1) El Matador v. Doink- 3
Nice to see my Aug 08 HOF pick, Tito in action- his career was winding down at this point. He didn't have that quickness he used to here but he still had his trusty side headlock, which saw a lot of ring time. Doink was real Zybyzsko here, a lot of goofy laughing and taking walks. He worked top armlock for a good portion of the match. Doink's bumps were real awkward and Santana was def. working in a gear slower than he used to. Finish brought this down; Doink grabbed some kind of spray from his jacket and spritzed Titos' eyes for the win. Totally off topic: Seeing this reminded me how much I loved the line from Dark Knight where Joker has Rachel hanging from a window- Batman says" Let her go!" and Joker responds, " Poor choice of words!"
2) Money Inc. v. Steiner Brothers (WWF Tag Team Title)- 6
You just don't see this kind of match anymore, especially in the E! Steiners were really over and started the match with slow believable collegiate matwork and both the Steiners were really superb at manipulation of the body, whether while doing a suplex, or using an arm to get a takedown. Money Inc. might just be the greatest scientific wrestling team ever put together. Their cutoffs on the faces are always flawless and to the point. Nothing flashy from them, just straight wrestling, perfect execution on elbow drops, arm wringers and clotheslines. And this actually got time to develop! Wow, that's a new concept. All the roles were clearly defined here, Scott played the beating dummy and is a much better choice than Rick. He can get more sympathy and isn't as rigid. But, Rick's comebacks are really believable because he's such a bruiser and both Money Inc guys will bump FOR YOU. Finish was really uncreative- Title belt to back of head for DQ, the only thing I didn't like about this.
3) Yokozuna v. Undertaker- 3
The whole beginning of this felt like a cut scene from a video game that you can't skip. Taker leering at the urn, Paul Bearer shaking like a bowl of moist yogurt, Yoko taking his damn time doing the whole salt ceremony. Then they had a face off- that's how you do intensity! Of course the match didnt' hold up- it was a 6 minute stinker that saw Taker hit a swank flying DDT, which Yoko sold like gold, some tasty uppercuts from both men, then a lame brawl outside. Match ended in a DQ when Yoko hit Taker with the salt bucket in the tamest of tame weapon shots. You couldn't have broken tissue paper with this shot. The force of this shot couldn't have broken Angelina Jolie's diaphragm. The impact of this shot....well, you get the point.
4) Papa Shango v. Tatanka- 4
Two reasons I gave this a better score than the other 2 matches below on it: 1) both guys showed some exuberance in their performance, Tatanka was a ball of fire on the offensive, and while I can argue his flurry of "tomahawk" variations was a little silly, he really showed some emotion when executing it. Shango, for his part, sold them extremely well even for being a big man. and 2) the finish was clean, and surprising (a quick rollup) not just one guy hitting his finisher and that's it. So, while not worth seeking out, still commendable.
5) Beverly Brothers v. Bushwhackers- 2
Of all the goofy gimmicks and ridiculous characters, I think, after seeing this, the Beverlys are the most cartoonish of all. Their performance here would make even the most ludicrous Vaudeville performance look like King Lear. They were overselling all of the Whackers' insipid offense for the whole first half of this match, flipping and flopping everywhere to get over that comedy shit and it all sucked. Then, they take over control and their move set looks like shit! Weak ass kicks, lame ax handles (not from the top rope) and sodding punches highlighted their whole control section. The finish was as plausible as the premise for Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: Blake Beverly accidentally hits his partner with a top rope forearm (?) and that pins him. This was wretched and made me detest the color purple for a while (not the book, never read that).
6) Bret Hart v. Bam Bam Bigelow- 6
Before we get started on this one, Adam reviewed this back in the stone age of NHO and said if you ever want to see a bad Bret Hart match, check this out. I'm inviting him to give it a 2nd look and see for yourself.
Vince McMahon called Bret "the greatest storyteller our business has ever seen." That statement is the crux of this match. Basically, this could be a traning video for how to sell a bodypart, and get the underdog story over. Bret starts on offense and the visual of Bret's balled up fist, looping in sideways and connecting with Bam Bam's massive bald cranium, jerking back brings me great joy. Bam Bam grabs Bret outside and rams him back first into the steel pole and the performance begins: Bret, agonizing in pain outside, writhting and squirming like a nightcrawler searching through the hollowed skull of a corpse, is marvelous. He sells it for a good 3 minutes outside (with Bigelow breaking the count several times) then comes back in and just gives himself to the performance. Every few minutes, he'll hit an offensive move and the key to the story is what Bam Bam will come back with and Bret re-selling the original injury to the back with even more conviction. The best is after he gets back control and hits a few near falls, but after going to a back suplex more than once, Bam Bam's bodyweight reverses it and Bret's back down. Finally, he goes up and locks in a very convincing victory roll for the surprise win. End scene.