Wednesday, July 30, 2008

MLW Hybrid Hell

1) Jerry Lynn v. Kid Romeo- 3
2) Michael Shane v. Homicide- 4
3) Christopher Daniels v. Billy Fives- 3
4) Los Maximos v. Samoan Island Tribe- 3
5) Norman Smiley v. Kenzo Suzuki- 5
6) Simon Diamond/ CW Anderson v. Dr. Death/ D-Lo Brown- 4
7) Sabu v. Mikey Whipwreck- 4
8) CM Punk v. Raven- 3
9) Satoshi Kojima v. Mike Awesome (NO DQ)- 3
10) Mike Awesome v. Steve Corino (No DQ)- 2
11) Steve Corino v. Terry Funk (No Ropes Barb Wire Match)- 3

Joey "Webmaster" Styles is our host with the most on this journey into post-ECW indy hybrid jumbalaya of action. Jerry Lynn or the "Evil F'N Show" as his new moniker boasts is aligned with Christopher Daniels in a new stable. Lynn can talk the talk but he can't play an effective heel in ring, he does the same stuff he always did. His opponent, Kid Romeo, while I enjoy his dance routine, he doesn't keep up with Lynn and this match just becomes another throwaway. Michael Shane is now managed by Francine, whose skin looks lacquered on; God, you can almost see the traces of nut stains on her overtanned chest. Homicide looks to want to work and both guys styles seem to match up well. He hits his rad front somersault plancha to the outside but then you have a bunch of sexual innuendo spots where he rams Francine's face into Shane's crotch several time prompting Styles to mark out of his suit. 187 and we out. Daniels is up in our 3rd match and this feels a lot like the opener; a competent worker matched with someone of lesser skill- here we have Billy Fives, perennial indy jobber to the stars. He looks a lot like Christian York but he can't work half as quickly. Daniels steers the kid through a really non-impressive match.

The tag match was a fun retreat and the Samoans are complete monsters, just smashing the SAT's everywhere they want to. Samu takes Joel through the back curtain though, and never returns- maybe he tripped and hurt his knee in that really weird Peter Griffin way where you have to rub it for like an hour. The Maximos pick up the win after a double bulldog on a chair to Mana, who's probably the worst Samoan wrestler these baby brown's have seen. Norman finally got what he always needed: a white girl with a GIANT ass to give the Big Wiggle too- but he still gives it to Suzuki here. This is arguably the best match on the show- Suzuki and Smiley exchange bruising chops several times throughout the match and Norman shys away from his usual scientific routine to have a fight with a Japanese samurai. I'm thinking Cher designed Suzuki's purple tights but it doesn't detract away from the match. This was a fun, stiff encounter and G.I. Hoe (Norman's manager) has a GIANT ass.

Next you have the Extreme Horsemen, well two of them and CW Anderson isn't wearing a shirt. Dr. Death is, so it's easier to watch him. All 4 guys had real snap on their punches and the Horsemen both used superkicks which Joey explained was the "go-to move" for all of the Horsemen- guess that gives them an excuse. Just like the old ECW- everybody had a superkick. D-Lo looked the best and Diamond just doesn't have it as a pro in my opinion, there wasn't really any classic tag stuff here, just guys trading in and out doing moves, which doesn't mean this was terrible, just isn't required viewing. When you read the names Sabu and Whipwreck, what's the first phrase that comes to your mind? "Fuck-up" mine too, but oddly there were none here. Both men took their time and hit all of their spots fairly clean. There was some good reversals and the Whippersnapper looked really good. Sabu missed one of his big moonsaults and he completely disregarded a legdrop so he could roll outside and shift a guardrail but other than that, this was fine for what they were capable of. Joey Style was putting Raven over huge, saying this was the best shape he'd been in for years but this match had no sizzle. We saw far too many russian leg sweeps into the guard rail and far too many other people's moves being ripped off, ex. anklelock and shining wizard. Raven worked some psych in trying to lure Punk to the floor but when they finally did, Punk stayed on the offense. Mikey Whipwreck came back out and interefered to absolutely no pop whatsoever- you would have thought he was wearing a "Support Don Imus" shirt.

Next is our World Title match and if you are thinking Satoshi Kojima is going to fit nicely into Masato Tanaka's role as Mike Awesome's hardcore nemesis, promptly slap yourself in the face and be disappointed. Have no fear, I was hoping for the same thing but these two had zero chemistry. Awesome was slow, pudgy and didn't have the heart to really put forth an effort here and Kojima, while a fine worker, didn't have the skills to carry the soon-to be dead former superstar. There were numerous botches in the match, one specifically where Awesome tried to get him up for a powerbomb and they were fumbling with a chair while in the process. The final powerbomb through a table was stiff and garnered a pity point. Steve Corino then comes out, looking like he needs to join Conan's Pale Force and challenges Awesome.....then starts bumping his ass off for absolutely no reason. Corino takes a huge spill into the audience and a running Razor's Edge through a table but still wins with the help of his posse- the only thing Extreme about those Horsemen are the bills they rack up at Ruby Tuesdays. Then, our main event which was simply a plodding and distubring blood letting. Why Terry why? Nothing happened here except both men just putting the other' face and/or arm on the wire and cutting away. Why didn't Corino save his big bumps for the wire and breath some life into this dead stipulation until Honma kicks the mother fucker in the ass> Some more Horsemen interference and Funk is covered in blood like Carrie White and I'm wishing someone would dump pig's blood all over the end of this show.

Monday, July 28, 2008

ROH Fate of an Angel (07/16/05)

This starts out with a close up of Joe's face and I swear I could see a community of tiny people living in his pockmarks. He cuts his slow, threatening promo which is always entertaining even if I know he's searching for cool things to say.

1) Nigel McGuinness v. Claudio Castagnoli- 3

This probably clocked in at around 7 minutes, which is perfectly fine for this opener. This was one of Claudio's first matches so he wasn't showcased like he is now. I wasn't digging his methods in this match, ex. setting Nigel up in a far corner, then running to the opposite one just to do a front somersault and then trying to hit a move? & hitting a plancha to the outside then coming back in to lock on a headlock? It was all over the place, but Nigel didn't blow through his whole arsenal and hit a decent Tower of London for the win.

2) Austin Aries v. El Generico- 5

Aries being the former champion is now relegated to working his way back up the ladder, starting with this masked wonder. Generico is showing some of the same psych problems as Claudio, hitting highspots way too soon in the match then bargaining down with restholds during the middle sections. Both guys are hitting their signature moves with tons of impact, except the tornado DDT Generico botches. They have good chemistry together and a satisfying 450 finish makes this a decent yet still not recommendable encounter.

3) Kevin Steen v. Dixie v. Azrieal v. Homicide- 3

Okay, as soon as all 4 guys come out, it's pretty obvious who's going to win. This starts out with Steen and Homicide engaged in a sloppy brawl that more resembles two brown bears pawing over a honeycomb than a wrestling match. 3 matches, 3 planchas, even if Homicide's looks pretty cool. Dixie and Azrieal have a decent outing and they leave them paired up throughout the match quite a lot, except Dixie looks like the Dick Tracy Villain the Blank, no expression on his face as he does 3 flips on a sell. Steen already building quite a resume of big power moves which he breaks out 3 in a row sometimes before making a cover. Homicide no sells a big German from Dixie just to hit the Gringo Killa for the win- another poorly done 4 corners brought to you by ROH bookers.

4) The Carnage Crew v. Lacey's Angels v. Dunn & Marcos v. The Embassy (Eddie Vegas/ Xcess) (Ultimate Endurance Match)- 4

Any match featuring two guys who are wearing shirts proclaiming their love of beer and being fat don't belong in a match titled "Ultimate Endurance." The first fall is pretty fast paced with any number of guys in the ring at one time doing any number of high risk moves. It ultimately breaks down into a huge dive spot and I so wish they were diving off the side of a high rise instead of a concrete floor. Ring Crew Express hit the two best double teams I've seen in a while (flying elbow backbreaker and senton off the other guy's shoulders) to finish the first fall. 2nd is anything goes and just becomes a wandering brawl with a few chair shots thrown in for good measure. It ends pretty quickly with Lacey's Angels going out. 3rd fall is the best of the 3 because it halfway resembles a normal tag match. These two teams are born for their roles here, with Carnage Crew being big bully team and Ring Crew being their beating dummies. They cap it off with that crazy spiked piledriver from the 2nd rope. Better than I expected after seeing all this faction warfare shit from last year.

5) AJ Styles v. Roderick Strong- 7

Now, this is what I call a match! Roderick is fun to watch trying to keep up with AJ's really fast spots as you can see Roddy's baby fat bounce around. AJ working in your face (as always- keep your eyes out for his forearms) but Roderick was born to strike- he has the fresh faced exuberance and when a match gets slow, he's the kind of guy who just starts chopping the flesh off your chest. AJ channels Foley after taking a side slam on the apron then gets kicked in the back and takes a header into a seated chair and pulverizing the guard rail with his face. EUREKA! I've got it! I just pinpointed what makes this ROH announcers so fucking mundane when calling such a high impact product- they've seen so many crazy and innovative moves, they start calling them like their fucking headlocks! Roderick hits a back breaker from a full nelson that folds AJ like a cheap road map and it barely elicits any volume in their voices as they call it out. For home viewing audiences, that kills the move because no one's excited about it. Same with the ROH crowd- they're so desensitized because they see so many crazy moves that most of them barely register any more. NOW, that pisses me off. The finish is awesome and perfectly accentuates AJ's athleticism- I won't spoil it, just find this match and watch it till your eyes bleed and your TV dinner gets cold.

6) Samoa Joe v. Jimmy Rave (Pure Title Rules)- 4

The whole novelty of this match, the only thing you want to see is Joe just brutalize Rave, or if I may use the common vernacular, whip his punk ass around the ring. After the first few slaps and slams, Rave takes control and you totally lose interest. He plays the whiny punk real well and Joe slaps harder than God so it's fun to watch. Rave's offense consisted of using a shoe string to choke Joe, who looked like a drugged circus lion and his extremely goofy offense (ex. grabbing the back of someone's leg and the back of their head to do a spin move that drops them on their necks- people make it look good but think about it really? Why would you ever attempt that?) Nana gets his comeuppance and Joe safely retains the title in a match that can be skipped unless you really hate Rave (and I know there's a large contingent of people who do.)

7) Matt Hardy v. Christopher Daniels- 6

V1 is one of my favorite current performers on any roster, so I've been stoked to see his other ROH matches, especially since that Homicide one was the shits. These guys are nearly identical in theory; both sound on the ground, both can be flashy when the time is right and both are known for putting on good matches. You could see Matt was having fun in there, just dishing out right hand after stiff right hand (one of the best anywhere in the world) and trying moves you've never seen him use on USA network, such as Splash Mountain powerbomb and running palm strike. Daniels plays perfect foil to all of this offense but Hardy looks a little lost at some points because he's used to being the guy on defense. Daniels plans all of his spots out pretty perfectly and the sweat is just pouring off of both men like they were in a sauna with the Human Torch. CM Punk runs down for needless interference, more than likely a booking issue so Hardy can't get a clean win over Daniels but he does with a version of Zybyzsko's front face choke. I think the match went a little long because they had to use some filler but Hardy was just putting the stank on Daniels and he was being his technical self with very few facial expressions.

8) CM Punk v. James Gibson- 7

Punk busted Gibson open earlier in the show after a long winded promo, and now Gibson was back with a huge "Darkman" type bandage on his head. It came off quickly and exposed a small bloody wound that juiced occasionally. Punk didn't work the cut very often though which I thought would have made a lot of sense. Instead he used his height advantage to bully Gibson, but they don't call him the pitbull for nothing- he was really smooth here, just his matwork flowed so well. He took such simple spots and worked them in so well the match had a good pace. Punk got his back sliced like a piece of deli meat on the large ROH tin signs on the guard rail. It looked like a Chinese vagina. This match had some time to it, nearly 35 minutes and the back and forth worked well although sometimes Punk wouldn't sell something to get to the next spot and he and Gibson's punches were both questionable. But, overall this felt like a World Title Match and they didn't burn everything out so fast. Punk worked the crowd well and they just liked Gibson; maybe some of them were his cousins. The finish worked as it made Gibson come out strong and Punk still the greasy heel the crowd wanted to boo. This doesn't have the emotion when Gibson wins the title ( at the Dayton show I attended) but I think it is more technically sound. Overall, this is a very good ROH show and you don't feel like puking afterwards because you've seen everything but the kitchen sink used and at least 3 of the matches had good structure and were well done.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Legacy of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - Disc #2

1. Steve Austin vs. Undertaker- (IYH: Cold Day in Hell) - 3
2. Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart and British Bulldog - (Raw '97) - 4
3. Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels - (King of the Ring '97) - 5
4. Steve Austin and Dude Love vs. Owen Hart and British Bulldog - (RAW '97) - 4
5. Steve Austin vs. Owen Hart - (Summerslam '97) - 6
6. Steve Austin vs. Dude Love - (Unforgiven '98) - 8
7. Steve Austin vs. Kane - First Blood Match - (King of the Ring '98) - 3
8. Steve Austin vs. Kane - (Raw '98) - 3

I found the first two matches both disappointing. The Undertaker and Austin, two of the biggest names in professional wrestling history, made a go of a feud during this era, but with both being beloved good guys it didn’t have the fire and drama necessary to really carry it. Notable in this match in their series is all five members of the Hart Foundation being seated ringside in front-row seats. Of course, they get involved, sometimes involuntarily, as both guys mix it up with them throughout it. For me, with two guys this good, this match just doesn’t ever take off. Surprisingly, a lot of it is mat-based, with Austin working several submissions, notably an STF and a rather lazy standard side headlock. In terms of selling, Undertaker eats Austin’s punches well, whipping his head and hair back with every shot, but outside of that there isn’t much in that department worthy of a mention, as the bulk of the match is the aforementioned mat sections, Austin’s increasingly dwindling brawling move set, and the superfluous outside antics.

The second match also falls short of my expectations. Here, the action’s quicker and all four of these guys are pretty hot commodities at the time, so regardless of its problems it’s still entertaining. Shawn does the bulk of the selling, which helped, especially giving the heels’ credibility against two super hot good guys. But, being squeezed into the confines of a TV time limit, whole sections felt rushed and uneven. I think for the angle advancement at the time, this was a nice fit, but given the talent involved it doesn’t hold up now particularly strongly.

The disappointment streak continues, as I also wasn’t very impressed with the Michaels match they chose. For starters, a mentally handicapped teen falls over the guardrail and starts trying to get into the ring. Now, I can’t discredit the match for this alone, but its what transpires afterwards that hurts it. Michaels goes out to assist the guy, but Austin grows impatient like us fans and attacks him. Moments later, Shawn goes back outside the ring yet again, this time walking the aforementioned teen all the way up the aisle. When the wrestling finally starts another odd occurrence becomes a distraction, some of the most wildly uneven and theatric camera work I’ve ever seen in a WWE broadcast. It was almost as if they were trying to shoot it like a Oliver Stone film, with dramatic close-ups, uneven handheld stuff, and cameraman actually standing on the apron shooting, giving the impression of being in the ring itself with the wrestlers. In theory, this is kind of cool, but of course it goes awry, as a cameraman gets knocked off the apron and takes a violent spill to the floor. Then, Shawn, in typical unprofessional asshole mode, starts smirking and spitting at the cameraman while working Austin in a headlock. The whole match seems like a puzzle missing pieces, and for two of the eras best, this runs a little south of the recommendable category.

The following tag is another against Davey and Owen, this time with Dude Love as Austin’s partner, making his debut in fact. This is very similar to the other tag match, given TV time constraints, but is also equally inoffensive. They weren’t concerned with the wrestling as much as the bigger picture so I can’t recommend it. The next match is the infamous bout where Austin gets his neck broke. Unfortunately that incident overshadows the fact that it’s otherwise a damn fine wrestling match. For the first time really on this disc, Austin shows signs of his earlier potential, and works almost as well with Owen as he does his brother Bret. One minor nitpick about Owen, his selling of Austin’s punches is real bad, and since at this point punching made up the majority of Austin’s offense, it’s hard to ignore. For every punch, Owen will sway his head way back, then bring it back forward for the next, yet the entire time he has a very expressionless look on his face. It’s a shame Austin got hurt, both due to the loss of his career’s longevity, and because otherwise this would be pimped as one of the better Intercontinental title matches of that era.

The match with Dude Love is the lesser remembered and discussed of their major singles bouts on pay-per-view against each other, yet I was totally digging it and easily choose it as the best match on the second disc of this set. I have to give tons of credit to Mick Foley. From what this DVD showcases, while Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are bigger names, Foley works harder, and gets more out of Austin than either men combined. Besides having a frenzied and fired up Austin, Foley is just killing himself, taking all kinds of sadistic bumps, including getting tossed off the entrance ramp onto concrete, and taking a disturbing suplex right onto the steel ring steps. There’s a lot of bullcrap involving McMahon potentially “screwing” Austin, a la Bret in ’97, but it didn’t distract enough to really interfere with this match’s awesomeness.

Both of the Kane matches suck, a lot, and I’d rather watch some random WCW Saturday Night ’95-era squashes. The first, a First Blood, is so overbooked and garbage, with the Hell in the Cell cage randomly lowering and rising, as McMahon and Rena Mero (Sable) watch from a luxury skybox. I think he was fingering her. Kane’s doing the whole “dead man” gimmick still, not selling much of anything, and is immobile and goofy and wow this is just awful. Austin starts bleeding from his back, but the ref doesn’t call it, so they basically change the rules on the fly given the impromptu plasma purging. The next night on Raw they have a rematch, it’s even less interesting, but a hot crowd saves it from being completely abysmal. The second disc was less of a treat than the first, but not entirely bad, so we’ll see how things conclude when I tackle the third and final disc next week. NHO 3:16 says “I just reviewed your ass!”

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ric Flair & the Four Horsemen DVD

Whooo! (just felt like giving one for old time's sake)- the great thing about this documentary is that none of it is WWE footage because the Horsemen have never been in the WWE. I enjoyed most of this documentary, going a little over 2 hours in length because you got to hear about a group that was a groundbreaking entity through it's highs and lows and really get to know how these guys lived. There are tons of stories throughout about the high life that they lived and the notoriety they had and that came with the name Horsemen. There were a lot of bad times too and members they didn't necessarily agree with and that all came to light as well. I thought Flair was surprisingly candid, stating his career was over, he didn't care anymore. Arn was as well spoken as always and had a lot of insight. Other people featured on the DVD were J.J Dillon(who was just happy to be at the parties), Tully Blanchard(who was a real heel in his day), Barry Windham (looking really bad but forgave Flair for leaving with the World Title), Paul Roma(who for some reason buried Flair and Arn and put himself over), Chris Benoit(who was still marking out over being a Horseman) and Dean Malenko(who takes 20 minutes to tell a joke that he telegraphed), as well as Horsemen adversaries such as Dusty Rhodes and Paul Ellering. The only thing that gets old on these DVD's are the retreaded stories, such as Flair and Dusty's feud, Flair and Steamboat's matches and Flair's WWE debut. All of these things have their place in history but have already been covered on other DVD's and didn't need to take up time here. Eric Bischoff came off as a real ass (no surprise) and back stepped through a lot of his words and actions, offering no real reason for his hatred of Flair and why he wanted to bury him. All in all, I thought it very sad that Arn asked the fans not to remember how they died, but how they were born and it was Arn that coined the phrase 4 Horsemen. I thought this was one of the more enjoyable releases WWE has offered.

As far as the other extras like interviews and vignettes, most of them were quite entertaining, such as the attack on Dusty Rhodes in a parking lot. That was a hell of a piece of business. You realize while watching these that the Horsemen weren't just a stable, but they were doing innovative things like that attack which up until that point, had been pretty much never seen. They didn't just beat people up and win a lot of matches, like Evolution, they took charge and did what they had to do. I'd say the extras are well worth taking a peek at as well.


1) Ric Flair/ Ole & Arn Anderson v. Pez Whatley/ Rocky King/ Italian Stallion (06/22/85)- 5

This was one of the wildest jobber matches I've ever seen. The face team just attacked the Horsemen right off the bat like they were Russell Crowe fighting off paparazzi. You could see Ole off in the corner just dropping bombs on guys. It was real fun. It finally got cornered off and the Horsemen went to work but the faces had another comeback spot even and the Horsemen were making 5 and dime guys look like a million dollars, just like they said they did.

2) Ric Flair v. Ricky Morton (Steel Cage Match,Great American Bash 07/06/86)- 8

"She'll be coming around the mountain when I come," a Flair quote but damn, I'm even singing it along with the praises of this match. I've seen a lot of old NWA stuff recently and the Rock n' Roll's aren't the great team I keep hearing about, but Morton is on fire in this one. First off, Flair makes a Donald Trump like entrance and comes out onto a football field in a helicopter. Then, the action; Flair is selling everything like the greatest in the world and millions of women swoon and millions of men say "Damn, Natch can sell an ass beating!" Then, Morton tries to top him and takes hellacious bumps into the cage and gets a nasty bulging cut over his eye and spews man blood from his head. These guys work the cage and use it to every advantage, nothing about the stip is a hindrance like so many cage matches before that I've seen involving guys like Hogan, Kane, or Raven. Morton and Flair's chemistry is just off the charts; they do reversals, transitions and tons of great fluid moves that resemble a dance number in a finely oiled machine of a match. Flair gets his token blood and there's a figure four spot and more cage banging and some close near falls and Morton really is the face in peril of legend. Flair finally gets the win in this one which turns into a near marathon of frenzied work that still holds up against some of the best matches in the world today. This is the match I'll remember Ricky Morton for from now on and just another golden gem in Flair's awesome collection.

3) Tully Blanchard v. Dusty Rhodes (1st Blood Match, Starrcade '86 11/27/86)- 5

This match was all psych, unfortunately that didn't leave much room for action. Dust splits J.J. open even before the match starts with an elbow to prove he can do it, so Tully is real apprehensive, you know like when you buy tomatoes at the grocery store or agree to go out as
"wingman" for your newly single friend. Anyways, the ref is checking everything, the pace is real slow, as Tully keeps ducking out of the ring. Everything was calculated and all the strikes were dead on, real sharp and accurate. They ended up pulling that old "wipe your guy's head with a towel trick" and Tully used an object to bust open Rhodes head (these days it would simply take him an eyebrow raise to do it) and Tully walks away with the TV belt.

4) The Four Horsemen (Flair, Anderson, Blanchard, Windham, Dillon) v. Dusty Rhodes, Lex Luger, Nikita Koloff, Dr. Death, and Paul Ellering (War Games)- 6

You know War Games- 5 men, two sides, 10 total, 1 cage, 2 rings, tons of blood and lots of brawling- this one was no different. Arn and Dusty started off the right way with both men spewing from their foreheads early and often. The crowd was really hot for this, just screaming at the top of their lungs like they were being pelted with money from high above. I had a problem with this though: the face team's selling- some out and out lazy sells and some blantant no sells while at the same time the Horsemen were bumping and selling their asses off. For some reason every face that came in after Flair did a spot where his chops didn't hurt them and then they would double clothesline Flair and Windham and get some heat. This is still War Games and is still very fun to watch so it's recommendable.

5) 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)

6) Sting/ Nikita Koloff v. Arn Anderson/ Tully Blanchard- 7

The match started out in a pier sixer, for you Gordon Solie marks, with Sting and Tully bitchslapping each other. This trend continued throughout the whole match, as neither guy seemed to give an inch against the other. Anderson was smoother than a frappachino during this one and kept a great pace. Nikita bumped like a madman especially on an Arn DDT that made me squirt. They had complete control of the momentum of this match and they took the fans on a roller coaster ride before settling on a Dusty finish that actually worked. I'd be remissed if I didn't mention Sting's Balls to the Wall plancha that set me on fire so bad I wanted to paint me and my friends' faces right then and there.

7) Ric Flair v. Arn Anderson (Fall Brawl '95)- 9

I really can't say enough good things about this match. I've never seen it before so i wasn't sure what I was expecting but it surpassed them. Both men show PASSION here and it's so fucking lemonade (refreshing). You have to know they know this will probably never happen again but it's totally worth them getting pissed at each other just to do this match. They work it hard for nearly 25 minutes and prove that even in '95 both men were an asset to the company and to the sport. The pace is built damn near perfectly, with lots of great but basic scientific wrestling to start off the first 8 to 10 minutes then they start exchanging strikes; Flair chops and Anderson left hands and both men are giving them their due credit. The pace keeps building from there where you even have some floor bumps with Flair getting backdropped and Arn taking a vertical suplex. The fans pop big every time Arn outshines Flair and Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan are on during this whole match, just pushing the story aspect and comparing them as near equals except for the fact Flair's a bazillion times World Champion, with the most honest and poignant exchange being Heenan asking "How come Flair never gave Arn a title shot?" and Tony responding with an enthusiastic "That's a good question!"

Arn works the arm of Flair and Flair works the leg of Arn and we've seen all these spots a million times and they just make you want to stand up and salute because they may have never looked better than here. Oh, fuck, i just switched the score from an 8 to a 9 just writing this review- if there's a better more deliberately worked match that works on so many levels than this one please fucking find it and mail it to us for a review- there's so much genius going on in the ring it both pleases and hurts me to watch it. When Flair locks on the figure four and Arn reverses it, I think the world stood still at that time and proclaimed it as a great wrestling moment because the crowd, the announcers, the ref and everyone watching it were total MARKS. Pillman interferes in the finish but it almost doesn't matter because Arn pinning Flair was so huge, the announcers just bypass the fact that he cheated. This rocked my whole reviewing world and I totally didn't expect it to and they didn't use chairs, tables, ladders or even blood to up the ante; they just fucking wrestled and they did it better than anyone out there at that time. Bloody kudos to you, Horsemen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

MLW Reload

1. Super Crazy vs. Fuego Guerrero - 4
2. La Parka vs. Shocker - 3
3. Christopher Daniels, Ikuto Hidaka and Dick Togo vs. The Maximos and Quiet Storm - 3
4. Terry Funk vs. Chris Candido - 3
5. The Sandman vs. Vampiro vs. Steve Corino - Street Fight - 2
6. Taiyo Kea vs. Sabu - 4
7. Satoshi Kojima vs. Jerry Lynn - 5

Adam scored nine of these MLW DVDs during an online sale awhile back and we’ve been watching them whenever we get together. This was the fourth we screened, and easily the worst of the bunch thus far.

Fuego is Amazing Red underneath a mask he got off Highspots, but delivers a decent outing here, actually pulling out some pretty decent sells, etc. He also does an absolutely crazy, flipping, spinning splash to the floor in visually arresting spot. This was a good opener, but hurt by Crazy, who was hamming it up a lot and not really on. La Parka and Shocked followed, and while both of these guys should have been capable of putting together something nicely, their match lacked any spark or flow. La Parka did a rolling senton to a standing Shocker for the finish, which looked bad, as Parka barely got any air and appeared to just stumble off the top into him.

The six-man has flashes of solid stuff, but unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, as this match just kept going, and going, and going. We were literally yelling at the screen, “just finish it!” and “bring it home, boys!” Even when really good opportunities to finish it happened, like a patented Dick Togo back senton bomb, or the Maximo’s “Spanish Fly” finisher it just wouldn’t stop. Sorry, I just don’t care enough about the Maximos and Quiet Storm (who all look exactly alike) to be into them going Broadway three matches deep into an independent show. Daniels’ best and worst traits are one and the same, his precision, as while offensively he strives for consistency and crispness, on the other end, all of his sells and bumps are always exactly the same.

I went to the restroom and came back and Candido and Funk were getting ready to start, I said, “this should be shit” and miraculously I was proven absolutely right. Funk bled, of course, and pudgy Candido and his bloated wife Tammy made this even more of an eyesore. One highlight was Funk trying to suplex Candido on a little wooden entrance ramp, it looked like one neighborhood kids and I would have ramped our bikes off of years earlier, but not getting him over all the way and Chris landing roughly on top of his skull. At one point Tammy got inside the ring and Funk bit her chunky ass, smearing blood all over her cellulite, Joey Styles said it best, “I’m about to puke.” The three-way was spectacularly shitty. Sandman was tanked, wrestling in street clothes, looking like a drunken derelict. The ring ended up littered with so much debris, props, and garbage. Corino really sucked, he’d take a really big bump, say a suplex on a piece of steel guardrail propped up against the ropes, then moments later immerge apparently unscathed to go to the next atrocious spot. I laughed my balls off near the end, as Vampiro sold something and made this outrageous face, like he was doing a fucking Popeye expression. Go eat some spinach, just make sure you wash it down with some Faygo at your next JCW romp.

The last two matches held the most interest on paper, and delivered the most entertainment in the ring, too. I’d never seen Taiyo before, but really liked that as absurd as Sabu is, he didn’t allow himself to get entirely brought down to his level of sleaze. Kea kept it simple and stiff, and while not a particularly stirring performance, made this one watchable. Sabu was well, Sabu, doing his usual contrived stuff, but still rifling off that right hand to my pleasure. The main event was to crown an MLW champion, so the drama should have been through the roof, but sadly it just wasn’t. Lynn’s selling was pretty terrific, all things considered, but this unruly Manhattan (I’ve never heard such vile things yelled at wrestlers before, ex: “you face-painted cokehead!” at Vampiro) crowd had blew their energy, and sat on their hands through this uniformly solid, yet ultimately placid main event.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Legacy of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - Disc #1

1. Hollywood Blondes vs. Dos Hombres – Cage Match – (WCW Slamboree ’93) – 7
2. Steve Austin vs. Brian Pillman - (WCW Clash of the Champions XXV) - 4
3. Steve Austin vs. Ricky Steamboat - (WCW Clash of the Champions XXVIII) - 6
4. Steve Austin vs. The Sandman vs. Mikey Whipwreck - 3
5. Steve Austin vs. Savio Vega - Caribbean Strap Match - (WWF IYH: Beware of Dog 2) - 7
6. Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart - (WWF Survivor Series '96) - 9
7. Steve Austin vs. Yokozuna - (WWF Summerslam '96: Free For All) - 3

The first match on the set is a really terrific tag match from Atlanta. Dos Hombres were Steamboat and Tom Zenk (substituting for a recently fired Shane Douglas) wearing ridiculous red and green costumes and masks. The match is even better than I remembered it, with the Hollywood Blondes just being great, especially Austin, who takes a lion’s share of the matches’ spectacular bumps, eating the cage roughly a handful of times. All of the selling in the match is really good, the only time the match itself feels like it drags a bit is the extended section where Zenk is being worked over, but once he tags in Steamboat we’re back rollicking and rolling. Even with a stupid-ass outfit on Steamboat’s impeccable sells shine through. The finish gets kind of bumbled, as Ricky jumps from the top of the cage onto both Pillman and Austin, makes a cover, and the ref counts to three and signals for the bell which rings. Alas, that wasn’t the scripted ending, so unexplained it continues, and they try to pull off “Plan A” but it looks rushed and sloppy. Still, this is one of the better tag team cage matches I can recall offhand.

Pillman and Austin, while having great chemistry together as a team, didn’t seem to click well in their singles encounter. The match, around ten minutes, didn’t feel like the story it was trying to tell was adequately fitting in the allotted timeframe. Granted, the selling was uniformly good, but not spectacular, and the botched finish really hurt matters. The referee gets in the way as Austin’s executing his “Hot Shot” finishing move, making a blunder of things, and then Pillman tries to springboard into the ring but gets tripped up by Austin’s manager Colonel Parker, in an unsightly spot, mercifully ending this disappointing trip down memory lane. The match against Steamboat is much, much better with them not getting ahead of themselves and working a consistent and entertaining match. Austin’s being really aggressive and a true prick, slapping Ricky like a common thug, taunting and raising his ire throughout. Steamboat’s selling is fantastic, everything seems to be absolutely punishing him, and it calls to mind cinematic visions of Renaissance-era dungeon torture scenes like something from Goya’s Ghosts. The last act is full of great near fall sequences, ultimately ending with Ricky scoring the win with an inside cradle in a thrilling finish to a really good match.

The ECW match is honestly a waste of time, granted, it’s somewhat significant being that it’s one of Austin’s only in-ring performances there, but it’s largely garbage so you decide. Mikey has no emotion in his eyes or face, just looking like basically what he was, just a dude from the crowd, and it’s especially hard seeing him in there working with such a professional like Austin. The Sandman is drunk, of course, and falling all over himself trying to get his shit off, bringing Austin down to his level of crappy brawling. The “Caribbean Strap Match” has a lot of fans that applaud it and insist on its greatness, you’d be hard pressed to disagree with their sentiment. It’s extremely physical, while not being over-the-top, and both guys gut it out and put on solid performances. These guys deserved the spotlight, both coming up the hard way, Austin in Dallas and Memphis, and Savio in Puerto Rico, so they’d paid their dues and were finally given an opportunity to shine. They beat the hell out of each other, taking tons of stiff strap shots, and there’s some built-in drama as Austin’s manager “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase has put his career on the line.

Hart handpicked Austin as his opponent for his return match, on the epic stage of a major pay-per-view at Madison Square Garden. While their WrestleMania match overshadows it in the public’s eye, it truly deserves its own recognition. Jim Ross is great here, calling it like a real, true athletic sporting event, giving it a sense of importance and excitement. Austin is very physical throughout, just pounding away on Bret’s back with big shot after big shot, they even spill out to the floor, breaking down a steel guardrail and brawling on top and over the Spanish announcers’ table. It looks like Austin is going to win, but Bret kicks out of the “Stone Cold Stunner”, stunning us all, so Austin goes to another standby, the “Million Dollar Dream” submission. Just like he did to Piper years ago, Bret pushes himself off the turnbuckles landing on top of Austin, pinning his shoulders to the mat and getting the victory in a thrilling finish. If anyone ever asks me, “what is professional wrestling?” you’d better believe I’m showing them this and not an over-choreographed TNA three-way. The last match is from the extras portion of the disc, and features a short throwaway bout with Yokozuna, where the ropes break and Austin gets a sudden roll-up for the win. Austin does say in a video introduction for the match that he really wishes Yoko was still around day, and that he respected him a lot as a worker.

So, that does it for disc one… am I ready for disc two? Oh, hell yeah!

WWF MSG House Show (03/24/80)

1) Frankie Williams v. Bulldog Brower- 1
Okay,here's the story: Williams is the jobber Piper beat up in his 1st Piper's Pit all those years ago (you know the Mexican dude who's from Columbus, OH and Piper called him out?) and Brower is literally over 300 pounds and can't really do a damn thing. Williams hits a nice dropkick about 6 minutes in but it's mostly all snug armlocks on the ground from Brower. He's just too far gone to come up with anything here. Even Vince says he's 10 years past his prime in the commentary.

2) Jose Estrada v. Kerry Von Erich- 4
Estrada had a nice liar's grin but not much else. After the match he sold him losing pretty well, complaining to the ref but he didn't have any sells that are worth mentioning. Kerry was looking really pre-pubes here, fresh faced with cocaine and self inflicted gun wounds far from his mind. He had a dropkick that he broke out several times in close quarters and worked a lot of armdrags. Sunset flip from the corner finish was unique for this time. Fun match.

3) Tor Kamata v. Mike Masters- 3
Kamata is our 2nd fatty on the show, but he comes in with that Samoan stiffness, although I'm not really sure of his race or creed. Masters is actually announced from our hometown of Cincinnati but he may as well have spit in our Mayor's face because he didn't represent very well. Kamata just ran roughshod all over him in a fairly short match that was enjoyable just because of Kamata's short bursts of offense.

4) Larry Zybyzsko v. Bruno Sammartino- 6
Man, Bruno was a god in MSG! Zybyzsko looked like such a runt here and he did a lot of his trademarked stalling during this. Bruno was rocking the tightest Jew fro of all time and he really knew how to work a side headlock. This was your classic teacher vs. student battle and Sammartino was furious, chasing Zybyzsko all around ringside trying to hurt him. Bruno takes some sick shots into the apron, just throwing his whole head into it. The DQ finish worked here because of how incensed the Living Legend was and both men played their roles to the fullest.

5) Afa v. Dominic DeNucci- 3
DeNucci is frightfully pale and resembles Bela Lugosi way too closely. Afa was working snug here, as those crazy Samoans are known to do and makes a believer out of me when I think about his induction in the WWE Hall of Fame. Just brutal headbutts but DeNucci really doesn't sell them all that well. This was a nice slow meaningless match in the middle of their two main events, about as important as the new Coreys reality show.

6) Bob Backlund v. Sika- 7
This was highlighted by a great lead performance by Backlund during his epic championship run. These two had great chemistry as Backlund pretty much used his technical expertise to ground Sika as long as he could. There are some definite slow spots with long rest holds so if that's not your particular brand of vodka, than move along. But, if you get through it, Sika mounts a comeback and then puts the pressure on Backlund and his comeback is what makes this so good, getting some energy, then doing a big move to Sika's head that hurts both of them until he connects with a great piledriver. The finish works too so all in all this had the feeling of a good title match with Sika playing support and crazed challenger well.

7) Bobby Duncum/ Ken Patera v. Pat Patterson/ Andre the Giant- 5
This was an Andre match for sure. Everytime I watch the guy I see more and more great things. He is of course being the dominant superstar he usually is in the beginning with Patterson riding the coattails while the heels were being pretty boring, Patera bumping moderately well. Andre does give them a section where they work his leg and his sells are so extremely expressive you really believe like he's hurt. He lets the ref give him a cutoff when they are double teaming Patterson (two men at once, his favorite past time along with embroidery). And of course Andre with the finish and then putting Patterson on his shoulders like they were going to play a game of Chicken Fight in a swimming pool. He escalated what would have been a rather by the numbers tag.

8) Rene Goulet v. Baron Mikel Scicluna- 3
Here we have two guys who are virtually the same: broad chested, no real muscle definition bruisers who just swing clubs at each other. I always though Goulet was a sort of high flyer, but he was grounded here. Scicluna had a nice punch that was interesting but this was a pretty bland affair highlighted by two really bad haircuts. It wasn't given much time either to really develop anything.

9) Tito Santana v. Hulk Hogan- 3
Here's our main event with one half of the tag champs, Tito who looked so scrawny I wondered if he was bulimic, I mean tacos every night on the road has got to catch up to you. Anyways, Hulk exerted his authority fairly quickly with some big clotheslines and power moves. Tito really never got out of the blocks and seemed to not be working Hogan as stiff as he may someone else. Hogan laid on Tito for a while then hit a suplex and held the tights for the pin. Not real impressed with the combination but I'm sure they could have done something better years later.

Overall, this had some bad and some really excellent matches on it. The momentum was so up and down it was a hard show to get into and Vince's montoned commentary really leaves a lot to be desired. I would recommend seeing this one though if you like old school competition.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

WWE The Ladder Match DVD Set – Disc 2

1. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian vs. Dudley Boyz – (WrestleMania X7) - TLC Match - 8
2. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho vs. Edge and Christian vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz - (Smackdown! ’01) - TLC Match - 7
3. Edge vs. Christian - (No Mercy ‘01) – Ladder Match - 6

4. Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero - (RAW ‘02) – Ladder Match - 6
5. Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy - (RAW ‘02) – Ladder Match - 5
6. Kane and Hurricane vs. Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy vs. Bubby Ray and Spike Dudley vs. Chris Jericho and Christian - (RAW ’02) - TLC Match – 7
7. Chris Jericho vs. Christian - (Unforgiven ‘04) – Ladder Match - 6

The first match featured on the set’s second disc is the second TLC match, this one, from WrestleMania X7, was on a huge stage for these performs to either shine or sink. I like this better than the first TLC, which I reviewed on disc one, as the performers seem more confident and collectively working to do something big here. Another major element that’s different is the inclusion of Spike Dudley, Rhyno, and Lita to the proceedings. Now, while I’m generally a stickler about disliking interference in matches, I think it significantly improves things here, as it adds a sense of urgency to the affair. There are tons of tasty big spots, too, for all of you sick bastards that like your favorite wrestlers in paraplegic states. Not that I’m judging you! The match from Smackdown! is unanimously pimped but I wouldn’t get too carried away. It moves forward with reckless abandon, but has its share of “holy shit” moments that deserve some recognition. It’s the match that broke Benoit’s freaking neck, so that should say something about its utter intensity. Jericho rocks a manly beard, which helps the match’s cause, and Jeff Hardy almost dies once which is a TLC staple.

Edge and Christian one-on-one doesn’t have the pizzazz of any of the matches preceding it on this set. There’s a fair share of hurty bumps, but the selling is hit-or-miss, about as slapdash as convincing a cocktail waitress to blow you on her fifteen-minute break. Both guys just grimace a lot, clutch their ribs, and this makes up the bulk of a much too long match. It’s as long, in fact longer I think, than any of the “big” TLC matches ever were. They’re too similar and the St. Louis crowd is not interested at all. RVD and Eddie have much better chemistry, and a hotter Edmonton crowd, so I prefer their singles ladder match although I can’t grade it higher as it’s got a few cons, too. The biggest being they both seem a half step off, botching and tripping over spots left and right, also although beyond their control, other factors like a fan running in and their only ladder being malfunctioned didn’t exactly help. Eddie does a respectable job lying around to take all of Rob’s big, showy offensive spots, even when it means getting his face and body crushed. The ending gets seriously flubbed, too. RVD slips off the ladder while attempting his “Five Star Frog Splash” so they improvise and it’s depressing.

The Undertaker match is pretty much a squash. In a discussion with staff member Jessie he took a couple potshots at this bout. As it started, I was actually kind of digging it, as Undertaker’s selling of Hardy’s initial burst of offense was quite well done. But after that, as the match switched gears, Undertaker’s extended and relatively uninterrupted run of offense killed the match’s momentum dead in the water. While Jeff would bump, his selling wasn’t spectacular, which had it been, would have made this match seem as important as they were trying to get it across as. In that regard, Jim Ross has to be applauded as the MVP, as he was absolutely going nuts, trying to put over the possibility of Hardy pulling off “the biggest upset in history.” After the match as Undertaker drove his motorcycle up the entrance ramp Hardy got on the mic and screeched out some crap about how he’s “still standing”, etc. Undertaker came back down, presumably to pummel the idiot, but instead he raises Hardy’s arm in a sign of respect. I’m not too sure about that one.

The following TLC match is one that WWE has heavily publicized on multiple occasions as the best match ever in Raw history—I strongly disagree, but for what it is, this is pretty decent. Hurricane is listed as a competitor but never shows up. Bubba, who usually gets harped on in these things, actually gave his best performance on this set, eating a ton of big things including an awesome bulldog off of a ladder by Jericho that ended in a sickening face-first landing. Whenever Spike was involved he got killed, and sold the punishment well, largely because it probably really did hurt a ton. Jericho was rocking a nasty ZZ Top goatee and Christian was sporting a long, red singlet in one of his worst outfit blunders. RVD and Hardy didn’t really have any chemistry as a team, and much like this match, felt kind of forced. They do keep a quick pace and the selling’s adequate to moderately good throughout. The latter part has a lot of stuff where only a couple guys will be in the ring itself working, with all the rest miscellaneously lounging on the floor, something that I’ve always despised about these large gimmick matches. The Christian versus Jericho singles ladder match is interesting in comparison to the earlier Christian vs. Edge bout. Both matches went too long in my opinion, with this one not being paced as slowly or poorly, yet not reaching the level of cringe-worthy bumps the Edge match did. Jericho’s work in the WWE as represented by his stuff on this set shows a very uneven track record of performing. In some stuff, he takes some pretty risky bumps and shows flashes of the fire he had in his younger days competing in Japan. But here, he looks largely unmotivated and apathetic towards his craft.

Monday, July 14, 2008

TV Project #1 - Jan. 28 - Feb. 1

This is a new, ongoing project I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future. Thanks, in large part, goes to fellow staff member Adam for graciously handing over copious amount of the American wrestling from TV for me in the guise of crudely labeled digital video discs. Each disc has one week’s worth of programming on it, for each week I’ll be ranking in order of quality the four programs featured, as well as giving analysis on the shows themselves.

To honor Adam for spending so much time faithfully burning this discs for yours truly, and to punish myself for getting so damn behind, I’ve vowed to never touch the fast-forward button, solemnly pledging to watch and every second, be it in-ring action, interviews, video replays, marketing for upcoming shows, and other misc. vignettes. Let’s get this Southern California gangster pool party started!

1st place:
WWE Smackdown! 2/01/08
Ranking: 42% (21 points out of 50)

1. Ric Flair vs. MVP - 3
2. Rey Mysterio and CM Punk vs. Edge and Chavo Guerrero - 5
3. Fit Finaly and Hornswoggle vs. Deuce and Domino - 3
4. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins vs. Jimmy Wang Yang and Shannon More - 4
5. The Undertaker and Kane vs. Mark Henry and Big Daddy V - 6

While in terms of wrestling this was the best of the week’s three WWE shows, thus scoring the best percentage mark, that doesn’t necessarily translate into it being the most enjoyable, as outside of the in-ring work, the rest of the content was garbage. Teddy Long’s pandering in-ring promo to start, countless video replays and packages, Batista’s short and pointedly uninteresting in-ring promo hosted by the latest WWE Diva contest winner whose name I’ve already forgot, etc. made for me to squirm during the transitions from segment to segment hoping for more wrestling as they didn’t deliver on the entertainment side of the show.

Flair and MVP was flat, Ric looking particularly troubled with his crotchety demeanor and flabby, old skin. The tag was pretty good, mid-level stuff, with no one truly trying to impress, but the heat built up in the last moments and Punk getting the win with the “Go to Sleep” on Chavo was a nice finish. The Finlay match was a squash, but at least it was really stiff, so it got points accordingly. The Ryder/Hawkins versus Yang/Moore match was satisfying but void of any heat or crowd interest to get it heated up enough to elicit much emotion. The main event was really great, though, and the most satisfying main event of any TV program that week. Henry was the all-star here, just eating all of Kane and Undertaker’s stuff and making it look awesome. When Big Daddy V finally got into the ring he brought the stiffness, laying in some chops on Kane in the corner that surely made Kane’s ex-wife Lita wince. The finish was boss, too, with Undertaker using the gogoplata for the second straight weak leading to some blood sputtering and in my case underwear soaking.

2nd place:
WWE Raw 1/28/08
Ranking: 35% (21 points out of 60)

1. Mickie James and Ashley vs. Beth Phoenix and Jillian Hall - 2
2. Carlito vs. Cody Rhodes - 3
3. Shawn Michaels and Triple H vs. Snitsky and Umaga - 5
4. Brian Kendrick vs. Mr. Kennedy - 3
5. Melina vs. Maria - 2
6. Chris Jericho and Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton and JBL – 6

Raw was an entertaining show, the first American wrestling TV program I’d watched completely in a very long time. The non-wrestling stuff far excelled compared to the same week’s Smackdown! broadcast while the in-ring stuff didn’t compete. John Cena, fresh from shocking the world by being entrant #30 at the previous night’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view and winning the prestigious match, opened the show with an in-ring promo, and it’s just ridiculous how much heat he has.

The women’s tag match, a staple of Raw programming, was really lackluster being far too short and unmemorable to be noteworthy. Carlito and Cody came off pretty lukewarm, too. Hell, Cody’s then partner Hardcore Holly legitimately broke Shawn Michaels’ nose the night prior, they should have allotted him this valuable TV time just to gloat! The Degeneration-X tag was by-the-numbers for those guys, but that being said, even when Shawn and Hunter are taking it easy, they still put together more entertaining stuff effortlessly than a lot of guys kill themselves trying to top on the indy scene. Kendrick’s talent was wasted against Kennedy in a real lousy waste, save for Brian slapping the taste out of Kennedy’s match to start the bout. Melina and Maria are two of the more serviceable members of the Diva contingent, especially in the charisma department, which made this doubly disappointing as their match lacked any. The main event was a real treat, as neither teams featured are regular partners, so it was neat seeing these four diverse talents working together for once. The faces had the crowd hot and looked to have a win secured, but leave it to dastardly heels to disrupt things, as an Orton “RKO” let JBL score a pin on Jericho in a good finale.

3rd place:
ECW on Sci-Fi 1/29/08
Ranking: 32% (16 points out of 50)

1. Shelton Benjamin vs. Kane - 4
2. Victoria vs. Kelly Kelly - 3
3. John Morrison and The Miz vs. Colin Delaney - Handicap Match - 2
4. CM Punk vs. Elijah Burke - 4
5. Kofi Kingston vs. Rob Ecko - 3

Regardless of it’s ranking, this was a show with mostly perfectly fine, easily digestible TV wrestling. Fitting five matches into an hour leaves little room for other stuff, but there was a Chavo Guerrero celebration in-ring during the program’s last segment, complete with mariachi band, confetti, and CM Punk disguised with a large mustache blasting “Chavito Heat” in the face with a mandolin.

Shelton and Kane were having a truly top-notch match, especially for an opener, but the ending completely took me out of it. Benjamin simply walked off in the middle of the match. Shelton’s athleticism made Kane’s usually plodding move-set look spectacular. Victoria carried Kelly to a better woman’s match than either of the two featured on Raw, even though Monday’s bouts contained arguably better workers, the ECW bout had a clear heel/face structure and albeit simplistic it worked well. The handicap match seemed tacked on and I wasn’t feeling it. Burke and Punk had a good singles match, void of much heat or compelling storytelling, it was well-worked and moderately fun at parts. The main event was a forgettable Kofi squash, but it was adequate given that, and I tossed the Jamaican some pity points.

4th Place:
TNA Impact 1/31/08
Ranking: 33% (21 points out of 60)

1. Rock ‘N Rave Infection vs. Petey Williams and Scott Steiner - 3
2. Kip James vs. Hernandez - 3
3. Kory Chavis vs. Judas Mesias - 2
4. Roxxi Laveaux vs. Angelina Love vs. ODB - 4
5. Robert Roode, Payton Banks, and James Storm vs. Sonjay Dutt, Traci Brooks, and Eric Young - 4
6. Kurt Angle vs. Tomko – 4

Even though it scored one more percentage point than ECW, TNA still gets last place this week as outside of the wrestling, which wasn’t too good either, the rest of the show was garbage. All of my friends are always razzing on TNA for their TV show and after this episode I can certainly understand why. Who thinks Jim Cornette is a good fit? TNA is supposed to be young, fresh, and total non-stop action, right? Well, none of those buzzwords describe decrepit and severely outdated Cornette. Also, a lot of guys got mic time pre-match, none of it useful, and throughout the show we got AJ, Kurt, and Karen segments that are already driving me nuts and I’m fearing for my sanity preparing myself to watch six-plus months worth of them.

The opening tag was fine, but sizzled out, as it started hot with small Petey dominating the other team, but this ultimately was just to serve an angle as Steiner smashed Petey in the face with a briefcase and left his partner. Kip and “Super Mex” had a decent throwaway bout; highlighted by some decent facial selling in the corner by Hernandez of some James strikes. Roxxi tossed white powder incidentally into Kip’s face, no pun necessary, and he fired her afterwards. Nice to see a FIP guy on national TV, but Kory and his fun to say ring name were a mere afterthought as Mesias squashed him. The women’s three-way was pretty good for what time it was given, with some decent sequencing and sells. All three of these women can put together good stuff when they’re on. The six-person intergender tag match was fun, but mostly servicing angle advancement, although most of the work was acceptable with Payton’s facials showing fear a treat. The main event was quite good but marred and jumbled by constant crap, as AJ worked as special guest ref, unsure of making counts, etc. and this match suffered as a result of all the surrounded hoopla.

Audio Review: TNA Victory Road '08

Hey everybody, Brian here, posting an audio review of TNA Victory Road '08 from last night on pay-per-view. Adam graciously hosted a viewing party, so fellow staff member Didge and I made the trip to watch the show and enjoy some pizza pies. Listen as we discuss the mismanagement of the World X Cup, Beer Money Inc.'s chances for tag team success, TNA's glorious women's division, why Samoa Joe turns into Sloppy Joe during main events, Jay Lethal's poor selling, and the possibility of unisex gloryholes!

WWF Saturday Night's Main Event 11/25/89

1) Ultimate Warrior v. Andre the Giant (IC title)- 3
2) Hulk Hogan v. The Genius (WWF Title)- 5
3) Big Bossman v. Dusty Rhodes- 2
4) Red Rooster v. Mr. Perfect- 4
5) Rockers v. Brainbusters (2 out of 3 Falls)- 5

Man, what a clash of the titans the first match was. You almost feel bad watching because they're expected to put on a good showing and neither man is capable; Andre because he was in so much pain and Warrior because he was still very green. He does a lot of sloppy punches and several times runs at Andre with nothing in mind and flops needlessly to the ground after a shot. Andre takes a pretty devastating bump through the ropes to the outside which would have looked like crap with anyone else doing it but Andre's so huge, it looks really sick. Heenan comes in and gets bumped for a lame DQ finish. The Title match was a whole hell of a lot of fun: Genius is like my sleeper worker from the 80's: he's athletic as hell, he can high fly, he's great at getting heat and he heats Hogan up big time in this way, prancing around, and I love when he slaps the shit out of that lecherer's face. Hogan gets so pissed he relives his tours of Japan and hits Genius with brutal clotheslines all day long. Henning comes out and slaps a piece of soggy chewing gum on the title and starts his program with Hogan and Genuis gets the Countout victory which they play up pretty well.

Dusty and Boss was short with not a lot happening, Slick was very present at ringside and there were a few corner whips and some flip-flop and fly. Bossman has a really good sell for punches where he jerks his whole body backwards. Perfect cut a very amusing promo with Jesse Ventura backstage and absolutely worked Rooster with some really stiff punches. After seeing this and an old Bockwinkle match, I'm convinced Henning has some of the most overlooked strikes in the game. The main event was fast and furious and featured Bobby Heenan leaving his team in the trenches as the big angle hanging over the match. Both teams had tremendous chemistry with each other but it felt like you were only getting snippets of a great match- with commercial breaks, quick pinfalls and Heenan's antics, I think a straight tag from a house show would be a real treat between these two teams.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection – 3 Disc Set

WOOOOOO! You hear that simple phrase and you know that Ric Flair is about to grace your television screen. Whether he’s talking about what he’s going to do Dusty Rhodes or how much his shoes cost, you know that you’re going to get an awesome promo. Whether he’s fighting Barry Windham or Carlito, you know that you’re going to get a damn fine match. Now, enough with the introduction, let’s look at Flair’s career.

The Documentary:
The documentary clocks in at just under two hours, which I think is a bit rushed for someone like Flair. Some things it did do right was to talk about his childhood and how he broke into the business. One thing I found interesting was that he weighed 280 when he first went to train for Verne Gagne. Other things it covered in great detail was the move to Charlotte, his first NWA Title reign, the formation of the Four Horsemen, and the feuds with Steamboat and Funk. Things start to move kind of fast when they start talking about Turner purchasing Crockett Promotions and then Flair’s subsequent jump to the WWF. I would’ve like to heard more of the story behind his leaving but it’s covered in pretty good detail in his book. The main talk is about Hogan on the WWF side of things and then on the return to WCW, how he got Hogan and Savage to sign with WCW. Hardly anything is mentioned about his internal problems with Eric Bischoff up through the close of WCW. Evolution is talked about in great detail about how it really helped Orton and Batista rise to fame and how they’re still riding those coattails today. Finally, they talk about the WrestleMania 24 weekend and the hall of fame ceremony and Flair breaks down into tears when he starts talking about his legacy and that weekend at the end of the doc. All in all, another well-rounded documentary from WWE but I think towards the middle, they tried to jam too much stuff into too short a time frame. Now, onto the matches …

The Matches:
1) Ric Flair vs. Jack Brisco – 4
2) Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich – Best of Three Falls Match – 5
3) Ric Flair vs. Harley Race (Mid Atlantic 8/31/83) – 6
4) Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, & Ole Anderson vs. Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A., & Manny Fernandez – 5
5) Ric Flair vs. Sting – 9
6) Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk – 7
7) Ric Flair vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper - 5
8) Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat – 5
9) Ric Flair vs. Triple H – Steel Cage Match – 6
10) Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels - 7

The match with Brisco was very mat based as the two worked a slow pace and some holds. Flair was playing a great heel as he begged off when the match started because he didn’t want to fight. I really enjoyed the rolling arm scissors that Brisco used to dominate Flair in the early going. Brisco got the pin with a backslide in a match that was short but interesting. The match with Kerry ran 35 minutes and was a unique match in the way that each fall was finished. They worked their butts off and were sweating like crazy after about ten minutes. The fans were all behind Kerry. Flair sold a claw to the ribs like he had been shot. The first fall ended with a ref bump and a Dusty finish where Kerry had Flair in the sleeper and the bell rang. The ref who was bumped called a DQ just before Flair went out. Kerry dominated the second fall and tied it up with a sickening claw to the forehead that drew blood from Flair. The third fall was a double DQ when both guys started brawling and shoved the ref. Two screwy finishes kind of soured me on it but it’s the match that set up the famous Christmas Day cage match that set the territory on fire.

The match against Harley has to be seen just for Harley’s bumping and his utter insistance on eating concrete. The match had a slow pace and the lingering backstory was Race’s bounty on Flair’s head. Race went for the falling headbutt three times and missed, twice splatting fairly hard on the unprotected floor. Truth be told, Race actually controlled most of the match. Flair got the upper-hand toward the end, slapped a figure-four on Race, and the got beaten down by Bob Orton and Dick Slater. I was really looking forward to the six-man tag. Even though it lasts just over ten minutes, and the moves were very simple, the crowd was eating everything up. Dusty, Manny, and Magnum control most of the match until the Horsemen take over. Arn knocked out Manny with a sickening chair shot to allow Ole to get the pin at the exact moment Flair gave up when Dusty had the figure-four applied.

Sting was eating up Flair’s chops and then firing right back in what is truly one, if not the most memorable encounter the two had. The match went the full 45 minutes and not one second was dull. There was action from bell to bell and the whole arena was cheering behind Sting’s every move. Sting controlled early but once the battle spilled to the outside, Flair took over by whipping Sting into the railing repeatedly. The momentum switched back and forth too many times to count and every minute was exhilarating. Flair’s chops were sickening and made me cringe on more than one occasion, there were some fabulous teases (ex: Flair having Sting in the figure-four and then Sting reversing it.), and when Sting finally got Flair in the Scorpion Death Lock with 30 seconds left in the match, the crowd was on their feet and it really made you think that Flair was going to give up. This was truly a spectacular match, one that comes along only once in a generation. This match made Sting and you owe it to yourself to see this match. The only reason for me that I did not give this a “10” (and believe me, I was definitely toying with it) was because Sting was still a bit unseasoned and Flair had to carry most of the match. Other than that, this was a completely flawless match.

Funk and Flair both bled gushers in the tremendous main event of the 1989 Great American Bash. Flair’s chops were on the money as usual and Funk’s selling was great. There were two rings set up so I automatically assumed that the action would spill over into the ununsed ring but they kept the brawling around the ring they were actually using. This was just a stepping stone in the wild feud the two had in ’89 and the post-match brawl that involved Sting and Muta as well was classic stuff. The Piper match from MSG felt like a step down. You go from two wild matches with Sting and Funk to a completely random match from a long-forgotten MSG card. Anyway, neither man looked like they were competing to their fullest extent. This even had a ref bump and parts where Flair and Piper used chairs on each other. Flair won by putting his feet on the ropes. Not the best I’ve seen between them but better than their series in ’99.

The Flair/Steamboat match was a major disappointment. In the main feature, they pimped their series as some of the best matches ever but yet they put this on there. I’ll give them credit, they were working their tails off but this was right at the era where Hogan was coming in. Another problem about this match was the crowd. They just sat there like zombies not really reacting to anything except for a major, major spot. The finish was a double-pin where Steamboat had Flair in a submission and both men’s shoulders were counted down, which made Flair look weak going into the Hogan program. Another thing that slowed this match down was age. Both guys were five years older than they had been in ’89 and it was actually sad in some spots. All in all, disappointing but at least all four major Flair/Steamboat matches have been released.

The final two matches were interesting to say the least. The cage match didn’t hold up as good as I though it would. The match was a total gusher as both guys were bleeding buckets and Flair’s hair went from blonde to red during the course of the match. Flair eeked out a win with some dreadfully violent chair shots and afterward HHH had to be helped out of the ring. Flair’s final match with Shawn was somewhat better than I remember it being. The story that was told was great. Flair, the aged veteran, was competing it what was being billed as his potential farewell match on the biggest stage of all … WrestleMania. The bumping and selling by Michaels was great and the emotion of Flair’s final match was incredible. The spot were Michaels went ribs first into the announce table on a moonsault was sickening and literally made me twinge. The end was the stuff of legends. Flair, standing, with his fists doubled and his career on the line, was begging Michaels to bring the fight. Michaels, standing in the corner, posed for the superkick, mouthed those now-famous words to Flair, and superkicked Flair, and ended his career. Flair was visibly tearing up during the pinfall and afterwards gets a standing ovation from 70,000 fans and a well-deserved and epic send-off.

Final Thoughts:
Throughout the set, there are classic promos from the late 80’s and some extra bits as well as the complete farewell ceremony from the night after WrestleMania on Raw with footage of stuff that happened after TV went dark. The match selection was unique due to the fact that there were rare matches mixed in with the two recent bouts. If you haven’t read Flair’s book, the documentary will give you a good outline of his career. While I wouldn’t go so far to say it a “definitive” collection, I would definitely say that this belongs on any wrestling fan's DVD shelf.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

WWE The Ladder Match DVD Set – Disc 1

In bygone eras, in the sport and spectacle of professional wrestling, cage matches were used to settle feuds and grudges and were well known as brutal payoffs for the fans. Nowadays, that has changed, as while the cage match is still a staple in the business, the ladder match has arguably usurped it. Fans love and crave these exciting matches, and rightfully so, as generally you’re guaranteed a good time. Two majors reasons for that, the first being that ladders are certainly not friendly to the body, making for some very violent and physical matches; hell, whenever my manager needs me to use a ladder at my retail job I end up finding a way to hurt myself in the process, imaging battling another hungry competitor intending on beating you at any cost! The second reason is that ladder matches are usually done with the prize being a dangling championship belt that you must ascend to, thus kicking up the reward and importance in a very big way. This three-disc set compiles what the executives at WWE consider the best of the best, so it’ll be my pleasure to watch each and every second of compiled footage, and then come back here with three separate reviews covering the contents of each disc.

Another note before we start, our ratings system, utilizing a ten-point scale, may not be the most clear analysis tool, especially for those new to our beloved blog. While there’s an official score guide on the official Never Hand Over website, in this review, and perhaps in future ones as well, I’m going to discuss why I graded each particular item the way I did. Generally speaking, think of it this way, the scale is basically to what degree I’d recommend the match to you, the reader and all other fans; so if the grade’s lower than I wouldn’t bother seeking it out, but the higher the grade equals the more worthy of attention and praise the match is in my eyes.

1. Jake Roberts vs. Big Daddy Ritter – (Stampede Wrestling ’79) – Ladder Match – 3

I gave this a 3 largely due to the fact its clipped, as the match is joined already in progress, according to the announcer it’s about 5 minutes in, although by the competitors appearances you get the impression we’ve missed much more than that. It’s slightly different than its modern equivalent, as they use a really long, one-sided ladder that’s leaning against the building’s catacombs as a ref tries to hold it steady. Both guys make several attempts at scaling it, but the other is always nearby to stop the ascension by either grabbing an exposed limb or popping their opponent in the stomach to stop their momentum. Ritter eventually gets the win, as Roberts misses with a wild haymaker punch and gets caught up in the ropes, giving Big Daddy the opportunity to climb the ladder unhindered. Had this been the complete match I’m sure I would have scored it higher, also of note, Roberts and Ritter (later Junkyard Dog) were both perennial WWF stars of the ‘80’s and it’s a neat bit of nostalgia seeing them in their earlier years. For being such old footage the video quality’s remarkably good, too.

2. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – (WWE ’92) – Ladder Match – 6

Bret and Shawn, all of their personal history and heat aside, bring out the best of each other in the ring itself. Bret’s always physical while working and Shawn does his best to keep up. I gave this match a 6 for a couple reasons, namely, the work itself is very good, and it’s mostly fast-paced and compelling as the match’s story unfolds. I also throw it a bonus point for rarity, as outside of the old Coliseum Video VHS release Smack ‘Em, Whack ‘Em, this thing haven’t been widely publicized. This was the WWE’s first-ever ladder match and that’s a historical footnote itself. The work they do with the ladder itself doesn’t come off as smoothly or innovative as the stuff from later years, but that doesn’t hamper the match’s quality as I see it. Shawn’s seemingly got Bret beat when Hart surprises Shawn and the live audience by springing up and dropkicking the ladder itself and Shawn, sending Michaels toppling uncontrollably and giving Bret the opportunity to climb the ladder himself and reclaim his Intercontinental championship belt.

3. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – (WWE Summerslam ’95) – Ladder Match – 7

This is a re-match from their classic WrestleMania X ladder match. Highlights are shown from that epic first encounter, and it’s easy to see that both guys fed off each other’s momentum, the hot crowd, and pure adrenaline as the level of craziness just went up and up as the match proceeded. This match is a little less showy, but perhaps more physical, as gone is grace and it’s exchanged by viciousness. Shawn especially is on the receiving end of some truly horrendous bumps, including a spot where Razor’s on the apron and suplexes Shawn from inside the ring, letting him go in mid-air, where he plummets back first from about eleven-foot in the air landing roughly on the floor. Razor’s resilient, and it even looks like he’s capable of pulling it off, but while they’re both climbing their own ladders Shawn kicks Razor right in the face sending him sailing off his and down below. Shawn dives for the belt but misses, landing hard on the mat; this gives Ramon a chance to recover and he goes for his finisher the “Razor’s Edge” but Michaels reverses with a backdrop that sends Razor out to the floor in a clump where he lays motionless. Here’s where the score got knocked down from an 8 to a 7, as Shawn leaps from a ladder and grabs the belt, attempting to hang on it in attempt to pull it down with him but Shawn drops and the belt’s left still hanging in an awkward moment. That’s not the problem, the problem is Shawn’s unprofessional behavior, as just like he’s prone to do, he throws a hissy fit like a small child, kicking and aggressively slamming one of the ladders since he blew his spot, then angrily climbs the other ladder and yanks the belt down to the delight of his fans, many I’m sure who were confused about his shrewd outburst. Granted, I respect Shawn as a performer, I’ve grown up throughout life surrounded by diehard Michaels fans, but his random bouts of being a dick, be it to other performers, crew members, fans, etc. harms his overall image in a negative way.

4. Triple H vs. The Rock – (WWE Summerslam ’98) – Ladder Match – 5

5. New Brood (Hardy Boyz) vs. Edge and Christian - (WWE No Mercy '99) - Ladder Match - 7

6. Edge and Christian vs. Dudleys vs. Hardy Boyz - (WWF Summerslam '00) - TLC Match - 6

7. Shannon Moore and Shane Helms vs. Jamie Noble and Evan Karagis vs. Kaz Hayashi and Jimmy Yang - (WCW Starcade '00) - Ladder Match - 5

8. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho - (Royal Rumble '01) - Ladder Match - 9

I'm going to write up the rest of the matches in a summary format, as it's been several days since I've watched them, normally I write up most of my entries at work, but since we've been swamped all week here I am minutes before dinner with a sleeping kitten on my lap. So, Rock and Triple H I remembered from the summer of '98 and I recalled it being surprisingly good and overlooked. Well, I re-watched it, twice, and time has not been kind. Granted, there's a couple decent bumps, but the work just isn't there, especially for a major MSG show, and I really disliked the weak finish with Chyna hitting Rock in the nuts to allow Hunter the chance to climb the ladder.

Now I’m back at work… will this review ever see the light of day? Back to the action, the Hardy Boyz, or the New Brood at the time, a horrible gimmick by the way, against Edge and Christian is pretty good stuff and worthy of a 7. This is before the ladder match started getting too heavily emulated and a lot of this stuff today still comes off incredibly fresh and exciting. Also, these guys were still young and at their hungriest, so there wasn’t any resting on laurels in this one. Next, the first TLC match in recorded history, and it doesn’t quite live up to its lofty accolades. Yes, there are some huge bumps, but a lot of it comes off incredibly contrived, almost to the point of comedy. Even my wife who only watched a few minutes of this match with me noted how unlikely it was that these giant stacks of tables just happened to be placed right where these guys “randomly” fell from ladders. This is more of a stunt show then a wrestling match, and for that reason I must insist you look elsewhere for your ladder lust.

The three-team tag ladder match from Starrcade is a bigger joke then what’s in Mike Tenay’s pants. They try some innovation, but outside of a decent “can you top this?” dive section to the floor, which itself is a superfluous sequence, this comes off really bush league. Give me an OMEGA handheld with some really solid Christian York working armbars sections, or anything from Cham Pain’s OMEGA New Frontiers title run and I’ll take it over this fetid spot fest any day of the week.

Following that match is arguably the best ladder match in existence, or at least, that I’ve seen in recent years and can recall from memory. Benoit and Jericho, who always work well together, as I can remember watching some of their stuff from a Best of Chris Jericho in Japan tape I scored from RF Video back during my high school days, put on an epic bout. The thing I like the most about it is that stylistically it’s not worked like your basic, spot-intensive ladder match, but instead, a real, physical hard-hitting fight with ladders thrown in for good measure. I gave this a 9 because I honestly recommend it that highly, search this scorched earth we exist on, but chances are, you’re not going to find a more intense and ultimately pleasing ladder match. If you do find something better, you’ve obviously used a time machine to glimpse into the future, and if so, would you let me use it so I can go back in time and share a tangerine with Gandhi, pick up one of those specialty movie tie-in donuts from The Simpsons Movie marketing blitz from 7-11 before they went extinct, and a few other small but equally important things?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Prom Date with Brooke Hogan: The Hulkster Edition

"Hey kids, it's the Hulkster here and this time, you've actually got a date to the prom, you little vanilla midget twerps. You're going with my daughter, Brooke, and I'll be chaperoning. So, no booze, no drugs and no grinding on the dance floor. If you're lucky, you might get a kiss on the cheek and if you're really lucky, you might get to go up to Brooke's room....unless Linda has the house seized by the time we get back. And don't worry little Hulkster, if you can't hang with a Hogan in the bedroom, then let me take some of my little pills and I'll take over for you. I'll just pretend she's my young girlfriend that I can't remember the name of. Meanwhile, we can always take a look at some of my best matches off of my 1st DVD set, Hulk Still Rules (does that sound like a cry for attention or what, brother?)"

1) Hulk vs. Andre the Giant (Shea Stadium, 08/09/80)- 4

I love the look of the open air arena and something about the wind blowing through Andre's large frizzed out mullet makes me really love being a wrestling fan. Hulk never was a champ at selling but something tells me he's really feeling Andre's large overhands. There's not much rope work here and Hulk does some stalling between short bursts of offense by Andre. There are some impressive body slams though by both men and if the majority of WWE's fans had seen this bit of footage, I wonder if WM 3's awesome moment would have been as significant. The match is short and ends with an Andre splash that Hogan tries to save face by kicking out of at 3 even though the ref still counts it. Andre blades like a depressed teenage goth girl for a lariat after the match and I'm left scratching my head on that one.

2) Hulk v. Iron Sheik (MSG, 01/23/84)- 4

This was Hulk's big first title win- never actually seen it before but I really wouldn't have guessed it went a little over 5 minutes. Not very glorious in my opinion. Hogan was all over Sheik from the opening bell and despite a small flurry of strikes and an attempted camel clutch, this was for all intents and purposes a squash. I gave it an extra point for historic signifigance but this can be skipped.

3) Hulk/ Brutus Beefcake v. Macho Man/ Zeus (Summerslam 89)- 5

This was in the aftermath of "No Holds Barred" you know Hogan's first big screen flop? The bad guy actor from the film (Tiny Lister jr. who was fabulous in 5th Element & Friday) starred as the impervious villain wrestler Zeus, and here he reprises the role. Much of his ring time is spend either no selling or choking someone out. Hogan works up a vicious sweat pretty quickly into this affair and it always surprises me how much he puts over these ridiculous joke monster gimmicks more so than good wrestlers- he unleases hella offense on Zeus and sells it big time how much it doesn't hurt him. Savage is great tagging in to Zeus' back and then whispering in his ear to get him back in the corner. Beefcake's work is definitley below par in this and he really sucks at being face in peril. The finish is satisfying enough with Hulk getting the win over Zeus using Sherri's purse. And watch to see how freakin' over Elizabeth is! She almost gets a louder ovation than Hogan.

4) Hulk v. Ben Ortiz/ Angelo Gomez(All Star Wrestling, 01/02/80)- 1

Here's a fun one: a Hogan heel squash with two really scary looking dudes that didn't know the 70's had ended just a week prior. Hogan took his sweet time with these two, poorly executing the gammet of really basic pro maneuvers while the announcers droned on in a monotned voice. This was pretty bad stuff. Hogan looked like a gorilla they were trying to get to paint; just completely brainless and moving incredibly slowly from one spot to the next.

5) Hulk v. Ric Flair (Bash at the Beach, 07/17/94)- 3

This was Hogan's big debut in WCW and it was a big deal at the time; you had the two biggest superstars in the world representing two very distinct styles; WWF was known for characters, big, brawny muscle heads with little ring skill and WCW was known by Ric Flair, who represented the very best in technical prowess. I have to say this match features one of the most selfish performances I've ever seen in my life. Hogan completely shits all over everything Flair does in this match and only really sells a few knees and some chops. He doesn't bump for Flair at all and sells more for Scary Sherri than Flair because she gets invovled at least 6 times! Flair is a professional but you had to know he was pissed beyond all belief. Hogan was actually in shape at this time too but it was apparent his first night in the ring for his new job that he was running the show. It was interesting that they had a slew of sports dignitaries present at ringside such as George Foreman seated next to Antonio Inoki and then a pairing I've been dying to get together, Shaq and Nick Bockwinkel. At one point in the match Flair has to be saved from interference before he got pinned by Hogan's big boot. He wasn't even good enough to get the legdrop. I really have to take a shit on this match.

6) Hulk v. Undertaker (This Tuesday in Texas, 12/03/91)- 3

This was the PPV set up on the fly one week after Survivor Series so Hulk could get his belt back. We are here to review the work but sometimes the political backstage BS floats to the surface and it's hard to ignore. Conceptually, this match looked to have little thought into it. Hulk didn't have much offense outside of punches, rakes and a bodyslam that didn't work and both men were blowing spots left and right. Taker tried to give Hogan a hangman's noose over the top rop from the apron but he slipped and let go of Hogan's head; but it didn't matter because Hulk sold it anyways, bringing his own neck down across the top rope. Later on Hulk was getting his big comeback and whipped Taker into the ropes for a clothesline but it was the top rope who executed the move when Taker got hung up underneath it. Hogan won by grabbing some handfuls of ash and tossing it in Taker's eyes. Really poor stuff.

7) Hulk v. Big John Studd (Puerto Rico, 10/09/85)- 3

This match is a real oddity, it's down in that place where they kill pro wrestlers and during the match it starts raining pretty good. Studd and Hogan are relegated to a bearhug for several minutes until they decide to go outside where Studd gets posted and counted out. You can see how cheap the ring is because once the rain starts, the red canvas starts smearing like paint and gets all over the ref and the wretlers themselves. Hogan and Studd both have a couple of slips which is really funny. I gave it an extra point for being so strange.

8) Hulk v. Nikolai Volkoff (SNME, 10/05/85)- 4

This was a rough and tumble match although it was far too short and devoid of content to be a recommendable. Volkoff always bumps awkwardly but it looks more painful so I like it. Hogan didn't offer anything new in the form of offense during this encounter and most of the heat was coming from the USA/USSR Cold War drama going on at the time but this is moderately enjoyable as a quick, slugfest.

9) Hulk v. Mr. Perfect (SNME, 04/28/90)- 5

Again, a quick encounter not nearly long enough to merit being a World Championship match but Henning, as usual bumps all around Hogan from big overhead haymakers and haphazard lariats. Henning scores with some offense but this is sort of a revenge match from Henning and Genius breaking apart the championship belt with a hammer on the Thanksgiving edition of SNME (which I'll be reviewing next.) We have a typical clean Hogan finish with the boot and legdrop but it's Henning's one of a kind sells that make this bout amusing.

"Alright, brother, hope you enjoyed my really hard work because all you fans know that I bust my ass out there for your enjoyment! Haha, well, I'll stop pulling your chain while Brooke and Linda pull mine, if you know what I mean. Man, I"m a horrible human being. Anyways, I've really made some history here in this little industry but it's my acting that I want to be remembered for. I mean, who else but the Hulkster would have thought about Santa Claus having muscles? Come on, you have got to recognize the genuis of that? Alright, don't forget to sign your prenups and take your MGH, kids!"

**the views in this piece are not shared by all members of Never Hand Over staff