a cocky Jericho, but it only gets two.  They fight on the ropes and Jericho goes to the eyes and hits the Codebreaker at 5:18.  That seems like Kofi is an afterthought to me.  **1/4

Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels is HERE.  And hugging HHH.

Meanwhile, at the Royal Rumble, Kane tombstones Zack Ryder and EMBRACE THE HATE blah blah blah.

Meanwhile, John Cena gives romantic advice to Zack Ryder, who is now in a super-duper neck brace and wheelchair, and points out that Kane has beat the shit out of him every week for something like a month now.  So he promises to stand guard on the locker room and ENSURE that Kane doesn’t throw him off any ramps this week.

Meanwhile, David Otunga points out to Big Johnny that he didn’t get named the PERMANENT GM of RAW, but he’s got a plan to make it happen.

Meanwhile, on Smackdown, Randy Orton gets DQ’d against Daniel Bryan, thus setting up a match with Big Show tonight.  I’m pretty sure one day this show is just gonna be interviews and video packages of other wrestling shows for two hours and it’ll be so gradual that no one will even notice.

Big Show v. Randy Orton

They slug it out in the corner as Cole once again gives the bullshit about how the champion only has a “1 in 6 chance” of retaining the title.  Cole’s math is about as convincing as his commentary.  And we take ANOTHER FUCKING COMMERCIAL BREAK.  Did they change their production crew or something?  The pacing problems of the TV show itself are getting really noticeable lately.  We return with Orton holding a sleeper, but Show flips him to escape, only to see Orton hit the dropkick for two.  They brawl out again and Orton gets the draping DDT on the way back in, which is pretty impressive.  Orton hits something that I think was supposed to be an RKO, but they screw it up as Show goes down too soon and Orton is totally lost, then repeat the spot with Orton hitting it clean this time, and D-Bry runs in for the DQ at 6:15.  Obviously Orton fucked up and then was waiting for Bryan to run in, and I guess he had to do the move again to give him his cue.  That was embarrassing.  And did we really need a commercial break for a six minute match?  Bryan lays out both guys with the belt, finally getting some heat on himself.  Has there actually been a clean finish in this entire Show-Bryan-Orton program yet?  **

Shawn Michaels is back.  Whew, good, I need a break from the 10 minutes of wrestling in the first hour.  And he’s pretty upfront about returning because it’s Wrestlemania season, and he (and the fans) wants HHH to accept Undertaker’s challenge and end the streak.  That doesn’t get the babyface pop that Shawn was likely hoping for.  So HHH comes out for a quick DX reunion pop, but he once again notes that he doesn’t want to be the guy who ends Undertaker’s streak.  Shawn’s like “That’s EXACTLY what you do!” and accuses him of “marrying that chick and becoming one of them”.  HHH notes that it’s not selling out, it’s investing in the future.  That sounds like SELLOUT talk to me.  Shawn says that when a man challenges you, and you back down, that’s COWARD talk.  No matter how nice the suit is.  HHH gets really pissed now and points out that everything is going to be on his shoulders pretty soon, and Undertaker’s streak is good for business, and that’s what’s important to him and his family’s future.  That’s a really, really interesting twist on the storyline.  And then he says what everyone was thinking:  Shawn just wants him to end the streak because Shawn couldn’t get it done himself.  Uh oh.  Shawn doesn’t take the bait, because he’s at peace and HHH isn’t.  But HHH still says no.  However, I’m sure that much like Sean Connery, 500 “no’s” and a “yes” means “yes.”  And then we get another Undertaker video package, this time with him cutting his own hair off to justify the baldness, which kind of sucks the awesome out of the segment because holy shit were HHH and Shawn just killing it.  And now I kind of want to see Shawn v. HHH again.  What a segment!

Dolph Ziggler v. R-Truth

Truth attacks to start, but Dolph dropkicks him and goes to a chinlock.  He works the headstand spot in again  and does situps, but Truth cradles for the pin at 2:20.  ½*  This has been a rough year for Ziggler thus far, as I don’t think he’s actually won a match since his big main event push began.  They should have just kept the US title on him, given that Swagger has had it for a MONTH now and isn’t even on TV anymore.

Meanwhile, Santino gives romantic advice to Zack.

Tamina Snuka v. Brie Bella

Just in case we didn’t get it the first million times, Tamina is now using her dad’s last name.  SHE’S JIMMY SNUKA’S DAUGHTER!   WE GET IT!  She still sucks!  Tamina fights off distraction from the other Bella and gets the samoan drop and Superfly splash to finish at 1:20.  ½*

Meanwhile, another video package, this one about the Rock, but when John Cena gets called away to the interview room for his reaction, KANE ATTACKS.  And Eve gets the ride in the ambulance, but leaps out at the last second and makes out with John Cena.  Hey, maybe if her “boyfriend” wasn’t such a pussy who got beat up every week and never stood up for himself, he’d be able to hang onto his woman.  And then after the break, Eve just wants to be friends with Zack.  Given that this show is targeted at 14-year old boys who identify with Ryder and see Cena as the super-jock who they resent, that’s gonna make her heel Diva #1.  Just watch.

The Miz v. CM Punk

Miz controls with his usual offense to start, but Punk fights back with a high kick.  Miz goes to the arm, but Punk hits him with the running knee and bulldog.  Miz escapes the GTS with a DDT for two, but goes up and misses.  Punk powerslams him for two and they head up, with Miz going down first and Punk hitting the Macho elbow.  Anaconda Vice finishes at 5:00.  Well I think we know what the deal was there.  *1/2

And you’re thinking that’s the end of the show, but you’re WRONG.  Because Kane has apparently realized that Eve isn’t in the back of the ambulance, and he’s back with it.  Boy, haven’t we all been there, kidnapping someone in a rented ambulance, only to get out onto the interstate and then realize that your intended rape victim has escaped and cheated on her boyfriend with his best friend.  Man, if I had a nickel…

John Cena still has to get his interview for some reason.  Honest to god, I’ve actually been convinced to NOT buy the PPV after the past two weeks of shows.  Cena talks about how Kane is just making him SNAP or something.  Kane wants him to EMBRACE THE HATE, but Cena will RISE ABOVE HATE.  The crowd, for their part, chants “We all hate you”.  Your #1 babyface, ladies and gentlemen.  And he’s got nothing else to say, and then Zack Ryder comes out on crutches.  Oh my god this actually can get stupider.  Ryder can at least walk again, and he slaps Cena like a little bitch, perhaps upset that Cena was cheating on him with Eve, and then Cena shoves down the crippled guy.  Way to embrace the hate.  They’ve just completely destroyed the Zack Ryder character and made him an unlikeable doofus jobber.  And with Zack slinking away to his wheelchair again, Kane appears on the screen and promises that Cena will be leaving the PPV in an ambulance with major bodily harm.  But Kane actually has to point out that Cena will be back for Wrestlemania.  Oh my god, this is unintentional comedy at its finest.  And then Kane pushes Ryder off the ramp AGAIN!  OH NO, MR BILL!  Thankfully this bump doesn’t look as contrived as the other ones, but it was so realistic that I think Zack might have broken his leg or something.   Is this supposed to be make me want to see Cena get revenge on Kane now?

The Pulse

They are just topping themselves in terms of finding ways to take the biggest match of the year and make people absolutely not care about it one bit.  Perhaps they should let whoever’s writing HHH v. Undertaker have a go at Rock v. Cena.  Oh, that’s right, HHH and Undertaker are booking their own program because they’re not stupid enough to trust creative with it.

And just think:  We still have to get to Shaq v. Big Show for Wrestlemania somehow.  God only knows what they’re gonna come up with for THtopstory120x120-|topstory120x120 topstory500x250-|topstory500x250

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The Way Too Long Review of Batista: I Walk Alone – Disc Two Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:00:18 +0000 As you read this, I’m busy at work on Hell in a Cell, the next pay-per-view released on DVD.  I’m still on the fence about whether or not I’m picking up the Survivor Series sets right now.  Besides, I have to do a three-disc Hogan set later this month.  That one might be tough to sit through.

Match #1: Ohio Valley Wrestling Heavyweight Championship, No Disqualifications or Countouts
(c) Doug Basham vs. Leviathan
11/28/01 Ohio Valley Wrestling

Batista is the babyface here.  He no-sells some chops and dumps Doug over the top and to the floor.  Back in, Batista tosses him to the corner but gets reversed and punched around.  More no-selling, so Basham bails, gets caught, and hangs up Batista.  Sledge off the top rope is caught by Batista who goes for a chokeslam.  Basham wiggles out only to eat a big boot.  Batista loads up the powerbomb but Victoria (Basham’s manager) saves.  Low-blow and Basham hits a couple Russian leg sweeps, but Batista counters the third.  Victoria runs a distraction again, but Batista sidesteps Basham’s charge and rips his mask off.  Spear misses and Batista eats the post.  Another Russian leg sweep gets two.  Shoulderblocks by Basham, but Batista slams him with one arm.  Elbow drop misses and Basham kicks away.  Shoot-off is reversed and Batista loads up for a DDT.  Basham turns this into an armbreaker, and then hooks in a cross-armbar submission.  Mounted punches by Basham, but Batista stands up and rams him into the corner.  Another ram into the corner, but Batista pathetically misses a swat and gets dropkicked.  Seated senton and a snot rocket by Basham.  He climbs for a diving headbutt but wipes out.  Someone was a Chris Benoit fan.  Clothesline and a back-elbow by Batista, then a one-armed spinebuster for two.  Victoria passes Basham some powder, but Batista ducks and the referee eats it.  One-armed chokeslam, Sycho Sid style, gets nothing as the referee is wiped out.  Another one comes out and slaps two.  BUT WAIT~! because a whole bunch of people run in to cause a distraction at ringside.  Basham loads up some knuckle-dusters and hits them for two.  Basham punches out the referee, and then Batista loads up his Powerbomb.  Victoria runs in and punches him in the cock, then drags Danny on top of him.  Synn runs in and fights with Victoria while the referee recovers and counts to two.  Spear by Batista and the Powerbomb and both referees count the pinfall and give Batista the title.
** Batista was clearly not ready for primetime here.  I guess that was the point of Ohio Valley Wrestling, so I’ll forgive, forget, and move on.

Match #2
Batista vs. Kane
12/15/02 Armageddon

This is Batista’s pay-per-view debut, and he’s got Ric Flair with him.  Evolution was getting off the ground here.  Then both Batista and Randy Orton suffered major injuries in the same match and put the kibosh on that.  Lockup and Batista shoots off.  Shoulderblock goes nowhere, so Kane grabs a headlock.  Shoot off and Batista gets a clothesline.  Clubbing blows and a shoot-off, but Kane turns it into a swinging neckbreaker.  Kane punches Dave around and dumps him over the top.  Back in, Batista loads up a slam, but Kane wiggles out and hits his own, plus an elbow drop for two.  Shoot-off and Batista grabs Kane and kind of slams him on the ropes in what might be the weakest hot shot I’ve ever seen.  Kane doesn’t really sell this too much and gets back in the ring, where Batista spears him for two.  Vertical suplex gets two.  Elbows in the corner, but Kane gets a boot up on a charge and slugs it out.  Clothesline by Kane, but Batista sidesteps a charge and dumps him.  Hangman by Kane, so Flair gets involved and tries to shoot Kane into the stairs.  Kane no-sells this and Flair flops around.  Flair chops the shit out of him but that doesn’t work either.  Batista shows up to make the save for Flair’s failed attempt at interference and we return to the ring.  Clothesline in the corner by Kane and a big boot.  Sideslam hits and he climbs.  Flying clothesline misses and Batista loads up for the Powerbomb.  The intent had been for Batista to hold Kane up and let himself get punched out of the move, but Batista botches it and can’t quite get Kane up for it.  Kane isn’t the best professional wrestler… hell, he wouldn’t rank in the all-time top 10,000… but at least he’s smart enough to cover this by acting like it was a block.  He low-blows Batista and hits a clothesline off the top as the fans hate-hoo the botch.  Kane calls for the Chokeslam, but Batista fights off and hits a spinebuster for two.  Chokeslam and Kane covers, but Flair distracts the referee.  Kane slings him in and punches him around, which gives Batista enough time to load up the Powerbomb again.  This time he hits it and looks good doing it.  It gets the pin.
**3/4 Well it wasn’t horrible, but it certainly wasn’t good either.  Just a really blah match.

Match #3
Batista vs. Shawn Michaels
12/14/03 Armageddon

Wow, was the Armageddon set in 2003 the most half-assed stage ever or what?  Maybe they figured out that nobody would order it and just said “Fuck it, let’s just put the Raw set up and stick a giant, flaming “A” on both sides of the Titantron.”  Batista looks pretty lean here.  Lockup and we go to the corner, where Shawn jabs away, then backs off in arrogant fashion.  Kick to the stomach by Batista and some stiff punches.  Shawn’s got his flying shoes on as Batista hits a kneelift, then a slam into the corner.  Shoot-off but Shawn catches a boot and kicks away at the standing leg.  Shoot-off and Shawn slides out of the ring, then smacks Flair to cut off his attempt at cheating.  A long stall follows.  Back in, Batista takes Shawn to the corner and beats him down to the mat.  Batista loads up a powerslam, but Shawn wiggles out only to charge into a jumbo-sized clothesline for two.  Delayed suplex gets two.  Shoulderblocks to the back by Batista that looked like poo, then a shoot to the corner.  Batista exposes his elbow and grinds it into Shawn’s face, then knees the back.  What a difference a year makes, eh?  Psychology!  Kind of.  Another shoot to the corner, and then a blatant choke.  Shawn fights back and chops away.  Batista shoots him to the corner but Shawn gets a foot up.  Batista won’t have it and places Shawn on the top turnbuckle.  Shawn fights him off and hits a diving moonsault for two.  It didn’t look so good, as Batista wasn’t really in position for it.  Shoot-off by Batista leads to Shawn hitting the flying forearm for a double KO.  He nips up, only for Batista to clothesline him down.  Shawn pops straight up from this for some reason.  Weird.  Batista sends him up and down into the corner.  We get a rare Shawn Michaels botch, as he cocks up the coming down part and lands on his head.  I reckon that clothesline might have knocked him a bit goofy.  Batista knees him in the back of the head and dumps him to the floor.  Batista bails and whips Shawn into the stairs.  Back in he covers for two.  Weak looking backbreaker gets two.  Another backbreaker, and this time Batista holds it to go for a submission.  Batista is sweating like I’ve rarely seen before.  It looks like someone dumped a bucket of water on his head.  Batista releases the hold and covers for two.  Shawn fights back and they trade blows.  Shawn wins and chops away, and then Batista lowers his head into a kick.  Flying forearm, nip-up, atomic drop, and some chops.  Batista shoots off and grabs a double choke, but Shawn gets a DDT.  Shawn slowly makes his way to the corner and climbs for the flying elbow.  He hits it and starts to tune up the band.  Batista catches the superkick and hits a spinebuster.  He stalks Shawn around, then picks him up and hits an even sicker spinebuster.  He calls for the Powerbomb and loads it up, but Shawn counters with Sweet Chin Music for the pin.  His shoulders were down too, but Earl Hebner is the referee and has a tendency to let Shawn win matches he shouldn’t.  After the match, Batista is all goofy and thinks he’s won, and then throws a fit when he’s told he lost.  Funny stuff.  He would actually go on to win the tag titles with Ric Flair a few minutes later as surprise entrants in a Tag Team Turmoil match.
*** This wasn’t exactly the career-maker they pimped on the feature, but it likely was the first time that Batista looked like a passable wrestler and not someone who could be released at any time.  There wasn’t much in the way of psychology but at least Batista had gotten to the point where what little he did on offense looked credible, especially his punches and clubbing forearms, which looked very solid.  He was still green enough that Michaels had to throw out anything too advanced and just eat a series of moves that weren’t connected to each other and sell the shit out of them.  Nothing special, but at least he finally looked like he had potential.

Match #4:World Tag Team Championship, Tables Match
(c) Ric Flair & Batista vs. The Dudley Boys
1/25/04 Royal Rumble

Batista rags on the hometown crowd, so the Duds jump them on the ramp.  Big brawl and Bubba backdrops Flair on the floor.  Table tossed in the ring, and Flair gets powerslammed.  Bubba and D-Von prep a table but Batista saves.  Neckbreaker to Batista and D-Von dumps him to the floor.  Bubba preps up a table only for Flair to attack him with punches and chops.  Flair gets slammed off the table and bionic-elbowed down.  Batista in with D-Von for some brawling and choking. Big brawl where not much happens until Batista misses a shoulder in the corner and eats a back suplex.  Flair gets whipped into the corner but gets a back-elbow.  He climbs but the Duds are out of position, so he climbs down and stalls, then climbs again and gets tossed off.  That was awkward.  The Duds set up a 3D through the table, but Jonathan Coachman of all people runs in only to get slammed down.  The Duds hits try to hit a wazzup drop on him but Flair saves and Batista spinebusters D-Von through a table to win.  What?  Don’t both guys have to go through a table?
1/2* Lame match.  Batista is proud to have been a tag champion with Ric Flair, and rightfully so, but showing any of their matches on the set was unnecessary, because they all sucked.

Match #5
Batista vs. Chris Jericho
7/11/04 Vengeance

Pretty simple set up for this one: Jericho almost had Randy Orton beat for the IC title, but Batista came in and screwed that up for him.  It’s revenge time.  Jericho avoids locking up, but backs himself into a corner and gets smacked down by Batista, who then chokes him with his knee.  Shoulderblocks in the corner by Batista, but then Jericho low-bridges him on a clothesline and sends him out of the ring.  Batista is up and gets on the apron, so Jericho hits the springboard-dropkick to send him back to the floor.  Jericho catches a breath and then tries a baseball slide, but Batista moves out of the way and smacks him around, then slams him into the rail.  Back in the ring, where Batista fires off a neckbreaker for two.  That’s not exactly a move fitting a guy his size.  Batista slaps on a head vise, but then decides that it sucks and moves to a half-nelson.  He moves to the full-nelson, but Jericho elbows out of it.  Batista cuts off a comeback and smacks Jericho back to the canvas, then goes back to the full-nelson.  Jericho elbows out of it and uses momentum to swing Batista out of the ring in what looked like a botched attempt at an armdrag.  Jericho couldn’t actually grab the whole arm from the angle he was in, but it still looked okay.  Batista here was still really awkward at taking any bump that wasn’t completely fundamental and bounced off the ropes on the way out.  He’s gotten way better in recent years at this kind of stuff.  Jericho dropkicks Batista in the knee, and then kicks away at the leg to try and knot it up.  Batista stops him and loads up Jericho on the top rope.  Jericho fights out of it and hits a reverse-elbow off the top for two.  Running forearms by Jericho can’t take Batista off his feet, and a third attempt is caught in a sideslam for two.  Batista drops his weight on Jericho and mashes him up against the ropes.  He goes back to using his knee to choke at Jericho, and then fires off a backbreaker for two.  Another backbreaker, and this time Batista bridges it to go for the submission.  Jericho elbows out of it, but he’s still hurt and Batista knees the back.  Jim Ross uses this chance to point out that Batista sucks less these days thanks to Ric Flair and Triple H teaching him how to work one body part.  He said it more tactfully then that, but not by much.  Batista lowers his head into a kick, and then Jericho fires off another forearm that finally takes him off his feet.  Jericho charges and gets caught in a powerslam, but he wiggles out and chop blocks Dave down.  He goes for the Walls, but Batista kicks off of it.  Batista charges and gets caught in a drop toe-hold to set up a head of steam.  Batista catches him and hits a nasty spinebuster for two.  Referee Earl Hebner completely botches the count by accidentally smacking Jericho full-force in the face on the third count.  I’ve seen referees botch a lot of stuff over the years, but that’s the first time I’ve ever seen one clobber a wrestler while counting him down.   Batista loads up the Powerbomb, but Jericho turns it into a sunset flip for two.  Jericho seems like he’s knocked goofy.  I’m not sure if it was the spinebuster or Earl Hebner.  Even money on both.  Batista smacks Jericho around and takes him to the corner, but Jericho blocks a charge with a boot and hits a facebuster off the ropes.  He goes for the Lionsault, despite the fact that Batista is way out of position for it.  Batista had to roll into position for it, and then get his knees up.  That’s one move I wish Jericho would just drop because most of the time it looks like poo.  This turns into a double knockout.  Batista gets up first and coils up for a clothesline, but Jericho ducks it and hits the running enziguri for another double KO.  He crawls over and covers for two and two.  Straight kicks by Jericho, but Batista punches him and fires off another spinebuster, this one equally as sick looking.  He loads up the Powerbomb and hits it, then covers for the pin even though Jericho’s foot was on the ropes.  He then pulls Jericho’s foot off the ropes, which I guess proves he’s a heel or something.
***1/2 I actually liked this better then the Michaels match.  You could see that he had already improved in the eight months between that match and this one.  He had a better use of psychology and an overall better presence about him in the ring.  I wasn’t really a big Chris Jericho fan during this period but I give him credit for always getting the best out of guys who are green.  I’m guessing that’s because he had it so tough when he was breaking into the business and thus has a more neutering demeanor about him.  Batista was still rough around the edges here and his moveset was not at all developed in a way where his matches could tell anything but a basic story, but he was making progress.

Excerpt from the 2005 Royal Rumble
1/30/05 Royal Rumble

We’re joined in progress as Batista enters #28 and ends up winning.  I’ll have a full review of this match in January when I run through all the Rumbles.  But for here, as promised, I’ll discuss the ending.  Immediately after the show had ended, the dirt sheets swore up and down that the ending to the match, where Batista and John Cena both tumbled over the top rope, was a botch.  It was and it wasn’t.  The idea that both guys tumbling over the top rope was an accident is ludicrous.  The botch was that the spot happened too early.  They were supposed to wrestle for a couple minutes, but for some unknown reason they went straight into the finish.  That’s it.  That was the planned finish, including the restarting of the match where Batista won.  Mechanically it’s practically impossible for two people to fall out of the ring the way they did on accident.

Vince McMahon was always planned to be part of the finish, as well.  But because they went home too early, he decided to make an ass of himself to eat up some of the time they were supposed to use.  And then he blows out both of his knees sliding into the ring, then has to sit down in the ring with the ropes supporting him, trying to fight off the tears of excruciating pain while Cena and Batista take turns dumping each other.  Hilarious.  The fans were pretty pissed about the ending.  The truth is they should have just gone with the draw.  It didn’t work in 1994 with Bret and Luger because the fans clearly liked Bret more.  Here, the fans liked both guys equally, and there were now two world champions.  Thus, both guys would have gotten a title show without any of the weirdness 1994 had.  The lame ending killed the crowd, and nothing in the build between here and Wrestlemania couldn’t have been accomplished the same way if there was a draw.  The whole “Batista deciding which champ to face” thing didn’t really play anyway and ate up way too many minutes on each Raw it was built on.

I gave the 2005 Royal Rumble ***1/2.  Look for the full review, along with my reviews for EVERY Royal Rumble, every day between January 9 – 30 at Pulse Wrestling.

Match #6: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Triple H vs. Batista
4/3/05 Wrestlemania 21

Motorhead plays Triple H out, with Lemmy forgetting half the lyrics.  I’m half shocked they just didn’t hum him out to the ring.  Meanwhile, Batista’s new theme wasn’t finished yet so he comes out to his generic scary music and gets NO reaction at all.  And he doesn’t have pyro yet so his machine gun entrance looks like he’s trying desperately to squeeze out a stubborn turd.   I haven’t watched this match since it aired and can’t really remember anything about it, other then the fans being somewhat cold for Batista.  Which is weird given the build to this match was just about as perfect as the WWE was capable of at the time.

To the match.  Big stare down to start.  Lockup and both guys shake trying to get the best of each other.  Excellent visual.  They end up in the ropes, but don’t let go.  The lockup spills all over the ring, ending in a stalemate.  Lockup number two ends mostly the same, only Batista kind of shoves off a little harder.  Third lockup leads to Trips grabbing a headlock.  Batista shoots off into a shoulderblock, and Batista is all super confident now.  Headlock by Trips and another shoot-off, but this time Trips gets the big shoulderblock.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~! but Batista shoves off and press slams him, nearly dropping him doing it but being smart enough to just complete the move quickly.  It turns into a brawl, with Batista throwing Trips and slugging it out.  Backdrop and another shoot-off but Trips ducks a clothesline and hits the flying knee, knocking Batista to the floor.  Batista recovers and decides to jaw with Ric Flair like a moron, so Trips bails to throw him into the stairs.  Batista to the apron but Trips drops an elbow on the back of his neck as he crawls between the ropes.  Awesome visual actually.  A couple of blatant chokes by Trips, then Flair gets into it as well, taking Batista out of the ring.  To the floor, Trips rams him into the guardrail, then into the ring.  The focus is on the back, so Trips starts to drop the elbows and knees on the small of Batista’s back.  Vertical suplex follows for two.  More knees to the back, then a backbreaker.  The fans get a bit restless and Flair being the genius that he is keeps them heated by choking Batista with his jacket again.  That’s why he’s the man.  Batista tries to get back in so Trips drops a hangman to knock him to the floor.  Back in and to the corner where Trips slugs it out with some slow, blatant punches.  Batista turns it into a slug-off, and the fans start to get into it, but Trips hits a spinebuster for two, two, and two.  More punching, and Trips loads up the Pedigree again, but Batista backdrops out of it, but is still selling the back.  Shoot-off but Batista lowers his head into the facebuster for two.  Power kickout by Batista pisses of Trips, so he climbs but gets caught coming down with a nasty forearm clothesline.  Sidewalk slam gets two for Batista, but the fans are not going nuts for this comeback.  He charges at Trips in the corner but catches a foot to the face.  Trips tries to shoot him to the opposite corner but Batista holds the ropes then launches Trips up and over to the floor.  Batista follows him out and tries to whip him into the stairs but gets reversed and eats the stairs hard.  Trips preps the stairs and loads up for a Pedigree on the stairs, but Batista gets a double leg takedown on the stairs then catapults him into the ring post.  Fans pop huge even though it didn’t look that good.  Trips is busted open.  In one of the coolest stair smashing spots ever, Batista absolutely SLAMS Trips into the stairs three times.  Visually and audibly that was sick.  Back in the ring, Batista starts to club at the open wound, then hits a running kick to the back of Triple H’s head.  Hard whip into the corner and a clothesline, then another from Batista.  Trips should be dead by now.  Trips begs off, but Batista shows no mercy, smacking him around and hitting a shoulderblock.  FUCKING NASTY ASS RUNNING FOREARM IN THE CORNER totally hits legit, knocking Triple H down like a rag doll and popping the shit out of the crowd.  Powerslam by Batista gets two.  In all honesty, they should have just gone home right there with the Powerbomb.  Flair tries to save Trips and gets punched out.  Trips tries to kill Batista with a chair but the referee makes the save and injures himself in the process.  Back in the ring, Trips begs off, while Flair grabs the title belt.  He tries to hit Batista with it, but gets hit with a spinebuster.  Trips KOs Batista with the title belt and a new ref is in to count… to two.  Fans pop huge as they kind of bought that as the finish.  Trips charges but runs into a spinebuster.  Fans are going nuts.  Batista loads up for the Powerbomb but Triple H hits a blatant low blow.  Triple H’s face is totally covered in blood.  Trips loads up the Pedigree, but Batista simply powers out of it, and then picks Triple H up and hits a Kryptonite Krunch of all moves.  Batista shakes the ropes like the Warrior for the first time and the fans go absolutely fucking nuts.  Thumbs up, thumbs down, and the loaded Powerbomb finishes to give Batista his first world championship.
****1/4 Actually, that was a pretty awesome match.  Well put together, very stiff, good storyline, good spots, good pacing, excellent blade job by Triple H, good false finishes, a very good, if basic, match.  And they would totally top the effort later in the year with a five-star Hell in a Cell match.

Match #7: World Heavyweight Championship, Hell in a Cell Match
(c) Batista vs. Triple H
6/26/05 Vengeance
As Seen On: Triple H – King of Kings, Complete Hell in a Cell

I get that it’s Batista’s set and including his one and only five-star match (in my opinion, anyway) seems like a good idea, but this has already appeared twice on DVD.  And I’m fairly certain that anyone who would buy a Batista set would likely already own either the Hell in a Cell set or Triple H’s set.  It’s a pretty big stretch to say someone would not buy any WWE DVDs but simply HAD to get Batista’s set.  Either way, it’s easy work for me.  Just a quick copy and paste job.  For the record, I do re-watch all matches that are repeated from set to set and if my opinion changes I do note it.

The cell gets chain-locked.  Trips slugs it out to start.  Shoot-off and Batista gets a nice clothesline and a sideslam.  Brawl on the outside where Trips gets rammed into the cage.  Back in, we have a standoff.  Lockup and Trips gets a headlock.  Shoot-off and a shoulderblock by Batista.  Clothesline in the corner, then Batista dumps him to the floor.  Ram into the cage by Batista, then another.  Trips looks like his plaything at this point.  Hard whip to the cage almost results in Trips breaking through the fence.  Trips reverses a whip, puts the breaks on, and rams Batista into the stairs and ring post.  Batista on the apron, where Trips gives him a hangman.  Running back-elbow sends Batista flying off the apron and into the cage, with Batista bouncing between the ring and the cage like a pinball.  Nice.  Batista is tossed into the cage a couple more times, and he’s taking every bump full on.  Clothesline on the floor with Batista noticeably thumping on the ground.  I’m loving this so far.  Trips grabs a toolbox and pulls a chain out of it.  Hard whip to the back with the chain by Trips, with Batista selling it perfectly.  Trips then wraps the chain around Batista’s neck and chokes him.  Batista gets a hangman out of it.  He grabs the chain and smacks the SHIT out of Triple H’s back with it.  I’m marking out here!  Another hard whip and damn, this is cool stuff.  Batista grabs Trips in a bearhug and rams Trips from pillar to post, and man this match is badass with a side of badass sauce.  Trips is bleeding, so Batista tosses him back into the ring.  Trips is freaking out as Batista pounds on him.  Shoot-off reversal and Trips gets a nice spinebuster to save himself a bit.  Trips goes under the ring and grabs a steel chair wrapped in barbed wire.  I don’t even remember that spot.  A damn near full-force shot with the chair, and Batista has whole bunch of little blood droplets coming out of it.  Another shot, this time at full speed, and man, I’m marking out big time.  I did NOT remember how good this match was.  Batista runs into a facebuster, but then explodes out of nowhere and clotheslines Trips on a charge.  Triple H’s whole face is red with blood, and now Batista has the chair.  He hits Trips in the FACE with the chair.  The fans are going fucking crazy, and Batista seems to be too, grating Trips in the face with it.  I mean damn, they’re not holding back at all.  And bless them for it, this match is fucking amazing.  Batista grates Triple H’s face on the cage, and man he’s just bleeding all over the place.  Batista picks up Trips and lawn-darts him into the cell.  By the way, the announcers note that Trips has never lost in the hell in a cell.  Unless of course you count that time he… you know… lost in the Hell in a Cell.  At Armageddon 2000.  In the ring, Batista shoulderblocks Trips in the corner.  He charges at Trips but gets sent into the ring post in another nice looking spot.  Trips staggers about and then loads up a KICK WHAM PEDIGREE on the barbed wire chair, but Batista backdrops out of it.  Slug-off, but Batista catches a charge and POWERSLAMS TRIPS ONTO THE CHAIR WITH THE BARBED WIRE~! for two.  Fans were scared when the cover was made because they clearly want it to go on.  Batista loads up his hand with the steel chain, but Trips DDTs him onto the chair.  Goddamn!!  Batista is knocked out of the ring by this and so Trips bails to give chase.  Batista is bleeding now too.  A single idiot sitting close to the mic is chanting boring at this.  What a fucking idiot.  I hope the fans that are actually enjoying this kicked the shit out of him after the show.  Trips grates Batista on the cage, then tosses him into the ring.  He grabs the sledgehammer from under the ring.  Batista cuts him off from using it and they slug it out.  Batista loads up the Powerbomb but Trips backdrops out of it.  Trips grabs the sledge and smashes him in the face with it for two.  Fans seem surprised.  Trips goes for the death shot but Batista kicks him in the balls and both guys are out.  Batista grabs the sledgehammer and the end is near.  Batista charges in for a finishing blow himself but Trips whacks him with a fist full of steel chain for two.  Trips tries to drop a fist off the second rope, but Batista gets the sledge hammer up and Triple H takes it right in the mouth, spitting blood like a fountain straight in the air.  Nice visual.  Batista smacks Triple H around, and Trips is clearly finished.  Batista brawls him down to his knee, and Trips collapses.  Hard whip to the corner sends Trips up and over.  On the floor Batista sends Trips into the stairs.  Batista picks the stairs up and destroys Trips with them, making a crazy little PING sound while doing it.  Batista places the base of the stairs into the ring and preps them in the corner.  Trips gets rammed HARD into them a couple times, making the fans groan with every shot.  Hard whip into the stairs, and Batista gives the thumbs down.  Batista loads up the Powerbomb but Trips low blows to escape.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~! and a quick cover… for two!  The fans go nuts as both guys are now out of it.  Trips loads up a Pedigree on the steel stairs, but Batista counters and hits a somewhat wussy-looking spinebuster on the stairs.  Considering that everything else has been full force, that sort of sucked.  Batista loads up the Powerbomb again, but Trips has the sledgehammer.  Batista outsmarts Trips by quickly firing off the bomb and then covers for the pin.  I expected a more stunning finish, but otherwise…
***** This is how you blow off a feud.  Like Brock/Undertaker from 2002, I expected nothing going into this match.  Instead, I was treated to high impact spots and lots of gore.  I still think Brock/Undertaker was better, but otherwise this was a top-notch cell match and the best match of Batista’s career thus far.  Big props.  Even the semi-letdown finish was OK, because it was a nice twist on a finish they’ve done before.  Why hold Trips up long enough for him to use the sledge?  Just drop.  Nice booking.  Really, the only fault was the spinebuster on the stairs, and even that doesn’t take away anything from the match.  This was epic.

Match #8: World Heavyweight Championship, No Holds Barred
(c) Batista vs. John “Bradshaw” Layfield
8/21/05 Summerslam

Kill me.  In his book Batista admitted that he had no chemistry with JBL and that their matches all sucked.  If he admits it, why include it in his DVD?  Meanwhile, the announcers apparently possess memory not unlike that of a goldfish and act stunned when it rains JBL $100 bills from the ceiling, despite the fact that it did at Wrestlemania just four months earlier.

Fucking Bradshaw tries to jump Batista while he’s shooting his pyro off, but Dave fights him off with some horrible punches.  He ups the embarrassment level by taking off his belt and feebly whacking JBL with it.  We brawl over to the sound equipment, where Batista hits him with a fire extinguisher.  He sets up a whip, but JBL reverses it and sends him into a steel case.  Crowd brawling follows, but thankfully most of the fans are decent enough to give them some distance.  JBL weakly smacks Batista with a chair.  He winds up for a big shot with it but Batista spears him through the rail and back to ringside.  This leads to a double KO, and then JBL pushes him into the post.  Back in the ring, we get a short-arm clothesline by fucking Bradshaw and some stompery.  JBL gets Batista to the corner and punches him a bit, and then he bails to rip the belt off of the timekeeper.  He whips Batista with it a bit, and then chokes him with it.  Suddenly I’m wondering why nobody ever thought about using a cat-of-nine-tails as a weapon in wrestling.  Seems like it would work.  The choke with the belt goes on long past the point where a person would presumably die from it (especially with all the unventilated pyro smog present during the match), then Batista fights out of it with a back suplex.  He instantly recovers from not breathing for over a minute, grabs the belt, and goes to town on fucking Bradshaw.  Shoulderblocks in the corner by Batista, and then a shoot to the corner.  JBL gets his foot up and hits the Clothesline from Hell for two.  Not one single person in the arena bought that as the finish, despite the years that went to work establishing that as his finisher.  Incredibly sad.  Bradshaw gets pissy and bails to grab the steel stairs and toss them in the ring.  He takes about a minute to prep them, and then loads up a piledriver.  Batista backdrops out of it and we have a double KO.  JBL with a boot to the face and he goes for another clothesline, but Batista catches him with the spinebuster.  Thumbs up, thumbs down, and the Powerbomb hits.  Instead of covering, Batista decides to really finish him by powerbombing him again, this time on the stairs, and that’s all she wrote.
1/4* Well that sucked.  There was really no coherent storyline going on and no psychology at all.  Just random and weak-looking brawling.  Fucking Bradshaw’s attempt at a false finish was so transparent that nobody bought it.  Thankfully it was short and somewhat fast paced, so I’ll spare it from a DUD.

Match #9: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Batista vs. Eddie Guerrero
11/9/05 No Mercy
As Seen On: Viva La Raza – The Legacy of Eddie Guerrero

This is Eddie’s final pay-per-view.  Guerrero had this bizarre tweener thing going on here.  The story was he had become the ‘New and improved Eddie Guerrero’ and was acting all friendly towards Batista, while everyone figured it was bullshit.  The angle never reached a conclusion for obvious reasons, and I’ve heard nothing on where they planned to go with it.  I do know that the rumor that Eddie was going to win the championship on the day he died is now confirmed to be bogus.  Batista wrote about it in his book, and others have discussed it.  Of course the pompous Eddie fans swear it’s true, using reliable sources that they pulled out of their ass cavities.  It’s one of those things the dirt sheets made up because, hey, who’s going to question them?  “Oh the irony, he died the day he was going to win the title.”  If they want irony, they should point out that he was going to wrestle the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 22.  By the way, that match would have taken place during the period when the Undertaker actually sold for people.  I’m guessing it would have rocked, but we’ll never know.  Anyway, the fact that he was going to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania suggests that he would go heel on Batista but still not end up with the belt, go nuts, and end up pissing off the wrong guy.  By the way, how cool would it have been to see Eddie drive out a low-riding hearse?  Not to sound like some selfish mark, but wrestling fans really lost out when he passed away.  He had so many feuds left in him.  Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, etc.  Maybe if they hadn’t spent the better part of 2005 jobbing him to Rey Mysterio we could have gotten a couple of those.

We’re in Texas so the fans are about 60/40 in favor of Eddie.  I have NO memory of this match.  Eddie’s run in 2005 was tough to watch and Batista’s reign was killed by his horrible feud with JBL, so I might not have been paying attention.  $40 down the poop chute when I ordered this show.  I was so wasteful back then.

Guerrero starts with one of the better feeling outs I’ve seen in wrestling.  He gets a single-leg takedown but Batista kicks him off.  Eddie has his flying boots on.  They circle and Eddie gets a fireman’s carry and covers for one, with Batista doing a power kickout.  Batista laughs at how quick that was.  Double knuckle-lock by Batista, with Eddie hilariously selling it using his crazed Mexican stuff.  He gets the middle rope trying to kick out and gets slung across the ring.  Eddie bails while Batista makes his tits shake up and down.  Very interesting angle for a match to be structured around, but it seems to be working.  Eddie returns to the ring and Batista headlocks him.  Guerrero tries to shoot out of it but Batista grounds it down.  To the corner where Eddie fights out and hits some shoulderblocks.  Batista reverses a whip to the corner but misses a charge and hurts his arm.  Eddie backs away and we have a standstill.  Lockup and Batista grabs another headlock.  Eddie tries to muscle out in comical fashion, but it doesn’t work and Batista retains the headlock.  We hold this a bit too long, then Eddie muscles out of it fires some elbows.  He charges into a shoulderblock, and then gets scoopslammed a couple times for two.  Eddie bails again, and this time he grabs a chair.  Michael Cole starts to spaz on commentary, but Eddie just throws it down.  Batista gets pissy anyway and grabs Eddie by the throat to scream at him.  Guerrero turns this into a hangman, and then quickly climbs.  He actually hits the Frog Splash on Batista’s back and covers for two.  The fans already bought this as the finish, despite the fact that we basically just started.  Eddie kicks away at the injured back, and then we get to see replays the frog splash instead of Eddie’s follow-ups to it.  Jesus fucking Christ, it’s the main event of the show.  I’m pretty sure everyone saw it.  Well I didn’t the first time, but that’s not the point.  Eddie slaps on a rear-chinlock with body scissors and holds it for a bit.  Batista stands up on it and backs Eddie into the turnbuckle.  He’s still injured, so Eddie follows up with a dropkick to the back, then goes to a half-crab.  Batista makes the ropes, so Eddie bails to the corner and grabs the tag rope.  Michael Cole’s commentary is incredibly obnoxious as he keeps harping on Eddie, saying “SEE, I TOLD YOU!” like he’s a four year old who’s squealing on his siblings.  Guerrero decides to not use the rope and instead dropkicks Batista in the face, then slaps on a camel clutch.  I wonder why nobody uses that move’s variants, the Marlboro Chinlock or the Virginia Slim Slam.

Get it?

Fuck off, that is A material there.

Eddie wants to turn the move into a surfboard, but he can’t get Batista hooked for it correctly and quickly changes it up into a chinlock with bodyscissors again.  Batista powers up and turns it into a bearhug.  Eddie boxes his ears to escape it, and then kicks Batista in the face.  This just pisses off Batista and he appears to be hulking up.  He charges but Eddie gets a drop toe-hold, which legitimately tweaks Batista’s knee.  Eddie goes for a Texas Cloverleaf, but Batista fights it off and grabs a small package for two.  Both guys up, and Eddie takes Batista to the corner for some punching.  They trade reversals on a whip, then Eddie springs off the ropes and ‘accidentally’ wipes out the referee.  Tornado DDT by Eddie and he gets an evil look on his face.  He bails to grab a chair but chickens out like Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart from Wrestlemania.  Batista saw the chair and is pissy that Eddie would even entertain the thought of using it.  Didn’t they already have this spot earlier in the match?  They should have ditched the first time they used it and just done it here.  It would have worked much better.  Batista shoulderblocks him in the corner, then hits a clothesline and a backdrop.  Horrible looking spear, then he loads up the Powerbomb.  Eddie flips out of it and goes for a sunset flip, while Batista clutches his back in pain.  He doesn’t turn over and instead lifts Eddie up and hits the spinebuster.  He’s in pain and has to crawl over to cover for two.  Elbow drop is countered by Eddie’s knees and he calls for the Three Amigos.  He hits all three and calls for the Frog Splash, but tries to roll through it instead.  Batista is up to meet it and hits a fairly mild spinebuster… for the pin?  Pretty weak finish and the crowd seems disappointed.
***3/4 I mostly dug this, but like many Eddie Guerrero matches from 2004 forward, the booking got in the way of the wrestling.  Too much extracurricular stuff broke up the flow.  Batista totally carried his end and looked better and more seasoned here then he had in any previous match.  If they had done a little less bullshit, this would have scored much higher.  They couldn’t ever get anything going because they had to keep breaking to give Eddie a chance to advance the “is he telling the truth about his change” angle.  They were clearly aiming for the Piper/Bret feel, but that match kept the psychological warfare in the context of the match, only pausing once the ending had began.  Here it was match, angle, match, angle, match, angle, finish.  At first it seemed like it was working, but ultimately it hurt more then helped.  I’m sure a blow-off would have been epic, but shit happens.

THE STORY THUS FAR: Of the nine matches on this disc, five of them were good enough to get better then three stars, a passing grade under my system.  Sadly the two best ones have already appeared in previous sets.  Throw them out and I wouldn’t say this collection is looking too great so far.  I’ve checked out the lineup for disc three and I see a lot of stuff that likely will hover just around that three-star range.  This set isn’t the abomination some smarks would have you believe, but it’s certainly not going to take home awards either.  Check back tomorrow for the conclusion.

Thanks to Brad for editing, as always.

If you enjoy the Way Too Long Reviews and want to contribute, I have an Amazon wish-list with all the upcoming releases.  Click here.  I thank you.topstory500x250-|topstory500x250 topstory120x120-|topstory120x120

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The Way Too Long Review of WWE Armageddon 2007 Sat, 10 Oct 2009 20:52:05 +0000 I would like to take the time to answer an e-mail, which I cleaned up to be more readable.  Kris writes…

“I liked the stuff you did when you first started at Pulse, where your reviews were also like historical text books on what led going into each match.  In the last few months your articles have had too much personal commentary in them and not enough of the factoids that made you such a fun read.  I usually agree with your opinions, but you should make your commentary shorter and go back to having more fun facts and “did-you-know?” type of stuff.  You should also come up with a new ratings system since it seems like your readers can’t grasp your version of the star-system even though you’ve spelled it out to them several times.”

Now see, this is the type of constructive criticism that makes people take notice.

Yes, my aim has been off lately and I’ve been going off on too many tangents and ignoring the stuff that got me hired on in the first place.  That said, I’m a critic and this is my column, so if I don’t have any personal commentary all I am is a re-capper.  I choose to add commentary in because the only other regular column I have is a sweet bi-monthly gig for the Wrestling Press, plus my ultra-cool podcast that I will resume just as soon as I can talk straight (should be this Wednesday).  BUT, I admit I have too many personal commentary bits per column and thus will try to limit them.  As for the factoids and stuff, you’re dead right.  I’ve been getting lazy when it comes to that aspect of the Way Too Long feature.  I went back and read some of my earlier stuff and it was clearly better then what I’ve been doing.  So I will try to make it right.  As for the star system, I’m keeping it in place.  If people can’t figure out my system (once again: one star equals 20% of the possible score, five-stars does not mean perfection, it means ‘as good as subjectively possible’) then to hell with them.

I did take up Brad (red29) on his offer to work as my editor.  I’m bad at self-editing.  I think it’s because when I read my own stuff, I see it as I meant to write it, and my brain skips over the mistakes.  It’s because I have a huge messiah complex and my brain believes I’m perfect.  Which I am, don’t get me wrong.  But still, having my own editor makes me seem cool.

So what’s up with this review?  Armageddon 2007?  Random, you say?

Well I actually picked this up along with Unforgiven 2008 for the low price of $7.50 at Wal-Mart.  Why the low price?  Because both of these discs have Batista on the cover, and this was as good a way as any to remind people that Batista has a new DVD coming out on October 20th.  Both sets carried a sticker saying it.  And yes, I will review the Batista set.  It won’t be as painful for me as it would be for some.  I actually like Batista.  I know, that’s not cool.  Well sue me, I like big, dumb muscle heads.  If the WWE ever brings out a Sid set, I’ll be first in line.  Kudos to the WWE and Wal-Mart for this form of vertical marketing.

December 16, 2007 from Pittsburgh.  I see a giant hose for some reason.

It’s a medieval setting, with a big castle for the entrance way that shoots flames.  Suddenly I’m having flashbacks to 1993, when wrestling was populated by wizards, knights, kings, and dragons.  And this was before Lord of the Rings and Warcraft had brought long-dormant nerds out of hiding.

Match #1: United States Championship
(c) M.V.P. vs. Rey Mysterio

MVP gets a takedown to start, and then we have a stand-off.  Circle and lockup leads to nothing and we have another stand-off.  MVP kicks and grabs a headlock, but Rey flips him out of it and knots up the leg.  Shoot off is reversed and Rey gets a head-scissors.  Cradle gets one.  He kicks MVP in the gut and shoots off.  MVP reverses and lowers his head in a kick, and then MVP fumbles his end of an armdrag and tumbles out of the ring pathetically.  Well, that whole sequence looked like ass.  Rey wants to fly at MVP, but the referee stops him, so Rey bounces off the ropes and launches himself over the ref and into MVP.  Back in, Rey kicks away and shoots Monty into the corner.  He charges and MVP catches him and alley-oops him into the turnbuckle.  Cover gets two.  MVP can’t figure out what to do next and covers again for two.  Christ, this guy SUCKS!  Head-lock by MygodthisguysucksVerymuchPoop, then a running kick gets two.  Mounted punches get two.  Head-vise now, which looks like poopie.  Mysterio fights out but MVP hits a face-buster for two.  Stompery and then MVP tries to figure out what to do next.  He hooks in an armbar and vises the neck.  Mysterio looks kind of peeved.  Mysterio escapes but MVP yanks him down by the head for two.  Shoot off and MVP gets Mysterio up for a fireman’s carry, and then tosses him behind his back.  Horrible looking spot as Mysterio lands on his feet, even though it sure looked like that’s what MVP was trying to help him do.  Just really terrible.  MVP bounces off the ropes and charges into a snap-rana.  Double-KO follows.  Mysterio slugs it out and hits a cross-body for two.  Mysterio goes for a seated senton, but he slips off the ropes and crashes into MVP.  He’s selling his knee now.   Mysterio bounces himself off the ropes into a splash for two.  Clothesline by MVP and he loads up for a pancake suplex, but Rey blocks and sets up for a rana, but MVP blocks that and takes him down to the apron in another near disaster looking spot.  Both guys seem to be at a loss for what to do next.  Mysterio finally hits the rana off the top for two.  Mysterio springs off the ropes and charges into a huge big boot for two.  Fans bought that as the finish.  Mysterio turns a reverse suplex into a reverse DDT for two.  Rey sets up for the 619, but MVP bails.  Rana off the apron by Rey hits, but it looks unlikely MVP will beat the count back in.  MVP almost rolls in, then bails and intentionally gets counted out.  Weak ending.  After the match, Mysterio hits a baseball slide, and then hits the 619.
** Last week Pulse Glazer, in one of his rare moments where he agreed with me, conceded that I was right about MVP and that the WWE should just release him.  I believe the term he used was “indy-quality wrestler.”  I don’t think I would have said that.  Mostly because I’ve seen a lot of indy wrestlers that are WAY better then MVP.  He’s been in the company for years now and has shown no skills at putting together matches.  He always has this confused look on his face, like “Okay, what next?  A little help?”  Years after debuting, people are still throwing around the word ‘green’ to describe him.  If you’ve been in the big leagues for years, you’re not green anymore, just plain untalented.  Rey Mysterio actually does have talent, but he’s never had the type of style that could carry someone above and beyond their abilities and get a good match out of them.  Besides, he was sloppy himself here, botching a couple spots and clearly getting frustrated with the lot he had drawn.  I get the frustration, and really think the WWE fired Mr. Kennedy over less then what MVP has been allowed to get away with.  At least Kennedy could get the fans attention on the microphone.  MVP doesn’t even have that going for him.  His continued existence in the WWE is a puzzle.

-Meanwhile, Jeff Hardy talks about his upcoming #1 contender match with Triple H.  Jeff says this will be the biggest match of his career, because it’s the closest he’s ever come to being the WWE Champion.  Um, was he not in a ladder match with the Undertaker for the belt?  I know, like he had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning then.

Match #2
Kane & CM Punk vs. Big Daddy V & Mark Henry

I told people for years that there was a good wrestler somewhere in Mabel/Viscera and people looked at me like I was covered in poo.  Perhaps people thought I meant that he had swallowed a good wrestler and thus there was technically a good one in him.  But you know what?  I think his run as Big Daddy V proved me right.  The biggest mistake the WWE made with him was not letting him dress like, and wrestle as, a monster.  As Mabel, he dressed head-to-toe in royal purple and he looked like a big, fat version of Barney the Dinosaur.  Hell, stories circulate that wrestlers would jokingly circle around him and sing the “I Love You” song to him from that show.  Even after he turned heel, he kept the same move set he had as a babyface, which is insane of course.  No matter how big or fat or ugly you are, if you don’t wrestle like a dickhead, you’re not going to get over.  Plus they should have paired him up with guys who could have made him look like a killer.  Diesel and the Undertaker circa 1995 were not going to get the job done.  And don’t even get me started on his run as Viscera.  But I think anyone who watched him on ECW around this period would admit that he actually has talent and a place in the business.  Plus he was paired with guys who could make him look good.  And yes, that includes Kane.  Say what you will about him, but he made a jobber that nobody had ever heard of before (Gene Snitsky) look like a fucking killer at Taboo Tuesday.

To the match, as Punk starts with Henry and gets shoved off.  Punk is the ECW Champion at this point, and he knots up Henry’s leg.  He still can’t get a single-leg takedown with it.  Henry charges and Punk drop-toeholds him into the corner and slugs it out.  He tags Kane who slugs it out.  Henry with some clubbing blows, but Kane hits a dropkick to the knee and tags Punk back in.  Punk looks completely out of place with these giants.  Big dropkick by Punk, but he charges into a clothesline.  I kind of, sort of, like Mark Henry.  I can’t put my finger on why.  He’s a guilty pleasure for sure.  But for the love of Thesz, someone teach him how to throw a clothesline.  Tag to Big Daddy V who peck-slaps Punk.  CM fights back and charges into a body-splash.  V dumps him down, where manager Matt Striker gets a cheap-shot in.  V slings Punk back into the ring and press-slams him.  Tag to Henry who steps on Punk and covers for two.  NICE looking head-butt by Henry (why doesn’t he do that move more often?) and some big kicks in the corner, then a clothesline in the corner, but Punk dodges a charge and makes the hot tag to Kane.  Piston-punches and a running clothesline in the corner from Kane.  Another clothesline and a boot to the face, but Henry does not fall down.  A flying clothesline finally takes him down and he calls for the chokeslam.  He takes Big Daddy V off the apron, but Henry charges him into the corner.  Big Daddy V tags in and Kane tries to chokeslam him, but V turns it into a choke-bomb for two as Punk saves with a dropkick.  V steps on Kane, then fires off a short-arm clothesline.  Big splash by V, then he lays down on Kane and hits clubbing blows.  Tag to Henry, and then V preps Kane in the corner and splashes him.  Kane looks like he has nothing left, so Henry grabs a bear-hug.  Meanwhile, some smart-ass is holding up a sign that says “Get a Beer Match!”  This honestly is not bad at all.  Kane almost muscles his way to the corner, so Henry tags V and splashes Kane in the corner.  V in with a peck-slap, but Kane fights him off.  He can’t shake the cobwebs loose and gets clotheslined down.  Henry tags in but lowers his head into a DDT for a double-KO.  Tag to V, hot tag to Punk.  He throws a few forearms, then kicks away and hits a couple knee-lifts.  He goes for the bulldog, but V shoves off, so Punk hits a running enziguri instead that takes V down to one knee.  Kane and Punk dump Henry, and then Punk climbs.  Matt Striker jumps onto the apron for the distraction.  Punk dispatches him, then goes for a springing something off the ropes.  Big Daddy V catches him and hits the huge Samoan Drop for the pin.
***1/2 I know I’m opening a can of worms on this rating, but what can I say?  I’ll tear up my smart-mark membership card before I say that this match sucked.  Any match that sticks like glue to the standard tag-team formula is almost guaranteed a three-star passing grade under my system.  Everyone did that here, but you have the bonus of Mark Henry and Big Daddy V cutting a very good pace throughout.  Nobody botched a move, the crowd stayed into it as much as you can expect them to for a Henry/V match, and it was just really well wrestled.  I know most people want to hate on Henry and Big Daddy V for the sake of hating, but they deserve props for this, because they carried the match.

-Meanwhile, Vickie Guerrero has balloons already in place for Edge’s victory tonight.  Vickie believes that Edge winning the world title tonight will heal her, even if for only one night.  They’re about to kiss when Edge pulls away and kisses her on the hand instead.  God help me, I actually loved this angle.

Match #3
Mr. Kennedy vs. Shawn Michaels

Sweet.  If anyone could get a good match out of Kennedy, it’s Michaels.  So at this point in his career, Kennedy had pretty much pissed away any hope he had of being a long-term player in the WWE.  He won Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania, then got injured and lost it just days before he would have cashed it in and won the World Heavyweight Championship.  Then he was set to be named Vince McMahon’s bastard son and got pinched for wellness and suspended right before they could do it.  Somewhere in this mess the WWE had decided to not allow his character to make a natural progression towards being a babyface, which would have gone a long ways towards hiding his shortcomings in the ring.  Logically speaking, since Edge had goaded Kennedy into giving up his Money in the Bank, one would think that upon returning his first target would have been Edge, right?  Wrong.  The WWE never paid that angle off.  Not that they had much of a chance of doing so.  Kennedy’s bones seem to have been made of wafers and his muscles out of taffy because every time he so much as made contact with anyone, he would injure something and end up on the shelf.  He’s currently set to be a part of Hulk Hogan’s tour, and then I imagine he’ll debut in WCW 2.0 shortly thereafter.

To the match, where they circle and lock-up.  Kennedy slugs it out with his horrible looking punches, followed by his slightly decent kicks.  Back-elbow gets nothing as Shawn kicks out before one.  More shitty forearms by Kennedy, then a scoop slam followed by an elbow drop.  Back-breaker gets one.  Shawn’s back is hurt (doesn’t explain the one-count) and he tries to bail to the corner, but Kennedy catches him.  Shawn turns it around and chops him, then gets reversed and whipped up and down into the corner.  Kennedy loads up the rolling fireman’s carry but Shawn wiggles out and chop-blocks him.  Shawn chops Kennedy while they’re on their knees, then mounts some punches.  Kennedy lowers his head and Michaels loads up a suplex.  Shawn’s back gives out, so Kennedy loads up the Mic Check, but Shawn blocks and turns it into an armbar-takedown.  Shawn wrings Kennedy’s arm and gets a few shoulder blocks, then grounds an armbar and turns it into a cover for one.  Back to the armbar.  Kennedy stands up and slugs out of it, then yanks Shawn down by the hair.  Shawn won’t let him run the ropes and tugs him down, then grabs the arm again.  Kennedy slugs it out and sends Shawn into the corner, then hits a 360 clothesline to send both guys over the top and to the floor.  Kennedy tries to shove Shawn’s back into the apron, but Michaels counters and shoves Kennedy into the rail.  Kennedy tries to reach for Shawn as Shawn climbs up the stairs, so Michaels stomps his hand.  Back in, Shawn decides to work the hand, ala his match against Mick Foley at Mind Games.  Kennedy seems like he’s at a loss of how to carry his end of it and fumbles through the holds, so Shawn simply drives the hand into the canvas.  Shawn ties up Kennedy in the ropes and squeezes the injured hand.  Kennedy punches loose (using the uninjured hand, thank god) and shoves Shawn into the ring-post.  Thankfully Kennedy continues to sell the bad hand.  Back in the ring, Kennedy slams Shawn into the turnbuckle a few times, and now we have counter-psychology going.  Never thought I would see that in a Kennedy match.  Kennedy gets cocky, so Shawn kicks the bad hand.  Shawn’s still messed up on the ropes, so Kennedy hits a running kick in the corner for two.  Nice spot.  Backbreaker by Kennedy, and in a smart piece of psychology, he lets go of Shawn using the injured hand first.  Nice.  It only gets one.  Shawn’s timing seems to be a bit off.  Kennedy loads up a backbreaker submission hold, and he rubs his injured hand across Michaels’ neck to get circulation back into it.  He releases and fires off a couple elbows for two.  Again, Shawn is kicking out too soon from these moves and it’s hurting the drama.  Scoop slam by Kennedy and he climbs for a… something off the second rope… then he blocks Shawn’s boot, waits for Shawn to roll out of the way, then hits an elbow for two.  This match actually rocks, but the fans are not impressed.  Now to a chinlock by Kennedy, with him releasing it briefly to shake some blood back into his hand, Shawn gets loose and they trade blows.  Kennedy keeps shoving Shawn into the ropes and walking into punches.  Shawn finally backdrops Kennedy over the top rope and to the floor.  Kennedy gets back in and ends up getting the shit chopped out of him.  Shoot off is reversed only for Shawn to move into the FIVE AND A HALF MOVES OF DOOM~!!  Flying forearm, nip-up, atomic drop, atomic drop, scoop slam, and the flying elbow.  I’m only counting the atomic drop as one move.  Anyone that bitches about Bret Hart and his five moves, shat up!  Every wrestler does it.  Shawn tunes up the band but Kennedy turns the superkick into a school boy for two.  Kennedy loads up for the Green Bay Plunge, but Shawn rolls him up for two.  Kennedy is still selling the hand injury this whole time.  Catapult by Kennedy and he loads up and hits the Green Bay Plunge for two.  Kennedy gets in Shawn’s face and jaws with him, but Michaels counters out of the Mic Check.  Shawn tricks Kennedy into punching him with the bad hand, and then hits the superkick for the pin.
****1/4 Very good match, easily Kennedy’s best singles contest of his career.  The fans were shitty, but then again Pittsburgh is always shitty.  Excellent psychology, but they had pacing issues that were no doubt brought on by not getting any read off the crowd.  No complaints otherwise.  If this had been held under a hot crowd, they would have gotten it up into the high fours, easy.

-Meanwhile, Randy Orton talks about how shitty Chris Jericho is.  Considering that this was Jericho’s first pay-per-view contest after returning, he wasn’t far off.  This wasn’t the awesome Chris Jericho that’s around right now.  This was Chris Generic-o: glad-handing babyface and catch-phrase shitter.  Orton talks about how his last three victims combined for 18 world title reigns, so he’s not worried too much about a flash in the pan like Jericho.  Yeouch.

Match #4: Winner Faces the WWE Champion at the 2008 Royal Rumble
Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H

By this point, the WWE really did have all the intention of making 2008 the year of Jeff Hardy.  After dropping the title match he would earn here to Randy Orton and a #1 contender spot at No Way Out, he was tentatively penciled in to win Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania 24, take the World Heavyweight Title by June, and beat the Undertaker clean at Summerslam that year.  I think the giant-slayer gimmick would have worked great with him, but a horribly timed wellness violation put an end to what could have been a monster year for him.  He ended up taking the title a year later at this event, but it meant practically nothing by then and everyone knew that he could never be a long-term champion due to his past.  If he had been pinched for wellness for the third time as WWE Champion, it would have meant instant termination.  Unlike someone who is suspended, Hardy would not have been allowed to drop the title in the ring.  I honestly figured that because of that reason, he NEVER would have gotten the title.  It’s very sad that the WWE dangled these carrots for him, showing him that they really wanted to make him a tippy-top star and he still couldn’t stay clean.  It’s not enough for people to ‘just say no’.  Don’t get hooked in the first place.  Jeff Hardy is proof positive of that.

Jeff offers up a handshake, which Triple H accepts, then jaws with him and pushes him back.  Circle and a lockup, with Jeff shooting off and eating a shoulder block.  Trips is not taking him seriously, which sounds like a good storyline for a match like this, but that dynamic does not work in this case.  Another shoot-off and Trips gets another shoulder block.  Jeff flips out of a hiptoss but eats a clothesline.  Shoot to the corner by Trips but Hardy gets an elbow up to block a charge.  Arm drags by Jeff, and the fans are kind of split here.  To the outside where Jeff misses a baseball slide, but rams Trips into the rail.  He goes for the rail-runner but slips off thanks to some retarded fan reaching out so they could tell their friends “I TOUCHED HIM!”  I don’t care how old you are, but if the highlight of your day is simply TOUCHING someone who happens to be a WWE wrestler, security should drag your ass to the back and stick an AIDS-infected needle right in your fucking eyeball, because you’re going to amount to nothing in life and deserve to die a slow, agonizing death.  Then again, Jeff should have known better to do that move, considering that 99.9% of the time he would try it, some dipshit would reach out and trip him.  Trips covers for Jeff’s lack of common sense by clotheslining him on the floor.  Back in, Jeff goes for a headlock, and then flips out of a back-suplex.  Trips hauls off and bitch slaps the shit out of him.  Jeff looks like he’s about to cry.  Triple H is screaming at him to ‘fight him’ and by gum that finally got the crowd into things.  Jeff avoids getting locked-up and brawls Trips into the corner.  Triple-combo gets two.  By the way, the triple combo is Jeff’s atomic drop, leg drop between the legs, and dropkick to the face sequence.  It’s three moves, hence “triple combo”.  Jeff then bitch-slaps Trips, and that brings a smile to Hunter’s face.  He shuffle-boards Jeff under the bottom rope and out of the ring, brawls him on the outside, then tosses him back in.  Elbow drops by Trips, then a hard whip on Jeff across the ring, and into the turnbuckle.  Another hard whip, but this time Hardy gets an elbow up and climbs the ropes.  Trips casually shoves him off the top, to the floor and into the rail.  Fans pop huge for that.  Truth be told, Triple H is the clear favorite by the fans here.  Jeff gets hit with an elbow drop while Trips gets back into the ring.  Trips stops a comeback, and allows Jeff to whiff on an attempt at the mule kick.  Elbow drop gets two.  Abdominal stretch now by Trips, and he grabs the ropes for leverage and/or dickery.  He tries it a second time but the referee catches him and forces a break.  Enziguri by Jeff to no reaction from the crowd.  He lowers his head into a face-buster and gets clotheslined down for two.  Shoot off and a sleeper by Trips, but Jeff drives him into the turnbuckle, and then hits a dropkick off the second rope.  Diving clothesline by Jeff, then he slugs it out.  Jeff ducks a few clotheslines and hits a flimsy looking clothesline, then a flying forearm.  Ten-punch and the momentum kick, which misses and Jeff wipes out in harsh fashion.  Trips covers for two.  Trips lowers his head into a kick, then Hardy dumps him to the floor with a clothesline.  Dropkick through the ropes and a plancha by Jeff and suddenly he’s feeling it.  He rolls Trips back into the ring and climbs.  Crossbody hits for two.  Whisper in the Wind gets two.  He goes for the Twist of Fate but Trips turns it into a DDT for two.  Hardy goes for a crucifix for two, turned into a pin for Triple H that gets two.  Trips is taking things seriously now and stomps away in the corner.  Hardy springs over Trips and hits the mule kick, followed by the momentum kick.  He climbs for the Swanton but misses and Trips covers for two.  Trips picks up the limp Hardy and goes for the pedigree, but Hardy pushes off and goes for the twist.  Trips pushes out of that and gets the spinebuster.  He goes to pick up Jeff and loads up the pedigree again, but Jeff takes him down and gets a jack-knife cover for the pin.  Trips immediately laughs off the loss, which I’m guessing didn’t do much to make Jeff seem like a contender.  I’m sure the haters out there will bitch about Trips doing that, but actually the whole storyline and match execution was off the mark.
*** A decent match for sure, but the dynamic kept things from functioning properly.  I think you can look historically and see that Experienced Babyface vs. Up-and-Coming Babyface matches do not work, meaning this match wasn’t the unique situation of Triple H “not putting him over enough” as some have claimed.  For a face-vs.-face match to work, fans have to perceive that both wrestlers are on the same level.  Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior were, more or less, perceived to be as good as one another.  If both guys are not considered to be at the same level, the underneath wrestler winning is considered a fluke and the fans don’t get into him winning, because they know it will not mean anything in the long run.  It’s not forward momentum.  It’s not a step up the ladder.  It feels more like a one-time deal, and thus the fans don’t invest themselves emotionally into the plucky underdog because it’s not worth it.  They know he’s coming back down the card.  Meanwhile, because they can’t let the old-standard (in this case, Triple H) wrestle too heelish, everything gets watered down.  These guys had potential for a good match-up, but the dynamic they chose going into it was all wrong.  The fans needed a reason to believe that Triple H could drop the match by some means other then a total fluke, but instead Jeff Hardy was booked as if he was lucky to get a #1 contender match in the first place.  And yes, I’ll admit that Triple H didn’t make it seem like much more then that during the actual match.  So, three stars with a LOT of “It could have been better” tacked on.

-Meanwhile, Khali is out to threaten Finlay.  I think.  For all I know he could have been talking about how much he loves playing bowling on his Wii.  Uh, you and me both, big guy.

Match #5
The Great Khali vs. Finlay

Call it a hunch, but I don’t think this will be the high point of the show.  I’ve got a sixth sense when it comes to these things.  Hornswaggle was still Vince McMahon’s son at this point.  Makes you wonder if this is what they had planned for Kennedy.  If the best they could have come up with was matching him up with Khali, maybe he dodged a bullet.

Khali shoves Finlay down to start, then shrugs off some punches and slings him into the corner.  Kicks and a back-elbow from Khali, with Finlay taking everything full-force to make this look presentable.  Skillet-chop and a big boot to the face by Khali, and then he dumps Finlay to the floor.  On the outside, Khali slams Finlay into the rail, then into the apron.  Finlay ducks a shot and Khali whacks the post.  Finlay tries to kick Khali off the apron, but gets absolutely plastered by a chop.  That popped the crowd pretty good.  Back in, Khali slaps on a nerve-pinch.  You know, this is usually how a Khali match goes.  You think he’s doing okay for a little bit, and then he gets gassed and grabs a hold.  Finlay escapes only to charge into a spin-kick (!) and get caught in the nerve-pinch again.  This time it goes on forever, and then Finlay grabs the ropes.  Now Khali slaps on the vise-grip but Finlay is already in the ropes and the hold has to be broken.  Khali drags Hornswaggle into the ring and swats him out of the ring.  Big chop and a scoop slam by Khali and the fans hate-hoo the shit out of him.  He unties the turnbuckle, but Finlay knocks out Singh and grabs the shillelagh.  Khali grabs a chokehold, but Hornswaggle comes in and low-blows Khali with his own shillelagh, then Finlay clubs Khali in the head and scores the pin.
**1/2 Nearly presentable.  A little more action and less nerve-pinching and this would have at least earned a passing grade from me.

-Meanwhile, Jim Ross starts to talk in his sad voice as he pimps the next match.  Yeah, Chris Jericho as a babyface makes me want to cry as well.

Match #6: WWE Championship
(c) Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho

Warning: One of those ‘long winded’ rants follows.  If you don’t like your reviews to have actual criticism in them, skip ahead.

To all those people who are calling for my head on a pike for hating Christian, I would like to point out that I used to dislike Chris Jericho equally as much.  I didn’t miss him one bit when he was gone from 2005 to 2007.  And then he came back and was the same exact Rock wannabe that he was before, only this time he looked like he was putting from the rough.  Truth be told, I wasn’t a fan of his when he was a heel either.  He had moments, sure, but for the most part he never did anything for me.  And then, miracle of miracles, he caught fire in 2008 when he started feuding with Shawn Michaels, and now he’s like a totally different wrestler.  Every aspect of him that I disliked before was replaced by a different Chris Jericho who on the surface seemed the same.  But this was not the same Chris Jericho.   He looked more confident, more able to stand on his own in the ring, and he actually wrestled more aggressively, which is how a top-level heel should be.  So if you needed proof that I really do want to like every single wrestler, look no further then Chris Jericho.  It took me nine years before I grew to like him, and all he had to do with turn up the tempo just a little bit.  I’m not that hard a guy to please, as should be evident from the ***1/2 I just gave to a Big Daddy V & Mark Henry tag match.  But everything I disliked about Chris Jericho from 1999 to 2007 is the same stuff I dislike about Christian right now: low hitting, poorly paced, psychology free wrestling.  All Christian has to do is turn up the tempo just a little bit and he’s got me on his side.

Sadly, this match features the Chris Jericho that I hated.  Randy Orton is just sort of there for me.  I don’t like him, I don’t dislike him… I’m just totally indifferent to him.  He’s a capable wrestler whose style is easy enough for anyone to get a good match with, but he needs to be carried to it.  Sort of like a modern Lex Luger, not in appearance but in style.  Like Luger, Randy Orton has had many very good matches in his career and will continue to have them as long as the bookers cater to his needs, which are…

1. He can follow almost any pace for a match, but needs someone who can listen to the crowd and dictate the pace to him, and not vice versa.  A good example of this would be his match with Chris Benoit at Summerslam in 2004.  A bad example would be Triple H at Wrestlemania 25.  Triple H is a very talented wrestler… when he’s a heel.  As a babyface, he’s proven on many occasions that pacing is not his strong suit.  Oddly enough, Batista seemed to be better suited for this then John Cena or Triple H, and the proof is in their quality matches from earlier in 2009.

2. He needs someone that he can use his existing tools with in a creative fashion, instead of just running through them like a checklist.  John Cena, who is the closest to Hulk Hogan that anyone has been since the 80s, is not the person to do this with.  Orton had good matches with Jeff Hardy, Mick Foley, and their likes.  Guys who are more creatively-minded.

3. Orton needs a guy to bump off him.  Again, Triple H and John Cena are not the right kind of babyface for the type of heel that he is.  Orton’s moves are very fundamental in execution.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  In fact, I actually love that he’s brought back the Garvin Stomp, a move I always felt was unappreciated.  It’s a bully move to just stomp every part of a person’s body.  It’s exactly the type of old-school heelish maneuver that has been due for a comeback under the WWE’s pussified “no piledrivers” era and Orton was the right guy to bring it back.  But for whatever reason, neither John Cena nor Triple H has made the move look particularly devastating.  And it is on them.  I don’t know, maybe they think selling a stomp is beneath them or something.  But after watching Jeff Hardy and other under-card guys sell it like death, it irks me that none of the guys Orton is actually paired with for pay-per-view main events put over that move or any of his other stuff, sans maybe the punt.

Of course, the WWE ultimately are the ones that decide if Orton is used properly or not.  I have no beef with him being the World Champion, but if they’re going to have the belt on him, use him to his fullest potential and match him up against guys that can make him look good.  Otherwise they’re just looking for excuses as to why they’re not drawing.  And given how well their DVDs are selling, it tells me that people STILL will pay to see wrestling, whether or not the economy is in the toilet.  Giving us our 11th John Cena vs. Randy Orton match on pay per view and then blaming the recession on its poor reception is a bullshit cop-out and they know it.

RANT OVER, now back to your regularly scheduled review…

Lockup #1 goes nowhere.  Lockup #2 ends with Jericho getting an armdrag.  Lockup #3 and Orton takes Jericho to the ropes, where he refuses to break clean and slugs it out.  Shoot to the corner is turned into a couple more armdrags by Jericho, and then he grabs an armbar.  Jericho loads up a suplex and then turns it into a hot-shot on the ropes.  That shit always makes me cringe.  A couple kicks to the gut on Orton, and then Jericho bars his arm and punches away at the exposed gut.  Jericho shoots off and lowers his head into a kick, but catches the follow-up charge with a spin kick.  Jericho gets ready for the springboard dropkick and Orton bails, but he doesn’t get far enough and Jericho hits a cross-body off the top and to the floor.  Back in, Jericho gets caught entering the ring and Orton loads up the rope-DDT.  Jericho turns that into a Walls of Jericho attempt, but Orton somehow turns that into a DDT for two.  Orton stomps away at Jericho, drops a fist to his back, and slaps on a rear chinlock.  Remember what I said about Orton needing someone to make his moves look good?  Jericho, to his credit, makes Orton’s signature rest-spot look pretty good here.  Too many guys do nothing with it.  Jericho escapes only to charge into a dropkick for two.  And back to the grounded chinlock.  Orton applies body scissors to change it up.  To their feet, where Orton slugs away and both guys charge into each other in a spot that looked pretty cool.

So naturally the WWE does what it always does when a spot looks awesome: they show it from another angle that shows how phony it really was.  Remember to send those notes to demanding that they cut out instant replays.  If you’ve already done it, make up a fake name and send in another.  We have got to end this shit.

Double-KO follows, and when both guys get up Jericho hulks up.  Shoulder blocks and a clothesline get two for him.  Brawling to the corner, where Jericho hits a dropkick off the ropes for two.  Orton reverses a whip and hits a powerslam for two.  Weak spot sees Orton toss Jericho into the post.  It looked like poop.  Backslide by Jericho gets two, so Orton tosses him into the opposite post, and this time it looked much better.  Orton loads up a superplex and actually hits it for two.  Jericho holds the ropes and causes Orton to whiff on a dropkick, then sets up the Walls of Jericho.  Orton turns it into a small package for two.  Running enziguri and a bulldog by Jericho sets up the lionsault, but Orton gets his knees up on it, and then follows it up with the wrap-around backbreaker.  Orton coils down for the RKO, but Jericho avoids it, and then hits the lionsault for two.  Fans totally bought that as the finish.  Orton knocks Jericho to the apron, and then elbows him off and into the rail.  Jericho fights back and rams Orton into the apron, then charges.  Orton side-steps him and tosses him over the Smackdown announce table and into JBL, who looks a bit peeved by this.  Back to the ring, Jericho hangs up Orton and hits a flying forearm off the top.  Jericho tells Orton to get up, and then goes for the code-breaker.  Orton blocks this by tossing him into the turnbuckle.  Orton measures for the punt, but misses it and Jericho slaps on the Walls of Jericho.  Orton starts to crawl for the ropes so Jericho drags him back to the center.  BUT WAIT~!! because in one of the biggest copout finishes the WWE has run in recent years, JBL comes in and boots Jericho in the face to draw the DQ.  This marked his return to the ring.
****1/4 Another almost certain can of worms opened here, but what can I say?  I totally dug this match, even if the ending sucked shit.  You know what I found most interesting about it?  You would think that with Chris Jericho having returned here, the match would be about building up his moves and character.  Instead, Randy Orton had Jericho’s number on every one of his major moves.  He countered the lionsault, the walls, and the codebreaker, sometimes more then once.  So what should have been a launch platform for Jericho ended up making Orton look like an intelligent wrestler, which isn’t exactly his gimmick.  Either way, I liked what they had going here and I’m actually not too peeved about the ending.  Sure, I think if they wanted to involve JBL, they should have had him KO Jericho and let Randy Orton get the pinfall.

I think DQs in general should be part of a long gone era, back when wrestling was territorial and the champions needed protection because they weren’t going to stick around any one company for too long.  In the modern era, where fans know what’s really going on, I don’t think anyone taking a fall due to inference loses their credibility and thus it should be done away with.  I guess the idea is it will draw heat on both the champion and the person who interfered, but it doesn’t really work that way.  Mostly, people just feel ripped off that the match didn’t end decisively.  But I don’t believe that DQs should be used for anyone to save face with, because the era where people in general believe in wrestling is long gone, and that’s all the DQ was good for in the first place.  Let them just take the pin.

-After the match, Orton hits the RKO, presumably to get his heat back after keeping the title.  See what I mean?  Just let him score the pinfall and save a couple minutes in the process.

Match #7: Women’s Championship
(c) Beth Phoenix vs. Mickie James

But first, Jillian Hall is out to shill her novelty album that was actually put on iTunes.  Then again, my podcast is on iTunes, which shows that actual talent is not required (for the record, I don’t think the TWP Pass is that bad, but I admit I’m still on the sharp end of the learning curve).  Lillian Garcia shakes her head in disbelief, which is funny because Lillian Garcia was the Jillian Hall of ring announcing, only it wasn’t a gimmick.  Jillian then sings, and Joey Styles notes that he’s heard reindeer fart more harmoniously.  Um yeah… who hasn’t?  Well, that was a waste of time.

Lockup and Beth slings Mickie down.  Lockup and Mickie grabs a headlock, then tries to flip off the ropes but Beth tosses off and shoulder blocks her down.  Mickie kicks away, but Beth muscles down to prevent a whip and sends Mickie to the corner.  She blocks a head-scissors and powerbombs Mickie to the canvas, and then stalls before covering for two.  She stomps away and stands on Mickie’s back, then chokes her on the ropes.  Snapmare into a dragon sleeper by Beth, and then she cuts off a comeback by clubbing Mickie down. She rams Mickie into the turnbuckle and leaves her hanging in the tree of woe, but weakly misses a charge and Mickie gets a roll-up for two.  Mickie kicks away but gets caught in the clutched chicken-wing.  Mickie drops out of it and kicks Beth in the face, then flips out of a powerslam and gets her foot up on a charge in the corner.  Nasty rana by Mickie, with Beth bouncing off her head.  Thesz-press and mounted punches, then another Thesz press and some ground-and-pounding by Mickie.  Low dropkick for two.  Neckbreaker by Mickie and she climbs.  Missile dropkick off the top gets two.  She calls for the DDT but Beth escapes, ducks a clothesline, and hits the fisherman’s buster for the pin.
*** Totally acceptable women’s match with no added frills.

Match #8: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Batista vs. Edge vs. The Undertaker

Edge had to give up the Championship due to injury earlier in the year.  Man, what a bad string of luck the World Heavyweight Championship had in a short period of time.  Undertaker got injured and had to give it up.  Mr. Kennedy, the first choice to win it, got injured and had to give up his spot.  Edge won it, then got injured and had to give it up.  It ended up in the hands of the Great Khali of all people, in what was the low point for the belt.  I have no clue what they were thinking, though I heard people in India were ecstatic.  Batista took it a couple months later, and it finally seemed to find some stability about it.  Yeah, right.  As many people have pointed out, more wrestlers have held the World Championship in the seven years it’s existed then people held the WWE Championship in its first thirty years.

To the match, where Edge bails to start.  Batista and Undertaker don’t care and lock up, where Batista shoves Taker outside and into Edge, who runs for his life.  Taker and Batista both want a piece of him and end up fighting themselves for the right to kill him.  Taker wins out and heads into the ring, where Edge slugs it out, then bails when it looks like Taker is going for a chokeslam.  Batista in to slug it out and slams Taker into the turnbuckle.  Taker lowers his head into a kick, but no sells it.  Clothesline sends Taker to the floor, where he grabs Edge for the chokeslam, but Batista displays STUPID WRESTLER SYNDROME and makes the save.  I mean, presumably if Taker hits the chokeslam on the floor, Edge is done for with the match.  This is what I hate about triple threat matches: they make wrestlers look STUPID!  I mean more so then normal.

Batista seems to have wiped himself out on the baseball slide, so Taker drags him out and slams him into the stairs, then sets up for the leg drop on the apron.  He picks up Batista and loads him up for a battering ram, but Batista wiggles out and shoves Taker into the post.  Edge decides to go for the pin on this and gets two off of it.  He shoulder blocks Taker off the apron, and then gets caught in a side-slam from Batista for two.  Clothesline in the corner by Batista and some shoulder blocks, and then he misses a charge in the opposite corner and gets drop-toeholded into the turnbuckle.  Edge calls for the spear, but Batista boots him in the face and powerslams him for two.  Undertaker saves and drags Batista out of the ring, sending him into the stairs.  He puts Batista in the ring, then drags Edge to the apron and boots him in the head.  He goes for the leg drop on the apron to him, but Batista clotheslines him to the floor.  Shoot off and Batista lowers his head into a kick, but gets a spinebuster.  Batista loads up for the powerbomb, but Edge turns it into the impact DDT for two as Taker drags the referee out of the ring.  Taker slugs it out and splashes him in the corner.  Snake-eyes and a running boot for two.  He winds up Edge for the ropewalk and hits it, then loads up the wedgiebomb.  Batista spears him while he’s loaded up for it, and that looked pretty dangerous.  Batista goes for the pin on Taker, but gets caught in the Hell’s Gate, pre-overness.  Edge channels his inner Eddie Guerrero and rings the bell.  Taker gets pissed at the referee, then turns around and gets speared… for two.  Fans seem to have bought that as the finish.  Edge spears Batista and that gets two.  He’s freaking out now, so he grabs a pair of chairs.  He preps Batista for the con-chair-to, but Taker saves and dumps him.  Clothesline by Batista to Taker (that’s gratitude for you) and he climbs.  Taker crotches him and loads up a superplex off the top.  It hits for two.  Ropewalk to Batista is turned into a spinebuster, and then he spears a fake Edge down.  He loads up for the powerbomb, but Taker drives him to the corner.  BUT WAIT~!! because there’s a third Edge outside of the ring.  Taker chokeslams Batista and calls for the tombstone, but a fake Edge gets caught coming off the ropes and gets chokeslammed.  Taker snake-eyes Batista but gets clotheslined while running the ropes for the boot.  That gets two for Batista.  Batista goes for a powerslam, but Taker turns it into the tombstone.  BUT WAIT~!! because the real Edge comes in with a chair and whacks Taker with it, then covers Batista for the pin and the title.  The fake Edges were Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, of course.
****1/2 They overcame the problems that usually plague triple threat matches by having only one instance of S.W.S.  Edge’s cowardly, opportunistic character really does lend itself more to this style of contest.  There was no wasted time here, which is so important for three-ways.  Even though Edge’s involvement was kept to a minimum, Undertaker and Batista have enough chemistry to be able to have a good match on their own.  Weaving Edge in and out of the mix kept what should have been a stale match-up seem fresh.  I totally dug this match, and it was a perfect way to cap off this show.

BONUS FEATURE: Clips of Vince McMahon naming himself the greatest WWE superstar in RAW’s history, then eating a dozen stunners from Steve Austin for being such a dick about it.  Completely worthless.

BOTTOM LINE: You know, for the life of me I could not remember anything about this show going into it.  I must have slept through it back in December of 2007, because it actually was a really good pay-per-view.  You get eight matches, only two of which are not worth watching.  Three of the eight matches score ****1/4 or better, making this an easy thumbs up.  You can buy it for $7.50 while supplies last at Wal-Mart, along with Unforgiven 2008.  At that price, it’s a steal.  Stay tuned next week for the Way Too Long Review of Breaking Point.topstory500x250-|topstory500x250 topstory120x120-|topstory120x120

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The Way Too Long Review of The Best of Smackdown: Disc Three Thu, 08 Oct 2009 14:00:41 +0000 Moment #39: Motherslapper (March 23, 2000)

Stephanie McMahon bitch-slaps Linda.  She really ought to consider slapping her again.  Running for Senate?  Yeah right, like the owner of the trashy WWE is going to win the Republican nomination.  As I said on my podcast, all her opponents need to do is air a ten second clip of her from Wrestlemania 22 where she took part in a prayer that included the line “God, you don’t like me and I don’t like you…” and she’s done for.  That shit will not play to the jebus crowd.  Anyway, Linda says “People ask me what I was thinking when she hit me.  I was thinking… wow that hurts.”  Um wait, you mean getting hit HURTS?  Ah, so that’s why people do it.

Moment #38: A Celebration to Remember (February 19, 2004)

We get Eddie’s championship celebration on Smackdown.  We get to see confetti and balloons fall from the ceiling.  This one is slightly nicer to watch then Jeff Hardy’s, though I still would rather have matches then the stuff they are giving us.

Moment #37: Big Show Returns (September 9, 2004)

Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle are having a lumberjack match, things break down and basically turn into a battle royal.  BUT WAIT~!! because Big Show arrives with a hair-line pushed back about three inches.  He cleans house, then chokeslams damn near everyone.

Moment #36: Sexy Kurt (March 24, 2005)

Kurt Angle is feuding with Shawn Michaels leading into Wrestlemania 21, and decides to replay Shawn’s entire career in record time.  Thus, he comes out here with Sensational Sherri.  He then sings his own version of Shawn’s music.  I’ve only heard about this and never actually watched it.  It’s HILARIOUS!

Moment #35 is…

Match #15: Tag Team Championship
(c) New Age Outlaws vs. Mankind & The Rock
10/14/99 Smackdown

This is the ‘last time ever’ for the Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection to team up.  If only.  I’ve only rated two of their matches.  One got 1/4*, the other a DUD.  And the DUD was a match against the New Age Outlaws.  This is a different match, and hopefully a better match.  Mick was under the impression that he would be retired by the Survivor Series at this point.  He would delay his retirement when Steve Austin’s neck became too problematic and left the WWE without anyone to fill his place in the main event scene.

Billy starts with Rocky.  Rockabilly?  They lockup and Rocky grabs a headlock.  Billy is blown up by this.  Shoulderblock by Rocky, which Billy can barely muster the energy to bump for.  He tries to leapfrog Rocky on a whip, can barely get up for that, then gets a drop-toehold.  Billy nearly botches another leapfrog (what an athlete) and then gets clotheslined.  Brawl in the corner, then a hardwhip by Rocky leads to him eating a neck-breaker for two.  Billy goes for the Fameasser and Rocky somehow ‘counters’ it into a slam that looked horrible.  Neither guy is sure whether they should be the one selling or not, so Rocky loads up the Rock Bottom.  Things break down and we have a big slug-off with all four guys.  Another referee comes down to restore order and draws more heat then the Outlaws do.  We settle down with Mankind and Jesse James.  Mankind brawls him to the corner and slugs it out.  Running knee-smash in the corner, then Mankind puts up his dukes and slugs it out.  He does Jesse’s “shake-rattle-roll” punches.  Roaddogg counters with a low-blow and his own shake-rattle-roll punches and kneedrop.  He goes for the hump-handle slam but Rocky gets a clothesline to stop it.  The referee’s back was turned and thus Rocky assumes the role of legal man in the ring.  He punches James around, who then ducks a clothesline.  Rocky reverses a whip and hits a stiff back-elbow.  Slam into Mankind’s shoe, then a tag.  Mankind charges into an elbow, then we have a double clothesline in a double-KO.  Billy makes the tag in and it’s elbows for all and a big piledriver to Mankind for two.  The Outlaws double-up on Mankind in the corner, then James hits nice dropkick to Mick’s face.  Yeah, I know.  I’m supposed to pick one name and stick to it when dealing with Mick Foley.  But what the hell, I can only type “Mankind” so many times.  Besides, if you don’t know who I’m talking about, you’re a retard.  Anyway, Billy comes back in with some punches in the corner.  Shoot to the corner and Billy misses a stinger-splash, then eats a face-buster.  Hot tag to Rocky.  Punches for all.  Rock Bottom to Gunn for two as James breaks it up.  He kicks Rocky out of the ring, while Mankind hits the double-arm DDT… for two?  Wow.  Fans didn’t really buy it as the finish anyway.  Foley loads up Socko but eats the Fameasser instead.  Billy covers, BUT WAIT~!! because here comes Crash Holly with a baseball bat.  He aims for Billy but hits Mick instead.  Billy takes Crash, BUT WAIT~!! because Hardcore Holly shows up and KOs Billy with a tag title belt and Foley covers for the pin and the championship.  Mankind tries to get a hug from Rocky, but Rocky is pissed because now they have to team up some more.
*** I think it’s safe to say that this was the only decent Rock ‘N’ Sock match during their original run.  They stuck to the tag team formula and turned out an average but acceptable match as a result.

Moment #34: Houdini of Hardcore

Crash declares that he will defend the hardcore title 24/7, 365 days a year.  We get highlights of what that led to, including a memorable moment where the Headbangers  chase him through a Chuck-E-Cheese.  Crash hitting a rana off of a flying fox is pretty funny.  Other moments include Ivory offering Crash a massage and bashing him over the head with a vase in an attempt to win the belt.  Crash bails to seek help from the APA and ends up getting killed by them and Kaientai.  Several years ago the WWE put out a full DVD dedicated to this, WWF Hardcore, and you can still find it relatively cheap online.

Moment #33: Mysterio Flies (July 25, 2002)

The match is actually Chris Jericho vs. Edge.  We get some slow, uninteresting highlights of it.  Edge wins, then the Un-Americans jump him.  John Cena tries to make the save, then Mysterio shows up and hits a cross-body off the top of the cage.  Was this really needed?  Why not just give us the full match?

Moment #32: Undertaker’s Revenge (September 26, 2008)

We get highlights of the Undertaker stalking Vickie Guerrero around.  Really HORRIBLE segment that I’m sure was the opening crawl of the next week’s episode of Smackdown.

Match #31: Divorce Court

Various high-lights of the Vince vs. Linda feud.  Vince chews out Linda and says he wants a divorce.  CM Punk doesn’t understand why anyone would want to get married, but if you’re going to get divorced that’s the way to do it.  Linda ended up catatonic and Vince ended up having an affair with Trish Stratus, including kissing her in front of Linda.  Todd Grisham’s demented comments through-out this entire DVD set have been hilarious.  Why can’t he be this witty when he’s calling matches?

Moment #30 (June 27, 2002)

It’s the night after the King of the Ring.  Vince McMahon brings out Kurt Angle, fresh off of making Hulk Hogan submit at the King of the Ring.  Angle is wearing his head-gear with a really terrible hair-piece to cover up his baldness after Edge won a hair match against him.  Angle gloats about how he has ruthless aggression and is on a big winning streak.  He chews the fans out, says they suck, how they can’t mock him or break his concentration.  He takes off his hair-piece so that nobody can say anything to ruin his mood.  He’s on a roll, and thus he issues an open challenge to anyone he’s never wrestled before.  Out comes…

Match #16
Kurt Angle vs. John Cena

This is John Cena’s debut.  And he has ruthless aggression it would seem.  If someone had told me in 2002 that John Cena was going to re-invent the Hulk Hogan formula and carry the company very well through a tough economic time for the country, I would have said “bullshit.”  People might not like him, but there’s no denying that he’s carried the company with class.

Cena says that he has ruthless aggression, then bitch-slaps Angle to start the match.  Takedown by Cena and mounted punches, then a 360 clothesline.  Fans are fucking HOT for Cena and he just debuted with no hype, no vignettes, and no name recognition.  Back in, Cena shoots of Angle and gets a backdrop and a pair of clotheslines.  Stinger-splash by Cena gets two.  Angle goes for the ankle-lock a couple times, but Cena keeps countering it.  HUGE high-angle German suplex by Kurt to take control of the match.  He fires off another one, then stomps away.  Angle tries for another German but Cena rolls him up for two, then eats another clothesline.  Ram into the corner by Kurt and a vertical suplex for two.  Front-facelock by Angle, then Cena gets out with a backdrop to a double-KO.  Both guys are up and Cena slugs it out, then hits a flying-forearm and a very high-angle spinebuster for two.  Angle goes for the Angle Slam but Cena counters with a DDT for two, two, and two.  Shoot to the corner and Cena side-steps a shoulderblock and Kurt eats post for two.  Small-package for two.  Kurt punches low but still runs into a powerslam for two and two.  Fans are into this.  Kurt snatches Cena into a butterfly lock and turns that into a pin for the three.  Cena offers a hand-shake to Kurt, who is like “bitch please, it’s not like you’re going to end up as one of the three biggest drawing champions of the national era” and bails.
***1/2 Excellent debut by Cena, though Kurt mostly carried here.  This is the type of debut that the WWE would be well-served to try and emulate with some of the newcomers that are coming up.

Moment #29: Icon Destruction (August 8, 2002)

Hulk Hogan gives notice that he’s going to leave the company as he’s old and his knees can’t take it anymore.  He would later blow out his ACL while getting up off the couch at his house.  No, that was not a joke.  Anyway, the WWE decides that they might as well get one last rub out of him and match him up with Brock Lesnar, who is weeks away from taking out the Rock to win the championship.  Brock absolutely kicks the SHIT out of Hogan.  To Hogan’s credit, he knew he was about to take some time off and thus instructed Brock before this match to ‘just be as stiff as possible’.  It’s a shame that the Hulk Hogan of 2002 who was anxious to give back to the business didn’t show up when he wrestled Shawn Micahels and later Randy Orton at Summerslam.  Mind you, Hogan didn’t actually step up and say “I’ll put over Brock Lesnar.”  He argued against doing it, saying that it would mean more if he came back at the Survivor Series or the Royal Rumble to do it.  But once he agreed to it, he gave Brock his blessing to just dominate him and make it look good with stiff shots.  Including a very cringe-inducing powerbomb that a guy of Hogan’s age and health should not have taken.  Brock in response made Hogan’s moves look better then anyone in years had, including his big boot, by taking it full-force in the face.  Nice.  Brock hits the F5, but in another moment that Hogan came up with, he said something to the extent of “if we’re going to do this, have him beat me by match stoppage.  People have pinned me, and Kurt Angle just made me tap-out, but nobody has beaten me to the point where the match needed to be stopped.”  And thus after the F5 Brock slaps on a bear-hug and Hogan bleeds from the mouth to sell it.  Awesome stuff.  Brock chairs Hogan afterwards.  Give Hogan credit, he put the kid over huge here.  I wish Brock had appreciated how good everyone in the WWE set out to make him and honored his contract instead of taking his ball and going home.

Moment #28: Get in My Belly (April 13, 2000)

Prior to Wrestlemania 2000, Big Show made a cameo on an episode of Saturday Night Live that was hosted by the Rock.  He did well for himself and thus he was given a more playful gimmick.  His impression of Hulk Hogan at Backlash in 2000 is still one of my favorite moments.  Here, he is dressed like Fat Bastard from Austin Powers.  Considering his comic timing is pretty good, they need to have him lighten up with Chris Jericho.  I would like to see that dynamic.  Fat Bastardshow says to Kurt Angle “You don’t have a neck, you have a bowling ball stuck on a concrete block.”  Good line.  Big Show says he likes to entertain but he’s in the body of a monstrous killer.  Really?  He looks nothing like Chris Benoit.

Moment #27: Bald is Beautiful

I’m thinking they have issues with ordering moments in this DVD properly.  Here, we get the highlights of Kurt Angle with his head-gear on.  Triple H and Hulk Hogan rip it off, and Angle’s hilarious, over-the-top selling of it is amazing.

Moment #26: Border Patrol (April 8, 2004)

In the long history of Sports Entertainment, I think this might be the greatest way to make someone the #1 contender.  Smackdown GM Kurt Angle had issued a series of matches to determine who the “Great American” would be that could challenge that filthy little Mexican Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship.  After all the matches were completed, fucking Bradshaw, fresh off debuting his new JBL character, shows up and chases off some border-crossers.  It’s not shown on here but he would be declared #1 contender for this.

-We recap the Zach Gowen bullshit.  I’ve heard stories about Gowen.  And none of them are nice.

Moment #25 is…

Match #17: Handicap Match, No-Holds-Barred
The Big Show vs. Zach Gowen & Stephanie McMahon
7/3/03 Smackdown

As a funny historic side-note, there were two one-legged wrestlers floating around at the time.  Zach Gowen, bad as he was (with maturity problems on top of that) was the better of the two, but the WWE didn’t know which was the one that had something that resembled talent and signed the wrong one first.  To this match, where Show shoves Gowen down.  Gowen pops up and gets skillet-chopped down.  Show shoves Steph out of the way and goes to the floor, where he grabs Gowen.  Steph jumps off the apron and grabs a sleeper on Show.  Big Show struggles just a little too much to get her off, then slingers her down to the mat.  Show rips of Gowen’s prosthetic leg, but Zach recovers and dropkicks show in the face.  He goes for a plancha but Show catches him, shrugs off Stephanie, and press-slams him into the ring in a nice bump.  Gowen got some air on that one.  He tosses Steph into the ring, then takes a few more punches from Gowen.  Headbutt sends Gowen to the canvas, then he sets up Steph for a slam.  Vince McMahon gets on the apron to tease that he’s going to spare her, then orders Show to finish her.  Gowen drags McMahon off the apron, then fires off another dropkick to Show.  Gowen then hops his way into a clothesline.  Chokeslam by Show, then Vince grinds his boot into Gowen’s neck.  Stephanie comes over and bitch-slaps Vinnie Mac, so Show goes for a chokeslam on her.  BUT WAIT~!! because Kurt Angle shows up and slaps the ankle-lock on Show.  Vince chairs Angle, BUT WAIT~!! because here’s Brock Lesnar.  He goes to F5 McMahon, but Show makes the save.  Gowen kicks the chair into Show’s face, then Show eats the Angle Slam and the F5 in short-order.  Gowen dropkicks Vince McMahon, then hits a moonsault on Show for the pin.  You know, the WWE once said WCW didn’t know how to book a giant like Big Show.  They should have booked him more like Andre the Giant.  Funny enough, I don’t remember Andre ever doing job-duty for a guy with one-leg.
* Not really fair to rate this as all, as this was more angle then match.  But what they gave us was silly and poorly conceived.  If they needed to use the ‘win the match to earn the contract’ stuff they could have picked someone that Gowen could have realistically beaten.  Like, say, Mae Young.  On another note, let’s assume this countdown stuff means anything.  Was this REALLY the 25th greatest moment in the history of Smackdown?  It wouldn’t have been a better fit in, say, spot #90?

Moment #24: Right Place, Wrong Time (July 27, 2000)

Ah, now I get it… it’s not a top 25 moment unless it has a McMahon in it.  Triple H gets booked in a match as Trish Stratus’ tag partner.  Triple H starts to bitch about how women know nothing about wrestling and thus Stephanie gets pissy with him and storms out.  Then Trish shows up and asks him to teach her some holds.  So he tries to teach a hammerlock and how to counter in, and then Stephanie walks in when it looks suspiciously like Trips is giving her anal.  I loved the reaction on Triple H’s face.  Stephanie gets mad and breaks everything in the room, then takes off crying.  Funny.

Moment #23: Ultimate Opportunist (May 11, 2007)

Undertaker is the World Heavyweight Champion.  He gets injured and has to take some time off.  He’s booked against Batista in a cage match.  They play the Hogan/Orndorff finish and both guys climb out at the same time, so the match is a draw.  BUT WAIT~!! because here comes Mark Henry to kill the Undertaker.  BUT WAIT~!! because Edge comes out to cash in the Money in the Bank he had won the day before when Mr. Kennedy got injured.  Edge immediately covers for two, then hits the spear for the pin and the title.  At least they didn’t have Taker kick out at two like Jeff Hardy did on CM Punk, or John Cena did on Edge.

Moment #22: Angle vs. Lesnar (September 18, 2003)

This is an iron-man match, and the only WWE one I’ve never seen.  Brock intentionally gets DQed on the first fall with a chair, then hits the F5 to tie it up.  He then slaps on an ankle lock to make Angle tap to go up 2-1.  Lesnar takes Angle outside and hits the F5 on the floor and wins a fall via count-out to go up 3-1.  Angle gets a fall with an Angle-slam, and jesus this was all only 30 minutes in?  The ref gets bumped and so Brock hits Angle with a belt and goes up 4-2.  A superplex puts him up 5-2.  This match looks sick.  A throw off the top rope gives Angle a fall (bullshit), an anklelock gives him 5-4, then he snatches up another ankle lock but time runs out.  Someone at the WWE needs to get this bitch on DVD.  I’m sure we would already have an iron-man DVD if not for Chris Benoit.

Moment #21: DX-Plosion (April 27, 2000)

Stone Cold Steve Austin, looking a bit pudgy while he recovers from his neck surgery, drops a support beam on DX’s bus, which somehow causes it to explode.  Was this skit filmed by Michael Bay?

Moment #20: Batista Forfeits Title (January 13, 2006)

At the rate Batista is going they’ll be able to fill a two-disc set of “Batista’s Greatest Injuries” by 2012.  Thus, we have a battle royal to decide the new champion.  Thankfully, we don’t get the full version of that match on DVD.  It looks better in clipped form, like most battle royals do.  Kurt Angle is the surprise 20th entry and dumps half the people himself.  Mark Henry looks to win, but Angle went out under the bottom rope.  Angle eliminates Henry, Chris Benoit/Big Show style and takes the belt, though his feet hit the floor at nearly the same time.

Moment #19: People’s Elbow (September 30, 1999)

Rocky is the guest referee for the British Bulldog/Triple H main event.  Bulldog has the match won, but IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THE ROCK COUNTS TO THREE!  Rocky then gives Bulldog a people’s elbow, and slides into the finish of it.  Man that looked awesome.  It’s too bad he couldn’t do it that way every time.

Moment #18 is…

Match #18 (well, that’s good timing): Tag Team Championship
(c) Billy & Chuck vs. Edge & Hulk Hogan
7/4/02 Smackdown
AS SEEN ON:  Edge – A Decade of Decadence

Childhood dreams come true in the WWE.  Edge was a confirmed Hulkamaniac as a kid, and now he gets to wrestle with him for the tag titles.  Big smile from Edge as Hogan makes his entrance.  Awesome to see a totally authentic reaction like that.  Hulk starts with Chuck, who looks a lot like Mr. Kennedy with the bleached hair.  Hogan can barely bump at this point and would leave the WWE shortly after this.  Chuck punches Hogan down and slams him, but gets cocky.  Hogan smacks him around and drops a bunch of elbows.  Tag to Billy.  Michael Cole tries to make a case that Billy is the best tag wrestler ever.  Tag to Edge who smacks Billy Bitchcakes around.  Edge-O-Matic for two.  Edge beats up both heels, but turns his back on Billy and gets clotheslined to become the face-in-peril.  Chuck beats him around and gets an overhead suplex for two.  Tag to Billy who chokes him and bit.  Michael Cole is seriously pimping Billy Gunn here.  Suplex by Billy gets two.  Chuck tags in.  He slams Edge and drops an elbow for two.  He misses a charge and gets dumped to the floor.  Billy holds Edge for a free shot from Rico, who misses and wipes him out with a superkick.  Edge makes his way to the apron but Billy recovers and bulldogs him on the stairs.  Chuck covers in the ring for two.  Tag to Billy who grabs a front facelock.  Edge goes to tag Hogan and ends up rolling up Billy for two.  Tag to Chuck who goes for a slam but Edge turns it into a facebuster.  Tag to Billy, hot tag to Hogan.  Punches for all.  Noggin Knocker and the big boot to Billy, but Chuck kills Hogan with a superkick.  It gets two.  Double team to Hogan but he gets a double clothesline.  Hogan is selling death for some reason so he makes the hot… I guess… tag to Edge.  Clotheslines for all.  Implant DDT to Chuck, but Rico trips him up.  Hogan beats up Rico while Billy and Chuck switch spots.  Billy goes for the Fameasser but Edge hits the spear for two as Chuck saves.  Double big boot to Billy, then back-to-back legdrops from Edge and Hogan win them the tag titles.  Edge is beaming.
*** Pretty standard tag match.

Moment #17: Kurt Kisses Stephanie (August 24, 2000)

So Stephanie had a teeny-tiny little crush on Kurt Angle, which kind of irked her hubby Triple H.  Angle had somehow found his way into the WWE title match with Triple H against the Rock that Sunday at Summerslam.  But first on the agenda was Stephanie getting into a mixed tag match, with Rocky teaming with Lita (fresh off winning the Women’s title from Steph the previous night on Raw).  Steph decided to flip to see who would team with her, and it ended up being Kurt Angle.  Steph actually took a decent bump off of Lita’s head-scissors, back in the days before Lita was one of the most sloppy workers in the business.  She never did recover 100% from her neck-injury.  Rocky whips Angle into Steph and knocks her out.  Trips comes out to take her to the back, then he goes out to check on Angle.  Kurt bails on the match and leaves Trips to get his ass kicked, then plants a lip-lock on Steph in the back.  Todd Grisham’s “I would comment but I’ve never kissed a woman before” bit had me legitimately laughing my ass off.  They have to figure out a way to let him talk like this on commentary.  The “Wait, what did you say” commentator.

Moment #16: JBL vs. Dollzilla (February 10, 2005)

This should have been in the top five.  We’re in Japan and JBL tries to use the same tranquilizer Kurt Angle shot the Big Show with, only he loads it with a more powerful gun.  The girl he hands it to (for the life of me I have no fucking clue who it is) shoots him by mistake.  JBL ends up wasted.  He walks around the back, stoned off his ass.  He talks nice to Carlito “ya half har luk a chia pet”.  He then grabs a giant, inflated dinosaur and gets into a fight with it.  Even better is he sounds just like Dubbya when he’s talking.  Todd Grisham doesn’t find humor in it, considering all the children today experimenting with tranquilizer darts.

Moment #15: TLC III (May 24, 2001)

The moment all those child-murderer enthusiasts out there have been waiting for is finally here… Chris Benoit makes his triumphant return to DVD.  You know, I thought wrestling fans were the biggest fucktards on the planet.  And then this shit with Roman Polanski went down.  So let me get this straight: some of the biggest actors and directors in Hollywood are up in arms because a guy got arrested for drugging a thirteen year-old girl, fucking her in the ass, pleading guilty to it, then fleeing the country to avoid jail time?  And now that this child rapist has been captured and is going to serve time, they’re mad?  Those are some sick mother fucking puppies making movies.  And hence forth I will refer to any actor or director calling for his release a “raping children in the ass enthusiast.”

Anyway, back to the TLC III.  You can get the full match on the Ladder Match DVD.  I gave it *** due to over-telegraphing of the high spots.  Chris Benoit gets a total of two seconds on the disc, and his name isn’t mentioned, only a note that the teams are Hardys, The Dudleys, Edge & Christian, and the “Tag Champs.”  You get to see his face for one second, then you see him pull the belt down with his face not on camera.  I’m actually glad the WWE included this so that fans will get that he’s not welcome in DVD land anymore.  And anyone who wants to blame the WWE for that can fuck right off.  Blame the guy who murdered his wife and child.

Moment #14: Blockbuster Champ (November 11, 1999)

Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up on Smackdown and is given a replica of the WWE Championship belt.  When I was a kid I went to John Jacob Astor Elementary School in Astoria, Oregon.  When I was in third grade, Universal Studios selected our school to film the movie “Kindergarten Cop.”  Everyone in the school got to be an extra in the movie.  Unfortunately for me, around that time my grandfather began the process of dying, and my dad wasn’t exactly someone capable or willing to take care of me.  Thus I had to leave Astoria and go with my mom as she took care of my grandfather.  He died shortly after we got there, but it was too late for me to go back to school as filming had just began.  Guess what?  It worked out pretty sweet for me.  I had already completed all my classes ahead of time, and it turned out that all the kids in school had lost their summer vacation as a result of filming interrupting classes.  Even worse, they all had to wait in school buses all day while they waited for their scenes to be shot.  Meanwhile, because the school happened to be on the street I lived on (the same street that the Goonies and Free Willy 1 & 2 were also shot on) I got to see the whole thing get filmed.  And I got a summer vacation on top of that.

Arnold was a dick.  He went out of his way to avoid ALL the students and stayed in his trailer all day, or out in his studio chair smoking cigars and bitching about the weather.  Only a select few were able to even get remotely close to him.  Plus he was much shorter then anyone who’s never seen him in person would guess.  The ferret in the movie later went to the school’s janitor, Mr. John, who was just about the coolest guy in the whole world.

Anyway, Arnold talks about how cool the WWE is, then does commentary with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler.  Triple H tries to punch him and Schwarzenegger levels him with a shot that sure looked solid.  He then passes Steve Austin a chair to take him out.  Fun segment.  I’m shocked it wasn’t ranked higher.

Moment #13 is…

Match #19: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy
4/12/01 Smackdown

So the plan had been “The Hardys are incredibly over… why don’t we make them the top contenders to beat Steve Austin and Triple H?”  This was to be the start of it, but  then the plans were changed when it was decided that neither of the Hardys would be able to carry their end of the feud on the microphone, and thus their spots later went to Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho instead.  This match (and it’s follow up on Raw the next week) were pretty controversial because they were both glorified squashes.  I’ve only seen the Raw match and it was indeed a burial.  But I’ve never seen this one, so I’ll “get to the point” as some of my less enthusiastic readers tell me I need to do.

Trips pounds Jeff into the corner, then into the ropes, then he dumps him to the floor.  On the outside, we don’t see anything because it’s more important to show Stephanie McMahon backstage looking rather nasty.  Back to the match where Jeff hits a head-scissors and a pair of dropkicks.  Jeff charges into a KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! but Jeff turns it into the triple-combo for two.  Ten-punch by Jeff, but Trips tosses Hardy down.  Whisper-in-the-wind that looked slow and sloppy gets two.  Trips shuffle-boards Jeff under the bottom rope and to the floor.  There, Jeff rams Trips into the stairs, then barely manages to hit the rail-runner without botching it.  Jeff comes off the apron but gets power-slammed on the floor.  Whip into the stairs by Trips.  Back in, where Jeff tries to fight back and eats the flying knee.  Mounted punches instead of a cover, then a choke on the ropes.  Punches in the corner by Trips, then a hard whip into the turnbuckle.  Another shoot-off and he grabs a sleeper.  Jeff struggles with it for a while, then turns it into a jaw-breaker.  Russian-legsweep by Jeff, then he climbs for the Swanton, but Trips… um… trips the referee into the ropes and crotches Jeff in the process.  Triple H shoves the referee down, BUT WAIT~!! because Matt Hardy is out to chair him down and Jeff hits the swanton for the pin and the title.  And of course, it’s more important to immediately cut to a shot of Stephanie reacting then it is to show Jeff Hardy celebrate his first singles title.  Man, I do not miss that bitch.
*** Perfectly acceptable match with no bells and whistles attached to it.  Anyone who bitched about this being a squash… um… it wasn’t.  What the FUCK do you want, Jeff to get in 75% of the offense?  He was the babyface.  Triple H was the heel.  Do I need to draw you a diagram?  Hell, I can’t blame the WWE for legitimately squashing Hardy on the next Raw.  I would have booked that out of SPITE.

Moment #12: Champion Chairman (September 16, 1999)

Triple H puts the WWE Championship on the line against Vince McMahon.  McMahon gets his ass kicked, and then Steve Austin comes out, KICK WHAM STUNNER~!! and Vince McMahon is the WWE Champion.  By the way, my source in the WWE Home Video, who swore to me that blood-censoring on DVD would not happen, was dead wrong.  We indeed get the black-and-white filter.  So instead of seeing blood, it looks like Vince McMahon’s face is covered in ink.  Thankfully the WWE has cut this policy.  As it turns out, having blood does not really bump up a show from TV-PG to TV-14 on it’s own.  It’s a combination of things.  I’m not sure how I feel about blood in wrestling.  On one hand, I like a gory match just as much as the next guy.  On the other hand, I agree with Eric Bischoff, who says “some guys bleed because they have nothing else going for them.  If you need blood to have a good match, there’s no point, the match is going to suck whether it’s bloody or not.”  Speaking of which, I need to review Eddie Guerrero vs. JBL from Judgment Day to see if that point is valid, as I remember everything about that match BUT the blade job by Eddie being horrible.

Santino says “He’s the boss and he’s the best.  He made a new word.  He’s the Bost!”

Moment #11: Thuganomics

We get various highlights of John Cena during his whigger phase.  Maybe if he hadn’t dropped that part of his character the fans wouldn’t have totally turned on him.  Some of his lines here are absolutely brutal, especially his lines against Big Show.

I’m at a total loss to figure out what is in the top ten.  I’ve figured that Big Show & Brock Lesnar causing the ring the fall apart would be #1, but otherwise, I’ve got no clue.

Moment #10: Tribute to the Troops

Urge to kill… rising.  You know, I appreciate that the WWE goes to Iraq to entertain the troops.   Except for the fact that they’re way too self-congratulatory about it.  They can only say “it’s not about us, it’s about the troops” so many times before you say “You know what, I think you’re lying.  I don’t think it’s about the troops at all.”  There are a LOT of entertainers who do U.S.O. shows that don’t talk about how fucking awesome and selfless they are for doing it.  And it really rubs me the wrong way, to the point where I now boycott the tribute shows.  Besides, if the WWE loved the troops so much you would think they would give them one decent match JUST ONCE.  But nope, they can’t even do that and give them sub-house show quality stuff.  “Hell, it’s not like they’re paying for a ticket to see us.  Free-loading bastards.”

Various highlights of the selfless WWE stars selflessly hugging the troops.  The wrestlers all talk about what an honor it is to do these shows, and they should be proud.  But the WWE pats itself on the back about these shows so much that everything comes off as disingenuous.  That’s just my opinion.  I’m sure I’ll get heat for it.

Moment #9: Supermarket Brawl (December 13, 2001)

Stone Cold stalks Booker T at a supermarket, then attacks.  Austin beats Booker up and down the store, even managing to sing “When the Moon Hits Your Eye” in the middle of the brawl.  They spill to the back where Austin throws eggs at him.  After some more brawling, the cops arrived.  Presumably someone saw a white guy with a shaved head beating up an African-American and told the police that there was a hate-crime in progress.

Moment #8 is…

Match #15: No Disqualification
Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero
9/26/02 Smackdown
AS SEEN ON: Viva La Raza – The Legacy of Eddie Guerrero

Lockup and Eddie slugs it out.  Back-elbow, then a headlock into a shoulderblock.  Monkey flip by Edge, then to the corner where Eddie rakes at the face.  Edge wrings Eddie’s arm up and grabs a keylock, but Eddie muscles him to the corner.  Shoulderblocks and a diving hangman by Eddie, then he covers with his feet on the ropes gets two.  Backdrop by Edge and a dropkick to take control.  Scoopslam and an elbowdrop gets two.  Now an armbar.  Edge torques on it, then Eddie kicks loose and gets an enziguri.  Forearm by Eddie and then some punches.  Vertical suplex gets two.  Now to a chinlock.  Edge slugs out of it and gets a powerslam for a double knock-out.  Edge recovers first and climbs, but Eddie catches him and hits a superplex for two.  Eddie fires off some elbows to the back, then tees off some more.  Some fucktard fans in the attendance are chanting boring at this.  Shoot off and Eddie ends up on Edge’s shoulders.  Edge hot-shots him into the ropes from there, then dumps him with a clothesline.  Edge pulls out a ladder.  Edge tries to use this as a battering ram but Eddie ducks and the referee gets killed.  Eddie takes out Edge, then grabs a chair and hits him in the back with it.  Eddie puts Edge back in the ring and chairs him in the ribs.  Ouch.  Eddie climbs and taunts the fans.  By time he goes for the frog splash, Edge is recovered enough to roll out of the way and we cut to a commercial.

We’re back with Eddie stomping the shit out of Edge in the corner.  Eddie shoots him off and grabs a sleeper.  The announcers voices sound strange all of a sudden.  I’m wondering if they are cutting out some kind of commentary about you-know-who.  We get replays of Edge missing with the ladder, then Edge hitting the spear during the break for two.  We’re live again with Edge fighting out of the chinlock and getting a single-arm takedown for two.  Eddie catches Edge climbing and fires off a rana from the top for two.  Eddie goes for the springing-rana but Edge turns it into a powerbomb for two.  Edge bails to get a ladder, then brings it back in only to get it dropkicked in his face by Eddie.  Guerrero bails to grab another ladder, then uppercuts Edge onto it.  He places another ladder on top of Edge and then hits the spring-board splash on it.  Ouch.  He covers and it gets two.  Eddie preps the ladder in the corner and climbs it.  Edge recovers and climbs, and they slug it out on top.  Eddie fights him off and hits the murder-death-kill bomb off the top of the ladder.  Big pop for that, and huge chants for the heelish Eddie.  It gets two.  He preps Edge up against the ladder in the corner, then charges and gets caught in a backdrop.  Eddie wipes out huge against the ladder to a big pop.  Edge preps the ladder and climbs, then Eddie climbs as well.  Edge fights him off and HITS THE IMPACT DDT OFF THE TOP OF THE LADDER THOSE SICK MOTHER FUCKING ASSHOLES!  Looked beautiful and sick.  It gets the pin.  The impact was so awesome that Eddie would die from it three years later.
****3/4 Amazing free-TV match that totally made up for all the stink bombs they let off on PPV.

Moment #7: The Rock Says…

Various clips of the Rock doing his thing.  We get to see him torture Coachman by making him sing.  “Sweet cream on an ice-cream sandwich, what in the hell are you doing?”  Santino is personally sick of being compared to the Rock, himself, and if it happens one more time he’s going to freak out.

Moment #6: Funeral Crasher (November 11, 1999)

So the Big Show’s daddy dies… not really, but work with me here… and it’s wrestling so they televise the funeral on Smackdown.  He had been feuding with the Big Bossman, who read a hilarious eulogy on Raw.  “With deepest regrets and tears that are soaked, I’m sorry to hear your dad finally croaked.  He lived a full life, on his own terms.  Soon he’ll be buried, and eaten by worms.  But if I had a son as stupid as you, I would wish for cancer so I could die too.”  Classic.  Anyway, we get to the burial, where the Big Bossman shows up in the Blues Brothers car.  He jaws with the funeral people, hits on Big Show’s mother, runs Show over with a car, and then in the single greatest moment in the history of the business, he ties a chain to the casket and drags it behind the car.  Big Show gives chase and ends up surfing the casket.  I agree with CM Punk: horrible and yet hilarious.  A youtube classic, for sure.

Moment #5: Austin & Angle – Unplugged (July 12, 2001)

Steve Austin is the WWE Champion and does not deserve this as he goes to get a hug from Vince McMahon, but it’s not warm enough.  Austin decides to solve his problems with an inspirational song.  We get other clips of the Austin/McMahon stuff, including that creepy hug that Austin gave him, with his eyes all wide-open.  Then back to the singing, where Austin sings coom-by-ya.  He then sings “I Am the Champion” with his wife Debra plugging her ears.  Kurt Angle shows up and decides he would better cheer up McMahon, and then degenerate into bickering children.  Kurt chooses “Jimmy Crack Corn” and Vince has enough and leaves.  Austin gets pissy that he made McMahon leave.  Austin spent a lot of money on guitar lessons, and then instructs Debra to tell him that he’s great.  “It didn’t work” says Kurt.  Great moment.

Moment #4: The Pilot (April 29, 1999)

We get various clips of the debut of Smackdown, including the first appearance of the Corporate Ministry, Owen Hart as the Blue Blazer, Big Show dropkicking Test, and Austin giving Undertaker a stunner.  Yea?

Moment #3 is…

Match #21: WWE Championship
(c) Triple H vs. The Rock
8/26/99 Smackdown
Guest Referee: Shawn Michaels

This is the final full match of the set.  The title had changed hands twice within the last 48 hours at this point (keeping in mind that Smackdown is taped on Tuesdays).  Slugout to start, won but Rocky and he takes Trips to the corner with punches and stomps.  Rocky loads up the Rock Bottom, turned into the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! by Trips, turned into a backdrop by the Rock.  More punching, then Trips lowers his head into a kick then recovers with a clothesline.  Chyna gets a cheap-shot in from the outside.  Rocky shoots off Trips and dumps him over the top.  On the outside we start to brawl up the ramp.  Trips loads up a suplex on the top of the ramp, but Rocky reverses for one of his own.  Russian leg-sweep by Rocky on the steel ramp, which should have hurt him as much as it hurt Trips, but we continue with the brawling instead.  Back to ring-side, where Trips tosses Rocky into the stairs.  Rocky brawls Trips against the announce table, but Chyna comes in with a blatant low-blow and Michaels tosses her.  Trips goes to bitch about it, then returns to the ring where Rocky gets a DDT for two as Shawn was not in position.  Shoot off and Trips hits the flying knee.  BUT WAIT~!! because Shane McMahon is out to bitch about ejecting Chyna.  Trips gets some shoulderblocks in the corner, then fires off a hard whip into the turnbuckle.  Another hard-whip and I’m in danger of yawning.  I’m told that would be quite painful and I should try to avoid it.  Trips drops and a knee and covers for two.  Now a grounded chinlock that looks like poopie.  The arm only drops twice and Rocky slugs it out again.  Rocky hits a hot-shot but Michaels is busy bitching at Shane McMahon and it only gets two.  Swinging neck-breaker by Rocky, who then knocks Shane off the apron.  Rocky loads up the Rock Bottom and hits it, then starts to do the People’s Elbow… only for Shawn Michaels to hit sweet chin music on him.  Pedigree from Trips and that’s all she wrote.
*** Pretty average brawl between these two.  This would have led to more Shawn & Triple H moments but Shawn’s substance abuse led to him being used less and less.  He certainly looked like he was high as a kite here.

Moment #2: The Bigger they Are… (June 12, 2003)

Oh dear lord, the 9-11 Smackdown is #1.  Me am getting angry.

Well anyway, Brock loads up Big Show for a superplex, hits it, and the entire ring collapses.  Santino quotes James Earl Jones from Conan the Barbarian: “Steel is strong, flesh is stronger.”  And that’s it for the segment.

-Matt Striker and Michael Cole congratulate themselves and the company for helping to save America from the terrorists.  If not for the WWE, America would have never gotten back to their lives.  I seriously hope all involved with scripting this shit get crotch rot and die from it.

Moment #1: 9-11 Tribute Show Yea for the WWE – Are We Not the Coolest Mother Fuckers on the Planet? (September 13, 2001)

You know what?  Fuck this shit.  Whatever goodwill the WWE thinks it deserves for putting on this show was lost when Stephanie McMahon used her interview time to say that “America will beat the terrorists, just like my father beat the Federal Government.”  I hope Linda McMahon’s opponents air clips of her daughter putting our government on equal level with the terrorists.  I had planned to upload a youtube video of her saying that, but it would seem the WWE does a good job of keeping that one buried.

BOTTOM LINE: I’ll base my rating purely on the match quality.  You get twenty-one matches, the vast majority of which are pretty good.  And thus I regretfully give this set a thumbs up.  Now, as to the format of the set, it’s stupid and wasteful and many of the moments wouldn’t rank in the top 1,000 things that have happened on Smackdown.  I liked the way the Best of Raw was done way more then this.topstory500x250-×281.jpg|topstory500x250 topstory120x120-×120.jpg|topstory120x120

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The Way Too Long Review of WWE Summerslam 2009 Fri, 25 Sep 2009 12:14:39 +0000 Before I get started, I’m going to take the time to shamelessly plug the work myself along with many more-talented writers and professional wrestlers are doing at the Wrestling Press.

By now I’m hoping my readers here have downloaded my podcast, the TWP Pass, which you can find at, in the i-Tunes store, or coming soon here at Pulse.  I’m new to this podcast stuff and there are still some technical issues to work out, but if you enjoy my against-the-grain commentary from my Way Too Long Reviews, you’ll be sure to enjoy the types of topics I address in the TWP Pass.  This week, I discussed the ROH Exodus to the WWE and why Nigel McGuiness and Bryan Danielson face a tougher road to the top then CM Punk did.  The TWP Pass is the first of many audio features that will be done at the Pass, in collaboration with Pulse Wrestling.  I also answer listener e-mails and no topic is taboo, so if you have a question that you want discussed fire one off to  My podcast will, for the most part, only cover WWE happenings, but we’re looking into bringing in guys to discuss TNA and ROH happenings as well.

Along with my stuff, the Wrestling Press is easily the best monthly publication for professional wrestling anywhere out there.  It’s free, and it trumps anything that cost $4.99 or more an issue in stores.  And I’m not just saying that because I write for it (though my articles are only bi-monthly).  I am actually humbled that I was invited into the company before they launched their first issue, especially considering how new I was to Pulse at the time.  This is the type of magazine that I’ve wanted to read for years, as it caters to smart fans without glad-handing them, and we also offer a wide variety of opinions and views.  I admit, I didn’t know if anyone would actually read it.  Then I discovered that people were discussing my article on John Cena in forums I had never attended before.  More shocking was that I had as many people agreeing with me as disagreeing.  Someone took the middle road and said that I was a genius and an idiot.  I’ve heard the same thing about Einstein, so I’ll take what I can get.

The industry seems to like us as well, and we’re getting more wrestlers actually joining our team, including Mike Modest, who will be a regular contributor starting with issue three.  Scott Keith has a monthly feature that is absolutely hilarious, easily his best stuff since he became disillusioned by the current product.  In issue three, he’ll be naming 15 essential DVDs for the Holiday season, along with 5 non-essential ones.  That sounds a bit more serious then the stuff he has been doing with TWP, but I’m guessing there will be plenty of laughs to be had.

I especially have high hopes for TWP’s “WrestleTV” concept.  There are a lot of independent promotions out there that have been uploading their stuff to youtube, and maybe don’t get the attention they deserve.  If that’s the case, send us your stuff and we’ll put it on Wrestle TV and expose it to the kind of audience you’re looking for.  Hopefully in the future this will include hosting entire weekly episodes of independent territories.  If you have non-backyard wrestling stuff that you want posted on WrestleTV, send your matches to and we’ll happily add it in.  We’ll also promote your local shows in the magazine and on the website.  For those readers in the UK, that includes your stuff as well.  You work hard to put on your shows, and we are more then happy to make sure people know it.

I’m lucky.  I was hired onto Pulse and on to TWP at roughly the same time and have been having a blast since.  Both staffs don’t take themselves too seriously and know that we’re here to entertain you guys and to offer you the news and commentary you want without being so damn uptight about it.  So hopefully you guys will continue to enjoy the stuff Pulse offers, and now the stuff that TWP will offer as well.  Pretty good timing on my part, I must say.  Plus having front-row seats into Brad Curran’s decent into madness is fun.  But if one of his upcoming news items reads “all work and no play make Brad a dull boy” then run for your fucking lives.

August 23, 2009 from Los Angeles, CA.  I think they officially lost the title “City of Angels” when they started tipping over police cars because their NBA team won a championship.  I guess changing their name to “Los Douchebags” would be too crude though, so I’ll let it slide.

-For the first time in many years, the opening video package is actually worth watching, as DX shows up while it’s being screened and cracks wise on it.  Sure, it’s a blatant rip-off of the theater scene from Gremlins 2 (right down to doing a shadow-puppet of Abraham Lincoln) but it’s still good.  Maybe a minute too long.

Match #1: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler
REHASH OF: Night of Champions 2009

Yep, I’m keeping track of how stale this stuff is.  Dolph brawls Rey to the corner and kicks at him.  Rey turns it around and smacks at him.  Shoot off by Ziggler and a powerslam for two.  School-boy with a handful of tights for two.  More kicking to the corner, then a whip to the corner is reverses by Rey.  He charges and gets flung onto the top rope by Ziggler, sticks the landing and fires off a diving moonsault for two.  The WWE decides that nothing that will happen in the next ten seconds will top that so they show a replay of it instead of showing Dolph shooting off Rey, lowering his head into a kick, and getting low-bridged out of the ring.  Instant replay works for other sports because they have time-outs and moments where the action stops.  Wrestling does too, but we just FUCKING SAW THAT MOVE HAPPEN TEN SECONDS AGO!  Save the replay of it for when we have a double-knockout.  Back to the match, where Rey hits a rana off the apron that wipes out Ziggler and a cameraman.  Rey kicks at him and tosses him in the ring, and it’s time for another replay.  Booyah, go WWE production cunts!  Three cheers!  Rey climbs, Dolph climbs with him and gets knocked off, and then Rey almost dies when he misjudges the distance between himself and Ziggler and shorts it.  Ziggler is supposed to catch but misses and Rey lands on his head.  Ziggler, to his credit, covers well by quickly picking Rey off the floor and powerbombing him into the corner.  That gets two.  Ziggler is doing double-knucklelock pins on Mysterio, so we go to the THIRD REPLAY of the match, this time of the powerbomb.

This is beyond ridiculous and has to stop.  Apparently the WWE actually does listen when the fans complain about production issues.  They ended the asinine blood censoring for WWE On Demand because so many people wrote in and complained.  So let’s take care of the next biggest production issue: showing replays of shit that just happened five seconds ago.  I’ve written a sample letter that you can send.  Here you go.

Dear WWE,

We understand that pressing buttons is a fun activity for those poor ‘gifted’ souls among us that seem to make up your production staff.   However, their constant pushing of the ‘instant replay’ button, pretty as it may be on the control panel, is messing with our ability to sit back and watch the match we paid good money to see.  You might not realize this, but there is this whacky new invention called DVR that allows a person to rewind a show that is in progress in case we either miss something or want to see something that just happened again.  And this DVR thing has been in use by every major cable and satellite television provider for a couple years now and has penetrated more then 50% of the market.  There are rumors that this so-called ‘rewind’ function is also possible on the shinny discs that you guys issue your pay per views on, DVDs or something like that, and that would allow people to watch those moments again if they so wish to.  In other words, your instant replays that constantly cause viewers to miss the live action are completely antiquated and unnecessary in this modern world.  Please only save the instant replay function for periods when both wrestlers are ‘knocked out’ or if there is some kind of delay in the match where no action is currently happening.  If necessary, paint the instant replay button on the control panel a non-attractive color (like, say, pale green or mud brown) to discourage your staff from pressing it.  Failing down, you might want to look into shock collars.

Love _______________________________
PS: Seriously, cut it the fuck out or I’ll quit buying your DVDs/PPVs and start downloading them illegally or watching pirated streams of them off of like everyone else does these days.


If you feel the need, you can de-smartass it, but do send them a note on it.  The link is…

Send it to Jim Ross too.  Flood his blog with it.  Not that I expect him to do anything about it.  He’ll just respond with his usual snotty sarcasm and then go back to hocking his barbeque sauce.  But if anyone is ripe for a good old fashioned e-mail flooding, it’s him.  The big fat jerk.  I don’t know why he doesn’t just retire already.  He sounds bored out there every night and shows thinly-concealed contempt for many of his fans on his blog.  He doesn’t strike me as a happy guy.  Maybe he should look into Zoloft or something.

Back to the match.  Mysterio kicks out of the double-knucklelock pin, so Ziggler slaps on a chinlock and works the hold like the pro that he is.  He then picks up Mysterio and hits a side-slam for two.  To the corner, where Ziggler hits his “flip the sweat off my face and onto opponent and drop an elbow” spot that I’m guessing will catch on as his comedy spot ala the People’s Elbow, and it gets two.  Back to the chinlock.  Mysterio fights out so Ziggler whips him to the corner, then charges into a drop-toehold.  Mysterio builds up momentum off the ropes and charges into a HUGE clothesline for two.  Gutbuster gets two.  And now back to the chinlock, with body-scissors.  Ziggler is showing a lot of improvement in a relatively short amount of time, but he had to change up the rest-holds.  Ziggler tries to cut off Rey’s comeback and shoots him to the corner, but he misses a charge and wipes out on the turnbuckle.  Seated senton by Mysterio, then he rolls through a sunset flip and hits a buzzsaw kick for two.  Mysterio springs off the ropes but Ziggler meets him with a dropkick for two.  Reversal sequence leads to Mysterio going for a snap-rana, but Ziggler sits down on it for two.  Lex Luger style running forearm gets two.  Mysterio gets an enziguri to set up the 619, but Ziggler gets out of harms way and trips Rey up.  Rocker Dropper by Dolph gets two.  Rey goes for a head scissors, fights off a counter and turns it into a rollup for two.  Ziggler hoists Rey up on his shoulder, but Rey turns it into a tornado DDT for two.  Dropkick by Rey sets him up to hit the 619.  Mysterio air-balls his dead man’s splash and Ziggler quickly shoots the half and gets two.  Ziggler ends up winning the majority of the fans over and they drown out counter-chants for Rey Mysterio.  Both guys are getting gassed, but Ziggler gets a second wind and charges Rey into the corner.  Ziggler kicks Rey down on the apron, then goes for an exploding gutbuster off the second ropes, but Mysterio fires off a rana for the pin.
****1/4 Dolph Ziggler has arrived.  Right off the bat these guys top anything that Night of Champions had to offer.  I actually immediately re-watched this match to make sure that I wasn’t off my rocker with this score.  After getting thrown into a rage by the overuse of instant replays only minutes into the match, I figured I made a mistake.  I didn’t.  These guys cut a really good pace and set themselves out to make a contender out of Ziggler.  Mission accomplished.

What a Cinderella story in Ziggler.  Here’s a guy who was considered one of the untalented guys on the Spirit Squad.  He goes away for a couple years and comes back repackaged with what seemed to me and most everyone else a terrible gimmick that would never get over as anything but a comedy jobber.  He also looks a lot like Billy Gunn, and thus logically wouldn’t be able to get over even if he entered the ring via a jetpack.  Instead, he strives for improvement, apparently works hard to impress those who one would need to impress in order to advance in the company, and busts his ass night in and night out.  And now he’s a contender, legitimized by the fans and not by the creative team.  There’s no better way to make it as a star.  And despite the fact that he’s still rough around the edges, he already knows enough to cover his mistakes without looking like he’s in a panic.  He’s green, but he certainly doesn’t look lost in the ring like many newcomers in his position have over the years.  And he’s still new.  Given his run so far, there’s no question that he’ll get even better.  He’s a man who clearly strives for improvement.  It’s obviously too soon in his career to make any bold predictions, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he will be in the upper-tier of the roster one day.  In recent years the WWE has had a lot of rising stars that felt manufactured or artificial to me.  Mr. Kennedy or Bobby Lashley, for example.  Hell, even Randy Orton or John Cena.  Ziggler’s progression, on the other hand, feels completely authentic.  It’s a natural climb, the way wrestling should work.  Please don’t fuck it up, Dolph.  You have the right stuff.

-Meanwhile, MVP and Biff Tannen get interviewed.  People bitch about Swagger having a lisp.  Ummm… Ric Flair?  Dusty Rhodes?  Nah, nobody with a lisp could ever get over in wrestling.  Swagger blows himself, then talks about MVP being an ex-con.  MVP is pissed about that but lacks the talent to express it.  He calls Swagger a spoiled athlete and talks about how Jack was fighting for a trophy in the NCAA, while he was fighting for his life in prison.  Yeah right.  You know where he got the name MVP?  In prison… only there it stood for “Most Vivacious Prag.”  Horrible promo all around.  Swagger looks like a bully but doesn’t have the mic skills to carry it outside of the ring and thus they should either get him a mouthpiece or let him have a kick at the can as a babyface.

Match #2
Jack Swagger vs. M.V.P.

Back in April the WWE moved Jack Swagger to Raw with the apparent aim of putting him in stasis and ending whatever heat he had building on himself.  Mission accomplished, because the fans don’t react to him at all.  MVP also fails to get anything but a polite reaction.  Regardless of what I think of the talent of any wrestler, without a lively crowd a match will suffer.  The only match I can think of that beat back a crowd that wasn’t interested was the Mankind/Michaels match from Mind Games.  Los Angeles can be pretty hit-and-miss as far as crowd reaction goes.  Watch any Wrestlemania from LA for evidence of that.  But without the crowd that’s lively, it’s hard to pace your match out and get into a good rhythm.

To the match.  Swagger tries to get an amateur takedown but MVP gets a sunset flip for one.  Swagger kicks but misses a charge in the corner and MVP gets a clothesline and a sidewalk slam.  He calls for the ballin’ elbow to a mixture of sarcastic applause and hate hooing.  Swagger rolls out of the ring and the fans turn on the match.  MVP hits a plancha that draws less of a reaction then the boos for Swagger’s bail did, which is proof that the bail spot was negative heat.  Swagger puts MVP on the top rope, then sweeps him off the rope in a nasty snap-bump.  Oklahoma Stampede in the corner, which MVP nearly breaks his neck bumping from, then a few stiff shots to his back.  MVP gets a backelbow, but then walks into an abdominal stretch.  This is not going to fire up the crowd.  Clothesline by Swagger for two and two.  We go to a camel clutch.  MVP struggles for a bit, then turns it into an electric chair for two and a double-KO.  Elbows by MVP and a big melee punch, then the facebuster and he calls for the ballin’ elbow again.  This time the fans don’t shit on him, and it gets two.  He sets up for the playmaker, but Swagger tosses him into the turnbuckle and school-boys him with a handful of tights for two.  Ram into the corner by Swagger, then he goes for the springing splash and eats MVP’s knees.  Running boot and the playmaker by MVP finishes.
* It seems like this was a case of two guys panicking when the fans didn’t react to them, so they rushed into the opening of the match with high spots.  That rarely works.  I feel bad for both guys that they were put on this card because neither was over enough to justify a match on the show in front of the notoriously fickle LA crowd.  It was a lost cause right out of the starting gate.  And I’m seeing Jack Swagger’s future looking less bright every time he wrestles.  Of course, at this point in his career he should be getting matched up with guys who can help him improve in the ring, and MVP is not that guy.

-Meanwhile, to eat up time in this $40 to $50 pay-per-view ($14.99 on DVD), we talk about the shit with the guest hosts on Raw.  This leads to Nancy O’Dell of Access Hollywood getting hate-hooed by the fans while she shills her ALS charity.  She brings in Freddie Prinze Jr. and they bullshit about nothing.

Match #3: Tag Team Championship
(c) Chris Jericho & The Big Show vs. Cryme Tyme

Love Jerishow’s new music.  Big Show is apparently undefeated at Summerslam.  Jericho grabs a microphone and calls all celebrities parasites, just like the fans.  He’s not a celebrity, however, he’s a universal superstar.  Jericho’s hyperbolic promos are fucking amazing anymore.  He’s got my vote for best on the microphone in 2009.  Big Show is handed the microphone but gets cut off by Cryme Tyme.  Fans hate hoo them.  Man, tough crowd.  Sometimes the fans playfully cheer the heels and boo the babyfaces.  These fans tonight aren’t being playful.  They’re hostile.  Jericho starts with JTG and gets a clothesline off a lockup.  Shoot off and JTG gets a backelbow and a reverse blockbuster for two.  Jericho fires off an elbow to stagger JTG to the corner.  A headbutt and a ram into the corner by Jericho, followed by a Walls attempt.  Jericho can’t get it on, so launches him with a catapult instead.  JTG lands in the corner and comes off with a seated senton for two.  JTG tries to pull Jericho into the center of the ring but eats a big punch.  Tag to Big Show, who asserts his authority by standing on JTG’s leg.  Skillet chop in the corner, then a prolonged head-lock.  Punch to the gut by Show, then another skillet chop.  Shoot to the corner but JTG gets a foot up and tags in Shad.  He slugs it out, and isn’t that much shorter then Show.  Press-slam to Jericho, which gives Show time to fire off a spear.  Show stands on Shad’s head, then we get a long replay and miss all the action in the ring.  Show skillet chops Shad, then tags Jericho who gets some free shots in.  Arrogant kicks by Jericho, then he charges into a big boot.  Jericho is up first and knocks JTG off the apron, drawing him in and distracting referee.  Sadly, the heels don’t cheat enough.  Tag to Show who puts on a full-nelson, then casually slams Shad down and out of it.  Jericho comes in and misses an elbowdrop.  Jim Ross’ commentary is so emotionless and generic that it sounds like they used clips from a video game.  Chinlock by Jericho, then knees to the gut, but Shad gets a powerslam to lead to a double-knockout.  Cold tag to JTG, who’s a house of fire.  Flipping clothesline for Jericho, plus a dropkick and his ‘mug shot’ facebuster.  JTG hangs up Big Show, then hits his gnarly twisting neckbreaker thing.  Shad takes himself and Show out of the picture with a 360 clothesline, but Jericho ends up getting the Walls on JTG.  Shad is nowhere to be seen, but JTG drags himself to the ropes.  Jericho distracts the referee and Show hits his knock-out punch on JTG while he recovers on the ropes, and that’s enough for the pin.
**1/4 Not totally bad, but not good either.  They couldn’t get a good beat going, likely due in part to the horrible LA crowd.

-Meanwhile, CM Punk gets uppity about someone making a screenplay for a movie on the life of Jeff Hardy.  “Live for the Moment: The Jeff Hardy Story.”  Named as such because there was already a movie called “Falling Down”.  Punk is pissy about how fake the movie is, just like all the people in LA are fake.  He’s the only real person in this building, and phoniness is a world-wide epidemic.  He then goes for the throat by saying how women by US Weekly so they can model their hair after the bitch from John & Kate Plus Eight instead of taking care of their kids.  Well, that goes against the logic that heels have to be big liars.  I don’t get why anyone cares about that Kate bitch anyway.  Judging from the way she conducts herself, she doesn’t seem to give two shits about her kids.  If the justice system wasn’t so fucked up they would have social services getting those kids away from those two retards.  Punk then comes dangerously close to turning himself into the #1 babyface of all time by saying that kids end up modeling themselves after those, quote, ‘dork vampires from Twilight.’  My kid sister Kimberly is obsessed with that shit.  I visit my mother’s house less and less because I can’t bare hearing about this shit, or watching it play on an endless loop in the living room.  Besides, the whole series is nothing but a thinly-veiled Mormon propaganda piece.  Anyway, he then goes onto talking about Jeff Hardy’s reprehensible lifestyle.  Punk is not preachy, he tells the truth.  He’s not a screen writer either, but tonight he will take a stab at it and re-write the ending to the Jeff Hardy story.

Apparently Jeff was already hard at work on an alternate ending.

Match #4
Kane vs. The Great Khali

Oy, this could be painful.  I’m actually fond of Khali, which I attribute to getting line-drived in the head during a little league game when I was a kid.  And the WWE has finally wised up and started using him as a babyface who doesn’t have to carry his end of things.  He’s the closest thing they’ve had to Andre the Giant since… well since Andre the Giant.  But they need to use him like it.  Have him just be the guy who shows up to tag with the plucky babyface.  Don’t treat him like a serious threat to anyone.  Make him a special attraction.  And for god’s sake, someone teach him how to throw a punch.

Jim Ross tells us the match will suck right out of the gate.  “Sanctioned by Dick Webber.”  Hey, leave Webber out of this.  Besides, Webber had talent, and thus would have nothing to do with a match like this.  Anyway, they set this up by having Kane wipe out Ranjin Singh.  I’m guessing this will end with Khali getting betrayed by him.  This shit is so coloring-book easy that Jim Ross should say it’s sanctioned by Schoolastic.  Kane avoids a lockup, then tries to slug it out.  Khali brawls him to the corner and gets some slow kicks.  Kane gets an uppercut, but Khali holds the ropes and dumps him to the floor.  Kane hangs up Khali, but then charges into a clothesline.  Legdrop misses for Khali.  Someone really needs to teach him how to sell moves.  I’ve heard he has problems with his facial muscles or something along those lines, but surely he can manage to wince once in a while.  Legdrop misses and Kane dropkicks him in the face for two.  Elbowdrops and Kane calls for the chokeslam, but Khali grabs the throat himself.  Kane fights out but eats a clothesline and an elbowdrop for two.  Well, at least someone taught Khali how to go for a pin.  Mounted punches gets two.  Clothesline in the corner while JR and Grisham mock this whole angle.  Khali peck-slaps Kane, and it’s actually the first move he’s ever done that didn’t look like total poopie.  Kane meekly stuns Khali with a boot to the face and climbs for the flying clothesline.  It hits for two.  And now to a chinlock.  Khali looks like he’s smiling in it, even though he’s selling it.  This goes on forever, then Khali fights out and shoots Kane off with a back-elbow.  Big boot and Khali tries to fire up the crowd.  Brain chop gets two.  50% of the fans actually pop for the near fall.  Head vise but Kane gets to the ropes, then drags Ranjin in the ring.  He holds him hostage, then tosses him to Khali.  Dropkick to the knee by Kane and a DDT gets the pin.
*1/2 Which is *1/2 more then I figured it would get.  Still terrible.

Montage of the non-celebrities attending the show.  Maria Menounos from the Today Show, Slash from Guns N’ Roses (a band so old the gun they’re talking about is a musket), and Robert Patrick from Terminator 2 and NOTHING ELSE!

Match #5
Shawn Michaels & Triple H vs. Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase

I’ve been pretty hard on Rhodes & DiBiase in recent reviews here at Pulse.  I’ve gotten heat for it, but I’m simply going by their track record.  Matches they participate in tend to range from terrible to just-okay, and that’s not going to cut it.  Everyone expects DiBiase to be the next big thing, and apparently I’m not seeing something in him because I just don’t buy it for one second.  Truth be told, I think Cody Rhodes is the more talented of the two, but his small size will keep him from being a serious contender.  Having said all that, I’ve been told by pretty much everyone that this match here was amazing.  Some told me it’s a match of the year contender.  It’s finally  time to see if it lives up to the hype.

DX gets the most over-bloated entrance I’ve seen outside a Wrestlemania (or Black Scorpion at Starrcade).  Pyro starts to shoot off, then a war breaks out at the entrance ramp, armed soldiers come out and shoot the crowd dead, then more pyro fires off.  Finally, DX rides out on a fucking tank, which they then use to finish off those in the crowd that the soldiers missed.  But it’s wrestling so they won’t be charged with genocide and the families of those lost will settle it in the ring with them in a huge 29,000 on 2 gauntlet match.  Guess who’s jobbing that one?  It takes more then six minutes just for Triple H to get to his opening spiel.  Meanwhile, somewhere in the back they’re rounding up Christian and Regal to have a word with them regarding the plans for their match.  By time Legacy comes out they get NO reaction.  Not that they would get much of one regardless.

Trips starts with DiBiase.  Lockup and they go to the corner, where DiBiase decides to throw a punch rather then break clean and gets smacked down.  Lockup and we go back to the corner where DiBiase slugs it out.  The referee pulls him off Triple H, leading to Trips smacking him down.  Whip to the corner is reversed but Triple H comes out of it with a clothesline.  Suplex and a kneedrop gets two.  Shoot off and Trips lowers his face into a kick.  Cody tags in and charges straight into a flying knee.  Cody recovers, then bitch-slaps Michaels.  We then have a long stall, leading to Shawn getting the tag.  Lockup and Shawn grabs a headlock.  Shoot off into a shoulderblock by Shawn.  Cody avoids a clothesline and fires off another bitch-slap.  Shawn gets pissed and spears Cody down, but Cody turns it into mounted punches himself.  Thesz Press by Michaels and mounted punches, then he fires off his own bitch-slap.  Shawn teases a superkick but Cody bails.  Trips tosses him back in the ring and Shawn goes for it again, but Cody bails out a different side.  Big heat for that, this time in a good way.  Back in, Shawn grabs a headlock, which Cody turns into a back-suplex.  DiBiase tags in and gets his nipples chopped off.  DiBiase whips Shawn to the corner, where he goes up and down and into a clothesline.  Mounted punches by DiBiase, then a tag to Cody who stomps and covers for two.  More stomping, then a scoopslam and a kneedrop for two.  Tag to DiBiase who drops an elbow for two.  Time for a chinlock.  I guess DiBiase has been learning stuff from Randy Orton, as he doesn’t work the hold at all.  Shawn fights out and hits a neck-breaker for a double knockout.  Shawn makes the hot tag to Triple H, only it doesn’t get that big a pop.  He punches at DiBiase, then slings Cody into the ring.  DiBiase kicks low and catapults Trips into the corner.  Trips doesn’t have time to sell such garbage and explodes out with a clothesline.  Spinebusters for all and Trips loads up DiBiase for the pedigree, but Cody saves.  Michaels dumps Cody with a clothesline, then Triple H backdrops Shawn over the top rope and into Rhodes.  Nice spot, but I’m seriously questioning the hype for this match at this point.  The ref is distracted so DiBiase blatantly punts Trips is in the balls.  Stephanie is weeping backstage as they had barely made a dent in their book of silly baby-names and the chances of finishing it just decreased.  We have a double-knockout, then Rhodes tags in.  Stompery, then a tag to DiBiase.

ATTENTION: Do you suffer from fatigue, sore muscles, or aching bones?  Call 1-800-WWE-RING to arrange for a short three second stay in the heel corner of our ring, at which point you will be instantly healed from all that ails you.  (possible side effects include compulsive overuse of punches and kicks)

Seriously, DiBiase is completely healed from the three seconds he spent in the corner and can come in and stomp like nothing happened.  They trade frequent tags to stomp away, then bail out of the ring to punch Trips on the apron.  This gets two.  Clutch chinlock by DiBiase.  Trips tries to muscle his way to the tag but loses his energy and gets grounded down.  He gets to his feet and fires off a back-suplex.  DiBiase makes the tag and hits a DDT for two.  Jack-knife cover gets two, then Cody throws on a front-chancery, though it doesn’t look so good.  This goes on a bit too long, then Trips backdrops out of it.  DiBiase gets the tag and knocks Michaels off the apron.  He kicks at Trips in the corner, then fires off some punches so terrible they make baby Ed Lewis cry.  BOO-YEA punches, which is weird given that the fans usually reserve that stuff for booing the face and cheering the heel.  This is the first time I’ve seen where the fans play along.  DiBiase wins out only to charge into getting dumped over the top.  Rhodes bails to toss DiBiase back in the ring, but he puts him too far away to make the tag fast enough to stop the hot tag.  Shawn comes in and slugs it out.  A pair of atomic drops to move into the FOUR AND A HALF MOVES OF DOOM~!!  Flying forearm and a nip-up, but DiBiase comes in with a clothesline before Shawn can take it any further.  Trips has enough of this and dumps DiBiase into the stands.  Cody climbs and whiffs on a flying elbow.  It looked good enough that Cody should consider that for a finishing move.  Shawn decides to show off his version of it, but Cody is up to crotch Shawn.  On a side note, what is up with Cody Rhodes have the Tri-Force from the Legend of Zelda on his boots?   Cody loads up a superplex, but Shawn fights him off, then has to wait awkwardly on the top rope while Rhodes positions himself for the flying elbow.  It’s actually a pretty slick spot in theory that just looked messy.  When Cody is finally in position, he gets his knees up and Shawn eats it.  They should have figured out a better way to set it up then it did, as I get what they were aiming for but it was lost in translation.  Cody covers off the knees for two.  Shawn snatches Rhodes in a figure-four, but DiBiase saves.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! for DiBiase but Rhodes saves on that.  Macho-Man style diving clothesline/bulldog thing to Trips, then he blocks a superkick from Shawn and hits his version of the Overdrive, which he calls the Cross-Rhodes.  Terrible name for it.  They should call it the Twisty-Neckbreaker Thingy.  This time Triple H saves.  Pedigree to Rhodes, while DiBiase awkwardly distracts the referee.  DiBiase fumbles his way into hitting the Dream Streak on Michaels.  Trips dumps him out of the ring and they fight over the announce table.  Rhodes and Michaels are both out and we get a nine count.  Both guys are up and holding each-other up, which Shawn Michaels turns into sweet chin music.  Horrible finish after such a hot sequence.
***1/4 This was the match that everyone was hyping endlessly?  For real?  Don’t get me wrong, good match and everything.  But all the problems Rhodes & DiBiase had before were still here.  These guys have no creativity as a team and don’t wrestle like heels.  And they STILL rely too heavily on punching and kicking.  If not for all that, this could have been a really good match.  The structure of having the young guys countering every attempt at a finish by DX was the perfect hook for the story.  Sadly, Rhodes and especially DiBiase failed to use that structure in an exciting way.

It’s been over a year since Legacy was teamed together and I actually stunned that the WWE doesn’t recognize that as a team, they don’t work.  They have no chemistry together and have failed every time they have a chance to look good when the spotlight is on them.  What’s really incredible is that the rumors surrounding the plans for Ted DiBiase have so much steam behind them.  He’s expected to receive a pretty decent sized push in the near future as a singles threat.  I’m hoping that the dirt sheets are dead wrong on this one, and I have (possibly misguided) faith that the WWE is smart enough to know that DiBiase is nowhere near ready for the kind of push he’s rumored to get.  People believe that because he’s in the upcoming made-for-DVD Marine 2 movie that the WWE will want him in the lime-light.  Give them more credit then that.  Cody Rhodes actually seems like he’s shaken most of the green off.  DiBiase still looks confused and out of place in the ring night in and night out.  He’s young and has a lot of potential, but so far his run in the WWE has been a disaster.  He’s got no move-set and stumbles through matches.  It’s clear that he’s not in a position to carry a match by himself.  Just look at his singles matches on Raw.  They’re tough to watch.  He’s bad at promos, worse in the ring, not creative, not flashy, and really not ready to even be in the big leagues yet.  I’m not saying he should be released, only that they should consider sending him back to Florida for a while, maybe a year, and get someone to work with him on having a bit of style in the ring.  Right now, he’s perhaps the most generic wrestler on the roster, and being generic in wrestling is a death sentence for your career.

Match #6: ECW Championship
(c) Christian vs. William Regal

Before Regal can even get his robe off, Christian comes in and hits the Killswitch for the pin.
***** An epic battle the likes of which you will never see again.  Non-stop action from bell to bell and easily the best match of Christian’s career.  Good timing, awesome psychology, an amazing pace, blah blah blah…

-After the match Jackson and Kozlov come in and kill Christian, then Regal slaps on his Regal Stretch.  Huge heat for both guys, so mission accomplished.

On a more happy note, the fans are clearly buying Christian less and less.  Thank god.  The crowd tonight is dogshit, but I’ve been watching ECW and have noticed that Christian is progressively less over.  I’m sure his marks will blame the booking, but the fact is he’s a terrible professional wrestler and most people are catching on to it.  He’s a one-trick pony.

-Meanwhile, it’s Summerslam day in the city of Los Angeles.  We get red-carpet shots of the wrestlers at a benefit for whatsherface’s charity, then the WWE gets props for their work with children from various celebrities.  Tatyana Ali is still hot as hell.  Then we have shots of the Axcess event.  The wrestlers talk about how cool all the fans are.

Match #7: WWE Championship
(c) Randy Orton vs. John Cena
REHASH OF: Backlash ’07 (four-way), Summerslam ’07, Unforgiven ’07, No Way Out ’08, Wrestlemania 24 (three-way), Backlash ’08 (four-way), Night of Champions ’09 (3-Way)

Sign at ringside: “Really Kreepy Oily.”  It could also stand for Randy Kills Ovation because he gets a meek pop on his entrance, then the fans go numb.  On a side note, what’s up with the shaved head?  I guess it’s supposed to make him look like a lunatic or something, but he ends up looking more like a goblin.  Cena gets a mixture of hate-hooing and cheering, with the haters barely winning out.  Orton gets mostly boos as well.  That’s reason #582 why this feud needs to be killed.  Fans in general like to playfully boo John Cena.  THAT’S FINE!  As long as the fans don’t sit on their hands that’s a good thing.  But you have to put him with someone that the fans want to see pummel him.  Edge, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and even Umaga worked in that role.  The guys Cena has been paired with for most of 2009, Big Show and Orton, are not in that category, and thus his matches are suffering.  Cena was on such a huge roll in 2006 and 2007, and then the WWE stubbornly refused to turn him heel when he ran out opponents that would cater to letting him get playfully booed.  They shoe-horned him into a feud with Randy Orton.  The fans might still want to boo Cena.  It’s the hip thing to do.  But they sure as hell don’t want to cheer for Randy Orton.  It didn’t work in 2007, and it still doesn’t work now.  But because the WWE has changed it’s target demographic, they can’t turn Cena now.  He’s far and away the top draw for the under-18 set, especially now without Jeff Hardy, and thus we have to deal with him facing guys that most of the fans attending live wouldn’t react to.  If the WWE thinks they can get people to stop hate-hooing Cena, dream on.  It’s wrestling culture now.  It’s someone people do just because it’s what has been done for years now.  Hell, even I did it at No Way Out and I’m a Cena fan.  Booing him is fun.  People have a good time doing it.  It doesn’t mean they should turn him into a heel character.  Just put him with guys who the fans aren’t afraid to cheer in the process.

We start the match with Cena getting a waistlock-takedown.  Orton reverses and grounds it out, then we break clean.  Lockup and Orton punches Cena down, then takes him to the corner with punches and stomps.  One of the only things Orton does better then most people is stomp.  He should really teach Legacy how to do it considering that 90% of their moveset is stomping.  Orton gets arrogant and pussy-foots Cena, causing John to get pissed and spear Orton down with some punches.  Shoot to the corner and a bulldog for two.  Shoot off is reversed and Orton gets a back-elbow.  Orton kicks Cena in the gut, then just stands around a bit.  Ah fuck, it’s going to be one of THOSE matches.  He rakes Cena’s face with his boot, then uppercuts him in the corner.  More punching in the corner, then Orton backs away.  Michael Cole notes that Orton isn’t exerting much energy.  I agree, he is lazy.  Hard whip to the corner, then more nothing by Orton as he plays up his viper gimmick.  He stands around forever, doing nothing.  This match fucking sucks.  Another hard whip to the corner, then a whole lot more of nothing.  Orton’s busted his mouth somewhere in this match.  He fires off the Garvin Stomp, backs away to the corner, jerks off a little more, then hits a big flying knee for two.  That actually was a pretty good looking kneedrop, but this match is total dogshit in structure.  Cena fights back and the fans boo the shit of him.  Wrap-around backbreaker by Orton gets two, and the fans are getting more into Orton.  Why not?  Orton has barely done anything to John Cena, and yet Cena is forced to lay around and wait while Orton takes his sweet time going from move to move.  After all this non-stop action, Orton feels the time has come to take a break and he grabs a chinlock.  He clutches it on and takes Cena down to the mat.  Cena does a great job of selling it, holding his breath and turning himself purple.  That would be great, except Orton doesn’t even bother trying to make it look good.  Cena fights out of it and hits a couple shoulderblocks and the protoplex.  He goes for the FU but Orton shoves out of it and hits a powerslam for two.  Time to lay around for a bit.  Orton slowly gets up, then fires off another Garvin Stomp.  He then grabs the ropes and suffocates the entire audience by sucking all the air out of the arena.  If one didn’t know better, they would think that Orton was totally blown up right out of the gate of this match.  Kneedrop misses for Orton and Cena tries to fight back, then he whiffs on a flying shoulderblock and tumbles out of the ring for another extended nothing period.  After roughly twenty-nine years Cena climbs up to the apron, where Orton catches him and slowly preps him for the rope DDT.  He hits it, then slowly turns Cena over and covers him for two.  What the fuck is up with this match?  Did they visit the tar pits in LA and decide to do a match in honor of those creatures that got stuck in it?  I bet the upcoming Hulk Hogan/Ric Flair matches will move faster then this shit.  Orton calls for the Punt, but Cena moves out of the way and hits a blockbuster.  Cena climbs and hits the standing legdrop on Orton in a spot so telegraphed that it should have been sent by Western Union.  It gets two.  Cena calls for the FU, looking like a retard while doing it.  Orton holds onto the ropes and both guys clothesline each-other for another double knockout.  Yippee skippy.  Both guys stagger up and we have a YEA BOO punch, and the fans are clearly in favor of Orton now.  Cena wins out and backdrops Orton, who blatantly shoves the referee down and draws a DQ.  Lillian Garcia announces that she has received word that the winner of the match is Randy Orton.  What the FUCK?  Lillian fucked up there.  I’m not in favor of editing matches as a general rule, but this was a colossal fuck up and could have been harmlessly cut out of the equation.  Lillian then resets herself and announces that she received word from Vince McMahon that the match is to be restarted and if Orton gets DQed, he losses the title.  Of course, Lillian already announced how the match is going to end.  Thank god she’s out the company and we’re finally free of this shit.  Orton stands around for a while in disbelief, and then he finally decides to return to the ring.  The production fuckwits decide that the time has come to show the replays of Orton getting disqualified.  Orton stomps away, but Cena shoots him off into a side-slam for two.  Whip to the corner by Cena and Orton ends up rolling out of the ring.  Cena gives chase, but Orton throws him into the stairs in a spot that looked terrible.  Jerry Lawler sounds embarrassed to be calling this shit.  In the ring, that gets two, one, and one.  Orton decides to bail on the match.  BUT WAIT~!!  Because Lillian Garcia still hears voices in her head, and Vince McMahon has ordered the match to be restarted and now if Orton gets counted out he loses the title this time.  Orton comes in and gets caught in the STFU, kicks off of it, goes for the RKO, wiggles out of the FU, and gets the pin with his feet on the ropes.  BUT WAIT~!! because another referee is out to point out that Orton had his feet on the ropes, and the match is restarted again.  You know, this shit can work.  It did at Summerslam in 1996 with Shawn Michaels and Vader.  Here it’s a disaster.  I’m talking Titanic running into Three Mile Island sized disaster here.  Cena slaps on the STFU, BUT WAIT~!! because Brett DiBiase makes his debut and attacks Cena.  Security pulls him out of the ring and everyone acts all shocked, because he’s supposed to be like a fan.  The announcers don’t acknowledge him, and it’s played totally straight up.  An idea so incredibly stupid that I kind of hope it encourages a slew of dim-witted morons to run into the ring during matches in an attempt to get their fifteen minutes of fame.  Both guys stand around a bit, then Orton comes back into the ring.  Then he bails again as John Cena charges at him.  Cena reaches out to drag Orton back in the ring and eats an RKO on the ropes.  Orton covers and scores the pin.  All of that was for THAT ending?
DUD Summerslam has had some epic stinkers over the years.  Giant Gonzalez vs. Undertaker in 1993.  Undertaker vs. Underfaker in 1994.  Mable vs. Diesel in 1995.  Those matches are now all safely off the hook, because we have a new worst Summerslam match ever.  In fact, this match is now the clear front-runner for worst match of the year in 2009.  I’m sure the ignorant ‘smart fans’ will vote for Cedric the Entertainer vs. Chavo Guerrero from Raw because that’s the type of thing they do.  But this match was actually meant to be a big deal and it was one of the very worst matches ever put on by the WWE on a pay per view.  Atrocious and slow, with Cena overselling Orton’s punches and kicks, and Orton wrestling like he was wadding in a pool of molasses.  Even before the horrible ending, this was the worst match of the year.  The finish only served to launch this into worst match ever territory.  Both wrestlers totally phoned in the wrestling side of things and whoever came up with the finish should have been fired on the spot and blacklisted from the industry.  Don’t be a idiot and vote for a celebrity match… in 2009 it has not gotten any lower then this.

Match #8: World Heavyweight Championship, TLC Match
(c) Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk
REHASH OF: Bash ’09, Night of Champions ’09

I have to give the WWE credit for at least showing SOME progress towards improving some of it’s foibles, as Hardy and Punk are both smaller guys who are given the top spot on the ‘second biggest card of the year.’  Of course, they immediately blow that good will by not making this Jeff’s send-off match.  Instead, they have him wrestle one more match on Smackdown, which was a polite way of telling those who paid for Summerslam “thanks for the money, retards.  Now fuck off.”  Lockup and Punk gets Hardy to the corner, brawls him to the mat and stomps the shit out of him.  He dumps Hardy to the floor, then grabs a chair.  He smacks Hardy in the gut, then in the back.  He grabs a ladder and sets himself up to climb for the belt, but Hardy catches him and yanks him off.  Twist of Fate is avoided by Punk, but he still eats a clothesline and some shots in the corner.  Momentum kick by Hardy, which is now apparently called the “Hardiac Arrest.”  Hardy climbs but gets kicked off the ladder.  Punk goes for the GTS but Hardy shoves out of it and sends Punk to the ladder.  Hardy preps a chair and goes for the poetry in motion, but Punk catches him and slams him onto the standing chair.  Ouch, that looked sick.  Punk slams the ladder onto Jeff a couple times, then fires off a dropkick.  Punk dumps Jeff to the outside, then hits a suicida.  Punk takes a bit too long prepping a table next to the ring, then puts a ladder on Jeff’s head.  Jeff wiggles out of it, then ducks out of the way of a murder-shot from Punk against the post.  Hardy whips Punk towards the stairs, Punk sticks the landing on the stairs, then Jeff smacks Punk with a chair as he comes off the stairs with an axehandle.  Poetry in motion by Hardy on the floor.  Fans are TERRIBLE for this match.  I get that the fans in LA buy tickets and that’s good, but don’t use them for pay per views.  They don’t deserve it.  Punk gets prepped on a table, but Jeff misses a splash off the top and crashes through a table.  Punk gets a 15-footer and preps it under the belt, but Hardy catches him and climbs over Punk to make a play for the belt.  He gets a finger on it, but Punk loads up a GTS on the ladder, but Jeff wiggles out of this and an MDK bomb.  It was off the bottom of the ladder, but still pretty cool.  I love that move.  Jeff climbs for the ladder but Punk pushes it over and Jeff wipes out in the corner in incredibly sick fashion.  Jeff was lucky he didn’t rip his hamstring on that one.  Punk sets up a superplex off the top rope and onto a ladder.  At least Jeff landed completely on the ladder.  Punk’s upper back has to hurt after that one.  Twist of Fate by Hardy, but Punk gets his knees up on a swanton bomb.  Running kneelift by Punk in the corner, but Hardy turns the bulldog into a back-suplex over the top and through that table Punk had prepped.  Punk actually took the bump feet first, and the replay made it look even worse.  That’s another problem with the instant replays.  Sometimes you see a spot that’s really spectacular, then the WWE shows a replay from a different angle that exposes how weak the spot actually as.  Back to the match, where Jeff climbs and but knocked off by a flying clothesline off the ropes from Punk.  CM Punk puts a chair around Hardy’s head and tries to ram him into the post, but Hardy fights out and goes insane like he did at Night of Champions.  He grabs a chair and tees off on Punk a few times, then preps a normal table, then preps the ECW table.  He smacks Punk with a monitor, then the chair a few more times.  Jeff grabs a HUGE ladder and we are set up for the Dr. Evil Memorial Overly Elaborate and Exotic Death.  Thankfully, the referees are smart enough to hold the ladder still for Jeff so that he can stand on the very top of it and drop the swanton bomb off the top of it and into CM Punk.  This apparently knocked the sound system out, as the announcers go silent.  Medics come in to stretcher Hardy out of the match while CM Punk is recovered enough to limp in the ring.  Jeff actually nearly breaks his neck selling the injuries and lands right on his fucking head just crawling through the ropes and back into the ring.  Punk is climbing, Jeff suddenly gets surge of power and they fight on the top of the ladder.  Punk wins a slug-out and Jeff falls off the top.  Punk then casually grabs the title and wins the match.
** I’m sure that score will open up a can of worms.  Big let-down, as they didn’t really do very much out there aside from two or three high spots.  And am I the only one who noticed they didn’t really do any drama spots with the ladder?  There was no sense that any moment could be the finish, and the actual finish was pretty weak.  Sure, the match delivered on it’s promise of Jeff crashing and burning through a table, plus he took some other pretty sick moves as well, but as a match it felt more like they were just checking stuff off a list.  It clearly didn’t feel like a spontaneous match.  And truth be told, I think CM Punk was fairly weak out there on this night, like he wasn’t holding up his end of the deal.  I’m a very big fan of his, but something was not right about his performance tonight.

-Meanwhile, Jeff Hardy is dead and CM Punk stands prone over him.  The lights flicker a bit and Punk is momentarily spooked, but he still stands proud.  Then the gong hits and when it’s back on Jeff Hardy is now replaced with the Undertaker, who chokeslams Punk.  Weird choice to finish as these guys had NO history against each-other and this type of stuff should be reserved for people who are already feuding.  That said, watching this I got a whacky idea for the Undertaker.  Since people already freak out when they hear the gong hit, they should give Undertaker the Money in the Bank win at Wrestlemania this next year and he can spend as much time as he wants tormenting the champions.  By time he actually cashes it in, they’ll be nervous wrecks.  Eh, whom I kidding?  That’s way too cool a gimmick for the WWE to actually do it.

BONUS FEATURE: A fifteen-diva Battle Royal is advertised but we only get clips of it.  Guest Referee Chavo Guerrero helps Beth Phoenix win, then is punked out by Hornswaggle.  Pretty fucked up to advertise that on the box.

BOTTOM LINE: Dolph vs. Rey delivers.  Everything else was either bad or a big disappointment.  I’m not sure what everyone was thinking when they were hyping up DX/Legacy.  I’m sure Dolph/Rey will end up on a compilation match someday.  Nothing else is really worth going out of your way to check out.  Thumbs down for Summerslam.

Is anyone having problems figuring out why this shit isn’t drawing money?  Someone needs to sit down with Vince McMahon and calmly, rationally explain to him what the word ‘stale’ means.  Use sock puppets if necessary.  Of course, one of the problems is they do fourteen pay-per-views a year and yet only have four guys at most near the top of the roster.  TNA is run by some of the biggest morons to ever enter the wrestling business, and even they recognized the need to cut their PPV schedule in half.  We’re likely past the point of no-return with the WWE.  They rarely, if ever, admit fault in logic.  So I wouldn’t expect them to ask of themselves “if Summerslam is the second-biggest show of the year, why do we give the fans even fancier versions of the same matches the next show, year in and year out?”

2001: Steve Austin and Kurt Angle wrestle an excellent match that ends on a screwjob finish.  The next month, they have a rematch that ends cleanly.  If Summerslam is a bigger show then Unforgiven, why does Summerslam’s match end inconclusively?

2003: Raw has an elimination match for the World Championship with an extremely flimsy ending that would not satisfy any fan.  They save the payoff for the next month.

2004: JBL and the Undertaker wrestle to a DQ.  A match with an actual ending is saved for No Mercy, the next Smackdown PPV.

2006: Edge and John Cena wrestle a pretty good standard match.  However, that was not the first match they had on PPV that year and the night afterwards the WWE announces that they will wrestle in an even more exciting TLC match at Unforgiven, thus rending their match at Summerslam pointless.

2007: The Batista/Khali world title match ends on a flimsy DQ, and they blow it off at Unforgiven in a more attractive Punjabi Prison match.

Actually, 2008 was done the way it should have been.  Orton/Cena ended clean and the Edge/Taker feud that began at Wrestlemania was blown off at Summerslam.  It wasn’t to last.  This year two of the three ‘big matches’ were redone over the next TWO pay-per-views.  The WWE hypes Summerslam as the second biggest show of the year, then sets out to prove that it’s anything but.  If you go by the evidence I presented above, it would seem that Unforgiven, while it lasted, was more important.  Of course there is no such thing as a ‘second biggest show of the year.’  Even the most die-hard fans have started to catch on that no one show is in general better then any other.  The WWE can hype shows like Summerslam, Survivor Series, or the Royal Rumble until they’re hoarse, but they don’t leave enough things settled from show to show to let pay per views in general have any sense of closure to them.  But hey, what do I know?  I’m just some hack typing shit at a computer.

But I’m a hack who used to order the shows live.  Now I wait for them to hit DVD.  Instead of paying $40 a piece of them, I pay $15.  That’s $210 spent a year instead of $560.  The WWE has lost $350 a year in revenue that I generated for them, simply because they’re half-assing it.  And I think it’s safe to say there are MANY people like me.  If there are nine others like me, that’s $3,500 a year lost.  99 lost is $35,000 a year.  999 like me is $350,000.  9,999 is $3,500,000 lost a year.  That’s a fairly significant chunk of money lost, and it’s money they could easily have just by getting their heads out of their asses and changing things up just a little bit.  There are a LOT of diehard fans out there who order everything the WWE has.  A loss of 10,000 of them is a loss of nearly six million dollars a year.

Give us something different.  Don’t tell us what WE want to see.  Let us fucking tell you.  That’s what we did in 1998 with Steve Austin, Mankind, and the Rock.  We, the fans, beat WCW for you.  Without us telling you who the real stars were, what the matches we wanted to see were, you guys would have kept doing the same stupid shit you always do: force-feeding us shit we don’t want to pay to see.  In 1996, the WWE told us that Marc Mero, Rocky Maivia, Savio Vega, and Flash Funk were our new heroes.  We said “no, they’re not.  Give us something else.”

It’s 2009 now.  You’re telling us that we can’t get enough of Randy Orton vs. John Cena.  Or Randy Orton vs. Triple H.  Or John Cena vs. Big Show.  Or DX vs. Legacy.

We’ve had enough.  Give us something else.topstory500x250-×281.jpg|topstory500x250 topstory120x120-×120.jpg|topstory120x120

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The Way Too Long Review of the Best of Saturday Night’s Main Event Thu, 13 Aug 2009 02:10:41 +0000 This is the longest review I’ve ever written.  So stop right here if you don’t want to read the wrestling review version of War & Peace.  That said, a lot of the material is not about the actual matches but rather the weird builds and angles that were going on at the time of each show.  It’s a long read, but a fun one.  Heck, print it out and take it to the bathroom the next time you have to shit.  According to about 20% of my readers, you should be wiping your ass with it anyway.

And once again, a reminder: under my scoring system, three stars represents 60% of the of the total possible score and thus the match gets a passing grade.   There will be a lot of three-star matches in this set.  That’s the nature of a fast-paced, well choreographed wrestling show.  And that’s what Saturday Night’s Main Event was.  NBC even gave the WWE guidelines on what kind of stuff they wanted wrestlers to avoid in matches, such as excessive rest-holds and stalling.  The results speak for themselves.


Match #1: WWE Championship
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Bob Orton
5/11/85 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Hogan gets a seriously amazing face pop and needs police escorts to get to the ring.  In a very weird, homoerotic moment, Mr. T (in Hogan’s corner) rips off Hogan’s shirt for him, and vice versa.  Considering Mr. T isn’t even in the match, that struck me as very odd.  Fans pop for it, and Vince McMahon marks out on commentary.  I’ll let you guys write your own jokes.  Orton’s got his arm in a cast, of course.  They slug it out to start, with Hogan getting the best of him and Orton bailing.  Hogan gives chase so Orton returns to the ring and Hulk stumbles getting back in.  Hogan catches Orton with a backdrop and three scoopslams, leading to Orton bailing again.  Back in, Orton misses a charge into the corner, and Hogan being the good sport that he is goes after Orton’s casted arm.  He throws shots and it and rings it around.  Not content with simply exploiting a person’s debilitating injury, he bites Orton in the face.  Pray, Vitamins, Cheating.  Jesse Ventura is aghast on commentary, while Vince McMahon ignores this blatant lack of sportsmanship.  Hogan then snaps it off the ropes, then rings it on the post.  In theory, Orton should be crippled but he hits a very awesome flying knee (that looks like a dropkick) to Hogan to take control.  He ignores selling the arm altogether.  He brawls Hogan around with various punches and an atomic drop for two.  Kneedrop that looked quite wussy, then a face-slam on the canvas.  Pace is slowed to a crawl while Piper and Mr. T jaw at ringside.  More punches by Orton while the camera crew clearly doesn’t have their shit together, showing some awful angles where the action is mostly being missed, while at the same time being exposing to the business.  Hogan begs off like a bitch, then Hulks Up.  Three big punches, high clothesline and an elbow for two.  Headbutt by Hogan and a shoot to the corner for a ten punch.  Orton turns it into an atomic drop.  Orton sets up for the superplex, which is his finisher.  Fan attempts to stop him and all the security guards catch him before he even makes it over the guardrail.  You can’t see anything, just the guards moving into position.  Anyway, Hogan fights off and hits an elbow off the second rope.  Legdrop would get the pin but Piper reaches in and hits Hogan for a DQ before the ref counted three.

Why even bother with the DQ finish?  He hit the legdrop, the fans know Orton had jobbed, so just let the pinfall happen and let Piper attack Hogan afterwards.  I mean come on, this was the first Saturday Night’s Main Event.  A clean pinfall would have made the fans and viewers happy and presumably they would continue watching.
** for the match, it was just your typical, by the numbers Hogan match with nothing different at all about it.

After the match, Paul Orndorff makes the save, making him over like Jesus and setting up one of the biggest drawing heel turns in wrestling history.

-Uncle Elmer’s Wedding from 10/5/85 is next.  Believe it or not, this was a legitimate wedding, and despite doing a storyline with Piper, he did marry his longtime girlfriend Joyce Stazko.  They stayed married until his death from diabetes in 1992.  Jesse Ventura cracks wise during the ceremony and totally buries the whole thing.  Piper’s interference isn’t much more then saying the segment sucks.  During the reception, Hogan throws Ventura into a cake.

Match #2
Paul Orndorff vs. Roddy Piper
10/5/85 Saturday Night’s Main Event

This was the start of Orndorff’s run as a face, which led to his run as a record-drawing heel turn against Hogan.  Slugoff to start, fans going crazy as Paul Orndorff kills Piper.  Roddy fights off with a clothesline and a big kick.  Piper rams Orndorff into the canvas.  They roll around, trying to kill each other.  DDT (!) by Piper and a running stomp.  To the outside, where Piper tries to smash Orndorff with a chair but misses.  Piper throws the chair in the ring, but gets smashed with an elbow.  Backdrop suplex by Orndorff, but Piper pokes the eyes to take advantage.  Shoot off the ropes and double shoulderblock knocks both guys down.  Piper goes for a splash but Orndorff gets the knees up.  Crossbody sends both guys to the outside.  Slugoff starts and both guys get counted out.  They fight under the announce table, then to the dressing room, where the cameras follow them.  This is 1985, mind you, a good decade before these types of things weren’t a regular occurrence.  Piper gets into room and locks himself in.  That’s that.
** Stiff ass brawl, didn’t really lead anywhere.

-A Trip to the Zoo 10/5/85 is up.  Mean Gene takes a trip to the zoo to search for George “The Animal” Steele.  He finds him hanging out with camels.  Steele takes Gene to the Elephant, and does a quick impression of one, trying to keep a straight face.  He calls a lemur “Heenan” and a hippo “Bundy.”  Lame segment.  Should have ended with someone shooting him with a tranquilizer and putting him in a cage or something.  Skip it.

Halloween Costumes from 11/2/85.  Much like the Simpsons these days, the WWE celebrates Halloween after it’s already over and people are sick of it.  Iron Sheik is Batman.  Tito Santana is the Lone Ranger.  Mean Gene is the Grand Wizard.  King Kong Bundy is Abe Lincoln.  Hogan is Caesar.  Piper is Superman.  Savage & Liz are Tarzan & Jane.  They have a pie eating contest, bob for apples, pumpkin pass, and trick-or-treating tips from Roddy Piper.  He seems to be on speed during this segment.  After fucking around with some kids by dropping bowling balls in their bags (causing the them to break and the candy to go everywhere) they trick him into eating a chocolate covered red pepper.  He brilliantly oversells this.

Match #3: WWE Championship
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Terry Funk
1/4/86 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Junkyard Dog is in Hogan’s corner, and he quickly puts Jimmy Hart in his place.  Lockup, and they reverse each other a bunch.  Hogan wins out and knocks Funk out of the ring.  They’re billing Funk as “middle aged and crazy.”  In 1998 they billed him as that.  Hell, in 2006 they billed him as that.  How many 120 year old guys do you know?  Funk gets back in only to get punked out again and tossed to the outside.  Funk gets knocked down and Hulk keeps running over him.  Cool visual.  Funk throws a chair in the ring at Hogan so Hulk sits down on it.  Funk gets back in and slugs away, but Hulk quickly shrugs him off and beats him down, then sends him head-over-heels into the corner.  Hulk sling Funk into the ring and gives him a backdrop suplex for two.  Funk goes low to take advantage, but it’s short lived as Hulk catches him climbing and shake the ropes.  Funk gets crotched, and Hogan follows it up with an atomic drop.  Clothesline by Hogan and an elbow drop.  Funk shoots Hogan off the ropes and Jimmy Hart tries to trip him up, so Hulk chases him.  Hart hides under the ring.  Back in, Funk chokes Hogan with some tape.  Piledriver for two.  Mounted punches by Funk and a foot rake.  Hulk up time.  Three punches, backelbow, and a big boot sends Funk out of the ring.  Jimmy Hart grabs a branding iron and whacks Hogan with it and Funk covers for two as Hulk gets his foot on the ropes.  Hulk drops Hart then clotheslines Funk for the pin and the victory.
*** Fun, comedyish match.

-Randy Orton talks about his father’s match with Hulk Hogan from the first SNME.  Um… that was three matches ago.  I didn’t get the point of this segment, but then we cut to Hogan tricking Roddy Piper into signing to face Mr. T in a boxing match.  As a warm up, Bob Orton faces Mr. T on Saturday Night’s Main Event.

Match #4: Boxing Match
Bob Orton vs. Mr. T
3/1/86 Saturday Night’s Main Even

Pretty sure I never watched this one.  I didn’t get into boxing until I got Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! for the NES the following year.  T has Hogan with him, while Piper is with Orton.  Orton jumps Mr. T from behind to start the match.

Round One: Shots look stiff and solid to start, then quickly end up looking like shit.  To their credit, it actually looks like a boxing match.  They use liberal use of long shots and wide shots so you can’t see how bad the punches look.  I’m guessing this is what led to them having Piper and Mr. T start their match at Wrestlemania as a shoot.  Of course, they didn’t expect Piper to knock Mr. T goofy right off the bat either.  Anyway, Orton thumbs the eye of T and all the trainers check on him but he’s good to go.  The first round ending and the ref breaks them up, so Orton throws a cheapshot, which of course would be a DQ in a real boxing match, especially since he made contact with the ref as well.

Round Two: Orton showboats a bit while Mr. T looks bored.  T starts to hit some punches so Piper distracts the ref and Orton hits a knee and a sledge while T is down on all fours.  T fights back, knocks Piper off the apron, then punches Orton out of the ring, leading to him winning by count out.  Seriously, they couldn’t even do a clean finish to build to his match with Piper at Wrestlemania?   After the match, Piper challenges T to a bare knuckle boxing match, but Orton jumps him from behind and they both kick the crap out of him.  After the heels think they’ve done enough, they both leave the ring.  T then no-sells the beating and gets back up.  Ugh, horrible.
No Rating, but a pretty dull segment overall and not well put together.

And we’re four matches in and have one clean finish.  Yea?

-Meanwhile, Mean Gene points out that most TV matches before SNME came along were squash matches designed for the stars to show off their big moves against jobbers.  Saturday Night’s Main Event was the first time they pushed competitive matches between big stars on free TV.  This leads to highlights of what set up the Jake Roberts/Ricky Steamboat feud.  Namely the sickest bump in wrestling history, Jake’s DDT to Steamboat on the concrete.   If you haven’t seen it, it’s included here.  If you want to count the cobra bite that Randy Savage got from Jake Roberts as a bump, it would rank #2.   I actually met Jake Roberts a few years back and asked him why all the biggest bumps taken from that period were given by him.  He says he tried to talk both Steamboat and Savage out of the respect bumps he gave them.  He said he was given that spot because he could carry a feud as the only person talking while the babyfaces were off to sell the injuries.  Makes sense.

Mach #5: Snake Pit Match
Jake Roberts vs. Ricky Steamboat
10/4/86 Saturday Night’s Main Event

The WWE had been running exact clones of this match all around the country, including at the Big Event in Toronto about five weeks prior to this show.  All that was needed to set this up was have Steamboat take an unprotected DDT on an actual concrete floor.  Nothing big.  We get a recap of the whole feud at this point, including the result of the Big Event, which Steamboat won.  Interesting.  It’s no DQ as Steamboat chops away and gets an overhead wristlock takedown for two.  Armdrag and an armbar by Steamboat, who has some seriously ugly tights tonight.  Body drop by Steamboat and Jake bails.  Back in the ring, Steamboat gets another armdrag into an armbar.  Jake inches over towards the bag Steamboat too to the ring with him, and it moves.  Jake gets all scared.  Jake misses a charge and eats the turnbuckle.  Slingshot into the turnbuckle and then a diving chop while Jake falls.  Didn’t look to hot.  Steamer climbs and goes for a big splash but Jake gets his knees up.  Jake goes for his bag, so Steamboat goes for his.  Jake panics and goes after Ricky to give him a gutbuster for two.  Shoot off and a punch to the gut, which Steamboat sells kind of comically bad.  He must not have been feeling it tonight.  Jake slugs away while Steamboat continues to oversell the gut shot.  Clothesline for two, and the ref sucks so bad that even Vince McMahon, the babyface announcer here, is bitching about the heel getting the shaft.  Jake knees him in the guts and fires off a blatant choke.  Steamboat tries to fight back, but Jake no sells it and hits a kneelift.  Steamboat returns the favor by no-selling it.  Jake hits him in the neck, then hits a snapmare for two.  Atomic drop by Jake.  Shoot off and Steamboat gets a crucifix… for the three?  Well that’s fucked up, yo.  After the match, Jake brings out his snake to cover Steamboat with him, but Steamboat recovers and pulls out a baby alligator, called a ‘dragon’ by Vince McMahon.  Jake bails, the end.
* They couldn’t seem to find a rhythm.

-Jake Roberts talks about feud with Steamboat, the one we just watched.  The structure to this DVD is very weird.  We then move on to his feud with Randy Savage.  Apparently Jake’s matches on SNME up to this point had been met with low ratings, so Dick Ebersol told Jake if his segment bombed this time, he wouldn’t be allowed on NBC again.  Jake calls it one of the best matches of his career, and says that Randy Savage’s father told him it was the best match of Randy’s career.

Match #6: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts
11/29/86 Saturday Night’s Main Events

Jake was not working out as a heel so they set the wheels in motion to turn him here.  Technically they’re both heels here.  Snake pulls out Damien, so Savage backs away like a little bitch and uses Elizabeth as a human shield.  Both guys try to jump each other behind their backs to start, but that goes nowhere.  They finally lockup and both guys take turns cheating on each other, yanking their hair.  Lockup and a headlock by Jake gets taken down to the canvas where both guys continue to pull the hair.  They break it up and Jake goes for a DDT so Savage bails.  Back in the ring, Jake catches a charge with a boot and goes for the DDT but Savage rams him into the corner.  Jake shoots him into the other corner but Savage gets a foot up for two.  Face first slam on the canvas gets two.  Stomp to the back of the head gets two.  Snapmare and a kneedrop gets two.  Jake tries to fight back but Randy hits him in the head with an elbow, then drops an elbow for two.  Jake chokes him on the top rope then slings him off for two as Jake gets a foot on the rope.  Savage pulls him away from the ropes and covers for two.  Sledge to the back of the head gets one, then another one.  Jake fights back but Savage stops him again and ties him in the ropes, then grabs the bag with the snake in it and puts it under the ring.  Jake escapes and catches Macho Man with a knee to the face as he gets back in the ring.  Jake grabs Damien and puts him back in the corner.  Short-arm clothesline gets two.  Jake fires off a pancake suplex for two.  Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura mark out for it on commentary, as that move was not common back then.  Jake punches Savage and shoots him off, but lowers his head into a kick.  Savage misses a bunch and Jake goes for the DDT, but Savage grabs at the ropes.  Savage bails and again uses Miss Elizabeth as a human shield.  Jake charges but gets tossed into the ring post.  Savage climbs the ropes and drops a sledge on Jake on the outside.  Back in the ring, Savage drops another sledge for two.  He climbs and goes for a third sledge but Jake punches him coming down.  Jake puts up his dukes and slugs it out, but Savage knees him in the gut and to the floor.  Jake pulls Savage out to punch him.  Savage back in and he stomps at Jake getting back in the ring.  Both guys take turns shoving the referee because he won’t let them fight, and the match is scrubbed.  Savage grabs a chair so Jake grabs Damien, causing Savage to bail and Jake’s face turn to begin properly.
**** Very fun, fast paced match.  This is one of the few times I’ve seen the heel-heel dynamic work right, with both guys acting like villains and cheating through-out.  I’m suddenly doubtful anything on this set will top this one.

-To the Hogan/Orndorff feud, with Mean Gene explaining that cage matches are special draws for wrestling.  Thanks, didn’t know that.

Match #7: WWE Championship Steel Cage Match
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff
1/3/87 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Orndorff whips Hogan with the championship belt to start.  He goes for the door but Hogan saves.  Elbow drop by Paul, then back to the door, but Hogan dives for the save.  more elbow drops, and now Orndorff climbs the cage and gets out, but Hogan barely saves, grabbing his hair.  Jesse Ventura notes that Hogan would not be the champ if Orndorff was bald.  Heh.  Hogan gets Paul back into the cage and he chokes away with his headband.  Orndorff stops Hogan from escaping the cage and stomps away on Hogan’s face.  Orndorff misses a couple elbows and Hogan is up, throwing some big punches that knock Paul down.  Hogan goes for the door but Bobby Heenan locks the door.  Good stuff there.  Orndorff fights Hogan off the door, then headbutts Hulk on the mat.  Orndorff tries to ram Hogan into the cage, but Hulk blocks and throws Paul into the cage.  Both guys get up and climb opposite sides of the cage, hitting the floor at the same time.  Pretty original finish that hasn’t been done before or since, to the best of my knowledge.  Orndorff sneaks up and attacks Hogan on the outside, while the announcers speculate on what the finish was.  The referee declares it a tie, and since cage matches can’t end in ties, the match is restarted.  We go to a commercial.  Back, and now Orndorff hits a stomp off the top of rope.  Orndorff drops a couple knees and fists.  Short clothesline by Paul.  Fist drop.  But now Hogan is hulking up.  Three big punches, chops, rams into the cage, big punch, ram into the cage, backbreaker, legdrop.  Hogan starts to climb, but Bobby Heenan makes the save.  Orndorff tries to escape, so Hogan beats on Paul, KOs Heenan, and climbs out the cage before Orndorff makes it to the door to win the match.
*** Pretty good, with one of the most memorable false-finishes in wrestling history.

-We move on to discussion about Andre the Giant and his feud with Hulk Hogan.

Match #8: Battle Royal
Participants: Andre the Giant, Ron Bass, Demolition (Ax & Smash), Bill Jack Haynes, Hillbilly Jim, Hulk Hogan, Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, The Islanders (Haku & Tama), The Killer Bees (Brian Blair & Jim Brunzell), Blackjack Mulligan, Paul Orndorff, Lanny Poffo, Butch Reed, Sika, Nikolai Volkoff, and Koko B. Ware
3/14/87 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Never seen this one funny enough.  This I assume is the hard-sell for Wrestlemania 3.  Weird camera angle as Andre the Giant makes his way to the ring makes him look as tall as Bobby Heenan.  Andre the Giant blocks Hogan’s entrance to heat the match, while everyone else backs off.  Suddenly the bells rings, with all the faces jumping Andre and all the heels jumping Hogan.  Hogan fights them off and dumps Honky Tonk Man.  Andre dumps Sika.  Mulligan and Hillbilly Jim double team Andre but get noggin-knocked.  Haku gets dumped as well.  Headbutt to a pre-Genius Lanny causes him to blade and he gets dumped.  I’m shocked someone bled during this, as I figured NBC would make that a no-no.  It’s a mighty blade job by Poffo too and he gets a stretcher job.  Haynes gets dumped by Hogan.  Ax and Smash try to dump Jim while Mulligan gets dumped by Andre with a hiptoss.  Hogan dumps Volkoff.  Blair gets dumped by Andre.  I have to admit, this is a good way to solidify why Hogan and Andre are the top two guys in the company, using only them to dump everyone else.  Orndorff and Hercules whip Hogan into Andre to set up the big confrontation. The fans start to buzz… maybe.  The actual crowd shots show people not even moving, smiling, or anything.  I know that most of the audience reaction is SNME was edited in after the show, but come on.  Hogan punches Andre about but it lasts maybe three seconds before Orndorff and Ax cut him off.  Hogan dumps Orndorff, but this distraction is enough for Andre to headbutt Hogan and push him out of the match.  Well, this leaves little doubt to the ending.  Andre motions to Hogan like it was nothing.  Hogan bitches and points at Andre, who tells him to bring it while he casually swats away at everyone who tries to touch them, like they were flies or something.  Cool stuff.  Brunzell tries to body-press Andre and he causally gets tossed.  Suddenly everyone teams up on Andre, heels and faces.  He fights them for a while but they do manage to dump him.  What the fuck?  Are you serious?  The big show before Wrestlemania and they job out both guys in the main event in a battle royal with nothing but scrubs left in the ring?  Man, I hope that doesn’t hurt the buyrate or the aura of the Hogan/Andre match.  Hercules dumps Tama, while Hillbilly Jim dumps Ax.  He tries for Smash but gets dumped instead.  Butch Reed gets knocked out by Koko.

FINAL FOUR: Smash, Hercules, Koko B. Ware, and Billy Jack Haynes.  Well that fucking blows.  I mean it’s cool that it’s unpredictable, but still.  Hercules fights off Koko and dumps him.  Smash and Hercules team up and beat up Mr. Oregon Billy Jack Haynes, the best drug mule in professional wrestling.  Or so the legend goes.  Hercules tells Smash he wants to do the damage.  Haynes ends up dumping Smash.  Bobby Heenan gets on the apron to distract Haynes, which allows Hercules to dump him and win the battle royal.  Well that was unexpected.
1/2* I think they should have just had Hogan and Andre throw out everyone else and have Hogan get dumped clean at the end by Andre to really put the doubt in people’s minds that Hogan could beat him at Wrestlemania.  Not that it seemed to hurt the buyrate or anything.  Still… Hercules?  Really?  I mean, if this led to a post-Wrestlemania feud for Hogan I could see it.  They actually used the ending to springboard a Haynes/Hercules match at Wrestlemania 3 and even then didn’t use it as a blow off, as the match ended in a shitty double countout.  So what was the point here?  Very strange booking.  Almost random it would seem.  Anyway, battle royals suck and this one was only slightly better then the average one.

-We talk about the Hard Foundation/Bulldog Feud.  Natalya Neidhart talks about how cool it was to watch.  I know she’s third generation so it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I just want to say how refreshing it is to see one of the Divas talk about being a fan of wrestling back in the day as opposed to something that pays you for the sake of being a nice looking girl who is willing to pretend fight someone else.

Match #9: World Tag Team Championship: 2 out of 3 Falls
(c) The Hart Foundation vs. The British Bulldogs
5/2/87 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Well, this could be awesome.  First Fall: Davey starts with Bret.  Davey flips around a wristlock and takes Bret down with it, then works the arm with kneedrops.  Bret counters it with a headlock.  Dynamite looks like absolute shit on the apron.  Very unhealthy.  Bret shoots Davey off but Smith grabs a crucifix for two.  Kitchen sink kneelift by Bret and a tag to Neidhart who whips Davey Boy by his hair.  Clubbing blows by the Anvil, then he takes Davey to the Hart corner so they can cheat.  Neidhart slugs away and tags to Bret, who fires off a backbreaker for two.  Legdrop by Bret, then a shoot to the corner but Davey gets a foot up and tags Dynamite who seems to have loss some mobility.  He slings Bret by the hair and clotheslines him for two.  Snap suplex gets two.  Diving headbutt but Neidhart breaks up the pinfall, then Bret and Neidhart double team him while Danny Davis goes after Dynamite.  Tito Santana is in the Bulldog’s corner and he saves, while the referee disqualifies the Hart Foundation for the first fall.

Second fall and Dynamite is still trashed from the beatdown he got, making him the face in peril.  Neidhart beats up on him and puts a front facelock on.  Tag to Bret who hits a second rope elbowdrop on Dynamite off Neidhart’s knee for two.  Dynamite fights back with a headbutt and some punches, but Bret holds a leg to stop the tag and reaches Neidhart for one of his own.  Neidhart cuts off Dynamite, who appears to have a broken nose.  Bret runs into draw Davey Boy away from the tag.  Davey chases Bret around while Neidhart holds a blatant chokehold.  Neidhart slugs it out and tags Bret, who punches away at the gut.  Bret ties Dynamite in the ropes, but misses a charge and wipes out into the ropes very hard in what is a truly sick bump if you know how much those ropes hurt.  Dynamite makes the tag.  Dropkicks for all.  Clothesline to Neidhart for two.  Delayed suplex gets two.  Davey Boy lowers his head after shooting off Neidhart, allowing the heels to double team him.  Neidhart misses a charge and knocks Bret off the apron.  Then Tito runs in the ring and clotheslines Danny Davis off the apron.  Tag to Dynamite, then Davey press-slams him into Hart for the pin… but not the titles because the first fall was a DQ.  Vince sulks and admits he’s right.  Of course, the deciding fall was by pinfall and that’s all that should matter, but logic rarely interferes with lazy booking.  Oh well.
***1/2 I don’t think it’s possible for these teams to have had a bad match.  Even today, with Dynamite in a wheel chair, Bret not too far behind him, and Davey Boy dead, I’m sure they would somehow pull it together and make at least **1/2.  This was fairly punchy-kicky but still well paced and pretty fun to watch.

Match #10: Intercontinental Championship
(c) The Honky Tonk Man vs. Randy Savage
10/3/87 Saturday Night’s Main Event

No, this is NOT the match that caused the breakdown of all long-term planning the WWE had been doing to this point.  That would come later.  Long lockup to start, with Honk Tonk punching the nose to break it up.  Shoot off but Honky lowers his head into a kick.  Diving hangman by Savage, who takes control.  Back in, snapmare and a kneedrop come from Savage, followed by what looks like a blatant choke in the corner.  Backelbow by Savage while Jimmy Hart threaten Elizabeth.  Savage goes to stop him, leading to Honky Tonk hitting a sledge from behind.  His comeback doesn’t last as Savage hits a running elbow in the ring, then some left jabs.  Elbowdrop misses and Honky Tonk takes advantage with a few axehandles.  Snapmare and a fist drop off the second rope, but Honky Tonk bails to hit on Liz instead.  Savage comes to live and beats on Honky Tonk, then drops a sledge off the top rope and to the floor.  Small Package gets two as Jimmy Hart puts a foot on the rope.  Back suplex gets two as Jimmy Hart gets in the way again.  Sledge off the top rope gets two again with Jimmy Hart interference.  Savage has enough and drags in Hart to knock him out with a punch.  Honky goes for a sunset flip but can’t turn Savage over.  Honky Tonk bails to check on Savage, and the Hart Foundation comes out to follow.  Savage drags him back in and chokes away.  Savage punches him out of the ring but that doesn’t help as Honky bails on the match to help Jimmy Hart back to the ring.  Honky Tonk tells him to wait in the ring, he’ll be back.

Well that’s an interesting way for a commercial break.  When we come back, Honky returns and gets smacked around by Savage.  Savage misses a charge in the corner, and eats a backdrop.  Double leg takedown by Savage gets two.  Not sure that spot was intentional.  Honky punches him down and goes for a ten punch.  Snapmare and Honky climbs to the second rope but misses a fist drop.  Huge overselling follows.  Big elbows by Savage and a backdrop.  Honky begs off, but Savage hears none of it and punches away in the corner.  Shoot off and a backelbow gets two.  Vertical suplex gets two.  Honky rakes the eyes and tosses Savage out to the Harts for them to double team him while Honky distracts the ref.  They toss him back in and Honky casually drops an elbow… for two.  Savage hulks up with a scoopslam and hits the flying elbow, but Bret breaks up the pinfall to draw the DQ.  Triple teaming follows, with Elizabeth crying at ringside.  She keeps looking at the entrance ramp, as if she wants someone to come and help.  Honky loads up his guitar but Elizabeth gives on someone else saving and gets in the ring to make the save.  Honky almost hits her with the guitar, but instead jaws with her.  Honky shoves Elizabeth out of the way to draw huge heat, some of which is piped in for no good reason.  Elizabeth runs backstage in tears, Savage is still out apparently, so the Hart Foundation holds him, Honky teases, teases, then teases some more.  I’m waiting for the run in to start, but instead Honky does break the guitar over his head.  After Savage has already eaten the guitar, Elizabeth drags Hulk Hogan to ringside to make the save.  He does, and the faces clean house, then shake hands.  And the Mega Powers are born.
***1/4 Much better then I thought it would be, and the big moment at the end was pretty cool, if a little too late.

And you get the piledriver music video.

Match #11
Randy Savage vs. Bret Hart
11/28/87 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Savage bails to start to protect Elizabeth from Jim Neidhart and Jimmy Hart.  Savage chases the Hart Foundation off then elbows Bret and tosses him into the corner.  Hart catches a breather while Savage is in the ring.  Bret returns only to get elbowed in the face and choked in the corner.  They trade whip reversals with Bret winning out and sending Savage into the corner where he brawls him and grabs a blatant choke.  Snapmare and an elbowdrop.  Shoot off but Savage hits a backelbow followed by a running elbow.  Savage pulls at Bret’s hair on the apron, but the ref pulls him off.  So Savage decides to ram Bret off the apron and into the guardrail in one of Bret’s favorite and most suicidal spots.  Neidhart stalls for Bret who might be legitimately injured.  Jimmy Hart gets on the apron too so Savage throws them into each other.  He climbs and goes for a sledge off the top but Bret stops him with a punch to the gut.  Neidhart tosses Savage into the ring for Bret.  Shoot off and a kick by Bret.  He stalls a bit then drops a meager leg.  Bret puts Savage in the tree of woe and kicks away at him.  Piledriver gets two.  Elbow but Bret misses a charge and eats the corner.  Savage picks him up and throws him shoulder first into the opposite turnbuckle.  Snapmare and the sledge off the top gets two.  Punch to the gut by Bret and a backbreaker, but the elbow off the second rope misses.  Knee to the face by Savage and the diving hangman gets two.  Bret backdrops Savage over the top rope, and Randy starts to sell the ankle.  Elizabeth checks on him.  After a long stall, Bret comes over to attack but the ref stops him and we cut to a commercial.

We’re back and instead of counting out Savage, the ref lets it continue.  Bret gets cocky and celebrates early while Savage hobbles around the ring.  Bret finally attacks after what seems like forever and starts to attack the injured ankle.  Savage’s boot isn’t even on when Bret rings his foot around the ringpost.  Spinning toehold by Bret but he only does two turns before Savage kicks him off then snaps Bret off the ropes for two in a fairly weak move to take over with.  Bret continues to work the foot like a bastard and slaps on a half crab.  Snapmare by Bret but Savage starts to rake the face.  He crawls to the apron where he gets snatched up by Bret.  Bret tries to slam him back into the ring but Savage rolls through it… for the pin.  Well that was out of nowhere.  Heels all try to kill Savage but he grabs the megaphone from Jimmy Hart and the heels bail.
***3/4 Hated the abrupt ending, but loved the entire ankle injury segment.  This was close to greatness but Bret wasn’t quite at a level to make this special on his own yet.


Why bonus matches in a DVD I’ve already paid for?  What makes them bonuses?

Match #12
Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, & Mike Rotundo vs. Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, & George Steele
5/11/85 Saturday Nights’ Main Event

This is the first ever SNME match.  And let the record show that the change from what the WWE’s previous production standards were to this were something of a revelation at the time.  I wasn’t quite yet four-years-old when this originally aired, but I still have very vague memories of this being like a second Christmas, and the anticipation for this was awesome.  Sheik starts with Windham.  Lockup and they get tied in the ropes.  Windham blocks a cheapshot and slugs it out.  Windham reverses a hiptoss and hits one of his own.  Sheik to the wrong corner, then walks into a scoopslam.  Tag to Rotundo, then a tag to Steamboat for some double team stuff.  Steamboat starts to work the arm of course.  Rotundo and pairs up with Steamboat for a double elbow.  Scoopslam gets two.  Rotundo does nothing for a bit then tags in Steamboat who goes to the arm.  Shoot off and the Sheik gets an abdominal stretch out of nowhere, but Steamboat turns it into a hiptoss.  The other heels run in and instead of armdragging them, Steamboat fires off a couple more hiptosses and the heels bail.  It’s commercial time.

We’re back with Steamboat hitting a powerslam on Sheik and climbing for a missile dropkick that looks crazy stiff and sick.  Crossbody off the top gets two.  Volkoff saves, and Windham kills him for it.  Volkoff tags in only to be tossed into the babyfaces.  Windham tags in and Nikolai eats a double dropkick.  Tag to Rotundo and this time Nikolai eats a double elbow.  A pair of legdrops hit but Steele tosses him off.  Rotundo turns his eye off the ball and Nikolai is free to punch him, but gets rolled up for two instead.  Backslide gets two for Rotundo.  They get tied up in the corner on a third pinfall and have to break.  Tag to Windham who brawls it out.  Shoot off and Nikolai misses a clothesline and Windham gets a sunset flip for… nothing as they’re too close to the ropes again.  Steele finally tags in to a huge pop.  Windham is a house of fire on him, so he goes to tag out.  Sheik and Volkoff bail on him to complete Steele’s face turn, but Windham still rolls him up for the pin.  After the match, the heels beat on Steele, and the babyface team doesn’t even attempt to save him.  Hell, he doesn’t need it, and fights off the tag champs himself.  Lou Albano talks him out of his rage.  He then jumps the heels in the middle of their interview.
** Total squash for the babyfaces, but still somewhat entertaining.

-We get the (kind of surreal) music video for Real American.

-We also get highlights of Junkyard Dog celebrating mother’s day with his mother, Bertha.

Jesus Christ, I’m only one disc in?  Yeesh.


-Hulk Hogan jobs via countout to King Kong Bundy two months previous on Saturday Night’s Main Event.  Bobby Heenan demands a rematch.  And this time, he has Andre the Giant with him.

Match #13: WWE Championship
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy
1/2/88 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Good visual having Andre trail Bundy to the ring and show how damn big he is.  Hogan cuts a crazy, sweaty, maniacal promo before the match and talks about how Ronald Reagan is a Hulkamaniac.  Later in life, Reagan moved on to believing he really was Hulk Hogan.  The amount of sweat on him was insane.  It’s like he spent three hours before this jerking off.  But then in a rare (ha) bit of WWE lacking continuity, Hogan is NOT sweating when he comes out seconds later.  Horrible edit.  We start with a big lockup.  Hogan shoves off right off the bat, then side-steps a charge and beats Bundy from pillar to post.  Shoot off and a big boot sends Bundy to the outside.  Andre comes over to give him advice.  Unless that advice was “When he starts Hulk Up, don’t just keep punching him.  That only makes it worse” then it’s not going to be helpful.  Bundy comes back in only to get killed again, this time with a clothesline.  I guess Andre wasn’t very helpful.  Fans don’t heat up on Bundy’s stalling, which tells me this was likely around the period that it stopped being effect.  Continuity from my Judgment Day 2009 review.  Andre offers more advice, but it proves even worse as Hogan takes him down in the center of the ring with some punches, then grabs a wristlock.  Hogan doesn’t then check for the time, so I guess Lou Thesz was wrong about him not knowing the difference between a wristlock and a wrist watch.  He elbows at the arm, but then Bundy reverses it and yanks Hogan down by what’s left of his hair.  This is weird to watch these guys actually wrestle.  Hogan gets to his feet and fights out of the hold with a shoulderblock.  Another one hits but Bundy still doesn’t go down.  Another one by Hogan but he runs into an awesome backelbow, which Hogan bumps pretty good off of.  You know, this ain’t bad.  Bundy sends Hogan to the corner, then goes back to the wristlock.  Hogan bitches at the referee about how Bundy pulls his hair, which distracts the referee and allows Bundy to pull him down by the hair.  Irony.  Bundy turns this into an armbar.  By the way, worth mentioning the fans are seemingly nuts over this match, though the WWE would often pipe in noise during Saturday Night’s Main Event.  Even if that’s true, it’s effective.  Nothing worse for me then recapping a match that is dead silent.  Someone asked me what was the most boring match I ever recapped.  Easy answer that usually surprises people: the Luchador match from the 1997 Royal Rumble.  60,000 fans announced in attendance and they go over ten minutes without making a single sound.  It was actually kind of impressive on their part.  Even during Eddie Guerrero and Owen Hart’s ten bell salute you would occasionally hear someone scream out something to break up the silence.  Anyway, my point is I will take canned crowd reactions to silence.  Sorry for the tangent, back to the match.

Hogan fights off the armbar and scoopslams Bundy.  He still sells the arm injury, then misses an elbowdrop using the injured arm.  Scoopslam by Bundy who then misses a few elbowdrops.  Hogan sadly ends the coolness of this match by ignoring the arm injury and hitting a clothesline in the corner.  Whip reversal by Bundy sends Hogan leapfrogging over the referee and into the corner.  The ref goes to tell Hogan he’s okay, only for Bundy to avalanche them both in the corner.  Bundy misses his big splash, while the referee appears to have passed away.  Hogan punches Bundy out of the ring and knocks him out, while another referee comes out and calls a timeout to get the other referee out.  Jesse Ventura, sensitive guy that he is, says “This will work out for Bundy while they scrape that guy’s carcass out of the ring, he gets a time out.”  Hilarious how casual he said that.  Commercial while they start to plan the funeral.

We’re back and the ref starts to quickly count out Bundy on the outside.  He comes back in and starts to kill Hogan with a series of punches and a clothesline.  Big splash hits for two.  Hard chop sends Hogan to the floor.  He gets up on the apron but gets chopped down again.  He finally lets Hogan back in, only to stand on him while pushing down on the ropes.  Shoot off and a big shoulderblock.  Lazy fist drop/kneedrop thing but Bundy gets two, then he goes to a chinlock.  I will say this about Bundy, he had a good looking chinlock.  And Hogan was good at selling them.  Of course he was.  He took enough of them.  Andre bitches at the ref saying he heard Hogan quit.  Bundy lets go and sends Hogan into the corner to hit the avalanche.  He’s not satisfied, so he hits another.  Bundy demands the referee give him a five count, while Jesse Ventura cries on commentary that his shoe is touching Hogan’s shoe and that should count as a pin attempt.  After stalling like a fucktard, Bundy finally covers… for two.  And it’s Hulk Up Time~!  Punch, no-sell, punch, no-sell, punch, no-sell, whip reversal sends Bundy to the corner, legdrop, pinfall.  After the match, Andre refuses to attack Hogan, then somehow sneaks up on Hulk while he’s posing and slaps a blatant choke.  BUT WAIT~!  Here come the British Bulldogs to try and save Hogan.  He gets rid of them both.  And thus the rest of the babyfaces come out to make the save.  Andre celebrates with the championship belt while they haul Hogan to the back.  Andre’s hand is so big it looks like he’s holding up a championship belt you would put on an action figure.
***1/2 Shocker of shockers, this match was pretty good.  Well paced, good psychology, neat change ups to go against Hogan’s formula, and really good (possibly phony) heat.  Worth your time.  And way, way better then the Wrestlemania 2 main event.

-This leads to what is allegedly still the most watched match in wrestling history.  Televised on a Friday, thirty-three million viewers tuned in to watch this one.

Match #14: WWE Championship
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
2/5/88 The Main Event

The most shocking match of the 80s.  Dave Hebner is the referee.  Hogan kills Ted DiBiase and Virgil to start.  Then he goes after Andre, who can barely move at this point.  Hogan throws Andre into the corner and rams his head a couple times.  Running elbow, big punches, running elbow, but Andre won’t go down.  Hogan gets pissed and stomps DiBiase’s hand, which sends money flying.  Funny.  Running kick and Andre is still on his feet.  Big windup punch and Andre won’t go down.  Hogan rakes the eyes, then climbs the ropes (!), but Andre catches him and throws him off the top.  Headbutt misses and Andre is out.  Ventura screams “It took Andre to knock himself down!”  Andre grabs a chokehold, while referee Dave Hebner yells at him.  Andre stomps Hogan’s hand and bodyslams him.  Headbutt, and a chop.  Andre needs to hold onto the ring ropes to prevent himself from falling over.  BIG punch and a chop, then a headbutt.  Andre grabs a blatant chokehold, which the referee breaks up.  Andre gets a big boot on Hogan, falling over himself when doing it.  Andre then takes his over-the-shoulder strap and chokes Hogan with it.  Well, that’s resourceful.  More blatant choking by Andre, but Hogan is feeling it.  He hulks up.  Knee to the gut, chops, eye-rake, clothesline off the second rope (!), legdrop but the referee is jawing with Virgil.  Andre is up and he gives Hogan a headbutt and a horrible suplex thingy that was his finisher if I’m not mistaken for a one count… which the referee turns into a three count, giving Andre the championship.  This was the most shocking finish ever for a wrestling match.  Vince McMahon is besides himself, saying what a stupid mistake it was.  He raises Andre’s hands and gives him the belt.  Mean Gene goes to interview the new Champ, and he surrenders the belt to Ted Dibiase.  Hogan is crying like a total baby.  Meanwhile, even Jesse Ventura concedes that giving the title away like that might not be legal.  I always thought this angle made Andre and DiBiase look like idiots.  Why not just wait for DiBiase to get a match with Andre and do a fingerpoke or something.  That seems to have worked for WCW.

At this point another referee comes down to yell at Dave Hebner.  That referee was… Dave Hebner!  What the fuck?  Well, the referee of the match was actually Dave’s twin brother Earl, who it seems has a talent for ringing the bell a little too early.  Hogan ends up destroying one of them, even if he can’t tell if he’s beating up the good referee or the evil one, and tosses him into the heels.  The storyline was that Ted Dibiase found some guy and gave him plastic surgery to make him look like Dave Hebner.  Because evil twin brothers is SO 1970s.  Soon after, WWE President Jack Tunney ruled the following.  One, the referee’s decision is final… even if that referee was an imposter and presumably not employed by the company… so Andre beat Hogan for the Championship.  Two, the champion can give up the title at anytime, so Andre was no longer the champion.  Three, championships can’t be awarded from one champion to another, so Dibiase was NOT the champ.  This set up the Wrestlemania IV tournament which was won by Randy Savage.
** for the match.  It honestly wasn’t that bad, and considering the ending, it’s pretty significant.

-Ted DiBiase Jr. talks about how cool it was to watch his dad get handed the championship.  Of course, he didn’t really get to keep it, so he made his own championship belt.  Junior remembers asking how much the Million Dollar Championship belt cost.  “More then our house and cars combined.”  He plans on bringing it back someday.

Match #15
Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase
3/12/88 Saturday Night’s Main Event

This match was a test-run of sorts to see if these two really should be in the main event of Wrestlemania IV together, and especially if Savage should be the champion.  There were actually still doubts about Savage, as the bookers perceived DiBiase to be Hogan’s foil.  McMahon had cut a deal with Savage to give him the championship at Wrestlemania, but was having a case of buyer’s remorse.  Savage was popular, but not really a traditional ‘sympathetic’ babyface.  He was drawing good reactions from the crowds but there were also issues about his ability to draw ratings and house shows.  The WWE was on a huge roll, and although they knew the Hogan train was losing some steam here, changing the championship to Savage was a huge risk.  I don’t know what the plan was if they decided to abort after this match, or even if they had a plan, but presumably they were at least cautious enough to entertain the possibility that Savage would walk from the company if they changed their minds.  Man, this DVD is awesome for all the weird stuff associated with the industry.

To the match, where Savage jaws with Virgil and gets kicked in the back of the head.  DiBiase takes him into the ring and beats him in the corner, then slings him off the ropes.  Shoot off and a back elbow.  Stomp to the face and some ramming in the turnbuckle.  Shoulderblocks now and DiBiase is proving to be insanely aggressive.  DiBiase pauses to jaw with the crowd, then sledges Savage off the second rope.  More jawing with the fans, and let me say that Ted DiBiase had insane heat with the crowd.  Blatant choke by Savage, while Ventura worries about referee Dave Hebner.  McMahon assures him they’re using finger prints to confirm it.  Slam into the turnbuckle by DiBiase, but Savage reverses a whip and hits a backelbow.  Another whip and DiBiase lowers his head into a kneelift.  Flying knee to the back sends Ted to the outside.  Savage tosses him back in, then sledges him off the top.  DiBiase is so good at bumping for the faces.  He’s very unsung for his ability to make the heroes look good.  Diving hangman by Savage, sold only like DiBiase is capable of doing, then a kick to the chest and a running elbow which sends DiBiase outside.  He tries to catch a breath, and Savage actually holds the ropes for him to get back in.  He takes a powder instead.  Back in, DiBiase takes out Savage and drops a few fists to huge heat.  Chops and a sling to the corner, but Savage gets his feet up and then lays down on the top rope, all in one motion.  Elbowdrop gets two.  Slam into the turnbuckle and a scoopslam.  Kneedrop misses for him and DiBiase slaps on a spinning toehold.  Savage quickly kicks him off of it and through the ropes.  One of my biggest gripes with Savage is his timing was always off on submission holds, as he never allowed the heel a proper amount of time to heat the match up with such moves.  He always countered, or in this case, made his comeback off of them too quickly.  Savage goes to catch his breath but DiBiase pulls him to the outside.  Savage fights off his attack and slams him into the turnbuckle.  Savage loads up a suplex but Andre the Giant scares him off the move, then Virgil jumps Macho.  The referee ejects him as we go to commercial.

We’re back with DiBiase climbing to the second rope and hitting a sledge.  Running elbowdrop, another move that DiBiase did so beautifully that it should be studied in wrestling schools.  It gets two.  Chinlock now, with Ventura telling McMahon “since you’ve never been in the ring, you wouldn’t understand why this move is used, so I’ll explain it to you.”  Years later, Vince McMahon would hold both the WWE Championship and later the ECW Championship.  Makes you want to cry, no?  Anyway, DiBiase works the hold instead of just laying there like he’s taking a nap, then yanks Savage down by the hair to cut off his comeback.  Ventura mocks the referee for asking DiBiase if he pulled the hair.  “Oh yeah right, like he’s going to say ‘yes I did’.  Yeah right.”  I miss Ventura on commentary.  Then again, these days he would likely bitch about ‘inside jobs’ and various other bullshit.  Chinlock goes on for a bit, Savage fights back with a backelbow and a sickly stiff clothesline.  Whip to the corner, then Savage seems to change his mind on doing a spot there, so he shoots DiBiase off for a backdrop.  DiBiase fights back but ends up shoulderblocking the referee.  Savage dumps Ted to the floor then hits the sledge off the top and too the floor.  Having just watched Savage’s DVD, I did notice that he usually pulled that move off a little too early in his matches.  His timing in doing it this match was spot on perfect.  Sadly he didn’t stick to it.  Anyway, Savage goes to toss DiBiase back in the ring, but Andre the Giant comes over and beats up Savage.  He whips him into the ring post.  Elizabeth freaks out and bails to the back.  Andre continues his assault while DiBiase distracts the ref.  Once Andre is done, DiBiase tells him to start counting.  It works, and Randy gets counted out.  Huge heat.  DiBiase continues the assault, and Virgil returns to help with it.  BUT WAIT~!  Here comes Hulk Hogan, armed with a chair, to chase the heels off.  Makes you wonder why everyone was so shocked weeks later when Elizabeth fetched Hogan at Wrestlemania IV.  Also makes you wonder why Hogan didn’t come out with Savage in the first place during the championship finals.  Oh well.
****1/4 This now tops Roberts/Savage as the highlight of the set so far.  Awesome, extremely peppy match.  Aside from the chinlock, they kept up a fast pace through out.  Savage cemented his spot here as the guy to carry the belt, and he deserved it.  And Ted DiBiase is a total savant and making guys look godly in the ring.  Major props here, this was awesome.  Sure, the ending wasn’t clean or anything, but it set up the storyline for Wrestlemania perfectly.  And I never score against an ending that is out of the control of the wrestlers.  You have to feel bad for the two guys though, as they set a standard here they could have never lived up to at Wrestlemania with the time constraints, horrible venue, and the toll the previous matches they wrestled had taken.  Anyone who watched this then had to have been let down during the actual big show.

-From later in the same show, Andre shows his amazing ability to make his facial hair grow in record time.  Actually it’s not the same show, but the supreme fuck-ups that write the WWE DVD inserts these days couldn’t be bothered to double check something simple, like a date a match happened, and just said it’s the same show.  Actually, the date is October 29, 1988.  Here, Jake Roberts threatens Andre the Giant with his snake.  Andre gets scared shitless.  Jake tosses the snake at Andre, who sells it like he’s Superman and just had a hunk of Kryptonite thrown at him.  Andre ends up fainting.  It’s the first time Andrew was shown to be threatened by something.  Other then bodyslams and legdrops I guess.

Match #16
Hulk Hogan vs. Harley Race
3/12/88 Saturday Night’s Main Event

If the WWE hadn’t fucked up so bad with Harley, this could have been quite the dream match.  But Race got saddled with a horrible gimmick.  Hogan chases Bobby Heenan away to start.  Race catches some elbowdrops as Hogan gets back in the ring, but Hogan no-sells them.  He hits a few headbutts.  They haven’t even cut Hogan’s music yet.  Three punches knocks Race down.  Clothesline.  A second clothesline sends Race over the top rope and onto a table.  Man, that looked sick.  Hogan picks up Race and throws him into the ring post.  Bobby is back, so Hogan chases him.  Race goes for a piledriver on the outside but Hulk backdrops out of it.  Atomic drop on the outside.  Hogan breaks the ref’s count, then slams Race on the outside.  Hogan chops at Race then clotheslines him.  Hogan chokes with some tape.  Jesse Ventura is freaking out on commentary and McMahon denies any cheating.  It’s disturbing how the babyface announcers always justified or outright denied Hogan’s horrible sportsmanship.  I guess “Train, say your prayers, take your vitamins, and cheat and deny” doesn’t sound good on a Wheaties box. Hogan goes after Heenan again, so Race takes control with some headbutts.  Belly to belly suplex and a kneedrop.  Piledriver and some stomps.  Race sets Hogan on a table, but misses a splash through it.  The table breaks a little.  Wow.  This is 1988, mind you.  Race doesn’t really sell it and throws Hulk back in the ring.  Diving headbutt off the top rope for two as it’s Hulk up time.  Three punches, whip to the corner, clothesline, clothesline, legdrop, see ya.
*** Typical Hogan match from the period.  Race bumped like a madman to make it worth watching.

Match #17: WWE Championship
(c) Randy Savage vs. Andre the Giant
11/26/88 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Savage tries to jump Andre to start, but it doesn’t work, and Andre smacks away at him.  Savage goes all nuts and slugs it out and fires off elbows, but Andre fights him off and grabs a front chancery.  Knees and a shoulderblock, then the big butt ramming in the corner.  You know, I need another name for that.  It sounds like a something that would take place in a wrestling match in Oz or something.  Savage smiles over how easy it is to manhandle Savage, then he again no-sells Randy’s comeback attempt and grabs a front facelock.  To a headlock now, and the referee gets distracted by Bobby Heenan while Andre chokes away at him with the strap of his singlet.  More brawling, but Savage somehow maneuvers Andre to the corner and throws some shoulderblocks.  That too is no-sold.  Man, Andre must have been pissy on this day or something.  Savage grabs at some hair, but it doesn’t work.  Big headbutt by Andre, then a blatant choke.  He slings Savage off the ropes, then grabs a traphold.  Savage tries to fight back so he turns it into a clutch hold.  Savage thrusts his head into Andre in what I guess is technically a jawbreaker.  Andre sells this temporarily, likely because it really did hurt, and Savage starts to slug it out.  Andre starts to no-sell again and grabs a blatant choke.  Vince McMahon speculates on commentary that Andre might have swallowed a few teeth.  Eh, no worries.  Even if he did he still has, like, 194 left.  Savage goes to fight back and hits a running elbow, then a ram into the turnbuckle.  Sledge off the second rope by Savage sends Andre to his knees.  More attacking by Savage and the fans are fucking NUTS over this.  Or maybe it’s because Jake Roberts is out with Damien.  The ref tells Jake to leave, then Savage and Roberts talk it over while we go to a commercial.

We’re back, and Savage is beating on Andre, who’s more concerned with Damien’s location then fighting back.  Andre chops Savage down, then rams him in the head.  Another headbutt takes Savage down.  He sits on Randy’s face, then asks Heenan if he’s found Damien yet.  Jesus, why’s it so hard to find the snake?  We saw Jake come out with it, we saw exactly where he stashed the bag with it.  It’s not like he walked all the way around the ring.  Horrible idea.  Meanwhile, Andre slaps Savage back in the ring, but Savage’s boot catches Andre while he flips over the ropes, legit knocking him goofy.  It doesn’t matter, as Heenan finds the snake.  Heenan comes in the ring and the match is scrubbed.  Andre is bleeding where Savage’s boot caught him.  Andre gets tied into the ropes, then Jake returns and pulls out the snake to scare Andre some more.  The ref and Bobby Heenan free Andre and he bails.
DUD Horrible match.  Andre really stuck around as an active wrestler too long.  He should have just been a bodyguard at the end of his career.  Anyway, after looking over the remaining match listing, I think there is only one match in the set that is likely to suck more then this did, but for the most part the worst is over.

-Hacksaw talks about how cool it was to wrestle on NBC.  We get highlights of his flag match with Boris Zuckoff.  Thankfully, it’s just highlights.

Match #18: Intercontinental Championship
(c) The Ultimate Warrior vs. The Honky Tonk Man
1/7/89 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Jesse Ventura predicts a totally different result from the Summerslam match.  Honky bails to start, but the Warrior catches him and press-slams him back into the ring.  Big boot by Warrior, then Jimmy Hart gets on the apron to offer some sage advice, presumable “try not to get hit.”  It doesn’t work, as Warrior gives them a noggin knocker.  Shoot off and a backelbow.  Double choke into a throw, then a ten-punch.  Running shoulderblock into the corner.  Shoot to the corner and Warrior misses a stinger splash.  Hart passes Honky the megaphone, then distracts the referee while he beats Warrior with it.  Punches and stomps, then some choking from Hart.  Punches and kicks in the corner, but Warrior feels the power.  Scoopslam hits but an elbowdrop doesn’t.  Honky tries to ram him into the turnbuckle, but Warrior turns it into a ten-ram.  Clothesline and Warrior goes for the splash but Honky Tonk gets his knees up.  He covers but Warrior power kicks out at two.  Clothesline by the Warrior, then Honky misses a clothesline and Warrior hits a flying shoulderblock for the pin.  That really should have been his standard finisher as his big splash looked like shit.
1/2* Not good.  Makes you appreciate what they did at Summerslam.

-Highlights of Brutus Beefcake’s feud with Ron Bass, which ended with hair match that Beefcake won.  For no damn reason, we don’t get to see the final result of the haircut.  I get that this was a semi-famous moment and thus warranted mentioning, even if the match was horrible, but without showing the finished haircut there was no point in having this on here.

-Meanwhile, the Mega Powers were pretty over.  But then, they ended up facing the Twin Towers, Akeem and the Big Bossman.

Match #19
Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage vs. The Big Bossman & Akeem
2/3/89 Saturday Night’s Main Event

By this point, both the bookers and the two wrestlers had bungled several attempts to heat up the Mega Powers angle and start to tease a riff.  Some very minor things had been done, and then the first major incident at the Royal Rumble was handled horribly.  It seems like relatively simple booking.  Put Hogan and Savage in the Rumble, have Savage do something underhanded to eliminate Hogan, or have Hogan eliminate Savage and then have Savage get pissed and come back to cost Hogan the match later.  Easy right?

Wrong.  The WWE has Hogan, who was always portrayed as the more virtuous member of the team, dump Savage who was occupied with Bad News Brown.  Despite numerous instances of poor sportsmanship, fans still bought Hogan as the heroic do-gooder of the WWE and to dump Savage the way he did made him look like a coward, even in the ‘everyman for himself’ environment of the Rumble.  They did have Savage jaw with Hogan over his fair and square elimination, which the announcers played off like sour grapes.  But then it all goes to hell.  With nobody left in the match to have his back, Hogan gets double teamed by the Twin Towers and dumped fair and square by them.  No sarcasm there.  They just double teamed him, splashed him, and then casually tossed him out like any other wrestler.  To this, Hogan acted like a spoiled child.  He cheated and attacked the Towers, then whined to the referee that he should be let back into the match up.  Even worse is that babyface announcer Gorilla Monsoon agreed with him and argued for it on commentary, despite the fact that he was talking about what a baby Savage was earlier.

How on Earth was this supposed to get Hogan over as the babyface and Savage over as the heel at going into Wrestlemania?  The WWE has treated fans like morons before, but it was never more blatantly obvious then that day.  And despite the fact that wrestling fans are in general pretty stupid, even some very dense marks didn’t buy into this.  What was the result?  Instead of the fans choosing sides (preferably Hogan), everything remained in stasis for the angle.  Even though the announcers tried a hard sell on a growing riff between the two, the fans didn’t go along with it.  Why should they?  Hogan and Savage were so much alike, they were made for each other.  And a minor backlash was some fans turned on both guys, necessitating the WWE to actually censor fan attempts at bringing signs to the arena that said “Mega Whiners” among other things.  It got to the point where the WWE was dropping the audio when the Twin Towers were making their entrance, because they were getting decent pops.  And why not?  Despite having the still-hated Bobby Heenan as a manager, they won their matches fair and square (can’t say the same about Hogan & Savage) and eliminated the biggest star in the company fair and square, after which he reacted like a child.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that the fans were booing the Mega Powers and cheering the Twin Towers.  But a minority did take notice.  That minority grew into what is today the smart mark.  But the WWE never really concedes defeat.  Just look at John Cena, who should have been turned heel years ago.  Imagine if Hogan was the champion in today’s environment and pulled the kind of stunts he did at the ’89 and ’92 Royal Rumble.  It would put the negative heat Cena gets to shame.

So anyway, after fucking up the Mega Power tear that was supposed to start way back in August of 1988, Wrestlemania V was closing in fast, the WWE had already advertised the match even if it wasn’t announced officially yet, but there had been practically no progress in development because it was one giant fuck up after another.  This match was to be the ‘let’s get it right this time’ moment.  Let’s get on with it already.

They get it right from the get go with Savage telling Hogan in a crazy, wide-eyed manner that he can handle starting the match.  Good, good.  He starts with the Bossman, who wants Hogan.  And then Savage does let Hogan start.  One step forward, two steps backwards.  Bossman rakes the eyes, but Hogan takes him out and clears the ring of the heels all by himself.  Unbelievable.  Then Savage runs in and gives Hogan a big hug.  I’m seriously looking into cutting now.  The heels regroup and the Bossman starts to slug it out.  Hogan blocks a ram into the corner and starts to ten-ram him, then rams him in the opposite corner.  Bossman bails, only for Savage to ram him into the stairs.  Bossman beats the count in at eight.  Tag to Akeem while Ventura bitches that Savage hasn’t gotten a tag because Hogan is a glory hog.  McMahon says that Hogan doesn’t need to make a tag… … … right now.  Nice save, Vinnie.  Hogan gets Akeem into his corner and the faces take turns punching him.  Tag to Savage who drops a sledge off the top onto him.  Akeem won’t drop.  Ram to Hogan’s foot and tag to Hulk, who drops a sledge off the second rope.  Akeem clubs Hogan in the back some more, but Bossman gets the tag and takes Hogan out with a clothesline.  He then doesn’t waste anytime firing off a piledriver, and a nasty looking one at that.  Tag to Akeem who sledges at Hogan while doing his silly white guy jiving like a black guy shtick.  Bossman back in, only to get backdropped over the ropes by Hogan.  On the outside, Hogan rams Bossman into the stairs.  Back in, Slick grabs Hogan’s leg, which allows the heels to take control.  Shoot off the ropes and Bossman hits a nice spinebuster for two.  Hebner counts slow, it’s obvious, Ventura calls him on it, and Vince McMahon denies it.  No wonder Ventura is a truther these days.  After dealing with the delusional babyface announcers in the WWE, I’m not shocked that he’s seeing conspiracies everywhere.  Akeem in to hold Hogan for some free shots, but Hogan ducks and Bossman punches his partner.  Savage in to hit the diving hangman and a sledge off the top rope for two as the Bossman saves.  Referee gets distracted and slick hits Savage in the back with a club.  Tag to the Bossman who smacks Savage around.  Tag to Akeem and the heels hit a double elbow.  Brawling by Akeem, who then dumps Savage over the top and to the floor in what was a really decent bump by Savage.  Elizabeth goes to see if he’s okay, but he ends up back in the ring, where Akeem again dumps him, this time through the ropes… and into Elizabeth.  And this is ain’t no sissy, glances off of her thing.  It’s straight into her.  Huge bump for both Savage and Elizabeth, drawing a huge gasp from the crowd.  Elizabeth is out cold and the fans are going crazy.  Savage recovers while Hogan attends to Elizabeth.  And now they finally start to do something with this angle, as Savage gets pissed that Hogan’s attending to Elizabeth.  Not that he’s jealous, but that Hogan is not paying attention to the match.  And thus they begin to turn Savage into a cold-hearted ass who’s only concern is winning no matter who gets hurt in the process.  It somewhat makes up for the six months of botched pushes, but the desperation hard-sell of it all still kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.  Savage continues bitching at Hogan, then gets dragged back into the ring and destroyed by the heels, including a double team suplex, but they miss a double elbowdrop.  Savage rams the heels into each other while a tearful Hogan carries Elizabeth to a stretcher and bails on the match.  And now the shittiness continues, as we don’t get enough time to see Savage rage at Hogan for bailing, and instead cut to Hogan following the stretcher to the back and begging for someone to help.  We see Elizabeth hooked up to the IVs while Hogan prays over her body.  “Randy didn’t mean it, I swear he didn’t!”  Well no shit, she was standing right there and saw Akeem fling him into her.  Besides, she’s out cold.  We cut to a commercial.

We’re back, and Savage is all alone and getting killed by the heels.  But we cut to the back where Elizabeth is awake and tells him she’s okay, and to go back and help Randy.  Back in the ring, Savage is choked on the ropes, then slung off.  Bossman in with some mounted punches.  Akeem in with some punches.  Then Bossman in with some punches.  Double backbreaker, but the Hogan low-bridges Akeem and Bossman misses a splash.  Sledge off the top, but Savage won’t tag.  Instead he dumps the heels, then bitches at Hogan.  He then bitchslaps Hogan.  I guess it technically counts as a tag, so Bossman slings him into the ring and beats on him with some punches.  Savage starts to bail on the match, jawing with fans while he’s at it.  The heels miss a double splash in the corner, then Hogan rams them into each other.  He then starts to yell at Savage, who grabs the championship belt and bails.  Meanwhile, Akeem splashes Hogan, but it’s hulk up time.  Oh dear.  No sell, no sell, no sell, punch punch punch, big boot to Akeem, punch to Bossman, legdrop to Akeem and it gets the pinfall.  Jesus, this match really called for Hogan to job.  Bossman jumps Hogan, who fights him off and handcuffs him to Slick.

After the match, we see Savage talk with Liz about Hogan being jealous of him.  History would later seem to prove him correct, given all the times Hogan showed up to usurper Randy’s big moments.  Anyway, then Hogan shows up and the crazy stupid shit really begins, as Hogan says “you knocked her down Randy.  I know it wasn’t your fault but…”  and I’m thinking to myself, what the fuck was Savage supposed to do?  He was thrown into her by a guy twice as big as him.  Was he supposed to defy gravity and float away from Elizabeth?  Savage then tells Hogan that Macho Madness is getting bigger then Hulkamaniac, and that he’s number one.  Hogan starts to build a quiet rage over this, while Savage continues to tear him down, saying that Hogan never asked for a title shot against him because he’s scared.  Savage then challenges Hogan to a title match, basically telling him to bring it.  Then it gets really nutty.  Hogan tells Elizabeth to talk some sense into Savage.  What does he expect her to tell him?  “Randy, I know we’re an item and everything, but you have to admit, you’re nowhere near as big as Hulkamania.  And you know if you give Hogan a title shot, you’ll lose.  So stop being a twit and just keep riding coattails.”  Savage loses it over the ‘talk sense’ comment and nails Hogan with the title belt.  So then Elizabeth goes to check on Hogan.  Savage tells her “I’m going to splatter you right onto him.”  She still doesn’t move, so he enters full abusive husband mode and slings her all the way across the room in brutal fashion.  Amazing they let this shit on NBC, when the WWE was supposed to be a family show at this point.  Very unnerving stuff, and not just the insane logic of it all.  Brutus Beefcake makes the save and the segment ends.

DUD For the actual match.  I actually wasn’t going to rate this, given that so much attention was focused on the angle. but the truth is what wrestling was here was dogshit and that deserves to be DUDerized.  As for the angle, hooray for hard sells I guess.  And while what was here was in fact quite epic (if demented), the stink of desperation is all over it.  It reminds me of the week after the infamous “Tacoma Raw/Smackdown” where the WWE botched the WCW Invasion angle so bad that the next week they ended up blowing months work of twists and turns in a single episode of Raw just because they had fucked up so bad it was time to totally shift gears.  In this case, they had Savage go from 0 to 200mph so fast by time the segment was over he was wearing his own asshole around his neck.  Sure, it got things going in time for Wrestlemania, but apparently, from my understanding, they previously didn’t intend to go as far as they did here with Savage.  Because of all the previous missteps, they had to basically shoot their wad with him right here.  And although they finally progressed the Mega Powers angle, I think they ruined Savage’s overall run as a heel.  The character they created for him here just didn’t fit in with the overall product, and for the next two years it really was kind of painful watching them try to shoehorn him into feuds.  It wasn’t until the angle with the Ultimate Warrior that he recovered, and he ended up turning face as soon as that was over with.  Anyway, this thing was worth checking out, if for no other reason to try and wrap your head around how bad things must have been for them condense what should have been a carefully planned slow-burn into a twenty minute segment.

Match #20: WWE Championship, Steel Cage Match
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. The Big Bossman
5/27/89 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Apparently people still talk about this match like it’s the stuff of legends or something.  I’m not holding my breath.  Bossman has Zeus with him, who clubs Hogan with some really horrible punches.  Just think, that tool would go on to play a small but very important role in the second biggest blockbuster movie of all time, The Dark Knight.  Anyway, Hogan is dead and thus we take a commercial.

We’re back and Bossman is all arrogant and evil in the ring.  He drags Hogan in and rips off Hogan’s shirt, then chokes him with it.  Oh come on, it’s a tear-away shirt.  Whip to the corner, which Hogan barely touches but sells like death.  Headbutt and a rake of the back by the Bossman.  Hogan reverses a whip and clotheslines him, and the Bossman bumps terribly off it.  Attempt at ramming by Hogan, but the Bossman blocks.  Hogan rakes the eyes and shoots off for a big boot.  He climbs but Bossman catches him and pulls him off.  Scoopslam and a big splash, then Bossman slowly strolls for the door, but Hogan lunges and grabs a foot.  Shoot off and the Bossman hits a spinebuster.  Bossman climbs and ends up on the other side of the cage and almost all the way down, but instead of dropping down he waits for Hogan like a douche.  Hogan catches him, drags him back in the ring, then superplexes him off the top of the cage in what in all honesty was likely the biggest bump in Hogan’s career.  Huge pop for this.  Both guys appear to be dead.  The referee comes in and starts to count both guys.  Hogan actually gets up on the count of eight, so the ref bails again.  Hogan crawls for the door but the Bossman catches him.  Hogan rakes the eyes, but the Bossman throws Hogan’s timing off then clotheslines him.  Slick tosses Bossman a chain, who then begins to choke Hogan with it.  Instead of waiting for Hogan to pass out, he lets it go and wraps it around his hand. Hogan stops him from punching him with it and both guys ram each other into the cage.  Bossman lands closer to the door and starts to climb, but Hogan stops him and rams him into the turnbuckle.  He grabs the chain and punches the Bossman out with it.  He picks him up and hits him again.  Bossman blades a bit off this, then gets slammed into the cage three times.  Legdrop hits and Hogan starts to climb, so Slick takes out the referee and stops Hogan from climbing.  Bossman starts to climb but Hogan crotches him on the ropes.  Hogan cuffs the Bossman to the top rope, then starts to climb out.  Slick has the handcuff key and tries to free the Bossman, but Hogan escapes to win.
**1/4 This is the big, stinky, legendary SNME cage match that some people still talk about?  Yeah right.  Wow, standards were low in the 80s.

Match #21: Best 2-out-of-3 Falls
The Rockers vs. Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson
11/25/89 Saturday Night’s Main Event

This could be sweet.  Tully and Marty start.  Lockup by Marty, shot off by Tully.  Marty blocks a hiptoss and scoopslams him, then dropkicks him and armdrags Tully into an armbar.  Tully keeps yanking him down by the hair but Marty springs back up and hits a back elbow and goes back to the armbar.  Now a front chancery.  Jannetty knocks Anderson off the apron, then Tully takes him down.  Blanchard misses a couple elbows and Marty goes for a sunset flip.  Arn holds Tully to prevent Marty from turning him, but Shawn comes in and kicks them apart.  Marty turns him over and gets the pin.  Well, that was quick.  Bobby Heenan bitches at the Brainbusters after the fall.

Second fall and the Heenan is still bitching at the heels, so the Rockers both roll them up for two.  Double dropkicks and the Busters bail, which causes Bobby Heenan to quit.  Anderson and Michaels are in the ring now and brawling in the corner.  Shoot to the corner by Anderson but Michaels back flips over him.  Armdrag to Arn, then a rana and mounted punches to Tully.  Double dropkicks to both guys again and the heels take another powder.  Back in, Shawn tags Marty and they double armdrag Anderson, then both drop elbows on him.  Tully tags in only to get atomic dropped, then reversed and punched about.  Tag to Shawn, who hits a kneelift for two.  Hiptoss by Shawn, but the heels double up and hit a hot-shot on Michaels for the second pin.  Commercial time.

Third fall and Shawn is still hurt, so Tully mounts some punches and sends him to Arn, who tags in.  Shoot off and the spinebuster by Arn gets two as Jannetty saves.  Knucklelock pin by Anderson gets two.  Shawn catches Arn in a body scissor, but Arn turns it into a catapult for two.  Tag to Tully who draws the official in.  Doesn’t really get him any free shots and he only manages to dump Shawn.  Back in, Shawn hits a crossbody off the top for two.  Shawn reaches for the tag but Anderson cuts him off.  Front chancery gives Shawn a chance to muscle for the tag.  Anderson goes to smack Jannetty off the ropes and gets punched himself.  He ends up overselling the move and injuring Michaels in the process.  Shawn is legitimately knocked goofy by this, so he makes the hot tag.  Punches for all.  Scoopslams for all.  Dropkick to Tully, then things break down.  Michaels pulls Tully out of the ring but gets sent into the post.  Anderson goes for a piledriver on Marty but Shawn comes off the top rope and gets a crossbody for the pin.
***1/4 Basically a quick version of all their previous matches.  Still hot, but in a fast-food kind of way.


-Hogan ends up losing to the Genius via countout, which was a catalyst for Mr. Perfect’s feud with him… and likely Randy Savage’s current mental state.  Man, that’s got to sting.  You become famous for jobbing to Hulk Hogan every time you match up on TV, then your jobber brother gets a win over him on NBC.  Anyway, this leads to the promo where Mr. Perfect and Lanny take a hammer to the WWE Championship belt, which would allegedly go on to become the Hardcore Championship.  Not sure what purpose this served.  I mean, it’s not like the belt couldn’t be replaced.  Besides, Mr. Perfect wanted the belt, so why would he break it?  Anyway, the WWE ends up putting ALL the promos for this one here.  I have no idea why they did this, but it eats up about six minutes that could have been used for another match or a more entertaining skit, because as far as promos rank, these are pretty boring ones.

Match #22
Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior vs. The Genius & Mr. Perfect
1/27/90 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Back story: the WWE kind of, sort of knew from around the Summer of 1989 that they were going to go with the Ultimate Warrior as the new champion starting with Wrestlemania VI.  They didn’t have 100% faith in him, but they knew Hogan was leaving to film more movies and rest his aching knees.  There was slim-pickings on the babyface side of the table, and the Warrior was the only choice that was over enough to justify getting the title but also was still in the mold of Hulk Hogan.  The WWE wanted to figure out a way to get the title off of Hogan to set up someone for Wrestlemania VI to challenge Warrior, and it sure looked like it was going to be Mr. Perfect.  Perfect amazingly over as a heel and it made sense to have the main event be a traditional face/heel scenario.  So they began building the Hogan/Perfect feud for a few months.  It didn’t work.  The fans weren’t buzzing over it the way the WWE hoped, and live gates went down.  Finally, a Perfect/Hogan main event failed to draw a sellout at Madison Square Garden and the WWE hit the panic button.  Then Pat Patterson allegedly said “Well, why not just have Hogan drop it to him?”  The WWE wanted to see if the fans would choose sides so they did a tease during the 1990 Royal Rumble to see what kind of reaction they would get.  When the fans split 50/50, Perfect was out, and Hogan was in.  But they still had Hogan and Perfect feuding and had invested a lot of time, effort, hammers, and title belts into it and didn’t want to just drop it like a hot rock.  Plus they had to build up the Warrior and Hogan in a way that would keep the fans equally divided.  This was new territory for them and one wrong step could fuck everything up.

To the match.  Hogan starts with Perfect, presumably to give the Warrior a chance to get his wind back from his entrance.  You know, someone should have told him to stop running to the ring.  He actually was a decent wrestler as long as he wasn’t gassed.  Anyway, Perfect stalls forever, then locks up and gets hiptossed.  The Genius runs in and it’s scoopslams for all, leading to the heels bailing.  Hogan tags Warrior to give chase.  Noggin knocker and a ram into the turnbuckle for the bad guys.  Back in, the Genius gets shoulderblocked and then Perfect gets slung into the ring and whipped into Lanny.  Warrior then dumps Perfect with a clothesline.  Hogan gets the tag and Perfect returns to the ring.  Perfect punches away at Hogan on the outside and chops away.  Big back elbow sends Perfect to the floor, where Hogan whips him into the guardrail.  Meanwhile, the Genius grabs his pen and a notebook to write a poem on the ring apron.  Multi-tasking makes it’s wrestling debut.  Hogan whips Perfect into the corner and then clotheslines him down.  Ram into the corner by Hogan, which Perfect oversells with insane gusto.  Scoopslam and some elbowdrops by Hogan, then a mounted punch.  Shoot off and Hogan big boots Perfect out of the ring.  Lanny passes Perfect the metal clipboard that he was writing the poetry on, which Perfect uses to smash Hogan with.  Attempted murder with a chair doesn’t work but Hogan is still out of it and gets sent in the ring.  Stompery follows, but a scoopslam gets countered by Hogan into a small package for one.  More stomping and some chopping, then a clothesline.  Neck-snap and a tag to the Genius for some kicking, then a tag to Perfect who hits a sledge off the second rope.  Perfect stomps away while the Genius prances around on the ring apron to piss the Warrior off.  Perfect fires off the Perfectplex, but lets go himself at two so he can tag in the Genius for the pinfall.  Genius climbs but misses a second rope moonsault (in 1990 WWE!) when Hogan gets his knees up.  Perfect climbs to hit something but Hogan gets his foot up on him.  Hot tag to Warrior.  Genius gets killed with some punches, then Perfect, then Genius again, then a kneelift to Perfect.  Clothesline sets up the press-slam.  Warrior goes for the big splash but Hogan makes the blind tag.  Perfect knocks out the Warrior but Hogan is the legal man and hits the legdrop for the pin.  After the match, the Warrior fights off both the heels, then accidentally clotheslines Hogan.  When Hogan comes to, he’s pissed and shoves Warrior off.  They get nose-to-nose and start jawing with each other, then pushing again.
*** Good tag match, pretty much what I expected in terms of structure.  I think they might have played it a little too safe building the feud and shouldn’t have saved all the other stuff for after the match.

-Jerry Lawler laughs and admits that he enjoyed watching Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura ride in on their high horses during Saturday Night’s Main Event.  Another weird choice.

Match #23
Mr. Perfect vs. Hulk Hogan
4/28/90 Saturday Night’s Main Event

And this would be the blow off to the feud, roughly a month after Hogan dropped the belt to the Warrior at Wrestlemania.  Hogan cuts a down-right tame (by his standards) promo before the match.  Lockup to start, and Hogan shoves Perfect into the corner.  Perfect just flies into it, like he was shot by a cannonball.  Lockup and Perfect gets a hiptoss.  Hogan is all shocked.  They lockup again and Hogan gets a hiptoss, followed by a pair of scoopslams and Perfect bails.  Back in, Perfect slugs it out and hits a hard whip on Hogan into the corner.  Shoot off is reversed and Hogan goes for the big boot, but Perfect sees it coming and bails.  Hogan gives chase and brawls Perfect on the floor, then whips him into the post.  Back in, Hogan slugs it out.  Clothesline in the corner by Hulk, then more brawling.  Running forearm by Hogan, then a running elbow in the corner sends Perfect up and over to the floor.  Hogan gives chase and beats on Perfect, then fights off the Genius.  Lanny ends up in the ring to distract the ref, which gives Perfect a chance to hit Hogan with the scroll and beat him up on the floor.  We get a commercial.

We’re back and Hogan gets kicked around on the floor.  Back in, Perfect stomps away then hits a snapmare into a neck-snap.  He grinds Hogan against the top rope, then slings Hogan off it.  Elbowdrops by Perfect, but he uses too many and Hogan rolls out of the way.  Whip to the corner and a clothesline by Hogan.  Shoot off but Hulk lowers his head into a kick and a clothesline.  Perfect loads up the Perfectplex and hits it for two.  It’s Hulk Up time.  No-sell, no-sell, no-sell, crazy dance, finger wag, punch, punch, punch, big boot, legdrop, see ya.
***1/2 Realistically I could have copied my review of the Hogan/Perfect match from Madison Square Garden off of my Mr. Perfect DVD review, pasted it here, and then changed the ending to Hogan hitting the legdrop and getting the pin instead of hitting the big boot and then getting counted out via cheating.  So same match, same rating, but if you like your falls to be clean, this is the one to go with.

-The ad for Rick Martel’s ‘Arrogance’ is shown.  Oy, this set’s choices for skits and promos has fallen apart during the third disc.

Match #24
The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation
4/28/90 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Awesome.  Both teams are babyfaces here.  Sounds like the winner gets a shot at Demolition for the tag belts.  Marty and Bret start.  Lockup, shoot off, and trading lead to Bret getting a hiptoss, but Marty taking control with a kick and a tag to Shawn.  Crossbody off the top is rolled-through by Bret for two.  Tag to Marty and a weak double knee by the Rockers, then a double Russian-legsweep.  Neidhart can’t watch so he comes in and clotheslines them both.  Tag to Neidhart, who gets a big shoulderblock on Jannetty that sends him flying into the ropes.  Shoot off and Jannetty gets a drop-toehold.  Tag to Shawn who gets a shoulderblock that doesn’t work.  Jim blocks a slam only to get dropkicked.  Neidhart catches Shawn bouncing off the ropes and slams him.  Tag to Bret who hits an atomic drop and a clothesline.  Stomp between the legs and a tag to Neidhart.  Shoot off and Bret gets a knee to the back when the ref isn’t looking.  Shoot off and a backdrop by Neidhart.  Tag to Bret who hits a snapmare and an elbowdrop.  Hard whip to the turnbuckle and a tag to Neidhart who clubs away.  Shoulderblocks in the corner and a tag to Bret.  Bret whips Neidhart into Shawn for two.  Wasn’t Bret tagged in there?  Bret gets tagged, this time presumably for real, but Shawn gets a sunset flip for two.  BUT WAIT~! because here comes Demolition to watch the match.  Thus we watch them instead of the match.  Backbreaker by Bret, who then gets distracted by them.  Shawn dropkicks Bret over the ropes and into them as we cut to a commercial.

We’re back with Bret pounding on Shawn.  Demolition is allowed to stay as long as they don’t interfere.  Bret slugs out Shawn in the corner, but we’re busy looking at the backs of Demolition.  Elbowdrop off the second rope misses for Bret.  Hot tag by Shawn.  Jannetty slugs it out and hits a big back-elbow to Bret.  Powerslam to Bret and a superkick gets two.  Bret reverses a whip and sends Marty to the corner, but eats a sunset flip for two.  Jannetty lowers his head into a neckbreaker and Bret makes his hot tag to Neidhart.  Bret slings Neidhart over the ropes, but misses Jannetty.  Tag to Shawn who eats a huge shoulderblock for two.  Shoot off and Shawn counters a backdrop by… I’m not exactly sure how he did it, but he hits a back-elbow afterwards for two.  That might have been a botch.  Shawn springs off the ropes but gets caught by Neidhart.  He wiggles his way into tripping Neidhart down for two.  Power-kickout sends Shawn to the floor where Demolition pick him up.  Jannetty gets pissed and attacks Demolition, and their fight spills into the ring where we have a big clusterfuck brawl.  Match gets scrubbed.
***1/2 I loved everything about it until the shitty ending.  The problem is they never even got to a real finishing sequence.  It’s like they ran out of time and had to cut short all the false-finishes before the double DQ.  That sucks, because both teams had a real good rhythm going.  I wanted way more.

Match #25: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Mr. Perfect vs. Tito Santana
6/28/90 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Apparently the WWE is now censoring it’s old style WWF logo as well as the attitude era’s scratch logo.  Weird.  Lockup and Tito is a house of fire right from the start.  He reverses a whip and gets a hiplock, armdrag, then a dropkick that sends Perfect to the floor.  Tito gives chase and chops Perfect on the floor, then back in they trade wristlocks.  Shoot off but Tito lowers his head into a kick and a nasty clothesline.  Kneelift by Perfect, some brawling and a dropkick.  Neck vise now by Perfect, and then Bobby Heenan distracts the referee so Perfect can turn it into a choke.  Huge heat for this.  Nice spot, due for a comeback.  Tito grabs at the hair to fight off.  To their feet where Perfect chops away.  Whip to the corner but Tito gets a foot up on a charge and clotheslines Perfect down.  Windup punches by Tito causes Perfect to land on the referee, who hurts his leg.  Tito takes out Perfect’s feet, then slaps on the figure-four.  Perfect gives it up, but the referee is injured.  Tito holds onto it forever, while Perfect screams in agony.  Tito lets go to check on the referee, then hits the flying forearm.  He covers and the referee is slow to recover and only gets to two.  Fans are SUPER DUPER HOT for Tito.  It’s insane.  Santana climbs and hits a clothesline off the ropes but again the referee is nursing his broken leg and doesn’t count until Perfect is safe and it gets two.  Tito gets pissed at the referee and asks for another.  A new one comes down and we cut to a commercial.

We’re back just in time to see Perfect fight back and beat up Tito.  Clothesline misses for Perfect and Santana hits a crossbody for two.  Perfect slugs it out and snapmares Tito into the neck-snap.  Stompery, then some punching, but Tito fights back.  Thrust kick to the face by Perfect, then the thigh master by Perfect.  Silly move, but I sort of miss it.  Tito fights back and hits some piston punches that sends Perfect to the floor.  Tito to the floor for a big chop, then back in the ring he slings Perfect down by his hair.  Perfect tries to bail out of the ring and ends up crotching himself on the post.  Oopsie.  Actually a good cover for Perfect not sliding far enough on the whip by the hair.  Atomic drop from the front, then the back and a clothesline for two.  Shoot off and Tito lowers his head into the Perfectplex, but he counters it with a small package for two, but Perfect rolls it over and gets the three.
**** Awesome match, especially if you consider what they accomplished in a relatively small amount of time.  And this is proof that when you have a really, really hot crowd that guys can make magic happen even if under considerable time pressure.  Great stuff.  This set continues to surprise me by pulling out some really remarkable short but fun matches.

-We celebrate Oktoberfest on Saturday Night’s Main Event.  The Genius presides over a sausage stuffing contest.  They can’t determine a winner, so everyone wins.  Except Pat Patterson, who was disqualified because he misunderstood the point.  Then a big food fight breaks out.  Surreal.

Match #26: 20 Man Battle Royal
Participants: Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Marty Jannetty, Earthquake, Tugboat, Kerry Von Erich, Big Bossman, Jim Duggan, Greg Valentine, Jake Roberts, Haku, Mr. Perfect, Davey Boy Smith, Kato, Paul Roma, Warlord, Tanaka, Jimmy Snuka, Hercules, & Barbarian
4/27/91 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Big brawl to start.  I suck at recapping Battle Royals but will give it the old college try.  Hogan brawls Quake to the corner, then Jake Roberts joins him to get revenge for Damien.  Jannetty eliminates Roma, who then pulls Marty out with him.  Then more random brawling that goes on forever.  Davey Boy gets dumped by the Warlord of all people.  Tanaka gets dumped by someone, then Snuka gets dumped.  Jake gets dumped by Quake.  Then everyone teams up Quake, then Jake puts his new snake, Lucifer, into the ring.  This causes the ref to call a break.  Commercial time.

We’re back, after missing nothing.  Tugboat and Hogan have a moment and they start to attack each other.  I’m guessing this set up the formation of the Natural Disasters.  Hogan dumps the Warlord.  Von Erich.  Quake dumps Duggan.  Hogan dumps Earthquake.  Hogan dumps Kato, then Tugboat dumps Hogan.  Wow, didn’t see that coming.  Hogan cries like a bitch, of course.  Shawn Michaels dumps Tugboat.  Hercules somehow falls over the top rope as well.  Bossman fights it out with everyone but Perfect dropkicks him out.  Perfect and Haku go off on Michaels but Shawn escapes and dropkicks Haku out.
FINAL FOUR: Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect, Greg Valentine, and Barbarian.  Shawn almost dumps Perfect, then dropkicks him.  Shawn gets sent to the apron and eliminated with a back elbow.  Barbarian and Perfect double team on the currently-babyface Valentine.  Valentine tries to dump Perfect but can’t do it and the heels end up double teaming him.  Perfect misses a dropkick on Valentine and ends up hitting Barbarian, who then gets dumped by Valentine.  Hennig starts to chop away on Greg in the corner, but Valentine reverses and chops away.  Shoot off and a big chop, then an atomic drop and a standing elbow.  Big elbowdrops by Valentine, which is how he got his nickname.  Valentine goes to dump Perfect, but only gets him to the apron, then back in.  Valentine gets back on him and keeps pushing on him, leading to both guys going over the top, but only Greg falls to the floor, and Perfect wins.
DUD A very mildly peppy final four could not save what is a typical battle royal, or as I like to call them, “Nothingness Exhibitions.”

Match #27
Ted DiBiase vs. Bret Hart
4/27/91 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Not the same match as the one featured on Bret’s DVD.  This is the start of Bret’s singles push, after a couple years worth of delays and false-starts.  Lockup to start, then a clean break on the rope is not so clean and DiBiase slugs it out.  Shoot to the corner is reversed by Bret, who fires off a hiptoss and a pair of clotheslines.  A third one sends DiBiase to the floor.  Plancha by Bret, then some mounted punches on the floor.  Bret scares Sherri Martel off, then sends DiBiase back in the ring.  Headlock-takeover gets two, then DiBiase shifts his weight and gets two on Bret.  Shoot off and Bret gets a shoulderblock.  Sherri tries to trip up Bret, so Bret goes after her and drags her to the apron.  DiBiase charges but misses and knocks her off the apron, and Bret gets a rollup for two.  Shoulderblock by Bret, then he gets caught charging and DiBiase turns it into a hotshot.  Piledriver by DiBiase gets two.  Bret goes for another rollup but DiBiase shifts his momentum and sends him to the floor.  On the outside, DiBiase slams Bret into the stairs, then ties up the ref to serve up Bret for Sherri.  Back in, DiBiase stomps and chokes away.  Sherri gets her own choking in, then DiBiase goes back to it.  He ties up the referee again so that Sherri can punch Bret in the throat.  DiBiase sends Bret to the corner, then hooks in the Million Dollar Dream.  Bret backs him into the corner to escape, then catches Ted coming off the ropes with a punch to the gut.  Bret slugs it out with him, then moves into the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM~!!  Atomic drop and a back-elbow gets two.  Russian legsweep gets two.  Backbreaker and an elbow off the second rope gets two.  DiBiase fights back and Sherri tries to trip up Bret again.  Bret bails to chase her around, giving DiBiase a chance to drop a sledge off the apron on him.  BUT WAIT~!! because Roddy Piper bails on commentary to go after Sherri.  Meanwhile, Bret gives DiBiase a face-buster.  We don’t get to see anything else because the focus is now on Piper chasing Martel around the ring.  He grabs a broom from under the ring, swats her away with it, then rides it around at her.  It looks like he’s chasing her with a large, erect, red penis.  She bails to the locker room.  DiBiase and Bret end up fighting in the aisle and the referee counts both guys out.
***1/2 Bret proved here that he was ready for the big singles push that had been promised and denied to him a few times starting in 1988.  All the roughness of his previous singles matches was gone, replaced by a crisp, steady workrate and pace.  It’s proof that fools rush in, and the WWE should remember Bret when it comes to giving guys like John Morrison a big push before they are totally ready for it.

-NBC cancels Saturday Night’s Main Event because the ratings had bottomed out. Saturday Night’s Main Event was a hot commodity and thus the WWE leaves NBC by it’s own free will and signs on with Fox.

Match #28
Hulk Hogan & Sid Justice vs. Undertaker & Ric Flair
2/8/92 Saturday Night’s Main Event

This match holds a special place in my heart.  As many people know, I’m a Sid mark.  I can’t really help it.  It’s like a psychological condition.  I was ten-years-old when this match aired, and all my friends were big Hulk Hogan fans.  Not me.  I’ve been a ‘smart fan’ since I was really young, long before the internet came around, and I had just about grown sick of Hulk Hogan.  The town I grew up in had just gotten it’s first Fox affiliate right on time to see this, so I had some friends stay over to watch it.  It was pretty cool.  Anyway, my friends were pretty pissed at me by time this match was over.

Sid starts with Flair, who doesn’t want to lock up and bails to the ropes.  Lockup and Flair rakes the eyes, but gets send to the corner and backdropped.  Hiptoss by Sid and Flair bails.  Tag to Hogan.  Backdrop to Flair, then a hiptoss.  Taker comes in and gets slammed, then rammed into Sid’s foot.  Tag to Sid, and I guess Undertaker is now the legal man somehow.  Taker tries to slam Sid but gets reversed and slammed.  Just think, you have the main events for Wrestlemania VIII and XIII in this match.  And it’s the two worst main events ever.  Tag to Hogan.  Slams for all.  Clotheslines for all.  Tag to Sid, who gets a free shot on Taker.  Shoot of but Sid lowers his head into a punch.  Flair tags in and the heels hit a double clothesline for two as Hogan saves.  Double atomic-drop to Sid and Taker covers for two, with Hogan saving again.  Flair and Taker go for another double team, but Hogan comes in to stop it and the faces clean house, both hitting big boots to Flair, then dumping Taker with a clothesline.  Hogan starts to pose like a tool and it pisses Sid off.  Commercial.

We’re back as Undertaker goes to town on Sid, taking him to the corner.  Tag to Flair who chops away.  Flair ties up the referee so Taker can choke at Sid.  Tag to Taker who drops a chop off the top rope.  Taker smacks away at Sid, then draws Hogan in to tie up the referee.  The referee actually catches them, but it doesn’t matter because Sid turns it into a noggin-knocker.  Tag to Hogan.  Punches for all, but Perfect trips him up and Flair hits a knee cruncher into the figure four.  Hogan escapes and tries to tag in Sid, but Sid won’t have it.  The fans ‘boo’ this, when in fact the boos were piped in.  Hogan catches Flair climbing and tosses him off the top.  He again crawls to Sid, who doesn’t reach for the tag.  Blatant choke by Flair, then some chops in the corner, but Hogan starts to no-sell it.  The heels whip Hogan to the corner but he explodes out of it with a clothesline.  Hogan again crawls for the tag, and this time Sid fakes interest and then bails on the match.  Brutus Beefcake gets pissy with this, but his face is all mangled due to his boat accident and thus can’t get into it with Sid.  The heels double team on Hogan, then Flair shoves the referee to get a DQ.  Well that was a fucking lame cop-out.  Even lamer, Hogan then manages to take out the heels single handedly.  I wouldn’t want Hogan to seem vulnerable or anything.
** Not a great match, but I was marking out for Sid’s heel turn then and I still love it now.  I still hate how the WWE never allowed Hogan to seem like he was in real danger.

-The Mountie goes around zapping everyone with a cattle prod.  This leads to highlights of the Mountie/Piper match, where Piper wore a ‘shock proof’ life vest.  Horrible.

Match #29: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Davey Boy Smith vs. Shawn Michaels
11/14/92 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Circle, lockup, and Bulldog shoves off.  Another lockup and another shove off.  Fans are hot for this.  Headlock by Shawn, shoot off and a shoulderblock by Davey.  Shawn tries to knock Davey down but can’t so he dives between Davey’s leg and slugs away.  Hiptoss fight, but Shawn rakes the eyes, headscissors takedown and then a short-arm scissors.  Shawn has Davey grapevined in a very strange way, having his entire body wrapped around Bulldog’s arm to the point that it makes Shawn look much smaller then he is.  Crazy!  Davey ends up lifting Shawn like a weight and slamming him down.  Shawn gets up and gets dumped to the floor.  Shawn gets back in and locks it up.  To the corner where Shawn slugs away.  Davey ends up getting some leg-lace takedowns that look awful and an armdrag into an armbar.  Davey turns it into a wristlock ringer but Shawn slugs out and elbows away in the corner.  Shoulderblock by Davey to pump up the crowd but Shawn would sidestep a charge and dump Davey through the ropes.  Shawn exposes the turnbuckle, and it takes a while.  Commercial.  When we come back, Shawn is still adjusting the turnbuckle pad.  Snapmare and a kick with a delayed sell by Davey.  Knees to the back and stomping.  Abdominal stretch by Shawn.  Davey hiptosses out of it but misses an elbow drop.  Shawn covers for two.  Shawn slugs away on the back.  Stomp to Davey’s knee, shoot off the ropes and another abdominal stretch.  Davey powers out of it after a couple minutes and this time hits the elbow drop.  Face buster on the canvas and then he sends Shawn hard into the turnbuckle.  Clothesline and a catapult into the turnbuckle (not the exposed one) and another clothesline for a close two.  Delayed suplex for two.  Shawn reverses and Davey lands back first into the exposed turnbuckle.  Davey uses the ropes to get up but he’s still got a bad back.  Shawn ends up on the top rope and Davey goes for a superplex but his back gives out and Shawn wins his first IC title.  Crowd is pissed.
***1/2 Really good if you consider that Davey did pretty much nothing, just like what happened with Bret Hart at Summerslam of 1992.  Shawn didn’t have the time to build to a match of that caliber, but if he had been given it, he would have.

-And that’s it for Saturday Night’s Main Event, until NBC fell off it’s nut and decided to bring it back in 2006.

Match #30: Street Fight
Shawn Michaels vs. Shane McMahon
3/18/06 Saturday Night’s Main Event

Can Shawn Michaels drag a good match out of Shane?  I’ve never seen this one as I completely ignored all the modern SNME shows.  Brawl next to the entrance to start.  To the ramp where Shawn shrugs off Shane’s embarrassing punches and takes him down some more.  Shawn grabs a chair and smacks Shane with it, then preps slowly preps a table.  Shawn goes to drag Shane over to it, but gets thrown into the post.  Shane grabs a ladder and slugs away at Shawn, then picks him up and rams him into ring post some more.  He goes into the ring and sets up a ladder, then Vince places Shawn on the tables.  Shawn fights off and climbs the ladder to stop Shane.  He fights off Vince and then superplexes Shane off the ladder, over the ropes, through two tables and to the floor.  Double knock out follows, which leads to a commercial break.

We’re back with Shawn clotheslining Shane down.  Shawn’s back is killing him, but he still throws a scoopslam.  He preps the ladder and climbs it.  He gets ready for the elbow but Vince comes in with a kendo stick to beat Shawn in the back and make him fall off of the ladder.  Long double KO follows, with multiple replays of the table spot shown.  Shane grabs a ladder and smacks Shawn in the back with it a few times and covers for two.  Battering ram with the ladder gets two.  Elbowdrop to the back and a surfboard by Shane.  Shawn tries to stand up but eats a knee to the back.  Shawn finally fights back and turns it into his own windmill, but he takes his eye off the ball and goes after Vince.  He turns around and eats a DDT from Shane for two.  Steel chair to Shawn’s head and Shane sets up for the Van Terminator.  Shawn moves out of the way, and this somehow kills Shane.  Not sure how it would make a difference whether or not he hits it, as he’s landing the same way.  Wrestling logic!  Shawn hulks up and moves into the FIVE AND A HALF MOVES OF DOOM~!  Flying forearm, nip-up, atomic drop, clotheslines, a scoopslam, and the flying elbow off the top hit.  Shawn tunes up the band and hits Sweet Chin Music, but Vince yanks the referee out at two.  So Shawn tosses Vince into the ring.  The power of Christ compels Shawn to kill Vince, but Shane fires off a low blow and then hooks in a sharpshooter so Vince can ring the fucking bell.  Ooooh, how edgy.
** Which might be good enough to make it Shane’s best or second best match.

-Randy Orton feuds with Hulk Hogan, and this leads to… nothing.  According to the DVD insert, this was supposed to be the segment where Orton gets his freak on with Brooke Hogan, but it’s not shown.  In fact, Brooke Hogan isn’t even mentioned.  Good job, production fuckwits.

Match #31: 5 on 2 Handicap Elimination Match
Shawn Michaels & Triple H vs. The Spirit Squad
7/15/06 Saturday Night’s Main Event
Special Stipulation: When you eliminate someone, they have to be placed in a holding cage.

The Squad are the tag champions here, but naturally their titles are not on the line.  Shawn starts with Mikey.  The Squad has Shawn in their corner so Mikey stomps away, then tags in Mitch.  Things break down and Shawn ends up taking out everyone with a megaphone.  So the Squad all bails for a conference, where Trips honks an air horn in their faces.  Mitch comes in and eats a superkick for the pin and we go to a commercial.

When we get back, DX is still dominating.  Spinebuster to Johnny causes him to get pinned.  Kenny actually gets some offense on Shawn, then bails when it looks like Shawn might fight back.  Shawn gives chase and takes him up to the stage, but Vince McMahon comes out of nowhere and chairs him.  Kenny brings Shawn back to the ring, then tags Nicky, who is known these days as Dolph Ziggler.  Flying forearm to Shawn gets two.  Headlock by Nicky but Shawn turns it into a back suplex.  Nicky tags Kenny who goes for the guillotine legdrop but misses.  Tag to Trips.  Punches for all and the flying knee to Mikey.  Facebuster to Nicky, then the spinebuster.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~! is broken up by Mikey, but both guys gets clotheslined and Nicky eats the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~! for the pin.  Sweet chin music to Mikey and he’s gone.  Scoopslam to Kenny and the flying elbow by Shawn. Shawn tunes up the band and hits the DX SPECIAL EDITION SUPERKICK~! on Kenny.  It’s named as such because instead of dropping someone, it makes them stagger into Triple H who is free to hit the pedigree.  Sure enough, he does and it gets the win.  After the match, DX buries the tag champs some more.
1/2* You know, these team had a really, really good match at Vengeance in 2006.  I don’t get why after that they had to continue to bury them after that.  This served no real point and wasn’t even structured to be like a match or anything.  Bad choice for the set.

Match #32: WWE Championship
(c) Edge vs. John Cena
7/15/06 Saturday Night’s Main Event

We’re finally at the final match of the set.  This fucker was a monster.  Edge tries to bail to start but Cena catches him and tries to brawl him.  Thumb to the eye by Edge, but Cena hangs him up as he gets in the ring.  Cena charges but gets low-bridged and stumbles out of the ring as we already cut to a commercial.

We’re back with Edge catching Cena with a clothesline.  Brawling leads to Edge setting up for a superplex.  He then proceeds to botch it.  Awesome.  Man, this set just went completely to hell once the classic shows were dropped in favor of the modern stuff.  This leads to a double knock out.  Both guys are up and Edge gets a clothesline and a kick to the face for two.  Slug out follows, with the fans doing the ‘yea-boo’ stuff.  Guess who gets the boos.  Hulk up by Cena.  Clotheslines, shoulderblock, protoplex, five knuckle shuffle, and the FU.  It gets two as Lita yanks the referee out of the ring, injuring him in the process.  Cena gets butt hurt by this and shoots Lita a nasty look.  Cena side-steps the spear and slaps on the STFU.  The ref goes to climb back in the ring and so Lita yanks him down and bitch slaps him.  The ref gets back in the ring, sees Edge tapping out, and then calls for the bell and DQs Edge.  Worst ending I’ve ever seen on free television.  So if the referee is pissed at Edge and his bitch, why would he not want to award the title to Cena, especially when he sees Edge tapping out?  Just stupid and insulting.  After the match, Cena kills Edge with some monitors and FUs him off the stairs and through the announce table.
1/2* Horrible match structure.  This was given no time and was just a cop-out from start to finish.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Alfred Hayes & Mean Gene go on Safari, Shawn Michaels talks about winning his first title, and Matt Hardy talks about boxing Evander Holyfield.  I’m guessing they’re saving that last one for the inevitable ‘celebrity wrestling’ set.

BOTTOM LINE: Easy thumbs up.  You get your value here and then some, with lots of fun, fast paced matches and some real lost classics throw into the mix.  I think some choices were questionable but otherwise this set is one of the better, more comprehensive ones the WWE has ever put out.  Get it and get it now.topstory500x250-|topstory500x250 topstory120x120-×120.jpg|topstory120x120

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The Way Too Long Review of WWE No Way Out 2009 Fri, 31 Jul 2009 21:14:06 +0000 My 2009 Pay Per View run continues with No Way Out, a show that I actually attended live.  I felt bad after skipping No Mercy 2008 in Portland, OR because the weather conditions were shitty and I had nobody to travel with.  As luck would have it, the WWE didn’t wait too long before coming back to the Northwest.  Only four months, in fact.

February 15, 2009 from Seattle, WA.  Super Sonic free since 2008.

Match #1: WWE Championship: Elimination Chamber Match
(c) Edge vs. The Undertaker vs. Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Vladimir Kozlov, Big Show

The WWE is already planning a “Complete Elimination Chamber” DVD set.  Fuck that, says I.  I’m actually not a big fan of the gimmick.  I’m a firm believer that less is more in wrestling and although the Chamber is neat looking, it hasn’t proven to be very effective at creating great matches.  There have been a few good ones, my personal favorite being the one from New Year’s Revolution 2006.  But nothing spectacular has come from it yet.  Like most shows I attended live, I’m blanking on the details of all the matches here.  I didn’t even remember the participants for this one until I read the case, which tells me this might not be so good.

Jeff Hardy starts with Edge.  Jeff quickly hits a flying forearm and some clotheslines, but eats a big boot off a whip.  Edge gathers his wits and covers for two.  Crossbody done like a head of steam by Edge gets two.  Shoot to the corner where Jeff gets a head scissors.  Atomic drop, legdrop between the legs, and a dropkick to the face.  Twist of Fate doesn’t work, Edge for the implant DDT, but Jeff gets the Twist of Fate.  He climbs and goes for the swanton, but misses.  Edge goes for the spear but Jeff catches it and with a small package… for the pin??

Let me say that again…


Much better.  Huge pop by the fans.  And it was at this moment that I turned to my friend and said “Guess who’s winning the main event?”  Some guy behind me says “John Cena.”  I said “No, Edge.”  He tells me I’m an idiot.  I placed a wager of $20 on it.  He agrees, and this older woman sitting near us agrees to hold the money.  This fucking asshole spends the rest of the show talking about what he’s going to do with the $20 he took off me.  Stay tuned for the conclusion.  It’s time for the next entry.  It’s Vladimir Kozlov.  He quickly kicks Hardy in the face and slings him to the corner.  Shoulderblocks and kicks.  Jeff gets a knee up, then dropkicks him in the knees.  Jeff springs at him but eats the shitty battering ram.  Kozlov needs a better signature move then that.  Kozlov throws Hardy into the chains a few time, then picks him up and slams him into it.  He then casually tosses Jeff back into the ring with a fall-away slam.  Mounted punches, then he fucks up a power spot where he’s trying to drop Hardy onto the turnbuckle.  It looks weak, like he’s lying him down for it.  Another fall-away slam gets two.  Back breaker gets two.  Waistlock into a bearhug by Kozlov, and Jeff tries to fight back but gets rammed down.  Elbowdrop hits, then he picks Jeff up for a powerslam, but Hardy wiggles out and dropkicks him into the corner.  Momentum kick by Jeff gets two.  Whisper in the Wind, but it’s time for another entry.

It’s Big Show, and now Jeff is really fucked.  Show ignores Kozlov and slings Hardy around instead.  Casual step-on by Show, then a headbutt that sends Hardy into Kozlov for some trapping headbutts.  Punch to the gut by Show and now the pace here is practically snail-like.  Show and Kozlov have a bit of a stare down, keeping a respectable distance on each other, but continue to take turns seeing who can hurt Jeff the most.  Show slams Hardy, so Kozlov follows it up with a shitty slam.  Fans just give both guys holy hell, but it wasn’t really positive heel heat.  Jeff tries to fight back but eats a headbutt from Show.  Elbowdrop by Kozlov, then the peck slap by Show.  To the corner for more peck slapping by Show, but Kozlov has found is chance to attack Big Show and hit the battering ram on him.  Show over powers Vladimir on a lockup, and they end up slugging it out.  Show goes for a suplex, but Kozlov fights out of it.  To the corner for more brawling, but it’s time for another entry…

Triple H, who goes for Show.  Face buster to him, high knee to Kozlov, and punches to Show.  Big Show misses a charge in the corner and eats a spinebuster.  Jeff is up and goes for the twist of fate on Trips but gets clotheslined.  Kozlov gets low-bridged on a charge and lands on the steel flooring.  Kozlov goes for a charge but hits the steel post of the chamber.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~! to Kozlov on the steel is stopped by Show, who peck slaps him over the ropes and to the floor.  Four way brawl in the ring with Show hitting a sidewalk slam on Trips for two.  Kozlov holds a long foot-choke on Hardy and drops and elbow.  Show brawls Trips in the corner.  Everything is too punchy-kicky right now and they don’t have a real flow of moves going.  Random brawling until Show goes for the chokeslam.  Trips fights out of it but gets press-slammed.  Show tosses Trips into the cage.  We miss Jeff somehow fighting off Kozlov.  Hardy goes for Show but gets caught and slammed into Triple H.  Show tries to splash of them against the chains but misses and kills himself to a surprisingly big pop for a relatively simple move.  Hardy and Trips double suplex Kozlov, then Hardy hits the whisper in the wind on Trips.

Undertaker enters the match and the fans go nuts.  Piston-punches to Show, then punches to Kozlov.  Snake eyes and the running boot, which Kozlov sells perfectly, taking the bump at a high angle like a champ.  See, he’s not totally worthless.  Taker goes to chokeslam both Trips and Hardy, but Show stops him, presumably because he’s stupid.  Why not wait to attack until after the move is hit?  Rope walk attempt to Triple H, but Taker lets that go and dives off the ropes at Show, giving him a DDT on the steel flooring.  Ropewalk to Trips hits, then Hardy eats a big boot.  Kozlov fights back with the battering ram and his incredibly shitty shoulder blocks.  I think Kozlov really could be quite good if someone can help him change his moveset up a bit.  What he’s doing right now just isn’t working, but I hardly think he’s a lost cause.  Kozlov goes for a ten punch on Undertaker, which is about the as dumb as trying to powerbomb Kidman or punch Hogan when he starts hulking up.  He eats the wedgie bomb and pinned to be eliminated to a big pop.  Undertaker gets up and eats the Big Show’s chokeslam.  Trips goes for the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~! on Show but gets backdropped onto the steel.  Show then tosses Hardy into Trips.  Show tosses Trips into the cage, then tosses Hardy into it as well, but Hardy catches the cage and climbs.  He gets on top of one of the pops but Show reaches through and crotches him.  Show climbs to fights but Undertaker catches him and superplexes him off.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~! to Show from Trips, and then Jeff hits the swanton bomb off the top of the pod to help Trips score the pin on Show.  Weird booking as all the heels are already out.  Hardy goes for the whisper in the wind to Taker but misses.  Triple H and Taker slug it out, but Trips ends up getting tossed onto the steel flooring.  Taker loads Hardy up for the rope walk, but Trips crotches him on the ropes for a three-way knock out.  Taker gets on all fours, which gives Hardy a chance to hit the poetry in motion over the ropes and into Trips on the steel.  Hardy is quite proud of himself, but Taker snatches him up and tombstones him for the pin.  Good sequence.  It’s down to Taker and Trips, and the fans buzz just at the stare down.  Taker starts it out by slugging it out in the corner.  Trips begs off but it doesn’t help.  Taker goes for a running big boot in the corner but misses and crotches himself in sick fashion.  Ram into the chains by Trips, who then climbs but gets caught with a chokeslam for two.  Fans totally bought that as the finish.  Taker was clearly the fan favorite for this one.  Whip to the corner and Taker gets the snake eyes but gets caught on the running big boot and eats the spinebuster for two.  Taker drags Trips to the steel, then fights off a comeback and tosses him into the cage.  Taker loads up the tombstone, then both guys flip over the rope with Taker still holding onto the tombstone.  He hits it… for two as Trips gets a foot on the ropes.  In a match with no rules, where you don’t even have to be physically inside the ring to get a pinfall, why on earth does a rope break matter?  It gets better, as it turns out that the Tombstone was the WORST MOVE EVER~! because Triple H is instantly recovered enough to hit the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!!… for two.  I’m thinking this will turn out to be the worst move ever as well, but it’s not as both guys are injured now and slowly slug it out.  Trips goes for a ten punch (remember, the worst move ever causes brain damage and thus you do stupid things), which leads to Taker going for the wedgie bomb, but Taker flips out of it and hits the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~! and thus wins the match and his 13th Championship.
***1/2 Good start with Jeff and Edge, horrible sequence with Kozlov and Show, then peppy final three.  If not for Show and Kozlov, this might have been the best chamber match, but they were in it and thus it was not.

Side note: The quick pinfall by Jeff Hardy on Edge?  That was originally Paul Heyman’s idea for eliminating the Big Show during the infamously bad December to Dismember chamber match.  Both Heyman and Big Show wanted CM Punk to eliminate him quickly at the start of the match, but Vince McMahon insisted otherwise and the fall out from it led to Heyman leaving the company.  A few years later and Heyman ended up being proved right, as they use the same spot with Edge as Big Show and Hardy as Punk and it gets over like Jesus.  Score one for the balding fatass.

-Meanwhile, Edge bitches to Vickie Guerrero about his quick loss and asks to have the match restarted.  She says that it was his fault because he lost, then quickly apologizes.

Match #2: No Holds Barred
Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon

$10 says Orton’s diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder wasn’t a work, considering what he did to that Holiday Inn that one time.  Orton cuts a intense (boring) promo on destroying the McMahon family.  And for some reason, his entrance takes forever.  I guess they were trying to eat up time or something, while putting over how focused Orton is.  Right, because this is such a big match for Orton, who’s been world champion and beaten pretty much every name-value star on the roster.  And then he ran into… SHANE MCMAHON DUN DUN DUN~!  Circle to start and Shane hits a jab, then another, then a bunch more.  Orton likely cried after the match, being forced to sell those.  Orton brawls him to the corner, then Shane fights back and manages to dropkick Orton out of the ring with a baseball slide.  Shane preps a table against the apron, then grabs a trash can, but Orton hits the wrap-around back breaker on the floor.  Ram into the apron, then another.   Back into the ring where Orton hits a kick to the gut and a back suplex.  Orton exposes a turn buckle and whips Shane into it, then kicks him down.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… Orton casually kicks Shane out of the ring and the fans start hate-hooing the match, which I’m sure was interpreted as heat for Orton.  Shane fights back with a kendo stick and whacks Orton a dozen times, give or take.  Orton falls out of the ring, leading to Shane clotheslining him on floor.  Shane preps the announce table for impact, then whacks Orton in the skull with a monitor.  Orton’s bleeding, and thankfully this is in the days before we would cut to a black-and-white filter.  Shane preps Orton the announce table and enters the ring to hit a splash or something, BUT WAIT~! because here comes Legacy.  They beat up Shane, then Cody bails to grab a chair.  DiBiase holds Rhodes for a chair shot but Shane swings Ted into the path of it, then DDTs Rhodes on the chair.  Shane takes his eye off the ball and instead hits the Van Terminator on Cody Rhodes.  Cody sells this by going into a coma, which is kind of hilarious.  Speaking of Comas, that’s what Orton must be in because he just lies there on the table this entire time.  So Shane climbs and goes for a flying elbow through the table, but Orton rolls out of the way.  Given that he had a few minutes to rest, they could have made it like he was playing possum.  But no, he’s actually still hurt and just barely got out of the way.  Lame.  Orton tells DiBiase to take the comatose Rhodes to the back, and he’ll finish off Shane.  Shane barely gets back into the ring, where Orton snatches him in the DDT off the ropes.  Orton covers but it only gets two, two, and two.  So we spend the next few minutes slowly prepping a table so that Orton can slowly superplex Shane through it.  Someone stop the damn match!  Not because of the carnage or anything, but because this shit sucks.  Orton covers and it gets two.  Garvin stomp by Orton and a kneedrop gets two.  Orton sets up for the spear, then pauses forever and allows Shane to get a spear.  Double KO of sorts… no sense in having one of those because it’s taking them roughly seven years to go from one move to the next… followed by Shane teeing off on Orton with a chair, whacking him in the back, legs, and head.  Not all at once, mind you.  Though I bet you could do that to Hornswaggle.  Shane sets up for his own version of the punt but gets caught in the RKO for the pinfall.
DUD In the long line of incredibly overrated Shane McMahon matches, this one was the latest.  “Ooooh, he crashed through a table.  He was thrown through plexi-glass.  He dived off a thirty foot scaffold.  Great match!”  No.  Fuck no.  His offense looks like shit.  It always has looked like shit.  And despite what some critics will tell you, there has never been a single good Shane McMahon match.  Test at Summerslam ’99?  Re-watch it.  It was ass.  Kurt Angle at the King of the Ring?  Re-watch it and notice how everything before and after the glass sequence sucked.  Steve Blackman?  Seriously, don’t even go there.  Anyway, this wasn’t the worst match that I ever saw live… I sat through Tomko vs. Richards from Unforgiven ’04… but was pretty close.

On a side note, I was betting the farm that this whole angle, including the part where Triple H got involved, would lead to Stephanie McMahon joining up with Orton.  Never been more happy to be wrong.

Match #3: ECW Championship
(c) Jack Swagger vs. Finlay

Fans in attendance are so happy to see Finlay that they chant for Christian.  Meanwhile, this might as well be Wrestlemania for Swagger because he wasn’t deemed worthy of having a match on the biggest show of the year.  Then again, given how shitty Wrestlemania turned out, that might be a good thing for him.  If he had any balls he could incorporate that into his promos.  “Hey everyone, remember how bad Wrestlemania 25 sucked?  Well don’t blame me, they said I wasn’t good enough to be on it.”  Then he could go up and dry hump Matt Striker in his face.  I’d mark.

Lockup goes to the corner where Finlay snatches a leg and slaps on a half crab.  He holds that for a bit, then stomps the leg.  Back to the half crab and another stomp.  Finlay takes him to the corner and brawls him around, but misses a charge and smashes his own face into the turnbuckle.  Swagger then kicks Finlay off into the post.  Knees to the guts and a hammerlock, and Swagger, is good enough to actually lock his fingers into it.  Fans could care less, but I like the little touches.  Shoulder-breaker into a powerslam by Swagger for two as the fans start to hate-hoo the match.  This might be a good time to point out that although I live in Washington, I was born and raised in Oregon and thus should not be lumped in by the incredibly stupid population represented here.  Oregonians do not hate-hoo matches.  Oh no.  We just sit silently and never make a noise.  Then again, we do that for good matches too.  I’ll shut up now.

Swagger slaps on a armbar, while Striker notes that the last notable title change in Seattle was at Wrestlemania 19 back in 2003?  Really?  So the title change that happened roughly thirty minutes earlier was not notable?  Yea, I thought so too.  Swagger gets a few near falls off the arm-bar, then both guys to their feet where Swagger wrings the arm but eats a reverse DDT onto the knee from Finlay for two.  Swagger goes to charge with a knee but puts on the breaks, possibly as a show of sportsmanship, or possibly because Finlay was out of position to counter the move.  He charges again and this time Finlay snatches him up in a roll-up, but can’t quite get the shoulders down correctly and it only gets one.  Swagger smacks Finlay in the corner and loads up a superplex.  Finlay pushes off of it and hits a kneelift and some uppercuts.  Short-arm clothesline while the fans chant “you can’t wrestle”.  Ugh.  Finlay hits a cross body off the ropes for two.  Hornswaggle is at ringside now.  Finlay goes all house of fire and hits a bunch of clotheslines and a butt splash for two.  Shoot to the corner and a shoulderblock, then Finlay loads up for the Celtic Cross, but Hornswaggle is on the apron for no reason other then to have Swagger kick Finlay into him.  Swagger grabs a waistlock and turns it into the gutwrench bomb for the pin.
* Not very good, but in defense of these guys, it’s hard to get into a good match mood when the fans start haterizing on you before you even get started.

Match #4
John “Bradshaw” Layfield vs. Shawn Michaels
Special Stipulation: If JBL wins, he owns Shawn Michaels.  Leave it to a Texan to bring slavery into the world of professional wrestling.  If Shawn wins, he gets a lot of money or something.

Thank Christ they didn’t save this shit for Wrestlemania.  Lockup leads to a clean break in the corner, where JBL jaws with Shawn and says he only needs him to make one mistake.  Another lockup and another clean break, but this time Shawn goes nuts with punches and Bradshaw bails.  JBL tries to bait Shawn into getting DQed with a chair, but Shawn isn’t a total retard and slugs it out instead.  Back in the ring, Shawn goes for a sunset flip but JBL sits on it for two.  Backslide by Shawn gets one, then JBL gets a shoulderblock and an elbowdrop for two.  Chopblocks by Shawn and a figure four, but JBL is too close to the ropes.  Shawn waits until the last second to break, then slaps on the Jesus Christ on the Cross…face, but JBL turns it into a pin attempt for two.  Whip by JBL sends Shawn up and over to the floor.  Ram into the apron by JBL, then into the ring where JBL hits six elbowdrops for two.  Should have done nine.  Short-arm clothesline gets two.  Stiff punches in the corner by JBL, then a bearhug that goes on forever.  Shawn fights back and JBL lowers his head into a swinging neck-breaker.  Atomic drop by Shawn and some chops.  What, no nip-up?  Another atomic drop, but JBL sends him up and down into the corner, then loads him up for a superplex.  Shawn tries to fight off of it, does, but misses an elbow off the top.  Clothesline from Hell hits… for two.  JBL then hits a second clothesline from hell.  Shawn’s wife actually sells this better then Shawn does.  Shawn is close to the ropes so JBL gently kicks him out of the ring, content to get a count-out victory.  Shawn barely beats the count back in, so JBL tosses him back to the floor.  He gets out of the ring to jaw with Rebecca Michaels, which leads to her smacking him.  Then the holy ghost jumps from Rebecca to Shawn and thusly he hulks up.  Flying forearm, nip-up, Thesz press, scoopslam, flying elbow off the top, sweet chin music, winner.
*** About as bad a match as Shawn is capable of having, outside his wank-fests with Triple H that is.  Very basic, but still decent.

-Meanwhile, Chris Jericho is confident that he’s walking out as the new champion tonight, then invites Ric Flair to come out of retirement and challenge him for the belt at Wrestlemania.  Actually, he’s just joking.  Except about winning the title.  That was serious.  Not the Flair part.  I guess.

Match #5: World Heavyweight Championship: Elimination Chamber Match
(c) John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho vs. Mike Knox vs. Kane vs. Kofi Kingston Edge

Indeed, Kingston gets beat up during his entrance by Edge, who takes his spot.  Only in wrestling.  I still hold out hope that one day it will be the bottom of the 9th in the World Series between the Yankees and the Cardinals.  Two outs, two strikes, no runners on, Cardinals up three games to nothing, leading game four by a score of 16 to 0… BUT WAIT~! here comes the Chicago Cubs with steel chairs, beating up the Cardinals and taking their spots to steal the World Series victory.

Ah fuck, whom I kidding?  They would still manage to blow it.

Meanwhile, the douchebag behind me who bet me $20 on the outcome of the main event let out a knowing “awwwwww crap.”  This guy was a true blue mark and even he figured out what would happen.  Edge slams Kingston into the stairs, then gives him a conchairto.  He then locks himself into Kingston’s pod.  Medics and stuff come out to help Kingston, but no police show up to arrest the clearly insane and homicidal Edge for his attempted murder/hate crime.  The entire concept is stupid beyond belief, and yet I’m still loving Edge’s insane, wide-eyed, twitchy selling of this whole situation.  To the match where Mysterio starts with Jericho.  Lockup goes nowhere.  Second lockup leads to Jericho getting a headlock-takeover.  Shoot off and Jericho gets a shoulderblock.  Monkey flip by Mysterio, then a head scissors to set up for the 619, but Jericho bails outside the ropes.  Mysterio hits a flipping senton on Jericho over the ropes.  Clothesline by Rey sends Jericho back into the ring.  Jericho to the corner where Mysterio charges but misses and kills himself on Kane’s pod.  Nice bump there.  Delayed suplex by Jericho gets two.  Chinlock now, which Mysterio fights out of, only to get backdropped over the ropes and onto the steel floor.  Catapult attempt by Jericho but Mysterio catches the chains and climbs to the ceiling, then drops down onto Jericho and fires off a head scissors.  Mysterio springs over the ropes with a seated senton for two.  Seated bulldog by Mysterio, but it’s time for the third entrance.

It’s Kane, and he quickly big-boots Mysterio, then clubs Jericho down.  Kane might be a heel but he also threatens to kill Edge as well.  Edge gets all bug-eyed and backs away, even though he’s safely inside his pod.  Good stuff.  Jericho takes advantage of this by grabbing a sleeper, but Kane slings him off.  Sidewalk slam to Mysterio gets two, then more punches to Jericho.  Snapmare by Kane and then a dropkick to the face for two.  Clothesline by Kane sends Jericho over the ropes and onto the steel flooring.  Kane slams Jericho’s knee into the steel, but Mysterio comes in and manages to beat Kane down.  Baseball slide to Kane’s ribs.  Kane fights back and but Mysterio catches a weird spinning reverse DDT.  Jericho goes for the lionsault on Kane but misses and wipes out.  Mysterio sets up both guys for the 619 but Kane catches him and goes for a chokeslam.  Kane pushes Jericho off, which allows Mysterio to hit the 619 on Kane.  Jericho hits the code breaker on Kane, then Mysterio ranas Jericho over the ropes.  Mysterio climbs on top of a pod and hits a seated senton on Kane to eliminate him.  It’s time for the next person.

It’s Mike Knox.  Man, Mysterio can’t catch a break.  Knox comes in and boots Mysterio right away.  Bicycle kick to Jericho, then a splash to Rey.  Scoopslam and a kneedrop to Jericho gets two.  Jericho actually saves Mysterio and goes for Knox.  They brawl for a bit and then Knox gets backdropped over the ropes and onto the steel.  Jericho goes for a springboard, but Knox catches him and slams him into the chains a couple times.  Mysterio recovers and grabs a sleeper on Knox, but Knox flips him over and slams him into the chains, then hooks Mysterio’s foot in the links.  He doesn’t manage to get anything good off of this.  Knox slams Jericho it’s Cena’s pod, then press-slams him into the ring.  Shoot to the corner and Knox hits a sambo backbreaker on Mysterio, but Jericho comes in with the code breaker out of nowhere to get the pin on Knox.  Credit to Knox for doing pretty good in his first… and presumably only… WWE main event.  A lot of people, myself included, thought it was silly to put someone like him in it, but he did okay.  He certainly didn’t embarrass himself, which is more then Vladimir Kozlov or Big Show can say.  Jericho goes to brawl with Mysterio, but we’re ready for another wrestler.

It’s Edge, but Mysterio jumps him as soon as his pod door opens.  Big pop for that.  Mysterio goes nuts on Edge, slamming him into the pod and totally manhandling him.  Crossbody and some kicks by Mysterio, but Jericho makes the save with a clothesline.  Back suplex by Jericho to Mysterio, but Edge goes after him.  Jericho hits a bulldog on him, then goes back to Mysterio.  Back elbow to Rey but the Lionsault is blocked when Mysterio gets his knees up.  Edge-o-Matic to Jericho gets two.  Edge goes for the spear on Mysterio but misses.  Jericho goes for the code breaker on Edge but doesn’t hit it.  Edge gets set up for the 619 but again Jericho saves Edge for no damn reason.  To the corner where Jericho looks like he’s setting up an MDK bomb, but Edge joins them and we end up with a tower of doom spot and all three guys are out.  Fans actually start to chant for Cena.  That’s about as rare as finding an albino rhino in the wild.  Edge tosses Jericho over the ropes and onto the steel.

John Cena enters the match.  Shoulderblock and clothesline to Edge, then a clothesline for Jericho, then a belly to belly suplex for Edge.  Fisherman’s buster to Jericho, bulldog to Edge, Jericho gets dumped, then a protoplex to Edge.  He goes for the five knuckle shuffle on Edge and hits it, then it all goes to hell for him.  He loads up Edge for the FU, but Jericho hits the code breaker on him, Mysterio hits the 619 on him, then Edge spears him… for the pin.  Fans fucking explode.  Edge and Jericho sell the shock of actually eliminating Cena beyond perfectly, with comical shock.  But the best sell job was only seen by those seated near me.  “MOTHER FUCKER!  MOTHER FUCKER!  MOTHER FUCKER!” screamed the douchebag, who then instructed the old lady to pay me.  I wish I could say that $20 I made went towards something cool, but it takes a lot of gas to travel from Eastern Washington to Seattle, and $20 didn’t even come close to covering it.

Mysterio dropkicks Edge, then ranas Jericho.  Head scissors to Edge and a dropkick to Jericho sets up the 619.  Edge moves out of the way, but Jericho eats it.  Mysterio side-steps Edge’s charges and goes for the West Coast Pop, but Jericho catches him and slaps on the Walls.  Mysterio reverses that with a pin that eliminates Jericho.  Mysterio is pooped and doesn’t see Edge setting up for the spear.  Mysterio moves out of the way of it and gets a rollup for two.  Fans actually bought that as a potential finish.  Fans are super hot for Mysterio winning it.  Hell, even I was and that would have cost me $20 because the bet would have been a scrub.  Springboard crossbody gets two.  Edge kicks at Rey and goes for a sunset flip, but Mysterio rolls through it and gets a buzz saw kick for two.  Both guys are gassed, but still pull it together.  Rey springs off the ropes and gets caught, but hits a tornado DDT for two.  Boot to the face by Edge sends Mysterio onto the steel flooring.  Edge loads up Mysterio out there to go for a powerbomb, but Mysterio channels his inner-Kidman and turns it into a facebuster on the steel flooring.  619 to the back of Edge’s head.  Mysterio charges but Edge launches him into the glass on the chamber, which I’m guessing was supposed to break but didn’t.  Still looked all kinds of nasty.  In the ring, Edge hits the spear and wins the championship.  Anyone who says the fans were happy about it is nuts.  90% of the audience was super pissed.
****1/4 Likely the best Elimination Chamber match.  Lots of good spots and good psychology, plus a hot final two.  I thought after all the stuff Mysterio got on Edge, he should have gotten beat up a little bit more before getting pinned, but that’s just nit-picky.


-Todd Grisham interviews Edge about his World Title win.  Edge says he walked in as champion and walked out as champion.  And that’s it.  Whole thing ran 49 seconds.

Oh, and there’s a bonus match…

Awwww fuck.

Match #6: Unsanctioned Match
Shane McMahon vs. Randy Orton
2/16/09 Raw

From the next night on Raw.  There’s no referee, so it’s just a big brawl.  Shane jumps Orton as he makes his entrance and dumps him into the crowd.  Shane gets on the rail and hits a flying forearm on Orton.  Fans actually give them room to fight, which is downright decent of them.  Shane whips the technical tables, then kicks him around.  He grabs a bottle of water and slams it on Orton’s head.  Maybe it was holy water or something, and Orton is really Satan.  Hey wait a second, I thought Vince McMahon was Satan, which means Shane is Damien and the holy water should have hurt him.  Maybe it did, because Orton makes his comeback brawls Shane around some more.   Back to the ringside area where Shane gets slammed into the announce table, then onto the stairs.  More brawling from Orton, then back into the ring where Orton stomps away.  Stiff punch sends Shane to the floor, where Orton rams him into the apron a few times.  These rams look way better then the ones from the pay per view did.  Shane gets his second wind and tosses Orton over the announce table, then mounts some punches.  Shane grabs the ring bell and clubs Orton in the head with it.  Looked pretty stiff too.  Shane drags Orton back into the ring and hits him in the back of the head with the bell.  He grabs a chair and sets Orton up for the Van Terminator.  BUT WAIT~! because here comes Legacy.  They stomp away on Shane, and hopefully this time they don’t get punked out.  Stupid twisty-neckbreaker move by Rhodes, the same one that everyone and their mother has been trying to get over as a finisher for years, but it won’t work because it just plain sucks.  Shane is now set up for the punt, and he eats it hard.  I have never been a fan of the RKO, so they should really drop it in favor of the punt.  Anyway, Stephanie McMahon comes out to check on Shane, along with some officials.  Orton gets all psychotic looking with Steph.  She begs him to please just leave, so he RKOs her to a huge pop.  Then he realizes what he’s done and is like “ah fuck.”  Even better is Rhodes and DiBiase, who look at each other as if to say “This guy is going to get us killed!”  Good stuff.  Triple H runs down the biggest pop ever, causing the heels to bail.  Trips cries over Stephanie’s limp body, then shoots the death stare at Orton to start their Wrestlemania feud on a high note.  Is what all downhill afterwards, leading to what I’m pretty sure I’ll end up rating as the worst Wrestlemania main event ever.  I remember being nearly falling asleep during it.  We’ll find out soon as it will either be Wrestlemania 25 or the Bash being reviewed next.  But I think Taker vs. Sid from WM 13 is finally off the hook.
NO RATING as it was a non-match brawl, but this was way better then what people had to pay to see the night before.

BOTTOM LINE: The second Chamber match totally saved this from an easy thumbs down, but I looking at the overall product it’s really tough to say whether or not to recommend the show.  And for the record, I think giving thumbs in the middle is a huge cop out.  To quote Matthew Broderick in Election, “We’re not electing the fucking pope here.”  It’s a recommendation.  Yea or nay?  If something isn’t worth giving thumbs up to, then it should get thumbs down.  Well, after looking over everything, you have one match that meets the four-star rating and two matches that get my passing grade of three-stars or better.  Thus 60% of the matches here are worth watching, and thus we barely get a thumbs up.  BUT… if the WWE does release an Elimination Chamber set, this show becomes skippable in favor of that set.  Given that they are letting the ignorant fans (the same fans who picked shitty lineups for the World Title/IC Title/Starrcade sets) decide on the fate of their future DVD lineup, I would say the Elimination Chamber set is a gimmie.  So this gets Thumbs Up until 2010ish, then gets dropped to a thumbs down, if that makes sense.topstory500x250-×281.jpg|topstory500x250 topstory120x120-×120.jpg|topstory120x120

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Charlie Reneke Reviews the Life & Times of Mr. Perfect – The Matches Sun, 24 May 2009 21:35:38 +0000 For those of you interested in my thoughts of the main feature, check out Scott Keith’s review of this set, as my write up of the feature is what he used.

Match #1
Curt Hennig vs. Eddie Gilbert
11/21/82 WWE from Madison Square Garden

This is Gilbert’s debut in Madison Square Garden.  I believe the plan had been to make him an upper-midcard star, but a serious auto accident and an addiction to painkillers that resulted from it put those plans to a halt.  Circle to start, lockup and a clean break.  Another lockup and Curt fires off a hiplock.  Another hiplock, then another one off a shoot off.  Flying body press by Eddie is rolled through by Curt for two.  Hammerlock by Hennig turned into a drop toehold by Eddie into a cross ankle lock.  A sloppy roll through type sequence leads to Curt making a cover for two.  Waistlock takedown by Curt countered into a snapmare by Eddie, and we’re at a standstill again.  Fans aren’t exactly peppy.  Another lockup and they fight over a top wristlock, with Eddie taking control.  Curt fights out of it with a scoopslam, but Eddie holds the arm and rolls through it.  To their feet where Gilbert fires off an armdrag then holds the armbar.  Curt finally gets a reverse and holds a hammerlock, then tries to work a crossface into it.  Snapmare by Gilbert but Curt rolls through it, then fires off an indian-deathlock style hold, only he’s attacking the arm instead of a leg.  Curt shoots the half nelson and rolls him over for one.  Side-headlock takeover sequence, but Gilbert gets pissed and punches Hennig.  Shoot off leads to Curt getting shoulderblock.  This leads to a push-off, then a shoot off for double dropkick and a double KO spot.  Nice.  Test of strength now.  Eddie grabs a crazy reverse sunset flip type move for two.  Headlock by Hennig, a shoulderblock, then another headlock, into a takeover for two.  Eddie sends him face first into the turnbuckle with a horrific ‘thud.’  Eddie tosses Curt down then hits a head scissors.  Crossbody misses and Gilbert wipes out hard and lands in the corner, tumbling to the outside.  Curt suplexes him back in for two.  Sunset flip for two.  Scoopslam and an elbowdrop for two but the fifteen minute time limit expires.
*** Decent match, but it took them a little to long to get the tempo up.

Match #2
Curt Hennig & Scott Hall vs. Steve Regal & Jimmy Garvin
11/26/85 AWA Championship Wrestling

Steve Regal is not to be confused with William Regal.  Scott Hall looks a lot like Magnum TA, and even funnier, he looks a lot older here then he did in the 90s during his WWE run.  Regal & Garvin are the champs here, but this is non-title.  Long stall to start, with Precious refusing to get out of the ring.  Regal starts with Hennig.  Lockup, and Regal brawls Hennig to the corner only to get reversed and backdropped.  Regal bails on the wrong side of the ring and clips his back on the announce table.  Back in, lockup and a headlock.  Regal brawls out and hits a shoulderblock, only to bounce off the ropes and run into an armdrag into an armbar.  Scott Hall gets the tag and elbows the shit out of Regal’s arm.  Garvin gets the tag only to get his arm mangled too.  Hennig tags in and sledges Jimmy’s arms from the second rope.  Wristlock by Hennig, shoot off by Garvin but leads to Curt getting a sunset flip for two.  Hammerlock reversal sequence leads to Regal getting the tag.  Regal grabs a wristlock, but Hennig reverses it into one of his own.  Regal gets onto the apron, only for Curt to drag him into the ring.  He grounds Regal to his knees with the hammerlock, then chops him when he gets close to making the tag.  Rake of the eyes by Regal gives the heels advanage.  Garvin tags in and slugs away, then hotshots Curt for two.  Slam into the turnbuckle and some knees for two.  Hennig is bleeding a bit.  Front facelock by Garvin while Regal unties the top turnbuckle.  Kitchen sink kneelift by Garvin, tag to Regal who hits an elbow off the ropes.  He stomps away and tags Garvin back for more brawling.  Snapmare into a chinlock.  Garvin slams Hennig into Regal’s knee then tags in Regal who hits a kneedrop for two.  Scoopslam by Regal but an elbowdrop misses.  Hot tag to Hall.  Big punches and a hard whip to the corner as things break down.  Garvin sprays Regal with the hairspray by accident, and Hall finishes the match with a bulldog for the pin.
***1/2 Good tag match.

Also on the first disc, we get Hennig’s Hall of Fame induction, the Rap is Crap music video from WCW, and most of his Mr. Perfect vignettes.

Disc Two

Match #3: AWA Championship
(c) Nick Bockwinkel vs. Curt Hennig
11/15/86 AWA on ESPN

Bockwinkel shakes hands with Hennig, then dropkicks him when he turns his back.  Scoopslam gets a two and Hennig quickly bails.  Hennig comes back in and they lockup into a clean break.  Another lockup leads to another clean break.  Third lockup leads to a waistlock by Nick, reversed into a takedown by Curt.  Annoncers say this ain’t going sixty minutes.  Lockup, clean break.  Lockup and Bockwinkel gets a schoolboy for two.  Lockup and they fight for a hammerlock.  Lockup and Bockwinkel reaches for a hammerlock but they end up in the ropes.  Lockup and Bockwinkel gets a headlock takedown that leads to a couple counts.  Hennig to his feet.  Shoot off but Bockwinkel gets a shoulderblock, which Hennig pinball bumps for, then another headlock takedown.  And instead of just laying on the mat with it, both guys sell the damn move.  Bockwinkel fights to keep it on, Hennig fights to get him off.  That’s wrestling, folks.  To their feet, shoot off by Hennig, into a pair of shoulderblocks into a headlock takeover.  Storyline is flawless, with Bockwinkel as the done-it-all veteran and Hennig as the plucky newcommer trying to beat the champ.  This is like Sting/Flair from Clash of the Champions, only it doesn’t suck.  Hennig to the ropes for a break.  Lockup and and Hennig gets a headlock takeover into a head-scissors.  He grinds it in too, working the match.  This is seriously one of the best feeling-out sequences I’ve ever seen.  Bockwinkel rolls through it, and we have another standstill.  Lockup, headlock takeover by Bockwinkel.  Hennig tries to bend himself into getting a headscissors, but isn’t quite able to get it.  To their feet, Hennig shoots him off and gets shoulderblocked.  Botched spot sees Hennig blow his end of a hiptoss.  He covers it well by turning it into a kneelift, and Bockwinkel goes with it.  He then fires off the hiptoss.  Nice cover.  Wrestling is 95% improvisation, and Curt Hennig and Nick Bockwinkel showed how to do so properly.  People will blow spots, but you can cover them up if you’re good.  Bockwinkel recovers from it and slams Hennig.  Hennig up and he slams Nick.  A pair of armdrags into an armbar and the fans are with Curt.  Ten minutes in and this is already looking better then Michaels/Bret’s Iron Man Match.  Nick to his feet and tries to push off the armbar, but Curt holds on.  He manages a shoot off but Curt fakes him out and armdrags him back to the armbar.  He turns it into a keylock.  Bockwinkel tries to shoot off, but Hennig tumbles with him to hold onto the armbar.  He drops a leg on the arm and hooks it back in.  Working the match, gotta love it.  Droptoehold by Bockwinkel but Curt rolls through that and mounts a hammerlock.  Indian Deathlock on the arm, as seen in the first match on this set, then back to the hammerlock.  He brings the arm and slaps on a half-nelson to roll him over for two.  Nice.  Bockwinkel is up and backs Curt to the corner, a quarter of the way through the match.  He fires off elbows to escape, but misses a charge and Curt wristlocks him down to the canvas.  Love this match.  You can see a star being born here.  To their feet, Bockwinkel shoots Hennig off and gets a kitchensink kneelift.  A pair of bodyslams but Hennig is up and armdrags Nick down and grapevines an armbar.  He grinds the arm down and really cinches in on it.  Bockwinkel flips out of it and rolls up Curt for two, then Hennig flips him back down into the hold.  Another flip through by Bockwinkel for two, then back down by Curt.  Mind you, Nick Bockwinkel is 52 years old here.  Bockwinkel is running out of ideas so he starts to slowly pry Hennig’s legs apart to free his arm. Curt responds by hooking his leg around Nick’s neck.  Nick responds to that by hooking in a standing ankle lock, then turns it into a spinning toehold… the slow, mean version of it.  And he’s using one of his feet to keep Curt’s free foot pinned to the canvas.  Subtle touches make a big difference.  Bockwinkel quickly uses this to slap on a kneebreaker.  This is all fundamental wrestling, folks.  Basic holds, basic moves. It’s not WHAT you do, but how you do it.  Hennig to his feet, and he fires off a couple elbows to the back of Nick’s head.  To the corner where we do NOT get a clean break.  Instead, Nick fires away and hits a snapmare into a front chancery.  Curt turns this into a wristlock takedown into the keylock again.  Bockwinkel looks distraught.  He tries to roll through it but Curt is ready for it this time and rolls with him.  Bockwinkel tries something different and gets a pin for two with a handful of trunks.  Hennig is pissed now so Nick bails to catch a breather 25 minutes in.  Now we have a ram’s duel in the center of the ring, but Nick turns it into a headlock.  Shoot off and a shoulderblock by Hennig, but he bounces off the ropes and into a droptoehold, into a kneebreaker.  Bockwinkel becomes super arrogant and grinds Hennig’s leg in a circular motion while supporting the biggest shit-eating grin.  What an ass… god I love him.  Wrestling needs a new Nick Bockwinkel style heel.  Stuff like that is exactly what Chris Jericho should be doing in the ring.  Hennig gets out and stomps away, but the leg is hurting hm.  Kneedrop to Bockwinkels arm hurts Curt more then Nick.  Bockwinkel takes advanage of this by going for the leg and hooking in a grounded indian deathlock.  Hennig slugs away then manages to grab Bockwinkel around the waist and roll him to the ropes for the break.  Nick fires off some knees and kicks Hennig to the floor.  Hennig limps back into the ring and gets pushed to the corner, where Bockwinkel shoots him into the opposet corner and then hooks in his big sleeperhold.  Hennig sells this like death, but grabs the rope and manages to pull himself, Bockwinkel, and the referee out of the ring in a sickly cool visual.  Both guys try to catch a breath and there’s no referee to count them out.  Hennig slams Nick into the ring apron and chops away.  Hennig in the ring and he drags Bockwinkel with him.  Shoot off the ropes and a big chop gets two as the ref recovers.  Wristlock by Hennig and he goes to the apron and snaps Bockwinkel’s arm off the ropes.  He rings the arm around the post, then fires off some elbows.  Shoot off by Hennig but he lowers his head and Nick kicks him in the face.  Bockwinkel tries for some grounded move but Hennig fights him off and tosses him away.  Another attempt by Nick, and another toss.  Hennig to his feet but Bockwinkel slugs the gut and covers for two.  Shoot off by Bockwinkel, but Curt ducks the clothesline and hits a crossbody for a very close two.  Armbar but Bockwinkel leverages Curt out of the ring and slams his head on the canvas.  Hennig tries to shake it off but Nick bounces his head off the ring stairs.  Hennig tries to get back in but Bockwinkel stomps his head.  Ring announcer notes that 37 minutes have gone by.  Wow, that’s an odd mark to announce.  Hennig gets pissed and drags Bockwinkel’s leg to the post and then ‘barely’ beats the count back in… at seven.  AWA announcers took hyperbole to new levels.  Hennig goes for the injured leg and hooks in a toehold.  Bockwinkel fights back and slings Hennig off the ropes.  Scoopslam but his leg gives out on him and Hennig lands on top for two.  Shoot off by Bockwinkel and a kitchen sink kneelift leads to a short double KO.  Bockwinkel loads up a piledriver and hits it for two as Hennig gets his foot on the rope.  Grounded toehold by Bockwinkel, and he uses the ropes for leverage.  Hennig uses a headbutt to escape and starts to kick Bockwinkel in the mid-section.  He drops his weight on him and then hooks in a camel clutch.  Bockwinkel grabs the ropes, but the ref kicks him off twice in what I presume is a blown spot by the ref.  A third one breaks the hold.  Legdrop by Hennig, between the legs, then a punch to the face.  Cover for Hennig by two.  Kneelift but Bockwinkel bounces off the ropes and KOs Hennig with a big punch that looks solid.  Hennig grabs a double leg takedown and turns it over into a boston crab.  45 minutes in now.  Bockwinkel rolls it into a two count, countered into a two from Hennig.  Shoulderblocks in the corner by Curt and a series of chops, followed by a small package for two.  Piledriver from Hennig looks vicious but only gets two as Nick gets a foot on the ropes.  Both guys connect on eachother with an uppercut for a double KO.  Side headlock by Hennig, turned into a backdrop suplex for two as all Curt has left is to grab the ropes.  Bockwinkel celebrates a little early and Curt pounces on him, rolling him up for two.  Elbowdrops by Curt get two.  Knees to the back by Curt and a boot to the head.  Hard whip to the corner and some chopping, then his big standing dropkick, at the time considered the best in the business, gets two.  Shots to the gut and one to the throat by Bockwinkel gets two.  Ten minutes remain in the time limit.  Shoot off by Bockwinkel leads to him hooking in an abdominal stretch.  Hennig gets to the ropes.  Shoot off and a kitchen-sink kneelift, then another gets two.  Hennig grabs a spinning toehold, but Bockwinkel kicks him off and to the floor.  Hennig is busted open by falling to the concrete.  Bockwinkel slugs at him as he tries to get back into the ring.  Hennig to the apron, where Bockwinkel punches him off.  Nick slams his head onto the apron again, then punches the wound some more.  Hennig back into the ring, where Hennig is just barely hanging on.  A slam into the turnbuckle with seven mintues to go.  Hennig is bleeding a ton now, and both guys are covered in blood.  Bockwinkel punches him down and covers for two.  Hennig tries to fire off some punches but he’s fading and gets punched down for two.  Hennig is selling this amazing.  Hennig hulks up and shoots off Bockwinkel and nails the Big Axe (elbow smash) twice, but he’s not aware enough to make a cover.  Bockwinkel blades too.  Another axe by Hennig but instead of covering he mounts some punches.  Kicks to the face by Hennig with five minutes to go.  Head of steam and another big axe for… nothing as Hennig can’t see due to the blood in his eyes and doesn’t notice that Bockwinkel fell face down, so his pinfall is for zero.  And it turns out that Bockwinkel had a tooth knocked out by one of those shots.  Yep, this match is bad ass.  Ten slams into the corner with three minutes to go.  Suplex by Hennig but he barely has anything left and takes too long to cover for two.  Hennig boxes the ears and hits a kneelift, with two minutes to go.  Running front kick and an elbowdrop gets two.  Figure-four leglock by Hennig, which was likely a bad idea because Bockwinkel holds on until time runs out.
***** One of the best matches I’ve ever seen.  You’ll notice that there was nothing complicated about this match.  Every move was fundamental, every spot was first-term wrestling school stuff.  These guys took basic ingredients and created something better then the sum of it’s parts.  And they actually wrestled the full sixty minutes, unlike Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart who were content to slap on a hold and lay down for five minutes.   This was seriously awesome in more ways then one could describe, and worth the $20 price of the DVD alone.

Match #4
Curt Hennig vs. Terry Taylor
7/31/88 Wrestlefest

Commentary by Michael Cole and Mick Foley.  This was a dark match, and the funny thing is, this is the match that the WWE used to decide who would get the Mr. Perfect gimmick.  Which goes against what was said on the DVD feature.  Lockup and Hennig gets a slam while Foley makes fun of Taylor.  Hennig fights it out a bit but Taylor gets a bunch of dropkicks and Hennig bails.  Back in, lockup and they trade a headlock takedown into a headscissors into a stalemate.  Lockup and Taylor gets an armdrag and a headlock takedown.  Hennig shoots off Taylor and hits a backdrop suplex.  Double sledges to the back of Taylor and a hard whip to the corner.  Meanwhile, Mick Foley relays a story he heard about Hennig using fart spray under the ring while he and the nWo waited for the cue to make a surprise attack.  Funny stuff.  Taylor gets a backslide for two, which only pisses Hennig off.  He slugs Taylor around and does a gripslide takedown.  Love that move.  Shoot off into a sleeper, but Taylor escapes.  Fake out by Taylor on the ropes and he gets a crossbody for two.  Punches to the corner and a shoot off but Hennig springs off the ropes and hits a clothesline… for three?  Weird.
* Not a whole lot of meat here.  Weird choice for the DVD.  I have to chalk this one up to having a ‘cool off’ match like the WWE does when they book a hot undercard match.  Seriously though, this is a DVD.  Don’t do that.

Match #5
Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
4/24/89 Madison Square Garden (taped for home video)

The WWE was testing the waters with Bret here.  This would be aborted singles push #2 for him.  The first coming in 1988 following Wrestlemania IV.  Lockup, nothing.  Lockup, nothing.  Bret was clearly on the gas here.  Major league puffiness.  Lockup, headlock-shootoff by Bret, who hits a shoulderblock and a choppy looking hiptoss.  Lockup and a headlock by Bret.  Shoot off and he hits a shoulderblock, then sidesteps some kind of takedown by Perfect.  Lockup and a headlock by Bret.  Shoot off and Bret gets a crossbody for nothing as he slips off to the apron.  Sunset flip for two, then a headlock takedown.  Perfect to his feet and he gets Bret to the ropes.  Shoot off but Bret grabs a crucifix for two.  Headlock takeover again.  Perfect up and to the ropes, where he shoots off Bret.  Bret catches a kick, takes Perfect down and stomps him in the gut.  Shoot off by Curt to the corner and a slam, but Perfect slams him.  Bret up and he slams Perfect, then slams him face first, then dumps him to the floor with a clothesline.  Bret is still really sloppy here.  Hennig stalls on the outside.  After forever, with Hart doing the “I’m bored” pose in the corner, Hennig gets back in.  They tease a lockup but don’t.  They finally do and Hennig stomps away and hits a super-duper stiff kneelift to take Bret down.  Damn, that looked sick.  More kicking and stuff by Perfect, all stiff as hell, and I wonder if he’s a bit pissed at Bret.  To the outside, where Bret gets thrown back-first into the apron.  Hennig in the ring and Bret gets to the apron, only to get caught and slugged around a bit.  Hennig slings him off the ropes and into the guardrail.  Hennig kicks away at Bret, drags him in the ring, then tosses him out again.  Hennig wants to chase him but the ref stops him.  Bret in the ring, and he slugs it out, but Perfect reverses the whip and Bret eats the turnbuckle face first for two.  Standing dropkick followed by a baseball slide to knock Bret out of the ring again.  Perfect appears to not take Bret very seriously.  Hennig places Bret’s head between his legs and does a neckbreaker style twist from there.  Hennig axes Bret and scoopslams him for two, then hooks in a spinning toehold.  Bret kicks off of it and sends Perfect shoulder-first into the ringpost.  Hennig sells this like death, and the fans go nuts.  Bret goes after the injured shoulder, sending him back to the corner shoulder first.  Bret slugs away at it, then firing off a hammerlock slam.  Legdrop to the injured arm and a keylock by Bret.  He slugs away at the arm and rings him down for some elbows.  Shoot off and Bret goes for another crucifix but Hennig turns it into a samoan drop.  Perfect tries to shake some life back into his arm, then drops some knees in Bret’s back.  His arm is disabled so he chops with the good one.  Shoot off, and both guys fight over an abdominal stretch.  Bret appears to win out, but Perfect hiptosses him.  Shoot off and Perfect rolls him up for two, but Bret’s kickout sends him flying out of the ring.  Plancha by Bret catches Perfect.  In the ring, FIVE MOVES OF DOOM~! time.  Atomic drop and a suplex get two.  Backbreaker and an elbow off the second rope gets… nothing as the bell rings and the time limit is up, thus we have a draw.  Bret challenges Mr. Perfect to five more minutes, but Hennig declines… or not.  He dives back in the ring and when Bret’s back is turned and lays a beating on him.  The match is still over.  Scoopslam by Perfect and he climbs, but Bret catches him and punches him down. Bret kicks at the legs and Perfect is in full pinball mode now.  Hard whip to the corner and then a shoot off the ropes and a backelbow finishes the post-match beating.
***1/4 Pretty good match.  A sign of things to come for sure.  As far as Bret’s aborted pushes go, Bret marks still bitch about them to this day, but the truth is Bret wasn’t very good at this point.  He was rough and uncrisp.  His singles push that worked hit at the right time.  He was ready then.  He wasn’t here.

Match #6: WWE Championship
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. Perfect
1/15/90 Madison Square Garden (taped for home video)

The Genius treats us to a poem dedicated to his man love for Mr. Perfect.  There seem to be audio problems through-out here.  Circle and lockup goes nowhere and Perfect bails.  Lockup #2 and Hogan muscles Perfect into the corner, leading to another bail.  Lockup #3 and Hogan hiplocks Perfect then slams him a couple times and Hennig bails again.  Hogan catches him on the outside and gives him a noggin knocker into the Genius.  He slams both of them into then scoopslams the Genius onto the floor.  He tosses both back in, where they double team him.  Hogan fights back, tosses Hennig into the ropes leading to him being hanged.  He atomic drops the Genius and sends him to the floor, then smacks Perfect around some more, then bails to toss the Genius into the ring post.  Hennig is free so Hogan enters to the ring to smack him around, then elbow him in the corner sending Hennig up and over to the floor.  He catches Hennig and again slams him into the Genius.  Back in, Hogan clotheslines Perfect, then slams him into the turnbuckle.  Hennig has his flying shoes on for this one.  Then again, he had his flying shoes on every match.  Hogan lowers his head on  a shoot off and Perfect clotheslines him down and stomps away.  Hennig chokes at Hogan on the ropes and then slings him off the ropes.  Perfect dumps Hogan to the floor, where the Genius takes his time waiting for the right moment to whack Hogan with his mental clipboard.  It never comes, and so Hennig bails, only to get thrown into the ring post a couple times.  Hennig to the apron where he kicks Hogan and throws him into the ring post.  Hennig climbs but gets caught.  Hennig thumbs Hogan in the eye and drops a sledge on him.  It takes over a few seconds to collapse off the sledge.  Ugh.  Now a sleeper from Hennig.  Hogan tries to fight back so Hennig grounds it to the mat.  This goes on for over two minutes.  Hogan fights back but Perfect leverages him into ramming himself into the turnbuckle.  Hennig jaws with the fans and climbs, but Hogan shakes the ropes to crotch him.  Hogan picks him up by the head and crotches him a few more times in a move you don’t see very often.  Hogan rakes his back then picks him up off the ropes and gives him an atomic drops.  Hogan kicks away at the back of Hennig’s legs, with Perfect overselling it with gusto as only he could.  Hogan goes for an elbowdrop but it misses.  Hennig loads up the Perfect Plex and hits it… for two as it’s HULK UP TIME~!  No-sell, no-sell, no-sell, shaking, no pointing sadly, punch, punch, punch, big boot that knocks Hennig to the floor where they slug it out.  Perfect gets a chair and swings to kill Hogan against the post.  It misses and Hennig stings himself up.  Hennig back in, then Hogan grabs the chair and gets on the apron, where Hennig punches him with brass knucks to knock him out.  I’m thinking it’s a count-out, but it’s not and Hogan gets to the apron.  Hennig misses with the brass knucks, Hogan gets the knucks, knocks out Perfect, and drops the leg.  BUT WAIT~!!  The referee disqualifies Hogan for using the knucks and awards the match to Mr. Perfect.
***1/2 A little better then your typical Hogan match.  It went against the typical structure and they didn’t just go through the motions.  Perfect bumping like a mad-man for him helped.  FUN FACT: The WWE was considering moving the title to him so he could job to the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania 6 instead of Hogan so as not to divide the babyfaces’ fan bases.

Match #7: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Kerry Von Erich vs. Mr. Perfect
11/24/90 Madison Square Garden (taped for home video)

Roddy Piper is the special referee, with the highly underrated Honky Tonk Man on color commentary, along with Jimmy Hart.  Very weird.  Lockup, with Kerry tossing Perfect into the turnbuckle.  Lockup #2 and Piper forces a clean break in the corner.  Another lockup and Hennig grabs some hair, so Piper prevents him from punching Von Erich, allowing Kerry to get a free punch on Curt.  Perfect jaws with Piper, allowing Kerry to grab a wristlock.  Hennig fights back with some chops in the corner, but Kerry fights back with a discus punch to the gut.  Hennig bails and Piper gives him a quick count.  Hennig keeps breaking the count, so Von Erich bails and gives him another discus punch on the outside.  Back in, Kerry pulls Perfect out of the corner and rings his arm up.  Perfect grabs him by the hair and maneuvers him into the corner. Kerry shoots him into the corner but gets reversed and eats it.  Perfect rips off the top turnbuckle pad, then attempts to whip Kerry into it.  Piper stops him and tries to tie it back on.  Perfect is impatient and whips Kerry at it anyway.  Kerry reverses and Piper moves out of the way so Perfect can eat his comeuppance.  Von Erich fumbles his way into slapping on a Boston crab, but he’s too close to the rope and Hennig gets a break.  Shoot to the corner but Perfect gets his foot up and Kerry eats it.  Chops in the corner and a standing dropkick that sends Kerry to the outside.  Von Erich to the apron where Hennig punches him and tries to slam him into the turnbuckle.  Kerry blocks so Perfect opts to kick him off the apron again.  Back in, Perfect shoots him to the corner and grabs a sleeper.  The arm drops twice but Kerry is still alive.  He muscles his way out of the hold and fires off a discus punch, but Perfect sees it coming and counters with his own punch.  Perfect slugs it out in the corner and knees him in the chest.  Small package by Hennig gets two.  Punches to the gut by Von Erich gets no comeback heat from the crowd.  Weird.  Hennig cuts him off anyway, only for Kerry to whip him into Piper.  Piper bumps down but is made of sterner stuff then the average referee so he gets up in time to count for two.  Horrible looking spot where both guys run into each other to cause a double KO.  That looked like poop.  Discus punch by Kerry and he’s feeling good and calls for the claw.  He locks it into Hennig’s skull, but Perfect gets his foot on the rope to draw the break.  Kicks to the gut by Hennig and some chopping.  He goes for a slam but his back gives out and Kerry hooks in the claw again.  This started hot but the pacing is all over the place now and it’s downright messy.  Chop gets two for Hennig.  Back suplex, sprung off the ropes… gets the pin?  What the filth?  It looks like Perfect scored the pin, but Kerry allegedly lifted his shoulder up and wins the match.  I hate any ‘do the move but don’t get your own shoulder up’ ending.  In theory, according to the ‘rules’ of wrestling, only a person executing an offensive move can get a pinfall attempt.  The ‘double suplex with the idiot doing the move getting pinned’ rule is stupid because many moves involve having your own shoulders on the canvas, including Hennig’s Perfect Plex.  I’ve never seen anyone who enjoys this ending, except bookers who don’t want to be original when they fuck the fans over.
** Started okay, got incredibly sloppy by the end.

Match #8: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart
8/26/91 Summerslam

Lockup, nothing.  Another, shoulderblock, hiplock and Perfect slides out of the ring.  Lockup, headlock by Bret.  Shoot off the ropes, and Bret gets a crucifix for two.  Headlock, Curt fights out with a handful of hair, so Bret returns the favor and holds on.  Knee to the gut by Curt, clothesline misses and Bret hits crossbody for two.  Sunset flip for two, and Bret grabs the headlock takeover again.  Mr. Perfect is clearly in pain here.  Chop by Perfect, Bret catches a kick and does his stomp to the gut.  Whip to the ropes, reversed, and Perfect hits a slam, but Bret fights off and hits one of his own and dumps Curt with a clothesline.  Curt’s had enough and he heads to the back, so Bret rips apart Kurt’s singlet and throws him back in the ring.  Bret mounts in Curt in the corner for the 10 punches, but Curt begs off and Bret gets pulled off by the ref.  Lockup to the corner, and Bret is forced to clean break, so Curt throws a big punch, then kicks Bret to the outside.  Chop by Curt on the outside. Bret gets up to the ring apron but gets knocked off by Curt.  Again, and this time Curt whips him far off the ring and into a photographer.  Bret slugs off in the ring, rollup gets two, but Bret gets slugged down to the canvas.  Another whip into the corner, and Curt chops away.  Hard whip to the corner for two.   Perfect Neckbreaker and a bridge for two.  Bret goes to backdrop him but gets kicked in the face, and a dropkick sends Bret flying to the outside.  Slugoff again, and Bret tries to get in the ring but Perfect cuts him off.  They fight up to the top turnbuckle and have a slugoff up there, but Bret gets tied into the rope.  Perfect flops off the top rope onto Bret for two.  Into a corner, and Curt bitchslaps Bret a couple time, then hits a nasty looking hair-whip.  Curt snags the biggest sleeper I’ve ever seen in my life, nearly breaking Bret’s neck putting it on.  Christ man, ease up.  Bret goes for another crucifix but Curt turns it into a Samoan Drop for two.  Chops to the corner, and Curt gets a huge whip into the corner, with Bret spraining his neck upon impact, for two.  Perfectplex… gets two.  First time anyone kicked out of it (unless you count Hogan).  Atomic drop, atomic drop, headbutt, hairwhip posts Hennig.  Suplex gets two.  Smallpackage gets two.  Russian Legsweep gets two.  Backbreaker, elbowdrop off the second rope gets two.  Rollup by Perfect gets two.  They fight to the outside, and Bret throws Curt into the post.  Back in the ring, Bret starts kicking the legs.  Sharpshooter attempt, but the Coach distracts Bret.  Perfect sneaks up with a lowblow.  Legdrop, another legdrop, but Bret catches the legdrop for the sharpshooter and the ref rings the bell before the hold is even on, not because the ending was botched but because Curt’s back couldn’t take the move.
**** Great match, lots of drama, good pacing, but the psychology was spotty.

Match #9: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect
8/30/93 Summerslam

This was hyped as the greatest IC championship match of all time months before it ever happened.  With as much hype as they gave it, there was no way it could ever live up to expectations.  And hell, given what the ending is, the WWE was really scummy to make people get so worked up here.  Lockup and Shawn takes him down by the arm.  Circle and lockup leads to Hennig taking Shawn down with a hammerlock into a snapmare.  Lockup #3 leads to Shawn getting a headlock.  Shoot off attempt but Michaels holds onto the head.  Shoot off and both guys botch their end of an armdrag, with Shawn landing face first.  Hennig tries to cover by kneeing at Shawn in the back, then holding onto a hammerlock.  They trade it a few times, with Shawn sprining off the ropes then missing an elbow and we have a standstill.  Lockup and Shawn takes Perfect to the corner to slug it out.  Chops by Perfect and then we have another miscommunication that leads to an ackward looking back elbow by Michaels.  Shawn springs off the ropes allowing Hennig to hit a weak looking clothesline, oversold by Shawn for two.  Armbar by Hennig, but Shawn takes him to the corner with some shoulderblocks.  Whip to the corner but Hennig misses a charge.  He climbs but Hennig armdrags him off the top, then fires off another armdrag for two.  Back to the armbar, which goes on too long.  Shoot off ends with Hennig catipulting Shawn over the top and to the floor.  Perfect bails to take it on the outside, but gets distracted by Diesel.  When he turns around, Shawn hits him with the superkick (pre-finisher) and then comes off the apron with a sledge.  Back in, Shawn knees Perfect in the back and drops nearly a dozen elbows.  He struts around the ring, then gives Hennig a hard whip to the corner.  Big clubbing blows to the back, then another hard whip to the corner.  Shawn stands on the injured back of Mr. Perfect, then drops his weight on it.  Backbreaker into a submission, but Hennig fights back.  Shoot off leads to a beautiful dropkick by Hennig, then a backdrop.  Hennig hits a kneelift and an atomic drop for two.  Chopping by Hennig and a shoot off into a clothesline for two.  They fight over a backslide, but instead Hennig hits the Perfect Plex for two as Diesel pulls him out of the ring.  Hennig fights off Diesel, then stops Shawn from dropping a sledge off the ropes.  Diesel recovers and rams Perfect into the ring post, leading to him getting counted out.
* After months of crushing hype, the WWE released the Phantom Menace in wrestling form.  Shawn Michaels has since attributed it matching up two guys who’s best trait was making their opponent look good.  That theory doesn’t sit well with me.  I mean, Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect shouldn’t be able to have a good match with each other, and yet they had many.  The truth is they just had no chemistry together.  Additionally, their timing was horrible and many spots were blown right at the beginning of the match.  No pacing, no flow, no psychology, no selling really… just a huge mess.

Match #10
Bret Hart vs. Curt Hennig
3/15/98 WCW Uncensored

We close out Mr. Perfect’s DVD set with an example of what was wrong with Bret Hart’s run in WCW.  After being handed a golden oppertunity to make Bret the most sympathetic babyface on the roster, they waste their time with stuff like this instead of giving Bret a shove at the top guys in the nWo.  In reality, the WCW simply reverted back to what they usually did when WWE guys jumped ship before the nWo angle started: rehash all their old WWE feuds.  In this case, they tried to bring back the magic that Hennig and Hart had.  Except of course, that magic was from the early 90s and now instead of being the arrogant, unbeatable Mr. Perfect, Curt Hennig was just a low guy on the nWo totem pole.  Both guys were past their prime here and this feud had been already been played.  Before this, Bret was feuding with Ric Flair.  He never really got to face anyone fresh for the first year in the company.

To the match.  Curt steals a Canadian Flag from a fan at ringside, then does nothing with it.  Well that’s… heelish I guess.  Hennig isn’t even wearing the nWo colors, and neither is his manager, Rick Rude.  Why even bother having him in the faction?  Lockup, nothing.  But Hennig does bitch that Bret’s hair is too greasy.  Lockup and a side-headlock takeover by Bret.  To their feet, Bret gets a shoulderblock and another headlock.  Hennig pulls the hair to escape it.  To the corner where Hennig chops away, only to be tossed in the corner and hit with another headlock takeover.  Hennig again pulls at the hair to escape.  Ugh.  Shoulderblock by Bret and then a throw by Bret, leading to Perfect bailing.  Rude gives Perfect some words of encouragement.  Hennig already looks gassed.  Hennig to the apron, where Bret slams his head into the turnbuckle and goes for a suplex.  Hennig flops out of it, only to get caught in the sharpshooter in the center of the ring.  Rick Rude runs in and punches Bret, and somehow the referee doesn’t see it.  Bret sells the punch like death.  Hennig ties up Bret’s leg and drops his weight on it.  Hennig springs over the ropes and drops his weight on the leg again, then kicks at it in the corner.  Rick Rude gets his shots in while Perfect distracts the ref.  To the post, where Hennig rings Bret’s leg.  More distracting the ref while Rude really torques on Bret’s leg against the post.  Hennig grabs Bret by the hair and slings him to the mat.  He smacks Bret a few more times and slaps on the figure four.  Rude adds leverage, while Bret survives a few near falls.  The ref catches Hennig cheating and makes him break.  He goes back to stomping at the knee, but Bret fights back in the corner.  Hennig with a lowblow, and it’s uncensored so it’s NO DQ… makes you wonder why Rude couldn’t help him then… and more stomping at the knee.  Hennig with a stepover toehold.  Legdrop between the legs by Hennig, then a scoopslam.  He climbs, but Bret pops up and crotches him.  Bret kicks away at the leg, then slings Hennig down by the hair, leading to him getting crotched on the post.  Atomic drop, clothesline, and a small package gets two.  Russian legsweep gets two.  Bulldog gets two.  Backbreaker and the elbowdrop off the second rope gets two.  Fans have been cold through out this whole match.  Hennig reverses a whip and sends Bret into the corner.  Hennig loads up the Perfect Plex but it only gets two.  Fans pop for that.  Rude on the apron so Bret can send Hennig into him and roll him up, but Hennig reverses and grabs the tights… for two.  Sunset flip attempt by Hennig is countered into the sharpshooter and Perfect taps before Rude can save.  After the match, Bret gets beatdown by these members of Hogan’s part of the nWo.  So naturally Bret would join them a few weeks later.
*** Not bad but the crowd was cold and these two could never have hoped to bring back the magic they once had at this stage of their careers.

BOTTOM LINE: In some ways I’m disappointed.  Of the ten matches you only get one that’s five stars (though it’s one of the best matches ever) and one that is four stars.  Everything else ranges from okay to awful.  The documentry is intresting but a little obnoxious on how they spend no time focusing on what Curt Hennig threw away to drugs.  I’m giving it a mild thumbs up but this DVD is far, far removed from perfect.

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DVD Review: Wrestlemania XXIII Wed, 22 Apr 2009 16:00:24 +0000 April 1, 2007 from Detroit, MI

It takes ten mother fucking minutes to get to the first match. The stage is kind of lame.

Match #1: Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Jeff Hardy vs. King Booker vs. Finlay vs. CM Punk vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Randy Orton vs. Edge

Everyone stares in awe at the briefcase to start, then it turns into a big brawl. Nearly fifty-year-old Finlay ends up hitting a cross body off the top and to the floor on everyone. Everyone but Edge that is, who sets up a ladder but gets caught by Matt. Orton then climbs but Finlay catches him and they brawl on the ladder, tipping it over. Jeff climbs and manages to touch the case but gets caught by Kennedy. Booker pulls out a step ladder and is all agast. A ladder is prepped between the apron and the guardrail, but Punk blocks a suplex on it and hits one of his own on Edge on the floor. In the ring, Booker goes nuts. He takes out Matt Hardy with some knees to the gut, spinebusters Orton, superkicks Kennedy, spinebusters Punk, then spinebusters Finlay. He’s acting like a babyface despite being a heel and the fans don’t know how to react. Jeff whacks him with a ladder. Matt in with a side effect to Edge. They prep some ladders to do a catipult on Edge to mangle him like they did Joey Mercury, but Finlay saves Edge, who suplexes Matt on the catipult. Kennedy places Matt on a ladder but misses the Kenton bomb and kills his neck. Jeff shows him how to do the move properly. The Hardys wipe out everyone with a ladder clothesline. They both climb for the case, with Jeff almost getting it. Finlay tips them over. Clotheslines for all by Finaly, then Edge comes in and it’s spears for all. CM Punk is last but he leap frogs his spear and Edge eats the corner. Whirly-bird by Punk, a spot a detest. Edge hates it too and spears Punk, taking him out along with Orton and Finaly. Big ladder is pulled out. Edge climbs but Orton pushes it over. Reverse falcon arrow by Jeff Hardy to Randy Orton, and he preps the big ladder. BUT WAIT~!! Instead of trying to win the match, Matt puts Edge on the ladder prepped between the ring and the apron and Jeff drops a leg on him off the twenty-footer onto Edge. Both guys sell it like death. I’m sure it felt like it. Replays confirm it’s brutality. JBL is freaking out on commentary on how dumb Jeff is. Match stops for like three or four minutes, then comes back with Orton hitting RKOs on everyone. Orton preps the ladder and climbs but it wasn’t even under the case. Ugh. Punk does the same thing, and it’s even further away from the case.

This is one of the major things I hate about ladder matches, doing spots that involve the ladder anywhere that doesn’t make sense in the context of winning the match. In this case, Orton needed more room to hit an RKO off the top of the ladder. Fans pop, I could care less. Booker up and he hits the Bookend on Orton off the top. He positions the ladder under the case, but Matt stops him. Sharmell in to stop Matt, so he holds her hostage by threatening to hit the Twist of Fate on her. Booker gets down (JBL freaks out again on commentary) and eats the Twist of Fate himself. Matt climbs but Finaly tips him over and Matt takes a fairly sick bump off of it. Finaly is bleeding from the top of the head and over his eye. Celtic Cross to Matt on the Ladder, which hurt Finaly as much as Matt. Finlay tries to recover but is out of it, so Hornswaggle comes in and offers to get the case for him. As he gets to the top, Kennedy finally shows up to wipe out Finlay and climb. Hornswaggle slaps Kennedy a few times, only to eat the Green Bay Plunge off the ladder. Finaly wipes out Kennedy and climbs, but Punk dropkicks him off the ladder. Punk climbs, but Kennedy stops him. Kennedy gets knocked off, but lances Punk in the face with another ladder. Kennedy climbs and gets the briefcase to a huge face pop.
*** Some pretty cool spots ruined by horrible pacing and your average nonsensical ladder match shit. In my opinion, having a nearly four-minute long break in the middle of a match with eight people is stupid. I get that they were trying to emphasize that Edge was hurt and that it was important to sell it, but come on. It’s a ladder match. Fans don’t want or need the time to digest the biggest spot in the match. They want more. And I’m so sick of spots that makes the wrestlers look retarded. “Oh, I’ll climb for the briefcase by putting the ladder six feet away from it.” It’s illogical and telegraphs spots that should be more spontaneous. That said, I liked the big spot by Jeff Hardy (which was more spontaneous then previous Jeff Hardy big drops from Wrestlemanias past), the strings of finishing moves hit and the unique ways they were used in the match. The fans are happy and it was a good way to open the show.

And it’s Wrestlemania so we eat up time by showing the stuff from the premier of the Condemned. Every person who ordered this show already saw this shit for weeks on end on Raw, Smackdown, and ECW.  Speaking of the Condemned… I actually thought it was okay.  Certainly better then half the shit that passes for action movies these days.

Meanwhile, Kennedy brags up winning Money in the Bank and threatens to cash it in at any time. Unless of course he gets injured, but what are the odds on that happening. It’s not like he’s injured every two weeks or anything. Heh heh, no worries.

Match #2
The Great Khali vs. Kane

Kill me. Even the pyro doesn’t give a shit, as part of the flaming pentagram that was part of Kane’s entrance doesn’t work right. JR says this should be a hard hitting match. Yeah right. Kane gets knocked over a couple times by Khali. Kane tries to punch him down but ends up getting thrown to the ground. Hangman by Kane but it still doesn’t work. Clothesline by Khali, who always looks like he’s going to trip over his own feet. Scoopslam by Khali, who grabs a nerve pinch. Wow, almost two minutes in. Time for a rest hold. Punches and headbutts by Khali and some kicks in the corner. Backelbow that was embarrassingly weak by Khali, then a blatant choke. Kane avoids a charge or sorts and punches Kane in the corner. Khali casually swats him off. Splash in the corner by Kane and the flying clothesline but it still doesn’t knock Khali down. Big boot causes Khali to get tied up in the ropes, Andre the Giant style. Kane throws a ton of punches at Khali. Jim Ross: “Kane delivers straight right hands to the unprotected… and rather ugly head… of the Great Khali.” The fat man who’s face is paralyzed by Bells Palsy said that. Kane grabs a hook on a chain like his character in See No Evil, presumably to murder Khali. Khali decides that selling death would be too complicated and hits the big brain chop to the knock Khali down. He rips one of the turn buckle pads off, but Kane crotches him using the chain. LOOK AT THIS… HE SLAMMED HIM! Sorry, channeling Wrestlemania 3 there. Kane scoopslams Khali and goes for the chokeslam, but it’s not going to work. Tree slam by Khali finishes. .
*1/2 Honestly it wasn’t that bad. Not great or anything, but considering my low expectations it went about as good as it could have.

After the match, Khali strangles Kane with a chain.

Meanwhile, Cryme Tyme tries to cheer up Eugene, who had his head shaved on Raw by Vince McMahon, with strippers… excuse me, WWE Divas. Eugene ignores them and heads towards Mae Young and Moolah, making her final Wrestlemania apperence. He’s joined by Slick, Dusty Rhodes, IRS, Jimmy Hart, Jerry Brisco, Sgt. Slaughter, Ricky Steamboat, Ron Simmons, and on and on.

Hey, speaking of strangulation…

Match #3: United States Championship
(c) Chris Benoit vs. MVP

Benoit’s final Wrestlemania before he went cookoo for cocopuffs. Long lockup, then Benoit takes him down with a head scissors. MVP counters with a cross-leg breaker, then floats over into a headlock. Shoulderblock by MVP, then Benoit goes for a german suplex. MVP blocks it and dumps Benoit to the floor. Benoit back in and MVP jaws in his face, so Benoit quickly takes him down and tries to put on a sharpshooter, then the crossface, but MVP blocks both and gets to the ropes. Benoit with another takedown but MVP counters again and gets a fireman’s carry into a headlock, but Benoit turns it into an armbar. We get a rope break. I can’t stress enough how good JBL is at putting over MVP here on commentary. MVP charges in the corner but runs into an elbow. Benoit puts MVP on the top rope and tries for a superplex, but MVP dives off the top and to the floor, taking Benoit’s arm out of his socket. Snapmare by MVP and a kick to the back gets two. Benoit ducks a clothesline and Benoit fires off three germans. He climbs but MVP catches him and fires off superplex, but Benoit catches his feet around MVP’s legs causes a pin attempt for two. MVP posts Benoit and rolls him up for two. Back suplex gets two and two. Keylock which looks relatively weak, but at least it’s not a chinlock. MVP shoots him off and fires off a big boot, but Benoit holds onto the ropes. Benoit then charges but MVP fires off the boot again and it hits. Awesome stuff. MVP goes for a slam but Benoit takes him down and goes for the crossface. MVP fights off his attempt and smacks him down. Scoopslam by MVP and the free throw elbow gets two. Running boot in the corner misses and Benoit fires off a few more germans. MVP blocks a third one and goes for his own german suplex, but then shoots him off instead. Benoit spins around him and fires off three more germans. Big pop for that. Eight germans in one match though, jesus christ. Forget about what he did to his family for a second. Benoit had neck fusion surgery. Someone should have really discouraged him from firing off that many germans in one match. He did that ALL THE TIME. It’s amazing he could still walk. Benoit climbs and fires off the flying headbutt… for the pin. Fans did not see that working and go quiet for the ending for a second, then pop. Funny stuff.
***1/2 Pretty good match.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump demands Boogeyman get him some food. “What a place this is” says Trump with about as much enthusism as a guy who loses a bar bet and is forced to saw off his pinky toe.  How I miss that toe.

Match #4: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Batista vs. The Undertaker

Wow, really? They’re below the ECW match on the card? And the women’s championship match with the talentless Ashley in it? Well, I guess the idea behind it was Shawn Michaels should be in the main event because he’s the best ever and all that, and besides, everyone knows what the *real* main event is… the one with Vince McMahon standing at ringside. Both Batista and Undertaker were furious about the placement on the card, and rightfully so. It makes their championship match seem bush league. On a side note, I absolutely LOVED the Undertaker’s entrance here, and wish that miserable talentless fuckwit producer Kevin Dunn had decided to focus on it. Of course, Dunn is a total knuckledragging retard and spent most of the time focusing on Batista’s face. Still, I loved the fact that they killed all the lowers LCD screens and titantrons and made it look like Undertaker was walking out of a door from nowhere. Reminded me of the Twilight Zone.

Batista slugs it out in the corner to start, apparently never having watched an Undertaker match. Undertaker has had approximately 5,000,000 matches in the WWE. In 4,999,995 of them, someone tried to slug it out in the corner with him to start, only to get reversed and slung into the corner themselves. Sure enough, Batista is tossed into the corner and punched around. It’s right up there with trying to powerbomb Billy Kidman. I’ve seen guys who have never attempted a powerbomb in their career suddenly decide to give it a whirl while matched up against a guy who apparently is an expert in reversing powerbombs. What the fuck? Was there some kind of bet going in the back… you pay $5 and have to land a powerbomb on Kidman, with the first person actually doing it collecting the entire pot or something?

Or perhaps it was something more sinister. Perhaps Kidman was working with the reptilian people and the Illumanti secret government, using floride in water to somehow hypnotize his opponents into trying a powerbomb on him. Having spent his entire training learning the ancient secrets of powerbomb reversal handed down from the Knights Templar, Kidman needed to insure that even those who had never attempted a powerbomb in their life try so then, because it proved that the New World Order (not the Hall/Nash/Hogan variety) has succeeded in their plan for world domination.


*technical difficulties*

Hi, this is Charlie Reneke. For real. The proceeding rant was just a joke. There is no global conspiracy. The reptilian overlords are our friends and do not exist. The Illuminati does not even watch WWE (they prefer MMA) and would never train anyone in the art of countering any move. Besides, they don’t exist either. I will try to be more professional in the future. I will restart the review of this match now.

Batista slugs away at Undertaker in the corner, but Undertaker reverses and slugs it out himself which in no way was part of the master plan by our reptilian overlords who do not exist. Batista actually reverses Undertaker again and shoulderblocks him in the corner to huge boos. Shoot to the opposite corner and a clothesline, then another that dumps Taker to the floor. Huge heat on Batista for everything he does. Undertaker drags Batista to the floor and slugs it out, but Batista slams him around. Batista slings him into the stairs and Taker takes a nasty bump off of it. Batista throws him in the ring and climbs. He actually hits a flying shoulderblock off the top for two. Funny enough, the crowd is so cold to Batista that they don’t react at all to what is a shocking move for him to pull off. Big boot by Taker but Batista bounces off of it then explodes with a clothesline for two. This match just got going and it’s already kicking all kinds of ass. Totally non-traditional style Undertaker match. Scoopslam by Batista. Rapid fire punches by Undertaker, but Batista slugs it out back. The crowd does that hilarious “YEAH!” “BOO!” stuff. Big running splash in the corner by Taker, then another. Snake eyes and the running big boot totally connects. Fans are nuts for Undertaker. Legdrop gets two. Rope walk hits for Undertaker, and he calls for the chokeslam, but Batista fights it off and knees him in the gut. Taker botches a flying clothesline a bit but hitting Batista with his full body and almost not completing the flip on it. That could have ended badly. It wasn’t horrible looking or anything. To the floor, Batista gets rammed into the stairs, then elbowed in the throat on the apron. Legdrop on the apron makes Batista slide to the floor in a nice looking spot. No hands plancha, perhaps the best looking one of Undertaker’s career, hits big time. I fucking love this match. Taker slams him into the guardrail, then breaks up the count. Batista reverses a whip on the floor and sends Undertaker through a bunch of chairs and into the time keeper’s table, nearly killing Lillian Garcia in the process. Batista plays his role as an animal perfectly, prepping the table in brutal fashion, wiping out announcers and cameramen tossing shit around. I mean, when the table prepping is awesome, you know you have something special going. He preps two tables, and I’m all set to deduct points for telegraphing a powerbomb attempt that’s countered into a backdrop through a table. Instead, Batista hoists Taker up on his shoulder and jumps off one table, powerslamming Undertaker through another. This match is kicking all kinds of ass. Batista fetches Undertaker and rolls him in the ring for two. Batista is seriously freaking out. He loads up the powerbomb but Taker drives him into the corner and hits some big reverse elbows. Taker tries to whip Batista into the corner but gets caught in a belly to belly suplex for two. Ten punch by Batista which is of course countered into the wedgie bomb for two. Another spot that was done in every match since Taker started using the move. But again, the reptillian overlords are your friends and don’t exist. Spinebuster by Batista and he’s seriously spazzing out. Taker ducks a clothesline and hits a chokeslam for two. Taker calls for the end and goes for the tombstone, but Batista hits a spear and the loaded powerbomb… for two. Nobody really bought it as the finish, and that’s the problem with the winning streak. In theory, the fans should be worried that it’s going to end. Instead, they just buy every Undertaker match at Wrestlemania as a foregone conclusion. Batista goes for a powerslam but Taker tosses him into the turnbuckle and hits the tombstone piledriver for the pin and the title.
****3/4 Awesome match, lacking a something I can’t quite put my finger on to make it perfect. They seem to have lost their steam during the finishing sequence, and that might be it. And by the way, this is an example of making the best of a bad situation. NOBODY thought this match would be any good going into it, including those who put together the match order for this show. Instead of sulking or dogging it, Batista and Undertaker tore the house down to show them the error of their ways. Upon returning to the back, Batista said “FOLLOW THAT!” to anyone who was present, including Shawn Michaels. Shawn is of course famous for saying that same line.

Meanwhile, Stephanie and Vince have a moment with her kid, complete with impossible “from the baby’s point of view” camera. Vince’s baby talking about all the bad stuff he’s going to do to Donald Trump is hilarious.

Match #5
Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, & Rob Van Dam vs. Marcus Cor Von, Kevin Thorn, Matt Striker, & Elijah Burke

Within months, everyone on the ECW Originals team would be gone from the company, except Tommy Dreamer. Today, only Dreamer is still active in the WWE, and Matt Striker too if you count announcers. Amazing how quickly ECW became… not ECW. Sabu starts with Matt Striker. Three straight springboard moves get one for Sabu. Sandman gets the tag and drops a leg off the top for two. Burke tags in only to eat a shitty looking armdrag from Sandman. Tag to Dreamer and a double elbow to Burke. Ariel distracts the ref, allowing the heels on the apron to wipe him out. Tag to Marcus Cor… fuck it… Monty Brown, who brawls Dreamer into the corner and slugs it out. Butterfly suplex and a tag to Burke for a double teamed backdrop. Burke hits the flying knee in the corner for two as Sabu saves. Tag to Thorn who gets a clothesline, then hooks in a chinlock. It’s a fucking eight man tag match and we’re doing a chinlock? Dreamer tries to fight back but runs into a modified thunder bomb for two. Tag to Monty who kicks away then fires off a vertical suplex with a float over for two. Then back to the chinlock. Again, it’s an eight-man tag match, and even if it only lasts a few seconds, it’s still a rest hold. Monty goes for a slam but Dreamer flips around to hook in a reverse DDT. Burke runs in to stop it but Dreamer hooks in one on him as well and nails both at the same time. Not as cool as it sounds. Tag to Striker, hot tag to RVD. He kicks Striker around and climbs, but instead of five-starring him, he hits a flying kick to Thorn. Monkey flip and rolling thunder to Striker but Brown pulls him out and hits a clothesline on the floor. Sabu hits a suicide plancha… that almost was suicide as Sabu basically landed on the back of his neck doing it. What a fucking nut. Both Tazz and Joey Styles cringe and laugh under their breath. Dreamer in with a DDT to Striker. Dreamer celebrates a little too soon and Burke dumps him. Sandman with a cactus clothesline taking both to the floor. In the ring, five star frogsplash to Striker finishes.
** Not bad, would have gone higher if not for the chinlocks or if the heels had any decent offense. Quite frankly, Striker and Thorn weren’t ready for pay per view at this point.

Match #6: The *REAL* Main Event
Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga
Special Referee: Steve Austin
Special Stipulation: If Umaga wins, Donald Trump shaves his head. If Lashley wins, Vince McMahon shaves his head.
Special Education: The class those that thought Umaga would win attended.

The barber’s chair gets it’s own entrance, with theme music and entrance video. I can’t believe how much time they spent building this match. Big “THIS IS STUPID” sign is seen right at ringside. Couldn’t agree more. Jim Ross talks about all the media at ringside. They’re all wearing WWE T-Shirts and look surprisingly like other photographers that are usually present at pay per views… but I guess WWE employees with cameras count as the media. Trump gets basically no reaction from the crowd, despite the fact that actual money is raining down from the ceiling. Well, not a LOT of money, but what’s there are $100 bills.

I’m actually kind of sickened that some smart wrestling fans were hyped for this. The ending was a foregone conclusion and although Umaga proved himself to be more then capable in the ring after his series with John Cena, Lashley had not yet had anything resembling a decent match. Granted, I was wrong about Undertaker vs. Batista, but those were two guys with experience in delivering good matches in these type of situations. Additionally, Donald Trump had proven himself to not exactly be someone wrestling fans related to. He didn’t carry himself like a huge fan of the business or someone with a vested interest in the shows he appeared on. Nobody bought for one second he was shaving his head. I understand that he gave his fee for appearing here to charity, and that’s admirable, but ultimately it did nothing for the show. Wrestlemania is always the top drawing pay per view of the year for the company, but even non-wrestling fans and the most dense of marks didn’t believe for one second that Trump was losing. Any non-fan who might have wanted to see Trump bald wasn’t going to pony up $50 to sit and watch professional wrestling. They could have waited for highlights to be shown on Inside Edition or Entertainment Tonight or something. Of course, once Trump was spared from the clippers those shows had no intrest in showing McMahon get cut, because Vince McMahon isn’t that big a deal outside of wrestling. If the WWE wanted post-show coverage from mainstream programming, they should have found someone willing to shave their head and cut a check. There are not a lot of ways for WWE to get mainstream coverage. If you exclude a former world champion going nuts and murdering his family there are even fewer.

When the WWE was at it’s height of popularity, they landed big time stars. Mr. T when he was at his most popular. Cyndi Lauper when she was at her most popular. The WWE has since progressively gotten behind the curve. They’ve used athletes like Lawrence Taylor and Floyd Mayweather who didn’t move the numbers, even if the matches delivered better then one would hope. They’ve used ring announcers like Burt Reynolds who gets drunk and slurs out the introductions, or valets who don’t show up to participate in the angles leading to the show like Pamala Anderson. Hell, the one time in recent years they got a star to participate, it was Drew Carey and it wasn’t planned ahead of time. He entered the Royal Rumble with no build prior to the event. I’ve heard they paid him only marginally and the whole thing was thrown together on the day of the show, but it still makes my point. WWE is not like WCW. If given access to the proper celebrities, they likely could give them a decent angle and not turn the whole business into a parody like WCW did with Jay Leno or Master P. WWE proved I’m right this year with Mickey Rourke. The only problem is Rourke backed out. If he had agreed, they clearly had the best celebrity angle they’ve ever done, even if he only did one or two Raws leading up to the big show. I’m not against celebrity angles. Hell, I want to see them. Because I trust the WWE to not botch them. If the Donald Trump angle sucked, it’s because it had Donald Trump in it, who wasn’t going to wrestle nor was he going to shave his head and everyone knew it. His presence is not going to increase buy-rates because he’s just going to stand around. People can see him do more then that for free on NBC.

So the solution to the celebrity problem is two fold: one, the WWE needs to spend money, and two, also spend it wisely. I for one actually liked the Mayweather angle even if the WWE botched the babyface/heel aspects of the feud. But the problem is the only person who Mayweather would appeal to is boxing fans, and those boxing fans who did not watch wrestling before are not going to order a show to see him in a fake match. They are more likely to spend their pay per view money on their sport of choice: boxing. So the WWE spent a lot of money on Mayweather when he had basically no chance of moving the needle up. The WWE could have spent the money elsewhere. Here’s an idea: actors are shaving their heads all the time for movie roles. The WWE should call up as many Hollywood agents as possible and put the word out that if there’s an actor doing so for a part, the WWE will pay them a couple million bucks to do a one-month long angle with the WWE, amounting to four total appearances on their program and climaxing with them getting their head shaved. Pie in the sky you say? I say that if the price is right, I bet they find a lot of people receptive to it. If the WWE wants main-stream attention, they’re going to have to find an actor who’s willing to get his ass kicked or get humiliated by the company. Someone more mainstream then Jackass actors or sports stars. I have hope, I really do.

Back to the match. Lashley gets a modest reaction from the crowd. He wanders around the stage like he can’t decide what to do or where to stand for his pyro. I hear he’s a nice guy but I really don’t think he was cut out for wrestling. It’s for that reason that I think he’s found a good home in TNA, which I would actually describe as ‘wrestling’ these days, as opposed to wrestling without the sarcastic quotes.  Lashey’s biggest problems in the WWE were proper selling and charisma.  Well in TNA, selling is totally optional, and the company is run by Jeff Jarrett, who is as far removed from charismatic as Bret Hart is from reality.  That would be pretty far for you especially thick readers out there.

Anyway, just to show you how bad off this match is, the guest referee enters last.

After over sixteen minutes of recap videos and entrances, we finally get to what we’ve been waiting for: stalling. Actually, they don’t stall for long, as both guys slug it out, with Lashley slugging away in the corner and Umaga already looking gassed. Austin pulls Lashley off of Umaga. Umaga misses a splash in the corner and Lashley hits a shoulderblock off the top for two as Umaga get a foot on the rope. Horrible beginning to the match, as they’re already doing what should be considered big spots and getting no reaction for them. Lashley drags Estrada into the ring, cigars flying everywhere, and powerslams him. Umaga charges at Lashley only to get low-bridged. Umaga tumbles over the top and lands on his back in a sick bump. Umaga shows concern for Estrada but McMahon tells him to get back in the ring. Lashley brawls Umaga around but gets side-stepped on a charge, flying between the ropes and out of the ring in another sick bump that was used way too early. Back in, Umaga hits a big splash for two. Blatant choke on the ropes, then another so Austin pulls him off by the hair. Sick looking clothesline by Umaga likely tweeked Lashley’s jaw. No follow up to it, as Umaga paces the ring. Umaga drops his weight on Lashley a few times. Bobby tries to fight back, drawing some boos as the fans are more intrested in seeing Trump lose his hair (another flaw with the angle), but Umaga hits a Samoan Drop for… nothing as again he doesn’t cover. Jesus christ, what a poorly structured match. Lashley goes for a slam but Umaga falls on top for two. McMahon on the ring apron, only for Lashley to knock him off. McMahon can’t even bump off of it. What a disaster this match is. Umaga takes Lashley down with a clutch face buster. Again, no cover. Instead, Umaga walks around a bit and climbs, but Lashley catches him and tosses him off. Running forearm knocks Umaga head over heels, Mr. Perfect style. Austin goes to count both guys out but stops at nine. Another horrible spot. These guys haven’t even done that much to warrant a double KO spot that would be good enough for a ten count. Words cannot describe what a disaster this match has turned into. BUT WAIT~!! Shane McMahon is out to check on his dad. Well, at least someone is here who knows how to have a decent match, other then the referee of course. Umaga slugs Lashley around. Blatant choke but Austin pulls him off by the eye socket. Shane McMahon enters the ring, causing Austin to chase him off. He turns around only to eat the taped thumb. Shane comes in to punch Lashley around. Lashley tries to fight back but Umaga cuts him off. McMahon is too his feet and it’s three on one. Donald Trump is just sitting around watching while this shit goes down. Shane sets Lashley up with a garbage can in the corner and hits the Van Terminator. Trump just watches. Shouldn’t he have logically shook the ropes or something? Nope. Shane then takes off his shirt to reveal a referee’s uniform. Austin apparently still selling the taped thumb. Umaga climbs and hits a big splash off the top, and Shane does a normal count, for two. So if Shane is the evil heel referee who’s father’s hair is on the line, why not just do a fast count? Austin of course pulls him out before he gets to three and tosses Shane into the stairs. Austin gets hit in the throat by Umaga. Finally, Trump gets involved by spearing McMahon down and punching him. In the ring, Umaga goes for the thumb on Austin again, but instead eats the KICK WHAM ROYAL RUMBLE SPECIAL EDITION STUNNER~!! on Umaga.

For those of you that don’t know, the ROYAL RUMBLE SPECIAL EDITION STUNNER~!! is what I call it when Steve Austin gives someone the stunner only for the guy who eats it to instantly pop up to a standing position.  It’s called that because Austin used this move a few times over the course of various Royal Rumbles.  I don’t mind it, but I wish the announcers had  put over what a technical marvel Austin must be to know exactly how to use the move and cause his opponents to spring right up to their feet so Austin can quickly dump them over the ropes instead of having to dead-lift up their lifeless body to eliminate them.  Clearly Austin trained for years to perfect this move, as by the 2001 and especially 2002 Royal Rumbles, he was able to use it on all wrestlers great and small.  No doubt taught to him by those sneaky lizard overlords.  Damn them!

Wait, why use the Royal Rumble stunner? Ah, so Lashley could spear him for the pin. And just to complete this colossal abortion of a match, the bell rings before Austin finishes the count, ringing on two. Wow. That really says it all.
DUD One of the very worst Wrestlemania matches of all time. A total lack of psychology and pacing combined with a horrible match structure and some really badly conceived spots. Even the two big bumps at the start were not worth a crap because they were used too soon. Umaga and Lashley had no chemistry together. So naturally there were a dozen or so televised rematches.

After the match, Shane eats a stunner. Austin, Lashley, and Trump celebrate instead of grabbing McMahon. He casually starts to walk away, but Lashley catches him. Jim Ross marvels how a young, fit man could catch sixty-something Vince McMahon. KICK WHAM STUNNER~! to Vince McMahon and it’s time to put him in the chair. He’s strapped into the chair. And I’ll be damned, the clippers actually work. And hell, they don’t just use clippers, they use actual razors to go all the way to the scalp. Vince uses a pathetically fake cry. He’s actually quiet lucky to have not gotten any shaving cream in his eye. Of course, they could have had a towel to wipe the shit off his face. As Vince pathetically walks away, Donald Trump eats a KICK WHAM STUNNER~! He has no idea how to take it and clearly didn’t practice, so he takes the bump on his knees. Austin laughs it off. Fans want to pop but really can’t because it looks so bad. Lawler notes that every hair is still in place.

Match #7: Women’s Championship, Lumberjack Match
(c) Melina vs. Ashley

This was pretty much the high point of Ashley’s career. Having gotten into the WWE by winning the Diva Search, She ended up being cast on Survivor: China. The only way she could have embarrassed the company more is if she had killed her family. Second voted off, after showing no athletic ability and being pretty much as lazy and unmotivated as possible. Then again, that’s pretty much what she was like when she wrestled. Needless to say, she was gone from the WWE shortly after the show aired. I actually had high hopes for her as a wrestler as she seemed to have had a good time while she was out there and she was hot… at least when she first started. I lost intrest around the time she started wearing the lip rings. That’s one thing I never got about girls. I don’t get how it’s supposed to be attractive. It makes you look retarded. Like someone with downs syndrome was handed a staple gun for shits and giggles and the lip piercing was the result.

To the match. Ashley mounts some horrible looking punches to start. Melina bails but is tossed back in the ring where Ashley hits a horrible looking school boy for two. Melina slings her into the ropes and then chokes with a foot. Ashley fights back with some more crappy punches. She does her own choke with the foot, and even that manages to look bad. Melina slings her off the ropes then does a helicopter spin by her feet for two. Bow and arrow by Melina. She releases and shoots off Ashley, who hits a fairly weak looking head scissors. She jumps up on Melina and takes a few seconds to set up a monkey flip. She hits it, then goes for her finisher, an elbow off the second rope, but misses. Ashley is so bad and so slow that everything she does is like she’s wading through sand. Shoot off that looks horrible, with Ashley not even knowing how to hit the ropes. Ashley with a roll-up for two, only for Melina to roll through it for the pin. Ashley shows poor sportsmanship after the match, and things break down into a big fight, with only Melina managing to escape. Ugh.
DUD Amazing they could follow up one contender for worst Wrestlemania match ever with another. Actually, it was even worse, as there was not one redeeming factor about it besides being short.

Disc Two time, which shows the unskippable “don’t try this at home” shit again. Come on, we already saw that on the first disc. If people didn’t get the message then, they won’t get it now.

Match #8: WWE Champonship
(c) John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels

This could very well be the last time Shawn Michaels main events Wrestlemania. Shawn comes out to the DX theme, with very little pomp and circumstance. They could have tried to get a live band or something. He’s not even wearing DX colors mind you. Hell, his pyro doesn’t even turn out so good. Still, after such a lame entrance, the fans don’t care. They *hate* John Cena and he’s about to be given holy hell. Cena gets the a pretty sick entrance in a Ford Mustang, drifting around the streets of Detroit as he makes his way towards the arena, driving through a sheet of glass to finish. Fans to this day bitch that it wasn’t Cena really driving the car. Well no shit. Hell, it *might* have been him. He does collect muscle cars. But the windows were tinted so obviously it wasn’t him. Or it was. Who cares? It’s a show where people get paid to pretend to fight each other. Anyway, Cena was on a big hot streak here. Despite the hatred for him among smart fans, he was constantly having the best match on the show, even against opponents like Umaga. Anyone who says Cena was carried, I would like to point out that he got not one, but TWO good (relatively speaking) matches out of the Great Khali. Suck on that. Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels always brings the goods in these big matches (unless Triple H is involved it would seem). Needless to say, I was hyped to hell over this. By the way, these guys were the tag team champions here. 59% of the fans apparently picked Cena to win, to Shawn’s 41%. I was hoping the WWE would use these statistics to put Michaels over.

To the match, as Shawn manages to take out Cena right off the bat with a big punch. Michaels beats Cena to the punch again and chops him down. Shawn talks trash, basically saying he has his number. Shawn rings Cena’s arm then gets a headlock takedown for two. Michaels traps his arm with it. Cena gets a clothesline off a shoot off, drawing HUGE boos. Shawn gets up only for Cena to bounces off the ropes and get a shoulderblock. Thesz Press by Michaels and some mounted punches. Shawn gets side stepped and dump to the apron, where he hangs him up and hiptosses Cena to the floor. Enziguri by Michaels on the floor. Michaels fires off an Asai Moonsault, connecting with Cena but still landing on the table. Same move he did against Ric Flair the next year, but not nearly as sick looking. Back in, Shawn slowly fires off some chops and punches. Shoot to the corner, where Cena tries to get a foot up. Michaels catches it and elbows his knee. Shawn smells blood and starts to work the knee like a dirty mofo. Shawn rings the knee on the post, then continues to work it. He chopblocks the leg, then drops his weight on it. I haven’t watched this match since it aired and I don’t remember any of this knee stuff. Shawn ties up Cena’s leg in the ropes to torque at it. Cena tries to punch at Shawn but can’t move fast enough to do it, and Shawn goes back to the knee. Fans weren’t expecting any of this and kind of die a bit. Shawn goes to do something to Cena’s leg, but seems to draw a blank and chops instead. Cena slugs a bit, with the fans booing every attempt at offense from Cena, whether it hits or not. Big punch by Cena knocks Michaels down, oversold by Shawn like he did against Hulk Hogan. Shawn comes back with a shoulder block in the corner and more punching. They’ve been in the corner for a few minutes now, and the pace is practically at nothing right now. Cena with another big punch that sends Michaels flying. Shawn tries for a shoulderblock again, only this time it misses and he hits the ring post. Shawn is bleeding from that. Clothesline by Cena and some mounted punches to huge heel heat. Hell, even Cena is acting kind of heelish in his mannerisms. Shawn goes for a clothesline but Cena turns it into the protoplex. The way Cena is acting now proves to me that he’s cast in the wrong role. Fans want to hate this guy, so why fight it? He could be the biggest heel act the industry has seen since the golden era. Cena goes for the FU, but Shawn wiggles out and chops at him. Cena reverses a whip and send Shawn up and own into the corner. Michaels ducks a clothesline and goes for the superkick, but misses and hits the referee instead. FU attempt by Cena is turned into a DDT by Shawn and it’s a double KO spot. We spill out to the floor where Shawn hits a SICK piledriver on the steel stairs. Just nasty. The back of Cena’s head is cut. The sick fuck bladed the top of his head. Shawn calls for another referee and covers, but it gets two. Cena reverses a whip only for Shawn to move into the flying forearm, nipup, and flying elbow. He took way too long in firing off the elbow. You know, I’m a big Shawn Michaels fan but I’ve noticed he sometimes has a tendency to stall too much in his matches and slow down the pace with the punch trading spots. I figured it was something just him and Triple H did, but I’m notcing it here too. This is still a WAY better match then the last man standing or hell in a cell matches with Trips, but nowhere near as good as I remember it. Shawn tunes up the band but Cena blasts him with a high clothesline. They trade punches and Cena goes for the FU but Michaels turns it into a rollup for two. Michaels shoots off Cena and tries to leapfrog him, but Cena catches him and FUs him to huge boos. It’s a double KO spot. Cena finally covers and it gets two. Cena to the corner and he goes for the FU off the top, but Shawn knocks him off. He goes for a crossbody off the top but Cena rolls through it and goes for the FU. Shawn flips out of that but Cena then goes for the STFU. Shawn keeps fighting that off it. Cena gets his leg around to set it up but Shawn gets a small package for two. Fans bought that as a potential finish. Shawn misses an enziguri and Cena locks in the STFU. Shawn grabs the ropes. Jim Ross spouts out “The crowd loves it, because it means the match will continue.” No, they love it because they hate John Cena and want to see him lose. The ref has to pull Cena off, only for Shawn to hit sweet chin music… and collapse. Shawn slowly starts to crawl over and cover for the pin, and by time he makes it there the fans no longer buy it as a potential end for the match. When will they ever learn with this shit? I’m not suggesting they go the TNA route and have guys kick out of finishers non-stop, but sometimes it calls for it. It’s another double KO spot and the ref almost counts both guys down. Both guys are using each other to stand. Cena out of nowhere snatches Shawn up for the FU, with Shawn wiggling out only to instantly get caught in the STFU in the center of the ring, and Shawn taps.
*** I’m actually embarassed about how much I sung the praises for this match when it first aired. I was calling it in the high four stars, maybe five stars. NOT EVEN CLOSE. All the psychology with the knee went nowhere and was ultimately no-sold by the end of the match. All the hot finishing move sequences were drowned out by the slow brawling or multiple double KO spots. I think this would officially count as a ‘wank fest’ as Scott Keith calls it. Not as bad as the wank fests of the Triple H vs Shawn Michaels variety, but still kind of yawn inducing during parts. These guys would cut out the bullshit slow-motion stuff three weeks later on Raw and end up having what was, in my opinion, a five star match and the best Raw match ever.

As for why I was so high on this match the first time I saw it, I’ll chalk it up to Star Wars Episode One syndrome. Star Wars nerds were so hyped for it that there was no way it could let them down. I remember watching Phantom Menance with my friend Mark, a confirmed Star Wars freak, and wondering what the fuck he was watching that was so incredible. I personally never liked the Star Wars movies, and couldn’t believe they had somehow gotten worse after being away for sixteen years. Meanwhile, Mark loved every “magical bacteria” and “intergalatic senate” moment of it. I thought he was an idiot. Years later, he admitted to me how awful it was. Likewise, I was so hyped for Michaels/Cena that there was no way it could let me down at the time. And now it’s gone all Phantom Menace on me. I feel like crying.

BOTTOM LINE: After the epic letdown that was Shawn/Cena, we’re left with what is basically a one-match card. Taker/Batista does bring the goods and carry the entire show. I remember thinking that anyone who said it was the match of the show at the time was nuts. Wow, was I ever wrong. The ladder match is just okay. Benoit/MVP is pretty good if you can stomach watching it these days. Everything else is medicore or worse. In the case of Lashley/Umaga or Ashley/Melina, among the worst the series has ever seen. I’m sure Taker/Batista will find it’s way to DVD in some other form, but for now I’ll give a very, very mild thumbs up to the show. Though I might advise you to have the fast-forward button on standby after the World Heavyweight Championship match.

On a side note, you get the 2007 Hall of Fame ceremony with it, though I consider it to be the weakest entry in it since the Hall of Fame stuff was brought back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no Koko B. Ware on it or anything. It’s just not as entertaining overall. The class of 2007 had Nick Bockwinkle, the Wild Samoans, the original Sheik, Mr. Fuji, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Mr. Perfect, and Dusty Rhodes.  Skip it.

Until next time, for god’s sake do not try to brawl Undertaker in the corner at the start of a match.  They’re watching…topstory500x250-|topstory500x250 topstory120x120-×120.jpg|topstory120x120

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DVD Review: The Greatest Stars of the 90s Mon, 20 Apr 2009 11:32:22 +0000 Hello, I’m Charlie Reneke, the new kid on the block here at Pulse.  Those of you that have read Scott Keith’s work will be familiar with me as the guy who does the documentary portions of his DVD reviews these days.  Well after getting some good feedback (along with “oh you didn’t go there” comments when I crack a Chris Benoit joke) I figured I would throw my hat into the ring and try for a gig at the bestest, coolest, most awesome wrestling website in the world.

But, after getting rejected by the Observer, I was hired here instead.

Before we start, I wanted to mention the format to this set is unlike the DVDs featuring the Greatest Superstars of the 80s.  Instead of having the biographies spread over the course of the three discs, the first disc contains one giant feature-length documentary that covers everything.  It runs two hours and fifteen minutes.  This is one of those sets that came at us with little warning, kind of like the last Ric Flair set that didn’t exactly set the world on fire.  Let’s see how things go here.

Your host is Tazz, making this DVD outdated before it was even released.

-Up first, it’s Shawn Michaels.  We ignore the Rockers phase and start off with him tossing Marty Janetty through a window.  We get chopped up clips from his own DVD Feature, Heartbreak & Triumph.  Mr. Perfect comes up with “The Heartbreak Kid” on commentary.  Brief clips of him taking the IC title from Davey Boy Smith.  That quickly leads to clips of the Wrestlemania X ladder match.  Chris Jericho reminds us that a moonsault was a big move back then, so seeing guys fly off a ladder was unlike anything else.  From a personal stand point, I think the Summerslam ’95 rematch is the one that aged more gracefully.  Funny enough, that was the match where they were forced to tone down the violence, which actually led to them being more creative.  This leads to the Iron Man match, which Shawn calls the highlight of his career.  Vince McMahon says he held the company together during a rough time.  Mick Foley agrees, saying Shawn was an excellent champion.  Jim Cornette and Pat Patterson call him the best performer of the 90s.  Jim Ross talks about how he was the best guy to introduce stuff like the ladder match and Hell in a Cell to the masses.  Next up, DX.  We get clips of them being obnoxious.  Shawn actually was quite obnoxious at this stage of his life, so I guess that makes him a method actor.

We see the spot that put him on the shelf, clipping the casket ever so slightly on the lower back.  It didn’t look so bad, and even Shawn didn’t think it was that bad.  Then he woke up two days ladder and couldn’t move.  He herniated three discs.  He actually gutted it out and had a match with Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 14 that really speaks volumes on how much Shawn Michaels NEEDED to put on good matches.  Despite being crippled, more or less, he took superman bumps and managed to even do a nip up.  Various people put over how he made it through it.  CM Punk calls him the best star of the 90s.  Chris Jericho takes it a step further and calls him the best wrestler ever.  Jim Ross and Vince McMahon agree with that.  I agree with that.

-We go from the smallest champion of the decade to the largest.  Or if you want to be mean, like me, the best champion to the crappiest.  Yokozuna is up and we start out by talking about growing up in the Samoan wrestling family.  Boy, did he grow.  Jim Ross says he’s the best super heavyweight ever.  As opposed to… who?  Haystack Calhoun?  Heck, I think Mabel was a better worker during his Big Daddy V phase.  Jim Ross follows this up by putting over Yoko’s legdrop, the only move he did that didn’t look like shit.  We get clips of his Royal Rumble win, which featured an ending so embarrassing that my cable feed of the pay per view cut out as soon as it happened in 1993.  Randy Savage dropped the flying elbow on Yoko, then… covered him… for the pin… in the Royal Rumble.  For real.  At which point, Yoko did a power kick out so devastating it sent Randy Savage onto his feet and somehow made them take a life of their own, jumping over the top rope and to the floor.  At least that’s what it looked like.  Onto the Wrestlemania 9, where Yokozuna wins the championship, more or less fair and square from Bret Hart, only to lose the belt less then three minutes later to Hulk Hogan in a move people still bitch about today.  Allegedly Yoko and Hulk was supposed to go five minutes or so, but the WWE thought the clock was running out on their satellite feed and they wanted to make sure Hogan had an ample amount of posing time, so they went 10 seconds instead, with Hogan winning after Mr. Fuji threw salt in Yoko’s eyes.  This served to make Bret look like a chump, Hogan look like a pussy, and Yoko look like an idiot.  Bravo, WWE.  A triple bank shot!  Three total burials in one match.  Back to Wrestlemania 9, where Gerald Brisco puts over how well Yoko moved.  He wins the WWE Title back from Hogan at the first King of the Ring pay per view, then goes on to ‘dominate’ the WWE.  If by dominate they mean look like a pussy in every subsequent pay per view that followed.  Let’s count.  At Summerslam ’93, he lost to Lex Luger via count out.  At the Survivor Series in 1993, he was counted out while brawling with the Undertaker.  At the 1994 Royal Rumble, he beat the Undertaker in a casket match only after ten guys came down to help him.  He beat Lex Luger by DQ after crooked referee Mr. Perfect screwed Lex over, then jobbed the title to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 10 after knocking himself out.  Oh yeah, total domination.

We move to Yoko’s morbid obesity.  It was hardly noticable.  Jim Ross talks about how he couldn’t get licensed in some states because he was too big.  Ross sent him to Duke University’s weight loss center.  It was an impatient program, but they weren’t guarded and he wasn’t in there for a felony, so he could come and go at night and presumably go to fast food places.  The WWE gave up on treating him and just brought him back to be Owen Hart’s tag partner.  Although he was fatter then ever, as a tag wrestler the WWE could avoid using Yoko in states like Maryland, Ohio, and Washington that don’t allow obese diabetics to wrestle.  They win the tag belts at Wrestlemania 11.  Jerry Lawler calls him ‘great in the ring, but only in short spurts.’  Yoko gained too much weight and the WWE had to let him go.  I remember in 1997, every week Dave Scherer of insisted Yoko would be back any time and join the Hart Foundation.  But he never returned and sadly he died on October 23, 2000.  May he not fall from heaven and crush us all.  I’m not trying to poop on this or come across like an ass, but I just never got Yokozuna.  He was the only WWE Champion in my lifetime that bored me to tears.  If he could have just shed a little weight, I think he would have been something special.  But let’s face it: any Yokozuna match that went ten minutes featured at least five minutes worth of nerve pinches.  Discounting guys like Stan Stasiak, who held the title for a week in the 70s, I would call Yokozuna the worst worker to hold the WWE Championship, easily.

-From one Samoan to another.  Yokozuna’s cousin, the Rock.  Actually if I read their family tree correctly they’re not biologically cousins, but it’s the thought that counts.  Rock talks about how he knew his football career was over, but his father didn’t want him to become a wrestler.  Rock strong-arms him into training him, and then he cons Pat Patterson into coming down to have a look at him.  He has his first match with Steve Lombardi, making his ‘at least one appearance per a DVD’ requirement.  Lombardi says that he did everything well.  Rocky makes his debut at the 1996 Survivor Series as Rocky Maivia.  Rock hated the name, and hated the character in general.  Not as much as the fans did.  They completely turned on him after having them shoved down their throats.  CM Punk notes that society had changed and they just wouldn’t put up with the baby-kissing glad hander heroes.  Funny enough, Punk currently plays the same character, more or less.  The fans break out the “Rocky Sucks” chant at Wrestlemania 13, causing Vince McMahon to turn to Pat Patterson and say “Where did we go wrong?”  Rocky gets injured and comes back to join the Nation of Domination.  Jim Ross comes up with just changing his name to “The Rock.”  It didn’t work at all and he faded into obscurity.  Actually, he did pretty well for himself.  Mr. Kennedy puts over his hilarious promo from Over the Edge 1998, which is still hilarious.  Rocky makes fun of how people in Milwaukee drink beer and eat bratwurst, only to concede that it’s a better option then dating their fuggly women.  Sadly, we don’t get Jerry Lawyer’s hilarious line to go with the promo.   After the Rock finishes destroying the crowd and the ugly women of Wisconsin, the camera shows a… how do you say it… mature woman in the crowd, and Lawler quips “Oooh, there’s one!” causing Jim Ross to legitimately get pissed off.  Back to the feature, where William Regal says Rock’s delivery is so good he could have gotten heat by reading the phone book.  CM Punk says when he was able to act so over the top, the fans went back to him.  Rocky wins his first world title at the 1998 Survivor Series.  This segs to his feud with Steve Austin.  Jeff Hardy calls him phenom on the microphone.  At Wrestlemania 15, they match up.  Jeff Hardy says he misses that era.  Not as much as Vince McMahon does, I’m sure.  Rocky says he was lucky to accomplish everything he did in the WWE, and he kind of misses all those crazy things he did in the WWE.  But I’m sure those $10 million a film deals ease his pain on that front.  Jerry Lawler calls him the biggest star of the 90s.  That’s it for his segment.

-Onto the Women of the 90s, as they grow from being valets and side-show wrestling acts to skimpy-dressed sex symbols… and uh, side-show acts.  Clips of all the Divas from that era.  Even Alundra Blayze and Chyna.  Well hell, if Randy Savage is allowed on DVD, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be.  I guess Chris Benoit is all alone in DVD-ban land.  We get clips of Chyna’s somewhat remarkable run of 1999 as she earns a spot in the Royal Rumble, is briefly the #1 contender to the WWE Championship (in reality an excuse to get Mick Foley into the Summerslam ’99 main event so Austin wouldn’t have to job to Triple H), and her IC Title win over Jeff Jarrett in a match that no doubt had some people rolling in their graves.  And that’s it for the chicks.  Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of women’s wrestling and especially of Rena “Sable” Mero, but to deny that she was one of the biggest stars of the 90s… at least 1998… is outrageous.  She was, in my opinion, the only female wrestler ever who could lay claim to being a legitimate main-stream draw in professional wrestling, even if her run at the top lasted only a few months.  She likely deserved her own segment.

-Onto Kevin Nash.  We start with clips of him as Oz.  William Regal talks about how none of the gimmicks they stuck him with worked, but it was a learning process for him.  Jim Ross says WCW miscast him.  Shawn Michaels actually liked the Vinnie Vegas gimmick and arranged for Nash to scam his way out of his WCW contract and end up in the WWE as Michaels’ bodyguard.  CM Punk notes that Shawn Michaels was cool, and anyone associated with him was cool by association.  Jim Ross notes that Shane McMahon came up with the name Diesel.  Never was a big fan of the name.  I was talking to the Honky Tonk Man one time when he started ranting about how single-name wrestlers never get as over as guys with full names, and used Nash as an example.  Although he was popular in WWE, the name “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel wasn’t very catchy to casual fans and thus he never became a house-hold name.  Where as in WCW he was “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash and part of the hottest angle going, and many casual fans or non-fans knew of him.  He went on to point out that even guys who were not super big stars, like Jake “The Snake” Roberts or Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat were house-hold names while guys who were the focus of the company like “Yokozuna”, “Kane”, or “Batista” are not.  Interesting logic, can’t really argue with the point.  The only exception I can think of is the Undertaker.

Back to the show, where we skip the moment where he truly became a star, the 1994 Royal Rumble where he tossed out seven guys in a row.  We skip basically everything leading to his house-show WWE Championship win, where he pinned Bob Backlund in six seconds.  Jim Ross credits Diesel’s rise to Shawn Michaels, who got his mind into the wrestling game.  We get brief shots of the Madison Square Garden Curtain Call, which leads to the nWo.  We get shots of him power bombing Eric Bischoff through a table and tossing Rey Mysterio into a trailer like a lawn dart.  Everyone puts over how cool the nWo angle was.  CM Punk says that the WWE was too cartoonish and fans got sick of it and sought out the cool wrestling that was on Nitro.  Well, that was the most refreshingly candid anti-WWE statement I’ve seen on one of these WWE DVDs.  Expect Punk to lose his money in the bank title shot and start jobbing to Funaki on Superstars if Vince McMahon ever pops this disc in.  We seg from the nWo to the Wolfpac crap that never made any sense to me.  I mean, why would Sting or Lex Luger be in the Wolfpac when they were supposed to be company loyalists?  Or why would Bret Hart be the official recruiter for nWo Hollywood if he wasn’t a member?  Anyway, Nash kills Goldberg’s winning streak, along with the entire promotion, at Starrcade 1998.  Jim Ross puts over how huge it was for Nash to beat Goldberg, while Mean Gene Okerlund notes how big a star Nash was to have the WWE and WCW put their full force behind him.  You know, I’m actually not as big a hater as most smart marks of Kevin Nash, but seriously, he booked himself to win the championship.  You can’t really credit him for doing anything to earn the title.  Speaking of Goldberg, he is NOT one of the stars on this disc.  Whether you’re a fan or not, to deny his status as one of the top stars of the decade of the 90s is preposterous.  The man was the only reason WCW had a fighting chance by the summer of 1998.  Beth Phoenix and Jim Ross put over how popular he was.  Jim Ross says he’s towards the top of the list of top 90s stars.

-Up next, Owen Hart.  I’ll try to avoid tasteless jokes, but no promises.  Tazz calls him the smallest man on this list despite the fact that he was bigger then Shawn Michaels.  We get clips of his tag team with Jim Neidhart, wearing the fuggliest tights in the history of the business.  He turns on Bret Hart at the 1994 Royal Rumble, then pins him cleanly at Wrestlemania X.  Jim Ross says the expectations were high for that match, and that Owen proved he was something speical.  Best opening match to a pay per view ever, hands down.  They turn that into the best cage match the WWE ever did at the 1994 Summerslam.  Bret points out that cage matches are usually bloody affairs, but instead they put on a technical exhibition and the cage just happened to be a prop for that.  He wins the 1994 King of Ring and becomes, in my opinion, the king of obnoxious celebrations.  He wins two Slammy Awards (one that he wasn’t even nominated for, Best Bow Tie if I’m not mistaken).  He cuts hilarious promos at both ceremonies.  He wins the IC title and the Tag titles.  CM Punk says he was vastly underrated.  We get clips of Owen teaming with Davey Boy Smith and Jeff Jarrett, with people calling him a tag team specialist.  Bret reforms the Hart Foundation, but they glance over that period (and his feud with Steve Austin) faster then you can say “quick release mechanism.”  NO BAD CHARLIE!  My apologies.  Owen joins the Nation of Domination, trying to out-do his crappy New Foundation tights by dressing like a road sign.  He came up short.  Quite frankly, the New Foundation tights deserve their own Wrestlecrap induction.  Of course, Owen died during a stunt at Over the Edge 1999.  Everyone talks about how underrated he was, with Triple H saying he never reached his full potential.  In my opinion, there’s a difference between never reaching full potential and being used to his full potential.  One day they’ll admit the difference.  Bret says he thinks Owen Hart was satisfied with his wrestling career.  Jim Ross talks about how Owen was always playing jokes on people.  We get a clip of one he played on Vader, live at the Slammy Awards, where he dumped a drink on Vader, causing him to give chase but trip and fall, Shockmaster style.  Funny stuff.  I heard about the after effects and they were equally as funny.  To avoid getting his ass kicked the next night at Wrestlemania, Owen offered to pick up Vader’s tab on his rental car later that week.  When he did, they met up on the way to a show to stop and eat.  At some point, Owen excused himself to syphon out all the gas in Vader’s tank, then leave stranded at a diner.  I’m guessing there was never a dull moment when he was around.  Jerry Lawler says he’s not just one of the best wrestlers of the 90s, but rather one of the best wrestlers ever.

-Ric Flair’s turn, as he joins Hulk Hogan as the only wrestlers to be profiled in both the 80s and 90s sets.  Naturally, they start off with clips of him from the 80s.  Come on WWE DVD guys, is it really that hard to keep up continuity?  Flair talks about how he made his deal with the WWE on a handshake and a promise he’ll make at least as much as he would in WCW.  They actually focus on his non-feud with Hulk Hogan and his run as the “Real World Champion”.  This disc has the Hogan/Flair match from Madison Square Garden.  Triple H talks about how the feud was so hot that when they matched up at house shows, it was standing room only.  Actually, according to WWE canon, their expected Wrestlemania 8 match was killed because they didn’t sell out Madison Square Garden.  Onto Flair winning the WWE Championship in the 1992 Royal Rumble.  The DVD botches the date and lists him winning the 1993 Royal Rumble instead.  Ugh.  Flair says he wants to be clear, he felt like he was on his game when he came back to WCW.  He beats Vader at Starrcade in 1993 for yet another world championship in his home down.  Loved the match expect the ending was total crap, making Vader look like a pussy.  Jim Ross says you can’t pick out Flair’s best match from the 90s.  Of course, he already did that, naming his match with Ricky Steamboat from Wrestlewar as the best match ever.  They actually show clips of his shitty feud with Roddy Piper from 1999.  Jim Ross says comparing Flair of the 90s to the Flair of the 80s is like comparing Brett Farve of the Jets to the Brett Farve of the Packers.  Was he as good?  Of course not, but he was still the best in the game.  OK, that comparison was downright embarrassing.  He could have thought of a better one.  Maybe Fat Elvis vs. Young Elvis or something.  John Cena puts over Flair’s staying ability, along with every other top level star they could dig up.

-Mick Foley is next.  He debuts in WCW early in the 90s as Cactus Jack.  We get clips of all the insane bumps he would take on a regular basis.  People who knew him only from his WWE run never really got a taste of how high-impact a wrestler he was in his early career.  His potential goes unnoticed in WCW and thus we skip his entire second run there and cut straight to ECW.  Joey Styles points out that Mick was so good at psychology that he figured out the best way to get heat was to do the exact opposite of his normal style, intentionally having boring matches with long headlocks.  Then we cut quickly to his WWE run where we get his debut as Mankind.  Gerald Brisco calls it the darkest character the WWE had done to that point.  It was truly unnerving stuff.  Foley says that whether he likes it or not, his name is forever tied to Hell in a Cell.  Joey Styles says he thinks Mick knew that he would immortalize himself in that match, but didn’t consider the toll it would take on his body.  According to Foley himself (in his books, not on this disc), he thought the match would stink, and only started on top of the cage and allowed himself to be thrown off of it because Terry Funk suggested it.  They talk about his different gimmicks, but the underdog Mankind was the one that brought him the most success.  He pulls off what he was told would never happen, winning the WWE Championship.  Joey Styles says he got over because he looks like everyone else and is out-matched physically but can overcome the odds and find a way to win.  John Cena says despite all his big bumps, he’s most famous for the guy who pulled a sock out of his pants.  Socko clips follow, complete with Vince McMahon’s finest moment, where he says in disgust “Mr. Socko” and inadvertently unleashed a phenom.  Onto the Rock & Sock Connection, with the go-nowhere “This Is Your Life” segment with the Rock that was NOT funny, had NO ending, and led to NOTHING! And to this day it’s still the highest rated quarter-hour segment in the history of Raw.  Ugh.  Foley finishes his full-time career with Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match, officially making Triple H the man.  Trips calls it a huge honor.  Jim Ross says that Foley was named after Mickey Mantle, Jim Ross’ personal hero, and that the two were exactly alike.  I wasn’t aware Foley was an alcoholic wife-beater.  You learn something new everyday.  Actually, he meant that they were both team players, worked hurt, loved the fans, and was a genuine, good human being.  I know that Jim Ross is a big Mantle fan, but the words ‘genuine, good human being’ and ‘Mickey Mantle’ are only appropriate to say together if used in the following sentence: “I would have to be a fucking nut job to say that Mickey Mantle was a genuine, good human being.”

-Up next: Shitty gimmicks.  The Goon, Mantar, Oz, Yeti (which was actually a Mummy), Shockmaster, and more.  Baston Booger gets about 20 seconds, and we see him doing his gimmick, basically an uncouth slob.  T.L. Hopper: Evil Plumber gets twenty and we get clips of him using his plunger on some jobber’s face.  Man Mountain Rock, The Berzker, the Oddities, and REPO MAN~! get some clips.  So does Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, one of the only ‘occupational gimmicks’ the WWE did at the time that I actually thought worked.  Max Moon, also known as Konnan, gets just enough time to have his outfit made fun of.  Upon quitting the WWE, Konnan threw such an epic temper-tantrum that he was blacked-listed from the company.  WCW gets some love to with Glacier.  He was actually part of a hair-brained idea to rip off Mortal Kombat, using Glacier as Sub-Zero, Chris Kanyon’s Mortis character as Scorpion, Ernest Miller as Johnny Cage, Yugi Nagata as Liu Kang, and Wraith as Shao Kahn I guess.  They would fight in some kind of tournament to claim a mystical cup that would grant them the ability to never be beaten or some such nonsense.  It was called “Blood Runs Cold” and was going to include Goldberg (pre-overness) at a later point but it bombed worse then a North Korean missile test and was shelved.  Shockmaster is seen falling through a wall.  The Oddities gets some some more love, despite the fact that as bad as it was it got all parties involved fairly over.  And that’s it.  The Legends of Wrestling series on WWE 24/7 (now WWE Classics) did an episode devoted to crappy gimmicks and all you sadists out there who hate my guts can cross your fingers that the WWE does a second run of LoW DVDs and includes it among them, forcing me to review it.

-Hulk Hogan’s 90s run is featured next.  We actually do start with his 90s run, unlike we did with Flair.  Hogan jobs the title in 1990 to the Ultimate Warrior in what was supposed to be the wind-down of his run on top.  Warrior bombed as champion (not entirely his fault, in my opinion, as the WWE didn’t book him with opponents that catered to his strengths), so they brought him back again and again.  Hogan said he still had eye-of-the-tiger, but was not the king of the fight and he admits that fans were getting sick of him.  Hogan says he faded away from the WWE before the fans got totally sick of him.  I would say WRONG to that but what’s the point?  Nobody does revisionist history better then Hulk.  So Hogan leaves the WWE and starts doing a show called Thunder in Paradise.  I’m about to lose whatever pathetic credibility I have left with the internet wrestling community because that show honestly wasn’t that bad.  It was poorly acted and had ridiculous plots, but damnit, it was a decent and at times pretty entertaining action show.  I also think Suburban Commando was a good flick.  Easily the best film he did.  Anyway, Thunder in Paradise is located close to the set WCW used to film it’s TV show, so Eric Bischoff, with an assist from Ric Flair, lands Hulk Hogan.  They get a slight bump in the ratings but draw a MASSIVE buy rate for Bash at the Beach 1994.  That was the last entertaining pay per view they did for a few years, as 1994 and most of 1995 was filled with Hogan’s past-their-prime cronies from the 80s, something they don’t admit here (hopefully to be covered in the upcoming Rise and Fall of WCW set), and the fans turn on Hogan.  The truth is, the fans turned on Hogan right out of the gate.  The only reason the fans didn’t tar and feather him at Bash at the Beach is because they held it in Orlando, comfortably outside of WCW’s normal stomping grounds.  But the fans never got behind Hogan, and Jimmy Hart notes you have to give the fans what they want.  So they turn Hogan heel, and he totally reinvents himself as a character.  Sadly, he still was washed up as a wrestler, but it didn’t really matter.  He was over like Evil Jesus.  Fans pelted him with garbage at every show.  Hell, they pelted him with garbage even when he was about to lose matches.  The addition of Hogan leads to WCW winning the rating war for over two years.  Jimmy Hart says it became too cliquish, because everything became about the nWo.  Couldn’t agree more.  The mistake was watering it down as bad as they did, adding too many no-named losers.  To the best of my knowledge, the only wrestler who outright told the bookers he didn’t want to join the nWo was Chris Jericho, who in his book talked about how he would instantly get lost in the mix and would never get any alone-time in the ring to cut promos, where as he was a featured attraction when he was by himself.  Every person but Hogan, Hall, and Nash (maybe Scott Steiner to a lesser degree) just clustered up and never had any individuality about them.  Back to Hogan, Jimmy Hart says that it’s proof that you have to reinvent yourself.  We get the end-of-segment blow jobs, with Jimmy Hart claiming Hulk doesn’t know how big he was.  Hilarious hyperbole there.  Hogan knew he held all the cards and when he didn’t those in charge assumed he did.

-Triple H’s segment is up, even though he’s more a 2000s star.  Actually, the only point he was truly over in the 90s in his desired role as a heel was around November of 1999 when he married Stephanie McMahon during Test’s wedding and finally managed to catch people’s imaginations.  As a worker, he didn’t really get top-level good until 2000, when Mick Foley gave him two straight five-star matches on pay per view and good wrestling stuck with him, more or less, from that point forward.  But I’ll play along and pretend he was something big in the 90s.  We get one of his pre-debut vignettes as the blue-blooded aristocrat.  He wins the IC title on Raw, then wins the King of the Ring, then forms Degeneration X.  That’s about as fast as they glance over his early career.  Trips says that DX got white hot, with the ridiculous stuff they did.  Then Shawn retires and Triple H needs to carry it on.  Everyone wanted Trips to drop DX, but he talked them into bringing in Sean Waltman instead and merging with the New Age Outlaws.  What do you know, they get over as babyfaces.  He had fun with it, but couldn’t get to a main event level, so he broke it off, pissing off the other three members of the group in real life, but he had a goal and he stuck to it.  Mick Foley gives him credit for stepping out of his comfort zone, noting that a lot of guys don’t do that.  Hey, Triple H has fucked Chyna.  I don’t think comfort was ever a big deal to him.  Everyone talks about how he lives and breathes wrestling.  Steve Austin says he studies tapes and took the best parts of those who came before him.  Jim Ross says he took parts from Harley Race, Ric Flair, Jack Brisco, Ray Stevens, and Pat Patterson, among other people.  I’m the guessing the parts he took from Pat Patterson explains how he could sleep with Chyna without throwing up bloody vomit.  Everyone puts over what a professional he is.  Edge says his stuff with the Rock worked because they were polar opposites in style and delivery.  Foley takes credit for getting him over as a tough guy, because his original snobbish gimmick didn’t lend itself well to that.  His hardcore match with Cactus Jack on Raw featured him giving as well as he took.  Don’t necessarily agree with that assessment.  The first time I, along with most fans, bought Triple H as the dangerous bad ass was his match with Mick Foley at the Royal Rumble in 2000.  His run from March of 1999 until the Rumble I looked at as a miscasting.  I honestly didn’t think he could play the part.  Glad he proved me wrong.  We get clips of his first WWE Championship win on Raw the night after Summerslam 1999.  Not mentioned here The backstory on it was Steve Austin didn’t want to put over Triple H, not out of spite but because he wanted to save any one-on-one match with him until Wrestlemania.  Austin also felt he owed Mick for all the jobs Foley did for him, so he put him over clean, the first person to beat Austin in such a manner since May of 1997.  Shortly afterwards, Austin figured out that his neck wasn’t going to allow him to make it to Wrestlemania and so he took a match with Trips at No Mercy in 1999 so he could have one final, potentially high main-event payday.  Back to the feature, Trips notes that it was their way of saying “we trust you to be the man” and it was a big honor, but concedes that he had a long way to go towards being good.  Not mentioned is he jobbed the title to Vince McMahon a couple weeks later.

-Bret Hart is featured next.  We start with him beating Mr. Perfect at Summerslam, then his match with Davey Boy Smith at Summerslam the next year that some people call the best match ever.  I feel it’s a tad overrated.  Still a great match, but I wouldn’t actually go five-stars on it.  You have to tip your hat to Bret though for getting a great match out of a guy who hit the wall less then a minute into the action.  The amount of talent Bret had was unreal and there’s no better proof then that.  Then, with little warning Bret wins the WWE Championship in a taped-for-video match against Ric Flair.  Flair to this day talks about how the match sucked due to an inner-ear problem he had that had his balance out of whack.  It doesn’t show at all.  Onto the King of the Ring, where Bret had three completely different matches with three different guys.  Jim Ross brings up how Bret’s international popularity rivaled any champion they ever had, even Hogan.  This segs into the iron man match again.  Bret says he’ll never take anything away Shawn Michaels, but he was most proud of how hard he worked to keep up with the little bastard.  I can’t believe the hype this match gets.  I hated it then, I still hate it now.  Shave off the first forty minutes and it’s actually pretty good, but taken as a whole, it’s a sleeping pill.  Onto his feud with Steve Austin, which turned Bret heel because the fans grew sick of Bret’s goody-two shoes persona.  Vince McMahon says that any wrestler who had a match with Bret came out better because of it.  Clips of the submission match from Wrestlemania 13, and his heel turn.  Jim Ross talks about the uniqueness of Bret being a heel in the United States but a babyface pretty much everywhere else.  Bret loved the reactions he got in Canada at that time.  Onto the Survivor Series in 1997 where nothing of significance happened.  Bret put over Shawn cleanly and left in a classy fashion befitting of a true hero.  Okay, so he got screwed and threw a temper tantrum on the way out.  He arrives in WCW and they somehow manage to fuck up what should have been a no-brainer run on top.

In his book, Eric Bischoff blames their inability to give Bret one single decent storyline on Bret, saying, quote, “Eric Bischoff, Vince McMahon, Steven Spielberg, an independent film maker nobody has ever heard of – we can only do so much when creating a role for someone.  It’s really up to the performer.  He or she brings life to the role.  I’m not suggesting that we had the best ideas for Bret Hart.  But regardless of our shortcomings, Bret came to WCW with baggage because of Montreal.”

Bull.  Shit.  Look, I am FAR from being a fan of Bret Hart’s real life persona.  Quite frankly, I think he’s a total twatwaffle. Regardless of that, he’s on my list as one of the top five wrestlers I’ve ever witnessed.  After Montreal, he was a hot property.  The WWE was able to take advantage of Montreal and turn Vince McMahon into the biggest heel of the decade.  Logically this means WCW could have turned Bret Hart into the biggest babyface of the decade, at least in WCW.  Was Bret down in the dumps mentally because of Montreal?  Sure.  Whether or not you find it absurd for someone to get that worked up over losing a fake wrestling match, to say Bret was incapable of being motivated is total horse shit.  They gave him NOTHING to get motivated over.  Right off the bat they made him look like a moron by having him restart the Hogan/Sting abortion from Starrcade after Sting lost cleanly to Hogan on a botched finish.  Then they put him in go-nowhere matches with Curt Hennig and Ric Flair, guys who were at the bottom of the card from a storyline perspective.  He should have instantly been put into a position to chase for the title.  Instead, someone decides Bret is damaged goods and gives up on him.  It took almost a full year before they stuck him in a match that didn’t rehash some crusty old feud he had in the WWE, putting him with Sting.  What should have been a dream match was instead a total after-thought against Goldberg vs. DDP and especially the abomination that was Warrior vs. Hogan II.  Can anyone honestly blame Bret Hart for being unmotivated during this period?  He was totally booked into oblivion.

Back to the feature, we get the one good angle WCW did with Bret… or at least started… getting speared by Goldberg on a Nitro being held in Canada.  Only Bret reveals that he had a metal plate under his hockey jersey.  This was the type of simple, straight forward stuff that leads to big cash matches on pay per view.  Naturally, they dropped it immediately by having Bret ‘retire’ on the spot.  It’s not covered on the DVD, but somehow this led to him being booked to wrestle Kevin Nash on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but the day before the scheduled encounter was the day of Over the Edge 1999.  No explanations needed.  When he came back, he got to wrestle Chris Benoit on Nitro, which isn’t covered here obviously, then wins the WCW title against the same guy in the finals of a title tournament.  Sounds good, except if you consider the tournament itself was a joke.  It even featured female wrestler Madusa.  Twice.  And in the finals, Bret and Benoit could NEVER hope to capture the magic they had during the Owen Hart tribute and the match was considered a let down.  The next month, Goldberg superkicked Bret right into strokesville, ending his career.  There’s a happy ending of sorts, as Bret got over his bitterness enough to accept an invite to the WWE Hall of Fame.  I really wish Bret would take a more active role in the WWE, if not on camera then backstage.  Regardless of my dislike for him, the guy is unquestionably one of the most creative minds in the business and he could likely contribute greatly to the wrestlers.  Nobody should feel unwelcome in the WWE lockerroom.  For some reason, it actually breaks my heart that guys like Bruno Sammartino, the Ultimate Warrior, or Bret Hart can’t put aside bad feelings and show up at events to mingle with the new generations.

-We move onto the owners/presidents/rubber check signers.  A segment dedicated to Eric Bischoff, Paul Heyman, and Vince McMahon.  Or as some would call them, “See no evil, Hear no evil, and Evil.”  We get clips of the evil Mr. McMahon persona, only with many of the risque stuff censored.  Welcome to the watered down WWE of 2009, where even the word ‘ass’ is censored.  Then onto Bischoff’s evil persona.  Internet marks tended to rage on Bischoff for making himself a character, but I always thought he made an effect heel and mouth piece and he did get many of the angles over.  Paul Heyman’s turn features him doing a voice over putting over ECW and putting over the loyalty of the wrestlers he was paying with McDonalds coupons.  And that’s it for the segment.

-Lex Luger gets a spot on the list, much to my surprise.  They put over his football background and his physical presence.  Jim Ross says he went further on look then anyone he can think of.  I’m sure some will say Sid Vicious, but I always thought Sid’s wild charisma is what got him over more then his look.  We get clips of Luger winning the WCW Championship after Flair was dumped from the company.  They try to make it out like it was a great moment, when it fact it bombed horribly due to some moron deciding to turn him heel to win the title.  Couple that with the fact that the 1991 edition of the Great American Bash was, at that time, the worst pay per view any major promotion had put on and that should give you an idea how well Luger’s title run was received.  We move on to the… HOLY SHIT~!! The World Bodybuilding Federation shows up on a DVD!  I would have sooner bet they would release the Chris Benoit tribute from Raw then that.  They actually show Vince McMahon, in a WBF shirt, with Luger.  Luger was to be the face of the company, but the WBF turned out to be the worst miscarriage carried out this side of Ctrl+Alt+Del.  I’m sure that joke will go over the heads of many.  Luger never actually had a chance to participate in the WBF anyway due to a motorcycle accident.  By time he was healed, the WBF was dead and buried.  Vince McMahon talked Luger into making a run in the WWE, and he debuted as the Narcissist.  Some feel the gimmick bombed.  I actually think it had legs, maybe the last chance the vanity gimmick had at working in this day and age.  They pretty much used the same gimmick with Chris Masters over a decade later, and it got him no heat.  Jerry Lawler says nobody fit their character as closely as Lex did as a guy in love with himself.  Harsh.  It lasted less then seven months before Lex Luger was turned into a completely generic patriotic character to replace Hulk Hogan.  Scott Keith once said that Vince McMahon did with Hulk Hogan what every jilted ex-lover does: try to recreate the magic with someone else.  Couldn’t put it better myself.  I will give the WWE credit for at least kicking off the feud in perfect fashion.  On July 4th, 1993, n the U.S.S. Intrepid, a wrestling ring was set up and Yokozuna was issuing a challenge: anyone who could body slam him would face him at Summerslam.  After every WWE star failed, Lex Luger arrived via helicopter and pulled it off to a huge ovation.

As a curious side-note, before Lex was chosen for this role, the original person booked to slam Yoko and then take the championship at Summerslam was… you won’t believe this… Brian “Crush” Adams.  He had entered 1993 on a bit of a hot streak and had a unique look, so they figured, why not?  But a combination of sub-standard wrestling ability and the fact that he was mishandled from a booking stand point (even jobbing to Doink at Wrestlemania 9) ended whatever chance he had at getting the main event push.  At least, as Scott Keith would point out, his hair was in EXCELLENT shape.

Lex slams Yoko and thus began what was and still is the biggest hard-sell push in wrestling history.  The WWE bought a bus, christened it the ‘Lex Express’ and had him tour the country to kiss babies and glad hand the fans.  John Morrison puts it over, and even Jerry Lawler says how much work Luger put into it, but the fact is it didn’t work as much as the WWE needed to trust Lex with the title.  So at Summerslam 1993, instead of winning the belt, he beat Yokozuna by count out.  This was a trend for Luger’s wrestling career, always blowing the big title matches.  The decision to not put the title on Lex was made the day of the show.  For some reason, the WWE decided to play a music video of Lex in the same manner you would if he had actually won the title, despite the fact that he had just blown yet another big one.  CM Punk points out that Lex looked like what a wrestler was supposed to look like.  He was big, muscular, had a mullet, smiled, kissed babies… and as a kid, he saw through it and felt that Lex was a total fraud.  “Sorry Lex.”  The rest of his WWE run is skipped and we go onto him double crossing Vince McMahon by agreeing to re-sign with the company who would take another kick at the can with Lex as a main eventer.  Unbeknownst to McMahon, Lex had been negotiating, through his best friend Sting, to return to WCW.  Eric Bischoff was not a big fan of Lex’s attitude or ability and tried to appease Sting by offering Lex a deal while at the same time completely low-balling him.  Lex’s WWE offer was $500,000 a year.  When he left WCW in 1992, he was making $750,000 a year.  Bischoff’s offer: $150,000 for one year.  If Lex behaved himself, he could earn more.  Lex took the offer, and Bischoff used him as a template for the anything goes feel of Nitro.  On it’s first episode, Lex showed up out of nowhere and helped Nitro be instantly competitive with Raw.  Jim Ross says it left a bad taste in some people’s mouth, while William Regal puts it over as a good move.  The rest of his career is ignored and we go to the final words on Lex.  Jerry Lawler says despite being a guy who’s not well liked by his peers, Lex was one of the biggest stars of the era.  Jim Ross says that he was a big muscular guy in an era where everyone was a big musclar guy.  He’ll only be remembered as a guy who never reached his full potential, despite some moments of greatness.  Mean Gene calls him one of the top stars of the 90s.  My personally feeling on Lex is that prior to his motorcycle accident, he was a fairly underrated worker.  He had great matches with great workers and even dragged some good matches out of guys that were not so good.  And despite the venom most in the industry direct towards him these days, nobody can deny that during his run in WCW in the late 80s and early 90s, he was pretty much booked into oblivion and made to look like a guy who could not win when it really counted.  I think he’s underrated.

-Sting is next.  Magnum T.A. calls Sting the first guy in many years he saw in the industry who had natural charisma.  Jim Ross says he got over because he actually put in effort.  Sting wins his first championship at the Great American Bash in 1990, with Flair saying he never had a bad match against Sting.  Flair actually got fired from the booking committee for putting over Sting, as the company’s choice was Lex Luger but Flair made a promise to Sting and refused to break it.  John Cena says that he was thrilled with the title change because Sting was his guy as a kid.  I personally was never a fan of him and feel he’s overrated as a worker, but there’s no denying he was over like Jesus.  William Regal says Sting was magic, plain and simple.  We cut out everything after his title win and go to the Crow look, but I’ll fill in the gaps.  Sting’s entire first run as champion was handled about as poorly as possible, with the ultimate insult being the Black Scorpion angle, a first ballot candidate for worst idea ever.  Look it up on Wrestlecrap.  After that, he kind of drifted around with no direction until feuds with Cactus Jack and Vader lit a fire under him and he suddenly was stealing shows with good matches.  He was set to reclaim his spot as the featured star of the company in 1994 until Eric Bischoff secured Hulk Hogan, at which point Sting was completely cut out of the main event picture and pretty much buried doing midcard, sometimes even undercard matches.  Then the nWo angle hit.  Sting was teaming up team WCW to face the nWo in a War Games match.  Hogan and the nWo teased that Sting would join them, then hired a fake Sting to fool his teammates.  Because they didn’t trust him, he attacked them after he attacked the nWo and retreated to the rafters.  Scott Hall came up with the idea to turn him into “Scary Sting” after seeing the movie the Crow in a hotel room.  He dyed his hair jet black, wore black and white face paint, a black trench coat, and carried around a baseball bat.  Instead of the spunky, energetic Sting fans had grown to love, he became a dark, brooding character who never talked and would pop down from the rafters for random assaults from time to time.  He didn’t have a single match for over a year.  WCW stars begged him to stop it and help them fight the nWo, but they could never count on him.

And then it all goes to hell in one match.  Starrcade 1997.  A day which will live in infamy.  They actually ignore the botched finish, which is fine.  I’m sure they’ll have a field day with it in the upcoming WCW Sucks DVD they’re working on.  But here are all the wacky theories as to why the match was so horribly fucked up.

(1) Why was the match a squash for Hogan?  Well, according to Hogan, Kevin Nash, and even guys not connected to the abomination like Scott Norton, Hogan practically begged Bischoff to let the match be a three minute long squash where Hogan would quickly hit the big boot and the legdrop, only for Sting to no-sell it, Stinger splash him a dozen times and slap on the scorpion deathlock for a quick submission.  Eric Bischoff was against it because he wanted to borrow from the Montreal Screwjob that had helped the WWE start to get a buzz about it.  Some also speculate that Hogan changed his mind on letting Sting have the squash because he showed up out completely out of shape, with a pouch and devoid of a tan.  It’s true that Hogan was pissed at Sting being unkempt, but I doubt it made him change his mind about putting Sting over in a huge fashion.  Besides, I never got the tan thing myself.  He was supposed to be a guy who was brooding in the shadows, not hanging out at the beach.

(2) What was up with the “non-fast fast count” finish?  Some say Nick Patrick made a mistake.  Some say it was the result of a series of three simultaneous brainfarts.  In this scenario, the finish was Hogan hitting a legdrop and covering Sting, only to get a two count.  He would argue at the ref and cover again, and this time referee Nick Patrick would do a quick three count, with Sting kicking out shortly after the three.  After a few seconds of celebrating, Bret Hart would come out and restart the match.  How Bret had the power or authority to do this was never explained, but I’ll roll with it.  What actually happened Sting forgot to kick out of the legdrop, the referee forgot not to count to three, and Bret Hart jumped his cue (not his fault, Terry Taylor sent him out too early) and had already started to enter the arena before Hogan did the legdrop.  This is actually the theory I buy.  The only thing that’s known 100% for sure is Bret jumped the gun and came out too soon.  I believe when Sting and Nick Patrick saw Bret jump his cue it threw their timing off.  Quiet frankly the planned finish sucked no matter which you look at it.  A bad finish beget bad timing.

(3) Because the internet wrestling community loves to make Hogan out to be a cross between Dr. Claw and Hitler, the fringe morons swear to this day that Hogan paid Nick Patrick off to slow count intentionally when he was supposed to do a fast count.  Why on earth would Hogan, a guy with creative control, need to do something that had no apparently benefit for him?  Hogan could be at times an asshole and an egomaniac, but he was also a very smart business man and wouldn’t do something that offered so little benefits.  Some said it was done so he would have an excuse to have a rematch.  Folks, that rematch was set in stone long before this match went down.  Hogan was taking the championship back by hook or crook. And also, Nick Patrick was a total professional and wouldn’t do something like this. He was a company loyalist.

Anyway, the whole thing was an abortion.  In many ways it led to the downfall of WCW more then any brainfart booking decision in 1998 did.  As bad as Jay Leno wrestling, the return of the Ultimate Warrior, or the Finger Poke of Doom was, paying off an angle that ran for fifteen months by having the hero get totally squashed and beaten fair and square only to win the match on a flimsy reset… I don’t think Uwe Boll could have done any worse directing this travesty.  Back to the feature, Jim Ross puts over Sting as the only big star WCW had that was home grown.  Lawler says he was a good wrestler and a good showman.

-Hey yo, it’s Scott Hall’s turn.  We get clips of his early run, looking like a Magnum T.A. ripoff, then a brief shot as the Diamond Studd.  He shows up in the WWE and asks for a gimmick similar to Al Pacino’s character in Scarface.  Thus, he becomes Razor Ramon.  Jerry Lawler notes what I’ve heard everyone say, that he was Razor Ramon 24 hours a day, complete with toothpick, mannerisms, and cheesy Cuban accent.  Beth Phoenix notes that he was the first guy to not change his persona at all and have the fans turn him babyface.  Same actions, but he was received as good instead of evil by the fans.  He wins the vacant Intercontinental Championship against Rick Martel, then defends it against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X.  We’ve already seen these highlights on this disc.  Ugh.  Razor goes on to have three more reigns as IC champ, but then jumps ship to WCW to kick off the nWo angle.  He shows up on Nitro using the Razor Ramon mannerisms, and the fans suddenly think the WWE is invading WCW.  Brilliant storyline that was followed by some epic lawsuits.  CM Punk points out that it was the first time the two companies crossed over.  *COUGHrealworldschampionCOUGH*  Scott would win a couple US Championships and take a few tag titles with Kevin Nash as well.  Jim Ross puts over his mic skills and wrestling ability… and that’s it.  Wow.  They completely ignored his personal problems, which is understandable as around the time this DVD was being put together Hall had a complete mental breakdown and attempted suicide.  It’s a real shame because by all accounts when he was clean, he was one of the most creative minds in the business.  Among his ideas: the Razor Ramon gimmick itself, Sting’s crow gimmick, Goldberg’s winning streak, and the Hummer angle.  Okay, well… 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

-The Undertaker’s turn.  He makes his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, legitimately scaring the crap out of the children in the audience.  Lawler puts over how well he played the gimmick, combined with all the visual effects and the mystique.  A year after his debut, he takes the WWE Championship at the Survivor Series.  Mean Gene says he was shocked that someone could rise to the top as fast as he could.  CM Punk says he looked like a corpse, and that you didn’t really want to look at him because it was scary and disturbing, but you had to, like a horror movie.  I just had a sudden thought: if they ever turn Undertaker heel again, they should bring back the urn, and claim it now contains the ashes of Chris Benoit.  That’s instant heel heat there.  Of course, I’m likely getting a one way ticket to hell just for thinking of such a thing.  CM Punk puts over his athleticism, and so does John Morrison.  They talk about his ability to move like a cruiserweight but still maintain that larger then life persona.  I miss that old, zombie looking Undertaker.  It was the tattoos that killed it for me.  Jim Ross puts over Taker’s gimmick matches, the Buried Alive and Casket matches, plus the Hell in the Cell.  Jim Ross says he raised the bar for every super-heavyweight from here to infinity.  Jim Ross says he will be the yard stick that all superstars are measured by.  Morrison puts over his entrance while Ross says he’s never met anyone who better represents the professionalism and integrity of the business.  Just as long as you don’t have the misfortune to be brought into the company as the result of a buy-out, in which case you have to job to whoever is his wife at the time.  Ross says there will likely not be another person as long as Ross is around with his level of influence and respect. Another brief segment.

-We finally wrap up the feature with Steve Austin.  Vince McMahon says most of the success of the company falls on Austin because he grabbed the company by the throat.  Austin grew up a wrestling fan and signed up for Chris Adams’ wrestling academy.  He quickly ended up in WCW.  We go to the Hollywood Blonds, which of course gets more over then it was supposed and they get split up.  Onto his run in ECW where he cuts some seriously awesome promos.  That’s it for that, as we move onto the WWE and his promo at the King of the Ring.  The day after the promo, there were hundreds of Austin 3:16 signs all over the arena.  Jim Cornette says they knew then they had something.  Mick Foley says the match that cemented him as the guy in WWE was the submission match with Bret Hart.  He quickly became the most popular wrestler in the company.  Onto Summerslam 1997, when Owen Hart breaks Austin’s neck on a botched tombstone piledriver.  He was paralyzed for a short period of time, but became more popular because he spent his recovery time cutting promos and raising hell.  He gives Vince McMahon his first stunner of what I would guess is around 1,000 stunners in September of 1997.  Austin spends the next couple years making Vince McMahon’s life a living hell.  Austin couldn’t wait to go to work to see what stuff they would come up with for him next.  We get to see all the crazy stuff he did with beer trucks and cement trucks, etc etc.  Vince McMahon calls him the biggest star in the history of the business, eclipsing Hulk Hogan by far in terms of total sales, buy rates, ratings, revenue, etc.  We cut backwards to Wrestlemania 14, where Austin talks about winning his first WWE Championship.  He loved the business growing up, loved being part of the business, and it was a total honor to be the top star.  And… that’s it for Austin’s part, and the entire feature.  Okay.  I’m guessing they ran out of time or something.

My thoughts?  It was fun at times, but really this felt like a sampler.  Most of the interviews and segments were rips from other DVDs.  I thought the biographies were better made then the ones from the 80s sets, which were quite dry and boring.  A few guys got screwed, including Vader, Warrior, Sid, Goldberg, and Sable.  They might not be the best workers, but neither was Kevin Nash or Lex Luger and they got their spots.

We do get some bonus features on the first disc.

Razor Ramon Restaurant Vignette (1:45): A promo early into Razor’s run where he eats like a slob and refuses to pay the bill.  “What do you want from me next, to mop the floor?  Clear the table?”  He does clear the table, slinging all the food off.

Undertaker Builds a Coffin for Yokozuna (2:45): Paul Bearer talks about the double wide double deep casket Undertaker is making for him.  A really creepy spot shows Undertaker wishing him a Merry Christmas with frost coming out of his mouth with every “ho ho ho”.  I miss THAT Undertaker.

Bret Hart New Generation Vignette (0:50): The commercial where the kid screams out Bret’s name and tells him to go get ‘em, champ.  Bret gives him his glasses and proceeds to tell him about that time he was screwed at the Survivor Series.  Not really.  You know, this whole piece is ripe for parody for Charlie Haas.

Owen Hart Inside a Steel Cage (3:50): Owen cuts a promo to build to his Summerslam 1994 cage match with Bret.  I’m a big Owen fan but I never liked him when he did these kind of promos.  I thought he was better at doing improvisational stuff.

Shawn Michaels Press Conference Before Wrestlemania XI (3:50): As boring as the title suggests.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley – “Riff Raff” (1:10): A pre-debut promo by Helmsley, smoking a pipe and talking in a horrible upper-crest accent.  Who would have ever guessed this guy would go on to be one of the biggest and most powerful stars in the business?

Mankind – “And God Created Mankind” (1:10): A pre-debut promo by Mankind, who at this point was supposed to be a cast-away childhood piano prodigy who’s mother grew disgusted by him and slammed the piano lid onto his fingers, crippling them, then sending him to live in the sewers and be raised by rats.  Yeah.

Kevin Nash & Scott Hall – Modern Gladiators (2:30): One of those edgy nWo informercials they used to run on Nitro, this one from the night after Hog Wild 1996.  Surreal stuff that actually worked.

The Hart Foundation Reunites (6:15): From Raw, March of 1997.  Bad editing makes it out like Bret is attacking Davey Boy Smith.  In fact, Bret was breaking up a match with Davey and Owen, telling them that they’re doing what the fans want.  He says the fans have kept fighting for years, when they don’t know the first thing about family values.  He turns this into an anti-American speech.  Epic stuff that led to some amazing matches and incredible heel heat.

D-Generation X Reenacts the Montreal Incident (4:25): From Raw in November 1997.  Shawn Michaels brings out Bret Hart.  Only it’s a midget wearing a Bret Hart mask.  Triple H absolutely buries Bret on the stick.  “We all knew Bret was short on charisma, short on talent, but this is ridiculous.”  Shawn holds the midget at bay, then puts him in the sharpshooter for the submission.  Fans are totally cold to this.  After they’re done, they slap a WCW tag on the midget’s ass and give him a gentle kick to send him on his way.  Big time controversial back in the day.

The Rock Reads Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Eulogy (7:35): I’m of the opinion that Rocky’s babyface promos have aged horribly, while his heel stuff is timeless.  This is no exception as he cuts a scathing promo on Austin that is hilarious.  Austin returns and kicks his ass.

Stone Cold Remembers the Shockmaster (0:55): We see the Shockmaster fall on his ass again, while Steve Austin laughs.

Time for the matches.  For those of you not familiar with my philosphy on star ratings, I think of one star as two points.  In school, a passing grade is at least 60% (D), so in my line of thinking, a three-star match would be a passing grade.  Four-stars would be a B, Five-Stars an A.  I don’t think a match needs to be absolutely perfect to earn five-stars, just entertaining from start to finish, with a uniqueness about it that makes it something special.  I also rarely score against matches ending on a DQ or some other screwjob.  Seems wrong to fault the workers when they can’t help the booking.

Disc Two

Match #1
Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair
11/30/91 Madison Square Garden

The WWE should have likely held it’s wad until Wrestlemania, but instead they started going for the quick bucks by having this main event house shows.  After selling out a few venues, they come up a few thousand fans short of a sell-out here and the whole feud is cancelled as a result.  Grumble.  Flair’s the “Real World Champion” here, but even with the censorship you can see he’s actually holding a tag team belt.  Hogan had just lost the WWE Championship to the Undertaker at the Survivor Series and was given this as a tune up to his rematch at a special one-time only pay pre view called Tuesday in Texas.

Long stall to start.  Hogan grows impatient and chases Flair around the outside.  Flair stomps Hogan as he enters the ring and chops away.  Hogan thumbs the eye and slugs it out, then fires off his own shitty chops.  Clothesline in the corner sends Flair down to the canvas with a flop.  Hogan bites Flair in the face, then tries a ten punch but the referee pulls him off while Flair flops again.  Shoulderblock by Hogan, then he blocks a hiptoss and hits a clothesline, then another clothesline to dump Flair to the outside.  Hogan slams Flair around on the outside, taking him to every side of the guardrail. Chop against the rail by Hogan and then a suplex on the floor.  I’m actually marking out for this.  Hogan punches him into the seating area, then tosses Flair back into the ring.  Flair begs off, then kicks Hogan and hits a back suplex.  Hogan no-sells it and clotheslines him, then sends him up and down in the corner.  Thumb to the eye by Flair and another chop, but that only pisses Hogan off.  He tries to slug it out but Hogan kicks him in the corner a few times, then sends him up and over to the apron, where Flair gets knocked down to the floor.  Flair tries to bail on the match, but Hogan catches him and tosses him back in the ring.  Flair tries to hang up Hogan on the top rope, but Hogan no-sells that as well.  Flair thumbs the eye again but runs into a shoulderblock.  Another thumb by Flair but he gets caught climbing and tossed off the top.  Clothesline by Hogan, then the three big punches, the big boot, and the legdrop… for two?  Yep, Flair gets his foot on the rope.  Hogan thinks he’s won and celebrates, allowing Flair to sneak up on him and kick away at the legs.  BUT WAIT~!!  Here’s Mr. Perfect to distract the ref while Flair wraps Hogan’s leg around the ring post.  Perfect takes a turn doing it as well.  Flair goes to work on the left.  He ties it up in the ropes to knot it up, then chops a few more times.  Perfect slams his leg on the apron, then Flair drops a knee, then kicks at the knee.  He slaps on the figure-four, and Mr. Perfect offers a helping hand to give him leverage.  Hogan calls to his fans for help and manages to reverse the hold, and Flair breaks.  Perfect loads up Flair’s hand with a knuckle duster, which he uses to KO Hogan.  He covers… and gets the pinfall!?  Holy poop!  BUT WAIT~!!  Some officials from the back come out and find the brass knucks in Flair’s trunks.  Hogan comes to life and takes out the trash, while the refs reverse the decision and give the match to Hogan by DQ.  Those bastards.
***1/4 Pretty entertaining for what it was.  This was wrestled more along the lines of the type of match Flair would have in Mid-Atlantic, giving the babyface 90% of the offense and using dastardly tactics to steal the win.  What was here was total non-conformist in comparison to your average Hogan match against anyone and it was a welcome and refreshing change of pace.  Makes you wish they had gone all the way with the feud, while it still might have meant something.

Match #2: WWE Championship
(c) Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
11/25/92 Survivor Series

This is a pre-hatred match between the two.  This signaled the changing of the guard, and the first the WWE Championship was contested on pay per view without either Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, or the Ultimate Warrior in the title match.  Bret is fairly over with those fans in attendance.  Shawn is the Intercontinental Champion here but his title is not on the line.  I haven’t watched this in years but I recall this being the only Bret/Shawn match I actually liked.  Here we go.  Lockup to start.  They end up in the corner, with Bret refusing a clean break.  Shawn bitches about it.  Lockup and Shawn gets a shot in and a waistlock takedown, but Bret reverses it and Shawn bails to the ropes.  Shawn shoves Bret, then Bret shoves back harder and the fans love it.  They trade arm-ringing, with Shawn yanking the hair for advantage.  Bret nips up and takes it to Shawn, grabbing a top wristlock, then turning it into an armbar.  Shawn tries to yank at the hair.  Bobby Heenan says it’s not physically possible with 65lbs of oil in it.  Shoot off and Shawn gets a drop toehold, but Bret reverses him into a hammerlock.  He drops some knees into him.  Shawn gets to his feet and reverses for his own hammerlock, but Bret shifts his balance and sends Shawn flying to the outside.  Shawn to the apron, where Bret slings him back in and grabs the armbar again.  Shawn shoots off, then Bret counters, and we end up with Bret getting a crossbody for two, with Bret flying out of the apron on the kickoff.  Bret comes back in with a sunset flip for two, then fires off an armdrag into an armbar.  Pretty good match thus far, but unlike anything the fans were used to in a world championship match in the WWE.  Shawn clips Bret with a stiff punch to the jaw, then another, with Shawn selling his own hand on it.  Pretty cool.  Shawn counters an armdrag but gets hit with a clothesline for two, and Bret goes back to the arm.  Shawn to his feet and he reaches for the ropes, but Bret yanks him to the center of the ring.  They’re making a big deal of an armbar, and I love it.  Shoot off and Bret gets a shoulderblock, but ends up getting hotshotted onto the ropes in a vicious spot.  Bret sells it like death, and believe me when I say nobody sold a move like death quite like Bret Hart.  The best ever at it.  Bret tries to fight back but the hotshot took something out of him.  He manages to reverse a shoot to the corner but he misses a charge and rams his own shoulder into the ring post.  He’s really selling it now, while Shawn continues to sell the arm injury.  These guys were such studs at this point.  Totally thumbing their noses at the feeble roid-heads that previously main evented shows.  Shawn shakes off his arm injury and gives Bret a single-arm takedown, then blatant punches to the face.  Stomp to the face, then a hardwhip to the turnbuckle, with Bret bounces like a pinball for two.  Heenan puts it over perfectly on commentary.  Rear chinlock by Shawn that is among the sickest versions of the hold I’ve seen.  Shawn torques up on it and the look of agony on Bret’s face is flawless.  Bret tries to fight out but Shawn grabs the hair to take him back down.  He continues to work the chinlock while Bret grimaces in pain.  God I love this match.  Shawn gets to his feet while holding the limp Bret by his chin.  Bret finally fights back and bounces off the ropes only run into a dropkick in the face for two.  Backbreaker for two, then back to the chinlock, with extra torque.  This is totally making everyone who uses lazy chinlocks look like wanks.  It just takes a little effort.  Bret fights back again and ducks a clothesline, then catches Shawn lowering his head and gives him a swinging neckbreaker for a short double KO spot.  Both guys get up quickly only for Shawn to punch Bret in the throat and stomp away.  Shawn with a front chancery now, but Bret’s arm only drops twice.  Bret gets to his feet and rams Shawn to the corner, firing off a few shoulder blocks.  Shawn reverses a whip to the corner, but misses a charge and Bret fires off a bulldog.  Elbowdrop off the second rope misses for Bret and Shawn covers for two.  Shoot off by Shawn and a flying reverse elbow for a close two.  Back to the front chancery, which Shawn works instead of just lying there like a lump.  Again, the contrast between these two young, smaller, athletic wrestlers and the meatheads that had populated the main event scene couldn’t be more clear.  A new era had begun here.  Bret’s arm drops twice, but he’s still alive and gets to his feet and small packages Shawn for two.  Michaels brawls Bret to the corner but misses a charge and gets back suplexed for a double KO spot.  Shawn bounces like a rubber ball for the suplex.  Shawn goes for a Thesz Press but gets caught and catapulted into the turnbuckle and we have another double KO spot.  Fans are going NUTS for this.  Bret to his feet, causing Shawn to beg off to the corner.  Bret slugs it out and sends Shawn to the corner.  Bret kicks him, causing Shawn to get crotched on the ropes.  Bret takes Shawn on the ball-killing rodeo, then fires off a backdrop for two.  Russian legsweep for two.  Backbreaker and elbow off the second rope for two.  Superplex knocks out both guys, while Bobby Heenan freaks out on commentary.  Bret recovers and drapes an arm over for two.  Shawn misses a clothesline and Bret grabs a sleeper, only for Shawn to back Bret into the corner, wiping out the referee in the process.  Only the ref recovers quickly.  A series of reversals leads to Shawn using momentum to take Bret to the outside and into the guardrail.  Shawn can’t win the belt on a count out so he bails to break the count, then sends Bret into the time keepers table.  He breaks the count again and scoopslams Bret on the outside.  He breaks the count again, then sends Bret into the ring.  Hard whip to the corner gets two.  Backdrop gets two.  Shawn bitches at the ref and gets rolled up by Bret for two.  Superkick by Shawn but it’s years before it was established as his finishing move.  He picks up Bret and sets up for his finisher, the tear-drop suplex (in reality little more then a back suplex).  Bret flips out of it, but Shawn does end up hitting it for two.  Weak move.  Years later Scott Hall and Kevin Nash said he should just use the superkick because it was the most explosive and visually awesome move in his arsenal.  Shawn’s overness instantly climbed.  Shoot off and Bret gets a forearm, causing Shawn to be tied up in the ropes.  Bret tries for a head of steam but Shawn escapes the ropes and Bret wipes out huge.  Shawn climbs and goes for a dropkick, but Bret catches him and slaps on the sharpshooter in the center of the ring for the submission.
***** I challenge anyone to tell me why this isn’t a five-star match.  Perfect pacing, awesome near falls, and it established both guys as top-level wrestlers.  This was a defining moment for both men, their way of announcing to the world that ‘we’re here.’  Sadly, fans were conditioned to believe that bigger equals better and thus Bret bombed as champion and they moved the title to the completely talentless freakshow Yokozuna.  Speaking of which…

Match #3: WWE Championship
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna
6/13/93 King of the Ring

Hogan’s last appearance in the WWE for nearly ten years.  Of course, the legend (mostly fueled by Dave Meltzer and Bret Hart) is that Hogan had refused to put over Bret Hart at Summerslam.  In reality, by all accounts outside of Bret’s, the WWE had given up on Hart and was going to try and create a new Hulk Hogan.  Wrestlemania 9 was to end with Yokozuna walking out as the champion, but Hulk Hogan convinced Vince McMahon that a babyface should walk out of the big show with the belt.  Namely him.  He promised to put over Yokozuna in huge fashion at the King of the Ring, then leave the company.  Bret has since kind of conceded that this story is true, although Vince McMahon never outright told him that he was cut out the plan.  The late Bad News Brown insists that Bret was crazy to the point that his brain wouldn’t process any news related to him not getting a push.  Regardless, we have this match.  Most internet fans in the early days of Rec.Sports.Pro.Wrestling and anyone who had access to the Wrestling Observer knew this was it for Hogan, but that left 99.9% of the fans who figured this would just be another routine title defense for Hogan.  Boy were they ever wrong.  In fact, Hogan never once defended the championship after winning it at Wrestlemania 9.  Things were pretty bitter between Hogan and McMahon, with the pressure of a federal drug trial looming on Vince and Hogan not wanting to be dragged into it and forced to admit that he was a steroid user.  Hogan was actually off the gas by the King of the Ring, and as a result he had suffered an amount of shrinkage not seen since my grandmother walked in on me jerking off when I was 14.  He looked to weigh about 240lbs or less at the time.  Because of the weight loss, he did seem more spry, but he certainly didn’t look that tough anymore.  Anyway, Vince and Hogan weren’t even talking by time the show came around and Jimmy Hart was basically acting as a liaison between Hogan, who walled himself up in his dressing room, and the bookers and Yokozuna as to how the match would go.  Randy Savage on commentary brings up how some people felt it should have been Bret Hart vs. Hulk Hogan here, which likely contributed to the rumors that Bret was screwed out of a spot here that was never in the cards to begin with.  As nutty as it sounds, they really were committed at this point to putting Crush over as the next Hogan by Summerslam.

To the match.  Stall and circle leads to a lockup.  Neither guy can muscle out of it.  Long lockup leads to Yokozuna muscling Hogan out of it.  Yoko smacks away at Hogan and fires some chops and back rakes.  Headbutt and some karate stuff by Yoko, then a clubbing blow to send Hogan to the ground.  Scoopslam with ease for Yoko, then more brawling.  Despite clearly being more limber, Hogan still bumps like a pussy as Yoko whips him to the corner.  Yoko goes for the big ass splash in the corner but Hogan moves out of the way and slugs it out.  Ten punch by Hogan and some biting, then Hogan threatens to knock out the referee.  What a sport.  Big clothesline in the corner, and through the use of clever camera effects it looks like it moves the ring.  He goes for a slam but his back gives out and Yoko slugs it out some more.  Hogan fights back and goes for a slam again, but only manages to get one leg up before Yoko takes him out.  Match kind of sucks but it did set up the hot angle with Luger slamming him on the 4th of July.  Yoko brawls him some more but misses a couple clothesline and Hogan gets one of his own.  Another clothesline by Yoko doesn’t fall.  A third one misses and Yoko takes him down.  Yoko goes for a big splash but that misses.  Big shoulder block but Hogan bounces off of Yoko, who slings Hogan off the turnbuckle and slaps on a bearhug.  Bobby Heenan puts over how Hogan’s weight loss means Yoko can apply the move even tighter then he ever would have.  Heenan was the best ever at putting over the psychology of a match.  The bearhug goes on forever.  Better then a nerve pinch, I guess.  Hogan finally fights back and slugs it out, but his back is screwed up and Yoko nails him with a back elbow.  Belly to Belly suplex by Yoko, which Hogan oversells, but it’s HULK UP TIME~!!  No-sell, no-sell, no-sell, shaking, finger point, punch, punch, punch, but big boot only staggers Yoko.  Another big boot still fails to knock down Yoko.  A third one does take him down, and Hogan drops the leg… for two.  Hogan can’t believe it.  Mr. Fuji gets up on the apron but gets taken out by Hogan.  Then a camera man gets up on the apron.  Hogan gets close to him, and his camera shoots a fireball in Hogan’s face.  Yoko hits a throat-chop to take Hogan down and drops a huge leg for the pin and the championship.  Areba dircha, Senor Hogan.  Just to make a point that Hogan is finished, Yoko clotheslines him once more and then hits the Banzai Drop.  When Bobby Heenan declares Hulkamania dead, it’s not hyperbole.
*3/4 Yoko looked incredible in victory here, and that was kind of the point.  After the match, the announcers put over how Hogan could not slam Yokozuna, that Yoko kicked out of the legdrop, and that he beat Hogan with his own move.  Of course, it would have been better for Yoko to win cleanly, but otherwise they couldn’t have done a better job of making a case for Yokozuna to be the next big thing.  Not a great match or anything, but it’s a must view.  Yoko was only meant to be a transitional champion for Crush, and after that was aborted, Lex Luger.  But the best laid schemes of mice and men most often go astray.  In this case, nobody got over enough to take the belt off of Yoko (except Bret Hart, who had failed to draw in his brief run as champion) and he went on to stink up the main event scene for the next nine months and kill ratings and buyrates way worse then would have ever happened under WWE Champion Bret Hart.  But that’s just my opinion.

Match #4
Bret Hart vs. Owen hart
3/20/94 Wrestlemania X

Lockup, they draw nothing, so Owen celebrates.  Fireman’s Carry by Owen, into a head scissors by Bret, but Owen nips up and celebrates some more.  Waistlock takeover by Bret, but Owen gets a break.  Waistlock takeover by Owen, but Bret sandbags him out of the ring.  Owen gets back in and bitch slaps Bret, then begs away into the corner.  Owen Hart was always a brilliant cowardly heel.  They trade hammerlocks, Owen works in a drop toehold into a headlock, but Bret turns it into a mounted hammerlock.  Flippy wristlock sequence, Owen pulls the hair for advantage, but Bret nips up.  Rollup by Bret for two, then armdrag into an armbar.  Into a hammerlock, but Owen elbows out.  Leapfrogs and Bret ends up hitting a monkey flip, then dumps Owen with a clothesline to the outside.  Owen tries to bail on the match, Bret throws him back in the ring, then tells him to get to his feet.  Push-off, Bret returns the bitch slap from earlier then schoolboys Owen for two.  Back to the armbar, Owen shoots him off but Bret hits a crucifix for two, then back to the armbar.  Owen shoots off and gets a spinning heel kick for two.  Owen stomps away.  To the outside, Owen picks up Bret and rams him into the post.  Headbutt, whip into the buckle, stomping, backbreaker, and camel clutch by Owen.  Bret elbows out of it, but Owen catches a belly-to-belly suplex for two.  Crossbody by Owen is rolled through by Bret for two.  Back to the chinlock by Owen, but he gives that up and tries for a slam, but Bret falls on top for two, then bails.  German suplex, legdrop for two by Owen.  Small package by Bret gets two.  Tombstone piledriver by Owen, then he climbs, but misses a big splash off the top.  FIVE MOVES OF DOOM time!  Atomic drop, clothesline for two by Bret.  Russian legsweep gets two.  Backbreaker, elbow for two.  Owen catches an enziguri, then goes for the Sharpshooter.  Bret fights out and goes for one of his own, but Owen rolls through.  Rollup by Owen gets two.  Plancha by Bret, but he hurts his knee.  Owen starts to work the leg with some dragon whips, and then he posts the knee a few times.  Legdrops and a sort of figure-four.  More leg whips, then a true figure-four.  Bret reverses, so Owen rolls to the ropes.  Owen goes back to the knee, kicking Bret on the ropes, but Bret fights back with an enziguri of his own.  Hard whip to the turnbuckle by Bret, legdrop gets two.  Bulldog gets two.  Vicious looking piledriver gets two.  Superplex off the very top gets two.  Sleeper by Bret, but Owen gets a low blow to fight out of it.  Sharpshooter by Owen, reversed into a Sharpshooter by Bret, but Owen catches the ropes.  Bret goes for a victory roll, but Owen lays down on it for the clean pin.
***** The best opening match to any pay per view ever, and one of the best matches of all time.  Nothing more I can say about it, really.

Match #5: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Razor Ramon vs. Diesel
4/13/94 Superstars

Brawl to start.  Fans are super duper hot for this one.  Razor wins the slugout and sets up for the Razor’s Edge right off the bat, but Diesel backdrops him.  Big boot misses and Ramon punches him around some more, knocking him out of the ring.  Razor catches him on the apron, but Diesel hits a hangman, then returns to the ring with a clothesline.  Big elbows in the corner, then whips to the corners and a sidewalk slam for two.  Snake eyes by Diesel and the head of steam as we cut to a commercial.  We’re back with Diesel hitting an elbow for two.  Head vise now.  This goes on for a while, but Razor fights out by actually giving the huge Diesel an electric chair for a long double KO spot.  Ramon recovers first and covers for two.  Slug out.  Ramon gets a foot up in the corner and hits a face buster off the ropes for two.  Scoopslam gets two.  Shawn to the apron, only to get knocked off by Ramon.  Diesel takes advantage now but gets slung into the corner, into Shawn Micahels again, who flies off the corner but takes the top turnbuckle pad off with him.  Diesel reverses a whip to the corner, causing Ramon’s back to eat the exposed turnbuckle pad.  KICK WHAM POWERBOMB~!! finishes for Diesel to give him the IC title.
3/4* Diesel was not ready for prime time at this point, but the WWE almost always strikes while the iron is hot and Diesel was getting seriously over.

Match #6: WCW International World Heavyweight Champion (aka the Big Gold Belt)
Big Van Vader vs. Sting
5/22/94 Slamboree

Although both Sting and Vader were really hot going into this match, this was basically their last hurrah on top of WCW as Hulk Hogan was set to come in a couple months later and there was only room on top for him.  Title is vacant here as Rick Rude was bounced from the company again.  Lockup and Vader takes Sting to the corner but breaks clean and does a Japanese bow.  Weird.  Long circle with a small section of fans turning Sting a bit, chanting “Sting must die!”  Vader starts to beat the crap out of Sting in the corner with lots of stiff shots, causing Sting to bail.  More punching by Vader and Sting falls to the canvas again.  Nasty clothesline, then a long stall, allowing Sting to come back with some punches and a low-looking kick that causes him to fall down to the apron.  Vader pulls off his mask and HOLY SHIT, LEON WHITE IS VADER!  This is a major revelation.  What a treat.  All that’s left for me to do is find out Mr. America is and my life will be complete.  Stall session, and then back in Sting teases a suplex… and actually hits it.  You know, they really should have saved that spot for later in the match and built to it a little more.  Vader ducks a clothesline and smashes Sting in the face with his body boxer.  Vader stands on Sting’s face, then hits the pump splash off the rope for two.  Another pump splash gets two as Sting grabs the rope.  Shoot off the ropes and a body boxer into an variation of a deathlock.  He turns it into a modified STF and then mounts some punches.  Vader kicks away at the leg, then ties up Sting’s leg in grapevine leglock.  It gets a couple near falls.  More punching by Vader but Sting goes nuts and drops him with some solid punches.  Big elbowdrop leads to a double KO.  Vader recovers first.  This match is like an old woman: no flow left in it.  Vader drops an elbow on Sting then shoots a cover, only he doesn’t hold it on and drops a big elbow in the gut for two.  This is such a strange match in how lethargic these guys are moving.  Sting pokes him the eye but misses a flying clothesline and wipes out the referee.  HUGE one-handed chokeslam by Vader gets nothing as the ref is out.  Harley Race to the apron with a chair.  He swings and Sting but misses and feebly hits Vader.  Looked like poop.  Sting hits a DDT and covers for two.  Sting dumps Vader to the floor with a clothesline, then suplexes him over the ropes and back in the ring.  Then he clotheslines him out the other side.  Vader climbs back in the corner, allowing Sting to go for the Stinger Splash.  Vader catches him and powerslams him, but Harley Race demands something more evil for the finish.  Vader climbs for the MOONSAULT THAT SHALL NEVER HIT~!! which of course misses.  Sting covers while Harley Race climbs the ropes.  He dives for a headbutt but Sting moves out of the way and he hits Vader with it.  Sting climbs and hits a big splash off the top for the pin and the title.
** Very strange match with weird pacing, no flow, no psychology… this was a total phone in effort, but both guys were so good together that even when they half ass it they pull off something better then three quarters of the shit WCW would replace them with later in the year.

Match #7: WWE Championship
(c) Diesel vs. Bret Hart
1/22/95 Royal Rumble

Bret tries to out wrestle Diesel and manages to do it, so Diesel decides to turn it into a slugoff, which he wins out on.  Bret goes for a crossbody but gets caught and slammed.  Elbow misses for Diesel but he fights Bret off and dumps him to the floor.  Bret to the apron and they slug it out there, which Bret loses.  Bret can’t win a slugout with Diesel, so he grabs his leg and rings it around the post.  Bret pounces on the leg, dropping elbows and slamming it on the mat.  Diesel to his feet but Bret stays on him like a pitbull.  Figure-four in the center of the ring.  Sadly, Diesel’s “moans of pain” look more like yawns.  He manages a rope break, but Bret doesn’t let go right away, then goes straight back to the legs.  Another figure four, but Nash isn’t exactly selling it like Razor Ramon did earlier.  Plus, half the fans want Bret to win and half want Diesel to win.  Another rope break, and Bret holds it for a little extra time.  Suicida through the ropes, huge pop for that, and Bret slugs away.  Bret slams him into the ringpost, but Diesel sends Bret into the ring stairs.  Diesel whips Bret into the corner, and he’s being pretty spotty in his selling of the injured leg.  SICK sideslam for two.  Huge pop for that.  I mean damn, it’s usually a pretty mellow move.  That time, it was with gusto.  Backbreaker into a hold.  Bret slips out of it so Diesel covers for two.  That was weird.  Diesel isn’t even bothering to sell the leg now, and Vince McMahon points it out on commentary.  Bret gets whipped hard into the turnbuckle again and Diesel goes for the powerbomb but it’s not the powerbomb, it’s a standard backbreaker hold.  Bret slips out and grabs a sleeper, but Diesel shoots him off and plasters him with a big boot and a legdrop for two.  Bret fights back with a kick to Diesel’s face and a diving clothesline for two.  Diesel catches Bret climbing and goes for a press slam but Bret falls on top for two.  Bret pulls Nash’s legs out of the ring and ties them together using his wrist tape.  Sort of a silly gimmick, but the fans loved it. The ref unties Diesel after Bret gets some free stomps in.  FIVE MOVES OF DOOM~!! Bulldog for two.  Russian Legsweep for two.  Backbreaker and an elbow off the second rope for two.  Diesel up and Bret dumps him to the outside.  Plancha by Bret is caught by Diesel and Bret gets smacked into the ringpost.  Bret’s out of it, so Diesel calls for the powerbomb.  Fans *boo* Diesel.  Powerbomb to Bret… for two as Shawn Michaels breaks up the pin.  The official decides the match will continue, with both guys knocked out.  So Diesel should have won by DQ.  Bret goes after the leg which was injured and no-sold fifteen minutes ago.  Bret looks like a total chump now, for no decent reason other then they didn’t want Diesel to win clean.  Figure four again by Bret and now the fans are clearly bored.  Hilarious bit on commentary… Vince McMahon accidentally calls Diesel “Big Daddy Tool.”  I’m still laughing.  Nash slugs out of the move but Bret ties his leg up in the ropes, then doesn’t let go of it, which should be another DQ finish.  It’s strange booking to say the least, as it looks like everything is being fixed for Bret.  What’s the point of this?  Sure, it would pay off later in the year the Survivor Series, but at this point it seems like they’re trying to turn Bret heel.  But the fans are clearly in favor of Bret.  Strange.  Diesel slugs out of it and gives Bret a gutwrench suplex.  Running big boot in the corner misses for Diesel and Bret rings Diesel’s leg into the post.  Bret grabs A CHAIR AND HITS DIESEL’S LEG WITH IT, and now the fans are booing Bret.  The referee doesn’t DQ Bret on the spot, so he slaps on the Sharpshooter, but Owen Hart runs in and attacks Bret.  Owen removes the turnbuckle pad and whips Bret into it.  However, the referee rules the match MUST CONTINUE!  This is beyond stupid booking.  Both guys look like huge chumps now.  Diesel limps his way into a cover for two.  Diesel tries to smash Bret into the exposed turnbuckle but Bret manages to smash him instead.  Bret actually slugs down Diesel, and the fans behind Bret again.  Diesel slugs it out and Bret’s foot gets caught on the ropes.  Diesel jumps off the ring apron, which should be painful, what with his injured leg.  Diesel grabs a chair but Bret gets out of the ropes.  Bret fakes an injured leg, then rolls up Diesel for two.  Another move that would payoff at the Survivor Series.  The ref gets wiped out by accident and suddenly Michaels, Backlund, Owen, Jeff Jarrett, and the Roadie run in and the match ends in a huge clusterfuck double DQ.
*** The wrestling honestly wasn’t that bad.  The booking on the other hand, was total garbage. It did more to hurt the WWE then any single match did, pretty much ever, making the hot upstart champion Diesel look like a scrub who couldn’t beat a guy half his size.

Match #8: Women’s Championship
(c) Bull Nakano vs. Alundra Blayze
4/3/95 Raw

Given Madusa’s status on the WWE black list, the fact that any match featuring her would make it’s way to a compilation DVD shocks the shit out of me.  Nakano had beaten Blayze in Japan the previous November for the belt and wasn’t expected to keep the title for long.  Five months later, she would finally drop the belt back.  Bull jumps her to start and takes her down.  She climbs to the second rope but Alundra catches her with a hand-stand head scissors.  Nakano slings Alundra by the hair a few times, which Alundra sells pretty good.  Legdrop gets two.  Bull grabs a half-crab, so Alundra grabs the ropes.  Bull rides Alundra face first on the canvas, but Blayze becomes a house of fire with multiple clotheslines and a kick to the face.  Dropkicks off the ropes by Alundra gets two.  Sunset flip attempt but Bull sits down on it for two.  Bull ties up Alundra like she’s going to put on a sharpshooter, but then lifts her up off the ground with her arms in a human muffler.  She lets go of it and hits a piledriver for two.  Bull climbs but Alundra dropkicks off the corner and to the floor.  Blayze hits a crossbody off the top and to the floor, but in the ring she gets caught in a rana with a powerbomb by Nakano for two.  Scoopslam and a legdrop off the top rope gets two.  Waistlock by Bull is turned into a rollup by Alundra for two.  Another waistlock by Bull is turned into a german suplex… for two.  I figured that was the finish.  Another gets two.  Alundra climbs but gets pushed off the top, hitting her arm on the stairs on the way down in a move that really had to hurt.  Alundra fights back on the floor and hits a german suplex out there.  She gets reversed on a whip and sent into the stairs.  Back in, Scoopslam by Nakano but her moonsault misses and Alundra Blayze hits another german suplex for the pin and the title.
**1/4 Not bad actually, even if it made Blayze’s finisher look weak.  The way they did it I’m guessing was meant to make Bull Nakano look strong, but it failed.  Still, an entertaining and fast paced match.

Disc Three

Match #9: WWE Championship, Tag Team Championship, & Intercontinental Championship
(WWE Champion) Diesel & (Intercontinental Champion) Shawn Michaels vs. (Tag Team Champion) Yokozuna & (Not actually a tag champ) Davey Boy Smith
9/24/95 In Your House
Stipulation: Whoever gets pinned loses their title.  Can you see the screwjob coming?

Death Percentage: 50% by May of 2002.  Throw in Owen Hart and it’s 60%.  Horrible.  Owen Hart is ‘injured’ here and thus Davey Boy Smith takes his place.  Apparently Diesel and Shawn are collectively known as the “Dudes with Attitude” here, which is also the name of a fairly infamous Nintendo Entertainment System game made by American Video.  Most know it as one of the ‘worst games for the system.’  Actually, despite it’s extremely basic and crude graphics and horrible sound effects, it’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  I would call it ***1/2.  Everyone has a few crappy games  they like.  It’s one of mine.  Anyway, Michaels starts with Davey Boy.  Lockup and Davey grabs a headlock into a hammerlock.  They trade it around, with Shawn flipping out of a suplex attempt.  Shawn counters a few takedowns, then backdrops Davey and dumps him to the floor with a clothesline.  Yokozuna comes in but Shawn manages to punch him out too, then Diesel helps him and dumps him to the floor as well.  Yokozuna is seriously fat here, likely weighing close to 600lbs.  Yoko tags in, and Diesel says “yo little dude with attitude, you ought to tag me.”  But Shawn is like “big dude with attitude, I’ve got this guy.”  Shawn challenges Yoko to a sumo match, but slides under his legs and slugs it out, only to be killed with a backelbow.  Long stall by Yokozuna, followed by a scoopslam.  Yoko misses an elbow and Shawn tags Diesel, who gets killed with a clothesline.  Shoot off and Diesel misses a clothesline and hits a flying one of his own.  Big boot sends Yoko to the floor.  Diesel reaches down to pull Yoko in, but Davey Boy comes in without a tag and slugs it out.  Welcome to amateur hour as Davey goes for his delayed suplex but starts to lose his grip so he lays Diesel down ever so gently on the canvas, then does it properly.  Davey slugs it out in the corner and throws some shoulderblocks.  Snapmare into a chinlock.  Davey cuts off a comeback and slams him in the corner, then goes for his running powerslam but Diesel fights out and brawls him from corner to corner.  Tag to Michaels who climbs, then hits a flying splash on Davey Boy for two.  Davey picks up Shawn in a press slam and then crotches him on the ropes.  Tag to Yoko who elbows Shawn off the ropes and to the floor.  Davey slams Shawn into the stairs then tosses him back into the ring, where Yoko chokes him with his foot.  Punching in the corner, then a whip to send Shawn up and over to the apron.  Yoko stomps Shawn off the apron and to the floor, where Davey slams him.  Davey with the tag.  He brawls Shawn around then hits a high backdrop for two.  Jim Ross points out how Shawn and Diesel never actually lost the tag titles the first time they held them.  Davey with a chinlock but Shawn fights out and gets a sunset flip for two.  Crossbody for two but Davey gets up quick and clotheslines Shawn down.  He jaws with Diesel to draw him in the ring, allowing Yoko to come in without a tag and get smashed around.  Snapmare by Yoko into the dreaded (for the fans) nerve pinch while Davey waves the Japanese flag.  Shawn tries to fight back but Yoko takes him down with a headbutt.  Yoko goes for the Banzai Drop but misses.  Jim Ross claims he has a sixth sense.  A sixth sense?  I’d venture a guess that if you could read Yokozuna’s mind, the only thing you would hear is “FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD” and in that case what’s mind reading going to do for you?  Besides, if Shawn had a sixth sense he would have known better then to go bar hoping with Davey Boy and Sean Waltman.  Anyway, tags around.  Diesel brawls Davey Boy around and backdrops him.  Snake eyes in the corner and a head of steam. Sidewalk slam, then Yokozuna comes in the ring.  The Dudes use their attitude to whip the heels into each other.  Yoko falls on top of Davey Boy and starts to suffocate.  Shawn wipes out Jim Cornette while Yokozuna gets a Samoan Drop on Diesel but Shawn hits him with sweet chin music to send him out of the ring.  Bulldog with the powerslam to Diesel but Shawn saves him with that with an elbowdrop off the top rope.  BUT WAIT~!!  Owen Hart is alive and well… well at least he was back then… and he comes out to make the save by going for a sledge on Diesel, but gets caught and it’s KICK WHAM POWERBOMB~!!  to Owen Hart… not actually in the match mind you… for the pin and the tag titles.  Ohhhhh kay.
** Very weird tag match that was devoid of a good heat segment for the babyfaces and some really weird pacing issues.

The next night on Raw, the titles were given back to the heels because Owen, although a tag champion, was not actually in the match.  So the WWE, which claims the golden rule is ALWAYS give the fans the matches as advertised, screwed the fans over twice.  Once by giving them the significantly less good Davey Boy instead of Owen, then chumping out on actually changing a title, which was GUARNTEED going into the show.  Following Raw, a very large amount of fans who ordered the show were calling their cable companies demanding their money back.  It was a mess.  And man, what a horrible finish to the actual match.  I always pictured a bunch of WWE executives watching WCW Uncensored from that year where Hulk Hogan won a strap match against Vader by beating Ric Flair and someone saying “What an ingenious way to screw over the paying fans and bury one of their best workers in the process.  Gentleman, we have to steal it.”  They then went back to twirling their curly mustaches and drowning kittens while laughing in maniacal ‘muwahahaha’ fashion.

Match #10
Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart
2/18/96 In Your House

Winner faces the champion at Wrestlemania 12.  This is the match to payoff the ENZIGURI OF DEATH storyline where the WWE followed the real life Syracuse beatdown of Shawn Michaels by having Owen Hart kick him in the head and short circuit his brain.  This was actually a brilliant storyline and the one that put Shawn in a position to be the champion as his reactions following it were insane.  To the match, where Owen starts by saying he’s going to kick Shawn in the head again.  Shawn is all like “don’t think so, bro!” and they have a showing match.  Shoot off and Shawn slides under Owen’s feet and bails to high five all the ringside fans, including kissing some fuggly chicks.  “Last time I saw a face like that it was on an iodine bottle… and he kissed it!” says Lawler in disgust.  Back in, Owen grabs a headlock but Shawn shoots it off and Owen bails this time.  He reaches for high fives from the fans, who are cool enough to play along with the idea and leave Owen hanging.  Hilarious stuff.  Owen doesn’t really get a chance to ham it up too much because Shawn climbs and hits a crossbody off the top and to the floor.  More high fives from the fans to Shawn.  Back in, Shawn climbs and hits sledge off the top for two.  Shawn takes down Owen and prances around on his back.  Owen up only to get grabbed in a headlock, and man, Shawn kind of looks like a dick here.  Headlock goes on forever, until Owen tries to shoot off.  Shawn cuts it off by grabbing Owen by the hair and yanking him back into the headlock.  Ref tells him he has to break it, so Shawn lets go for a half a second then reapplies it.  Jim Cornette is aghast at ringside and bitches at the ref.  While the ref isn’t looking, Shawn starts shaking Owen by his hair, then slaps on the head like while nobody is looking.  Fun spot, big smiles from all the fans.  They do it again and the fans are laughing.  Cornette bitches on the apron while Owen shoots off.  Shawn gets a shoulderblock only to walk into a head lock.   Both guys nip up, then Shawn hits a frankensteiner and some mounted punches.  Shoot off by Shawn but he lowers his head, leading to Owen shooting him off and hitting a belly to belly overhead throw.  Stomping by Owen and a backbreaker, then more stomping.  Shoot to the corner and a neckbreaker for two.  Owen tries for the sharpshooter but Shawn fights him off.  Owen keeps the stomping up and then pulls back on his arm and head.  Camel clutch by Owen.  Jerry claims he invented it.  The sharpshooter too.  I miss Jerry Lawler pimping Owen Hart.  He always came up with outrageous stuff to say about him.  Shawn fights back but Owen hits a kitchen sink kneelift and a jackknife cover for two.  Chinlock now.  Shawn elbows to escape but Owen connects with a spin heel kick to the head that looked sick but miserable fuckwit Kevin Dunn had the wrong camera angle for it.  They fight for a suplex on the apron, with Shawn winning out but Owen landing on his feet.  Shawn dives for a crossbody but Owen catches him with a powerslam on the floor.  Owen rolls him back in and climbs.  Missile dropkick hits for two.  Uppercuts in the corner, then Owen shoots him across the ring but Shawn rolls him up for two.  Owen tosses Shawn to the corner, sending him up and down, where Owen meets him with a sick clothesline.  Owen lightly kicks at his head like he’s checking for signs of life, then slaps on the sharpshooter.  Shawn reaches for the ropes but Owen pulls him to the center of the ring.  Shawn crawls again and makes the ropes.  Scoopslam and some snot rockets by Owen, but Shawn rolls him up for two.  This leads to Owen hitting the enziguri, and the announcers start to use their sad voices.  Shawn falls out of the ring and the referee starts to count, but Owen is feeling cocky and tosses him back in the ring.  He wants to win by pinfall and covers for two.  Fans didn’t buy it as the finish at all and what should have been a big dramatic moment goes over like a fart in church.  Owen tosses Shawn in the corner but misses a charge.  Atomic drop gets two.  Flying forearm and a nip up.  Punches and a flying back elbow.  Scoopslam and the flying elbow off the top, causing Jim Cornette to get on the apron.  Shawn knocks him off and goes for Sweet Chin Music.  Owen catches his foot and goes for the enziguri again, but Shawn ducks this time and hits the superkick for the pin.
**** Excellent match, good way to put over Shawn being fully recovered from the original injury, even if I think it was a mistake to do so.  I think it would have made the iron man match better if Bret Hart was given the option to work Shawn’s injured head, but the WWE felt that would make Bret look too heelish and decided he needed to be fully recovered from the head injury angle by Wrestlemania.  Not the way I would have gone, but if they must end the angle, this was the best way to do it.  This set is really quality so far.

Match #11: WWE Championship
(c) Shawn Michaels vs. Vader
8/18/96 Summerslam

So as the legend goes, Shawn refused to put over Vader here.  It’s not actually true, but who has time for facts when smart marks need fuel for their blind hatred?  The truth is Shawn had bombed as champion and the WWE was just waiting for someone, anyone, to get over enough to take the title off of him.  They thought it would be Vader but he didn’t work.  Then they tried Mankind, and although they had what was, for my money, the match of the year in 1996, Mankind wasn’t over enough to take the title.  Then Sycho Sid caught fire and they could actually justify moving the title off of Shawn, if only for a bit.  Anyway, I haven’t watched this match in over ten years, but I remember it being awesome.

Vader enters and shows what a tough guy he is by picking of the stairs and slamming them.  Well, the stairs likely weigh only a little less then Shawn, so I guess he made a point.  Six minutes after clicking the match on the DVD, we get to the first lockup.  It goes nowhere.  Second lockup but Vader unloads with his nasty ass punches and a short arm clothesline. Shoot off but Shawn catches a big boot and sweeps his legs out.  Dropkick to the face by Shawn and then some kicks Vader’s head while he’s on the canvas.  More punches by Michaels and this match is already totally non-conformist to Shawn’s normal style.  Shawn gets out of a backdrop then uses momentum to swing Vader to the outside.  Shawn then baseball slides Vader and hits a no-hands plancha on the floor.  Shawn comes out of the ring to spook Jim Cornette away, then tosses Vader back in to drop a sledge off the top.  Frankensteiner by Shawn and he gets up on Vader’s shoulders and ranas him to the floor, skinning the cat to get back in.  Not a bad match by any means but man is Vader looking like a pussy here.  That ends when Shawn ends up on Vader’s shoulders on the outside but this time he can’t get the rana and Vader powerbombs him in the floor.  Vader takes some time to recover, then scoops Shawn up and walks him up the stairs, dumping him like a sack of shit over the top rope and back in the ring.  No real point to that other then to show that Vader has Shawn physically.  Vader punches Shawn in the corner, then kicks him in the gut to knock him out.  Suplex by Vader but he doesn’t cover.  He takes Shawn to the corner and clubs away at him.  Vader whips Shawn from pillar to post, sending Shawn up and over to the floor.  Shawn to the apron where Vader headbutts him down, then shoots him off and backdrops him.  Vader feels good but Shawn tries to fight back.  Vader yanks the hair, but Shawn flips out of a backsuplex and slugs it out some more.  Vader gouges the eye to stop him and shoots him to the corner, but he misses the body boxer.  Clothesline doesn’t miss, and the crowd groans.  Another suplex attempt but Shawn flips out of it and slugs it out with him.  Pretty obvious that’s not the best strategy here.  Vader side-steps a charge and sends Shawn over the ropes, but Shawn grabs on and skins the cat, trying to grab Vader in a rana, but Vader overpowers him and simply launches Shawn face first onto the canvas for two.  Clutch neck vise by Vader that looks like poop.  Shawn fights back and hits a running knee to the gut.  Clothesline doesn’t effect Vader at all.  Shawn tries to slide under him but Vader catches him with his feet.  He goes for an ass splash but Shawn gets a knee up to hit him in the balls.  Clothesline again and this time it takes Vader down and calls for the flying elbow.  This part was discussed in Shawn’s book.  He wanted to do something he hadn’t done before, so the plan called for him to go for the flying elbow, have Vader roll out of the way, yet have Shawn land on his feet and then hit him with an elbowdrop.  Only Vader forgot to move out of the way.  Shawn lands on his feet, nothing from Vader, so Shawn gets pissed and legitimately stomps Vader in the face and screams at him to move.  Goddamn, that looked vicious.  Vader is audibly and visibly pissed, but the match continues.  Should be interesting from here on out.  By the way, Shawn noted in his book, “I shouldn’t have yelled at Leon.  I liked him and he was good.”  Take that for what you will.  Shawn shoots Vader off but gets reversed, only to hit a flying crossbody that sends both guys over the top and to the floor in a pair of sick bumps.  Shawn’s in a foul mood now so he smacks at the camera when it gets too close to him.  Vader picks up Shawn then and press slams him onto the guardrail, then returns to the ring… and wins via countout.

BUT WAIT~!!  Jim Cornette is pissed that Shawn keeps the title, calls him a pussy and demands he returns to the ring.  Shawn agrees to and the match is restarted.  Vader doesn’t wait for Shawn to get away from the aisle and takes him out there.  Jim Cornette smacks Shawn in the back with the loaded tennis racket while he’s at it.  Back in the ring, Vader hits the body-boxer splash in the corner and hits a belly to belly for two.  Fans seem to have bought that as the finish.  Vader calls for the powerbomb but Shawn punches him down on it.  Flying forearm, nip up, and Shawn tunes up the band.  Jim Cornette grabs at Shawn’s feet and tosses the racket to Vader, but Shawn gets it first and beats on Vader and Cornette with the racket.  Vader grabs a chair, but the referee has already disqualified Shawn Michaels.

BUT WAIT~!!  Jim Cornette claims that Shawn intentionally got himself DQed so that he wouldn’t lose the title and wants the match to continue.  Shawn agrees and Gorilla Monsoon orders the match to continue.  Vader misses a butt splash and Shawn hits a flying elbow, then drops the elbow off the top.  He tunes up the band and hits Vader with Sweet Chin Music… for two?  Holy poop.  Fans are stunned.  Shawn tries for a bulldog, but Vader shoves off and the referee gets wiped out.  Vader hits the powerbomb and covers, but there’s no ref.  Another ref is close by and comes in to counts for two.  Vader drags Shawn to the corner and goes for the pump splash off the ropes, but Cornette tells him to go to the top for the MOONSAULT THAT SHALL NEVER HIT~!!, which misses.  Shawn climbs and hits a diving moonsault onto the standing Vader for the pin.  Lots of officials enter the ring as they saw things break down between them early and given Vader’s reputation from WCW, wanted to make sure things didn’t go bad after the match.
****1/4 This was a period when Shawn I believe was physically incapable of getting less then four stars on pay per view.  Big man vs. little man matches are my favorite type and this was no exception.  Hard hitting, unique ending that doesn’t piss me off as much as some, and even some shooting.  This is the set that keeps on giving.

Match #12: Steel Cage Match
Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
8/3/97 Summerslam

These two had been feuding since the 1997 King of the Ring, and this was going to be the blow off.  However, it was decided that Mick should wrestle Triple H as Cactus Jack at Madison Square Garden a month later.  Again, this is an escape-only match, using the big blue cage.  Triple H starts by diving for the cage door, but Mick saves.  Mick brawls him.  Trips tries to escape, but Mick pulls him down.  It’s so weird to watch Triple H circa 1997… he’s so much smaller then he is now.  Mankind brawls him in the corner, and hits the Cactus knee smash.  Stump puller piledriver by Mick.  He  goes for the door, but Chyna is there to stop him, so he decides to go back to Trips.  Mick gets the claw on, but Chyna climbs the cage and chokes Mankind with her… uh… choker.  Foley fights off and climbs the cage, but Chyna climbs up and punches him in the butt, which was meant to be his balls I guess.  Triple H gets a super-Superplex off the top of the cage, nearly missing it and killing himself.  Trips goes for the door, but decides to punish Mick, and rams him full force into the cage, which doesn’t give.  He repeats into a different side, and this time the cage almost gives out.  A third cage ram, and Mick is just going high impact here, and the blue cage sucks ass for getting your head rammed in it.  Ouch.  Trips pounds Mick into the cage.  This looks brutal.  Triple H tries to escape, but Mankind grabs his foot.  Trips fights off, but Mankind saves again.  Mick whips him into the corner, and hits a knee.  Chyna again interferes, and punches Mick.  Trips hits an atomic drop, but Mick hits one of his own and gets a clothesline.  Triple H works in his facebuster, and goes for a suplex, but Mick reverses and hangs Trips upside down on the cage, then splashes him.  Neat.  Trips gets rammed into the cage a couple time.  He goes for a clothesline, but gets backdropped into the cage.  NASTY looking.  Trips climbs the cage, but Mick saves and crotches Trips on the ropes.  Trips gets his foot tied up in the ropes, and Mick goes for the cage.  However, Chyna absolutely slams the door into Mick’s head, severely injuring him legit.  Mick called it the second most painful injury of his career.  It wasn’t Chyna’s fault.  Mick told her that he likes to do things full force, and his wife verified it.  Not in those words.  Chyna throws a chair in the ring, and Trips goes for the pedigree, but Mick reverses and slingshots Triple H into the cage, knocking Chyna out.  Double-Arm DDT on the chair for Mick, and he starts to climb, but the crowd is chanting Superfly.  Mick almost escapes the cage, but the crowd gets to him, and he takes off the mask.  He pulls off his shirt, to reveal… nothing.  It was supposed to be a heart, representing Dude Love, but instead of using paint, they used magic marker, which had run off due to sweat.  Smart people.  He drops the big elbow on Triple H, then escapes the cage to win.
**** Good match, pretty dang high-impact.  It wasn’t a technical masterpiece, but Triple H and Mick Foley were always good together, and this match showed it.

Match #13: WCW Championship
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Lex Luger
8/4/97 Nitro

Luger was set to face Hogan for the championship six days later at Road Wild, but had somehow earned a title shot here as well to celebrate the 100th episode of Nitro.  Pretty much everyone figured this was going to be your average Nitro main event, turning into a giant clusterfuck with Tony Schivoani screaming to “BUY THE PAY PER VIEW!” while they faded to black.  Instead… lockup to start.  Luger counters a hammerlock with one of his own and they break on the ropes.  Lockup and Luger shoves off.  Stall, circle, and lockup that goes nowhere.  Hogan starts to brawl and takes Luger down in the corner.  Choke with the foot, elbow to the throat, then a clothesline and a few elbow drops.  Hogan rakes his foot across Luger’s face, then clotheslines him in the corner.  Scoopslam and a blatant choke.  Slam into the corner, then another, but Luger blocks a third and does a ten-slam on Hogan. Luger kicks and punches away from Hogan in the corner, but gets his eyes poked as we go to a commercial while Hogan grabs a chinlock.

We’re back as Hogan has Lex in a bearhug.  Luger escapes, but Hogan keeps stomping away.  Suplex gets two.  Back suplex gets two.  Punches and a chop and Hogan covers for two.  More chops from Hogan that are about 100 times better then the ones he did against Flair in the first match of this set.  Hogan keeps pounding away at Lex and hits the big boot for two.  He whines to the referee, then scoopslams Lex.  Legdrop hits and he covers… for two.  Hogan doesn’t really sell it as much as he should, and instead pretty much goes instantly for a second legdrop.  It misses and Lex is alive.  He clotheslines Hogan, BUT WAIT~! because here comes Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and Randy Savage .  Luger clotheslines him and tosses him into Nash.  He catches Savage coming off the top rope and dumps him, then throws on the torture rack to Hogan… for the submission!!  Fans go completely ape shit.  I can say that in over twenty years of watching wrestling and being a ‘smart fan’ more or less since I was very young, I have seldom been floored by any outcome of a match.  But this one really shocked me.  All the WCW wrestlers run out to celebrate with Lex in what was a truly great moment, likely the highlight of Lex Luger’s career and the first time the nWo really was made to look bad.  He would drop the title six days later on the pay per view.
***1/4 Not a masterpiece or anything, but one of the better matches Hogan had during his run as a heel, and likely the last good match Luger ever had.  The commercial break actually helped in this case, cutting out a couple rest holds and making it look like they were keeping up a fast (for Hogan and Lex) pace through-out.  I enjoyed it, though I’m sure some out there will bitch at me for it.

Match #14: WWE Championship
(c) Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker
8/30/98 Summerslam

I’m of the opinion that Austin and Undertaker had no chemistry together, which sucks because then were matched together about five million times on pay per view and another dozen or so times on Raw.  Even worse, Austin was knocked out cold on his feet at one point in this match, so I’m fearing the worst.  Brawl to start, with Austin taking it to the corner so the Undertaker can reverse it like he does every single match.  Taker shoots off Austin into the corner and covers for two.  Austin is pissed and flips off Taker.  They lockup up and Austin grabs an arm ringer.  They trade reversals on it and Austin schoolboys Taker for two.  Drop toehold by Austin and a grounded wristlock.  Austin holds onto the arm for a while, then Taker shoots him off.  In the spot that knocked Austin out goofy, Taker lowers his head, Austin kicks him in the face, Taker swings his head up and catches Austin right in the chin with it.  Austin falls back, and according to him the referee leaned over and asked if he was okay.  “Where am I?”  Austin said.  “At the Garden.” said referee Earl Hebner.  “Really?” said Austin.  Taker picks up Austin, who is all rubber-legged and woozy.  He would continue to be so for the remainder of the match.  Austin kicks away and fumbles his way through a suplex, but Taker quickly reverses it.  He drops some elbows while Austin gets his wits about him.  Austin slugs it out with some weak looking punches.  Austin goes for the Thesz Press but Taker turns it into a hotshot for two.  Austin is still seeing stars from the botch earlier, while Taker smacks him around.  His timing is all off as Taker brawls him around.  Shot to the throat by Taker and some kicks.  Shoot to the corner causes Austin to collapse.  According to him, he was trying to buy himself some time but Taker kept coming at him.  Austin says “fuck it” and rolls to the outside, then catches Taker’s leg and starts to whack it around and ring it on the post.  Back in, Austin brawls him around but eats the flying clothesline and a blatant choke.  Taker rings Austin’s arm and goes for the rope walk, but Austin yanks him off and starts to stomp away.   BUT WAIT~!!  Here comes Kane.  But Undertaker doesn’t want his help and sends him to the back.  So Austin brawls him around some more, then chases Kane off, then starts to whack Taker’s leg again on the apron.  Taker catches Austin and chokeslams him over the apron and into the ring.  Taker gets up, then Austin clotheslines him to the floor.  On the outside, Austin brawls him around and they take it into the stands.  Never could stand these spots as the fans always have to reach out and slap them, never giving them room to work.  The camera can’t catch any of it either, and they get completely lost in the mob.  Automatic loss of at least one star in my final rating.  Austin loads up a piledriver, which Taker reverses with a backdrop on the concrete, but we can’t see it because the miserable fans have to hold up their fucking signs instead of watching the goddamn match.  I’m in favor of banning signs for everyone with floor seats.  Tell your congressman today.  Back to the ringside area, where Austin blocks getting rammed into he ringpost, so Taker just tosses him back in.  Austin slugs it out and it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER~!! but Taker escapes and bails out of the ring.  He catches Austin coming at him and rams him into the post.  Back in, Taker brawls away in the corner, then side-steps an Austin charge and sends him to the floor.  Taker preps the Spanish announce table, then tosses Austin onto it.  Blatant choke on the table, while Undertaker gets in the ring and climbs.  He drops a leg off the top and onto the table, which does not give and both guys slide off.  Austin had to be fucked up after this match.  Taker recovers and tosses Austin back in the ring and covers him for two.  Austin is spitting up blood as Taker tosses him into the corner, but misses a splash.  Austin is out and can’t fight back, so Taker brawls him around some more and tosses him into a corner.  Austin gets a foot up this time but still can’t follow it up and Taker brawls him some more.  Shoot off and a double clothesline leads to a double KO.  Taker recovers at seven and covers for two.  Slugout in the middle of the ring with Austin winning out and smacking him into the ropes.  Thesz press and FU elbow.  Shoot to the corner is reversed by Taker and Austin bounces off the turnbuckle, backing up into Taker.  He tries to apply the Stunner but Taker falls back on it, taking Austin with him in a spot that looked like shit.  Austin covers anyway for two.  This match sucks.  Undertaker loads up a chokeslam and calls for the end.  He sets up for the Tombstone, but Austin wiggles out so we can get more horribly executed spots.  In this case, he goes for the stunner but Taker catches him, then seems to draw a blank on what to do.  He ends up crotching Austin on the ropes and hitting a Russian leg-sweep… for a double KO?  Oh, so he could do the zombie sit-up.  I see.  He winds up Austin for the rope walk, but Austin punches him in the balls on the way down and hits the KICK WHAM STUNNER~!! for the pin.  Taker grabs the belt after the match and hands it to Austin out of respect.  Considering which direction the storyline would take, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but whatever.  Kane comes out to watch with his brother as Austin celebrates.
* Sloppy match, though after Austin got his bell rung a minute or so in that was to be expected.  After that, every spot was messy looking and their timing was way off.  Not a good choice at all for the DVD.  Only redeeming value for me is now I don’t have to write a recap of it ever again.  Of course, the sad news is there are twenty or more Austin/Taker matches I haven’t had to sit through yet.  I live in constant fear and break out into a cold sweat every time I check a new DVD’s match listing.  Even sets that have nothing to do with these guys.  I’m always afraid the WWE will throw in a Taker/Austin match just to fuck with me.

Match #15: United States Championship
(c) Bret Hart vs. Sting
10/25/98 Halloween Havoc

A dream match that should have been treated with reverence and an ungodly amount of hype, right?  WRONG! This was third, maybe forth, on the hype priority list for this pay per view.  Well, at least their match was aired for the pay per view feed was cut off in most of the markets.  Always a silver lining.  Sting is part of Wolfpac here, and looking like a total douche with the red face paint.  I never thought it was becoming of him.  Bret bails up the aisle way before the match even starts.  Bell finally rings and Bret bails again to huge hate hooing.  He then jaws with a fat chick at ringside.  Bret stalls forever on the outside, and Sting grows as impatient as the fans do.  He catches Bret on the aisle at the exact moment a soda hits Bret right in head.  Sting tosses Bret in the ring and stomps away.  Ten punch follows and a clothesline.  Sting tosses Bret into the turnbuckle, then again, and Bret is moving kind of slow here.  Atomic drop gets two.  Punch to the face by Sting but Bret fights back with some punches and a rake across the ropes.  DDT gets two.  Atomic drop and a clothesline by Bret as the fans chant “Bret Hart Sucks!”  Headbutt between the legs by Bret and a legdrop gets two.  Headbutts to the lower back, then some weak choking against the ropes.  Elbowdrop gets two and Bret grabs a chinlock.  Sting charges but catches an elbow to the gut and another choke on the ropes.  Bulldog by Bret and a stomp off the ropes into a choke with the foot.  Small package by Sting gets two.  Russian-legsweep by Bret and he goes for a dropkick or something off the second rope, but Sting catches him and hooks in the scorpion deathlock, but Bret is right next to the ropes.  Sting stomps away and slings Bret to the center of the ring for two.  Mounted punches while some moron at ringside is holding his sign upside-down.  Shoot off seems to knock Bret out as he claims he blew his knee out.  The ref breaks Sting away from him, giving him a chance to load up his hand with some brass knucks.  Sting clotheslines him to get the Knucks, but the referee catches him and takes the knuckledusters, allowing Bret to get a low blow.  Stomp between the legs by Bret and a backbreaker sets up the elbow off the second rope.  He hits it for two.  This match is so lifeless.  Bret dumps Sting to the floor and brawls him up the aisle.  He drops Sting on the guardrail and celebrates in the ring.  Bret’s hair was seriously out of control at this point.  Throw some brown paint on him and he would have looked like Haku.  Sting to the apron where Bret clubs him.  The ref taps Sting on the shoulder to see if he’s okay, leading to Sting elbowing him.  Oops.  Bret follows that up with a legdrop on the official that made me laugh, along with the crowd.  It was just so random.  Sting comes back and starts to kick at Bret.  Shoot off and a clothesline that looked vicious.  Sting goes for a ten punch but stops at one.  Sting charges but Bret gets a foot up.  The referee is wiped out in the center of the ring and giving these guys no room to move.  What a train wreck.  Sting catches Bret climbing and superplexes him off the top, with the referee’s foot going up Bret’s ass upon impact.  Big groans from Mike Tenay, seeing what happened.  That’s gotta hoyt.  Wouldn’t be shocked if the ref’s foot was broken on that either.  Stinger splash by Sting hits… only he gets too high on the jump and knocks himself out in the process.  Oh my god, this is comedy gold.  Anal penetration and Sting knocking himself out.  What next?  Bret grabs Sting’s baseball bat and beats on Sting like he was wearing Vince McMahon face paint or something.  Bret drops the bat on Sting from the second rope, then revives the referee, still knocked out cold from the legdrop.  If it’s that powerful Bret should just use the legdrop as his finisher.  Bret shakes the referee to life and then slaps on the sharpshooter for the knockout victory.
*1/2 Total garbage.  Poorly paced, fairly heatless, slow, and some really poorly conceived spots.  A dream match that turned into a nightmare.

Match #16: Strap Match
Triple H vs. The Rock
7/25/99 Fully Loaded
Special Stipulation: Winner gets to face the champion at Summerslam in a one-on-one match assuming the champion is willing to do the job.  Well that’s an oddly specific stipulation for a match.

Rocky runs down Triple H on the stick before the match starts, asserting that he was held back from 1996 to 1999 because he sucked, not because of the MSG incident.  This isn’t a traditional strap match, as the winner is by pinfall instead of by corner touching.  Rock slugs it out to start without hooking in the strap.  Trips rolls out of the ring, so Rocky grabs the strap and slings him into the post.  Rocky puts the strap on and grabs some fan’s camera to take a picture of the situation.  Trips comes back and slugs it out, but misses a whip with the strap and Rocky smacks him on the table.  More brawling, with both guys giving and taking.  Trips drops Rocky on the announce table and then smacks him on the back of the head.  We finally get into the ring, where Trips slugs it out.  Rocky fights back with a punch and a clothesline.  Clothesline by Trips and more punching.  Borrrrrrinnnnnnngggggg.  Trips keeps smacking Rocky around, then takes it to the outside for more punching.  Rocky fights back by whipping Trips into the steel stairs in a pretty good bump.  Rocky slams his head into the stairs, then tosses Trips over the guardrail and into the seating area.  Thankfully the fans don’t swarm them.  Trips fights back and drops a punch to the back of Rocky’s head.  Mounted punches and then more crowd brawling, but Rocky fights back and uses the strap to sling Trips over the guardrail and to the aisle.  More punching, but Trips uses the strap to ram Rocky into the guardrail.  Rocky fights back with that with more punches and stuff.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz Trips whips Rocky into the entrance structure and clotheslines him on the concrete.  Trips starts to whip Rocky across the back and face, then stomps him.  Christ, this match reminds me why I was so terrified of Triple H winning the championship.  Rocky reverses a suplex with one of his own on the floor and covers for two.  Triple H throws Rocky into the guardrail for two.  Back to the ringside area, finally, where Trips whips Rocky onto the stairs and mounts some punches on it.  Back into the ring, where they slug it out only to have Triple H catch the flying knee.  BUT WAIT~!!  Chyna finally comes to the ring to help.  Chyna up on the apron, which pisses Triple H off in an angle I don’t remember at all.  Trips jaws with her and then turns around right into the Rock Bottom for… nothing as the referee is jawing with Chyna now.  Trips fights back with a low blow and we have a double KO.  More punching from Trips, then he takes forever to set up a lynching of Rocky in the corner.  He spends the next couple minutes murdering him, but Rocky apparently doesn’t need air and is able to recover and sling Trips off the top.  Rocky fights back with a clothesline and a Samoan drop for two.  Trips tosses Rocky to the outside, then takes the strap off.  They’re not really using it too much anyway so who cares at this point?  He brawls Rocky up the aisle and grabs a chair, but Rocky fights back with the strap and whips away at him.  He takes him back in the ring, where they slug it out.  Roundhouse DDT by Rocky gets two.  BUT WAIT~!!  Billy Gunn runs in and hits Rocky in the head with a club… for two.  Trips brawls him around, KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! but Rocky counters and hits the people’s elbow for two as Billy Gunn pulls Rocky off.  Rock Bottom to Billy only for Trips to hit the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! for the pin.
1/2* Boring match.  Way too much punching, hardly any use of the strap, and just as far from entertaining as possible.  And thus what was one of the best WWE DVDs in years goes out on a trio of low notes.

BOTTOM LINE: Discounting the horrible final three matches, this is still a pretty good set.  You get five matches that are **** or better, two of which are five-star perfection.  Nothing gets totally offensive to the senses until the Austin/Undertaker Summerslam disaster.  You get a few lost gems like Shawn/Bret from the Survivor Series and Hogan/Flair from MSG.  It’s not perfect, but at $20 it’s an easy thumbs up.topstory500x250-×250.jpg|topstory500x250 topstory120x120-×120.jpg|topstory120x120

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Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic – Merciless… Tue, 14 Oct 2008 03:26:26 +0000 Unforgiven didn’t exactly live up to my expectations, but it did have a few things I enjoyed, and without watching any of the weekly episodes between the two ppvs, I decided to check out the follow-up last weekend.]]> Last month WWE presented a pay-per-view that looked to be the sleeper event of the year, at least on paper, and convinced this former fan to take a look. It was an easy decision since I get all the WWE ppvs for free anyway while serving overseas (I’m in the USAF, stationed in the Republic of Korea). Unforgiven didn’t exactly live up to my expectations, but it did have a few things I enjoyed, and without watching any of the weekly episodes between the two ppvs, I decided to check out the follow-up last weekend.

TODAY’S ISSUE: A look at WWE No Mercy.

There are few better ways to open a WWE show for this MF’er than by bringing out Matt Hardy for a heavyweight singles title match, so they got off to a good start. Defending the ECW title against a 400-pound behemoth was a tall order for the Sensei of Mattitude, but Hardy was up to the task. When properly executed, the story of an athletic underdog versus a much larger monster is a pro wrestling classic. In fact, Shawn Michaels’ WWF title run in 1997 was practically defined by that dynamic. The champ’s attempts to endure punishment while hitting and running had me on the edge of my seat, and as an admitted Matt Hardy mark, I was hoping his title run wouldn’t be so short-lived that he would just drop the strap right back to Henry in the opening contest. Matt’s sudden delivery of the Twist of Fate for the win was reminiscent of DDP’s Diamond Cutter for the element of surprise, and caused me to pop. Considering this match’s inherent limitations (Mark Henry was in it), Hardy managed to make it an exciting opener, and No Mercy was off and running.

Following such an entertaining opener with a WWE Women’s Title match was kind of a downer, but I must admit that even while Candice Michelle’s offense is painfully slow and unexplosive, she did string together successions of moves that actually made sense in this contest, as if she was trying to work a real match. So while it looked like pro wrestling played back at less than full speed, at least it did resemble a match, which these “Divas” outtings rarely do. In addition to attempting to retell the same David and Goliath story Hardy and Henry did in the previous title match, they also maintained the subtle, growing tension between Marella and Phoenix when Santino pulled Phoenix out of the ring while Candice had her covered. Although Marella was only trying to help, Phoenix isn’t that type of champion, and she didn’t want any assistance. At some point their volatile relationship will cost Marella his Intercontinental Championship, likely a few weeks shy of him overtaking the Honky Tonk Man for longest IC title reign. Overall this wasn’t as horrible as I was expecting, surprised as I am to have just typed those words. Clearly Candice is trying, so you have to give her a few points for the effort.

Next up was perhaps the final battle in the uninspiring war between Kane and Rey Mysterio. The first three matches on the card told the big man/little man story; interesting, if unoriginal. That must have been the flavor of the month in meetings of the Creative Department. Mysterio has perfected this story, and there are few in the history of the business better at fighting from underneath. Of course Rey did a fantastic job of hanging on, absorbing damage from the Big Red Machine, and inflicting punishment when he could. Mysterio frustrated the supposedly ‘conflicted’ monster enough that Kane had to use a chair and get himself DQ’d, saving Rey’s mask, which was put on the line as a last-minute attempt to draw with this match that nobody was too excited to see. Watching the same basic match layout three times in a row was less than entertaining, but Rey dragged a quasi-watchable performance out of Kane, so high points to the luchador there.

*SIDE NOTE: Other than it being a phrase that Jim Ross used a while ago to describe Kane’s mental instability, I’m not sure what Michael Cole thinks Kane is conflicted about. I sensed no conflict in him whatsoever in his quest to batter, humiliate, and unmask Rey Mysterio. Perhaps they should come up with a new buzzword for Kane, like ‘maniacal’ or ‘dangerous’.

Then came a long sportz entertainment segment featuring a total of seven “superstars”. MVP opened with a very good statement about being the one guy Vickie Guerrero should never leave on the bench, but Randy Orton made an appearance to explain that he truly is everything MVP claims to be, and the interplay between the two was starting to heat up when Rhodes, DiBiase, and Manu joined the fray. I have to admit, the slow burn on the relationship between these four princes of wrestling is actually far better than I expected. Normally WWE would tear through an angle like this in two weeks, but they’re still developing it slowly and steadily.

It was fun watching the braggadocios, loud-mouthed MVP get a comeuppance, and CM Punk’s chicanery was the highlight of the exchange, tricking MVP into taking a beat-down at the hands of the New Horsemen. This segment set up or continued a lot of future issues between different wrestlers, including Punk and Kofi versus MVP, the New Horsemen versus MVP, Punk and Kofi versus the New Horsemen, Randy Orton versus MVP, Randy Orton versus Punk and Kofi, and whatever’s going on between the New Horsemen and Orton. I hope Creative can keep track of all of it. This was a fun segment that fit nicely into the pay-per-view.

Just when WWE hit a high note, they instantly brought things back down and out came JBL to face Batista for the #1 contendership to the RAW world title. Make no mistake, I understand and appreciate the contributions John Layfield has made to the business, but when he retired and moved to the announce desk (where he performed exceptionally well) he should have remained there. His coming out of retirement has been one long, bad idea. He just doesn’t have it anymore between the ropes.

Batista has a great look, a cool attitude, and a large fan following, but once he steps into the ring he’s fairly useless. Thankfully this match was relatively short, and Batista’s victory was no surprise. He’s got history with both HBK and Y2J, so no matter who was to win the main event later in this show, Batista makes a good #1 contender. As soon as he was done stinking up the ring and grabbed a mic, JBL was golden once again. Please, Mr. Layfield. Just go back to the booth! I won’t bother commenting on the stupid Cryme Tyme segment that wrapped up the JBL promo. Next.

I can’t imagine who in Creative believes hooking up Big Show and Undertaker yet again is a good idea. The two slow, older, lumbering strikers together make for boring television. It was during the Show/’Taker match that I really appreciated the fact that I hadn’t paid money to see this ppv. Big Show’s attempt at a side Russian leg-sweep was ludicrous, and he ought to at least stick with his new “most dangerous right hand in the WWE” gimmick and leave the wrestling to those who can properly execute wrestling throws and holds while making them look something akin to offensive maneuvers. Tazz’s description of this match as “non stop action” was equally ridiculous.

The knockout/ref stoppage finish is an unusual one for WWE and was a nice twist, but unfortunately not nice enough to salvage the match. At this point, both Show and Undertaker should be paired with younger guys who can make their names by giving a good accounting of themselves against established veterans. Show and ‘Taker facing each other just maintains the status quo and does nothing for the future of WWE.

Up next was Triple H defending the WWE championship against perennial also-ran and self-destruction expert Jeff Hardy. Between the video package and JR’s hype, they actually made this title defense seem important. Kudos to WWE for that, since we all knew going in that Hardy had no chance of dethroning the Game, but they at least made me want to watch. Early on, Hardy’s strategy of wrestling and using takedowns and headlocks was quite surprising, and it reminded me of Joe/Punk I and II in ROH for just a moment. But that’s where THOSE comparisons end. Hardy tuned the match around and handed control back to the Game by taking an unnecessary risk, landing flat on his back on the floor after attempting a plancha. It’s frustrating to see him keep taking the obviously unnecessary risk match after match at this point in his career. Wouldn’t a guy with his immense experience have learned anything by now?

After an interesting start and a shot at being something different, this match degenerated right back into a common SmackDown affair. Some expert pro wrestling analysts might call this “perfectly acceptable wrestling”, and it was by WWE television standards. It would have been pretty good for a TV match, in fact. However this is ppv, and you should expect a little bit more than “acceptable” when you pay $40 for a wrestling show. But it was nice to see Triple H win with a wrestling counter instead of the Pedigree for the 9,712th time.

The main event was another chapter in the epic saga between world heavyweight champion Chris Jericho and living legend Shawn Michaels in the infamous, ever dangerous ladder match. Jericho is quite accomplished in the role of the wicked heel champion, and Michaels is still fighting for retribution and to vanquish his hated foe. You knew going in that this was going to be good, so it was simply a matter of how good, and what crazy spots would these two innovators invent to add to the long history of ladder matches in WWE lore. With evil on his mind, Jericho came up with a couple of vicious new uses for the climbing apparatus to inflict pain and suffering on HBK, as he still believes he is in the shadow of Shawn Michaels.

It was an exciting battle, culminating in Lance Cade’s interference saving Jericho’s title, and the never before seen see-saw battle at the top of the ladder with both HBK and Y2J hanging onto opposite sides of the title belt before Jericho squeaked out the victory. THIS was a championship match worthy of main-eventing a pay-per-view.

As a whole, No Mercy was all over the map. A couple of decent matches, two crappy matches, and one very good ladder match resulted in a card that was less than all WWE can be. It almost feels as if they’re holding back, intentionally keeping certain shows at a level lower than their more famous counterparts like WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Royal Rumble and Survivor Series, but there’s no reason for that. Why wouldn’t WWE want to produce 12 excellent pay-per-views a year? Clearly they have the performers, storytelling ability, and production quality to recapture lost glory. I wonder if they’ll ever put it all together again and revisit the halcyon days of 8-10 years ago. If not, these hit-or-miss shows are about as good as WWE fans can hope for.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “Fire, water, and government know nothing of mercy.” – Albanian proverbtopstory500x250-|topstory500x250 topstory120x120-×120.jpg|topstory120x120

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Breaking Holds – Episode Six Tue, 15 Jul 2008 20:00:27 +0000 Today’s Episode: Heartbreakers

Sorry about the delay.

This is the second installment (in a series of, well, two) of my little fit of fantasy booking, as a few storylines have arrived in WWE that have taken a small nibble at my interest. Last week I looked at the prospect of what could be with the “second generation stable” that may or may not be happening in WWE at the moment. This week, I take a shot at a storyline that, to meet the ideas that I have come up with, will require a bit more of suspension of disbelief. However, it’s FAR from impossible, and would, I think be more interesting than the stumbling half-measures that the fed has currently taken.

2) Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (and friends)

Something that WWE has done right is simply putting these two guys at odds, because they’re both awesome and, like chocolate and peanut better, are even better together. Jericho’s angry heelishness towards Michaels is beautiful in its truth, as he grows increasingly disenchanted with a crowd that cheers his enemy despite the villainy that he occasionally sprinkles into his matches. At the same time, Jericho being angry at the fans still works to make him a heel, as it’s as if he’s angry at the “battered wives,” so to speak, that the audience as become; even though Shawn might lie to us, we’ve been together so long, and we love him. If he were treating us as brainwashed victims, that’s one thing, but his anger at us simply due to our love paints him as a putz instead of a hero.

However, WWE came close to making something great, but hasn’t gone full bore with it. Former Shawn Michaels trainee Lance Cade, big, young, talented and Texan, has turned his back on the teacher and joined the enemy. It’s great that they’re giving Cade a shot at something bigger, as I’ve always been a fan of the guy, and he really has all the tools to be something special.

But, as all of we smart wrasslin’ fans know, there are a few other Michaels trainees in the company, and here’s how I’d bring them in.

This Sunday, Michaels wrestles Jericho, and after some spectacular action, Cade sees his boss losing, and, while Jericho distracts the ref, Cade comes in and gives Michaels that uranage bomb that he’s been using. In a perfect world, that should give Jericho the pin, as it would immediately establish Cade’s finisher as something that can put away the best the company has. However, if they would rather have Michaels go over somehow, that’s fine with me. The real fun happens when Jericho or Cade lays Michaels out, and they each go for chairs to pummel the future hall-of-famer. Then, a newly reunited Paul London and Brian Kendrick run down and put themselves in between Michaels and Jericho and Cade (Jerichade?), with Kendrick positioning himself exactly between the factions and London on the top turnbuckle doing a sort of “recon,” ready to dropkick anyone that goes near their mentor. We have a standoff…until Kendrick grabs Michaels head and hits Sliced Break #2, then quickly pulling him back for a Paul London 450 Splash. Michaels is decimated, and Jericho has just grabbed the last two men that Shawn has trained.

And hey, if WWE wants to put in Brian Kendrick’s new big black bodyguard, that’s fine, too. I’m flexible.

The next night on Raw, Jericho brings out his squad, and Kendrick and London get a chance to mouth off about how Michaels gave them NO help entering this business, and once they were in WWE, they had no choice but to struggle on their own, being stuck at the bottom of the card despite putting on awesome matches every single week, while Shawn simply hung out with Hunter and made dick jokes. There can be a real sense of bitterness here, as their connection was never even acknowledged on television before Jericho talked about Cade’s experience with the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy.

However, Jericho takes the mic back (once the boys have gotten their angst off their chest, naturally), and looks right at the camera. “But you know, Shawn…I’m not done yet…I’m not done taking your legacy away from you. You and I both know…there’s one more. See you real soon.” And with that, he drops the mic, and he and the kids exit. Michaels will not appear on Raw this week.

The next week, the audience will be treated to little bits of dialogue between Jericho and his gang about how sure he is that he’s doing the right thing. At one point, Michaels enters their locker room, holding up his hands in truce, as he did not come to fight. Instead, he simply begs Jericho not to do this, and that it would simply be a terrible, terrible thing to do. However, Jericho makes it plainly clear how bad he wants to hurt him, and that he’s going to have fun taking total control over the legacy of Shawn Michaels. With that, he kicks him out of the room, telling him to get out before he and the boys kick the crap out of him.

On a Raw three weeks from that original big promo, Jericho and the Heartbreakers (something he’ll NEVER call them…perhaps “Team Jericho” or something simple like that) come down to the ring, and Jericho talks about how he has completed his collection, how he has released all of Shawn’s pupils from the yoke of his selfishness. Thus, he announces the final member of Team Jericho.

Of course, it is “The American Dragon,” Bryan Danielson. It would obviously be best to do this in MSG or some other stadium in the tri-state area, who are most likely to know who Bryan Danielson is, so that the television audience can hear people cheering the man as a big deal. Danielson walks down the ramp like the most determined man in the history of the universe, wearing a red and black boxing robe with a hood, hardly showing his face at all. Jericho runs down his awesomeness, and how it was all too easy to get Danielson into WWE when Michaels never would.

This brings out Michaels, with microphone, who meets a smarmy, smirking Jericho in the ring. Jericho speaks, “Wow, Shawn…it’s really nice to have you out here, as you can now see how everyone you’ve ever taught, all of these young, hungry guys who know everything that you know…they’ve turned their backs on you, Shawn. I’ve given these guys something that you never could, or never did: a bit of hope, a bit of possibility, a bit of help, you selfish bastar-“

Michaels injerjects, “You…idiot!” Michaels is confused, but still smarmy as usual. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done? Do you?! You really think I ignored this guy, let him ‘wallow’ in obscurity? Like you said, he’s wrestled and DOMINATED all over the world, in every federation he’s ever been a part of…do you really think I forgot about him? Why, of the four guys that I’ve trained, would I only bring in three? Do you have ANY idea what you’ve done.”

There is silence.

Danielson has not moved since entering the ring. He has only stared ahead at Jericho and Michaels. Michaels continues. “Damn you, Chris. You have no idea what you’ve brought into WWE. You have no idea…”

Danielson grabs Jericho from behind and dragon suplexes him into oblivion. London tries to hit him, but he catches him with a sharp elbow to the shoulder and a kick to the head. Kendrick eats a tiger suplex, and when Cade tackles him, he’s taken down with a drop toehold, and before he even knows what’s happening, he’s trapped in the Cattle Mutilation, screaming like he’s been set on fire. Danielson gets up, looks at Michaels with eyes full of intensity, and Michaels leaves quickly, almost out of respect, almost out of fear. Danielson looks around the arena, surrounded by carnage.

The American Dragon has been set loose on the WWE. God help us all.
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