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, 15 February 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Slamboree 1997

May 18, 1997
Independence Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina.

One of the negative aspects of reviewing pro wrestling shows that took place at the height of the 90s boom period is that you don't experience quite the same level of excitement as you did when you originally lived through it. 

Sure, we can talk over and over again about what a great time 1997 was to be a fan -and it was, trust me, I lived it- but you don't really feel it the way you used to.

Thankfully, WCW Slamboree 1997 looked set to change that by presenting a stacked card that combined all the best elements of the companies product at the time, from adrenalin charged cruiserweight matches and top international talent to legendary gimmicks like The Four Horsemen and the New World Order.

Was all that enough to create a show that really stood the test of time and delivered the same level of excitement 20 years later?

Let's head down to Flair Country to find out.

Some Footballers Are Here 

Tonight's opening video focussed on the rivalry between Steve 'Mongo' McMichael and Reggie White, and tonight's main event, which saw Kevin Greene team up with the man he faced a year earlier, Ric Flair, and Rowdy Roddy Piper to take on Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Syxx.

That took us to Tony Schiavone, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, who also gave plenty of attention to the two matches featuring football players.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW Television Champion Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Steven Regal 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Steven Regal bt. Ultimo Dragon for the TV title
Apparently, Steven Regal no longer wanted to be called a lord, because his nobility should be taken as a given, or something to that effect.

Here, he challenged Ultimo (not Ultimate) Dragon for the Television Championship which Dragon won from Prince Iaukea on the Monday Nitro following last month's Spring Stampede 1997.

As opening matches go, they don't come much better than this one.

With a red hot crowd firmly into every single move, Regal played the babyface role against the defending champion in an absolute belter of a match.

The action went back and forth several times before spilling to the outside, where Dragon nailed the challenger with the Asaii Moonsault.

From there, Sonny Onoo got a couple of shots on Regal before 'accidentally' nailing Ultimo Dragon with a round-house kick.

As the announcers debated whether or not Onoo had intended to kick his own man or not, Regal slapped on the Regal Stretch and won his fourth television championship.
Your Winner and New Television Champion: Steven Regal 

Post match, Regal celebrated whilst Onoo addressed the camera, claiming that he could break Champions just as easy as he could make them.

Women's Grudge Match
Luna Vachon vs. Madusa 

Here, Luna Vachon was billed as hailing from 'The Other Side of Darkness,' which I'm assuming was somewhere near 'The Outer Reaches Of Your Mind,' just left of Parts Unknown.

By the way, isn't the other side of darkness just, you know, light?

Anyway, Luna went after Madusa in a reasonably fun, yet short and instantly forgettable match.

The two put on a good show for the time they were allotted before Madusa nailed her rival with a truly beautiful bridging German Suplex for the three count.

Weirdly, Madusa slapped Luna's ass as the ref counted three.
Your Winner: Madusa 

Out in the entrance way, Mean Gene Okerlund urged us to call the WCW Hotline to find out who might be leaving WCW before he was rudely interrupted by Macho Man Randy Savage and Elizabeth.

Savage and DDP Want to Kill Each Other 

The nWo power couple stormed to ringside, where Savage, in his usual manic style, put over his fellow stablemates and claimed that Diamond Dallas Page wanted no part of him.

Page argued otherwise, coming through the crowd wielding the same damaged crutch that Savage had previously used to attack DDP with.

Savage bailed, but after consorting with his nWo colleagues, charged into the ring, quickly followed by VincentEric Bischoff, and Buff Bagwell.

Page took out all three, but was felled by a kidney shot courtesy of Scott Norton.

The New World Order then attacked, only for The Giant to come out for the big save.

Talk about intense, that was a terrific angle that really made you want to see Page and Savage tear into each other one more time.

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Yuji Yasuraoka

I'm not the biggest fan of Japanese wrestling, so I hadn't heard of Yuji Yasuraoka before watching this show, but apparently, he tagged with Lance Storm in WAR and retired after a short career to become a motorcycle mechanic.

Here, he went up against Rey Mysterio Jr. in a match that went a little too long and dragged in some parts but was very good in others.

Naturally, Mysterio picked up the win, moving one step closer to another shot against Syxx for the Cruiserweight title.
Your Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr.

Wasting no time, we went straight to our next match.


Mortis (w/ James Vanderberg) vs. Glacier 

This rematch from Uncensored 1997 didn't last long before Wrath came out and destroyed Glacier, leading to the disqualification.
Your Winner via DQ: Glacier 

Afterwards, Wrath and Mortis spent about three decades beating down on Glacier until a 'fan' (later revealed to be karate champion Ernest Miller) came out for the save.

This was boring as hell.

Mean Gene shilled the Hotline some more before it was on to our next match.

World Championship Wrestling United States Heavyweight Championship
WCW United States Champion Dean Malenko vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra McMichael) 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra) faced Dean Malenko
As with most matches on the card so far, this one was given plenty of time to deliver and deliver it did.

Trading hold after hold and counter after counter, both Jeff Jarrett and champion Dean Malenko put on a very good performance in a match which only got better the longer it went on.

After an epic battle, Steve 'Mongo' McMichael came to ringside to tend to Jarrett, who was writhing in agony at ringside.

Mongo took his wife by the hand and escorted her backstage, but not before throwing Double J back in the ring, where he quickly succumbed to Malenko's Texas Cloverleaf.
Your Winner and Still United States Champion: Dean Malenko 

Let's keep going...

Death Match
Meng vs. Chris Benoit (w/ Woman) 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Meng (w/ Jimmy Hart) faced Chris Benoit in a death match
The rules here were non-existent. No pinfalls, no DQ, no count out, the match continues until one man can no longer continue.

If you were expecting such a stipulation to result in an ECW style, weapon-filled brawl to rival Chris Benoit's epic matches with Kevin Sullivan, you may be disappointed.

This wasn't that kind of match, but it was very good; a solid outing from two hard-hitters who basically just beat the crap out of each other until it was time to go home.

At that point, Meng grabbed Benoit in the Tongan Death Grip and won the match.
Your Winner: Meng 

Afterwards, Woman and a bunch of officials checked in on Benoit, who was totally out of it.

A promo for next month's Great American Bash followed before we went back to ringside for our next match.

The Dungeon of Doom (Konnan and Hugh Morrus w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - The Steiner Brothers faced Konnan & Hugh Morrus
By this point, I'm starting to think that there isn't a bad match on this card.

Sure, Dungeon of Doom vs. The Steiners wasn't the highlight of the night, but it was still a very fun tag bout which certainly deserved a place on this show.

After several minutes of enjoyable action, Scott Steiner planted Hugh Morrus with the Frankensteiner. Rick made the cover, and that was that.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers 

Afterwards, Konnan turned on his partner and beat him up, much to the confusion and frustration of Jimmy Hart.

Battle of the Super Bowl Champions
Steve 'Mongo' McMichael (w/ Debra McMichael) vs. Reggie White (w/ Some Guy) 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Debra McMichael, Steve McMichael, Jeff JarrettThe best thing I can say about this is that it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Sure, Reggie White's offence looked like garbage, but when it was left to Mongo to control the match, it was actually reasonably entertaining for a while.

In fact, if they'd just made this about five minutes or so shorter, I would have told you I'd enjoyed the whole thing. Instead, it went on too long and I quickly lost interest.

Mongo won when one of Reggie's team mates stopped him from using the metal briefcase on Reggie, so Jeff Jarrett came out and give him another one, because apparently they just carried a whole bunch of them around with them.

A three count later, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Steve 'Mongo' McMichael 

The Four Horsemen members celebrated before we cut to Michael Buffer for our main event, or what Buffer called our 'Super Match of the Evening.' 

Anything Goes Six Man Match
The NWO Wolfpac (WCW Tag Team Champions Scott Hall & Kevin Nash, and WCW Cruiserweight Champion Syxx) vs. Kevin Greene, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and The Nature Boy Ric Flair

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Ric Flair teamed with Roddy Piper & Kevin Greene to face the nWo Wolfpac
With a white hot crowd solidly behind him, hometown hero Ric Flair wrestled his first match of 1997 in a genuinely enthralling main event.

Teaming with Rowdy Roddy Piper and pro footballer Kevin Greene, Flair led his men into battle against Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Syxx, and the results were brilliant.

Things were kept relatively simple, but that worked perfectly for this one.

After a veg enjoyable contest, referee Randy Anderson took a tumble, causing former nWo referee Nick Patrick to come out.

Flair slapped Hall in figure four, Piper put Nash to sleep, and Greene hit Syxx with a running shoulder breaker.

Patrick counted to three, and this one was over.
Your Winners: Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Kevin Greene 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was all she wrote for what happened to be one of the best pay per views of 1997.


So, did WCW Slamboree 1997 stand the test of time? Was it enough to rekindle that passion and excitement that we all felt back in the late-90s pro wrestling boom? 

Close enough. 

This was a very fun show from start to finish and one of the best PPVs of 1997 up to that point. There was barely a bad match on the card, whilst the variety of styles and the perfect blend of all the things that made WCW such a hot commodity in the 1990s took centre stage. 

I feel like I haven't said this in a long time, but this one was definitely worth watching. 

1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

WWF Superstars: Wrestlemania - The Album (1993) - A Track by Track Review

WWF Superstars - Wrestlemania - The Album (1993) Album cover

Today is a sad day for me. After the longest time, I'm finally getting rid of the two vintage cassette recorders from the late 70s/early 80s that I've held onto forever for no apparent reason.

I can't tell you it has anything to do with sentimental value - I wasn't born until 1984.

Nor can I tell you that it has anything to do with sound quality. Trust me, vinyl this is not.

But for some reason, I've held onto these things forever, and now it's time to let go.

Before I do, however, I just had to do one thing - give my official Wrestlemania - The Album cassette -yes, cassette, look it up kids- one last listen.

WWF Superstars - Wrestlemania - The Album (1993) on cassette

Bizarrely, given how utterly terrible it is (and we'll get to that in a moment), Wrestlemania - The Album, was a top ten hit here in the UK, despite going nowhere in the US Billboard charts.

Perhaps it's success on British shores had as much to do with the company's popularity over here at the time (this was, remember, not that long after Summerslam 1992 at Wembley Arena), as well as the names behind the product.

Simon Cowell, better known today for being mean to crappy singers on The X-Factor and American Idol served as your executive producer, whilst Mike Stock and Pete Waterman (of the famous Stock, Aitken, and Waterman songwriting trio) put the same talents to work that had previously helped them develop hits for Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, and a slew of other 80s/early 90s popsters.

The resulting album was, quite frankly, odd as hell, but don't just take my word for it.

Join me, as I take one last listen to Wrestlemania - The Album in this track-by-track review.

1) Wrestlemania - WWF Superstars

And so, in a reverse from tradition, we get our main event of the evening first.

Wrestlemania wasn't only one of the two singles from the album, nor was it merely the one song  nor was it the one song that -in its instrumental form- would go on to become synonymous with Wrestlemania all the way through to 1998 (and later enjoy a second life as Linda McMahon's theme tune).

It was also -and I say this with complete sincerity- the best song on the album.

Look, I know that's not saying much, but here's the thing:

It simply isn't fair to review Wrestlemania in the same way as you might review say, Michael Jackson's Thriller or Metallica's Master of Puppets. This isn't music created for purposes of artistic expression or anything like that.

No, it's a straight-up novelty pop record designed to cash in on whatever popularity the World Wrestling Federation had left at the end of 1992 when this was recorded, and early 1993 when it was released.

As novelty pop records go, I have to admit, Wrestlemania is a pretty catchy little number, with a memorable chorus and the kind of guitar riff that, once you've heard it, you can never quite get out of your head completely.

Lyrically, this one is obviously nothing to write home about.

Apart from random catchphrases and threats shouted out by a crew including WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, The Nasty Boys, Macho Man Randy Savage, The Big Boss Man, and Tatanka, all we got here was a refrain of "Wrestlemania, yeah, this is our lives," which is meaningless and dumb, and also a brief bit of equally meaningless rapping.

To be fair though, a cameo from some no-name rapper was required by law to be in every pop song ever back in the early 1990s, so you have to cut them some slack.

Of note here, of course, is that this song about Wrestlemania starts off with a guy asking us if we're ready for The Survivor Series, and The Nasty Boys telling us that we were gonna get 'nasty stuff' down our throats throughout 1993.

Quite apart from being gross, Sags and Knobs would be gone from the WWF by April of that year.


2) Slam Jam - WWF Superstars

Our second single follows a very similar formula to the first one: Take one lively guitar track, add some generic backing singers chanting "woah-oh" and sprinkle a bunch of wrestlers shouting at each other. Finish off with that legally-required rapping we talked about, and apparently, that was enough to create a single.

This time, our wrestling group included The Hitman, Savage, The Undertaker, and The British Bulldog, who had gone from the company by the time of the record's release.

Slam Jam may not be as memorable as the more well-known Wrestlemania theme, but compared to what was about to follow, it was certainly the best thing on the entire album.

And yes, for those of you wondering if I'd mention it - there was indeed a Slam Jam album released by WCW in 1992, and I'll be getting to that in a few weeks time.

Don't want to miss it? Follow Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter and I'll let you know when the WCW Slam Jam review is published! 

3) USA - Hacksaw Jim Duggan 

What I think happened here, is that the producers had taken one of Hacksaw Jim Duggan's promos (in which he talks about being nervous backstage but then going out to the ring and beating people up), recorded it, spliced it up and loaded it into a sampler, then blindfolded each other and slapped the sampler at random intervals.

If you want a better way to describe this one, try this:

Remember that time Peter Griffin became a club DJ on Family Guy? It's like that, except twice as cringeworthy and not half as funny.

I mean OK, I know I said that this was basically a novelty pop record and shouldn't be judged by the same standards of, well, an actual album, but even by novelty pop record standards, this was terrible.

4) The Nasty Boys - Nasty Boys Stomp

"The Nasty Boys are just plain nasty," says Bobby Heenan as this obvious Janet Jackson rip-off gets underway.

You know, as I've been reviewing old pro wrestling shows for Retro Pro Wrestling, I've always had to stop myself from making off-colour comments about The Nasty Boys and all their talk of being 'nasty.'

But here, I can no longer contain myself. As an adult, I have a whole different idea of what the word 'nasty' means, and to hear two grown-ups spouting it off as often as Knobs and Saggs do is both hilarious and disgusting in equal measure.

As for the song itself, despite the blatant attempt to get as close to Miss. Jackson's big hit as they can without paying her anything, this actually turns out to be one of the better pop songs on the album.

Again, however, that's not actually saying very much.

5) Bret 'The Hitman' Hart - Never Been a Right Time to Say Goodbye 

Here, we get Stock/Aitken/Waterman's typical fare:

Synth-heavy pop concerning matters of the heart. This time, however, the vocals are delivered by a sombre-sounding Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

I can't even begin to describe how many things are wrong with this song.

For one thing, it sounds incredibly dated, even for 1993. It's as though the producers dug out something they'd discarded back in the mid-1980s, polished it up and had Bret Hart talk all over it.

Even back in the 1980s, this would have been terrible, but here on a wrestling album, it served only as a complete WTF moment -and yes, that's after several minutes of two grown men promising to do -ahem- nasty stuff to you.

This was obviously an attempt to make top babyface Bret Hart sound like a caring, sensitive kinda guy.

Instead, it made him sound like a complete doofus.

6) The Undertaker - The Man in Black 

Honestly, I've just sat here for the last couple of minutes laughing my ass off at this so-bad-its-brilliant track.

Bringing side one of this cassette to an end, this is part Addams family, part Nintendo game soundtrack, but 100% funky.

Yes, funky.

For a song about The Undertaker.

You know, Mr. Doom And Gloom?

The Dead Man?

The guy who goes on and on about harvesting souls and rising from the dead and all that stuff?

Yep, here The Man in Black tries to be as frightening as he can be, even going so far as to threaten us with embalming, but the music is just so darn lively and upbeat that it's hard to take this one seriously.

It's like the intro to the Addams Family if said intro had been recorded on LSD by a bunch of happy hippies.

I might not recommend Wrestlemania - The Album for much, but I do recommend you get this song just for the comedy value. Hillarious.

Side two....

7) Randy Savage (Macho Man) - Speaking From The Heart

What? Don't look at me, Randy Savage (Macho Man) is exactly how his name is written in all the liner notes for the album.

Here, Randy Savage (Macho Man) cuts a bunch of his typically out-there promos over a hip-hop beat and a gushing chorus which goes a little something like this:

He gets your heart up pumping, he gets the party jumping, he’s the Macho Man! Everybody saying, he’s really quite amazing, he’s the Macho Man!

All the while the music comes across like something left over from The Bart Man (remember that?).

I'm not even sure what to make of this song. I don't get why it's called Speaking From The Heart, especially when you've got Bret Hart right there to make the obvious pun, but hey, we'll let that go and leave with this:

This is actually fun in a typically early-90s cheesy fashion.

8) Tatanka - Tatanka Native America

You'll notice that this is called Tatanka Native America, and not American. Quite why it wasn't just called Tatanka - Buffalo! is beyond me, because that's basically all you get here for a couple of minutes.

Of course, this song needs no introduction. Tatanka (BUFFALO!) has become a running joke on one of my favourite websites, Wrestlecrap, and it's all because of this one song, this one, long song, this one, long, repetitive song.

This one, long, repetitive, boring song.

This one, long...well, you get the picture right?

It's as if the producers already begun to lose the will to live here and were just trying to hurry up, get it done, and go home.

9) Mr. Perfect - I'm Perfect

"Mr. Perfect, Mr. Perfect, Mr. Perfect, I'm perfect!"

Imagine that, repeated for a couple of minutes over a disco remix of Hennig's famous WWF theme, and that's basically what you've got here. Just that, over and over again with Perfect occasionally bragging about being perfect.

I swear, this album just gets harder and harder to listen to as it goes on.

10) Crush - Cold Crush 

This ode to the former Demolition member followed the exact same formula used throughout this album:

Drop a funky disco beat and randomly play soundbites of the wrestler in question over the top of it.

This time, the soundbites had Crush telling us that the competition was getting tougher in the World Wrestling Federation, but that he was loving every minute of it.

To put it bluntly, it was stupid and instantly forgettable.

11) The Big Boss Man - Hard Times

I was actually looking forward to this one, believing that this was going to be just the Boss Man's original theme.

Instead, it was a disco remix of it with a random guitar solo just dumped haphazardly over the top of it. Of course, we got some Bossman soundbites, with the big man telling us about the importance of respecting law and order and such.

Again, you start to get the distinct impression that the record makers were rapidly running out of what few ideas they'd had to begin with here, making the second half of this album almost intolerable.

12) Slam Jam 12"

I'm not making any jokes about a 12-inch slam jam, that stuff writes itself.

Here, we get the greatest evidence which exists that those involved in making this record had just about had enough of it. Instead of a new track or even a different version of Slam Jam, we get a slightly -and I do mean slightly- modified version of the original.

And that, my friends, is that.

Remember, that this was a cash-in, not a straight-up music album, so you have to cut it some slack, but apart from the catchy Wrestlemania single and that hilariously upbeat Undertaker track (why they didn't call it The Dead Man Jam is anyone's guess), this was largely terrible.

What I don't get is who would listen to this and when?

I mean, it's not 'driving in the car' music and it's certainly not 'rocking out at home' music. It's more 'play once and go LOL' music. Now that I'm finally getting rid of my old tape recorders, I guess it will be played no more. 

Thanks for reading. If you're looking for more pro wrestling album reviews, you might enjoy: 

As I mentioned earlier in this piece, my next pro wrestling music review will be WCW's 1992 effort - Slam Jam.

Don't miss that, or any other Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following @Retropwrestling on Twitter or liking the Facebook page

Thursday, 1 February 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day In Hell

WWE / WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell - Event poster
May 11, 1997, 
Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia

Since breaking free from the shackles of The Ringmaster gimmick, Stone Cold Steve Austin had been a slow and steady rise through the ranks of the World Wrestling Federation. 

By the spring of 1997, the absolute pinnacle of Austin's meteoric rise to stardom was still the better part of a year away.

Yet if there was ever a sign that the WWF was considering Austin as 'the man,' it came tonight, as he headlined his first pay per view against reigning champion, The Undertaker.

How did Austin do in his first high profile title match?

Let's head down to Richmond, Virginia to find out.

It's a Cold Day in Hell 

WWE/ WWF - In Your House 15: Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler
We started with the obligatory awesome video package, this one making tonight's world title fight between WWF Champion The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin seem like something straight out of the most macabre horror movie you ever read.

The video did a great job of getting us psyched for the big main event tonight. Afterwards, Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler hyped not only the main event, but the In-ring debut of Ken Shamrock, and Ahmed Johnson running the gauntlet against the Nation of Domination.

With that, it was onto our opening match.

Flash Funk vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) 

WWE/ WWF - In Your House 15: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) faced Flas Funk
According to the announcers, Flash Funk hadn't bought The Funkettes to ringside because they were afraid of Chyna.

Not that it made much of a difference. The outcome of this one was always inevitable, with Hunter Hearst Helmsley regaining his momentum following his post-Curtain Call spell in the company dog house and Flash Funk being, well, Flash Funk.

Still, whilst the result may have been predictable, the two men did at least give us a reasonable show before we got there.

Hunter was at the phase of his career in which he was evolving -ever so slowly and ever so subtly- away from the Greenwich Snob gimmick he'd debuted with, and beginning to show some of the smarmy arrogance that was the stock-in-trade of the original D-Generation-X.

Tonight, the former Intercontinental Champion dominated proceedings, giving his opponent a few opportunities to dazzle us with some unique -for 1997 WWF- offence before cutting him off with a crappy looking Pedigree for the three count.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley 

Afterwards, Chyna picked up he defeated Funk and dropped him onto the ropes like a sack of crap. Funk sold his poor, aching crotch, then collapsed to the outside in comically over-the-top fashion.

Ken Shamrock is In the Zone 

WWE/ WWF - In Your House 15: Ken Shamrock cuts a backstage promo on Vader
Earlier tonight, Vader and Mankind had attacked Ken Shamrock.

Now, Shamrock -in the most monotone, lifeless promo ever, told us that he didn't really care about that. He was in his zone and ready to go to war.

Prior to the promo, JR and King showed us some footage of Shamrock in the 'Ultimate Fighting World,' which was always how the WWF referred to the UFC, as though it were some magical realm where guys just randomly beat each other up in cages all the time.

Rocky Sucks 

Displaying none of the confidence natural charisma that would eventually make him famous, Rocky Maivia flubbed his way through a terrible promo in which he spoke to Todd Pettengill about losing the Intercontinental title to Owen Hart.

Rocky told us that he'd learned a lot since joining the World Wrestling Federation, though apparently, he hadn't learned that it's generally a good idea to hype your upcoming match in a pre-match promo because he didn't here.


Mankind vs. Rocky Maivia

Mankind was without Paul Bearer here as Bearer was still out of commission, selling the fireball
WWE / WWF - In Your House: A Cold day in Hell - Todd Pettengill interviews Rocky Maivia
to the face that he received from The Undertaker at the previous month's In Your House: Revenge Of The Taker.

Much as with Rocky's pre-match promo, this match was nothing like the kind of thing we'd get when the two were the biggest stars in the company.

Rather, it was a whole bunch of 'meh' broken up by one cool spot when Rocky drilled Mankind with the Rock Bottom on the steel entrance ramp.

Speaking of the ramp, this was the first PPV to feature it as part of the set.

Anyway, Mankind won with the mandible claw and nobody cared.
Your Winner: Mankind 

Prior to our next match, Ahmed Johnson garbled out some kind of promo in which he said that he really just wanted to fight Farooq tonight and didn't care about fighting Crush and Savio Vega as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the same man who issued a challenge to all three men only a few weeks ago.

Gauntlet Match
Ahmed Johnson vs. Savio Vega, Crush, and Farooq (w/ The Nation of Domination) 

WWE / WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell - Ahmed Johnson interviewed by Todd Pettengill
Prior to this one getting underway, WWF President Gorilla Monsoon ordered the Nation to leave ringside, but allowed to stay at the top of the ramp, a difference of probably no more than 20ft.

Crush was up first and held his own against the Man Whose Trunks Would Always Ride Up His Ass, putting on a reasonable show before Ahmed inevitably picked up the first win.

Savio Vega then hobbled to ringside, selling an ankle injury which he immediately forgot about when he hit the ring.

Vega too was eliminated, but this time by Disqualification after beating up Ahmed with a steel chair.

The damage was enough for Farooq to come down and pick up the pieces, eventually winning the match after surviving a Pearl River Plunge, kicking out and hitting his own finisher, whatever that was called.
Your Winner: Farooq 

Before our next match, we were reminded of the rivalry between Vader and Ken Shamrock. Vader that spoke with Todd Pettengill backstage, saying that even though ABC had called Shamrock 'The World's Most Dangerous Man,' they didn't say anything about the World Wrestling Federation, because apparently, the WWF was a separate entity from the actual planet or something.

Vader also said that Shamrock knew nothing of pain and that it was time, Vader Time, and time for our next match.

No Holds Barred
Vader vs. Ken Shamrock 

WWE / WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell - Shamrock vs. Vader
Taking their cues directly from MMA -sorry, Ultimate Fighting World- a win here was by knockout or submission only.

As such, the match was fought more in the style of an MMA fight than a pro wrestling match and suffered because of it.

It was too long, had no flow to it, and delivered barely any excitement.

If you're genuinely a fan of UFC and the like, you'll probably enjoy this. If you're like me and just enjoy pro wrestling, you probably won't.

Unsurprisingly, Ken Shamrock won with the ankle lock.
Your Winner: Ken Shamrock 

Before we got to our main event, Stone Cold Steve Austin said that he didn't give a damn that there were five empty seats at ringside, reserved for The Hart Foundation, because that would just make it easier for all of them to get their asses kicked.

World Wrestling Federation Championship.
WWF Champion The Undertaker vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell - The Undertaker vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Naturally, The Hart Foundation made their presence felt here, taking their seats for what I'm told was a very good match.

You see, even though I've read a lot of praise for this match, there was a spot where Austin had the Champion in a headlock for what felt like about 10 minutes that just killed it for me.

From there, no matter what these two did, this fan just couldn't get back into it.

In the end, Austin nailed 'Taker with he Stone Cold Stunner and looked to have the match won until Brian Pillman caused the distraction by ringing the bell.

The Undertaker recovered, hit the Tombstone Piledriver, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: The Undertaker 

Afterwards, The Hart Foundation ran in and attacked The Undertaker, leaving Stone Cold free to go after Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, who was still sat in the crowd in a wheelchair after recently having knee surgery.

Austin pushed Bret out of his chair, stole his crutch, and then cleaned house with it.

To finish, he drilled Undertaker with the Stone Cold Stunner, then went after the Hart Foundation as they high-tailed it backstage.


Like many In Your House events, this one wasn't the most important one in the world. Every match was immediately forgettable, all with one notable exception:

The main event. Even still, for whatever reason, Undertaker/Austin I didn't quite do it for this writer. 

Still, that's not to say there's no reason at all to watch this show. If for nothing else, it's worth at least a casual glance to see the continuing evolution of Triple H and The Rock. 

I'll have some more of them at another time. Until then, thanks for reading. 

1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
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Monday, 29 January 2018

WWE Royal Rumble 2018 - What I Learned as A Cynical, Old-School Fan

2018 Royal Rumble Review
I sometimes feel that I'm too old to be watching wrestling. 

I don't mean that I feel any embarrassment about spending my spare time running this blog, or even that I should put a hold on my goal to watch and review every WWE pay per view from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. I enjoy this. It's harmless escapism and something that I still find myself oddly passionate about even 25 years after I first started watching.

No, it's more that I feel like the aging rocker who just doesn't get all this new-fangled noise the kids are into, I feel like the product, in an effort to reinvent itself and appeal to a younger audience, has evolved into an entirely different beast than the one I'm familiar with from my own youth and has -dare I say it- passed me by.

I turn 34 this year. I run a full-time business, I have family, relationships, a home to run and bills to pay. I don't even have time to keep up with Raw and Smackdown every week, let alone NXT, and 'The Indies' are like some magical Narnia that I've only ever glimpsed at from outside the wadrobe without ever really stepping foot inside.

I don't know what 'strong style' is or why that weird gremlin-looking guy is the king of it.

I don't know when it became normal for wrestlers to pretend to hate each other for two hours on TV but then 30 minutes later share Instagram pics about what an honour it is to be working together.

I don't know when the object of pro wrestling became about "tearing the house down" and not, you know, winning matches.

Every year I commit to staying up until 4AM to watch the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania (ask any fan from the UK, that's never easy), and every year the cast of characters that I actually find it possible to become emotionally invested in gets smaller and smaller.

I start thinking that it's time to call time on this weird and wonderful little hobby of mine. That I should just stick to occasionally reviewing old Clash of the Champions shows and leave the kids to their Alexa Blisses and their Shinske Nakawhatsisfaces.

Then I stay up one last time for the 2018 Royal Rumble, and WWE puts on a show that reminds me why I still do this whole staying-up-all-night watching wrestling thing:

Because when its done right, there's nothing else on earth like it.

No movie, no TV show, theatre performance or video game can take such an immediate and vice-like hold on the emotions and drag them along the proverbial rollercoaster with such heart-pounding intensity that within the space of half an hour you find yourself going from not recognising who any of the characters are to bouncing on the edge of your seat, utterly desperate to see them overcome the odds.

The characters may have changed, the presentation may be entirely different, and the memory of kayfabe may turn in its grave every time a pro wrestler updades their Instagram account, but if the Royal Rumble taught me anything last night, it's that, when you strip all of that away, pro wrestling is still capable of telling some incredibly captivating stories.

Here's a few of my thoughts on the stories that were told last night.


This is where my Angry Old Man Who Doesn't Understand Youth Culture thing really flares up.

The lack of a crowd really killed the opening six-man match, though I'm not sure how much better it would have been had there been a roaring audience of thousands passionately cheering on every move. It was like watching a bunch of guys just playing wrestling amongst themselves whilst nobody paid attention.

Very weird.

I don't really get the appeal of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, and I'll be honest, I had no idea who The Revival were, but I will be paying more attention to them. I thought this match was pretty fun, though again it was just something that happened in the background to kill time before the main show started.

The Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley thing felt the same way, though I must admit, I've always liked Bobby Roode since his days playing a rich guy gimmick in TNA. His entrance proved to be the best part of the match, and just watching it made me glad to see a guy I've cheered on for years doing so well.

Mojo Rawley on the other hand, is just awkward. Watching him, I always get this uncomfortable sense that the guy's own body doesn't quite fit him properly, and I don't get what he has to offer other than being tall.

WWE Championship match 

I saw WWE get a lot of backlash on Twitter for putting this match on first, as though AJ, Owens, and Zayn were somehow being relegated to curtain-jerker status.

I may have had some issues with the layout of the card early on in the night, but this one wasn't one of them.

As became glaringly apparent after the men's Rumble match, pacing is vital to keeping the crowds emotionally invested, and kicking off the show was the perfect way to ensure this one got the crowd at their hottest and most lively.

Had they put the handicap match anywhere else on the card, it risked either playing out to a dead crowd or at the very least losing its significance among a crowd of other marquee contests.

As it was, the opening segment was ideal and created a match which I felt was pretty underwhelming to begin with, heated up with some pretty exciting spots, and then ruined somewhat by the ridiculous "Zayn can't reach Owens to make the tag" spot.

I'm not saying the ending was bad, given the story they'll no doubt tell on Smackdown (Aj didn't pin the wrong guy, ergo, this ain't over!), but the actual spot with Zayn trying to make the tag was as unconvincing as those Sasha Banks kicks to Lita later on in the Rumble - talk about breaking suspension of disbelief.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship 

Overall, I thought this was a fun match with a bizarre ending. I get that bucking the trend can add that element of unpredictability, but I really felt that these two teams could have been given more time to tell the usual two-out-of-three-falls story of both sides scoring a pin and going to the tie, and make it work.

Still, it was enjoyable for what it was, and further helped convince this old-timer that some things never change - great wrestling can still capture the imagination and provide a level of excitement that no other form of entertainment - live or otherwise- can match.

Men's Royal Rumble 

As you might have gathered by now, I'm an old-school guy. So when they announced that the classic 30-man battle royal was kicking off in the first hour of the show, I was convinced that it was stripping the event of all its mystique, and that yes, this pro wrestling stuff really had evolved to a point that it was completely unrecognisable from the product I used to love.

When the entrants started coming in thick and fast, I even complained that the whole thing was being rushed, taking the shine off the event even further.

Then the match went on, and on, and the longer it went, the more utterly enthralling it became.

Royal Rumbles of the past few years have become a lot more dynamic, interesting, and spot-based than the "let's just all hang out by the ropes brawling for an hour" stuff that I remember from being a kid - and that's a good thing.

Most of this stuff was a joy to watch, and when it came down to that "Old school vs. New Blood" staredown between Cena/Orton/Mysterio and Reigns/Balor/Nakamura, I genuinely got chills.

From that moment on, I was hooked in a way that I haven't been hooked on a pro wrestling match in a long time.

Every moment as they worked down from the final six to Nakamura winning the whole thing was a pure work of art.

I honestly didn't care who won (I don't think Reigns is as bad as all the hate he receives would warrant), but the story they told was truly captivating, and it was this that made me realise that yes, pro wrestling was something that was still worth staying up all night for.

Raw Tag Team championship 

You could have put Undertaker vs. Cena, AJ vs. Nakamura, or just about any dream match you could think of in this spot and it still would have been met with the same level of apathy from a burned out crowd that this one did.

The lack of any reaction for this match was more a compliment to the emotional rollercoaster of the Rumble match and not a criticism on what was otherwise a decent effort from all concerned.

Call me optimistic, but I don't believe that the outcome leads to Rollins vs. Jordon at Wrestlemania, either. In an ideal world, I think Rollins vs. Jordon at Elimination Chamber, followed by a big return to the ring for Kurt Angle to take on Rollins on The Grandest Stage of Them All makes much more sense.

Universal Championship 

I've never cared much for Kane and Brock Lesnar, though I admit I do find Braun Strowman impressive.

This match was exactly what everyone thought it was going to be and what it really needed to be - short and destructive.

Title matches at Royal Rumbles always have the weird distinction of being "just another match" and not the marquee attraction they would be on any other show, so I don't feel bad that this wasn't my favourite thing on the show.

Women's Royal Rumble 

Last but not least, this wasn't just a good women's Royal Rumble match, it was a good Royal Rumble match period.

Though it lacked a lot of the nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat stuff until the final moments, I thought this was a very compelling and wonderfully entertaining contest.

Admittedly, I wasn't into the Ronda Rousey stuff, mainly because I have no interest in MMA and don't get why she's a big deal, but also because the whole "Point to the Wrestlemania Sign" stuff is already overplayed, and Ronda's take on it just seemed very forced and unnatural.

Still, the actual Rumble match was a great end to great show which proved to a cynical old fan like me that, whether I continue watching or not, pro wrestling is going to continue to be the most engrossing, emotionally-charged form of entertainment there is.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Album Review: WWF - Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2 (1987) - A Track-by-Track Review

Album REVIEW: WWF: Piledriver - The Wrestling Album II

Not to be confused with the Status Quo album of the same name, WWF Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II was the 1987 follow-up to the World Wrestling Federation's first foray into the popular music market, The Wrestling Album.

Unlike its predecessor, Piledriver lacked the 'tween-song banter between commentators Vince McMahon, Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, and Mean Gene Okerlund, but made up for it in spades with a collection of some of the 1980s most popular WWF theme tunes, two of which just happen to be among this writer's all-time favourites.

But hey, I'm getting ahead of myself, but first, it's time to go track-by-track through the good, the bad, and the ugly of Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II.

When I say track-by-track, I mean through the actual music album, not the accompanying video album that was so well covered by Wrestlecrap.

I'm obviously not going to try and compete with the mastery of Wrestlecrap, but what I am going to do, is give you my own take on all ten songs that make up this little gem of an album.

And it is a gem, too. Here's why.

1: Robbie Dupree & Strike Force - Girls in Cars 

To this day, I still haven't worked out if Tito Santana and Rick Martel had some kind of sexual fetish for females in automobiles, or if they just liked the reassurance that they could always get a lift home.

Whatever the case may be, here they 'teamed up' with one-time Grammy Award-nominated performer Robbie Dupree to profess their love of girls in cars.

I say 'teamed up' like that because this song was 100% Dupree, who had a top ten Billboard hit in 1980 called Steal Away.

That song is pretty much the most awful thing I've ever heard, but Girls in Cars...

Well...Girls in Cars is probably one of the catchiest songs ever committed to record.

And I hate saying that, because the first time I heard this song I hated it...

It was so..80s! So outdated and cheesy and blah, yet the more I listen to it, the more I find myself going about my day merrily singing its irresistible chorus.

I wonder if Santana & Martel had the same problem when they used the track as their theme music during their run together?

If they didn't, I bet Jimmy Hart certainly did.

In an oft-forgotten classic, Jimmy performed the song live at the 1987 Slammy Awards and the results were..well..take a look:

It's up to you:

Shall we talk about the wildly out-of-time dancing first? or the fact that a performance of a song called Girls in cars featured girls on bicycles and roller skates?

What's that?

You'd rather just move on to the next song?

You and me both.


2: Koko B. Ware - Piledriver

Still on the subject of Jimmy Hart for a moment - it was only this week that I actually learned that he didn't sing this song, but that WWE Hall of Famer Koko B. Ware did.

I mean sure, it's obvious *now* that there's no way those could be The Mouth of the South's distinctive vocals, but for the longest time I listened to this without paying any attention to the track listing, so there you go.

As most long-time fans (or at least most fans who read that Wrestlecrap piece) know, the song sees Koko crooning over some upbeat jazz-pop in an effort to inform us that love, that most complex and overwhelming of emotions, isn't always a good thing.

Sometimes, Koko tell us, it feels fake, like a great big mistake, and sometimes, apparently, love even feels like getting dropped on your head by a pro wrestler like a piledriver.

We can mock the lyrical content of this one all we want, but let's be honest, much like Girls in Cars, Piledriver is a pretty catchy jam in its own right.

I don't know about you, but I can't help but bust a little move or two whenever Koko starts telling me that love 'sounds like an ah-goo-ment.'

3: The Honky Tonk Man  - Honky Tonk Man 

He's cool, he's cocky, he's b-b-b-bad, and here he sings the iconic theme tune that would follow him to arenas across the country for the remainder of his WWF run.

I can't say I was ever a huge fan of the Honky Tonk Man, but I do have to admit that his entrance was always one of the best parts of his performance, and this swaggering rock 'n' roll number is a huge part of the reason why.

I'm only disappointed that, in the video for the song, Peggy Sue was played by an actual cute blonde, and not Sensational Sherri in a blonde wig as was the case when HTM defended the WWF Intercontinental Championship against Brutus Beefcake at Wrestlemania IV.

That aside, this is a fun song, though -like most wrestling themes from this era- not the sort of thing you're going to pop on your iPod and take everywhere with you.  What you absolutely should do, however, is watch this video of Honky performing his theme tune at the 1987 Slammy Awards, with Jesse Ventura on piano and a hilarious cameo from The Hart Foundation.

I swear, that might be one of the greatest things I've ever seen.

4: Derringer - Demolition 

Having played such a vital role in the success of The Wrestling Album, Derringer returned to his rightful place as King of the 80s Wrestling Themes with one of the most memorable riffs in sports entertainment.

Not content to give us the iconic Real American, Derringer turned up his guitar to go full-on metal to make sure that two of his themes from that time period would still be regarded as among wrestling's best-ever themes even several decades later.

And this is -no doubt about it- one of the best wrestling themes ever recorded.

Of course, as a metalhead at heart, I'm likely to say that, but even if you're not, there's no denying that the crushing riff, menacing beat and threatening vocals were just perfect for Ax & Smash (and later Crush, too, I suppose).

By the way, did you know that -prior to Piledriver's release- Ax & Smash had used a different, vocal-less version of their famous theme, apparently recorded by Jimmy Hart?

No? Me neither.

5: Slick - Jive Soul Bro 

Remember earlier? When I said that Piledriver had produced two of my all-time favourite WWF wrestling themes?

Demolition's theme was one, the other was this - Jive Soul Bro. 

For the unfamiliar, Jive Soul Bro is the story of The Doctor of Style trying to convince us that he really is a good guy despite being a liar and a bit of a sex pest.

Though I doubt there's any way that they could get away with putting out a song like this today, it isn't the lyrical content that makes this one so fun - it's Slick's delivery, perfectly encapsulating everything that made his character so wonderfully entertaining back in the 1980s.

Honestly, The Slickster is as hilarious here on this song as he was that time at the 1989 Royal Rumble when he got Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase confused with 'homebody Ted what does my shoeshine.'

6: Jimmy Hart - Crank it Up 

Demolition and Jive Soul Bro may be my personal favourite themes from this album, but there's no disputing the fact that -in terms of pure musical quality- Crank it Up is one of the best things on the album.

Fusing the spirit of The Beastie Boys' Fight For Your Right (To Party) with an insatiable refrain and unbridled enthusiasm, Crank it Up could have been a hit single in its own right, even in a mainstream pop/rock market that rarely wanted much to do with fake wrestling.

So it's strange then, that of all the songs on the album, this is only one of two that didn't get its own video.

Still, at least The Mouth of The South did get some mileage out of one of the best songs he'd ever written: He led The Hart Foundation into a feud with The Young Stallions (Jim Powers & Paul Roma) over who got to use the track as their theme music.

Fortunately, The  Young Stallions won.

I mean seriously, can you imagine how different Bret Hart's career might have been if he'd started his career with an upbeat party track rather than his own famous theme tune?

7: Hillbilly Jim & Gertrude - Waking Up Alone 

Serious question now: 

Does anybody know anything about who Gertrude was? I've spent far too much time trying to find out who Hillbilly Jim debuted with on his second wrestling album appearance, and can't find even a scrap of information. 

You know what though?

It actually doesn't surprise me. If I'd played any part in this horrible, horrible song, I'd make sure nobody could ever find me, either. 

The song sees Jim and his mystery singing partner crooning over an acoustic-led soft-rock ballad about the loneliness that can haunt a working pro wrestler on the road.

"By God, I'm tough. Lord knows I'm big and strong," he croons with 100% sincerity, "but nothing hurts as much as waking up alone." 

Much as I did with The Wrestling Album, I'm trying to approach this one as more of a novelty thing than a serious artistic endeavour, but even keeping that in mind, Waking Up Alone is one novelty this writer can well do without.

8: Vince McMahon - Stand Back

Back in the late 90s, the original D-Generation-X made fun of Vince McMahon for performing this song at the 1987 Slammy Awards.

Truth is, McMahon had nothing to be embarrassed out - he delivered a solid performance on a song which, if it wasn't written specifically for him, was absolutely perfect for him.

Growling in a way that made you think he was going to yell "YOU'RE FIRRRRRRRRRRRRRED!" at any moment, the most powerful man in pro wrestling got on down with his bad self whilst warning all of us (especially his competition) that he had big plans to reach the top, and could not be stopped.

OK, so the song may be a little outdated 30 years later, but it's still an awful lot of fun to listen to, and so perfect for McMahon.

9: Mean Gene Okerlund & Derringer - Rock and Roll, Hoochie

As we've already established, Rick Derringer was an integral part of the original Wrestling Album, whilst Mean Gene's take on Little Richard proved to be a highlight of that very same album.

So it simply made sense here to team the two up for what was once again an album standout.

Keeping up the harder-edged rock/metal sound that had permeated the album so far, Rock 'n' Roll, Hoochie Coo saw the WWF announcer taking lead vocals on one of Derringer's most popular tracks whilst the man himself blasted out a fearsome riff and sang backing.

It's a joy to listen to, and like Crank it Up, the kind of thing you wouldn't be embarrassed to listen to in a non-wrestling environment.


10: WWF Superstars - If You Only Knew

Last but by no means least, we end with a big sing-along featuring most of the World Wrestling Federation roster from that time.

A thousand times better than Land of 1,000 Dances, this rap-lite R&B jam saw the likes of Hulk Hogan, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Ted Dibiase and others making vague threats to beat up other people.

Some of the lyrics are questionable sure ("I've got some real bad news," / "And it may involve your body"), but for a novelty pop song performed by a bunch of pro wrestlers, If You Only Knew is a fine way to end the album.

100% a product of its era, Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II has the 1980s written all over it, but the likes of Crank it Up and Rock 'n' Roll, Hoochie Koo still stand out as great tracks in their own right, even as I write this at the end of 2017.

Even if you're not a fan of those tracks, there's no denying that the album was an important landmark in the evolution of Vince McMahon's sports entertainment vision, giving us a number of memorable theme tunes which remain iconic to this day.  


Thanks for reading. Next time I review anything music-related, it will be a track-by-track review of the terrible pop-attrocity that was 1993's Wrestlemania: The Album

Don't miss that, or any other Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following @Retropwrestling on Twitter or liking the 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.