Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Thursday, 16 November 2017

PPV Review - WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 1997

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Event poster
February 16, 1997,
UTC Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

If you ever needed proof that early 1997 was a confusing time in the World Wrestling Federation, you only needed look at tonight's main event: A four-way match for the vacant WWF Championship. 

Yes, only a month after Shawn Michaels recaptured the belt from Sid in a dire main event at Royal Rumble 1997, the belt was already vacant, the result of HBK famously 'losing his smile' and deciding to go home rather than grant Bret 'The Hitman' Hart a rematch.

Tonight, Hart would get his chance to get the belt back anyway, going up against Vader, The Undertaker, and his arch-rival Stone Cold Steve Austin in a match which had originally been set-up to determine who would face the champion at Wrestlemania 13. This was because even though the latter had won the 97 Rumble match, he had done so under controversial circumstances.

Confused yet? Don't worry about it, things will be cleared up -even if only briefly- by the end of tonight's show.

Let's get to it, shall we?

The World Wrestling Federation... for over 50 years, the revolutionary force  in sports entertainment 



Who Will Be The New WWF Champion?


WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler commentated on the event
Our show tonight began with another impressive hype video reminding us that even though Shawn Michaels lost his smile, everybody else was still showing up for work and wanted the WWF title. Tonight, we would get it in a big four-way match.

That took us to Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler (no idea where Vince McMahon was tonight), who introduced us to the show as The Wildman Marc Mero made his way to ringside for our opening match.

The Wildman Marc Mero (w/ Sable) vs. Leif Cassidy

I'm not sure if there was a back story to this one, and to be honest, I'm not interested enough to go and look for one.

Instead, let's just focus on the action, which was passable at best.

Despite having a brilliant opener at In Your House: It's Time back in December,

Leif Cassidy failed to have the same calibre of outing against Marc Mero.

This was somewhat surprising, not to mention disappointing, since Mero too had delivered several enjoyable performances throughout the course of 1996.

Tonight, both men seemed to work hard, but just couldn't pull it together, instead giving us a mediocre opener which Mero won via the Wild Thing Shooting Star Press.
Your Winner: Marc Mero

Next, The Honky Tonk Man, who had recently returned to the company, began making his way to the ring. Jim Ross decided that this wasn't as interesting as Shawn Michaels losing his smile on Thursday Raw Thursday, so he showed us that instead.

Sid Wants His Belt Back

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Sid wanted the WWF title back
Backstage, Kevin Kelly spoke with Sid, reminding us that the Master and Ruler of The World would face the winner of tonight's four-way match for the WWF title tomorrow night on Raw.

Big Sid was angry that he never got his rematch against Shawn Michaels following their last match at the 1997 Royal Rumble, but said that instead he would just have to beat up the new champion tomorrow night on Raw and get his belt back that way.

Six Man Tag
Flash Funk, Bart Gunn, and Goldust (w/  Marlena and The Funkettes) vs. The Nation of Domination (Crush, Savio Vega, and Farooq, w/ PG13, Clarence Mason, D'Lo Brown and Random Nation Members )

All three babyfaces had endured their own separate issues with The Nation of Domination lately, so tonight they were teaming up to get revenge.

Not that they would get any.


After a sloppy and instantly forgettable contest, Bart Gunn looked to have things won thanks to a top rope Bulldog to Farooq.

Instead, Crush leg dropped the former Smoking Gunn, Farooq got the pin, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winners: The Nation of Domination

Cutting to the back, Stone Cold Steve Austin told Doc Hendrix that because he had eliminated The Undertaker, Vader, and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart all from the Royal Rumble, he could eliminate them tonight and become the new WWF Champion, and there was nothing Doc, Vince McMahon, Gorilla Monsoon, or anybody else, could do to stop him.

   

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Rocky Maivia faced HHH for the Intercontinental Championship
As The Rock and Triple H, these two would have many a fine outing together.

As Rocky Maivia and Hunter Hearst Helmsley however, what they had here was average at best.

Rocky had only recently beaten Hunter for the Intercontinental Championship on Thursday Raw Thursday, and now was putting the title on the line again in the obligatory rematch.

Like I said, this was far from the best outing these two would ever have together,  but apart from one horribly botched DDT which saw the champion basically dump Helmsley on his head, this was a perfectly serviceable mid-card bout.

Towards the finish, Hunter's arch-rival, Goldust, came to the ring, distracting the challenger so that Maivia could land a German suplex for the three count.
Your Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Rocky Maivia

Afterwards, Helmsley challenged Goldust to a fight, distracting him long enough for a big, musclebound woman to reach over the guardrail and choke out Marlena until security dragged her away.


Ladies and gentlemen, we had just witnessed the debut of Chyna.

It's Vader Time

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Kevin Kelly interviewed Vader & Paul Bearer
After a quick clip promoting Wrestlemania 13, we went next to Kevin Kelly, who was standing by with Vader and his new manager, Paul Bearer.

Bearer claimed that joining forces with The Mastodon was a smart business decision, whilst Vader himself trash-talked each of his opponents, not so much threatening to beat them up or anything, just generally noting that he didn't like them much.

He did of course, also tell us that it was Vader Time, which probably meant he was going to win the match.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (w/ Clarence Mason) vs. Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon

One of the better matches on the show by a million miles, both teams worked well together to deliver a solid performance, all whilst Owen Hart and British Bulldog continued to display some serious tension between them.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Owen Hart & British Bulldog lost to Furnas & LaFon via DQ
A see-saw battle saw some good offence from both sides, but it was the reigning champions who proved to be the most entertaining here.

Towards the finish, Bulldog had Philip LaFon set up for his patented power slam, only for Owen to come in and whack LaFon on the head with a Slammy Award.

The referee gave the match to the challengers via DQ and that, as you can imagine, only pissed off Davey Boy even further.
Your Winners via Disqualification: Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon (Owen Hart & British Bulldog retain the titles)

Post match, Davey Boy yelled at Owen and threatened to beat up manager Clarence Mason. Obviously the Bulldog face turn never transpired, but it certainly looked like an exciting possibility at this stage.

Doc Hendrix Interviews The Undertaker

WWF / WWE In Your House 13: Final Four - The Undertaker
Prior to our next main event, The Undertaker told Doc that he had rediscovered the edge he had back in the early 90s and would be going back to that version of himself, albeit against much better opponents.

Tonight, not Vader, Stone Cold, nor The Hitman would get in The Dead Man's way of becoming WWF champion again.

Bret Hart Is Ready

With his opponents already in the ring, Bret Hart told Kevin Kelly that despite all of his opponents being tough, he was ready and nothing could stop him becoming WWF Champion again.

Final Four Way Match for the Vacant World Wrestling Federation Championship
Vader (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Vader got bloodied up in the main event
Whilst the previous tag team match may have been good for what it was, there was no doubt about it: 

In Your House 13 - Final Four was absolutely a one-match show. 

But man, what a match it was. 

Between Vader busting his eye open in horrific fashion and wrestling the majority of the match looking gruesome as all hell, Hart and Austin going after each other with their usual violent chaos, and The Undertaker destroying everyone he came across, this was non-stop carnage from start to finish. 

One of the best WWF matches of 1997, if not the entire 1990s, this made sitting through everything else on the show absolutely worth it. 

After a lengthy battle, Bret clotheslined 'Taker over the top rope to win his fourth World Wrestling Federation Championship. 
Your Winner and New WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Post match, new number-one contender Sid came out for the obligatory staredown with the new champion.

The two would face off for the title the following night on Raw in a match that would only throw further confusion and chaos on the WWF title scene. 

What? You thought we'd have everything cleared up with The Hitman's win?

Not a chance. 

Just 24 hours after winning the belt, Bret would lose it again in that match to Sid, who would face The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 13 for the title whilst Bret was left to go at it with his nemesis Steve Austin in a submission match which, rumour has it, wasn't too bad. 

But that's another review for another time. 

   

If you want to make sure you never miss another Retro Pro Wrestling review, like the new Facebook page, or follow on Twitter @Retropwrestling

Until next time, thanks for reading. 


1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW Souled Out 1997

Thursday, 9 November 2017

PPV REVIEW: TNA No Surrender 2009

TNA No Surrender 2009 PPV Review
Sunday, September 20th 2009,
Orlando, Florida

With backstage issues surrounding Kurt Angle's real-life drama with Jeff Jarrett, Angelina Love's visa issues, and even Christopher Daniels' recent arrest, all threatening to overshadow their in-ring efforts, Total NonStop Action wrestling recently returned home to the Impact Zone for their latest pay per view offering, No Surrender.

(NOTE: This review was written at the time of TNA No Surrender's broadcast in September 2009. I found this along with other TNA reviews in my archive recently and decide to report them to RPW) 

Titles were defended, new champions were crowned, and bums were flashed, but here's what else went down.

TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship - Tournament final to Determine new champions: The Beautiful People (Velvet Sky & Madison Rayne) vs. Taylor Wilde and Sarita. 

This is what happens when you don't watch TNA Impact every week and rely on the Internet instead; you end up watching a pay per view without any idea what's going on.

Of course, your reporter is well aware that Angelina Love is no longer with the company due to issues with her work visa (it was the biggest story in the Internet Wrestling Community recently), but what doesn't make any sense is why Madison Rayne is now suddenly in Love's place. The last time I say Impact, Velvet Sky and her erstwhile partner were beating up Rayne every which way, so how they've ended up as best chums again is anyone's guess.

Confusing partnerships aside, the four ladies turned out a short and sweet opening contest that was too short to really be either good or bad. Velvet Sky looked stronger than she ever has done, but sadly it wasn't enough to help her capture the gold as Madison Rayne lost the bout for her team after getting caught in a bridging German suplex by Wilde and drop kicked by Sarita.
Your Winners and new TNA Knockout Tag Team Champions: Taylor Wilde and Sarita

After the bout, the new champions were interviewed by Lauren and vowed to hold on to the belts for a very long time in a very awkward looking promo.

Eric Young vs. Hernandez

Prior to this contest Eric Young, dressed in a suit and flanked by members of his World Elite faction, announced that he would not fight Hernandez. Instead, he was holding out hope that Super Mex would join him in the 'Elite team.

Hernandez however, had other plans, and quickly disposed of his Canadian rival. Several clotheslines and a Border Toss were all it took for the big man to win a very confusing match; why should anyone cheer for Hernandez when all he did was beat up someone who refused to fight back?
Your Winner: Hernandez

Heading to the back, Jeremy Borash interviewed Matt Morgan. The 'DNA of TNA' cut one of his finest promos to date, declaring that the main event would be all about him and Kurt Angle. He says that 'the future is now', and the future, not surprisingly, is Matt Morgan.

TNA X-Division Championship Match: Samoa Joe defends against Daniels

Daniels and Samoa Joe have had many incredible matches during their history together, and whilst their No Surrender effort didn't quite live up to any of those, it was still nonetheless a good, enjoyable match.

The two former friends turned bitter rivals battled back and forth in an early contender for match of the night which was only let down by the knowledge that they could have done even better. Following a hard-fought contest, 'The Fallen Angel' finally succumbed to the Kokina Clutch, allowing Joe to retain.
Your Winner and Still TNA X-Division Champion: Samoa Joe.

Heading to the back once more, cameras caught up with Jeremy Borash and Mick Foley.

   

The 'Hardcore Legend' was furious that somebody had ripped up a caricature painting of himself and Borash.

Apparently he was very serious, but it came across as little more than a joke. Heading back to the arena, Tazz summed up what most of us were probably thinking about the whole thing, "it's just a cartoon."

Next, D’Angelo Dinero was interviewed by Lauren. After cutting an entertaining promo, 'The Pope' was interrupted by Suicide and their 'Falls Count Anywhere Match', a bonus addition to the pay per view, was underway.

Falls Count Anywhere Match: 'The Pope' D'Angelo Dinero vs. Suicide

The two battled backstage and strung together a series of interesting spots with some good brawling. Part way through the match, Suicide pulled down his opponent's trunks, leaving Dinero to wrestle half the match with his backside showing.

It was a decent match between the two which was only ruined by Mike Tenay and Tazz using the time to joke amongst themselves rather than calling the action. That aside, this was pretty fun to watch until Suicide fell through a table and killed himself, allowing Dinero to pick up the pinfall.
Your Winner: D'Angelo Dinero 

Following a quick video package to hype it, we moved on to the battle of the sexes.

TNA Knockouts Championship Match: Cody Deaner vs. ODB for the vacant title

Heading into this pay per view, your writer was all ready to slate this as a terrible match, but it was surprisingly a lot of fun.

Played mostly for comic effect, with referee Andrew Thomas even getting involved and siding with ODB, this was the best match you could have hoped for between the two. Before too long, ODB got the better of the self-proclaimed 'King of the Knockouts' and captured the vacant title thanks to a fireman's carry cutter.
Your Winner and NEW TNA Women's Knockout Championship: ODB 

After the match, ODB celebrated her win during a quick interview with Lauren in which she gave thanks to 'All [her] fans in prison'.

Cameras then moved to Jeremy Borash standing by with Kurt Angle.

The TNA World Heavyweight Champion told Borash that Matt Morgan would never live up to his potential and that AJ Styles' fairytale ending would not take place tonight.

$50,000 Bounty / TNA Legend Championship Match: Kevin Nash defends against Abyss

TNA No Surrender 2009 PPV Review - Legends Title: Abyss vs. Kevin Nash
With Mick Foley joining Tazz and Tenay on commentary, 'The Monster' Abyss looked to capture the TNA Legends championship whilst Nash hoped to claim the $50,000 bounty placed on the head of his opponent by Dr Stevie.

The result was a good, hard-hitting brawl between the two behemoths that got off to a slow start before rattling towards an exciting finale which saw Stevie, Dafney and a taser getting involved. To wrap things up, Nash zapped Abyss in the goolies with the taser to win the match.
Your Winner and still TNA Legends Champion: Kevin Nash 

Afterwards, Dr. Stevie climbed into the ring to get his bag of cash back. Not surprisingly, Nash was none too thrilled about this and delivered a powerbomb before leaving with the money.

Lethal Lockdown Match: Beer Money (Robert Roode & James Storm) vs. The British Invasion (Brutus Magnus & Doug Williams) vs. Team 3D vs. Scott Steiner & Booker T

TNA No Surrender 2009 PPV Review - Lethal Lockdown
Before this match, Jeremy Borash interviewed Booker T and Scott Steiner.

In the biggest display of hypocrisy ever displayed on a wrestling show, Scott Steiner cut a barely coherent promo on the British Invasion, even going so far as to say "If you don't speak our language, get the hell out of our country." Whether or not that was supposed to be so hilarious was never quite made clear.

Yet what Steiner and Booker T lacked in delivering a sensible promo, they more than made up for in the ring as the Lethal Lockdown contest barely scraped past the earlier X-Division bout to claim match of the night honours.

Everyone worked hard to deliver a great match, but it was Beer Money who were particularly outstanding and rightfully earned their victory following a tremendous showing.
Your Winners: Beer Money 

Going backstage, Lauren interviewed a seriously angry Rhino. 'The War Machine' gave a strong, intense performance on the microphone and promised to destroy MMA 'star' Bobby Lashley in their upcoming match.

Rhino vs. Bobby Lashley 

TNA No Surrender 2009 PPV Review - Bobby Lashley vs. Rhino
Despite their best efforts, this came across as one of the weakest matches on the card. Both men tried hard, but with no real story behind them, it was hard for anyone to care.

After Rhino hit a gore and the ref took a bump, Lashley ripped off Big Show's Big Fist of Doom to win the match. Now, if Lashley was just going to use that as his finisher, why didn't he just come straight out and punch Rhino right off the opening bell instead of mucking about first? It's the same criticism your writer has of The Big Show; having a punch as a finishing move is just silly.
Your Winner: Bobby Lashley

Backstage once more, Jeremy Borash interviewed AJ Styles and Sting about their role in tonight's main event.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Kurt Angle defends against Matt Morgan, Sting, AJ Styles and Hernandez

As the four advertised competitors (Angle, Morgan, Sting and AJ Styles) were being introduced by Borash, Hernandez' music hit and he made his way to the ring looking to cash in his Feast or Fired briefcase.

Thus, the four-way battle for the biggest prize in the company turned into a five way, though Super Mex really seemed surplus to requirements and was quickly taken out by Eric Young.


That left the original four to carry the bulk of this good main event. The tensions between Angle and Morgan finally exploded whilst Sting and Styles played up their current storyline and finally got the better of the other two combatants.

The end came when Styles and Sting stood over a prone Kurt Angle in the middle of the ring. Sting left to take care of Morgan on the outside, allowing AJ to hit an impressive 450 splash from the middle of the ropes, landing squarely on Angle and pinning him for the one, two, three.
Your Winner and NEW TNA World Heavyweight Champion: AJ Styles

As confetti flooded the Impact Zone, fans flocked to the ring to celebrate with the new champion and his old friend, Christopher Daniels.

From an in-ring standpoint, TNA Wrestling's No Surrender pay per view was a good show. Even though not every match was first class, none were particularly dreadful and certainly made for an enjoyable event. Yet what really hampered this from being anything more than 'good' were the usual strange and illogical plot points and strange booking decisions.

AJ Styles as the new champion was the right move in this writer's mind and should go a long way to appeasing those fans who complain that the company never gives the younger stars a chance to shine. Hopefully, 'The Phenomenal' one will keep hold of the belt for some time, possibly even bringing the Main Event Mafia to an end during that time.



I'm slowly working my way through re-publishing all of my old TNA reviews from 2008 - 2009. For now, you can also read:

PPVS: 
TNA Impact: 
For more TNA, WCW, and WWE/WWF reviews follow Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter or hit 'like' on the brand new Facebook page.


    

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

PPV REVIEW: ECW November to Remember 1999

November 7th, 1999
Buffalo, New York

(NOTE: This ECW November to Remember review was originally written back in 2009. I recently discovered a bunch of my archived reviews and wanted to include them here on RPW, hence the introduction referencing 'ten years' and the different format from normal RPW reviews) 

Ten years (2017 update: make that 20!) to the day that Paul Heyman's Original Extreme Championship Wrestling presented the '99 version of their pay per view event, November to Remember, your favourite wrestling reviewer does just that; remembering  an event which featured Masato Tanaka challenging Mike Awesome for the ECW title and a great three-way dance between Jerry Lynn, Tajiri and Super Crazy.

Joey Styles and Cyrus the Virus opened the show

In front of a rabid crowd, ECW's legendary announcer, Joey Styles and the smooth-talking Cyrus the Virus welcomed everybody to the show before Joel Gertner arrived. Gertner did absolutely nothing of note, instead taking a back seat to the arrival of Tazz.

The Human Suplex Machine, about to embark on a career in what was then the World Wrestling Federation, was greeted by loud chants of 'You Sold Out!' from the Buffalo crowd.

Ignoring them, Taz instead turned his attentions to antagonising Styles. The announcer made the smart move and left the ring, leaving Tazz to take his frustrations out on Gertner before hyping his upcoming match with crowd-favourite Rob Van Damn.
   

Spike Dudley beat Simon Diamond 

Prior to the bout, Diamond and Dick Hertz went through an innuendo-laden promo before Jazz came out for no reason and was swiftly destroyed by Hertz.

The match itself was nothing special, with Diamond essentially brutalising his opponent throughout until Spike Dudley scored the upset with the Acid Drop.

Little Guido beat Nova

After the match, The Full Blooded Italians ran in and attacked Dudley, causing Nova to run in for the save and resulting in an impromptu match against Little Guido.

Better than the previous contest, Nova looked genuinely impressive against his diminutive opponent until Big Sal interfered on behalf of his FBI teammate and ultimately cost Nova the match.

The two men continued their assault in the post-match until Chris Chetti came to the rescue. Danny Doring and Roadkill then ran in, destroying the returning Chetti and bringing to an end the overkill of run-ins.

Honestly, if WWE or TNA presented that many pre and post-match run-ins in such quick succession, your reporter is sure that fans would hate it. But of course, this was the original ECW, who could seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of their ever-loyal fans.

 Jerry Lynn beat Yoshihiro Tajiri and Super Crazy in a Three-Way Dance. 



Tajiri was led to the ring by a wheelchair-bound Jack Victory and Steve Corino, who cut a pre-match promo putting over 'The Japanese Buzzsaw' as the 'King of the three-way dance'.

Tajiri certainly disappoint here, but neither did his opponents, Jerry Lynn and Super Crazy; the latter hitting a jaw-dropping moonsault from atop the entrance set. Unfortunately for Crazy, it wasn't enough to win the match and shortly after he was eliminated by The Japanese Buzzsaw.

Jerry Lynn eventually pinned Tajiri to end a very exciting bout that was easily the best on the card to this point.

Afterwards, Lynn was attacked by Steve Corino, but managed to overthrow his adversary and leave with his head held high.

Da Baldies (Spanish Angel, Tony Devito, P.N. News and Vito LoGrasso) beat New Jack and The Chair Swingin' Freaks (Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten) in a handicap match.

With a 4-on-2 advantage, Da Baldies wasted no time in attacking The Chair Swingin' Freaks until New Jack and his plethora of weapons came to the rescue. What followed was one of ECW's trademark out-of-control hardcore brawls that spilled all over the arena and was thus hard to keep track of.

Save for a death-defying spot in which New Jack leaped off the top of a basketball board and nearly killed himself, nothing interesting happened until Spanish Angel blasted Jack with a guitar and won the match for his team.

Sabu and Bill Alfonso Cut a promo

In a rare sombre moment for ECW, Alfonso put over Sabu's upcoming contest against Chris Candido, dedicating the bout to the memory of Sabu's recently-deceased friend.

Sabu beat Chris Candido 

Back on home turf following an ill-fated run in the WWF, the sadly-no-longer-with-us Chris Candido made his way to the ring with real life partner Tammy Lyn Sytch (who had a much better run in the big leagues as Sunny) to take on Sabu in a disappointing affair.

As one of the most popular stars in the company, Sabu had the full support of the ECW faithful behind him as he and Candido made full use of chairs and tables to beat the hell out of each other. Unfortunately, the two didn't do anything fans hadn't seen a million times before, and when Sabu finally made his opponent submit with the Camel Clutch, nobody cared.

Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka warmed up

Backstage, Tanaka stopped running on a treadmill long enough to tell Mike Awesome that he would take his title. Awesome, busy working on his arms, replied by threatening to break Tanaka's back.

Mike Awesome beat Masato Tanaka to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship

With Judge Jeff Jones in his corner, champion Awesome successfully defended his title against Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling's Masato Tanaka in the best match on the card.

The two behemoths collided in a hard-hitting battle with some high-flying action which belied their well-built frames, and after withstanding some brutal punishment at the hands of the challenger, Awesome finally beat his foe with a top-rope Awesome Bomb.

Rob Van Dam beat Taz to retain the ECW World Television Championship

Hoping to leave the company with some gold around his waist, a WWF-bound Taz met Rob 'Mr. Pay Per View' Van Dan in a decent bout. The challenger looked to be on form too, dominating the bulk of the contest with some heavy-handed offence. Ultimately, however, it was Van Dam who left with the title after beating Taz thanks to the Five-Star Frog Splash.

Afterwards, a departing Taz showed his respect to the champion, slapping hands with Van Dam and shaking hands with the Television Champion's manager, Bill Alfonso.

Rhyno and The Impact Players (Lance Storm and Justin Credible) beat The Sandman and ECW Tag Team Champions, Raven and Tommy Dreamer. 



For most of its tenure, and certainly afterwards, Raven, Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman were the true embodiment of Extreme Championship Wrestling, and seeing all three on the same team was a huge attraction for this pay per view.

Their opponents, Lance Storm, Justin Credible and Rhyno were the newcomers on the scene and out to make a name for themselves.

The Sandman, making his return to the company followed a disastrous run in World Championship Wrestling, takes more time to get to the ring than the actual match lasts for; soaking up the adulation from the fans before joining his partners to take on the Impact Players and Rhino.

The match itself was decent enough, though hardly fitting of a true main event performance and after ten minutes of action, Raven turned on The Sandman, drilling him with a Singapore Cane shot that allowed Justin Credible to pick up the victory for his team.

This event would ultimately prove to be ECW's penultimate November to Remember event. The group presented one more in 2000 before eventually being taken over by the global wrestling powerhouse that is World Wrestling Entertainment.

Thankfully, the final outing for November to Remember was a much better send off for the pay per view, as despite a couple of great bouts, the 1999 version was ultimately nothing special.

For more ECW, WWE, WCW, and TNA reviews follow Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter or like the new Facebook page.

   
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

PPV Review: WCW NWO Souled 1997

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Event Poster
January 25, 1997
Five Seasons Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Having dominated the professional wrestling landscape throughout the second half of 1996, there was no doubting that the New World Order was the hottest thing in professional wrestling. 

With this angle alone, WCW had cemented their reputation as the number one professional wrestling company of the 1990s, kicking off the decade's biggest boom period.

So you can understand the reasoning of WCW Executive Vice President and on-screen nWo boss Eric Bischoff when he created an entire Pay Per View centered exclusively around the nWo.

It was, in theory, a good idea, and at first glance, nWo Souled Out certainly looked a hell of a lot different than your typical pro wrestling event. Yet in a classic example of style of substance, the cool aesthetic of this show didn't exactly translate into quality, nor buyrates for that matter.

Here's what went down at the first -and only- NWO Souled Out, live from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Renegades Arrive 

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review -  Syxx
Our show tonight began with the arrival of the New World Order, traveling into the arena among a convoy of what I'm pretty sure were garbage trucks.

Ambulances ran along side, sirens blazed, and members of the nWo shouted and hollered as though they were having the time of their lives.

At one point, Syxx ran behind one of the garbage trucks and yelled 'look at me!' but then didn't actually do anything cool, or anything at all for that matter, so who knows what that was about.

The whole thing was shot in some murky, black-d and-white tone, really creating the impression that what we were witnessing here was the arrival of an apocalypse.

We Are In Control 

In many ways, it was.

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Eric Bischoff & Ted Dibiase commentated on the event
As we went to a pre-tapes vignette that saw Eric Bischoff ranting from a podium and other members of the nWo all shouting out various sound bites, it became obvious that what we were watching here was supposed to be a revolution: the death of pro wrestling as we knew it, and the birth of something altogether brand new.

Five minutes into this thing, the show finally cut to the arena, where Bischoff stood aloft the same podium as in the opening promo.

It was, admittedly, pretty sweet looking.

Things then got real boring, real quick, as nothing happened for several minutes apart from Easy E basking in the glory of his own creation. Finally, he was joined on commentary by Ted Dibiase, and we had ourselves our first contest.

Chris Jericho vs. Masahiro Chono 

As the two wrestlers made their way to the ring, we were shown a bunch of overweight bikers hanging around the entrance way, apparently to create the impression that this event was edgy and bad ass.


We were also shown a couple of average looking housewives hanging out on motorcycles. Apparently, these were 'babes.'

This must have been some different variation of the word 'babe' that I hadn't heard of because these girls were anything but.

As the match itself, it was about as good as it could be given the overall distraction of this whole event basically being one big gimmick.

Towards the start, Eric Bischoff noted on commentary just how successful the end had proven to be, and how they didn't have to give away tickets for free just to get people to come, a clear dig at the WWF Royal Rumble 1997 held the previous week which was famous for being heavily papered.

Whilst that was funny, the rest of the pro-nWo stuff quickly stopped being entertaining, and took away from what was otherwise a good opening match.

In the end, Chris Jericho got pushed off the top through a table on the outside, then kicked in the head and pinned by Masahiro Chono to make it nWo 1 - 0 WCW tonight.
Your Winner: Masahiro Chono


   

I should also point out that half way through that match, a bunch of WCW stars including Harlem Heat and Sister Sherri, Brian Knobs, The Faces of Fear, Arn Anderson, Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, and Debra McMichael all made their way out and took seats at ringside.

Crowning Miss nWo

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Jeff Katz interviews a Miss nWo Contestant
Up next, Eric Bischoff showed us photographs of some of the many women who had applied to be part of the Miss nWo contest. All the while, the crowd chanted 'boring, boring.'

They were right. It was.

Finally, Bischoff sent us to Jeff Katz, who asked two of the contestants a question each, both questions laden with sexual innuendo.

The women clearly hadn't bee told what to say, so they simply blushed and barely said anything at all.

Mexican Death Match Hugh Morrus (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Big Bubba

Though slow and sloppy in parts, this one did have its moments, and certainly wasn't the worst match ever.

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Big Bubba faced Hugh Morrus in a Mexican Death Match
That, however, is about the best I can say about it.

In the end, Big Bubba ran Hugh Morrus over with a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Seriously.

Morrus couldn't get to his feet before the count of ten, so this one was over.
Your Winner: Big Bubba 

Prior to the next match, Jeff Katz spoke to some more housewives on motorbikes.

Eric and Ted then told us about the nWo website, and with that, it was back to the ring.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Michael Wallstreet 

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Debra McMichael watched Jeff Jarrett from the crowd
This was a mostly boring match that was only made interesting by Debra McMichael spending most of it trying to convince hubby Mongo to help out Jeff Jarrett.

Eventually, he did, drilling Michael Wallstreet with his briefcase then threatening to beat up Nick Patrick if he didn't make the pin.

As such, Jarrett got the win to put the scores at nWo 2 - 1 WCW.
Your Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Afterwards, Debra declared Jarrett the winner whilst Arn Anderson looked on disapprovingly.

More Miss nWo nonsense followed, and then it was on to our next match.

Buff Bagwell vs. Scotty Riggs 

As parts of the whole anti-WCW gimmick, the good guys didn't have music, which of course denied us the chance to hear one of the greatest themes of all time:


That, however, was the least of anyone's problems with this match.

Though it did have its moments, the bout between the two tag team partners went about twice as long as it needed to.

To make matters worse,  the majority of this one was shot using a shaky, poor-quality camera that the production crew had been cutting to intermittently throughout the show.

Ted Dibiase tried to pass this off as some new, cutting edge filming technique, but honestly, it just looked dreadful.

In the end, Buff Bagwell debuted his new finisher, The Buff Blockbuster, hit Scotty Riggs with it, and scored the pin fall.
Your Winner: Buff Bagwell

Between that and the next match, the Miss nWo segments continued to get worse.

Not only could none of the women actually hear Jeff Katz, but it became very apparent that, even if they could, they'd never be able to respond to his suggestive questioning with anything like the kind of answers he was looking for due to this being a PG show and all.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Scott 'Flash' Norton

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Diamond Dallas Page faced Scott 'Flash' Norton
Having courted Diamond Dallas Page for months, the New World Order finally offered him membership on a recent episode of Nitro.

Page had faked joining, only to turn his back on the renegade outfit and cement the babyface turn that would catapult him to stardom.

Tonight, the nWo had sent Scott 'Flash' Norton out to get revenge in this rather nondescript little match.

Like much on this card, it wasn't exactly terrible, just not very interesting, either.

Towards the finish, DDP hit the Diamond Cutter, which prompted Buff Bagwell, flanked by Vincent, Michael Wallstreet, and Big Bubba, to come out and offer Page a second chance to join them.

In an exact repeat of the first time this happened on Nitro, Page faked joining and even put on an nWo t-shirt, but then hit Norton with another Diamond Cutter, beat up the nWo B-team, and ran off into the crowd.

Nick Patrick -who really deserved MVP of the night status- told us that he was awarded the match to Norton via count-out, and this one was done.
Your Winner Via Count Out: Scott Norton

Post match, an irate Buff yelled that Page would never get another chance to join them.

More Jeff Katz nonsense followed before we moved quickly onto our next match.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner)

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - The Outsiders defended the tag titles against The Steiner Brothers
Finally, we got ourselves a pretty enjoyable match.

OK, this wasn't exactly a masterpiece of technical wrestling, but both members of The Steiner Brothers and Scott Hall all showed up with their working boots on, whilst you have to  give at least a smidgen of credit to Kevin Nash who, despite being the weak link here, at least did an impressive job of selling some heavy Steiner suplexes.

Save for an extended period in the middle of the match that saw Rick Steiner playing the babyface-in-peril which bored the hell out of everybody in the arena (and yours truly), this was mostly fun to watch.

The end came when Nick Patrick took a tumble, Scott Steiner got the better of Scott Hall, and WCW official Randy Anderson ran from his seat into the crowd to count the pinfall.
Your Winners and New WCW Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers

Afterwards, Eric Bischoff ranted about what a great injustice this was and how he was going to get it cleared up with the WCW Championship Committee. Bischoff would indeed reverse the decision on Nitro, but for now it was certainly a great moment on an otherwise tedious show.

Ladder Match for the WCW United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Syxx

The story here was that Eddie Guerrero had won the vacant US title in a tournament final back at Starrcade 96, only for Syxx to come down, steal the belt, and declare himself the champion.

So, after the anonymous ring announcer introduced the actual champion as 'The Mexican Jumping Bean Eddie Guerrero' (gotta love some casual racism, right guys?) he then announced Syxx as 'The United States Champion of The World,' which was obviously dumb.


That aside, this was, not too surprisingly, the best match on the show so far by a million miles, and also one of the best of Sean Waltman's entire career.

A series of jaw-dropping aerial moves combined with some punishing ladder spots made this a joy to watch.

In the end, both men tussled for the title atop the ladder before Eddie hit Syxx square in the face with it, then kept the belt to win the match.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Eddie Guerrero

Afterwards, Eddie celebrated like he'd just won the belt for the first time, then headed into the crowd to share the glory with Brian Knobs, Arn Anderson, and The Faces of Fear.

Miss nWo Pageant

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Miss Lorie was a Miss nWo finalist
I always try to err on the side of optimism with these reviews, but even I don't have anything good to say about this.

It was just dumb.

None of the women really looked like they had a clue why they were there, and mostly just gurned awkwardly for the camera whilst Eric Bischoff took half a millennia to tell us that the least attractive woman there had won it. Bischoff then proceeded to snog the face off the woman in a move that was just too odd for words.

The woman then took her 'throne,' which was quite literally a toilet painted black and decorated with nWo logos.

Moving swiftly on

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant

Back at World War 3 1996, The Giant won a title shot against Hollywood Hulk Hogan.

This caused tension and meant that The Giant became the first person to leave the nWo after just a short period with the group.


Tonight was that shot and, for all intents and purposes, it was your typical Hulk Hogan main event - not the worst thing ever, but hardly enthralling stuff either.

After a few minutes of mediocre action, The Giant chokeslammed Hogan. Nick Patrick refused to count the pin, so The Giant chokeslammed him too.

This brought out Buff Bagwell and a bunch of nWo members, all of whom got more chokeslams.

Hulk Hogan then attacked his rival with a guitar, and this one was apparently over.
No Contest

Afterwards, the nWo spray painted their logo on The Giant's ass then randomly yelled stuff at the camera until the show went off the air.

---

And so the nWo Pay per View experiment came to an end. After everything I've said so far, you'd probably expect me to recommend avoiding this one, but that's not the case. 

Despite everything, NWO Souled Out 1997 is worth watching at least once, just for the novelty value, just don't expect to be entertained by much of what goes on in the ring. 

Indeed, the premise was solid here, but the execution was, sadly, piss poor. 

That being said, credit does have to be given to one Nick Patrick, who not only referred every single match on the card but did so with a charisma and enthusiasm that was unmatched, even among WCW's more animated referees. 

    

Next time, we'll go back to the WWF for In Your House: Final Four, before returning to WCW with Superbrawl VII. To keep up with all the latest reviews at Retro Pro Wrestling, like the Facebook page or follow along on Twitter @Retropwrestling

1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF Royal Rumble 1997

Thursday, 26 October 2017

PPV REVIEW: TNA Hard Justice 2009

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review
Sunday, August 16th, 2009
Orlando, Florida

With the Main Event Mafia’s stranglehold on the company still as strong as ever, Eric Young’s World Elite faction adding further dissension amongst the roster and The Blueprint Matt Morgan heading to the main event, the stars of TNA look to settle scores and end wars as Hard Justice comes live from the Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida.

(NOTE: This review was originally written at the time that TNA: Hard Justice originally aired in August, 2009. I found a bunch of my old TNA reviews in my archives recently and wanted to share them on RPW, so here we are.) 

Here’s how this one went down:


X-Division #1 Contender's Steel Asylum Match: Suicide vs. Chris Sabin vs. Amazing Red vs. Alex Shelley vs. Jay Lethal vs. Daniels vs. Consequences Creed vs. Dinero

The good thing about these multi-man X-Division matches is that you always know more or less what to expect; a bunch of crazy spots strung together some exciting aerial action all set to the usual soundtrack of ‘This is Awesome!’ chants.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that; there are very few better ways to get a crowd pumped up and ready for the show by throwing together your most innovative-yet-underutilized wrestlers into a thrilling spotfest.

And that’s exactly what this is; a fun and exciting spotfest which comes to a close when Daniels escapes the confines of the cage to win the contest.

Oh, and for those of you paying attention at home, Dinero is none other than former WWE could-have-been, Elijah Burke.
Your Winner: Daniels

In the post-match, Daniels gives a strong performance on the microphone as he makes his intentions clear; he’s coming after that X belt.

Cameras then head backstage, where Matt Morgan vows to capture the TNA World Heavyweight Title in his triple threat match against Sting and reigning champion Kurt Angle.


Bounty Match: Jethro Holiday vs. Abyss

JethroRemember when I used to be called Trevor Murdoch in WWEHoliday looks to claim the big reward offered by Dr. Stevie for the total annihilation of The Monster Abyss in a mediocre match.

Not surprisingly, he fails.

After several minutes of average action which really struggles to really crank it up a gear, Abyss lands the Black Hole Slam for the one, two and three.
Your Winner: Abyss

After the match, Holiday receives a telling off from Dr. Stevie, and responds in kind by decking him.

Battle for the Feast or Fired Brief Case: Rob Terry vs. Hernandez

Britain’s own Rob Terry puts the Feast or Fired briefcase containing a World Heavyweight Title shot on the line against crowd favourite Hernandez in a short and sweet squash match.

Prior to the opening bell, Hernandez takes to the mic to remind everyone of his Latin American heritage. Then, he takes out Brutus Magnus and Doug Williams and pins Big Rob in about two seconds.
Your Winner: Hernandez

Backstage, Lauren interviews Beer Money Inc. James Storm and Bobby Roode promise to halt the British Invasion.

IWGP Tag Team Championship Match: Beer Money Inc. vs. British Invasion (champions)

It’s always a pleasure to watch Robert Roode and James Storm compete, and tonight is no different as they challenge the team of Brutus Magnus and Doug Williams for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s version of the tag team titles.

With World Elite leader, Eric Young, on commentary and a brilliant chant from the crowd aimed at the Brits (which sadly can’t be printed!), the four men enter into a spirited performance before Young assists his stablemates in picking up the win.
Your Winners and Still IWGP Tag Team Champions: British Invasion

Feeling somewhat annoyed by all this, Beer Money beat everyone up in the post-match.

Backstage, Cody Deaner and ODB hype the next contest with a forgettable turn on the microphone.

   

TNA Knockouts Championship: ODB w/ Cody Deaner vs. Angelina Love (champion) w/ Velvet Sky & Madison Rayne

There probably isn’t a wrestling fan in the world who doesn’t enjoy watching the TNA Knockouts going at it in the six-sided ring.

Since the formation of the division, the likes of ODB, Awesome Kong and, of course, The Beautiful People have proven to be a breath of fresh air when it comes to women’s wrestling in the states; providing a viable alternative to the ‘smart, sexy and powerful’ (similarly, there probably isn’t a wrestling fan in the world who thinks that is a good strap-line) Divas of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Yet your writer is fairly confident that people would like them even more if they were just allowed to go at it in straight, no-nonsense wrestling matches without any complications or confusions.

As it is, this match is full of both, and it really detracts from an otherwise enjoyable spot of wrestling.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been paying much attention to Impact lately and have lost some of the story along the way, but it never seems to be made clear whether this is actually supposed to be a tag match, or whether it just happens to descend into one by way default.

Either way, some bodged interference from Madison Rayne allows Cody Deaner to get the roll up on Velvet Sky and we have a new Knockouts champion. Is it Deaner? Is it ODB? I honestly couldn’t tell you.
Your Winner and New TNA Knockouts Champion: Either Cody Deaner or ODB

Afterwards, the Beautiful People argue about who’s to blame for the loss. Love and Sky apparently decide it’s all Rayne’s fault.

X-Division Championship Match: Samoa Joe vs. Homicide (champion) 

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review: Samoe Joe vs. Homicide - X Division Title
These two have had some tremendous battles back in their Ring of Honor days, and not surprisingly they put on one of the best matches of the card thus far.

That’s not to say this a classic by any means, but it’s certainly an engrossing contest in which the smaller champion does his best to avoid being destroyed by his much larger challenger.

He doesn’t succeed, however, and Samoa Joe leaves the Impact Zone as your new TNA X-Division Champion.
Your Winner and New X-Division Champion: Samoa Joe.

Backstage, Kurt Angle invites himself into Matt Morgan’s dressing room. The Blueprint is less than thrilled about this, though when Angle promises him a spot in the Main Event Mafia on the provision that one of the two of them leaves with the strap, he seems happy enough.

TNA Tag Team Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match: Team 3D vs. Scott Steiner & Booker T

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review: Team 3D vs. Booker T & Scott Steiner - TNA Tag Titles
On paper, this match has everything you could ask for; four of the most celebrated tag team wrestlers going at it in a wild, arena-wild brawl for the gold.

In practice, however, it sadly fails to live up to expectations.

Sure, things start off strong, and it looks to be an exciting contest, but it just seems as though they were given too much time to kill and, as such, it’s very easy to lose interest about halfway through.

Things pick up towards the finish though, and following a double-pin, a look the video footage gives the nod to the Main Event Mafia boys.
Your Winners and Still TNA Tag Team Champions: Scott Steiner and Booker T. 

Backstage, TNA Legends Champion, Mick Foley, runs down the differences between himself and challenger, Kevin Nash.

TNA Legends Championship: Kevin Nash vs. Mick Foley (champion)

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review: Kevin Nash vs. Mick Foley -TNA Legends Title
Given the advancing years of a champion and challenger who are both more or less past their prime, it’s surprising that this hard-hitting contest is much better than expected.

In a brutal bout with blood, barbed wire and chair-bashing galore, the two veterans battle back and forth before interference from Main Event Mafia girl, Traci Brooks helps Kevin Nash regain the gold.
Your Winner and New TNA Legends Champion: Kevin Nash 

In the post-match, the new champion continues his assault on Foley until, in a bizarre twist, Abyss runs out for the save.

Afterwards, in the back, Lauren interviews Sting, who hypes tonight’s main event.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat Match: Matt Morgan vs. Sting vs. Kurt Angle

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review: Sting vs. Kurt Angle vs. Matt Morgan -TNA World Title
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the main event of the evening as young up-and-comer, Matt Morgan tries to overthrow the two veterans en route to being crowned new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

Yet after battling his way through a good, but not great, match and working hard to prove that he deserves to be on the same level as Angle and Sting, The Blueprint, unfortunately, comes a cropper on the wrong side of a Kurt Angle chair shot and takes the pin from the Olympic Gold Medallist.
Your Winner and Still TNA World Heavyweight Champion:  Kurt Angle

Despite all the criticisms levelled at TNA’s product, you have to give the group credit for knowing how to present a pay per view. 

A stacked card with a solid match-promo-match structure helps TNA’s PPV offerings to come across as big events which are above and beyond merely an extended edition of their Impact TV show. 

Yet all the wonderful presentation in the world can’t distract from the fairly lacklustre action. 

None of the matches on tonight’s show were particularly bad, and even the confuddling Knockouts Championship match was saved by the fact that, well, it’s the Knockouts (seriously, devote the first hour of Impact to the Beautiful People playing chess, and your reporter would be just as happy), but almost all of them seemed to be lacking that certain special something you’d expect from a pay per view event. 

Which is a shame, because TNA really are not quite as bad as everyone makes out. Then again, they could be so much better. 


I'm slowly working my way through re-publishing all of my old TNA reviews from 2008 - 2009. For now, you can also read:

For more TNA, WCW, and WWE/WWF reviews follow Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter or hit 'like' on the brand new Facebook page.


   

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1997

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Event poster
January 19, 1997
Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas

By the time 1997 rolled around, the World Wrestling Federation found itself at the receiving end of a creative and financial ass-whooping from nearest rivals, World Championship Wrestling. 

Over the course of the new year, McMahon's sports entertainment empire would begin planning for their triumphant comeback by shifting closer and closer towards an edgier, PG14 product that we would all come to know as the infamous Attitude Era.

Yet at the 1997 Royal Rumble, all of that still seemed very, very far away.

A far cry from the adult-orientated programming we'd be watching by the end of the year, our first big event of 1997 found itself in an awkward and uncomfortable position between the family-friendly New Generation of old and the X-Rated Attitude Era that was to come.

Did that make for a good show?

Let's head down to the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas to find out.

Shawn Michaels is a Man  

Tonight's show began with an opening video in which a deep, foreboding voice told us that whilst Shawn Michaels was once a cocky, abrasive youth looking to realize his boyhood dream, he was coming back to San Antonio tonight as a fully grown man, ready to reclaim his title.

That led us to the opening pyro, and a presentation which honestly looked better than many WWF pay per views had in the past.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and Jerry 'The King' Lawler did commentary
Vince McMahon was our lead announcer tonight, introducing us first to his co-commentators Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, and then to our Spanish and French announce teams, the latter of which was made up of the father and son duo of Raymond Rougeau and Jacques Rougeau Sr.

For some reason, all the announce tables had little flags to show which country they were representing. It was a small thing, but it did make a nice touch.

With all that out of the way, it was on to our opening contest.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Mr. Hughes) vs. Goldust (w/ Marlena) 

Prior to this one starting, Todd Pettengill voiced a video package which told the story how this match came about.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Hunter Hearst Helmsley defended the WWF Intercontinental title against Goldust
Basically, we had Jerry Lawler being homophobic and outright asking Goldust if he was 'queer' (because being gay was still weird in the 90s you see), Goldust said no, and clocked Lawler, which made him a babyface.

Meanwhile, Hunter Hearst Helmsley decided that he wanted Marlena. When she turned him down, he just tried to kidnap her instead.

Seriously.

This all led to tonight's opening match, complete Mr. Hughes in the short-lived role as Hunter's pre-Chyna bodyguard.

The bout itself was mostly long and dull, as though both men had been given a lot of time to kill but neither wanted to use much energy so that they could still compete in the Royal Rumble match later.

After what felt like an eternity, Hughes distracted Goldust so that Helmsley could knock him down, drill him with the Pedigree, and win the match.

Honestly, the only good thing about this whole thing was that you could see Marlena's nipples pressing through her top. I'm sorry. I'm a pervert.
Your Winner and Still WWE Intercontinental Champion: Hunter Hearst Helmsley 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Bret Hart vowed to win this year's Royal Rumble match
Before our next match, we got pre-recorded comments from Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, and Mankind.

The former promised to win the Royal Rumble, whilst the latter claimed to be interested only in beating up a lot of people in the big match.

Farooq (w/ Clarence Mason, and The Nation of Domination) vs. Ahmed Johnson 

This was a fun, big man brawl that entertained without doing anything spectacular.

After some decent back-and-forth action, The Nation of Domination ran in to stop Farooq from getting his ass kicked, causing him to get DQ'd instead.
Your Winner via DQ: Ahmed Johnson 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Farooq and Ahmed Johnson continued their rivalry
Post match, Ahmed chased off members of The Nation and Pearl River Plunged one unknown random member off the ring steps and through the French announce table. To be fair, that was pretty awesome.

Terry Funk is From Texas 

In another pre-recorded clip, Terry Funk said that even though there were bigger wrestlers, stronger wrestlers,  faster and younger wrestlers than himself, he was from Texas.

I think he meant that he was going to win the Royal Rumble, but this was never really explained.

Farooq is Angry 

Backstage, Farooq yelled at The Nation and promised to beat up Ahmed Johnson in the Royal Rumble match later, because Uncle Tom, or something.

I don't know, this was garbage.

Vader vs. The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - The Undertaker faced Vader
These two would have a much better match later on in the year when Vader challenged The Undertaker for the WWF title at Canadian Stampede.

If you really want to see these two go at it, that's the one to watch because this one wasn't very good at all.

Like the opening contest, it was mostly long and dull, only getting exciting when Paul Bearer showed up.

That was the cue for the action to spill to the outside, where Bearer leaped off the apron and nailed The Undertaker with the urn. Vader then dragged his foe into the ring, hit him with the Vader Bomb, and pinned him.

Thus we had the start of Paul Bearer managing Vader, a move that would also see The Mastodon in a Tag Team with Mankind.
Your Winner: Vader 

Afterwards, The Undertaker was pissed off at his loss, so he chokeslammed the referee, destroyed a bunch of furniture at ringside, then yelled at Vince McMahon.

   

Steve Austin is Taking Out The Trash 

Backstage, Steve Austin told the cameramen off for being where they didn't belong and said that he was going to toss '29 pieces of trash' over the top rope tonight.

The British Bulldog is Bizarre

God bless Davey Boy Smith. This still cracks me up even today.


H├ęctor Garza, Perro Aguayo, and Canek vs. Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal, and Fuerza Guerrera

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - AAA's luchadores competed in a 3 vs. 3 match
'Only in the World Wrestling Federation can you see a spectacle like this,' said Vince McMahon, despite taking the idea to book a bunch of AAA's luchadors directly from WCW.

Unfortunately, McMahon didn't seem to give a damn about this one, and neither did the San Antonio crowd.

Despite all six men trying to engage the fans, everything they did was met with silence, something which really took a shine off the whole thing.

After several minutes of spots that lacked any rhyme, reason, or purpose, Perro Aguyo hit Heavy Metal with a double stomp off the top rope to win the match for his team.
Your Winners: Perro Aguyo, Canek, Hector Garza

Finally, after Vince shilled next month's In Your House PPV and Howard Finkle told us that the attendance was 60,477, it was time for tonight's Rumble match.

1997 Royal Rumble Match 30 Man Battle Royal Featuring: Crush, Ahmed Johnson, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin, British Bulldog, Owen Hart, The Sultan, Terry Funk, and more 

Defying the odds, Nation of Domination member Crush and The Nation's arch-rival, Ahmed Johnson drew numbers 1 and 2 respectively.

The two kicked things off with a wild brawl, which was only briefly interrupted by the arrival of Fake Razor Ramon at number 3. Ahmed quickly eliminated The Bad Guy, then eliminated himself by jumping over the top rope and chasing after Farooq, who had just appeared in the entrance.


Crush stood there shaking his head as though saying 'lol, what a dickhead,' before Phineas I. Godwin came down to kick things off again.

Steve Austin entered at number five, and it was here where things started to get interesting. Phineas eliminated Crush, Austin eliminated Phineas, and then it was time for Bart Gunn to come in, get his ass kicked, and get thrown out again.

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts suffered the same fate, and it wasn't until the arrival of The British Bulldog that we started to get your typical rumble match.

Other highlights from the 1997 Royal Rumble included:
  • Owen Hart 'accidentally' eliminating The British Bulldog
  • Mill Mascaras stupidly eliminating himself by diving off the top rope onto the outside to attack Pierroth and Cybernetico
  • Ahmed Johnson chasing off Farooq with a 2x4 that was so big it would make Hacksaw Jim Duggan jealous.

After a while, Austin found himself as once again the only man in the ring and quickly disposed of Savio Vega and Jesse James (Road Dogg) before coming face to face with Bret Hart.


It was only at this point that the Rumble match began to pick up steam, with the likes of Vader, The Undertaker, Mankind, Rocky Maivia, Terry Funk, and Fake Diesel also getting involved.

Towards the finish, Funk and Mankind had both been eliminated and were brawling on the outside. This distracted the attention of all the referees so that they didn't see Bret eliminate Austin.


Stone Cold was then able to slip back in, eliminate everyone who was left, and win one of the most boring and uneventful Royal Rumble matches in history.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Afterwards, Bret Hart was so irate that he yelled at the referees and Vince McMahon, much as The Undertaker had done earlier.

Crunch Time

Prior to our main event, we were shown an awesome video package which showed us how Sid had beaten Shawn Michaels for the WWF title at Survivor Series 1996, and all the events that had led up to tonight's rematch.

That took us to a promo recorded on WWF  Superstars from earlier that day in which HBK said that he had the flu, but that when it came to the crunch, he would be ready to beat Sid and get his title back.

World Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Championship
WWF World Heavyweight Champion Sid vs. Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario)

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Shawn Michaels beat Sid for the WWF Championship
There's no fancy or elaborate way to explain say it - this match sucked.

The majority of the contest was simply big Sid wearing down the challenger before HBK made an exciting comeback towards the finish and captured his second WWF Championship for what would prove to be a very short-lived run indeed.

So yeah, not the greatest main event in the world, and certainly not the greatest start to 1997, but don't worry folks, things would eventually get much, much better.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels

Afterwards, the new champion celebrated his title victory with what seemed like the entire city of San Antonio, basking in the adoration of his hometown crowd until the show went off the air.

   

Overall then, that was a disappointing start to a brand new year of World Wrestling Federation Per Per Views. 

Many have lauded 1997 as a great year for pro wrestling, but what a lot of those fans seem to forget, is that all the really good stuff didn't come until at least the summer. At the Royal Rumble, all we got was a bunch of dull, disappointing, and completely underwhelming matches. 

Thank goodness that the year was going to get a hell of a lot better. 

Next time, it'll be the turn of World Championship Wrestling's nWo Souled Out experiment, before we return to the World Wrestling Federation for In Your House: Final 4. Don't miss any new Retro Pro Wrestling Review by following along on Twitter @Retropwrestling or liking the RPW Facebook page.

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.