Sunday, 1 March 2015

Retro Pro Wrestling Show - Episode 1: WWF 1992 - The Year in Review

From Ric Flair capturing his first World Wrestling Federation title at the Royal Rumble, to Bret Hart defending that same championship against Shawn Michaels at the Survivor Series, it's all here in the first episode of the Retro Pro Wrestling Show. 

The what now? 

OK, let me explain a little. For the longest time, I've wanted to expand on the stuff I write here at Retro Pro Wrestling, and perhaps do a little video here or there. I toyed around with a few ideas, but it was only recently that I got the idea to make The Retro Pro Wrestling Show as a year-in-review type recap of days gone by. 

The actual video itself isn't much to look at, but I hope you enjoy listening all the same.



Video transcript: 

Hello, and welcome to the Retro Pro Wrestling Show, my name is Chris and I’ll be your guide through the weird and wonderful world of the WWF way back in 1992. 

For those of you who don’t know me -which I suspect is most of you- I’ll quickly run through a bio before we get to today’s fun and games. 

I’m a freelance writer from the same little town as the late, great, Davey Boy Smith. I’ve been a lifelong wrestling fan since the day I was flicking through the TV channels and caught site of Shawn Michaels hurling Marty Jannetty through the barbershop window, and about two or three years ago now, I set myself a mission. 

That mission, was to go back and review every single WWE pay per view between Wrestlemania 1 and Wrestlemania 30. So far, it’s been a fun, if somewhat demanding adventure. As you’ll see if you check out allprowrestlingreviews.blogspot.com - we’ve so far covered Wrestlemania 1 up the In Your House from December 1995. 

A long way to go then, but we’ll get there. 

About the show

Anyway, since just about everybody in pro wrestling seems to have their own show these days, I thought it might be fun to have a go myself, so here we are. 

Each month, we’ll be looking back at a different year in the big E’s history, the highs, the lows, the good times and the bad. 

Why 1992?

Why start with 1992? Why not go all the way back to 1985 to cover the first Wrestlemania? 

A couple of reasons really:

Throughout these shows, we’ll basically be jumping from pay per view to pay per view, which is much easier to do if you’ve got more than one a year. 
Then there’s the fact that 92 was the year that my life-long obsession with wrestling began
But mostly, it’s because, for all intents and purposes, I consider that year to be a pretty significant one in the evolution of Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment empire. 

In many ways 1992 was the first step in the changing of the guard from the heady days of Hulkamania to what would eventually become the somewhat ill-fated New Generation.

The Big Four began with a Rumble win for Nature Boy Ric Flair and ended with a fondly remembered WWF Championship match between The Hitman and the Heartbreak Kid, more of which later. 

In between, we got was essentially Hogan’s last advertised appearance as a Wrestlemania headliner. Sure, Wrestlemania 9 would happen a year later, but for all intents and purposes, this was it for the man who’d essentially been synonymous with ‘Mania for the last seven years. 


Royal Rumble
Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, New York
January 19, 1992

WWF / WWE - 1992 Royal Rumble
Even Hogan’s appearance at the first big event of the year, the Royal Rumble, was somewhat limited, and only really designed to set up the aforementioned Wrestlemania clash with big sid. 

Elsewhere, the old guard were still pretty much ruling the proverbial roost, even if Hogan himself wasn’t.

The actual 30-man battle royal itself is regarded as one of, if not the, greatest Royal Rumble matches of all time. Though it was certainly very, very, good, you perhaps have to wonder if that’s not because the whole thing looked like pure five-star gold compared all the crap that came before it on the undercard. 

Things started pretty well, with an enjoyable tag match between the New Foundation combo of Owen Hart and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart and Mr. Fuji’s Orient Express of Kato & Tanaka. This was actually a lot of fun, but as I said in my review at the time, when The Anvil makes up a quarter of the best non-Rumble match on the card, you know you’re in trouble. 

Still, we had new, exciting faces on pay per view, a theme that should have continued throughout the show, but sadly didn’t.

Even what should have been an entertaining contest between Wrestlemania 1 headliner Rowdy Rodder Piper and future Quebeccer, The Mountie fell flat. Sure, this was all part of the plan to give Bret Hart an eventual leg-up into the main event scene by besting Piper in their Wrestlemania classic, but the Rowdy one going over, and getting his first taste of WWF gold in the process, hardly backs up my claim that things were beginning to change in 92.

Nor was there much to rave about in our next two tag team matches. 

I’ve clearly -and apparently for good reason- blocked the Bushwhackers vs. Beverley Brothers from my mind, so I’m just going to read you what I wrote whilst reviewing the show. 

Imagine the worst professional wrestling match you've ever seen in your whole life, multiply it by infinity and add some annoying git eating his own tie at ringside  and you're probably half-way close to matching the awfulness of this utterly awful affair.
The only good thing about this bout was the commentary from Monsoon and Heenan.
In what was by far the worst tag team match that ever happened, The Bushwhackers spent the first six months trying desperately to work the crowd. The effort seemed to have the opposite effect and only served to put the New York audience to sleep. For the next twelve years, The Beverley's beat up on The Bushwhackers until they finally defeated them to end the pain.
Or not, since afterwards we had another sixteen millennia to wait whilst Jameson kicked The Genius in the shin to the delight of absolutely nobody.
In many ways, I feel like something terrible happened to my life from which I will never recover after watching that terrible thing.

Wow, compared to that, it’s no wonder the Rumble match looked like a bona fide classic. 

The Legion of Doom vs. Natural Disasters wasn't much better, and continued to showcase veteran performers in place of any genuine fresh blood. 

Still, there was a glimmer of hope for the future with the main event, in which both Shawn Michaels and Davey Boy Smith put in impressive performances. Both would feature prominently throughout the year, and it was good to see them getting their moment to shine here before Flair wrapped up his bell-to-bell performance with an equally as impressive WWF Championship win. 

Yet we’re still talking about a man who had been on top of whatever promotion he happened to be in for a good number of years. Coupled with a wins for Piper and the Legion of Doom, this was still pretty much Old School Rulz. 

Thankfully, fans wouldn't have too much longer to wait for the proverbial passing of the torch. 

Wrestlemania 8
April 5th, 1992
Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, Indiana.

WWF / WWE - 1992 Wrestlemania 8
Wrestlemania 8 took place a few months after the Royal Rumble, and for the first half at least, was a sign of what was possible when the WWF gave the green light for their more technically-proficient performers go at it. 

Everything about these first few matches was done the right way. 

Taking the next step towards their eventual main-event status, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart both picked up wins, the former defeating veteran Tito Santana in a fun opener, and the latter getting the better of the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper. 

In between, another man on his way to becoming a permanent fixture at the top of the card also went over a well-established performer. The Undertaker tombstoned rival Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts to put his streak at 2-0. 

There was a change of pace with the WWF Championship match. Flair dropped the title he’d won just a few months before to Randy Savage in one hell of an awesome match. Sure, neither man would have qualified for the ahem, New Generation, but both could still put on a classic, and if this had only headlined the card, there might’ve been a valid argument for keeping the old guard on top a little longer. 

After that though, the quality of Wrestlemania 8 began to suck. And I mean really suck, though apart from a Money Inc. vs. Nasty Boys match for the tag titles, we did at least continue with the theme of up ‘n’ coming talent getting their big Mania wins. 

Tatanka went over Rick Martel in a match which might’ve been decent if the crowd weren’t still recovering from Savage vs. Flair, whilst Owen Hart made his first ‘Mania appearance without the Blue Blazer mask in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it win over Skinner. 

Yet just when it looked like we were finally moving in the right direction, along came Hogan and Sid with a fairly piss poor main event, complete with the now famous Papa Shango botched run-in. 

The Ultimate Warrior showed up too in the finish, and it looked for a time like, rather than bringing about some much needed change, things were just going to continue on with the same old, same old. 

Thankfully, that wasn’t going to be the case. 

By the end of the year, Flair, Warrior, Sid and Piper would all be gone, Hogan would disappear for the best part of a year, and Savage -one of the few veterans who could still knock out something pretty damn special, was relegated back to the commentary desk. 

Change was coming folks, and if you needed any proof, you only need to look at the main event of our next PPV. 

Summerslam 1992
August 29, 1992
Wembley Stadium, London, England

WWF / WWE - 1992 Summerslam
With Hogan now out out the picture, this was the first WWF PPV ever -to my somewhat limited knowledge- not to have Hulkamania running wild over the place. 

With the need for change never more obvious than it was this year, Vince and his chums took a big gamble with Summerslam 92, and not just because of the Hogan thing. 

The first PPV outside of North America, this was perhaps in the fact that it featured no less than three face vs. face or heel vs. heel matches, all of which proved to be the best damn things on the show and which, not too dissimilar to Mania, featured Michaels, Hart and Savage as the highlight makers. 

In what was perhaps the last match to exclusively feature what we’re calling the ‘Old Guard’ Savage dragged Warrior to a dramatic and emotional world title match, whilst Michaels and Rick Martel went to war over their affection for Sensational Sheri in a very much fun match, and Hart, well you all know about Hart’s Intercontinental Championship loss to the Bulldog in the main event. 

Elsewhere, we were stuck with the likes of Virgil against Nailz, former Demolition team mates Crush and Repo Man wrestling one another, and a match between Tatanka and Bezerker. 

Looking at the difference between the Hart and Michaels matches and everything else, it’s no wonder Vince looked to those two men to carry the company forward.

What you do have to wonder though, is why he never took up Randy Savage’s offer to put both men over. Having delivered two of the best matches of the last two pay per views, there’s no doubt Macho Man could still go, and you have to believe that doing so would have done wonders to legitimise both Hart and Michaels at the top of the card. 

As it was, they would have to go without Savage’s help, and work together to prove they could hang in the main event scene at our final event of the year. 

1992 Survivor Series
Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio
November 25, 1992

WWF / WWE - 1992 Survivor Series
We made it to the Survivor Series with only Savage and Flair remaining from the Veterans’ club. Warrior had absconded a few weeks before, and in his place, we started to get a lot new faces on PPV. 

Indeed, whilst there wasn’t much to get too excited about in terms of in-ring quality, Survivor Series 1992 is important in another respect: It marks the first PPV appearance of at least two names who would be fairly synonymous with the WWF in the mid-90s, Yokozuna and Razor Ramon. 

Heck, even Doink made his first PPV appearance at this show. 

And, leading the charge of course, we had Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and new WWF Champion Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart in a very, very good main event. 

Having started the year as standouts at the Royal Rumble, the two men were finally getting what they deserved with a main event title match. In today’s terms, I imagine that would be something akin to Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler wrestling for the title at this year’s Survivor Series. I mean, this was a big departure from your usual Savage/Hogan/Warrior main event, and it was good.

It was the end of the year. The old school were gone, the New Generation were claiming the main event spot as their own. This was the start of a new era in the World Wrestling Federation.

This was exciting, this was fresh, this was...this was the biggest test Micahels and Hart had faced to date. Would they thrive as viable replacements for the old guard? Would Vince’s experiment with smaller, much more agile workers pay off, or would it lead to the eventual downfall of a sports entertainment empire he, Hogan and the like had spent so much of the 80s and early 90s building up?

That, my friends, is a question for another time. 

Until then, I’d like to thank you for checking out the first episode of the Retro Pro Wrestling Show, invite you to check out the latest WWF reviews at allprowrestlingreviews.blogspot.com, and of course, I’d like to ask for your feedback.

Loved it? Hated it? Think there’s ways I could improve this little thing? I’d love to hear from you. 

Hit the comments, send me an email, tweet me at @Retropwrestling and I’ll see you next time for the Retro Pro Wrestling SHow’s look at 1993.


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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.