1. vs. John Crystal - (Raw 5/22/95) - 2
2. vs. Marc Mero - (Raw 10/21/96) - 3
3. vs. Mankind - (King of the Ring '97) - 6
4. vs. Owen Hart - (WrestleMania XIV) - 5
5. vs. Mankind - (Raw 9/23/99) - 4
6. vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - No Holds Barred Match - (No Mercy '99) - 5
7. vs. Cactus Jack - Hell in the Cell Match - (No Way Out '00) - 7
8. Royal Rumble '02 highlights - N/A
Well, after seeing fellow writer Adam’s draft on this set lay untouched for over three weeks, I figured somebody should review it so I went out of my way to get it and now I’d like to share my thoughts. For this piece I’ll be focusing on the first disc, with a look at the second and concluding disc possibly coming in the near future. Triple H is a favorite target of many Internet writers. I left any biases behind when spinning this disc, trying instead to focus my concentrated energies on studying the man’s work and milieu of this collection.
The first match is Hunter’s Raw debut and quite forgettable, although I’m sure not for Crystal, who likely heard he was making his DVD debut and ran to Wal-Mart to procure himself a copy to show to his buddies at the auto shop. Hunter’s really milking the elitist snob character, which drags down the pace, but him winning with an RKO was an unexpected surprise. I noticed that the audio was tampered with, too; as occasionally the announcers’ voices would disappear randomly for brief periods. The match versus Mero wasn’t any good, either. Hunter, flat on his back, suspiciously put his arms up during a Mero slingshot leg drop which ruined the spot. The match ended with Mr. Perfect doing a heel turn, supposedly swerving the audience by hitting Mero with the Intercontinental title, although it was painfully obvious what was going to happen.
I reviewed Hunter and Mankind from King of the Ring ’97 before, but upon a second viewing, I knocked the score down a point. It’s the finals of the KOTR tournament, but feels kind of flat, even if Foley kills himself in a losing effort. Foley gets hurt a lot; his head gets violently stuck in-between the ropes, he does an elbow drop off the apron out into the entrance aisle landing on concrete, later gets knocked off the apron and falls backwards hitting the back of his skull on the metal guardrail, takes a Pedigree on an old, stiff table, gets kneed off the apron a second time, this time landing on a nearby crouching photographer, and lastly, gets hit by Chyna with a scepter that looks like something Teela would have carried in Eternia.
The match against Owen Hart is thrown in there but it didn’t do a lot for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Owen, but this match feels more like their basic touring match, done repeatedly at house shows void of any spontaneity or risk-taking. Still, it’s solid for what it is, but not worthy of being sought out. The next match is another against Foley, this time from an episode of Raw, and wow does it ever suck dong! The Rock is on commentary, putting himself over at the expense of the match, then you’ve got slob Foley defending the biggest prize in wrestling wearing some dirty sneakers. It’s a big mess, but one bump worth mentioning his Mankind taking a nasty hiptoss from Chyna directly onto the steel ring steps.
The match with Austin was one I’d completely forgotten, and while a fun brawl, suffered the same symptoms of many main events from that era, a lack of substance and a emphasis on wild stories instead of hard-hitting action. It started with a brawl back towards the entrance area, with both guys slipping and falling on the polished wood court of the Cleveland Cavaliers. These guys would go on to have better matches, two of which are available on Austin’s recent DVD set. The Rock gets involved in the end, further damaging this one, but while not particularly good it’s still a pretty amusing watch.
The Hell in the Cell match is a fairly violent affair, intended originally to be Foley’s last match, which would have been a good sendoff as it was barbaric enough to capture his spirit. Foley hit a chair-assisted elbowdrop from the second buckle on Hunter out on the floor, which HHH sold by quivering like Ian Curtis of Joy Division fame. After breaking a section of the cage by hurtling the steel ring steps at it, Foley, for no discernable reason, charges full-force at it and bumps through it in a puzzling moment. The crowd erupts as they tease climbing the cage, and after being at SummerSlam ’08 live, seeing Edge versus Undertaker in a Hell in the Cell match, I know how the possibility of seeing high-risk stuff gets a crowd rocking. Foley gets a barbed wire board out from underneath the timekeeper’s table. Wait, what? That doesn’t make any sense. Why the fuck would that be there? So, I guess he hid it there hours before the show started? Or, what? Thankfully Lillian didn’t stub her toe unsuspectingly. Jack takes a pretty gnarly bump off the side of the cage onto the announcer’s table, landing roughly back first in a pretty disturbing visual. After getting back to his feet, Foley tries three times unsuccessfully to toss a steel chair from the floor up on top of the cage, where Hunter is shown standing erect with a dumb, startled expression on his face. They brawl on top of the cage, where ultimately Hunter backdrops Foley, which sees him fall through a section of the cage, plummeting to the ring below where he lands “breaking” the ring. My biggest gripe with this is the camerawork. When the spot initially happens, right before it does the cameraman does an extreme, unnatural zoom-out, which signaled to me that clearly something big of that nature was about to transpire. I remember watching it live and feeling like the excitement of the spot was ruined. It’s a shame this wasn’t Foley’s last match, as take for example, his outing with Carlito at Taboo Tuesday ’05 was completely embarrassing.
The last segment is Triple H’s work in the ’02 Royal Rumble. He’s entrant #22 and ends up winning, so we see the entirety of his performance. He’s in with Austin and they brawl, throw the next entrant out, brawl some more, repeat, etc. It was funny when Faarooq entered, as he’s in our HOF but superstars Austin and HHH aren’t. The highlight of this Rumble was Mr. Perfect, who made it to the final three before eventually being eliminated, and made for some entertaining moments. I couldn’t rate this match as the majority of it wasn’t shown—what I did see didn’t make me really want to go out of my way to relive that particular show anytime soon.
Overall, most of the stuff on this disc can be skipped, or peeped elsewhere. Hunter hosts the DVD, similar to the way the new Austin set is conducted, which I find a nice touch as it adds some much needed personality to these compilations. The only thing I’d say is really recommendable for your personal collection would be the Hell in the Cell bout with Cactus Jack; and if you really want it, I’d suggest just getting a copy of No Way Out ’00 so you can also see that tasty Viscera versus Mark Henry match, too.