1) Rockers vs. Orient Express - B:5 J:6
Brian: Jessie had previously reviewed this, giving it a "7", and making the bold proclamation that the Rockers were "possibly (the) best team of (the) 90's". I dig the enthusiasm Jessie, being a modern day Dean Moriarty (Yes! Yes!) myself, but I think you drank some of Michaels' Kool-Aid, and it wasn't the Aspartame-laced Splenda that played games with your mind, but likely some sort of intoxicant Shawn typically uses on girls at bars and not wrestling journalists like yourself.
This was a real fun opener, got the Miami crowd pretty hot, not in physical terms, I'm sure they were already out earlier getting radiation poisoning by jet-skiing their dicks into dolphins or whatever people in sunny southern Florida do. I dug Michaels' bump to the floor, but Jannetty looked a step off, probably from the horse-grade tranquilizer Shawn shot into his bare ass pre-show.
There's something to be said on a deeper, more metaphorical, pop culture, bullshit way here, too. The Orient Express are in bright red, the Rockers in blue, and I believe there's something to be said about these contrasting primary colors (by the way, my favorite of the additive colors from Goethe's wheel is magenta). Red and blue, battling on opposite sides of the battlefield, this was a trope, or common theme, in a lot of the pop culture imagery my generation grew up with. A good example would be in the animated series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, where you could distinguish between the good and bad guys' laser fire as they were distinctively either blue or red.
Back to wrestling, not a bad effort, certainly not worthy of a "7" though, my fellow Steve Simpson connoisseur, but harmless enough. I think the Express could have engaged the crowd a bit more through heel tactics.
Jessie: And I thought that spritzer I was administered was the H1N1 innoculation; should have realized something was up when the nurse was wearing a Camo Cowboy hat and had a lazy eye. Regardless, I still have to recommend this overall, and being my favorite thing on the show. While not as fresh upon a second glance, there was still a ton that still worked in this match, more than I can say about our re-introduction of civilization to Iraq. The long Orients control sections never got boring and had several highspots to tickle your taint, such as a Tanaka forearm and the athleticism here toppled most everything else presented on this raucous Miami night, where most assuredly horse tranquilizers and bestial, unprotected, mind you, sex with dolphins was certainly on the agenda.
2) Barbarian vs. Big Bossman - J:5 B:4
Jessie: So HHH is totally a wrestling fanboy because he jocked Barbarian's early 90's Nordic ring gear during his "Conan" ring entrance at Mania a few years back. This was fun in the way watching huge Bulls spear matadors in Spanish bull fights because both of these guys just came full charge at each other. Bossman was selling very realistically early, snapping his head back from punches like he just ingested Pop Rocks & a Coke at the same time. Bossman was leading the charge, pace wise, and Barbarian was laboriously breathing heavy early on but managed to pull through. He was very comfortable on the top rope, hitting a clothesline that could have taken down an African Elephant. Interesting finish led to a surprising pinfall but this was one of the more solid offerings on the show. Or as the great wordsmith I did my Master Thesis on in College would say, "Totally Tubular!"
Brian: Being an obnoxiously loyal Powers of Pain fan, I was going into this with high hopes, especially since the year prior Bossman got a really good match out of Jim Duggan. Jessie sufficiently covered the details, I'll just say, I typically enjoy longer matches, but this was a case where a they could have saved face by shaving off a couple minutes. I also would have preferred a few more "let's just punch each other in the nose!" sections.
3) Sgt. Slaughter vs. Ultimate Warrior - B:3 J:3
Brian: I'd be remiss and negligent to not at least briefly mention an interview earlier in the evening where Sherri Martel feigned going down on Warrior in attempt at getting a title shot for Randy Savage out of him. It was doubly uncomfortable as I think Gene Okerlund was getting aroused holding a mic to Sherri's lips while she knelt in-front of Warrior's throbbing, steroid-injected fuck missile.
This left a bad taste in my mouth unlike Brittany Murphy's death. Too soon? It seemed fairly obvious Slaughter's answer to the Warrior puzzle, i.e. how to work around his lack of skill, and that was by applying soul-drainingly dull holds. Savage's two interference spots were pure dynamite, bringing a sense of explosiveness that was sorely lacking to the proceedings, but even that couldn't jump-start this Brussels sprout fart into anything recommendable. Even though Slaughter was getting a huge, controversial win, he seemed unmotivated and distracted. Maybe he was tired of the late night death threats and political cartoons depicting him giving Saddam Hussain fellatio.
Jessie: The acting invovled to pull off that interview segment was astounding beyond words, i mean move over Welles and turn Xanadu into a parking lot. Sherri was plenty engaged in fondling Warrior's sweaty glistening gas filled physique as he growled in anticipation of his climax. I thought Mean Gene was going to pop a blood vessel or Warrior was going to blow a vein and shoot nasty pus out of it like the dinner scene from Troll 2. Brit Murphy, too soon? Hell, i say not soon enough!
This totally was a Scud Missile. Slaughter took the safe road and navigated Warrior through a series of slow moving rope spots and wear down holds that showed record sales at the merch booth and the 3rd floor bathroom for smack and Saba Simba pencil cases. Savage got off easy tonight with no Rumble appearance but his zany attacks were always the highlight of this match. Slaughter marched from the arena holding the belt high while I felt a significant load in my pants that i removed, stuffed in a cardboard box, and labeled "Slaughter v. Warrior." I can even label it guaranteed, I have extra time.
4) The Mountie vs. Koko B. Ware - J:2 B:2
Jessie: This was the messy diaper of the show. Koko had tons of energy, per the norm for him, but Mountie just looked like an inept goof and had the physical features of Doby from Harry Potter fame. 2 highlights were Koko's sound dropkick and a really spirited bump from the Birdman over the top rope. It's when you see little touches like that where it feels all worthwhile to study this sport. Ware was in a transition when the spot came, so he didn't really need to go balls out but he did and it got big heat from a crowd totally deflated by the previous match. Mountie seriously must have had men's balls on his mind because Koko had to readjust after Mountie missed his cue to go to the finish, which ended up being a forceful head slam to the mat, which he did with the force it would take to subdue a child's stuffed animal.
Brian: I dig Ware, who looked truly tits here, even making Mountie's subpar offense look credible and devastating. Mountie, on the other hand, delivered an eyesore of a performance. As one-half of the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, Jacques usually looked moderately good, but here he looked pathetic. Anybody that's got a game Koko primed to bump for them and still can't put together anything tantalizing needs to quit the business and take up gardening.
5) Dusty and Dustin Rhodes v. Ted DiBiase and Virgil - B:3 J:3
Brian: Like a lot of these early Royal Rumble undercard bouts, this was heavy on the story, light on in-ring quality. I will say this: DiBiase was the glue that held this popsicle stick cabin together. I never really found Ted as a guy who worked particularly stiff or snug, but I'll be damned, he had a couple moments of Hansen-like brutality shine through in this one. Dustin worked face in peril, not very convincingly, and by this point Dusty was good for little else than being the brunt of sophomoric, college bulletin board humor about the discolored blotch on his belly or a forehead that looked like Grand Central Station. The ending was quite odd, as DiBiase kicked Virgil to the curb, leaving him you'd assume to get beaten by his two opponents, right? Nope. He dispatched of Virgil like a 2nd St. transvestite hooker and then beat the Rhodes' single-handily. A good night for DiBiase, a bad night for trivial, middling, overbooked filler.
Jessie: If the color Magenta could talk, it would be mortified it adorned Virgil's ass cheeks after this performance. Strangely, he and Dustin worked most of this match and it was as awkward as finding a sex tape of your grandma and your dad screwing in your bedroom on top of your Nickelback poster. Dibiase was as precise as Snake Eyes with a blade or Gordon Ramsey with a fun Brit insult. He was the only redeeming quality here. Dusty could have melted into a pile of his own butter soaked skin in the middle of the ring with a "Help!" sign held up like Wile E Coyote and even then I couldn't have been less interested. It's hard to believe the Rhodes boys ever came back after their complete burial here, but money talks especially when there's always more chaps to buy.
6) Royal Rumble Match - J:5 B:5
Jessie: If there's one thing that I do generally love about this sport, it has to be the annual grandiose battle royal called the Royal Rumble. To the backstage writers, it's a chance to jumpstart or stop all the major Mania programs in one big package. To me, as I was discussing this with Brian, it's one long punchfest that never fails to entertain. It's hard to get the match wrong, even though they have succeeded in the past. This one had it's share of potatoes to be sure, from the likes of Von Erich, Valentine, hell even Hulk was dishing out some spuds to various lower card heel monsters. While the match had that engaging Rumble formula down, there wasn't any major moments that would stick in your crawl for years on end, just a lot of hardworkers throwing right hand after right hand. Martel and Valentine lasted quite a while in this one, i'd say nearly 40 mins. apiece and it was fun to get to see them in this environment for that long. Best elimination has to go to Crush from Demolition, he was tossed by Hulk while trying the 10 punches routine but instead of just falling down to his ample backside on the apron then touching the floor, he throws himself all the way over the other side of the pole and hits viciously on the apron then collapsing in a heap on the ground. Exquisite. The end was a big letdown though, another Hogan ego stroke, as he was left in with the Quake and Nasty boy Knobs, who if anyone has watched his reality show, knows that was Hulk's boy ( who desperatley wanted to touch Brooke's naughty places) But I walk away satisified enough with the results. Brian, it's been too long since we've shared a piece of prose, (or for that matter a plate of sushi!) but it's good to be back.
Brian: Some works of art are meant to be relived over and over again, such as the album "Clarity" by Jimmy Eat World, or groundbreaking films like "Pierrot le fou" or "House Party 2: The Pajama Jam!". A really transcendent wrestling match can have the same effect, but I fear there's a misconception with the Royal Rumbles matches, as upon revisiting many of them, it appears blind nostalgia gets the best of most fans as many of these overblown bouts are as nourishing as cleaning a cat's liter box with your asshole and eating it for brunch. I'll let you figure out the logistics of that one as I ruminate momentarily on Crush's elimination and subsequent lobotomy on the ring apron. Jessie admirably tackled the bulk of the match, so, allow me to just chime in with my likes and dislikes. I dug that, for the bulk of it, there was a lot of guys in the ring at the same time, instead of some years where one guy will arrive and clear the ring of a bunch of people real quickly. This allowed for all sorts of weird encounters, I mean, who'd have believed Shane Douglas ever worked over Undertaker in a McMahon-owned ring? The surreal moment of the night goes to Bushwhacker Luke, who got eliminated in a record setting four seconds, then nonchalantly marched like a stunted man-child back to the locker room as if oblivious to his complete and utter failure. I also have to mention Hawk, who came to the ring like a fucking raging, testosterone-feuled junkie with arms made of dragon dicks swinging wildly and drilling anyone dumb enough to get in his way. I'm with Jessie, while I'm pretty indifferent towards the Hogan cultural phenomenon, this ending was downright awful as there was no chance in hell we believed either Earthquake or Knobbs had slither of a chance of winning this. Overall, a somewhat forgettable Rumble match, if Paul Roma was one of its workhorses that should tell you something. Jessie, always a pleasure, hit me up, I've got the commercial DVD release of Royal Rumble '00 sitting among a pile of back issues of Ebony in my basement that we could fire up the projector and screen any time we feel so inclined.