Monday, May 28, 2012

WCW World War 3 1998

1) Wrath v. Glacier - 3
Very strange match here. Glacier was taking some really great bumps, had to be near top of his career but both these lugs were clueless. Wrath was getting cheered like crazy but kept playing big dumb heel, choking, using cables, holding tights etc. He couldn't read the crowd at all; heard much like his time on the TNT Mortal Kombat TV series. Finish was fine though

2) Stevie Ray v. Konnan - 2
Stevie's not necessarily known for dynamic offense and this certainly fell into that category. If you could capture the phrase "Mailing it In" down to a 6 minute video this would be it. Stevie did throw one good kick and the most surprising aspect was he could get his leg that high. The finish was as insulting as Matthew Perry is unfunny.

3) The Cat/ Sonny Onoo v. Kaz Hayashi/ Saturn - 3
Believe it or not, when Cat was in shape instead of carrying around that Twinkie gut, he had a lot of athleticism and charisma and carries this fairly well. Saturn and he have a couple sequences that were as fun to watch as drinking spoiled milk but Kaz really looked bright eyed and lost during this. Onoo was just a goof and very atypical gimmick finish.

4) Billy Kidman v. Juventud Guerrera - 8
I reviewed this match last Jan. as part of WWE's High Flyers set and my original thoughts stand true; if you want to give your eyes a late Valentine's Day gift, pop this in and feast.

5) Scott Steiner v. Rick Steiner - 1
Fist off Buff's hat would make Anthony Bourdain look foolish and he's about the coolest guy in the world. This wasn't a match at all really, Rick was jumped by the NWO in the back and thrown to Scotty, but Rick looked pretty stupid wearing a Halloween Havoc t shirt under his singlet. No finish.

6) Kevin Nash v. Scott Hall - N/A
Another advertised match that didn't happen; appears Hall was expelled from the NWO Black and White (what a shame) and Nash saved his ass from having to perform in a brawl while intoxicated.

okay so my 13 year old tape broke as Ciclope was entering the ring to no doubt go on to win the 60 man battle royal; but since it broke i guess i'll never know.

7) Chris Jericho v. Bobby Duncum jr

8) 3 Ring 60 Man Battle Royal

9) Bret Hart v. DDP

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ECW Living Dangerously 1998

It’s the fourth ECW pay-per-view and it opens with a very cool video featuring Taz walking into the empty arena the night before, looking around, and very blunty saying “I’m ready”. Good way to open the pay-per-view and build something up instead of just coming on the air with the crowd going crazy.

I’m actually pretty excited to watch this show by the way. Let’s hope it turns out better than the last two pay-per-views.

1) Tracy Smothers & Little Guido vs. Jerry Lynn & Chris Chetti – 3
2) Doug Furnas vs. Masato Tanaka – 3

Opening tag didn’t have much meat to it and probably would have been better off as a dark match. Chetti seemed more nervous out there than a high schooler asking his girlfriend to the prom. I’m guessing that’s why they had Lynn out there with him. I’ve been liking a lot of recent Tracy Smothers stuff, albeit it’s few and far between, but I’m beginning to enjoy his work more and more. He was definitely the bright spot in this otherwise dull match. So, Furnas is subbing here for W*ING Kanemura. I’m not sure, but somehow I don’t think that’s an even trade-off. They’re also still working the WWF vs. ECW angle. I thought that finished up a long time ago. Guess not. Both guys seemed really sloppy. Tanaka’s swinging DDT planted Furnas right on his neck. Furnas had a flurry of good stuff late in the bout with a nice powerslam, an inverted tombstone, and a sick German.

3) Rob Van Dam vs. Too Cold Scorpio – 5

RVD and Scorpio always looks like a good match on paper. The problem here was mainly the flow of the match. Both guys definitely looked good but between moves, it felt like an eternity. Scorpio’s high flying stuf is always great to watch. He could be seventy years old and his moonsaults and springboards could look just as smooth. Some of his kicks looked a bit rusty though. Really liked the brawling on the elevated rampway as the pace picked up. Scorpio hit a few wild piledrivers on there for good measure. RVD seemed to be on auto-pilot for most of this although there were a few small glimpses as if he might move to the next level. The interference at the end from Sabu and The Sandman was completely unnecessary and ruined an otherwise decent match.

4) The Dudley Boys vs. Balls Mahoney & Axl Rotten vs. New Jack & Spike Dudley – Three Way Dance – 3
5) Tommy Dreamer vs. Justin Credible – 3

These type matches are a staple of ECW and while there have been a few good matches like this, they are few and far between. Judging by the score, it’s pretty obvious this was not one of the good ones. New Jack and Spike is a very odd combination. Not sure what lead to them teaming together. It must be an unwritten rule that all these matches start of with shitty punching. Bubba had the sell of the match, doing this real goofy sell of some Balls and Axl chair shots. Big spot of the match was New Jack and Spike doing a double balcony dive, that was admittedly pretty cool, despite the fact I’ve seen that same thing in every New Jack match. I’m hoping for someone to put me out of my misery here. Not so much for the match, but for the fact that I am having to listen to a shitty rap song over and over. Bad brawling and ugly spots were the order of the day here. After an elongated crowd brawl in the previous match, guess how they chose to start Dreamer and Justin? Yep, with a crowd brawl. Couple good chair spots. First was Justin taking a wild bump on a slingshot onto a chair on the ramp. Second was Dreamer dropkicking a chair into Justin’s face. After that, things went downhill faster that a slalom skiier. Lots of interference from Beulah and Jason rendered turned this into a giant clusterfuck. Paul E. must be a fan of low blow spots because there were about three or four of them in a 90 second interval. There was an awful rip-off of the Marlena/Chyna rag doll spot involving Beulah and the poster boy (or girl) for HGH, Nicole Bass

6) Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Taz – 5
7) The Sandman vs. Sabu – Dueling Canes Match - 2
8) Chris Candido & Shane Douglas vs. Lance Storm & Al Snow - 1

Taz delivered a nasty suplex off the ramp into the crowd and damn near killed himself. Rest of the match was a lot of brawling. This was the third straight match with a crowd brawl but here it actually felt somewhat necessary, as opposed to the two previous bouts where it felt like they were covering up terrible in-ring work. One thing I noticed was that Bigelow seemed disinterested at times and Taz didn’t really put up much resistance to Bigelow’s offense. I wanted to enjoy this match but something about it seemed off. Sort of felt like after the big suplex spot, they were just killing time before the big spot at the end where they broke the ring, which is the main thing this match is known for. Last pay-per-view I watched, Sandman and Sabu was one of the worst matches on the show. Here, they get top honors for having one of the shittiest, laziest pay-per-view matches I’ve seen in quite sometime. Hell, the Justin Gabriel vs. Jack Swagger three minute filler match on this year’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view was better than this. This was supposed to be a dueling canes match that, according to Joey Styles throughout the show “was too violent to air on pay-per-view”. I call bullshit on that statement, sir! Eight minutes in and Sandman hasn’t done a damn thing except stumble around and look foolish. Best thing about this was a double leg drop spot through a table, rest of it needs to be tossed on top of Mount Rumpke. Main event was a complete waste of four minutes. Nobobdy could do anything because there was a giant hole in the ring and caution tape all around that corner. Storm’s surprise partner? Sunny. (*insert sarcastic yaaay*) Two minutes in an Sunny turns on Lance, thus leading Al Snow to come out and join the mess as Storm’s replacement partner. This has rightfully deserved its score. You know what the sad thing about this show is? It’s been the best ECW pay-per-view yet.

ECW PPV Rankings:
1. Living Dangerously ‘98
2. Barely Legal
3. November to Remember ‘97
4. Hardcore Heaven ‘97

Next up in the countdown: Wrestlepalooza ‘98

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

AKIRA vs. Sugar Dunkerton

AKIRA vs. Sugar Dunkerton - SMASH 10/27/11 - 3

Match starts with a basketball tip-off but soon after both men are on the ground grappling for full-mount. Dunkerton came onto the scene in Chikara but in the last year has made waves in both EVOLVE and DG USA. Sugar tries a slipshod solipsistic whip into the ropes but the vet AKIRA grabs Sugar's head and squeezes it effectively cutting off that momentum. Sugar throws some nice punches. Dunkerton has charisma and the tiny Japanese crowd is enjoying his act although AKIRA is no eremitic. Really nice splash off of the top for the finish by AKIRA.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Extreme Reunion 4/28/12

Well, here we go again. It’s YET ANOTHER reunion show for ECW. I figured this concept would be dead and buried like Mike Awesome at this point but I guess not. I don’t think the world needs anymore of these shows as they are becoming progessively sadder and sadder to watch. The show opened with Bob Artese throwing hats into the crowd. Yes, hats. Then there’s some bullshit with Robbie Moreno and Joel Gertner, who looks facially like an old Jewish tailor. Can we please get to the wrestling already?

1. The Blue Meanie & Stevie Richards vs. Little Guido & Tony Mamaluke - 2

Once the wrestling finally started and it was merely passable. Every reunion show seems like it has to have some sort of Blue Meanie or B.W.O. tag team match against the FBI. This was better than any previous BWO/FBI match for one reason, it didn’t have one of those stupid dance offs. I guarantee if Tracy Smothers was involved in the match, then it would have. The BWO is accompanied by some clown named Thomas “Inch Worm” Rodman. Does anybody remember him? Anybody? Nope, didn’t think so. Guido and Mamaluke I still enjoy watching as a team, even though it seemed apparent that everyone here was just going through the motions. Finish was a mess with Luke Hawx getting involved and costing the BWO the win. Apparently there is some kind of story going on with Hawx and Shane Douglas. I guess I missed that memo.

2. C.W. Anderson vs. Al Snow - 3

This was billed as a “purist’s dream match”. I certainly wasn’t ever dreaming about it. Every time I see C.W. Anderson, he seems less and less interesting and very bland. Snow stalled forever doing stuff with the Head. I thought the basics here were decent and the pace was a bit slow but seemed to work well. Anderson held an armbar forever and the crowd completely turned. At one point on the floor, the camera is right in Snow’s face and it looked like he was about to cry. Anderson did some good work on Snow’s arm, including one spot where he wrapped it around the ringpost and whacked it with a chair. The ref bump wasn’t necessary at all. Dug the spinebuster to finish off Snow at the end. Afterwards, more shenanigans with Snow and his Head.

The lights went out and the ring announcer claimed “technical difficulties” When they came back on and there was an unnamed girl, presumably from the local strip club, dancing in the ring to which the crowd began to chant “show your tits”. She did not oblige but a drunk asian chick in the crowd did.

3. Balls Mahoney vs. Axl Rotten – 1

Balls has really slimmed down from the weight he was at in the original ECW, or even WWE for that matter. Axl, on the other hand, has added all the weight that Balls lost. His face was kind of droopy too, looks almost like he has Bell’s Palsy or something. Axl was gassed after the first punch exchange. Not a surprise there. Dude looks about as athletic as a tape dispenser. Crowd brawl did nothing for me. We got some weapons, including a Nerf jousting stick with toothpicks attached to it, lazy punching, and chair shots. I have literally left out nothing. Axl surprisingly got the win and then more than likely went and snorted some coke backstage off some regions of the pre-match stripper that shall not be discussed here.

4. Angel vs. New Jack & Mustafa – Handicap Match – 0

This was supposed to be a tag team match, but since Angel’s partner bounced faster than a check from Paul Heyman, instead we get a handicap match with Angel fighting both members of the Gangstas. As soon Angel was shown walking through the curtain, I knew this was going to be the New Jack segment. I’m honestly not sure if any bit of this whatsoever served a purpose. I’m not even honestly sure it was an official match but I’m grading it as one. Towards the end of this charade, some interference rom Ruckus and BLK Jeez, who are promptly booed out of the building. There was no finish, except for Jeez and Ruckus just up and leaving and everyone else walking around like lost souls in purgatory, which is exactly what this whole mess is turning out to be.

5. Jerry Lynn vs. Devon Storm – 5

Perhaps watching this match at 11:30 at night after only getting five hours of sleep the previous night wasn’t exactly the best idea so I watched it again a few days later. While it didn’t exactly age like a fine red wine, this was by far the best thing on the show. Storm looked like he’d just risen from the dead and was completely expressionless the whole match. Lynn was his usual good self here and didn’t look like he’d lost a step at all. First part was pretty slow but things heated up after an extended brawl on the outside. The first guardrail spot was a good idea in theory but didn’t look like it came across well in practice as Storm had a hell of a time even setting it up. Second guardrail spot was pretty wild with Storm jumping over the top and crashing down on Jerry who was on the rail. I’m not sure why but this felt like ECW more than anything else on the show. Perhaps it’s probably because it wasn’t people re-doing the same schtick from 20 years ago and actually felt somewhat authentic. Homicide was at ringside and apparently there’s something going on with him and Jerry Lynn. Again, I seem to have missed that memo. Loved the wild frankensteiner from the top buckle through a table on the floor. This probably would have gotten a “6” had the pace been a little faster. Aside from that, not many nitpicks and this was a very enjoyable match.

6. Shane Douglas vs. 2 Cold Scorpio – 2

No excuses here. This was downright awful, although I can only imagine how much more awful it would have been had Sabu wrestled instead of Scorpio. Pre-match, you know the drill, Douglas has to get mic work in to kill time. At one point during the promo, I checked the time remaining on the video and it said 30 minutes. Yeah, like Shane Douglas is going to wrestle a 30-minute match. Douglas looked like complete shit, working in a t-shirt. Scorpio wasn’t taking no shit here as he routinely threw some nasty, stiff elbows during the extended crowd brawl. Both guys almost got killed when Scorpio did a big dive into the crowd. The finish was beyond absurd with Kevin Sullivan (seriously) and Tod Gordon, who always shows up on these shows, running interference along with a shitty ref bump thrown in for good measure. I really though the point with Sullivan low blowing Douglas would be the finish but nope, they kept going for another five minutes with Douglas kicking out of all of Scorpio’s big moves. This match really deserves a “1” but Scorpio looked good and gave a good effort so I’ll give an extra point for that.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

HWA Heartland Cup Night 1

****Sorry fans i was on a bit of a hiatus, so this is incomplete but figured i'd post what i have anyways

As Adam plunges into the great unknown (marriage) we finished off his bachelorhood by partaking in the very activity we had all become friends doing; watching dudes in underwear beat each other up.

The stage was a fun little ramp that looked like it belonged in Stewey's (local bouncy house kingdom for kids)

Match 1- Remy Wilkins v. Billy Roc - 4

Roc trained Remy who had resembled a young Booker T in appearance (charisma was nowhere near).  Match was definition of an opener, had the one ups manship reversals, "Come On!" taunts and rollup section.  It also had a nice floor bump by Roc and a fun chop fest; the right guy went over here and I had fun

Match 2- Nick Cutler v. Gerome Phillips - 4
  I groaned thinking this was going to be PWG's Cutlers, spot fest monkeys but not just a confused local boy with the pussiest manager I've seen live, complete with frayed Abercrombie belt and scared to take a bump.  "Black Jaws" had a real intangible and played his character to the hilt, thought he was a lot of fun and he punished Cutler; a theif in Thailand would have gotten off lighter.  This was continuing the fun vibe of the show.

Match 3- Dave Crist v. Alex Colon - 2
  This match blew harder than Kathy Griffin at the Comedy Central executive dinners.  Colon didn't really impress me, and the psych here was worse than a Power Plant training session.  Crist was desperatly trying to be Alex Shelly and I noticed he covered his ICP rib tatt with some skull ink; seems like he's been trying to fit in anywhere since high school; he completely ignored a apron bump just to get off a piss poor imitation of psychosis dive.  Finish happened out of nowhere and that sounds like a better destination than watching this shmuck try to glad hand people to notice him at intermission

match 4- DJ Hyde v. Christian Hayjme- 2
  I for one think Hyde's a bloated neanderthal who always books himself strong despite not having one iota of talent.  Hayjme was your typical smaller dude Hyde gets a chubby beating up; that being saide Hyde was probably the most hated of the night, especially when we screamed "
Zandig" at him.  Nothing here really, one semi stiff lariat and Hyde getting off with some weak power shit, felt as numb as I do watching "Whitney"

Match 5- Drake Younger v. Jesse EMerson - 6
  This match topped the evening with big Swedish looking dolt Emerson taking several sick bumps that would normally finish a match but they sucked us in; take my 8 bucks and change the world.  Drake's a nut, he's done it all in the indy scene and am sure was wishing for Ian Rotten when trying to get a piece of loose leaft paper stapled to his head.  Brock Guffman long time local manager and cholesterol whore was subdued but still got lots of heat.  Drake's Landing would have been a 4 at the Olympics in London but was just sick enough to bring us off our feet; our section i believe seemed to be the only fans in the arena knowledgeable about Drake's long hardcore standing in the wrestling world so wank us for that.  My fave match of the night

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Top 53 Matches of WCW Main Event '91

Here's my ballot!  Allegedly Adam and Jessie are also finishing theirs and we'll have compiled an ultimate list and maybe do a podcast or something detailing the results.  I also posted this list over at DVDVR,, and Smarkschoice to generate more discussion.  Enjoy!:

1. Steve Austin vs. Big Josh - 9/29

This felt competitive whereas a lot of stuff on this show was either squashes or non-finishes are expected which hurt drama.  I wish I could find one of those Big Josh t-shirts on eBay.  Both guys are breaking a serious sweat and Josh is rallying off great stuff like a smooth powerslam and an impressive dropkick.  Austin has to resort to cheating to regain the advantage each time which shows the potential danger he's in against a surprisingly difficult opponent.  Both guys work the arm but it's not listless holds but actual desperation to impair their opponents' offense and there's some slick counters, etc. like dodged haymakers transitioned into Fujiwara armbars, etc.  Josh chases Lady Blossom around ringside like a dog chasing a squirrel until Austin leaps off the apron recklessly and wipes him out.  Austin gets disqualified for ramming Josh into the ring post.  Nice post-match brawl where Josh enters the ring with his lumber and in a surprising twist the heel doesn't tuck tail and run but Austin stands his ground even though he's at a disadvantage and goes right at him.  I really loved this.

2. Brian Pillman vs. Arn Anderson - 4/14

Pillman comes out like he was shot out of a canon and the crowd's rallying behind him.  I liked a part where Brian was like a pit bull refusing to let go of the arm like it was a chew toy.  Brian had the look, athleticism, crowd support, etc. I think they should have pushed him up the card further but that's just wishful thinking.  Some nice small details like Pillman, while in a sleeper hold, using his fingers to dig in and try to create some space/relief.  Time-limit rapidly expiring; I for one am on the edge of my seat!  Pillman's late missile dropkick and the pop it got made my heart skip a beat.  Brian relentlessly going for pinfalls.  Time-limit ends with Pillman mounting Arn and raining down punches.  Post-match Windham and Arn lay a beating on the Cincinnati native.

3. Doom vs. Fabulous Freebirds - 2/10

Doom versus a mystery team that ended up being FF.  Simmons' expression was fantastic.  Good base of power versus speed as Garvin kept running into a brick wall so tried to quicken the pace to get an advantage.  Sickest inverted atomic drop I've ever seen by Ron on Garvin -- he shot off of his knee like a missile.  Weird overbooked finish with Long entering the ring and Hayes being awkwardly held captive for an uncomfortable amount of time.  Still, this is everything I love about '91 WCW.

4. Hardliners vs. Enforcers - 9/8

One of my most anticipated matches on the set.  Great face-off where Murdoch and Anderson stare daggers into each other while Zbyszko and Slater stand back in the trenches.  Rare heel versus heel scenario.  Always loved Larry's vocality.  After staggering back from a rather vicious Murdoch elbow he bellows at the ref "Hey!  He's got something in there!"  Slater goes after Arn's arm like a shark smelling blood busting it up on the ring post and guardrail.  As the ref's distracted Murdoch grabs a nearby chair (not a folding one -- some archaic office model) and starts smashing Arn's exposed arm with it.  I wish this had an option for an alternate angle like some DVDs as I'd love a camera just fixed on Murdoch's face during the entirety as he's so expressive albeit without being at all showy.  The DQ felt lousy as Mudoch didn't even try to hide using a foreign object in-front of the ref leading to a disappointing denouement.

5. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson vs. Bobby Eaton and Flyin' Brian - 6/9

Eaton and Pillman start off on fire making Flair pinball all over the place.  Arn misses a clothesline on the floor and hits the ringpost so Pillman targets the arm.  You can tell Flair loves his work -- he just relishes flopping and stooging.  Pillman's missile dropkick is gorgeous.  Arn takes a backdrop bump on the floor for the hell of it.  So good.  The heels start tearing apart Pillman's leg and Brian plays a superb wounded animal.  The non-finish stinks but there's still enough here definitely worth seeing.

6. Young Pistols vs. The Patriots - 12/15

This is a rematch from the week prior and the Pistols' heel run is in full-swing now.  I loved Tony on commentary, "They're just jerks!"  Pistols, formerly known for their quickness, had the game-plan of really slowing this down and picking their shots over the less experienced duo.  Chip's knee is targeted and he's more expressive here than possibly any match in his career.   Hot tag to Champion gets a good pop although his punches look weak as he oddly makes contact with his wrist not fist.  The Pistols use some nefarious cheating to get the win and become new US Tag champions and Smothers' perverted post-match jig as he thrusts his groin at the camera is one of the best moments on the whole set.

7. Ricky Morton and Tommy Rich vs. Rip Rogers and Jeff Sword - 1/13

Wild stuff.  Rip starts off by leaping from the very top turnbuckle at his opponents before they've even gotten in the ring wiping out in the process.  Soon after Rogers is unceremoniously tossed over a metal guard rail and takes a ridiculous bump.  Morton's running kneelift looked deadly -- wished he would have done that to Nash in 2011.  Rogers hasn't had enough and takes a backdrop on the floor later.  Sword tries desperately to save Rip but in doing so takes a farcical bump off of the apron getting his foot stuck in the ring skirt and tripping face-first to the floor.  This is like a mescaline nightmare.  Sword has the coordination of a late-term abortion.  Couldn't begrudge most for dismissing this but the sort of thing that sticks in your cerebrum.

8. Terrence Taylor, Thomas Rich, and Richard Morton vs. Tom Zenk, Big Josh, and Dustin Rhodes - 11/10

A rematch from a week previous and even better than its predecessor.  Meat of the match is divine (of course) but it's the finish that really puts this one over the top.  Taylor tries to smash Big Josh in the skull with York's bulky computer but he dodges and it hits Rich instead.  In the melee Josh feels remorse for his old pal Rich who's lying in a pool of his own blood on the canvas, the momentarily lapse allows Taylor to drill Josh with the computer and Rich remorselessly pins Josh giving the York Foundation the six-man tag titles.

9. Steve Austin and Diamond Studd vs. Dustin Rhodes and Robert Gibson - 9/1

This was pretty awesome stuff.  Opened with Gibson unable to best Studd utilizing his speed versus the size and power of Diamond.  After running into a brick wall a few times (nobody ever claimed Robert was the smartest fellow) he re-strategized with Rhodes.  Dustin delivers the high-octane energy really propelling the match forward.  Austin brings a fun element once involved really reveling in his role bumping, rolling, falling, and flailing all over ringside.   Finish was wild with a lot happening -- Richard Morton interfered coming off of the top onto his ex-partners' somewhat Toxic Avenger-like face.

10. Brian Pillman vs. Barry Windham - 4/7

Pillman is all bandaged up like a mummy.  Botch where Pillman whiffed on a clothesline that Windham dodged but sold anyway.  Brian goes back to his Hart Dungeon roots with all sorts of malicious arm work on Barry.  Barry works a measured style here that provides a nice contrast to Pillman's quick armdrags, headscissors, etc.  Roles reverse and Windham starts trying to break Brian's arm off which Pillman sells wonderfully.  Windham pulling the trunks for the cheap win was a relief as I'd assumed there'd be interference; puts over Barry's craftiness, but doesn't hurt Pillman.  Post-match while Barry is being interviewed at ringside Pillman comes off of the top onto him!

11. Junkyard Dog, Tommy Rich, and Ricky Morton vs. Terrence Taylor, Buddy Landell, and Bobby Eaton - 3/10

Rematch from the previous week.  Had some real great segments.  JYD played a very effective face in peril.  The heels were just holding him and getting in all sorts of nasty kicks and shots.  Eaton ended up walking out due to Landell's fatuousness as the dummy inadvertently hit his own partner (Eaton) twice setting up his forthcoming face turn.

12. Terrence Taylor vs. Bobby Eaton - 5/26

I love that Eaton broke a pinfall by punching Taylor square in the face.  This was a selling expo by Taylor bumping all over for Eaton's always great punches.  Eaton takes a nice bump off of a Taylor clothesline on the floor then gets tossed hard into the ring post which Bobby eats with gusto.  Terrence's leg gets the shakes after a suplex that recalls my childhood dog Scarlet.  Arn Anderson run-in followed by Dustin Rhodes joining the fray to save Eaton's mullet.  A really fun TV bout and Eaton made Taylor step-up his game and in turn made Taylor look much better than he was.

13. Freebirds vs. Big Josh, Tom Zenk, and Dustin Rhodes - 9/8

Crowd is ravenous for the pro wrestling and were served a heaping helping.  Josh bulldozes the Freebirds but once Dustin gets tagged in they demonstrate why they're one of the most finely operated team machines of their era (or any other) utilizing every trick in the book expertly.  You would have thought they designed blueprints a la Steve Wiebe for Donkey Kong as they always knew exactly where and why to be somewhere to their advantage.  Zenk got the hot tag and started throwing dropkicks like his life depended on it and one of the rare times you truly bought him as a fiery babyface.  Finishing sequence was dazzling and the faces winning the six-man tag titles was one of the more memorable moments on the set.    

14. Terrence Taylor vs. Brian Pillman - 10/20

This came out of nowhere and just completely melted my optical units.  The selling and mannerisms were just phenomenal -- felt like Oscar nominee-level acting.  So impressed.  The cons were a few clunky-looking lock-ups and it was far too short but they were putting emphasis on everything and this was the best h'orderves at the party.

15. Young Pistols vs. The Enforcers - JIP - 11/10

Sucks that we didn't get to see the full bout but what we did get was very good.  Armstrong was bumping around and bouncing off the mat like a Ricky Rubio bounce pass.  Smothers did what I could only describe as a flying European uppercut off of the top near the end in an astonishing spot.  Heels cheat to go over which was sound booking but left wondering how much better this would rank if we saw the first act.

16. Bobby Eaton and Dustin Rhodes vs. Terrence Taylor and Arn Anderson - 6/2

A good tag match with Arn shining early bumping for punches and doing his shtick.  I thought Taylor sort of sandbagged this a bit, he didn't look good in the breakdown sequence, didn't sell some punches in the corner later, etc. but it didn't hamper my overall enjoyment.  Rhodes was sort of kept on the apron throughout like he was the secret weapon and once he exploded into the match it ended quickly.

17. Brian Pillman vs. Barry Windham - 3/24

Great  dynamic storytelling with Pillman's  tenacity and speed versus Windham's aggressive desire to bring Brian's arm home as a trophy.  Ross is superb on commentary including talking up Pillman's time at Miami University (the Miz and my alma mater!).  Real good stuff, the Anderson run-in was to be expected to prolong this further, but with a legitimate finish this would have been something special.

18. Freebirds and Bobby Eaton vs. Richard Morton, Terrence Taylor, and Thomas Rich - 12/1

Hayes is fabulous (pun intended) leading the crowd in a "DDT!" chant to start then an Atlanta Braves tomahawk.  If you're watching the work I'm seeing these guys play and involve the crowd more here than anything I've seen on current TV in ages.  York feverishly types away at her computer as her boys are getting out-wrestled.  The heels finally secure the advantage on Eaton and Rich tosses him over the rope to the floor behind the ref's back and Taylor takes his freaking head off with a short-arm clothesline.  Tony calls a Morton atomic drop a "backbreaker".  That's almost as big a mistake as the one Geo made.  Finish was chaotic but didn't come off organic with Hayes blistering everyone with his trademark right hand but inadvertently nailing partner Eaton.

19. Tracy Smothers vs. Steve Austin - 11/17

Two of the MVPs from the WWF Superstars '96 project we did (too bad Savio Vega didn't make a cameo!).  They kept a really frenetic pace unlike the bulk of stuff off this set.  Smothers' idiosyncratic style is a hoot.  Too bad Austin dropped Tracy belly button-first on the Stun Gun.  

20. Ron Simmons vs. Arn Anderson - 9/15

A real tight match with everything having purpose and direction.  Guys seem evenly matched early trading dominant position but Arn starts pulling ahead.  It was really cool seeing Arn bust the DDT out mid-match as more of a game changer than a finisher.  Simmons' rally late lead to a surprisingly clean finish with Arn putting him over huge taking a clean fall to a flying football tackle.  Kudos to both of these guys on their recent WWE HoF inductions.

21. Fabulous Freebirds vs. Young Pistols - Elimination Match - 7/28

Garvin doesn't just tousle his hair but Hayes' also.  Garvin is eliminated first with a roll-up which shows the Pistols' smarts but directly after Armstrong is eliminated by the ref for throwing Garvin over the top rope thus killing my smarts trope dead.  Smothers counters the DDT!  This was getting hot but Badstreet snuck in and gave us a "fuck finish".  Fun little bout but a modicum of what it could have been.

22. Tom Zenk vs. Cactus Jack - 11/17

I loved Zenk while having Jack trapped in an arm bar yelling at the ref, "Ask the kook!  Ask the kook!".  Tom is no Fujiwara but I liked him going back to the arm and actually making it look like he had a dangerous method of possibly stopping the madman.  We got Cactus classics like the clothesline over the top and the flying elbow off of the apron (which missed here).  Zenk's missile dropkick looked less like a planned offensive attack and more like someone leaping from a burning building.  Finish stunk, not sure if it was the tape, or broadcast, but there was a noticeable jump where we lost a few seconds of the end sequence which was lousy to begin with.

23. Big Josh vs. Arn Anderson - 5/5

Seeing some Doink the Clown this year and his run here I admire Matt Bourne as he always made chicken salad out of chicken shit.  I loved Arn extending his hand to shake pre-match and Josh squeezing it and Arn's eyes bugging out.  Arn stalled out the 10 min. time-limit not engaging a lot but there were some neat moments to witness, although, to be fair, some lame ones also, like Arn not selling a backdrop on the floor.  After the episode ends whoever recorded these left it on TBS and we got the first 10 min. or so of Girl Happy (1965) so that was an unforeseen perk.

24. PN News vs. Mr. Hughes - Submit or Surrender Match - 12/15

Awesome showdown of two underrated big men (Hughes was very impressive on our AWF project and News was often the better guy in his ECW matches).  Hughes did some impressive vocal selling I didn't recall ever noticing (i.e. sitting up making some grunts/gasps after a clothesline).  Hughes' camel clutch looked more like an okapi grasp.  Funny finish with Harley Race nailing Steve Armstrong on the floor and tossing in News' towel.

25. Terrence Taylor, Thomas Rich, and Richard Morton vs. Tom Zenk, Big Josh, and Dustin Rhodes - 11/3

Good stuff, I loved the York Foundation, got a nice Dustin FIP segment, Josh's "Log Roll" move always earns a chuckle out of me, finish packed on the ennui with the ref looking like a moron.

26. Hardliners vs. Dustin Rhodes and Robert Gibson - 8/11

Hardliners had been destroying local guys for awhile on the show and it was time to met some real competition.  Murdoch takes the young Rhodes to school.  Slater does some nasty work on Gibson's arm and the crowd is salivating for a comeback.  Hughes and Morton come out and kidnap Robert.  Rick Steiner runs out and takes it to the Hardliners as the ref tosses it out -- too bad.  On paper this was one of the more intriguing matches of the year.

27. Tom Zenk and Yellow Dog vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin and Diamond Studd - JIP - 8/11

Man, this was fun, but joined in progress?  What a bummer.  More fast-paced than a lot of the ME '91 fare I've seen so far.  Crowd was hot for this.  Breakdown sequence looked like something the Wachowski brothers left on the editing room floor.  It was edited and had a lousy DQ finish but what we got was a lot of fun.

28. Richard Morton vs. Bobby Eaton - 8/4

I loved Morton rolling like a tumbleweed after taking an Eaton punch out on the floor.  What constellation is that on Bobby's trunks?  Interesting role reversal as growing up watching Morton was always a good guy and Eaton the bad.  Terrence Taylor and Mr. Hughes eventually interfere killing this dead but the build was nice and with a real finish this could have been something special.

29. Young Pistols vs. State Patrol - 3/24

A squash but I'd be remiss if I didn't at least toss it somewhere on my list.  Fast-paced fun and the Pistols worked that fiery formula to Rockers-level perfection and even in a throwaway bout this was more engaging and full-on entertaining than the large majority of matches I've encountered so far on this project.

30. Tom Zenk and Bobby Eaton vs. Terrence Taylor and Buddy Landell - 3/24

Good stuff, not top shelf, but fine albeit a little rushed.  Mostly the Eaton show, Ross was putting over on commentary Bobby's desire to win singles gold in '91, and it felt like this was really his showcase.  A subplot of Landell trying to earn a spot in the York Foundation wasn't really hammered home.  Some repetitive stuff, noticed Eaton busting out an Irish whip/back elbow combo more than twice but a nice clean finish helped the medicine go down.

31. Cruel Connection vs. Big Josh - 3/10

One of my favorite squashes as CC was a goof in a bright, neon green outfit and mask and Josh was just not tolerating any of his bullshit.  Josh sidestepped him a couple times and just threw jabs right into his gut and the back of his head.  Josh pulled at his mask until it was so lopsided the poor guy could probably hardly see.  What a bully -- loved it.

32. Young Pistols vs. Terrence Taylor and Richard Morton - 6/16

Lots of formula but Morton was able to transform to heel pretty effortlessly.  He's pretty easy to hate.  Who knew Taylor had a gut-wrench powerbomb in his arsenal?  The "fuck finish" with Mr. Hughes interference was lousy but enjoyed portions of this.

33. Firebreaker Chip vs. Rick Rude - 12/29

Chip worked an extended headlock sequence early.  I flipped out when Rude tried to toss Firebreaker to the floor, Chip grabbed the ropes and was holding on for dear life, and Rude just boots him and Chip free-falls wildly backwards right onto his head on the floor.  That was such a gnarly bump!  Vader gets a lot of pub for being the meanest man in the ring of this era but Rude can be downright vicious.

34. Larry Zbyszko vs. Barry Windham - 11/24

If a guy crunched my arm in a car door and tried to put me out I think I'd be coming at him with a little more fire than Barry was exhibiting here.  I liked that post-stalling once Larry got an oppourtunity to take the advantage he seized it and turned into a killer ramming Barry into the ring post, slamming him on the floor, etc.  Windham scored the sudden roll-up for the win but was left lying distraught like that girl Art Barr left in that stairwell.

35. Angel of Death vs. Ron Simmons - 6/9

Two big brutes just going at each other.  The brawl on the floor early lent this an unhinged feel.  Simmons catching Angel in mid-air and dropping him down with a spinebuster was an explosive believable finish.

36. Tom Zenk vs. Terry Taylor - 2/3

This was the first in their trilogy and best.  It went to a time-limit and while both guys work pretty gingerly (which I detest in my wrestling) they build enough drama in the final minutes to get the crowd (and me) into it.  Right as the bell rang Zenk nailed a savate kick right to Taylor's jaw that made Missy's nipples hard and Ross' face look like a melty slice years before the palsy.

37. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Barry Windham vs. El Gigante, Brian Pillman, and Sting - 4/28

Didn't recall Gigante having a mullet.  Pillman and Flair exchanging chops was one of the most scintillating moments on the set.  This didn't get much time (sandwiched in the middle of an nine bout episode) but the crowd was eating it up, the Sting run early, Pillman's flurry (including a tasty dive off of the top onto Arn/Barry) and the rare clean finish are enough to get it some recognition.

38. Hardliners vs. Joey Maggs and Ricky Nelson - 7/21

After devouring a lot of Dick Murdoch's '80's All Japan run the last year I was excited to see him stateside teaming with fellow hard-nosed grappler Slater.  A fun squash, with Nelson looking like a tiny Johnny Ace to round out the AJPW theme.  Murdoch wins with a Fujiwara armbar and then there's great little moment post-match where Maggs strolls over to check on his ailing partner and Murdoch just throws a quick, nasty upkick right into his balls for the hell of it.

39. "Stunning" Steve Austin vs. Tom Zenk - 6/30

A total Austin showcase.  People call Dolph Ziggler a modern Curt Hennig but he looks much more like Austin circa '91.  Steve's all wild bumping and flying all over the ring.  We get some of Austin's vicious streak too.  Goes to a time-limit draw and a long headlock sequence grew tiresome.

40. Ron Simmons vs. Diamond Studd - 7/28

One of the first times I was unsure of who'd go over which is a nice feeling and the crowd was really into this.  The work itself was pretty prosaic but Simmons grimacing on the losing end of a test of strength wasn't without its artistic merit.  I laughed at Ross calling out DDP for stealing Blassie's famous line while verbally assaulting a ringside fan.  Really awkward moment where  Simmons and Studd got caught up during a clothesline sequence.  "Fuck finish" with Simmons pinning DDP of all people was patently insulting.

41. Terrence Taylor vs. Tom Zenk - 3/31

Nice little tight match -- had some backstory they showed clips from which helped build context and that was a nice bonus.  Taylor working like a maestro rudo in Monterrey.  Zenk took a boffo bump into the ring post courtesy of Mr. Hughes.

42. Allen Iron Eagle and Tim Horner vs. Doug Vines and George South - 1/6

Lots of journeymen and this sort of came from nowhere.  Not a lot of meat but I liked the dynamic of Horner and the Native American Eagles.  Horner demonstrated some of the best, most crisp armdrags easily of the whole year's programming.  South's selling was lousy just popping up incessantly from dropkicks like a weed that won't die in your garden.

43. "Stunning" Steve Austin vs. Scott Sandlin - 6/16

Sickest.  Stun Gun.  EVER!

44. Arn Anderson and Barry Windham vs. Brian Pillman and El Gigante - 4/21

Gigante was mostly kept on the apron which was fine.  Arn was doing some of the finest stooging on the whole set, his perplexed look after grappling with Pillman, and his dumbfounded fear of Gigante's size were both terrific.  Right when Pillman started rallying and I thought he might finally get his vengeance on the Horsemen Flair interfered.

45. Fabulous Freebirds vs. The Juicer and Trucker Norman - 1/6

Wasn't real smooth or structured well but had some memorable bumps including Norman taking a rare DDT on the floor by Hayes and then soon after Juicer taking a hellish bump on a double-DDT in the middle of the ring.

46. Buddy Landell vs. Bobby Eaton - 3/17

Pretty physical stuff highlighted my Eaton eating the ring post like it was a buttered lobster tail.  Felt more like an unhinged fight than a wrestling match at times which helped it stand out.  Fuck finish didn't do any favors but post-match spiked piledriver was glorious.

47. Bobby Eaton vs. Jeff Gambel - 1/13

Eaton being a total dick.  Starts off giving the scrub a wrestling lesson teaching him a few basic reversals before dumping him on his head.  Bobby gets blatantly disqualified for chucking Gambel over the top rope seeing the poor guy take a monster bump bouncing off of the apron before crashing to the floor.

48. Yellow Dog vs. Mr. Hughes - 7/21

Not sure which Yellow Dog this was as it certainly wasn't Pillman but instead a guy with the lanky, unwieldy physique of a Firefly fan.  Even Ross on commentary notes the change in apperance.  Hughes was one of the standouts on the AWF project we did awhile ago and was physical here laying in some stuff although him doing "dead man" Undertaker-like selling of strikes was kind of cornball.  I guess I could get behind it if they were doing a cyborg storyline with him or something.  I can't get over this YD -- looks like Bandido Jr. in a ill-fitting yellow bodysuit with a tuft of "Bullet" Bob Armstrong's chest hair coming out the back of the mask.  Guess Yellow Dog can go back home and pen more Lost and Dollhouse fan fiction in his parents' den.

49. Rick Steiner vs. Arn Anderson - 10/6

A rare Rick singles bout and the rare clean finish in a match with established talent.  Started with some perfunctory headlock sequences, we got some stalling post-ass biting, then the finish came abruptly so this didn't feel like a fully fleshed out story.  This could have been improved with an additional 8 min.

50. Tom Zenk and PN News vs. Johnny B. Badd and Diamond Studd - 12/22

Badd squaring off with News to start was ugly, really poor-looking lock-ups, mistimed a rope running sequence, etc.  Once Zenk got in the heels got heat on him and Tom's selling was quite good.  Studd doing a Mushroom Stomp in '91?  Odd spot were News refused to go over for a Badd snapmare.  During the convoluted breakdown run Studd wouldn't sell News' punches, Studd inadvertently fell into Badd leading to his cover on Zenk being reversed.  Post-match saw Studd turn on Badd and with help from DDP rough him up.  Battlebowl was right around the corner and I get a sense these makeshift teams, playing up the unrest among partners, etc. was not so subtly trying to sell that concept.

51. Junkyard Dog vs. Richard Morton - 8/35

Two Mid-South all-stars squaring off.  JYD can be one of the least cooperative guys out there.  Not sure if his former mega push got to his head, laziness, despotism, or what, but I've seen him severely sandbag guys.  Here he ignores all of Morton's offense but that's part of the fun as Richard plays up his frustration in a lot of creative ways.  Morton escaped to the floor faster then Randy Orton did the military.  Dog doesn't give anything in terms of performance but Morton works hard stooging for him and looks like a real sleaze-ball after the dirty finish.

52. Terry Taylor vs. Tom Zenk - 2/17

Third part of their trilogy.  Desperation transformed into aggression giving us a more physical bout than its predecessors.  One Zenk side headlock looked looser than Missy Hyatt.  Taylor was about as welcomed in most locker rooms as a bad case of chili farts.  Zenk gets himself disqualifed exhibiting the intelligence of a decaying banana peel -- in retrospect maybe their second match was better.

53. Doom vs. Allen Iron Eagle and Tim Horner - 1/13

I was really hoping to dig this as I'm a Doom mark and was impressed by Horner/Eagle the week prior but this was a steaming load.  Allen looked unsure and blew some stuff and the match-ending spike piledriver looked more like a Jenga puzzle toppling.