Sunday, January 27, 2008

ROH Breakout

ROH returns to Dayton with a Hero/Nigel cage match and a mystery partner for Age of the Fall!

1) Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Matt Cross & Jigsaw - 4
Cross replaces the injured Ruckus and has grown his beard out and wore fatigues to the ring. He bore a scary resemblance to Fidel Castro. Jigsaw I wasn't too impressed with in his last outing in Dayton. Mind you, he went up against Chris Hero so that probably had something to do with it right there. This was basically a showcase match for the Briscoes to re-establish them in the hunt for the tag titles. Jigsaw and Cross worked well together as a makeshift team and I would like to see them team up more often. Briscoes won with the Jay Driller piledriver and then cut a promo on Age of the Fall.

2) Claudio Castagnoli vs. Adam Pearce - 3
Pretty average match here. Lots of "Repo Man, Repo Man" chants for Pearce. Shane Hagadorn came out with Pearce and had on a fake Delirious mask and a chain around his neck. I guess that was to build up the dog collar match with Pearce and Delirious the next night in Chicago. Claudio wins with the Ricola Bomb.

3) Austin Aries vs. Davey Richards vs. Erick Stevens - 6
This was for the FIP World Title, which is basically the secondary belt in ROH. DAVEY RICHARDS IS THE STIFFEST MOTHERF****R IN ROH!!!! His kicks in this bout were very Tajiri-esque. Aries kept swapping his allegiance to Richards and Stevens throughout the match. This was very solid with a lot of good structure. There were some good near falls and chops that would give any man instant heartburn. Stevens demonstrated his power moves and lack of fashion with his obstinent mohawk. Yo, Stevens, 1989 would like their hair style back. The end saw Stevens pin Richards with a doctor bomb and destroying Aries with a lariat. Drop the cheesecake and watch this match.

4) El Generico & Delirious vs. B.J. Whitmer & Brent Albright - No DQ Match - 6
I'll be damned if this wasn't the best Delirious match I've ever seen! This was chaos from start to finish. Delirious fought with a table briefly while trying to bridge the guardrail and the ring. Whitmer and Delirious brawled in the crowd right in front of the bleachers were I was sitting. Generico was paired off with Albright for most of the match. Shane Hagadorn interfered mid-way through but was countered by Pelle Primeau who got slaughtered by Albright. Hagadorn got the dreaded Muta Mist and ran to the back. Generico and Delirious actually make a decent team. This would've gotten a higher score had the finish not been as sloppy as the ref called a stop to the match after Generico was "knocked out".

5) Lacey vs. Daizee Haze - 2
Standard women's fare from ROH. Haze won with a cradle after about five minutes. AotF surrounded Haze who was then saved by the Briscoes who were then attacked by JOEY F'N MERCURY, who came from nowhere out of the crowd.

6) Roderick Strong & Rocky Romero vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Joey Mercury - 4
We're going to call him Mercury for the sake of argument here, since ROH never really recognized him by name. Prior to the bout, Mercury cut a long-winded "insider" promo about how he got released from WWE and how Jacobs came to his rescue. Mercury seemed as if he was still stuck in WWE mode. This actually is a major problem that I've noticed for most of those who leave the 'E and go to any other fed. There was a pretty sick spot where Jacobs dove onto Strong who was sitting on a chair. Strong and Richards picked up the submission victory in a match that for the most part was pretty damn mediocre.

7) Bryan Danielson vs. Tyler Black - 7
This was the first match I've seen from Black and he's kinda like Great Khali combined with Mike Awesome. Most of you are scratching your heads right now so allow me to elaborate. He's looks a bit like Khali in the face but has the agility of Awesome during his ECW title run. Black did some shit that a dude 6'8" shouldn't be able to legally do. He did a sick twisting splash deal from the top rope, a cool dive, and broke Danielson's Cattle Mutilation finisher twice! These guys basically beat the piss out of each other for twenty minutes. See this now!

Ok, normally I don't cover the intermission but I have to mention the overly-awful Q&A session they did with Austin Aries as the cage was being set up. The answers that he gave to the questions were pretty stupid and once there was an interesting question he blew it off. It was overly clear that he wanted nothing to do with the session and walked off in the middle of it by saying "I don't have time for this shit". Fine, I don't give a damn what you thought about Vince Russo anyway.

8) Nigel McGuinness vs. Chris Hero - Steel Cage Match - 4
This is for the ROH World Title and you can win by escape, pin, or submission. The main problem with this match, aside from the involvement of Hero, was that most of the match was built around escaping through the door. Hero worked over Nigel's knee during the time they weren't fighting for the door. WHERE THE F*** DID ALL THE HERO MARKS COME FROM??!!!! The whole damn place was going crazy for Hero and I don't understand why. He's nothing but a glorified backyard wrestler who couldn't draw a fly if he was rolled in a bin of shit. I was very vocal in my allegiance to Nigel but that didn't help the fact that the match sucked. Thankfully, Nigel won by narrowly beating Hero to the floor. I then bailed for a Denny's slamburger.

Overall, a much better offering than the show last November. I would recommend this for the three-way match, the No DQ tag, and the Danielson/Black match. Thumbs up.

Monday, January 21, 2008

WCW Halloween Havoc '89 Co-Review

1. Tom Zenk vs. Mike Rotunda - (J:5 B:3)

J: The more i watch of "Captain" Mike, some revelations of his brilliance come more and more to light. Right off the bat, he schools Zenk with some great amateur action and his facials are telling the story of the entire match:

"I know i'm a better wrestler than this wet behind the ears fluff boy, but he's quick and keeps catching me with moves! I should have taken a shit in his wrestling boots last night like i wanted to! Why the hell did Rick Steiner stop me?"

Anyways, he paints the frustration with his eyes, but doesn't overtly act it out, so the average viewer would have no idea. Rotunda leads the match even when he's on the defensive in a rest hold, like a headlock, which Rotunda, on the defense, works like a son of a bitch. He hits a fantastic clothesline at one point while Z-Man kind of lays on his moves and doesn't use them to further the match, just as as rest period. He has a decent dropkick that he uses way too much and there is an armdrag section in the middle. They kick up a great pace near the end, but i'm saddened to see Zenk go over and Rotunda slink back to the back, disgruntled.

B: Zenk was wrestling looser than Missy Hyatt's vagina. When Rotunda cinched in a submission, he wrenched that bad boy, and trust me we believed the pain. Nobody pulls off a singlet better than Rotunda. After the match there's a close-up of Zenk outside of the ring and he spits a giant loogie but it's too thick to go much of anywhere, so he sucks it back into his mouth. I thought it doubly ironic, seeing how they were pushing him as some sort of ladies man.

2. Samoan Swat Team and Samoan Savage vs. Midnight Express and Steve Williams - (J:7 B:7)

B: If there were anything from this show worth checking out, I'd recommend this gem right here. The pace of this match is frantic, the crowd hotter than an Eddie Gilbert fireball, and the action fast and physical. Surprisingly, it starts with the faces beating the holy hell out of the Samoans; not too many people back then ever roughed those guys up. Samoan Savage takes a hell of a bump to the floor off of a Stan Lane clothesline early. In the middle portion, Bobby Eaton gets possessed and decides to start bumping like a total lunatic, his blonde mullet bouncing freely. The Samoans do a double atomic drop on Eaton onto the steel guardrail, crotching him nuts-first on the unforgiving steel. Eaton slinks off onto the concrete floor then gives one of the best facials I've ever seen, looking up at them as they take off in disbelief, as if saying, "did you really just fucking do that to me?" Soon after, Eaton takes a hellacious hiptoss bump on a bare concrete floor. The finish gets a little messy, but still, this is about as much fun as wrestling gets.

J: Yes, this match was total and complete mayhem and i really enjoyed every second of it. Even the shit that was sloppy was overtly stiff and fun to watch. Eaton's right uppercuts make Rocky look like a pussy and i loved Doc's shouldertackles that made the Samoans look like characters from Mutant League Football for the Genesis. I would say the crowd wasn't any hotter than they were for this match the whole night.

3. Tommy Rich vs. Cuban Assassian - (J:2 B:1)

J: Rich's physique was as visually appealing as the roadkill i saw on my way to work this morning. He had no aerial ability whatsoever yet he was insistent on trying high risk moves. Sierra looked as stone-like as usual but his green boots were pretty distracting. Neither man's offense was anything to speak of. Rich took a good unprotected bump out to the apron...accidentally. Whenever a man botches a sunset flip, he really needs to evaluate where his life is headed at that time. The finish was pretty uneventful and the whole match left a bitter, sour-like taste in my mouth, sort of like that lemon herb Captain Gordon's fish dinner i had last week. This match also pretty effectively killed a super hot crowd for most of the rest of the show.

B: Rich looked awful; sporting some hideous red velvet trunks and a physique only a coroner would love. Cuban Assassian brought the pedestrian shit, not wrestling any differently than he would in-front of a 100 people in a middle school gymnasium. Rich botching a slingshot sunset flip was worth a good chuckle. Rich uses holds more than once merely to catch his breath, not applying any pressure or producing believability whatsoever. The final nail in this one was Rich winning with easily the ugliest "Thesz Press" I've ever seen.

4. Freebirds vs. Dynamic Dudes - (J:4 B:5)

B: I looked up Bad Street on MapQuest and found no results. Crowd was hot for the Fabulous Freebirds, but I was in awe of the Dudes' radical neon wristbands. The structure of this match was kind of weird, as it seemed the heel/face dynamic was completely reversed. Douglas and Ace were still a bit green in certain aspects of their game, and while consummate entertainers, nobody ever claimed Hayes and Garvin as technically proficient. Still, this was a rollicking good time, and I'm sure that fateful night of October 28th, 1989 in Philadelphia many babies were made in fits of passion over Michael Hayes' chest hair and Garvin's bouncing curls.

J: I couldn't really figure out the face-heel dynamic in this one either. Dudes were manage by Jim Cornette and were being booed, even though Cornette managed the Midnights, who were faces earlier in the evening. As with all the tag matches of the night, there were some miscues here but the Freebirds kept it fairly basic and didn't do too much to bring the athletic factor up, but they were great showmen. I can't help but think about a dolphin holding a shot glass when i hear Jimmy Jam's name mentioned. (Inside joke)

5. Steiner Brothers vs. Doom - (J:5 B:5)

J: I love seeing a battle of two hard hitting teams and this certainly was which i mean a battle of two hard hitting teams. The Steiners were dumping the masked men on their heads with suplexes left and right, and i do mean on their heads. Simmons and Reed didn't do anything spectacular but utilized a lot of corner work during the bout. Nothing scientific about this match, just a straight fight. It's hard to get a lot of facials or aftersell from the Steiners (one of my only complaints about their fantastic work in the early 90's), but they do sell well. It was nice seeing a young Simmons who was pretty reckless, the only reason I didn't grade this one higher is there were several errors in communication along the way, but it was a great starting point for a feud. The finish also didn't come off very well at all and involved the late Nancy Benoit in a pretty menial role.

B: Nancy Benoit (Woman) looked like she had just spent a gift certificate at Tom's Rhinoplasty. I think Jessie covered this one fairly, as it really was just a bunch of hungry guys tossing each other around in an effort to display dominance. Rick and Scott were used to being the top dogs, and then out of nowhere come these two monstrous, ebony soldiers donning frightening, black masks. I loved this feud, as well as WCW's tag team division at that time so much that nostalgia may play into my joy of this. Also of note, this match birthed the brilliant line "his forehead is protruding" by Jim Ross.

6. Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman - see Jessie's "Brian Pillman: Loose Cannon" DVD review

7. Road Warriors vs. Skyscrapers - (J:4 B:4)

J: These were four big men. This match suffered from some of the flaws of the last tag match, those being several obvious blown spots and the Road Warriors' famous refusal to sell anything that would make them look weak. I was impressed with thier athletic ability and power and i can see why they were such a huge act in their time. Animal was throwing dropkicks at the giant's heads and Hawk was executing some great powerslams. Sid had a presence about him as well and a standoff late in the match with Animal popped the crowd big time. Spivey looked like he had some knowledge and was probably more or less a ring leader during this one, although i can't really see the Warriors taking orders from anyone. The finish was a DQ where Teddy Long brought in a big golden key for his boys to use, which they did. Sound like a bad NES game to you too?

B: Little known fact, that ridiculously oversized golden key was actually used to open a buried treasure chest containing artifacts of, well, never mind that, I've just had a window pop up on my screen saying if I reveal that information my life will be in serious jeopardy. I thought this match pretty much sucked. The Warriors didn't cooperate, no surprise, and even their usually deadly offense looked tepid. Teddy Long adds a jejune presence with his terrible hair.

8. Ric Flair and Sting vs. Great Muta and Terry Funk - Thunderdome Match - (J:6 B:7)

B: This had all the makings of an elementary school Halloween-themed party, complete with requisite papier-mâché masks, hanging bats, spider webs, and other commercial nonsense. But, in this case, said items were hung around a gruesome structure, a giant steel cage where four sworn enemies would do battle. Even before the match got underway, an accidental fire broke out due to the cage being charged with allegedly thousands of volts of electricity, and the heroic Great Muta put it out orally using his mysterious green mist. This match has it all, Funk bumbling around like a drunken imbecile, Ric Flair's blistering chops, Muta's adorable aloofness being so far from Japan and surrounded by redneck laborers and bratty adolescents, and Sting, swinging around on a rope like Indiana Jones. Some could call it a complete disaster, but I call it transcendental visual stimulation.

J: This match gets points for it's pure absurdity and bizarreness. There were so many Halloween gimmicks glued and duct taped to the cage, i could only picture Mike Rotunda and Ole Anderson running from a dollar store in the middle of the night holding plastic jack-o-lanterns and cardboard gargoyles screaming "Thunderdome rules my life!" Brian covered all of the holiday hijinx in his previous paragraph but he forgot about the ghostly images of the 4 main event participants before the show began that haunted my dreams last night.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Clash of the Champions I- March 27, 1988

1) Mike Rotunda v. Jimmy Garvin(Amateur Rules Match)- 5

This was under Amateur Rules- 3 5 minute rounds, and you only need to get a one count. Rotunda looks like he was born to work a match as he strides into his back ride on Garvin so easily. He and Garvin throw hip tosses like an Olympic javelin gold medalist and i've never been so fascinated to see the move performed. Garvin is no wrestling great, but he makes up for that by getting the crowd behind every foot stomp and hair fluff he attempts. There's nothing charismatic about Rotunda at all, but it's like watching Dynamite Kid or Dean Malenko, and his charisma is in his work ethic and seeing a guy who knows the basics so well is pretty damn exciting. Teddy Long is refing and rocking a mean skullet and makes sure no one hits each other. Sullivan interferes and Rotunda gets the one count by pulling the tights. What a heel!

2) Midnight Express v. The Fantastics- 7

I love this fucking Feud! I've run across several of these team's matches together in the last year or so and everytime has been a splendid treat, much like the first time a girl gives you head and swallows- no messy cleanup! Every match they do has a different story too- either an arieal dick measuring contest, or a techinical clinic on how to run a tag match. This one was a pure hatred brawl because as soon as the boys in half tux shirts get in the ring, this turns into a Bluds-Crip rumble. Fulton and Eaton carry the punching power for their respective teams but all 4 men get down and dirty. Rogers gets Terry Funk-belligerent and starts blasting people with a steel chair, then later on takes a body slam and a bulldog bump on a table! The brawl gets sloppy at some points and they are clearly going with that as the theme instead of pure wrestling, which hampers this one a bit, but it is as fun of a match you never knew existed that kicks ass! The ending is even a title switch and the crowd is completely down with it. This was really fun 80's tag stuff.

3) Dusty Rhodes/ Road Warriors v. Ivan Koloff/ Powers of Pain(Barb Wire Match)- 3

I think this was on the Dusty DVD package, but i don't remember seeing it, so i figured i'd give it another spin. In a barb wire match, you need either two things to make it exciting: sick bumps on the wire, or at the very least, some good brawling. This had neither in spades. Koloff bled, but you barely saw it so it didn't really matter. The Powers of Pain (were they even called that in NWA?) were more immobile than Larry Flynt and the Warriors were wearing some stupid looking masks like it was a costume party. Dusty wasn't even his usual entertaining self, he was "the serious Dusty" which is about as fun as watching the "serious Jim Carrey." All 6 men plodded through this one for about 8 minutes then ended it mercifully.

4) Arn Anderson/ Tully Blanchard v. Barry Windham/ Lex Luger- 6

Barry and Lex were the young babyfaces in this match and the crowd was erupting fireworks for them. They were both young and still very mobile while the heels were just bumping machines. I loved that the Horsemen let the faces get their heat for a big spot, but then they took it right back and started working over them. Windham worked over 85% of the match and was brilliant, bumping big for Arn's high spots (DDT and Spinebuster). Tully was fantastic over acting when Windham kicked out of his finish (Slingshot suplex) The finish was good in theory, but Anderson taking a chair bump from Dillon with Luger in control wasn't as smooth as it would have been with Windham. Jim Ross said this started a new era in Tag Team wrestling; he must have been right because Arn and Tully soon left after this one for greener pastures (New York)

5) Ric Flair v. Sting- 10

I believe, in my heart of hearts, that a wrestling match, at it's core is a work of art. And you may be saying, it's a sport (or not even that), therefore how can it be? But, unlike other sports, a wrestler's performance (the match) is that of a subjective nature. It's not like you can watch the Cowboys and say "Wow, TO's 3 touchdowns were really great, but it was his poise and form on that incomplete pass that was really spectacular." You know if TO had a good game and it's going to be the same opinion everyone else had. If Sammy Sosa hit 3 homeruns in a game, he did good. If Shaq gets 3 personal fouls, and misses every free throw and still doesn't break 10 points in the game, it was a bad night. If Sting wrestles Ric Flair for 45 minutes and goes to a draw, just barely missing his chance to become World champion, he didn't have a bad night; he had the match of his career.

This match was a Ric Flair masterpiece; if any current gen fan wants to know why everyone thinks Ric Flair, this flabby, old fart who just won't quit wrestling, is the greatest in ring performer of all time, watch this match. Flair is in top form, in his prime and makes a complete Million dollar star out of Sting. I'm going to start off and make note of some flaws, some things that made me consider this a 9 at first; Sting is still largely green in this match and even though he steps up big time here, there's still some after sell missing from his game and a offense that was still pretty limited. There is a judge's table, consisting of several B-list celebrities (including Kevin Arnold's big obnoxious brother) that deem this a draw at the end of the TV time limit. And for the first 15 minutes of the match you can already see this is going broadway because they start out really slow and do lots of ground work, which Sting's is also pretty amatuer. But, it's Flair who carries this match into another stratosphere.

The great things about this match are the crowd, for one, which is amazing all night long. When Sting comes out, they erupt like Mt. Vesuvius and spew molten lava all over him and Flair for the duration of the match. The story is fantastic; this being Stinger's first major title shot and J.J. Dillon, Flair's mischevious manager, is locked in one of those silly shark cages hung above the ring, forcing Flair to man up and fight one on one. Flair looks like a young Hugh Hefner in a pure white, feathered robe and you can hear the panties dropping all over the arena. From the moment he steps in the ring, he's a complete professional. The story in-ring is Flair's techinque versus Sting's power and speed. Flair goes from working the arm (after Sting misses his first attempt at a Stinger Splash) to the back (using the guard rail to weaken it) to eventually, the knee (which he starts working at 30 minutes in, showing that he's not planning on going all the way.) Sting going for the Stinger splash over and over again was another great touch, as when he finally hits it, with about 1 minute left, the crowd erupts. Some people don't care for draws as finishes, but under the right circumstances, they can be pulled off and this was one, using the Bret-Shawn Iron Man finish where Sting had Flair locked in the Scorpion leg lock for the last 30 seconds, effectively building Sting up for coming so close, and Flair for not giving up.

All the little things came together so great too; All of Flair's strikes were superb, from his punches, kicks to Sting's injured legs and even knees to the breadbasket. And of course, the chops, which bust Sting's chest open early on. Sting steps up and really pulls the fans into this, especially when Flair puts on the Figure Four and Sting starts beating his chest, then they do the best reversal ever, with Sting just jerking his whole body back as Flair desperately reaches for the ropes, then Sting slowly turns it over as the crowd becomes as loud as a Japanese baseball stadium with 150,000 people in it. Plus, the announcing is top notch with Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone, well , mostly Jim Ross making this seem to be the most important match that will ever be competed. And NHO Hall of Famer Tommy Young actually does an extraordinary job reffing and adds a few little touches, like telling Sting in an offensive flurry of punches that he only has 2 minutes left in the match.

I toyed with this one, hinging on a 9 or 10, but i think a match like this is rare and when it's so well done and both men just put each other over so much, i forget the fact that Sting used a hip toss on Flair 4 different times in the match because they were all done differently and Flair sold each of them different than the first (on the last one, he bumped over the top rope and tried to come down with a crossbody which Sting reversed for a great near fall.) Examples like this are why i compare a professional wrestling match or more importantly, Flair and Sting's performances to that of a Van Gogh painting or a Vivaldi piece, a work of art.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper- Born to Controversy (WWE DVD Release)

This was a pretty good presentation by the folks at the Stamford Archive footage offices. My only complaint about the feature is that it barely scratched the surface in an hour and a half and Piper certainly deserved more in depth time than that. He had an amazing career, certainly and the DVD highlighted that pretty well. One of the best points driven home in the release is that Piper never needed a manager, or a title to become a popular star and a household name. He just had this magnetic appeal, even when he was a heel, that forced people to keep their eyes on him when he was in front of them. Another point that they contradict is that Piper is unpredictable and a very honest guy, yet he seemingly stumbles over his words about the HBO interview. You see McMahon freeze up when they ask him to comment on Piper's accusations and for that, Piper even seems to chastise himself on his own video. That was unnecessary in my opinion. But, let me get to the meat of this review and what you all came to read, the matches:

1) Piper/ Mike Popovich v. Buddy Rose/ Rip Oliver- 0
Okay, nothing really happened in this match, at least that we got to see. The match starts pretty deep into the match, and then it ends in 30 seconds followed by a really early Piper promo. Next.

2) Piper v. Buddy Rose (2 out of 3 Falls, Portland)- 3
The "Playboy" was a thin dude at one time. That didn't last long. He and Piper have a fisticuffs that really doesn't excite me. Rose has some ridiculous facials in this match though. The 3 falls stip didn't seem necessary because there wasn't any kind of good structure to the match nor was it particularly dramatic.

3) Piper v. Jack Brisco (NWA studios, US Title, 07/07/1982)- 6
Now, this is what i call wrestling! You had Brisco, who looked like a handsome, hump-less Quasimodo and the big heel, Piper, in his Scottish tartan trunks. These guys worked side headlocks and takedowns throughout the whole bout. It was really refreshing. Every little punch meant something but Brisco was guilty of some no sells during most of the match. Piper had a really varied offense and you could tell he was soaking in knowledge against this ring great.

4) Piper v. Greg Valentine (Dog Collar Match, US Title, Starrcade '83)- 8
This is a fight. I said, THIS IS A FIGHT! Man, what a brutal battle this match is. Hands down the best Dog Collar match ever attempted. This is just pure brutality all the way from start to finish. Piper is brutal with the chain and Valentine just pummels Piper's ear until it bleeds enough to soak the mat in 20 differen places. This is everything it was 24 years ago, and remains a classic today. This match also had a great story, with Valentine targeting the already injured ear to get the win. The Collars and chains were really vicious and Piper's maniacal facials told a lot of the story. Valentine's elbows are deadlier than a machete. The only thing that brings this down is the finish; Piper basically just gets tired of pummeling Valentine and covers him. Really lazy finish, but the whole thing is a nice big kick ass package nonetheless. Anyone who has not seen this match needs to turn off American Idol, put down their Wendy's Double Cheese and go locate this immediately!

5) Piper/ Paul Orndorff v. Hulk Hogan/ Mr. T (Wrestlemania 1)- 5
The crowd was really amped for this one- Main event of what will become the biggest sports entertainment spectacle of the year, Wrestlemania. Hogan and Piper contend that each of them were responsible for selling out this show, yet during the match, they don't play up to Hogan wanting to kill Piper and the crowd doesn't pop as much for Hogan as they do when Mr. T is in there. Even on the buildups to this show, it seems like it was made to feature a Piper v. T feud, and Hogan is merely a background player. Anyways, Hogan works really well with both heels, especially Orndorff and they set a really good pace. The faces have great comebacks and Piper keeps the crowd worked into a frenzy. One thing working against this is the amount of people involved. Both teams have seconds, and there are 2 ref's (Patterson and Ali) then you have random celebrities involved at ringside. The match breaks down several times and i get pissed. "Work a fucking armbar, Orndorff and quit worrying if Captain Lou's playing with his rubber bands!"

6) Piper v. Paul Orndorff (SNME, 10/05/85)- 4
Orndorff sells big for Piper in this grudge match and makes a face like the first time he saw Paul Roma deep throat a popsicle. I had high hopes for this one, thinking we would see a real bloody knuckles scrap, but they kept it pretty basic. Piper's sell of a clothesline plagues this DVD with ineptitude and he looks like a background character from Roger Rabbit. Orndorff gets points for a great piledriver, but this wasn't intended to bring down the house.

7) Piper v. Mr. T (Boxing Match, WM 2)- n/a
This wasn't technically a wrestling match, so i really didn't know how to rate it. I just enjoyed laughing at T's fake wrestling punches and Piper's fake boxing punches. I think i saw Joe Frazier sneak out the back door, while laughing " I got my check, Mother F*****! Haha!)

8) Piper v. Iron Sheik (SNME, 10/04/86)- 1
This was shorter than an Edge World Title Reign. Piper basically bitched out Pedro Morales (who walked away like a scolded boy who was looking through his Viewmaster at the Sports Illustrated Bikini Issue reel) then rolled up Shiek and pinned him. I give this one point for Piper stiffing up the old Iranian man-fucker.

9) Piper v. Bob Orton Jr. (SNME, 11/29/86)- 2
This was short and unmemorable. Orton is a damn fine technician but there wasn't anything for him to do here. This was pretty short, although it seemed to have potential. Both men traded some good punches.

10) Piper v. Adrian Adonis (WM 3, Hair v. Hair)- 3
The crowd was melting for Piper and it's always amazing to see this enormous crowd on DVD. That said, what a really awful match. Adonis was bumping like a fiend for Piper, but when he got on offense, i think he put 83,000 to sleep. The ending spot with the clippers and Beefcake's involvement only hamper this dud even quicker.

11) Piper v. Hulk Hogan ( 02/15/85, War to Settle the Score)- 3
This match had tons of heat too ( becoming a theme with Piper) They started this out the right way, with both guys going full steam ahead at each other. Both men's strikes were pretty good but neither man was very masterful at taking bumps for the other guy. Piper sold an atomic drop like it was instant death and i really enjoyed that part. Unfortunately this match had tons of interference and didn't even have a finish. They did manage to put together some near falls close to the end, but i was already looking forward to the next match.

12) Piper v. Rick Rude (Steel Cage Match, 12/28/89)- 6
The old Blue Bars were Back, Baby! Rude was in phenomenal shape and juiced early and often. Rude was a great worker and even managed to make Piper's dwindling offense look credible. Way too many ass shots for me, they kind of wore that spot out. Rude come off the top of the cage in a really unspectacular fashion with a knee drop that looked like a flying stumble, but Piper sold it like a champ. They had a really cool false finish where they both got out at the same time and they had to go back in and finish the match. Heenan on the outside was gold, except for botching the cage door being slammed in Piper's face. There were some miscues but both men fought hard and earned the well deserved Milwaukee's Best and plate of Ribs and Slaw after the match.

13) Piper v. Bad News Brown (WM 6)- 2

Wow, the less said the better. This was when Piper painted half his body black. People commented on the DVD that they had no idea why he did it or what he was trying to say, but who cares? It was a legendary moment. Pipe said he was trying to be Michael Jackson and evidenced it by using a white, leather glove during the end of the match. Both guys basically just threw strikes the whole time, with Bad News selling even less than Piper. I'd rather seen a sequel to BioDome.

14) Piper v. Bret Hart (WM 8, IC Title Match)- 7
Okay, this is as good as i remembered. An absolutely amazing encounter between two great friends. This was at Mania 8, in the Hoosier Dome, which has a great look. Bret and Piper were friends but had a rivalry that was all about business. Piper showed in this match that he could actually work and he did just that with Hart. They didn't do much technical, a few armdrags and such, but it looked competent. Both guys had awesome strikes throughout and some great near falls. Piper reverted well back to his heel role but didn't carry it over too far. Hart bled after a stiff right uppercut and then opened it up even more with a crazy bulldog. Piper fought his conscience by not using a ring bell to knock Bret out and it cost him him after Bret wrapped him up in a finish that has to be seen to be believed. One of Mania's greatest finishes in my book and wiped Piper's 17 year streak of never being pinned to the mat. This match helped catapult Bret into the stratosphere and both guys gave a great show.

15) Piper v. The Mountie- See Royal Rumble 92 Review(12/16/07)

16) Piper v. Goldust (Hollywood Backlot Brawl, WM 12)- 5
The Backlot portion of this was stiffer than Jack Nicholson watching the Laker Girls. You had a Gold Cadillac, a fire hose, a baseball bat, and some mustard all combined with Piper getting hit by a car and puching Goldust directly in the head numerous times. It is truly a spectacle. The whole OJ Bronco chase scene is even more ludicrous re-watching it now and the in ring stuff really exposes Piper's capabilities as a worker, but they keep it entertaining, including Piper being kissed and returning the favor before he strips Goldust down to his S & M outfit. It looked a little small, presumbly because his was in the cleaners so he borrowed Vince's. This is worth seeing.

17) Piper v. Hollywood Hogan (Starrcade 96)- 2
Damn, you almost hate to watch this. As much as they build Piper up the whole DVD, it only takes this match to discredit him. First off, these two should not have been wrestling for 16 minutes. Neither man can go that long and neither man had anything to do with the other that would have been worth watching. Hogan retreated a lot, and just sweated like a piece of bacon on a Foreman Grill. Piper seemed to have more stamina but there was a point in the match when both men were just falling over each other and didn't have the stamina to get up. The Giant came in for his token botch of the show as Hulk and Virgil dispensed with an angry fan. Piper won with a weak sleeper and i awoke in a pool of vomit from a dream i had that Piper and Hogan had this really terrible match at an old WCW ppv. Yeah, it's not a nightmare like i thought either.

Mass Props to the Hot Rod!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Chris Jericho vs. Triple H – (WWF WrestleMania X8) – 7

This was the last WrestleMania with the company still legally called the WWF and over 68,000 Canadians showed up to watch the professional wrestling. Unfortunately, by the time the main event started, a match for the now defunct “Undisputed” title, the crowd had already severely blown their load earlier on the Hogan versus Rock bout. I hadn’t watched this show since 2002, and of all the many matches on the card, I remembered this one the least – I attribute that to being sternly burnt out on Triple H at the time. But this time around, I vowed to watch this match extremely closely with no bias involved whatsoever.

Right off the bat as Jericho emerges from the back for his entrance, Stephanie McMahon slivers up to his side and I’m unhappily reminded of her stint as his “business associate.” The overlying story of this match is Triple H is nursing an injured left leg that’s heavily wrapped after returning recently from a legit surgery. Jericho pretty much focuses on it without fail, and therein is our story. For the most part, Jericho’s work on the leg is done well and largely believable, some of the submissions he uses aren’t too hot, including one akin to the “Brock Lock,” but the stomps, elbows, and other strikes to the leg help his efforts. Psychology wise, something I liked a lot, was the one time Triple H actually got comfortably in control offensively, his game plan was to go after Jericho’s left leg in an attempt to even the odds. While that only lasted a few seconds, Jericho’s initial selling of it was top-notch.

The thing that hurt this match a whole hell of a lot was Stephanie McMahon. She got involved numerous times to the detriment of the match, including taking a shitty bump off the apron, and even getting into the ring itself at least twice. She was wearing this heinous blue vinyl dress with her pale, saggy tits literally hanging out. Jericho looked pretty stupid, too; with his hair in a ponytail that was partially dyed cherry red. You could also hear Stephanie throughout the bout, yelling shit at ringside and being a general nuisance.

Back to the match, which was otherwise pretty damn good, and Jericho continued working the leg throughout. They went to the floor a couple times, including near the end where they did a somewhat contrived table spot. Jericho was attempting to lock Triple H in the “Walls of Jericho” on one announcing table, but HHH fought it off, got to his feet, and was about to hit Jericho with his patented “Pedigree” but Chris reversed it by backdropping Hunter onto a second nearby announcing table. This was a decent visual and fit in moderately well, but could have been not done at all without sacrificing much.

Jericho brought a chair into the ring and they did a few sequences involving it, including HHH taking a shot to the head, as well as Jericho eating a DDT onto it. But, not long after Hunter hit his vile wife Stephanie with a “Pedigree,” Jericho met the same fate, ending his reign as champion. In the long run, it wouldn’t mean too much, as Hunter would drop the belt a month later to Hogan at a blasé Backlash show.

Overall, I liked the match… it was one of a few on this show that actually felt like a legitimate WrestleMania bout. It wasn’t the atypical WWE main event match of the era, that is, meaningless punching and hackneyed finishing move sequences; instead, it was a well-told story, as Triple H persevered enduring hell. The crowd was pretty moot, not sure what to do as the heel Jericho was a hometown boy, and only really reacted when the finish came out of nowhere, cheering the title change. This wasn’t a “great” WrestleMania main event, largely due to all of the bullshit with Stephanie, but certainly worth revisiting every once in awhile.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

WWE Smackdown! 01/06/06

1 JBL v. Matt Hardy (Falls Count Anywhere)- 3
2 Mark Henry v. Rob Eckos/ John Kloscki/ Gus Hachenser- 2
3 Kid Kash v. Juventud Guerrera- 5
4 Chris Benoit v. Randy Orton- 4
5 MNM v. Rey Mysterio/ Batista( Steel Cage)- 4

The opener started out the wrong way, with a JBL promo and Jillian with that microwave pizza on her face, then Hardy Version 1 showed up and they got stiff in the aisleway. This led to one of the single worst table spots in history where Hardy did a double leg pick up and broke the table with JBL's back. Just Why? Then, they used ladders, chairs,stairs, and a limosuine hood all in a matter of 7 minutes. This match really shows that WWE does a lot of garbage just for the sake of doing garbage. Henry looked pretty damn menacing and his array of 3 part time Wendy's window workers put on a good show of taking nasty spills for the massive brute. It was effective enough to make me believe he could be a contender then i remembered he was Mark Henry. Kash is oh so blase as always but Juvi pulled off a crazy front flip hilo to the outside and probably shattered his little tailbone. They had some really bad miscommunications off the bat, but this match had some time to it and they corrected their mistakes. Juvi was selling his knee perfectly; i especially liked him checking it right before he tried a 450 which led to his downfall.
Benoit v. Orton....sign me up; i'll watch it any day of the week, except Friday nights. They had some really neat reversals of each other's moves and Orton's styled hair had me doing a double take but this fell flat in the heat dept. Booker T was at ringside providing some excellent play by play and i was wishing he would do more, except now he's in Russo's TNa, the bottomless pit of creativity. I think this match, just straight up, has tons of potential and you could see flashes of Orton's selling brilliance after the swan dive, but some interference from Orlando Jordan (who looked like an extra from Suessical) caused this to lose a point. The cage match seemed really unnecessary like there was no heat between these teams, that said, there were some highlights, that being Rey. He broke his back and bumped well for the heels and put together some good spots with them, including his crazy crossbody from the top of the cage. Dave seemed missing at one point for several minutes and i couldn't remember what had happened to him. For cage matches, this one didn't have a lot of action and Mark Henry came in and sucked the enjoyment out of 20,000 people all at once.

TNA Impact- 01/07/06

1 Team 3-D v. Buck Quartermain/ Lex Lovett- 1
2 LAX v. The Naturals- 0
3 Bobby Rood v. The Truth- 1
4 Alex Shelly/ Austin Aries/ Roderick Strong v. Chris Sabin/ Christopher Daniels/ AJ Styles- 5

What a way to ring in the New Year, '06 style! Man, i'm glad it's '08 in that case because the first thing i want to do after the New Year begins (besides eat some cheeseball and get my tax papers in order) is watch Bubba Dudley hang out of a droopy t-shirt and expose his bread dough colored chest. Yum! This was a complete squash and the only thing i enjoyed was when Lovett got a little stiff on Bubba's back with some forearms. The next tag never got started as Konnan ran in with a black sock full of.....i don't know but apparently it hurt. Truth and Rood did the gimmick where Truth pins Rood really quickly in 2 diff. matches, then they do a 3rd and Rood gets his heat back. This was garbage and I would have rather dug moldy ham out of the garbage and had a feast then sit through this schlock again. The final 6 man was faster than Wally West on mescaline. All 6 guys geled extremely well and it was a nice treat to see an Impact match that excited me. There was an awesome double suicide dive outside and the heel team executed some nice tags and did a sequence of moves to Styles that shot a sharp pain up my back. Besides this main event, you can cross seeing this show off your Resolution list, just like you will with smoking, eating carbs and ending your infidelity with that 19 year old Cuban waitress at your local sleaze bar.

Performer Analysis: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

1) Innovation- 10

The "Hot Rod" is one of the pioneers in what we now call sports entertainment. His crazy antics and unpredictable behavior led to his getting his own segment on the weekly wrestling program called "Piper's Pit." What happened after that was Piper doing and saying whatever he wanted and creating legendary moment after moment for decades to come. He set the format for any type of wrestler-interview segment that would ever come down the line. An amazing achievement. Piper also created slogans and "catchphrases" before they become cliched on the spur of the moment.

2) Conditioning- 5

This isn't one of Roddy's strengths, but he still scores marginally well. In his younger days he was a lot bigger and broader, possibly due to steroid use. But in his later days, his frame scaled down and really thinned out, but he didn't become exactly cut or anything. Without all the excess body weight, you would think his stamina would hold up but Piper wasn't a marathon man. And i don't grade on guys being able to wrestle for long periods of time, but also compentently. Piper and Hogan went 16 minutes in 1996 and they looked like drunken hobos stumbling down a darkened alley. That's not stamina.

3) Skill- 5

Another one of Piper's weaker categories. He has always been knocked for his wrestling ability or lack there of and after watching a great plethora of his work, i'd have to say it's not all bad. Piper was surprisingly agile in his day and had a lot of good chain wrestling when he was with the right guy. But, he can't bump for anything. He can sell moves extrememly well and react apporpriately to them, but actually taking a realistic bump after a move, say a clothesline and he looks like a cartoon character. He has a decent move set, which has become dwindling down to just punches as he continues to get in the ring.

4) Psychology- 10

Going back to the art of selling a move and selling your pain, Piper is very adept at that. He can take a punch to the face and sell it 15 different ways depending on how it came off: i saw him take the shot and fall down, i saw him get angry at the punch, i saw him not feel it due to adrenaline and i saw him stagger backwards, reeling from it. I saw a lot of depth in his performances, because that's what selling a move is, a performance and i was very pleased. He also is great at selling ground holds and other moves of the sort and doing some after sell with it. Then, you have the mind games: He's wore boxing gloves, brought out original works of art depicting his opponent, he's danced, he's kissed valets, he's kissed men, he even painted himself half-black! Piper is a master of psyching out his opponent and the fans recoginze it and eat it up.

5) Interviews- 10

You don't need me to re-hash the litany of hilarious quotes that Piper has came up with over the years, the off the cuff remarks that he's thrown out on live TV, the insults, the quips, the jabs, the punchlines that he's thrown out there for years to describe what a master of the microphone he truly is. I believe he's the greatest mic worker in wrestling, bar none. Whenever Piper is on and has a microphone in his hand, you listen. You want to hear what he'll say next. He's got the quickest wit that's ever graced our business. This is the easiest 10 i've ever given in an analysis.

6) Character- 10

Even back in his early days, the "boys" and the promoters commented on what an original gimmick he had: a young scrappy punk kid wearing a skirt comes out with bagpipes to the ring. What is this guy doing? Piper has always been proud of playing up his Scottish roots, however real or false they are, but his on screen role has never really been about him being Scottish or anything like that, it's just part of his mystique and energy. You know when Hot Rod comes out, he's going to be wearing his kilt and you know you're going to hear the bagpipes playing in the background and the music just grabs you and still to this day, it's one of the best and probably most recognizable theme songs in wrestling history. As far as playing face and heel, Piper's heel days are long gone, but he was one of the best in the world. He helped make Wrestlemania into the biggest show of the year and even just a few years ago on Smackdown, he gave it another try. But, the people love Piper, he's an endearing hero and he plays a face magnificently as well.

7) Fans- 10

Do i even need to write anything here? Piper has always been a fan favorite among fans. His first few years in the business, he was a fantastic heel, always playing an elusive foil who spoke with words more so than actions and made every fan favorite chase him down to get a match with him. But, his interviews were so entertaining that eventually he would be made into a face and the fans would love him for it and that they did. Piper always elicits a great reaction whether it's just for nostalgia now, or if it's out of respect. It's been that way for years and i would suspect will be that way for years to come.

8) Basics- 6

Piper isn't completely lost when it comes to the physical part of wrestling. In his early days, all you had was the basics, so to not know them to some degree means you must have been a complete failure and we all know that is not true when it comes to Hot Rod. He has some good fundamentals, but compared to others, not as fluid or comfortable as you would like to see. Piper is a great puncher, utilizing his amateur boxing background. His rope movement, again, looks very cartoony, but that's possibly just his body mechanics. Overall, Piper knows his stuff, or at least did, but i wouldn't rank him near the higher echelon of technical greats.

9) Feuds/ Opponents- 9

Roddy Piper v. Hulk Hogan is a feud that, according to the DVD, seems to still be going on today. A heavy point made in the video is that there is a argument about who really sold out the first Wrestlemania, was it Hogan's popularity or the fact that people wanted to see Hogan kick Piper's ass. I'm not going to weigh in on that one, but there is a yin to every yang and Hogan would be an egotistical fool to think he did it all himself, which is probably why he does. But anyways, Piper has got to go tooth and nail with most every legendary guy from the 80's and early 90's in one way or another. If you look back at your career and see that you've fought against Andre the Giant, Jack Brisco, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, The Funk's, The Valentine's, Hulk Hogan, Rick Rude, and Bret Hart, then you've done something right.

10) Gutcheck- 7

Piper is an amazing guy. He's been through a rough life, living on the streets when he was only 13, having to make something of himself out of nothing with no one to rely on. And he did it by fighting, it's the only thing he knew and i'm glad to see that fighting made him a millionaire. He truly deserves all the accolades he gets. He may have never won a World Title but he is still one of the biggest stars in wrestling. He got a hip replacement and kept on going. He comes back because he loves this business. Piper hasn't always been around, he took breaks from wrestling so not to burn himself out but he's contributed a lot over the years and i applaud him for that. Sometimes he did it for the money, or because he was told and as he gets older, he doesn't have the same options as he used to but he's still one of the most controversial guys to ever step foot in a ring.

Total Score: 82
Ranking: Legend
PO: Thumbs Up

The Retro Raw Recap: WWF Raw - 1/17/94

Taped in Richmond, VA. This week Crush joins Vince McMahon at ringside to provide his expert analysis on the proceedings.

1) Owen Hart vs. Terry Austin - 2
Austin looked like an overgrown troll. He couldn't even sell a damned monkey flip right. Owen's trademark dropkicks were picture perfect as he tried to carry his slob of an opponent to a decent bout. After the bout, Owen and Bret are interviewed by Vinnie Mac and they say they want the Quebecers, titles or no titles.

2) Tatanka vs. George South - 3
I'm not exactly sure where but I know I've heard that George South name before. This was fairly competitive for a squash as South put up some decent offense against Tatanka. Nothing really stood out for me but it gets a better grade just because South wasn't completely worthless, like the previous jobber.

3) Diesel vs. Scott Powers - 3
Diesel obliterates Powers in mere minutes with raw power. The match was nothing and Diesel no-sold everything Powers gave him. Bonus points though for Diesel abusing a jobber. Stan Lane calls in from MSG during the match to inform everyone that the Quebecers regained the tag titles from Jannetty & The Kid.

4) Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs. Irwin R. Schyster - 4
Now I know why Crush is at ringside today. It's due to his ongoing feud with Savage. These two seemed to work really well together. This was set up last week when Savage threw cake in Irwin's face. That would get me pretty steamed as well, unless it was chocolate cake, in which case, i wouldn't care. The finish saw numerous people run-in and the whole thing break down into a giant brawl. A good match but it would've gotten a higher score had there been a clear winner.

Next week, it's the fallout from the Royal Rumble! Who won, who lost? We'll find out next week on Raw!