Saturday, August 30, 2008

ECW on TNN - Episodes #1 and #2

Ah yes … ECW on TNN, a show that has a lot of sentimental value for me as it was my regular exposure to ECW and a show that Tim, a Review the World webisode co-host, and I would watch religiously. As a matter of fact, we even made our own “best of” ECW on TNN tapes that I still have in my collection to this day. Just the other day, however, I came across a fine person online who was offering the entire run of the show for sale. I contacted him, worked out a deal, and low and behold, a few days later the complete run of ECW on TNN was waiting for me on my doorstep when I got home from work. There are two episodes per disc on this set so I’m going to dive right in.

ECW on TNN – 8/27/99
The debut episode was supposed to feature exclusive bouts but instead Paul Heyman decided to run the much hyped RVD/Jerry Lynn bout from the Hardcore Heaven 1999 pay-per-view and a bunch of other madness to fill the first show. Needless to say, this pissed off the TNN execs something awful and the relationship between ECW and TNN was off to a rocky start.

1) Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn (Hardcore Heaven 99) (clipped) – 6
2) Taz vs. Rhino – 3
3) Spike Dudley vs. Sal E. Graziano – 0

The RVD/Lynn match I mentioned in the intro is the most hyped and most famous match in their series with it also being the first match on the first ECW commerical “best of” tape released in 1999. I feel that it has been hyped to the point where you watch it today and you’ll be like “umm … okay … what’s so great?” The best match between them, in my opinion, was their match prior to this at Living Dangerously 99. Now, this match did have some great moments where Lynn gets smashed with a springboard sidekick and eats the floor, RVD recieves a sunset flip powerbomb through a table, and some nice counter-wrestling. The match itself is presented here in a somwhat clipped form where they’ve taken out about five minutes of the match due to time constraints. It’s definitely a match I would recommend viewing, just so you can see it and come to your own conclusions.

Next up, more video packages and then Taz vs. Rhino which, for the three minutes it ran, was one of the hardest hitting bouts presented on TNN. Rhino came in, powerbombed Taz, who then immediately got up and beat the shit out of Rhino for the remainder of the match. This is followed up by a Sabu video and the Spike/Sal match that went all of 30 seconds and can be categorized as a complete dud. Closing out the show, we get an Impact Players interview which is taken over by Cyrus, a Kid Rock ECW music video, and a Taz promo to end it.

ECW on TNN – 9/3/99
This is one of the most famous episodes of ECW due to the fact that a major, major name from their past returned and it was the Dudleys’ last night in the company. I’m sure by now you know what happened.

1) Taz vs. Tajiri – 4
2) The Dudley Boys vs. Balls Mahoney & Spike Dudley – 4
3) The Dudley Boys vs. Tommy Dreamer – Handicap Match – 2

The opening bout was fun. Taz was getting all his shit in and Tajiri was bumping well for it. I liked the finish because it was quick and the submission hold came from out of nowhere. Tajiri was pretty fresh into his “Japanese buzzsaw” character here. His trademark kicks were on target and Taz’s hard hitting but sometimes reptitive offense was crisp. Afterwards, we get the introduction of Joel Gertner to the co-host spot and a lame brawl between RVD and Jerry Lynn.

The Dudleys had a fine match with Balls and Spike which consisted of Spike taking two notably crazy bumps. The first was when he was tossed over the top rope by Balls to D-Von and Bubba and almost did a 360 in the air and landed on head. The second was when he was thrown really hard through the timekeeper’s table. One big peeve I had was with the production, when an interesting spot would happen, they would cut away from the bout and show a slow-mo replay. The Dudleys won after powerbombing Balls through a tack-covered table and hitting Spike with the 3-D move. Prior to the next match, we get a Lance Storm video set to Rob Zombie and some hype for Rollerjam.

The Dudleys came back out to cut a promo about going to the WWF and how ECW was just a shit-hole company. They called out Dreamer who, after receiving verbal tirades directed toward Beulah, Francine, and the company, hit the ring. The match featured a contrived see-saw ladder spot that had a nice finish to it but Bubba blatanly set it up in his pre-spot movements. The finish saw Raven run-in, hit a DDT on Bubba and score the pin.

Overall, watching these episodes was like going back in time. I couldn’t have enjoyed watching these more and I can’t wait to see what else I have in store for me in this set. The first episode was just there but if you really want to get a feel for ECW on TNN, start with the second episode and go from there.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Triple H The King of Kings - Disc #1

1. vs. John Crystal - (Raw 5/22/95) - 2
2. vs. Marc Mero - (Raw 10/21/96) - 3
3. vs. Mankind - (King of the Ring '97) - 6
4. vs. Owen Hart - (WrestleMania XIV) - 5
5. vs. Mankind - (Raw 9/23/99) - 4
6. vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - No Holds Barred Match - (No Mercy '99) - 5
7. vs. Cactus Jack - Hell in the Cell Match - (No Way Out '00) - 7
8. Royal Rumble '02 highlights - N/A

Well, after seeing fellow writer Adam’s draft on this set lay untouched for over three weeks, I figured somebody should review it so I went out of my way to get it and now I’d like to share my thoughts. For this piece I’ll be focusing on the first disc, with a look at the second and concluding disc possibly coming in the near future. Triple H is a favorite target of many Internet writers. I left any biases behind when spinning this disc, trying instead to focus my concentrated energies on studying the man’s work and milieu of this collection.

The first match is Hunter’s Raw debut and quite forgettable, although I’m sure not for Crystal, who likely heard he was making his DVD debut and ran to Wal-Mart to procure himself a copy to show to his buddies at the auto shop. Hunter’s really milking the elitist snob character, which drags down the pace, but him winning with an RKO was an unexpected surprise. I noticed that the audio was tampered with, too; as occasionally the announcers’ voices would disappear randomly for brief periods. The match versus Mero wasn’t any good, either. Hunter, flat on his back, suspiciously put his arms up during a Mero slingshot leg drop which ruined the spot. The match ended with Mr. Perfect doing a heel turn, supposedly swerving the audience by hitting Mero with the Intercontinental title, although it was painfully obvious what was going to happen.

I reviewed Hunter and Mankind from King of the Ring ’97 before, but upon a second viewing, I knocked the score down a point. It’s the finals of the KOTR tournament, but feels kind of flat, even if Foley kills himself in a losing effort. Foley gets hurt a lot; his head gets violently stuck in-between the ropes, he does an elbow drop off the apron out into the entrance aisle landing on concrete, later gets knocked off the apron and falls backwards hitting the back of his skull on the metal guardrail, takes a Pedigree on an old, stiff table, gets kneed off the apron a second time, this time landing on a nearby crouching photographer, and lastly, gets hit by Chyna with a scepter that looks like something Teela would have carried in Eternia.

The match against Owen Hart is thrown in there but it didn’t do a lot for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Owen, but this match feels more like their basic touring match, done repeatedly at house shows void of any spontaneity or risk-taking. Still, it’s solid for what it is, but not worthy of being sought out. The next match is another against Foley, this time from an episode of Raw, and wow does it ever suck dong! The Rock is on commentary, putting himself over at the expense of the match, then you’ve got slob Foley defending the biggest prize in wrestling wearing some dirty sneakers. It’s a big mess, but one bump worth mentioning his Mankind taking a nasty hiptoss from Chyna directly onto the steel ring steps.

The match with Austin was one I’d completely forgotten, and while a fun brawl, suffered the same symptoms of many main events from that era, a lack of substance and a emphasis on wild stories instead of hard-hitting action. It started with a brawl back towards the entrance area, with both guys slipping and falling on the polished wood court of the Cleveland Cavaliers. These guys would go on to have better matches, two of which are available on Austin’s recent DVD set. The Rock gets involved in the end, further damaging this one, but while not particularly good it’s still a pretty amusing watch.

The Hell in the Cell match is a fairly violent affair, intended originally to be Foley’s last match, which would have been a good sendoff as it was barbaric enough to capture his spirit. Foley hit a chair-assisted elbowdrop from the second buckle on Hunter out on the floor, which HHH sold by quivering like Ian Curtis of Joy Division fame. After breaking a section of the cage by hurtling the steel ring steps at it, Foley, for no discernable reason, charges full-force at it and bumps through it in a puzzling moment. The crowd erupts as they tease climbing the cage, and after being at SummerSlam ’08 live, seeing Edge versus Undertaker in a Hell in the Cell match, I know how the possibility of seeing high-risk stuff gets a crowd rocking. Foley gets a barbed wire board out from underneath the timekeeper’s table. Wait, what? That doesn’t make any sense. Why the fuck would that be there? So, I guess he hid it there hours before the show started? Or, what? Thankfully Lillian didn’t stub her toe unsuspectingly. Jack takes a pretty gnarly bump off the side of the cage onto the announcer’s table, landing roughly back first in a pretty disturbing visual. After getting back to his feet, Foley tries three times unsuccessfully to toss a steel chair from the floor up on top of the cage, where Hunter is shown standing erect with a dumb, startled expression on his face. They brawl on top of the cage, where ultimately Hunter backdrops Foley, which sees him fall through a section of the cage, plummeting to the ring below where he lands “breaking” the ring. My biggest gripe with this is the camerawork. When the spot initially happens, right before it does the cameraman does an extreme, unnatural zoom-out, which signaled to me that clearly something big of that nature was about to transpire. I remember watching it live and feeling like the excitement of the spot was ruined. It’s a shame this wasn’t Foley’s last match, as take for example, his outing with Carlito at Taboo Tuesday ’05 was completely embarrassing.

The last segment is Triple H’s work in the ’02 Royal Rumble. He’s entrant #22 and ends up winning, so we see the entirety of his performance. He’s in with Austin and they brawl, throw the next entrant out, brawl some more, repeat, etc. It was funny when Faarooq entered, as he’s in our HOF but superstars Austin and HHH aren’t. The highlight of this Rumble was Mr. Perfect, who made it to the final three before eventually being eliminated, and made for some entertaining moments. I couldn’t rate this match as the majority of it wasn’t shown—what I did see didn’t make me really want to go out of my way to relive that particular show anytime soon.

Overall, most of the stuff on this disc can be skipped, or peeped elsewhere. Hunter hosts the DVD, similar to the way the new Austin set is conducted, which I find a nice touch as it adds some much needed personality to these compilations. The only thing I’d say is really recommendable for your personal collection would be the Hell in the Cell bout with Cactus Jack; and if you really want it, I’d suggest just getting a copy of No Way Out ’00 so you can also see that tasty Viscera versus Mark Henry match, too.

ECW December to Dismember- 12/03/06

1) the Hardys v. MNM- 5
2) Matt Striker v. Balls Mahoney- 4
3) Elijah Burke/ Sylvester Turkay v. FBI- 2
4) Tommy Dreamer v. Daivari- 1
5) Mike Knox/ Kelly Kelly v. Kevin Thorn/ Ariel- 1
6) Extreme Eliminaton Chamber featuring Rob Van Dam, Hardcore Holly, CM Punk, Test, Bobby Lashley & Big Show- 4
7) Bobby Lashley v. Big Show (12/05/06)- 3

The Good:
Old School tag team strategy employed by both teams in opener.....Melina's huge bump off the apron.....Double Swanton finish to tag match.....Balls' selling of his right arm....Striker's face on his own tights and the camera man that enjoyed getting right in the crack of his ass to watch the face smirk....coolest move of the night: Striker's roll through arm bar.....Elijah's ultra stylish hair beads.....Trinity's outfit which counting total material couldn't have come up to more than a dish towel....Thorn stiffing Knox's chest with some forearms.....Ariel's thong exposing her pale gothic ass......RVD and Punks' chemistry.....RVD taking a header into a steel chair right in the corner......Test's "elbow" which was really a hip splash from the top of one of the pods that crushed RVD's face

The Bad:
Mercury's stamnia, he clearly couldn't hang with the Hardys here.....The double Twist of Fate on MNM which had no twist.....Turkay's really unpolished work and the mistimed finish to his tag match......the crowd through the whole show- one of the deadest crowds imaginable......the really shitty finish to the Dreamer match.......Dreamer's punches.....his faux bumps for Khali during it......Daivari working a side headlock after only 3 minutes in.....Kelly Kelly working the majority of this mixed tag match........Knox's big "swerve" of leaving Kelly Kelly alone.....Sandman's spectacularly boring, repetitive entrance and cane spot......Test botching his big boot finish on Holly......Test locking Lashley in his pod who had to use the table inside the pod to break through the top of it, but not being able to break through it with his ridiculously huge arms then subsequently Test breaking open a pod by barely hitting it......Big Show, just everything, being so gassed within a few minutes......Lashley being so green that this match was dead as soon as RVD was eliminated......did I mention the crowd? which was a graveyard after the Hardys match.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

IWA Japan "Glass Graveyard"- 10/16/94

Brian and I got together on a lovely Sunday afternoon and decided to take in a little Japanese hardcore, an artform we fell in love with back in our high school days when we used to digest the shit daily along with a smorgasbord of every sandwhich on the White Castle menu.

1) Gran Apache v. Yoshihiro Tajiri- 3

This was an infant Tajiri, wearing clover green, and we surmised after his performance that this has to be one of his first, if not his first, professional match. He was just standing in front of Apache, ready to take whatever he gets hit with, like a good dojo boy. No facial expressions, no selling, just a beatup dummy with blood and breath. Apache had a lot of fun in schooling Tajiri, which translated well to the viewers at h
ome. He would slap the back of his head and he has a dynamite left hook that he snapped off several times against the future boyfriend of Torrie Wilson. This was an extended squash but one that showed Apache's veteran presence therefore gaining several points.

2) Johnny Gomez v. Yoshiko Abe- 3

Gomez looked like a fresh faced young A
merican style late 90's PA indy worker with a Johnny Swinger haircut. Abe was decked out in karate gi and didn't seem to know how to work. He came out with some small chops and thrusts and used a few leg kicks to get Gomez down. I was proved wrong very shortly when Abe took a superkick and sold it like a ton of bricks. There was another kick exchange where Gomez looked like an extra from Bloodsport where he did a jump back spin kick and completely missed while Abe was on guard. Gomez, somehow, wore Abe down and locked in a pretty well executed STF for the win in a surprising victory.

3) Gran Apache v. Takashi Okano- 4

This was very similar to the first match where Apache gets to work a young boy the only difference being that you could tell Okano had some experience because he tried a few submission attempts and worked some good sequences with Apache, including a hurricanrana reversal. Unfortunately, Okano still had that same stunned look on his face as if his dog had just found his stash of good porn and pissed all over it. He performed a dive at one point that can only be described as "failed." He lunged outside and smacked his own head on the ground while Apache went sliding knees first like an 80's guitar player doing a solo, into a row of wooden chairs, pushing them out of his way like bums on the subway. He still had that brutal, lightning quick left jab and utilized even more here. There were some good high flying sequences as well so this ranked higher than the Tajiri match.

4) Crash the Terminator v. Leatherface (Barb Wire Baseball Bat Scramble Bunkhouse DeathMatch) - 5

Crash is actually Hugh Morrus wearing a sleeveless w
hite tee adorning his image and some Road Warriors- style facepaint. Leatherface makes his usualy crazy entrance and the gimmick is both guys have to start down the aisleways and once the bell rings, they sprint towards the ring to get the barb wire bat. Crash grabs it first and barely even scratches Leatherface's smock with it; it actually takes a few minutes for either man to lay a shot in with the bat, but once they do they start tearing flesh and God knows Crash had lots to spare. Leatherface can't properly sell anything almost through the whole fight because his flesh mask is loose and he dosen't want it to fall off- Damn those cheap strings in the back! They do a crowd brawl pretty well- the strikes weren't necessarily good but the scene they create is chaotic- scattering crazed fans left and right, bumping on their overpriced seats. Leatherface got the notion to take Crash outside the arena, probably into the waiting bed of a pickup truck driven by his cannibalistic uncle, but alas, he can't unlock the door! Crash must have heard that stalling engine outside and had the forethought to lock the door- that always stops Leatherface!!!! Wait a minute...isn't he the guy with the chainsaw? oh, well, he gave up after a minute or two and just stumble-bumbled back to the ring where they traded hefty moonsaults until the dreaded bat finally spelled the end for Crash and the fans are happy being scared by the chainsaw welding freak.

5) Brian Christopher/ The Dark Patriot v. Dick Slater/ Nobutaka Araya- 4

In a pre-match promo, Slater drunkenly calls his opponents, "Dark Christoph
er" for our amusement. "Too Sexy" has on some circa-1971 Memphis trunks and is the workhorse for his team. I'm a huge Global fan so seeing Darky again was kind of cool although he was never a great performer. He eats a shot from behind from Slater at one point and sells it like a loud car drove past and whoooshed his ears. Araya eats the damndest superkick from Lawler jr. in the middle of the match and if I liked collecting teeth (which I don't- that'd be a freaky habit) I'd have jumped in glee because he surely lost some. I wasn't really buying the story of Slater being the overprotective father figure to Araya, saving him from double teams, covering his body up with his own during a splash from the top, especially since Araya came on strong at the end and picked up the win. Besides a few minor technical errors, this was like a basic TV tag match with some extra time.

6) Shoji Nakamaki/ Hiroshi Ono v. The Headhunters (Barb Wire Board Glass Deathmatch)- 5

The Headhunters are
notorious for not bumping or selling very much and they don't disappoint here. Nakamaki is an old deathmatch veteran who was doing it before it became cool or got popularized on American wrestling video games or Extreme video shows that play every day on the UPN network. He certainly does it up here, taking full fledged shots to the face of barb wire and selling an body splash and a mother-f'n sweet ass elbow from one of the Headhunters! I mean, that thing was good. There's some crowd brawling elements that don't go very far or prove to be real shitty as the appeal for the Headhunters is trying to make you believe they will take awesome bumps into the lethal barb wire but you know it won't happen. The glass comes into play only after the match is over, when they pick up Nakamaki, parachute style in your 6th grade gym class, and drop him directly onto the layers of sheets waiting for him in a huge metal bin. One of them severely slices him in the back as you see a nice huge red stain fermenting on the glass afterwards. For what it was, this was marginally entertaining and Nakamaki's gutsy performance make this almost worth seeking out....almost.

Overall, a fun show with a strange roster with a mixed bag of talent and garbage. Only 2 matches had death match elements in them and that was a good call so it felt fresh when those matches came up. I'll definitley be purchasing another IWA Japan show for a future review.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Holy Trilogy- Austin v. Rock

A while back here on NHO, fellow reviewer Didge did a piece on Samoa Joe v. CM Punk and their 3 epic encounters in Ring of Honor; well, that gave me a great idea to do the same thing with two of the premier superstars of all time, Steve Austin & Dwayne "Rock" Johnson, epsecially since i was watching the Legacy of Stone Cold and the Rock: Most Electrifying Man sets simultaneously. So, without further due:

1) The Rock (c) v. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin- WWF Championship No DQ Match Wrestlemania XV- March 28, 1999, Philly, PA Score: 5

This match pretty much goes to the outside immediately and they take the brawl in 3 different directions around the arena, including going through a sea of people where they both could literally do nothing but wade through and try to grab at each other. Austin's punches had fire behind them but his selling was so strange- he kept flailing around like he was being swarmed by an angry nest of bees. Austin took a nice garbage bump in the aisleway where his legs hit a spotlight and then Rock tried to outdo him by running into the WM logo sign but it just looked stupid. Speaking of stupid, Austin breaks Rock through a table with a pointed elbow drop in possibly the weakest table break of all time. Poor JR- you could hear the Bell's Palsy giving him trouble but he put over the shitty elbow like a good company man anyways.

They both arrive back in ring after nearly 12 minutes of outside brawling and Rock hits a Rock Bottom for a great near fall. We get 3! ref bumps incl. Vinnie Mac knocking out Earl Hebner because he's such a tough man. Rock's sell of the Stunner is about the biggest over-reaction displayed in a long time- I mean he looks like he's in one of those kids bouncy moon rooms when he springs against the ropes like a 25 cents bouncy ball from a gumball machine. Vince interferes liberally (of course!) until Foley comes out as the 4th and final ref and disposes of him and counts the pin for Austin's Stunner and Stone Cold wins his 3rd WWE title. Neither man was giving any aftersell on anything but this was largely an overbooked brawl, gaining a nostalgia point for being a big match, but not their best work by far.

2) The Rock (c) v. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin- WWF Championship No DQ WrestleMania XVII- April 1, 2001- Houston, TX Score: 7

This match starts identically as their first Mania encounter into a brawl right as the bell rings, luckily this time they spend only a few seconds outside after Rock takes a huge, manly bump over the top rope. They are really pushing Austin's comeback here and his punches are fast and furious but Rock's offense is high impact and he's not holding back at all against the Rattlesnake. Austin is selling the cumulative damage well, in a groggy state like back at home, leaving a bar in Victoria after too many Coors Light, then goes home and watches his old matches against Hacksaw Duggan and decides to call him at 4 in the morning just to say "your beard itched in headlocks."

The crowd is epic- loud and raucous like you want a Mania crowd and they love Austin and are anti-Rock. Both men take the blade and neither starts out well but they both end up dripping blood like perspiration and it culminates in a sharpshooter spot where both men's heads squeeze like sponges from straining and the blood pours as Austin fights out of it and Rock struggles to keep the hold. It's a very dramatic moment and the height of the intensity in this match. Then, you have what I like to call the "JR Factor." Jim Ross is at the announce booth and is a God-born Austin mark and can't help it. His emotion comes through in big matches like this and I don't think an announcer and a performer ever had a better relationship as far as getting the message across that they care about the end result of his match and it shows. It really kicks this thing up a notch and keeps it from going down the drain with more McMahon interference.

Vinnie Mac rears his ugly head for the slow, eventual Austin heel turn. Rock and Austin both do a phenomenal job at their roles- Rock as the never say die champion, taking loads and loads of abuse to keep his belt, and Austin, the desperate man looking for career rejuvanation, who will do anything or align with anyone to win the title. The crowd hates the turn and they largely boo McMahon out of the building, not because he's such a great heel but because he was so burned out at this point to the viewing audience but he wouldn't stop interjecting himself in angles. The finish is a lot of chair shots but it's not so offensive because so much of this match works and the story is deep and the selling is all there. I think Austin's audible cue that he needed to go over clean was right on the money, as he says on the DVD, but leave it to Vince to think he's the one bringing in the audiences and every major storyline has to revolve around someone in his family.

3) "Stone Cold" Steve Austin v. The Rock WrestleMania XIX- March 30, 2003- Seattle, WA Score: 6

This was Austin's final professional match, as far as I know. You could see he was moving at a much slower pace than their previous 2 encounters and even though Rock had been in Hollywood for most of the past 2 years, he was right on and carried Austin through a recommendable encounter. Austin can still punch though and he was landing big shot after big shot while Rock was just handing his body over to Austin and taking bumps into guardrails and stairs like he was in a street fight. A funny moment on commentary comes after many minutes of Jerry Lawler berating JR saying Austin was jealous of Rock's success in film to which Ross retorts, "Austin's a wrestler, not an actor, a wrestler and damn proud of it."

Rock works Austin's knee for a good 7 minutes in the middle of this but Austin only limps once or twice afterwards on his comeback, negating that whole section. Both men trade finishing moves, like in their last WM encounter, but it's not as crisp this time around especially the sloppy Stunner and Austin's flimsy subsequent selling of it. Rock's punches are at their most expert level here and he snaps them off like he's setting off firecrackers on Austin's cheeks. Both men kick out of each other's finishers and the other shows frustration as well as it's ever been portrayed, either in a ring, on celluloid, or on the face of any man or woman who's toiled with trying to find the condoms in their dresser drawer while their partner waits impatiently. Austin finally goes down, after 3 Rock Bottoms and he actually sells the move better than anyone I've ever seen, seizing the back of his neck after the 2nd and clutching his ribs after the 3rd. There were a lot of good moments where Rock was playing heel big time, especially an extra long sequence where he wore Austin's ring jacket for comic relief.

I'd say the match at Mania 17 was their best, as far as this series is concerned and while there's always a certain amount of storyline cooked into any main event on the biggest show of the year, the work and psychology of that match also shone through as the finest. As a side note, I could heavily recommend seeing the Legacy of Stone Cold DVD set as it's a fun watch and has loads of great matches and Austin's candid comments throughout, as far as the Rock: The Most Electrifying Man set, that's a purchase only if you are a huge Rock fan, if just a casual viewer, there's only a handful of matches or promos on the set that are required viewing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

WWF Crunch Classic

1. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie - Royal Rumble '92 - 4
2. Virgil and Big Boss Man vs. Money Inc. - 3
3. Nasty Boys vs. New Foundation - 4
4. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis - Hair vs. Hair Match - WrestleMania III - 3
5. The Undertaker vs. British Bulldog - 5
6. Texas Tornado vs. "Model" Rick Martel - 3
7. Skinner vs. Jim "Anvil" Neidhart - 3
8. Natural Diasters vs. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter - 2

Unlike an actual pay-per-view show or event, watching a commercial release like this compiling random matches has a different feel altogether. While you get some fun things, like Roddy Piper hosting, and segments like “24 Hours with Jimmy Hart” and a creepy piece with Jake Roberts discussing the finer things about utilizing snakes as pets, you also get a wildly uneven, disjointed collection of mostly forgettable bouts.

Piper and Mountie is from Royal Rumble ’92, I tossed it an extra point for it being Piper’s only major singles championship win, but the match, which is pretty short, isn’t anything special. Piper’s doing his wild, caustic brawling, his selling is equally abrasive as he spins and whirls and looks rather ridiculous. It rubs off on Mountie too, as while his punches aren’t bad, his selling is also off here, bouncing and stumbling around the ring like a cartoon version of himself. The following tag match is pretty uneventful, save for Boss Man’s crisp right hands connecting, and the small taste we get of the heels’ tactics. Some people pimp Virgil as being underrated, but he certainly didn’t prove that here, selling stomps to his back like he was doing pushups over a puddle of piss trying not to get wet.

I forgot how outrageous the New Foundation concept was, not a problem that Bret’s younger brother Owen is now Neidhart’s partner, but their apparel was pure ‘90’s cheese, as if the WWF costume designer got inspired by the Pizza Hut promotion for Back to the Future 2 and started mass-producing patterns in neon colors. They work well with the Nasty Boys, but a rotten DQ finish hurt this one’s overall appeal. Owen played the role of the face in peril until he got a hot tag to Jim who went overkill with the flying shoulderblocks. Piper and Adonis is a match that gets worse over time, like breasts, and it doesn’t help it wasn’t that good to begin with. Adonis’ flabby, pale skin is an eyesore, and his pink eye shadow only compliments his silver doller-sized nipples.

The Undertaker and Bulldog is a forgotten arena gem that I enjoyed more than anything else off this corruptible cassette. Undertaker’s doing his dead man character so he’s not selling anything, and Davey, bless him, is gassed from the performance enhancing drugs but tries keeping this interesting. Davey showcases some impressive power, even hitting his patented powerslam on his reanimated corpse opponent, but it’s a shot in the back with the urn that seals the deal and Undertaker gets the tainted victory. I was looking forward to Texas Tornado versus Martel, but again, personal demons seized all that made Kerry special and he came off here like a fledging, inebriated shadow of his former self. At one point, he whipped Martel into the buckles, but as Rick was trying to hop up in reversal as the sequence dictated, Kerry ran in too quickly and went face-first into Martel’s anus in a really awkward, but hilarious to me botch.

Skinner and Neidhart was just starting to get fun when it ended in a time-limit draw as they brawled on the floor. Most of the match was stalling, mostly consisting of teasing Skinner’s disgusting spit can, which rested ringside full of tobacco juice. Skinner threw some stiff shots, which Jim was happy to respond to, and also did some small goofy, cocky jigs whenever he’d do a simple spot like an arm drag that were a nice touch. The last match was a disappointment, on all fronts, and probably the hardest to sit through on the entire tape. Nothing ever really happened, as Typhoon was in the ring for the bulk of it, and Duggan was supposed to be getting worked over, but I never bought it and there was never any pay off either way so this was a dud. I’d rather see Duggan backstage whacking these guys’ bare asses with his 2X4 board in some sort of ritualistic fraternity-style test.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NHO Hall of Fame Series Presents: Barry Windham Vol. 1

Recently Adam unearthed a tape site that posseses thousands upon thousands of dvd's (as well as some really bad 80's comedies) and among those mountains of discs, there sit 11 special ones, all dedicated to possibly my favorite worker of all time, Barry "Blackjack Mulligan jr. Lone Wolf Widowmaker Stalker" Windham and in due time, i plan on getting all of them and reviewing them for my own pleasure and thoust pleasure so to begin, here's the first installment:

1) BW v. Ric Flair (Florida Championship Wrestling, NWA Title match)- 4

This was preceded by a "workout" by Flair where he rode two jobber guys, collegiate style then got in Windham's face at the broadcast booth and enticed him to join. Windham, of course, got the best of Flair and illegally pinned him as Flair berated Bill Alfonso, screaming "Why did you count? That wasn't a pro match!" so this is the blowoff of that match.

The pace is quick and Flair is controlling a pretty fun encounter. Windham is so young i swear i saw some G.I. Joe underoos hanging out of his trunks. He throws a flawless dropkick and lariat at Flair, who gives him a great babyface run during this match. Flair is so vocal here, just screeching at the top of his lungs when he gets hit, really doing a great job of making Windham look good well beyond his years. The finish though confused me; on commentary you have legendary Italian fart Angelo Mosca, who seems to be quite heelish. well, the bell rings but the ref lets the match continue as Mosca starts shouting "the match is over, stop them!" Windham is about to win again, until Mosca jumps in and starts giving Windham a beat down with Flair; the confusing part is why the hell did they ring the bell? Gordon Solie is commentating and doesn't mention a time limit or anything so I have to take a point off for bad form on that one.

2) BW v. Harley Race (Flordia Championship Wrestling, NWA Title Match)- 6

What I like about this is Race giving Windham so much offense but making it seem as if he's dominating him; you can tell it's an old veteran's trick. Windham is really developing his punch and you see it here. The thing about Florida I'm learning is you don't use chairs or spikes to bust open your opponent- you use your five knuckles in a fist to do it and Race is gushing. The arena is really small and feels like a finished basement because there's all these panel walls that the wrestlers bounce into when they take a bump outside. I believe this was a DQ, though, as Dusty was commentating and really pushing Windham so he came to Barry's defense and got a DISTURBING PILEDRIVER on the outside from Race. Awesome stuff and I'm digging the overall vibe of early 80's Florida action.

3) BW v. Ron Bass (Florida Championship Wrestling, Heavyweight Title v. Saddle)- 5

Another punching affair and Florida is where you go to work on hard work rate as these guys go a long 20 minutes, if not more with TV commercials edited in. Bass isn't your top notch worker so Windham does most of the bumping and the varied offense and Bass does a lot of punching that's effective; eventually Windham follows suit with the hard knocks and both men take their licks and get busted wide open like cantelopes being dropped from the top of a 15 story building, like that old David Letterman skit. Anyways, this goes outside and inside and is a real war. I'm not sure what the saddle is for and even Gordon Solie has no clue what the signifigance of it is, but he alludes that it may have been Blackjack Mulligan's at one time. Bass does strap it on after Windham gets a hard fought victory and tries to ride Barry ala Brock Lesnar at UFC 87 (God damn, was that funny!)

4) BW/ Mike Rotundo v. Chavo & Hector Guerrero (Florida Championship Wrestling)- 3

It was hard to recognize Rotundo at first; he was sporting a most excellent white man's gerricurl hairdo. The Guerreros were tag team wrestling; the quick tags made them very fun to watch and the in your face punches they were throwing were dynamite. Hector, less so than Chavo, did seem a little out of place and I can see why he's the black sheep of the family. It was fun seeing Windham going from working big Outlaw Bass to shorter but faster Chavo Classic and still keep the same rhythym and good timing. This went pretty short, but i'm not sure if it was clipped or not- not sure of the arena either, as it was pretty dark but this is still unique and hard to come by footage, so I'll give it's due merit.

5) BW/ Mike Rotundo v. Adrian Adonis/ Dick Murdoch (WWF, Tag Team Title Match clipped)- 4

I recognized this footage from an old WWF commercial release called "History of the Tag Team Titles,mainly due to "Mean" Gene's voiceover and the hideous yellow graphics. Murdoch and Adonis were big bumpers and put it on display here, but also fought off some comebacks to give this match a real upset feel. Gorilla Monsoon was doing those duties along with another indistinguishable voice from the early 80's. The emotion was definitley there, from the crowd to the elated new tag champs who grabbed each other in a strangely warm embrace at the end.

6) BW v. Dick Murdoch (WWF)- 6

Murdoch has a rep for being a heavy drinker and loud redneck, but also as a lost great worker, and he certainly shows that here. Windham, who's still in his early years, lets Murdoch lead him through a pretty well evened match where he can shine; by taking some car crash bumps and hitting all his on-the-mark lariats. Murdoch has a goofy way of selling that's very 80's but it gets the job done as making it believeable that a young upstart could best the tough veteran.

7) BW/ Mike Rotundo v. Iron Sheik/ Nikolai Volkoff (WWF, Tage Team Title Match- Wrestlemania I)- 5

The atmosphere is absolutely electric when this match kicks off and I believe this was one of the last few matches of the night, so the crowd was buzzing in anticipation over that big main event that was booked. But Windham and Rotundo don't let that distract them from the job at hand. Both guys are on the offense early with heavy slams, arm drags and dropkicks to their much larger opponents. The heels are playing very competent foils in this match but it's some manager hooha that brings it down with Freddie Blassie. The finish kind of just comes out of nowhere, as if they ran out of time, or Vince called an audible, much like he did when he screwed Bret in '97.

8) BW v. Nikolai Volkoff (WWF)- 4

I bordered on giving this one a 3, not only for it's length but content as after watching some of his stuff in his prime, I'm not really sold on Volkoff; What I mean is I'm not a fan of his selling or bumping style. It's really haphazard as if he's either stumbling down or so drunk he can't stand up. His body style is very awkward anyways plus his girth makes him hard to handle but I think his only facial expression is his "O" face. There's not a lot of excitement here from the crowd and it's a so so match.

9) BW/ Mike Rotundo v. Iron Sheik/ Nikolai Volkoff (WWF)- 6

Tag action really gets me pumped up and this one was right up my alley. Sheik actually worked the bulk of this match and after seeing some of his comedic performances (at best) on those "Maca-Mania" shows, this reaffirms my belief that he was a real worker at one time. He has great transitions from abdominal stretches to side suplexes with a real low and high impact offense that grounds Windham. The babyfaces both do this one spot that works so well, but is so small you wouldn't notice it; they gain the advantage back shortly and go for a big elbowdrop, but they always miss, so the heel takes the advantage back. It keeps the momentum of the match going and gives you false hope the faces are making a comeback. Wonderful stuff, hope to see more of these two teams in the future.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Japan TV 10/21/83

1) Riki Choshu/ Yoshiaki Yatsu v. Akira Maeda/ Kengo Kimura- 5
2) Tatusmi Fujinami v. ?- 6
3) Big John Studd v. Antonio Inoki- 3

Our opening tag bout features Choshu and Yatsu, who looks like an S.E. Hinton creation for the reading Mexican populous; nevertheless, he works hard, selling pain on his face big time for Madea and Kimura's babyface offense, nothing ever too stiff or brutal. This one goes near 20 minutes with a lot of back and forth and Choshu's lariat is the dedciding factor. Tats and the old guy with the singlet whose name I can't figure out have a very exciting match that goes from restholds being worked to fast, high impact offense like snap suplexes and awkward slams that remind me of some old Dynamite Kid- Tiger Mask matches. They are keeping a great pace when they turn it up and they trade momentum pretty fluently for a fun bout. The finish is pretty shitty though- Tats gets kidnapped by Choshu's army through the crowd like when the Others took the little kids from the Tail section of Flight 815 (Lost nerds unite!) The main had me intrigued, I had to say, for Inoki isn't one to take crap off a big man just because he's big. Studd mauled him early and often with clubbing forearms to the back and restholds and Inoki thought it wise to play wounded animal until his opportune moment, which came after about 8 minutes with a fiery comeback that ended with his famous enziguiri to the back of Studd's head which he sold pretty competently. I really enjoyed these TV's and will be ordering more of them and reviewing in the future. Domo Arigato.

Monday, August 18, 2008

WCW The Main Event- 04/28/91

1) Big Josh v. Hacksaw Higgins- 2
2) Young Pistols v. Rip Rogers/ Jeff Stone- 3
3) Larry Zybyzsko v. Terry Bronson- 2
4) Ric Flair/ Arn Anderson/ Barry Windham v. Sting/ El Gigante/ Brian Pillman- 4
5) Z-Man v. Brian Carr- 1
6) One Man Gang v. Junkyard Dog- 2
7) Black Bart v. Joe Cruz- 1
8) Lex Luger v. Mike Thor- 2

This DVD is the beginning of a giant disc order me and the guys here at NHO placed a few weeks ago and I couldn't wait to delve into it.

Both Josh and Higgins kept using the most feigned punches imaginable and really dragged this one down. Josh went outside and started playing to the crowd as if he was at a house show, calling Higgins a "fatty." The finish was poor; Higgins tried to use Josh's axhandle and looked awkward as they both struggled with it before Josh used it. The Pistols have some great looking double teams, especially their dropkick. Rogers looked like he was trying out for Queer Eye as their wrestling specialist with the silly topknots in his head. Stone was a large brute and Smothers got a lot of joy out of picking him up and giving him hurty moves like a backbreaker. This was short but decent. Zybyzsko, as usual, screamed at everyone around ringside and Jim Ross said "he yells at everyone but still hasn't won a championship in WCW." He won with a pretty mean piledriver but everything else was filler for his cheap heat. The six man was fun while it lasted, highlights being Pillman whipping everyone's ass and he and Flair's chop fest. Gigante only sold an eye rake the whole time and the Horsemen were just feeding themselves to the faces like slop to a pig. They put Pillman over, which he deserved after earlier in the show, on an interview segment called the "Danger Zone", he outed Paul E.'s sexual orientation.

Carr looked like a roadie for Ratt, Zenk was pretty sloppy and Carr was god awful as a jobber. He wasn't selling anything;a preschooler could have drawn a more realistic face on him showing the pain of Zenk's armbar, which is pretty much all he did except for his flying dropkick which looked like someone pushed him off the diving board at a public pool. JYD can get a crowd behind him but Gang sucked all the life out of them with his rest hold chin lock. Sullivan interfered and cost Dog the match which really didn't consist of much, except some rad double punches by Dog. Bart didn't deserve a squash match; Cruz looked like a spokesman for gay cowboys and bumped well but Bart's unrefined corner punches and shitty looking side slam had "day off" written all over them. Mike Thor is anything but a Norse god; he looked more like Dan Spivey's older fatter brother- Luger took great joy in picking this hoss up and slamming him around- the torture rack on the beefy Thor was impressive, almost as impressive as the commercial break that was introducing Mario Mario's first foray onto Game Boy many years ago.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

FMW Total Carnage

1) Matsunaga vs. Super Leather – 2
2) Ricky Fuji & Ooya vs. Fujiwara & Ikeda – 4
3) Shark Tsuchiya, Bad Nurse Nakamura, & Sub Miss Sato vs. Megumi Kudo & Combat Toyoda – Handicap Barbed Wire Death Match – 3
4) Shark Tsuchiya & Megumi Kudo vs. Bad Nurse Nakamura & Sub Miss Sato – 1
5) Mike “Gladiator” Awesome vs. Super Leather – 5
6) Mike “Gladiator” Awesome vs. Hayabusa – 4
7) Horace Boulder vs. Matsunaga – 3

FMW is one promotion I’m not that familiar with so a lot of this will be new to me. However, before I talk about the matches, I have to mention something about the DVD hosts, Ken Watanabe and Eric Geller. These are the biggest clowns I’ve ever seen host a wrestling DVD. Geller was making sex jokes towards Watanabe who would counter them by using Attitude-era catchphrases. They also actually attempt to call the matches but they’re so bad at what they do that I switched over to the Japanese commentary almost immediately.

Matsunaga and Super Leather kicked off the match selection. It needs to be noted that each match on this DVD is preceded by comments from the participants. Most of them are the standard “I’m going to win for my fans” or “My partner and I are going to take the titles” but Super Leather’s pre-match antics are priceless. In this particular instance, he screams, yells “Die Matsunaga, die!” and then starts up a chainsaw. The match was clipped all to hell but I remember that Super Leather pulled a weapon billed as an iron toothbrush from under the ring and whacked Matsunaga in the abdomen.

The father-and-son team of Fujiwara and Ikeda worked well together and defeated the renegade team of Fuji & Ooya. The crowd would erupt everytime Fujiwara went for his patented armbar hold. I was intrigued by what was presented but again, the match was clipped so that lowers the score. Both women’s matches were pretty much awful. The death match had so much going on that I wasn’t able to keep track of anything. Kudo got sliced pretty good on some wire though. The second ladies match was set up by Tsuchiya getting pissed at Nakamura and Sato so she teamed with her arch-rival Kudo. However, a few minutes in, Tsuchiya turned on Kudo and made the match worse that it already was.

Another Super Leather match comes up next and this time it’s against Mike Awesome. This should be a fun match! Awesome cuts a promo and then we hear Leather (and his trusty chainsaw) walking down the hallway. I want to point out here, for the record, that Super Leather is formerly mid-80s WWF star Corporal Kirchner. Just though I’d throw that out there for those who are having trouble visualizing a man in dirty clothes wearing a Leatherface mask and weilding a chainsaw. The match was slow but hard hitting and fun. There were weapons and a very stiff superplex.

The other Mike Awesome match was very, very long and very, very slow. It was for the vacant Brass Knuckles Championship and had some nice elements in it but in the end it was ultimately disappointing and sloppy, although the Super Awesome Bomb finisher was nice. The bonus match was shit. Matsunaga was wrapped up in barbed wire and did bad brawling with Horace. The end saw Matsunaga splash Horace through an already broken table.

Super Leather’s promos and match against Awesome were defintely the best parts of the DVD, everything else was awful. I would defintely avoid these DVDs at all costs unless you absolutely have to see announcers talking smack to each other and sloppy hardcore Japanese wrestling.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Performer Analysis: Mike Awesome

1) Innovation- 5/10
Awesome's innovation came in the form of bringing Japanese hardcore (more or less) to American soil and showing how exciting and hard hitting it could be when done right. He, along with Masato Tanaka, were pioneers in that way because that style of match had never been seen on US TV and pulled off that well. There have been many imitators but I think those two together have pulled it off so well that they will always be remembered for it. If only lava lamps had come back into mainstream, he could have gotten more points.....

2) Conditioning- 6/10
For most of his career, Awesome had a fairly decent build. Extremely muscular with some great cardiovascular power and decent stamina, Awesome was the perfect build for his tall, stocky frame. He carries around a lot of poundage for being pretty lean, at least through the 90's. Late in his career, Awesome ballooned up and his weight got out of control and his work suffered due to having to carry around that extra mass.

3) Skill- 6/10
Awesome v. Masato Tanaka (as I'll keep reiterating) is a fantastic match that very few people could pull off, the way they do it. Awesome versus almost anyone else is either give or take whether or not the match works. He's best when he can control the pace and have someone bump big for his power stuff. Awesome will take big bumps, but he's not a bump man, per se and his selling isn't all that great either. Awesome versus another big man is usually a bad combination but he has a great move set and he hits it well.

4) Psychology- 4/10
Awesome isn't a subtle guy so you can't expect him to be able to articulate the subtlities inside of a wrestling ring, at least not all the time. I can rarely recall him selling a body part and his bumps just aren't that impressive. His character used to lend itself to absorbing pain and using that to come back even stronger which doesn't leave a lot of room for selling. His best psych has been with Tanaka, as they've worked and reworked things from their past matches into their newer ones and shown the history of their feud within the expansion of it, at the time.

5) Interviews- 5/10
Awesome is not your promo guy; when he jumped ship to WCW while still holding the ECW Heavyweight Title, you needed a good promo explaining, in a logical way, why he would do it and Awesome wasn't capable. He's cursed a lot in the past to get his point across but it usually comes off flat and uncreative. He's had several managers do his talking for him in the past or just not cut promos. His lava lamp lounge segment was a disaster once you got past the ridiculousness of it all.

6) Character- 5/10
In Japan, he was the "Gladiator," basically playing a tough warrior who would fight you all night long and who could decimate his opponents with his high impact offense. I take the Mike Awesome character as being just how people described him, as an awesome individual who was big, strong, could fly and take loads and loads of punishment. His heel character in FMW and ECW was his strong suit, as a monster heel and everything after that was a crock. That 70's Guy? The Fat Chick Thriller? The Canadian? The Losing Streak guy? These are all just gimmicks you could slap on anybody and they would usually sink. Awesome just didn't have that sympathetic piece to his puzzle to make fans get behind him and that's why he wasn't an effective face.

7) Fans- 5/10
Fans used to watch in awe at his long, brutal matches and he had a rep of being able to go in the ring and kill his opponent and that was his draw to fans, but once that was taken from him, he was just another big guy. I think in his later years, the fans still responded to his name but it had been tarnished so much, there wasn't much left to fear or care about.

8) Basics- 2/10
It's no secret Awesome wasn't known for his technical ability in the ring so it's no shock his basics score would be so low. There are other factors that play into this category as well, such as effective striking which Awesome's punches look really amateurish, throwing mostly just lumbering forearms and such and his transitions, which have always been slow, unless working with a faster opponent.

9) Matches/ Fueds- 8/10
This is the big one; I truly believe that Awesome will always be remembered for his long running feud against Masato Tanaka, a feud that spanned from Japan to the hardcore bingo halls of ECW to the big stage of WWE. There's something special about that combination that brings out the best in each other when they may not always bring out the best in all of their other opponents. They absolutely killed each other to put on great matches and I think this will be remembered as one of the most hardcore feuds in wrestling history. Let's not discount Awesome's big runs against Hayabusa and Spike Dudley. He's also been in the ring with most of every big name to come through ECW and WCW as well as the hardcore wars of FMW so he's faced quite a gammet of competition.

10) Gutcheck- 6/10
Awesome never had to overcome the odds of being a little man or having a handicap; he was big from the start and could take a shot from a steel chair; on paper, he's tailor made for Vince, but his path wound to the WWE the long way and by the time he arrived, he had become passe. Awesome continued wrestling though, back to Japan, through the US indy scene until his untimely death on Feb. 17, 2007. It's possible that Awesome took his own life due to a cruel industry that didn't have a place for him anymore and that's unfortunate.

Total Score: 52
Ranking: Midcard
PO: Thumbs Middle

Thursday, August 14, 2008

WWF Summerslam '88

In less than a week I’ll be attending SummerSlam ’08 live in Indianapolis and as a way to get myself in the mood I decided to spin a disc of the original, first-ever Summerslam, none other than the ’88 edition from the historic Madison Square Garden in NYC. Adam, a big fan of hypothetical and other assorted questions, once asked me what my favorite era in wrestling was. Now, I know he’s a big fan of ’99 ECW (no, I’m not kidding) and Jessie’s a big ’92 WCW fan, but for my money, ’88 WWF is about as good as it gets. There’s a great mixture of big names, solid workers, entertaining valets and managers, and some of the best commentary teams ever assembled. Speaking of calling the matches, Gorilla Monsoon (recently inducted into our Hall of Fame) and “Superstar” Billy Graham do the duties, and while Monsoon’s good, sans for sayings “it’s a happening” at least one hundred times, Graham is pretty awful, sounding like a raspier and stupider version of Dusty Rhodes, laughing a lot and saying “brother!”

1. British Bulldogs vs. Fabulous Rougeaus - 5

I liked the first match, granted, it was a time-limit draw so the ending is kind of anticlimactic but its still real good while it lasts. From previously reading Dynamite Kid’s book, I recalled him having some personal heat with the Rougeaus, so that ratcheted up my interest in this one considerably. The Rougeaus are great heels, doing really good, exaggerated heel selling, and doing a lot of little cocky things, like Raymond shrugging when a ref reprimanded him, as if saying, “Hey, I know I cheated, what do you want?” The Bulldogs start hot, but most of the match is the heels working over Davey Boy Smith’s left leg. Smith does a decent job selling the damage, and the heels are entertaining enough to keep it from getting dull, but once the faces finally embark on their comeback Smith quickly forgets to sell the injured limb.

2. Bad News Brown vs. Ken Patera - 2

I’m kind of a closet Kan Patera and Bad News Brown fan, mostly from nostalgia, so it hurts me to not hand over here and tell you how blatantly awful their match together was. Patera just does moves, really without any foresight or direction, just randomly lumping them together and it exposes how bad he is. Brown’s selling is circus-level silly, taking big, flat back bumps, and it doesn’t help that he’s doing them to Ken’s sub par shit, either. Patera’s selling is real basic, but there is one particular moment that I won’t forget, selling in the corner Patera started rolling his eyes back in his head, even the announcers were shocked about that one. Ghetto wins with the “Ghetto Blaster”, I’ve always loved that name, his patented jumping kick to the back of the skull.

3. Rick Rude vs. Junkyard Dog - 3

Rude, known for his outrageous trunks, really outdoes himself here rocking tan-colored trunks with airbrushed images of Junkyard Dog’s face both on his crotch and asshole. There’s a bit of a style clash happening here, but the match doesn’t go long enough to really exploit it too much. Rude’s doing his best, selling stuff over-the-top and oozing charisma, but JYD sells like someone spiked his pre-match drink with some sleeping pills, as when he’s falling to the mat you could run into the other room and grab a bag of chips and return by the time he’s flat on the mat. Watching closely I could tell that Rude wasn’t thrilled motivating the bigger man to work, as I picked up on Rude putting a little extra stink on one clothesline making sure JYD went down. Rude pulls down his trunks to reveal another pair, these with Jake Roberts’ wife Cheryl’s face airbrushed on both sides, leading Jake to run down and clear the ring leading to a disqualification.

4. Powers of Pain vs. Bolsheviks - 4

This is an interesting clash on paper and in reality it was just as awkward and chaotic as you’d imagine. The Bolsheviks run most of the match, mostly working over Warlord, and while Boris and Nikolai throw some pretty stiff shots, Warlord’s selling leaves a lot to be desired, as through their whole offensive section Warlord never truly leaves his feet, occasionally getting battered to his knees but never completely down. I guess he’d been watching too many Road Warrior videos. Barbarian looked pretty good, with some nice explosiveness, but this just never gelled.

5. Ultimate Warrior vs. Honky Tonk Man - 2

Ultimate Warrior was a mystery opponent, filling in for the allegedly injured Brutus Beefcake, and this was his big opportunity to get his first major championship. The match only lasts a half-minute or so. I gave it one point for historical significance and Honky doing a good job being selfless and making Warrior look immortal, and a second point for the sheer intensity of the crowd after Warrior wins—talk about a fucking pop! Eat your heart out Triple H.

6. Dino Bravo vs. Don Muraco - 3

These guys are just way too similar, and too vanilla, to do anything exciting in the time allotted. There are a lot of kicks to the gut, and in the way of offense, not much else of note. Bravo’s sells are better than Murcao’s, as at least Dino does some facial acting, even if it’s usually short-lived. Bobby “the Brain” Heenan joins on commentary for this one, really helping it out, as his bickering with Graham is priceless. Muraco wasn’t totally blown up yet, but he still wasn’t very good here, especially in the last stretch where his selling consisted of him lying immobile on his back. The finish was flat and didn’t come off right as they were trying to do a sequence involving a momentarily distracted Muraco, but in actuality Bravo just stumbled behind him and then did a really awful sidewalk slam.

7. Demolition vs. Hart Foundation - 5

Here’s two of the era’s most beloved tag teams on display, and while Jim and Bret are clearly the more competent in the ring, there’s something to be said for the dynamic appearance and persona of Ax and Smash as crowds simply reacted to the face-painted duo clad in leather and studs. Bret showed signs of his future greatness, taking a solid sternum-first bump into the buckles and making his opponents look good. I get it that Ax’s name is, well, “Ax”, but I never realized how much he did the double axe handle, similar to when Hogan’s character Rip in No Holds Barred knocked Zeus off the ledge of that TV control room balcony. This is fairly solid but the Jimmy Hart and Mr. Fuji interference bogs it down to just passable.

8. Big Boss Man vs. Koko B. Ware - 4

Boss Man would see better days, as this, still fairly early into his WWF tenure, wasn’t his best stuff. He was still quick and mobile for a bigger guy, at this point his gut was at an all-time bulge, but he got ahead of himself and didn’t seem composed enough. Koko always was better than acknowledged, showing it here, with several real nice dropkicks and generally selling well. Boss Man got the pin with his patented “Boss Man Slam” although that move wasn’t well established yet and came off sloppily as he barely got Ware a few feet off the mat.

9. Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Hercules - 5

I liked this match more than expected for two main reasons. One, and primarily, Roberts’ selling was the most realistic of the entire show. He actually emotes and displays the pain and anguish with a sense of realism that’s rare. Secondly, Hercules is a guy who, when provoked, can really sandbag a match real quick. I saw him do it on an old house show against Sid and he made Sid’s powerbomb look like kids stuff by completely not selling it. Here though he looks inspired, as he keeps right up with Roberts and moves around and is more active than dare I say I ever remembered him being. My two favorite moments are when Roberts, out on the apron, reaches behind his head and literally snapmares Hercules from in the ring all the way out the floor, and the match-ending DDT that the crowd popped huge for.

10. Mega Powers vs. Mega Bucks - 6

The main event could be argued as both good and bad, with the positive outweighing the negative clearly for me. The cool thing about this one is that each team has a designated workhorse, DiBiasi and Savage, who look great and carry the match; then they also both have two epic stars, Andre and Hulk, who bring the crowd into it wildly. Hogan is far from graceful, but there’s far too much excitement and chemistry abound that it’s hard to focus on any of the match’s inherent flaws. In a classic SummerSlam moment, Miss Elizabeth climbs onto the apron and pulls off her skirt revealing her skimpy underwear, much to the shock and surprise of the heels and their paid-off guest referee Jesse Ventura. It was a big moment as to that point Elizabeth was always shown in such a respectful and demure fashion—sadly I wonder if she wasn’t wearing those same scandalous panties when she overdosed on Lex Luger’s ample pill supply. Damn it, Lex, you killed Liz!

The faces are triumphant but would later go on to have a historic feud and be the main event at WrestleMania V, but that’s another review for another time. As for now, I’m days away from SummerSlam ’08 live and I can’t wait. I’m doubtful Indianapolis will have the same energy as the raucous MSG crowd back in ’88, but I hope some of that earlier magic will be in the air, as well as the birth of some new legendary SummerSlam moments.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Japan TV 10/14/83

1) Big John Studd v. Killer Khan- 3
2) Paul Orndorff v. Akira Maeda- 4
3) Riki Choshu/ Yoshiaki Yatsu/ ? v. Kengo Kimura/ Tatsumi Fujinami/ Antonio Inoki- 5

To kick off this show, we have two big bruisers that would soon travel to New York to make more money. Khan seems out of sorts, stumbling a lot in his work and Studd has two left feet, so the match is kind of like two men rumbling around and throwing mean punches to the back. Khan has a nasty stomp and puts it all over Studd's face which he sells well. This ends in a no contest (didn't know New Japan had those?). Maeda is a huge babyface here; both men are still fairly new to the sport as there are several spots where neither man is really in control- they stick to ground armbars for most of this bout. Orndorff hasn't gained his bonafide mean streak yet and Maeda hasn't gained his technical expertise quite either. The main event 6 man tag is a large match filled with the best in the company at that time. Tats and Choshu continue their long standing rivalry almost every time they're both in, with loud leathery chops and muscle splintering versions of their sharpshooters. This stays in ring with Choshu's team being light on sells and Fujinami's team keeping the crowd into it with comebacks. The finish is pretty creative and makes sense. This is fun TV, loaded with ridiculous Japanese commercials from back in the day. I love their TV because it's all action.

WWF Wrestling Challenge - 10/30/88

1) The Rockers vs. Steve Lombardi & Iron Mike Sharpe – 3
2) Ultimate Warrior vs. Pork Chop Cash – 3
3) King Haku vs. Scott Hudson – 2
4) Red Rooster vs. Tommy Angel – 2
5) Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Bob Blackburn – 2

This episode kicked off with the Brother Love Show in which Hulk Hogan was the featured guest. He ran down Hogan, brought out the Boss Man and Slick, who then handcuffed Hogan to a railing and walloped him with numerous nightstick shots. Hogan fought back and literally chased Boss Man and Slick while dragging the railing along. The Rockers squash was fun. Lombardi never tagged in for his team while Sharpe took all the Rockers had and then some. Cash’s selling of Warrior’s offense was fantastic. There was a great shot of his face after receiving a hard body blow. Warrior ran him down with the usual selection of moves and then served him up with some mashed potatoes and cole slaw. The Scott Hudson that was destroyed by Haku is not the same one that called WCW matches back in the day. Haku worked the youngster with devastating shots and polished him off with a kick that would make Jackie Chan applaud. Red Rooster looked sloppy as all hell. I’m not sure if that’s how he was told to work the match or if he just had an off night. The story behind it was that Heenan was bringing Rooster up to stardom and had to start at the bottom. Finally, Jake destroyed the bulky Blackburn in a short and simple match to conclude a fun episode. The only complaint I have is that throughout some of the matches, there were voiceovers for the Leonard/Lalone boxing match that became very, very annoying.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

WCW Starrcade 1992

BattleBowl Matches

1) Van Hammer/ Dan Spivey v. Cactus Jack/ Johnny B. Badd- 3

The problem with this match is Jack and Mero trying to set up their turn on each other and it was so obvious. Hammer looked decent here, especially with Foley selling for him, even though they bungled a whip in. Spivey made Foley eat a couple big boots for dinner and overall, while not having any real cohesion as a match, everything was very physical.

2) Dustin Rhodes/ Vader v. Barbarian/ Kensuke Sasaki- 5

I reiterate, PHYSICAL! That sums this match up. Barbarian and Vader test each other's manhood and just bruise each other with fists and feet while also botching at least 3 spots; they finally tag out and Rhodes and Sasaki are game to move the pace and also get real pissed at each other and it works. Sasaki suplexes Vader in the best spot of the match and this is loads of fun with everyone getting real Mid South on each other.

3) Brian Pillman/ 2 Cold Scorpio v. Great Muta/ Barry Windham- 5

This random assortment of talent is also a great representation of NHO Hall of Fame because each guy has been inducted. Windham and Scorpio just have it with each other, they sink armdrags in and really pull through on them and it looks good. Muta sells as if he's awaiting a crash pad behind him sometimes but he sinks in a lethal kick to 2 Cold's throat and always makes strange facials. I like that Windham and Pillman start chopping each other because of the competition aspect of the match, then realize they will be partners later and stop. 2 Cold tries a 450 springboard in a crazy spot and damn near pulls it off. This is a very fun match.

4) Steve Williams/ Sting v. Jushin Liger/ Erik Watts- 4

Sting and Liger start off and the crowd is popping like Muhammed Ali just walked out. Huge ovation to see these two lock it up, and now that I think about it, don't think I've ever seen it either. Sting and Doc work great tag strategy here by keeping Liger in the ring in their corner for most of the match, utilizing timely tags. I was very surprised by the psych they employed. Watts gets a few spurts of offense on Doc, but nothing that matters. The match seems long because they don't put Liger away, just keep punishing him but it's completely inoffensive and I'd rather watch Liger sell than Watts even with the mask on.

5) Great Muta v. Masa Chono- 6

Muta looks really worn down but he damn near goes 20 minutes with Chono in this exhausting ground affair. Chono's white trunks are a nice visual change and Muta in the purple is a palette I like on him; the blue ring makes for a dull background but enhances the performers look. Don't know why I'm obsessed with the colors in this match; maybe because I've been eating Fruity Pebbles all week. Muta decides to go to the ground with Chono, which Jim Ross establishes as Chono's domain, being the master of the STF. Chono isn't high on the list of great sellers and some of Muta's strikes seem to bounce right off of him like a bullet off Superman's ass. Chono sets the pace and basically wears Muta down enough to apply his dreaded submission to get the victory. This is a different style of match but one that has some merit and gets a bonus point for making it unique.

6) Ron Simmons v. Steve Williams- 4

Two big tough college football pros mix it up here because Rick Rude was sidelined with an injury. He comes out in a denim jacket 3 sizes too big for him and tells Simmons he's lucky. Surprisingly, Doc and Simmons start with side headlocks. They both look strange trying to apply basic wrestling holds on the other because they're both so stocky. You'll see a great number of shoulder tackles during this match. Simmons shows that his explosiveness was one of his better attributes earlier in his career and pounces Williams a few times. Both men have strange looking strikes, but I still wouldn't want to be their practice dummy. You could see some unfamiliarity during the match as a few things look a little raw and the finish was basically a cop out for not having anything thought up, as they went to a double countout.

7) Ricky Steamboat/ Shane Douglas v. Barry Windham/ Brian Pillman- 7

This was a classic old school tag match in every sense of the word. It had a familiar formula and all parties carried it out to the tee: early face clear the ring spot, then heels gain advantage through trickery, work over weaker face for a while, then strong face comes in and also gets beat on, then weaker face makes big comeback and finally gets the win. Douglas was pretty good being the recipient here and took some nasty spills to the outside which, as Jim Ross explained was "particleboard covering up the ice hockey rink underneath." Ouch. Windham and Pillman when it was time, bumped all over for the face team and Steamboat was extra fired up against Windham because he had attacked him in the locker room with a chair. Ricky shouldn't swing a chair though as he gave him a chair shot right out of Lance Storm's playbook; I'm guessing Ricky jr. in his little green dragon outfit could swing a chair harder. Anyways, this was a nice refreshing change and has me clamoring for the long lost art of tag wrestling to once again resurface in our current scene.

8) Sting v. Vader- 8

When you think about the great rivalries through the years, don't think about those manufactured feuds that didn't add up to shit like Taker-Kane, or DX-McMahons, think about this one: Sting-Vader. This is as physical of a match as you will ever find in the US. Sting takes huge heaping spoonfuls of potatoes and gets pulverized but so does Vader: YES!YES! YES! I'm marking out like Dean Moriarity and I feel like I want to drive to Frisco on $13 after seeing such inspired performances. Sting's offensive spots are so huge like a German suplex and a DDT from the top rope and Vader sells them like a huge man with long, dangly balls and even Harley Race on the outside is saluting his professionalism. Sting's eventual comeback never really materializes and it feels more real that way. These guys created a rivalry that truly does stand the test of time.

9) Battle Bowl Battle Royal (participants: Van Hammer, Dan Spivey, Dustin Rhodes, Vader, Great Muta, Barry Windham, Steve Williams, Sting)- 5

Generally speaking, battle royals aren't technical masterpieces but they can still be fun to watch if you have a good mix of guys in there punching away. This one had some decent hands involved and it started out with a bang as Vader tackled Sting over the top rope onto the rampway in what best resembled a minor accident off SR-129. Rhodes and Windham were duking it out for quite a while too and Spivey looked to be trying to stiff people although he wasn't in too long. The end came down to Muta and Windham to set up for their eventual program and the pace slowed to a crawl as Windham just methodically took Muta apart until the Japanese legend fired off with some dropkicks causing an over the top sell from Windham to propel him to the outside. Overall, this had the feeling of an important show from the opening video package to the announcers shilling the event to the grand fireworks display and that's what Starrcade was supposed to be for WCW even though in later years it's importance seemed to equal that of a deceased pigeon on the side of the road.

Monday, August 11, 2008

TV Project #2 - Feb. 4 - Feb. 5

1st place:
ECW on Sci-FI 2/5/08
Ranking: 27.5% (11 points out of 40)

1. Kelly Kelly and Michelle McCool vs. Layla and Victoria - 2
2. Tommy Dreamer vs. John Morrison - 3
3. Kofi Kingston vs. James Curtis - 3
4. CM Punk vs. Chavo Guerrero - Gulf fo Mexico Match - 3

Wow, this week’s edition of ECW on Sci-Fi was definitely a step below last week’s, too. Last week they stuffed five matches into an hour, and also had an enjoyable ending skit where Chavo got blasted in the face by a mandolin playing straight edge guy in a fuax-mustache. This week, we got four matches, all short and painfully unspectacular, and the only non-wrestling stuff an extended in-ring promo to start the show that basically boiled down to just establishing the main event—ugh!

The women’s match, while featuring some of the same talent from the day prior’s Raw, wasn’t as good. Kelly tried to do some acrobatic offense, but came off like a middle school cheerleader, hopped up on paint and vodka, doing a bad Rob Van Dam imitation at a frat party where she was later fricasseed like a kebob. Layla looks a lot like a slut that works at a jewelry counter at the same mall I’m employed at—maybe if I got to Wal-Mart and get her overpriced action figure I can use it like a voodoo doll.

Morrison is shaping into a pretty decent worker, but the match with Dreamer wasn’t doing either any favor, as it was short and squalid. Kofi had another squash, this time against James Curtis, who was selling quite well. The main, a really weak brawl, was a big disappointment; especially after hearing it pimped shortly after it aired. They’ve both had better brawls, Punk pre-WWE and Chavo with guys like Rey and surely Stevie Ray at some point, so this was kind of listless and sterile. The big payoff, Chavo getting tossed in the disease-infected waters of the Gulf was fine for a quick chuckle, but served as poor distraction from better TV viewing options like old episodes of Freaks and Geeks or Riley Mason porno.

2nd place:
WWF Raw 2/4/08
Ranking: 26% (13 points out of 50)

1. Kelly Kelly and Mickie James vs. Victoria and Beth Phoenix - 3
2. Mr. Kennedy vs. Super Crazy - 2
3. Brian Kendrick and Paul London vs. Santino Morella and Carlito - 1
4. Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes vs. Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch - 2
5. Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, and Shawn Michaels vs. Umaga, Snitsky, and JBL - 5

Wow, where last week’s Raw was a great re-introduction for me to wrestling on TV in general, this week’s offering was absolute crap. Three of the five matches were extremely short and uneventful. Plus, all the non-wrestling stuff was terrible written and offensive. We had McMahon making his “son” Hornswoggle kiss his ass in a segment that went on forever, Cena and Mark Henry having an arm wrestling contest, a long, plodding multiple-man interview pumping No Way Out and leading to this show’s main event, etc.

The women’s match was good but short, so no recommendation from yours truly. However, it smoked the three matches following it so I’ll give it some credit. The finish saw Victoria eat a Tornado DDT by Mickie James in a good bump. Kennedy worked on Crazy’s legs, unconvincingly, as a threat to future opponent Ric Flair, and got the win in a crappy throwaway bout with a submission. It was great seeing London and Kendrick again, it wasn’t so great seeing the match go less than two minutes, with London spending most of it chasing Santino around the ring like a child at recess, seriously. The next tag was almost as short, and equally forgettable, but notched an extra point for a couple stiff shots being thrown. Lastly, we had a typical, tossed together Raw main, but it was fun enough and a lot better than the rest of the stuff I was subjected to during this broadcast. The ending saw all of the faces hit their finishers, a nice touch, but the last segment as the aforementioned arm wrestling contest so I can’t really say the show ended on a high note.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

NHO Hall of Fame: Class #4

Well fans, it's August, which means its time for the staff here at Never Hand Over to make our bi-yearly inductions into our prestigious HOF. After watching UFC '87 in HD at Adam's house, a spectacular show by the way, we all divulged our picks amongst the group.

NHO Hall of Fame Class #4
Click the link for the official site including pictures!

Brian inducted:
1. Aja Kong
2. Doom
3. Chris Benoit

Jessie inducted:
1. Antonio Inoki
2. Tito Santana
3. Gorilla Monsoon

Adam inducted:
1. Mitsuharu Misawa
2. Dusty Rhodes

Didge inducted:
1. "Macho Man" Randy Savage
2. Ultimo Dragon

All in all, a very solid class, with some creative and controversial picks being made! As I mentioned above, click here, and you'll see the official HOF page with accompanying pictures, etc. Thanks, and we'll see you in February, for the fifth class!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Legacy of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - Disc #3

1. Steve Austin vs. The Rock - No Holds Barred Match - (Backlash '99) - 5
2. Steve Austin vs. Eddie Guerrero - (Smackdown! '00) - 4
3. Steve Austin vs. Triple H - No DQ Match - (Survivor Series '00) - 6
4. Steve Austin vs. Triple H - Three Stages of Hell - (No Way Out '01) - 7
5. Steve Austin vs. Rock - No DQ Match - (Wrestlemania X-7) - 7

Austin and Rock brawl in a wild, meandering bout that was somewhat fun but ultimately fluff. It was reminiscent of the same match a young child would have with his Rock and Austin action figures, as they brawled up and down the aisle, on and through tables, knocking down parts of the set, etc. Rock even takes a camera from a nearby cameraman and ends up taking a “Stone Cold Stunner” on a table while filming his own demise—very Blair Witch Project-esque minus the creepiness. Austin versus Eddy is a short, but a decent TV bout, as Guerrero is eating up the opportunity getting a spotlight match and is really aping and enthusiastically selling Austin’s stuff. The next match Austin himself said was affected by his less than stellar performance, and many Internet writers like dropping their pants on shitting all over it, but I actually enjoyed most of it as a slow, methodical fight, with the pace lending it more of a sense of believability than the incredibly over-the-top Rock match earlier on this disc. Granted, the ending sucked fierce, featuring them out in a parking lot where Austin used a crane to pick up a car Triple H was in and dropped it violently upside down, was even laughable by Michael Bay standards. Also, there was a brawl in the backstage area that was heavily edited, as they removed all footage of Chris Benoit—this pissed me off and made me want to stomp a mudhole in whoever made that decision.

The next match was the epic Three Stages of Hell. I remember when it originally took place, during my crazier younger days, friend Steve and I tried to watch it in his basement as a friend taped it from pay-per-view but it just seemed painfully long and dull and a giant insult and from two egoists. My opinions have changed dramatically; as now, I thought this was quite good, with the emotion, physicality, selling, intensity, and everything through the roof. The first fall, a regular match, goes to Austin with the “Stone Cold Stunner” after twelve minutes of solid work. The second fall is anything goes, and it does, as Triple H scored the win after hitting Austin with a sledgehammer and his patented “Pedigree.” Finally, we have a cage match, which was a jarring and pleasantly violent conclusion to this blockbuster. They use weapons to bludgeon, reverse and kick out of each other’s big moves, and it all ends when Austin swings a barbed wire board as Hunter swings a sledgehammer and Triple H lands luckily on top of Austin as they both fall to the mat.

The final match on the set is one of three WrestleMania main events Rock and Austin had against each other. The crowd is just molten hot here, and while I wasn’t a fan of their other match on this set, they really bring their top shelf stuff here and you really get the impression you’re watching something special. Another cool thing is that both guys are bleeding here, which really ups the drama, as usually you don’t see a lot of blood in the WWE and whenever you do it’s just one guy not both competitors. It shows to what lengths these icons will go to in attempt to win at the grandest showcase of them all. The ending hurts the match, as Vince McMahon comes to the ring and interjects himself, really killing the build, as they use the no disqualification stipulation to their advantage mercilessly pounding Rock with a chair until he’s done. Austin comments on the DVD that if he could have, knowing Rock was leaving shortly for Hollywood and that his own career was quickly drawing to an end, he’d have called an audible and beat McMahon’s ass as he know that the Texas crowd and wrestling fans in general didn’t want to hate him as a bad guy. In retrospect, it probably was a pretty bad decision, but this match is still one of few that for me captured the excitement of the WrestleMania matches from my childhood.

All in all, I enjoyed this set, and would go ahead and recommend it. I liked the first disc, especially the WCW stuff and amazing Bret match, hated the ECW stuff, also the third disc had some really fantastic stuff on it, too. The second disc, from the “Attitude” era, wasn’t my favorite (the Kane matches were plain awful) but fans of that period in wrestling history will likely get a kick out of it if they don’t already have all of the material already. I think they should have done a five-disc set, and not spread things so thin, but for what it’s worth this is a decent look at one of our era’s biggest superstars.

Friday, August 8, 2008

WCW SuperBrawl II

1) Brian Pillman vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger – 7
2) Terry Taylor vs. Marcus Bagwell – 4
3) Ron Simmons vs. Cactus Jack – 5
4) Ricky Morton & Vinnie Vegas vs. Van Hammer & Tom Zenk – 4
5) Steve Austin & Larry Zbyszko vs. Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes – 6
6) The Steiner Brothers vs. Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton – 6
7) Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat - 6
8) Lex Luger vs. Sting - 5

This card looks tremendous on paper but for some reason, I found this show rather difficult to sit through. As I mentioned on my review of the Brian Pillman DVD set, the Liger/Pillman match was a tremendous aerial exhibition. There was a pretty sick somersault dive to the outside by Liger and Pillman was working some ground work in. The two guys went non-stop for nearly twenty minutes and you could tell that Jesse Ventura was clearly impressed on commentary as he called it “the greatest aerial match I’ve ever seen”. Taylor and Bagwell fell apart pretty fast. The story going into it was simple … Taylor offered Bagwell a chance to be his protégé but Bagwell refused thus leading to the match. This was Bagwell’s first big angle to be a part of and he botched a few small things but managed to score and upset. Cactus and Simmons was brief but fun. They pretty much blugeonded each other with hard shot after hard shot. I remember fondly a sick bump that Foley took on the elevated ramp leading to the ring. After the match, Abdullah joins Cactus in a beat down of Simmons which lead to the Junkyard Dog running in from the stands. Morton and Vegas worked well as a team, much to my surprise. One major glaring thing about Morton was that he was playing heel but he was still using his babyface selling technique. Hammer was way over on his team but really didn’t contribute much aside from battling most of the match with Vegas.

Windham and Rhodes come out of the gate fighting with intensity. The whole match stems from when Arn and Larry slammed Windham’s hand in a car door at Halloween Havoc. Windham comes to the ring with a taped hand and lays out Austin and Zbyszko. Zbyszko’s selling of Windham’s hand was epic as every time he was hit with it, he sold it like he just got shot with a revolver. Arn and Bobby teamed well and had a great match with The Steiners. This was the Steiners return match as a team after Scott’s bicep injury. The story was that the Steiners never lost the tag titles so they were fighting to get them back. This was hard hitting and fun and would’ve gotten a higher score had they not pulled a Dusty finish. Rude and Steamboat was not as good as I thought it would be but it was damn fine nonetheless. They worked their asses off and were sweating after about five minutes. Steamboat was accompanied to the ring by The Ninja who stood rigidly at ringside until he hit Steamboat with a phone, therefore telling everyone that it was Paul E. Dangerously (who had been barred from ringside) in disguise. Sting winning the title from Luger in the main event was a formality because Luger had become disgruntled and was heading out the door. Luger’s heart was not in the match as Sting pretty much worked around Luger’s laziness. Sting won the title with a nice cross-body from the top and everyone in the building went apeshit.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

WCW SuperBrawl I

1) Freebirds v. Young Pistols- 6
2) Ricky Morton v. Dan Spivey- 4
3) Tommy Rich v. Nikita Koloff- 2
4) Dustin Rhodes v. Terrence Taylor- 4
5) Black Bart v. Big Josh- 4
6) Oz v. Tim Parker- 1
7) Brian Pillman v. Barry Windham (Taped Fist)- 6
8) Sid Vicious v. El Gigante (Stretcher Match)- 1
9) Butch Reed v. Ron Simmons (Steel Cage)- 6
10) Steiner Brothers v. Sting/ Lex Luger- 7
11) Bobby Eaton v. Arn Anderson- 7
12) Ric Flair v. Tatsumi Fujinami- 7

This was a boatload of a huge, fun show and I'm digging that I've finally seen it after 17 years of deprivity(not sure if this is a word.) We start off with a really fun tag featuring the always prissy Freebirds and the Pistols and it's amazing because I remember that Tracey Smothers could work when he was young! There were a ton of stiff lefts by Hayes and some really high impact offense. The finish was so strange, yet it worked when a literal "Freebird" dressed in black feathers came in and handed out these cool flying DDT's like AOL startupdiscs to everyone involved. Spivey must have just come from a tour of All Japan becuase he just brutalized Morton as soon as he stepped into the ring. Morton was fighting back with Superman punches to the head but to no avail. Quick but really stiff. Rich sporting some really gnarly unwashed beach hair tries to grab side headlocks and slow Nikita down, but Nikita didn't come to play anyways, opting for slow in ring work; Rich did a couple aftersells but this wound down fairly quickly.

Rhodes and Taylor had a good rhythym and worked well together; Rhodes was just reckless though, diving and bumping all over the place. They botched a few things incl. Mr. Huges standing on the apron a good 30 seconds before his cue so this could have been better, and with seasoning I'm sure Rhodes and Taylor did down the line somewhere. Josh came down to ringside with two bears in harnesses who were walking right alongside him. I nearly spit out my Pepsi when the image came on my screen. Josh was like a veteran trainer, just wrenching on armlocks on the nasty Bart who fired back with some decent shots. Josh also had a nice haymaker that he broke out as well as the ever famous logroll. Then, we go to the entrance of OZ: They had a huge backdrop of a castle hung up on the entrance way, then they had smoke machines working overtime while some freak wearing a giant old man face with beard came down calling himself the Wizard and sure enough behind him were Dorothy and the whole gang (of course they never get too close so you can get a good look at their faces) and he leads them back to the entrace where OZ stands in a giant green cape. The production values of this were lower than an inner city church youth group's production of "Jonah and the Whale" where they use an old hollowed out bathtub as the whale. The crowd audibly shits all over this as soon as it starts and then OZ makes quick work of his jobber opponent with a crazy spinning powerbomb. I almost didn't have the heart to write this, but hopefully you have the courage to watch it.

Now, we get to the good stuff....Windham and Pillman had been embroiled in a semi-lenghty feud and it's all about Pillman trying to earn respect. These guys work the gimmick correctly; throwing tons of big haymakers and crosses but they also incorporate great bumping and dramatic highspots incl. Windham taking his car crash bump to the outside and Pillman just being his usual great workhorse self. This only garnered a 6 due to it's length. The Argentenian giant makes real quick work of Sid, quicker than his old softball coach at West Memphis University did after practice one Wednesday afternoon. Sid's oversells were admirable but completely unnecessary since he was going to get buried anyways. I have a huge newfound respect for Doom after seeing several of their PPV matches from the 90's recently and this is the blowoff to their split and it's everything you want it to be. Two guys just slugging it out and throwing their already scarred faces into steel mesh. Several big marquee powermoves highlight the middle sections but the cage seems awfully small and cramped. These guys deliver the goods here.

This match garnered Match of the Year in PWI for 1991 and it's easy to see why: It's just one long car crash event from the bell. Each and every time two guys square off here a major power move just absolutely destroys the other person and they trade big moves through the whole bout. There's really no rest sections so it doesn't feel like a normal tag match, more like a Lucha style bout with Japanese type offense. This was definitley on the 8 range until Nikita Koloff came staggering down like he'd had too much vodka and interfered. But, at least he and Sting had a backstage brawl to commemerate it, even if it did blow chunks. Next you had a classic scientific match that was going to be Eaton's coming out party as a singles competitor. Anderson is so good here you really can't believe he wasn't a robot programmed to wrestle; he comes in as a no nonsense killer and totally switches gears and makes you believe Eaton is going to be the next world champion. From everything he does for Bobby, like pulling out of armlocks to backing away after taking one stiff right hand to getting frustrated when he can't get the pin, this is how you truly make someone and the crowd and the announcers were buying it big time. Someone came down at the end and got involved but Eaton's picture perfect legdrop negated their presence. This was an awesome encounter. Now, the main event: This match was much better than their match at Egg Dome for the Supershow. This one had hatred invovled. Both guys were laying their stuff in, I mean, fighting like they were trying to escape a concentration camp circa 1940's Germany. Flair bled early and hard, I'm talking about that dark red syrupy stuff and Fujinami didn't back down. They had some great near falls and both guys were in really good shape. The two refs didn't really get in the way and they teased their controversial finish from the first match a few times. They both had good near victories with their signature submission moves and the finish made both men come out strong.

Top to bottom, this was a tremendous card. There were some ridiculous gimmicks but the fun thing about the show is that everyone from Fujinami to Morton were laying in their shots and making me believe and that's what it's all about.