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 April 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Vengeance 2001

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Event poster
December 9, 2001
San Diego Sports Arena, San Diego, California.

WWF Vengeance 2001 was the first World Wrestling Federation Pay Per View to take place in the aftermath of The Invasion storyline.

If you recall, the whole thing had ended with Team WWF emerging triumphant in a Winner-Takes-All elimination match at Survivor Series 2001.

The following night on Raw, Ric Flair styled, profiled, and walked that ailse en route to the ring. There, he declared that he had purchased Shane and Stephanie McMahon's shares in the WWF, which had not only given the McMahon kids the money they needed to fun their hostile takeover event, but more importantly meant that The Nature Boy was now a co-owner of the WWF alongside Vince McMahon.

That created an immediate rivalry between the two as they tried to deal with the fall out of the Invasion. 

That, of course, meant unifying the WWF and WCW titles to create one undisputed champion. 

It isn't a spoiler to say that we all know who won. After all, the first undisputed champion would spend pretty much the rest of his career bragging about his accomplishments on a night which would ensure that things would never evvvvvvvvvvvvvver be the same...

...Again.

With that being said, let's down to San Diego for Vengeance 2001.




Four Men. Three Matches. Two Titles. One Undisputed Champion

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the event
Remember that awesome Freddie Fellini movie from Summerslam 2000? The mysterious film director was at it again for tonight’s show with a quirky opening video that seemed like something you’d get if you fed David Lynch a bunch of happy films.

As many opening videos did around this time, the Vengeance video featured an elderly Classy Freddy Blassie wandering around an abandoned warehouse. This time, he sat in a chair watching the champions of yesteryear while dancers danced, clowns clowned and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King played.

All of this led to Blassie getting up and dancing with the dancers which was, naturally, the perfect way to hype up the serious importance of tonight’s show.

From there, it was pyro and crowd shots galore as Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to Vengeance.

‘Mr. McMahon Discusses Joining His Own Club’

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Vince McMahon opened the show
‘Mr. McMahon Discusses Joining His Own Club’
- that’s what this segment is called on WWE Network and it makes me laugh a lot because it’s just such a polite way of saying ‘Vince McMahon came to the ring and talked about having his face rammed into Rikishi’s ass’ which is what actually happened.

The Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club had been launched the night after Survivor Series 2001 when Vince made William Regal pucker up to get his job back.

The dumb storyline -which often threatened to overshadow the build to the title unification matches- culminated in Vince being required to kiss The Rock’s ass, only for The Great One to make Vince basically smooch his cousin’s bumhole.

If you missed all that, you needn’t have worried - Vince started tonight’s show by telling us all about it before turning on the crowd to remind them “he who laughs last, laughs loudest”

This brought out Vince’s rival Nature Boy Ric Flair for his first WWF PPV appearance since the 1993 Royal Rumble.

Flair didn’t have much to say, his basic role was to pop the crowd and move things along by introducing our opening contest.

WWF European Champion Christian & Test vs. Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Christian reaches for the tag
This all started when Test had beaten up Scotty 2 Hotty back at Survivor Series to get a shot in the immunity battle royal which, if you recall, he won.

The feud had then brought in Test’s ‘last men standing from The Alliance’ colleague Christian while Scotty had formed a random alliance of his own with the ‘Hip Hop Hippo’ Albert.

Not once in this whole feud was any mention made of the fact that Test and Albert used to team up.

Anyway, the match was...OK.

It certainly wasn’t bad and nobody did anything that could be classed as outright offensive, but it just wasn’t that interesting and failed to capture the attention.

After a reasonable yet uninspired effort, Albert destroyed Christian with the Baldo Bomb to win the match which didn’t bode well for the European Champion’s prospects.
Your Winners: Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - WIlliam Regal talks to Coach about The Power of the Punch
Backstage, William Regal gave a strong interview to Jonathan Coachman in which he claimed that as excellent an athlete as Edge was, he’d never before incurred the wrath of someone with Regal’s experience.

This was a good performance from the Blackpool native, being much more Bad Ass Regal than Comic Foil Regal.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. William Regal

Regal continued to prove his worth as a performer in a strong match against Edge that was met with an unusually quiet reception from the live crowd.

The story was simple:

The aggressive veteran getting the upper hand on the young champion but growing increasingly more frustrated -and thus resorting to more and more dirty, underhand tactics- when his efforts proved too little to win the match.

Eventually, Regal’s desperation saw him reach for a pair of brass knuckles only for an exhausted yet determined Intercontinental champion to pull one last spear out of his arsenal and win the contest.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Edge

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Kurt Angle confronts Ric Flair
Backstage, we got a little comedy courtesy of Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle and new WWF co-owner Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Angle interrupted Flair’s phone call to let him know that tonight, he was going to do what Flair never had:

Become the Undisputed Champion.

“Well that’s awesome,” said Flair. “You’ve certainly got the skills to do it.”

Expecting an argument but not getting one, Kurt continued to try and antagonise Flair with his insistence that he was the man for the job tonight. The more Flair agreed with him, the more frustrated our Olympic Hero got.

I’m never too good at describing the humor in these moments, but trust me, it was comical.

Meanwhile, across the way, Matt Hardy tried to sweeten up his girlfriend Lita so that she’d be on his side in her role as special referee when Matt met Jeff Hardy to settle their recent differences.

Much to Matt’s chagrin, Lita said that she was always on his side as his girlfriend, she would call things right down the middle in tonight’s match.

Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy

Special guest referee: Lita
WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Matt Hardy confronts Lita

This had all started at Survivor Series when Jeff decided to dive off the top of a steel cage and crash through a table rather than win the match for his team.

Matt accused Jeff of being selfish and putting his love of taking risks before helping his team to victory. He had a point of course, but since the elder Hardy was being a bit of a d**k about the whole thing (as he had about other things such as ogling other members of the female roster), he had been cast in the role of heel.

Tonight, he continued his slow turn into a fully-fledged baddie in a match that he pretty much dominated from start to finish.

It was a weird one because although it wasn’t technically bad or anything, it still played out in front of a quiet crowd who were more into Lita than anything the two brothers were doing.

Besides, when you watch a Jeff Hardy match your kind of want to see him jumping around the place and at least breaking out a few fun spots. Outside of his match-winning Swanton bomb, however, there was none of that.

This was mostly just Matt beating up his brother and Jeff occasionally getting the briefest of comebacks before finally making the aforementioned swanton.

He made the cover, Matt got his foot on the ropes but Jeff pulled it off before Lita could see it and won the match.
Your Winner: Jeff Hardy

Afterwards, Matt protested his loss and, again, was completely justified in his complaint.

Trish Smells What The Rock is Cookin’

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Trish Stratus is smitten with The Rock
WWF Women’s Champion Trish Stratus had become a little infatuated with The Rock after The People’s Champion had saved her from joining the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club and then snogged her face off backstage on either Raw or Smackdown (I forget which).

Tonight, she let herself into The Rock’s dressing room to give him a peck on the cheek for luck in his match tonight.

Before she left, Rocky told her that while he was completely focussed on that match, after it was done Trish would have plenty of time to smell what The Rock was cooking, which I think was a fairly gross way of saying he was going to shag her.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dudleyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley w/ Stacy Kiebler) vs. The Big Show & Kane

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - The Dudley Boyz
This certainly wasn’t awful or anything, and you could tell all four men were at least trying hard, but this tag team title match just wasn’t all that interesting.

Sure, there were a few notable moments. Big Show pulled Stacy’s pants down and smacked her bum because this was a different time in history when you could get away with that sort of thing.

Kane tried playing face-in-peril which, as a huge monster character, was just unbelievable, and then he and Big Show had a bit of a falling out because they weren’t as well gelled as a team as The Dudleyz and kept accidentally hitting each other.

In the end, Bubba Ray & D’Von nailed Show with a 3D onto an exposed turnbuckle to win the match.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The Dudley Boyz

Out in the back, Lita tried to convince Matt Hardy that she hadn’t seen his foot on the rope. An irate Hardy was having none of it and simply packed his bags and left.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Rob Van Dam vs. The Undertaker

Though the hardcore title was well below the stature of both competitors at this stage, Rob Van Dam has held the belt for pretty much the entire Invasion storyline, so they had to at least do something with it.

Meanwhile, The Undertaker had now completed his transformation into a heel after feeling annoyed that Vince McMahon didn’t trust him enough to let him know that Kurt Angle was actually working as a mole when he switched to The Alliance.

Complaining about disrespect, ‘Taker felt so slighted that he decided the best thing to do would be to ram Jim Ross’ face in McMahon’s ass, then get his haircut and start beating up RVD.

Tonight, the American Bad Ass and The Whole F’N Show had the best match on the card up to this point by a large margin.

This was the first time all night that the crowd actually came alive, and who can blame them? They were watching a match that was captivating, enthralling, and peppered with enough big spots to get those loud *Holy s**t* chants going.

Speaking of which, the whole thing came to ahead when ‘Taker chokeslamed the champion off the stage through some tables to capture his first hardcore title.
Your Winner and New Hardcore Champion: The Undertaker

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Chris Jericho confronts Ric Flair
Back in Ric Flair‘s office, Chris Jericho confronted Nature Boy Ric Flair. 

Not unlike Kurt Angle earlier, Jericho insisted that Flair didn’t believe Jericho could get the job done tonight.

This time, Flair couldn’t really deny that, instead simply stating that if Jericho could do it, then more power to him. 

Whoever won the gold, Flair would walk the isle tomorrow night on Raw and award them the Undisputed Championship.

World Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship
WWF Women’s Champion Trish Stratus vs. Jacqueline

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Trish Stratus
Though Trish would go on to be a competent and successful wrestler, she seemed very much over her head while locking up with the more experienced Jacqueline, making several mistakes that made the whole thing come off a little sloppy.

Of course, you can hardly blame her when she and Jacquie were trying to have an actual wrestling match and all the fans cared about was puppies.

Even Jerry Lawler, whose job it was to help get this stuff over, could only fixate on the colour of Trish’s bra.

After a minute or so of not very much, Trish hit her patented Bulldog to retain her title.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus

Prior to our main events, we were taken back to Smackdown and the moment The Rock burried Vince’s face in Rikishi’s ass.

Live from WWF New York, ‘Kishi joked about his concern that he might have to have McMahon’s ass surgically removed from his ass before telling us that he was now back and ready to back that ass up.

This was followed by a recap video of tonight’s undisputed championship matches set to the WWF Vengeance 2001 theme song, Sinner by Drowning Pool.


World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle
Interestingly, Stone Cold Steve Austin came out to his classic Glass Shatters theme after months of using themes by Disturbed, firmly establishing the fact that his heel run was officially over.

His theme music wasn’t the only thing Austin brought back tonight. His older ring style also made a comeback...well, at least kind of.

This was the first time in perhaps years that we’d seen Austin having an actual wrestling match on PPV rather than the usual brawl up and down the isle and around ringside.

The champion even borrowed Angle’s own rolling German suplex move and hit him with five of the things in quick succession. Suplex city, bitch indeed.

Of course, Angle was no slouch either. The Olympic Gold Medalist worked hard here, but despite all that, this one fell short of their previous matches such as the one at Unforgiven 2001.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Because we couldn’t just go from one match to the next for some reason, this historic occasion was interrupted by a backstage skit in which Test hit on his former manager Trish Stratus, only for the women’s champion to send him packing.

World Championship
World Champion The Rock vs. Chris Jericho

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Chris Jericho beat The Rock for the World Championship
Now this was more like the kind of WWF main event this writer was expecting; a compelling battle between two arch rivals with the intensity turned all the way up to 11.

While it wasn’t quite as good as their awesome outing at No Mercy 2001, it was still a damn fine match in which Jericho looked strong against The Rock.

Ok, so he was still a heel and acted accordingly, and ok, so he won the match after hitting Rock with a low blow after the champion was distracted by Vince McMahon interference, but this wasn’t a case of Y2J getting whooped every which way til Sunday then fluking a victory.

Prior to the cheating, Jericho actually looked like he belonged as he took one step closer to immortality.
Your Winner and New World Champion: Chris Jericho

Jericho had no time to celebrate, or even rest for that matter, as Austin charged the ring and immediately went after him.

The WWF Champion was then taken out with a chair courtesy of Angle before Rock returned to the ring and planted Chris Jericho with a rock bottom.

Thus, our final match of the evening began with both men lying on their backs, sucking air.

Undisputed Championship Match
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. World Champion Chris Jericho

This was another decent match. Not as good as Jericho’s outing with The Rock, but passable as a main event and marred only by the fact that the crowd were obviously waiting for a run-in from a returning Triple H and that was never going to happen.

It wasn’t completely ludicrous to expect The Game to put in a cameo. His face was all over the advertisements for tonight while sledgehammers -his weapon of choice- were a prominent part of the show’s motif.

Alas, it wasn’t Hunter who was returning tonight but Booker T.

After failing to get his job back on a recent episode of Raw, the former Alliance member ran through the crowd and blasted his one-time leader in the head with a title belt. Then, Jericho made the cover. Earl Hebner made the count, and that was that.
Your Winner and New Undisputed Champion: Chris Jericho

Ladies and gentlemen, Chris Jericho had just beaten The Rock and Steve Austin in the same night. He would spend the rest of his career bragging about it.







Understandably, Vengeance 2001 is remembered more for its historical significance regarding the Undisputed Championship than it is for its in ring quality, but that’s not to say that this wasn’t a good show.

The opener was fun, Regal/Edge was solid, and Rock/Jericho was a riot.

Match of the night goes to Undertaker/RVD, a really enjoyable bout that is definitely worth watching at least once.


Thursday, 8 April 2021

PPV REVIEW: WCW Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Event Poster
December 26, 1988 
Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, Virginia

It had been five long years since Ric Flair had defeated Harley Race in the main event of the first ever Starccade back in 1983. 

That event had been historically important for being the first ever Starrcade event, but this, Starrcade 1988: True Gritt was equally as important for being the first Starrcade promoted under the WCW banner.

Once again, Flair was in the main event competing for the title (as he had been for all of the previous installments) only this time, his opponent was The Total Package Lex Luger.

Flair and Luger had a number of memorable matches during the late 80s/early 90s, but this, this match here tonight, is widely regarded as the best of the bunch. 

With that being said then, let's not waste any more time as we head down to Norfolk, Virginia for a little True Gritt.







Welcome to Starrcade: True Gritt

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Tony Schiavone & Magnum TA - The Mustache Men Ride Again!
We began tonight’s event with a typically 80s-style introduction featuring clips of tonight’s stars with sound bites of various wrestlers talking about their big feuds.

Ric Flair, for example, wanted Lex Luger to shut his mouth here tonight at Starrcade...Wooo!

We then went live to the arena where fans were hyped to see the National Wrestling Alliance even though this was technically now a World Championship Wrestling show.

Tony ‘The Mustache’ Schiavone then welcomed us to the show and introduced his broadcast partner for the evening, Magnum T.A.

Magnum talked about how happy he was to be part of the event even though he couldn’t compete while Tony reminded us that ‘all five NWA titles’ would be decided on the show.

From there, we went to commentators Jim Ross and Bob Caudle who were, to quote Ross, ‘pumped’ for the action.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Tag Team Championship
NWA US Tag Team Champions The Fantastics (Tommy Rogers & Bobby Fulton) vs. The ‘Games Master’ Kevin Sullivan & Dr. Death Steve Williams

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Kevin Sullivan & Dr. Death vs. The Fantastics
Built as a battle of speed (The Fantastics) versus power (Steve Williams & Kevin Sullivan), this lengthy tag team match started well, with Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton having the full support of the crowd behind them.

The longer it went on though (and it did go on for ages), the more it started to drag and the more this fan in particular started to lose interest.

Sullivan snd Williams cut Rogers off from his corner and worked him over for a while until the inevitable hot tag that saw the crowds come alive.

Admittedly, this was the most exciting part of the match, though unfortunately for The Fantastics, a spirited comeback wasn’t enough.

Sullivan and Williams overpowered their opponents and, when Williams made the cover, referee Teddy Long awardees them the match despite Rogers kicking out at the last possible moment.
Your Winners and new United States Tag Team Champions: Steve Williams & Kevin Sullivan

Post match, the obligatory match recap went down before Schiavone and Magnum T.A ran down the rest of tonight’s card.

The Original Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey & Randy Rose w/ Paul E. Dangerously) vs. The Midnight Express (Sweet Stan Lane & Beautiful Bobby Eaton w/ Jim Cornette)

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Jim Cornette
For those keeping track at home, this was the first appearance of Paul E. Dangerously on an NWA/WCW PPV.

The future ECW leader has arrived in the NWA with the original Midnight Express of Loverboy Dennis Condrey and Ravishing Randy Rose, immediately going after the then-current version of the team in Sweet Stan Lane, Beautiful Bobby Eaton and their manager, Jim Cornette.

That had basically turned Cornette’s side into babyfaces who were out tonight to prove that they were the better incarnation of the Midnight Express.

This was a solid and entertaining match though again it was very long. That may not be a bad thing in itself, but you do have to wonder who was sat backstage saying ‘you know what we need immediately after a long, 20-minute tag match? Another long, 20-minute tag match!’

To be fair, this was the better of the two, with the outside shenanigans of Jim Cornette (who had grown an all-new sense of confidence and bravado since turning face) and Paul E. adding to the fun.

Sweet Stan and Beautiful Bobby dominated the first portion of the match until Eaton got beaten up by the original Midnights for a while.

This continued for ages until finally, Dennis Condrey blasted his rival over the head with Dangerously’s epic 80’s cellphone and made the cover.

Teddy Long saw the phone and decided he was having none of it.

In the resulting argument, Lane and Eaton got the better of their rivals and won the match.
Your Winners: The Midnight Express (Jim Cornette’s version)

Afterwards, Condrey, Rose, and Dangerously beat up on their enemies until Eaton recovered and started swinging Cornette’s tennis racket like he was Pete Sampras.

The Varsity Club Celebrate

Backstage, The Varsity Club gloated to Magnum TA about how they’d traded a ‘moron’ like Rick Steiner for the superior Dr. Death Steve Williams and this has led them to gold tonight.

Williams and Sullivan boasted about their big win earlier before Mike Rotunda promised to finish off Steiner once and for all when they met for the TV title later on in the broadcast.

The Russian Assassins (Russian Assassin #1 & Russian Assassin #2 w/ Paul Jones) vs. Ivan Koloff & The Junkyard Dog

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Teddy Long checks over The Russian Assassins
If the Assassins lose, they must unmask and Paul Jones must retire.

Though the crowd were clearly into Junkyard Dog and the somewhat recently turned Ivan Koloff, there’s no escaping the fact that this was easily the worst match on the card so far.

OK, so it wasn’t awful or anything, but it was sloppy in parts and fairly uninspiring.

The end came when JYD hit one of the Assassins with an atomic drop. The masked man wandered right into a Russian Sickle from Koloff and was covered for the pin, but Paul Jones slipped an International Object inside the other Assassin’s mask. The man with the loaded mask then broke up the cover by head butting the back of Koloff’s noggin and that was that.
Your Winners: The Assassins

As a shark cage was slowly lowered in readiness for our next contest, Jim Ross and Bob Caudle recapped all the action thus far.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World Television Champion Mike Rotunda (w/ Kevin Sullivan) vs. Rick Steiner

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Mike Rotunda vs. Rick Steiner
Kevin Sullivan must be suspended in a shark cage

Mike Rotunda had held the TV title most of 1988, capturing the gold way back in January of that year, but tonight his reign would come to an end after a long and reasonably good match with his former friend turned down, Rick Steiner.

Early on, announcer Jim Ross suggested that the best way for Rotunda to win was to take advantage of Steiner’s less than stellar intellect and confuse him. Although Rotunda chose not to take such an approach, confusion would play a role in the finish.

Steiner planted his opponent with a suplex only for Dr. Death (who had appeared at ringside) to ring the bell, confusing both Steiner and Rotunda.

Referee Tommy Young came out to confer with Teddy Long about what had actually happened, and in the resulting confusion, Steiner got the better of his nemesis and pinned him to bring his year-long reign to a close.

There will no doubt be people watching today who dislike this match, but I think as long as you don’t watch it through the filter of the modern product, it was a good effort.
Your Winner and new NWA World Television Champion: Rick Steiner

After more post-match analysis from Magnum and Tony, it was onto our next title match.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Barry Windham (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink)

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Bam Bam Bigelow faced Barry Windham
After the amateur influence of our previous match we got a change of pace next as Bam Bam Bigelow took on Barry Windham in a battle of the big men.

Make no mistake about it though, this was more than your average power battle. It was a hot match with a lovely crowd and two men who were more agile and talented than their large stature would have you believe.

Bigelow was excellent here as the fan favourite, but reigning champion Windham was no slouch either. Together, they worked hard to deliver a great match that was made all the more special thanks to Jim Ross’ emotionally-charged commentary.

After over 15 minutes, both men toppled to the outside and the match was declared over when Windham was the only man to beat the ten count.
Your Winner via count out and still US Champion: Barry Windham

Ok, so it was a disappointing finish, but everything before that was good stuff indeed.

Every Dog Has His Day

Out in the back, Rick Steiner played up his ‘I’m a bit slow’ gimmick in an interview with Magnum TA.

Every dog has his day, said Steiner, and today was the day for the Dog Faced Gremlin.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal w/ Paul Ellering) vs. Sting & Dusty Rhodes

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Road Warrior Animal breaks Dusty Rhodes' face
The Road Warriors
were technically playing the roles of heels here after attacking both Dusty Rhodes and Sting on WCW programming but it wasn’t really all that effective as they still had an audible fan base in the crowd.

The match was intense and as hard-hitting as you might expect any match involving Hawk & Animal to be, but it wasn’t anything special.

If you’re a fan of the Road Warriors and their demolish-everything approach to pro wrestling then you’ll probably like this one, otherwise you’re not going to miss much here.

The end came when Sting had Animal pinned only for Paul Ellering to break up the fall, leading to a disqualification.
Your Winners via DQ: Sting & Dusty Rhodes (Road Warriors retain)

Finally, after a few more words from Schiavone and Magnum T.A, it was onto our main event.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Lex Luger

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Ric Flair and JJ Dillon
If Ric Flair gets disqualified he loss the title

If you’d told me once upon a time ago that I’d happily sit through a 30 minute Lex Luger match and actually enjoy it, I would have called you crazy. Yet here we are, 30 minutes after the opening bell rung on the Starrcade ‘88 main event and I have to admit, I enjoyed every moment of it.

Sure, you could argue that this was basically every Ric Flair main event you’ve ever seen, and you’d have a valid point, but this was still good enough to be completely enthralling and was made all the more impressive that there was nary a rest hold in sight.

After coming incredibly close to capturing the gold on numerous occasions, Lex Luger’s legs gave out from under him (the result of much Flair offence). The champ landed on top of the challenger and , using the ropes for leverage, scored the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

Afterwards, Luger argued with Tommy Young about Flair having his foot on the ropes but the official insisted that since he hadn’t seen it, there was little he could do about it.

Lex Luger is Done

Finally, we went backstage where Ric Flair gave an impassioned interview to Magnum T.A in which he claimed that Lex Luger was done and wouldn’t get another title shot. This would obviously prove to be nonsense, as The Total Package would be challenging Flair for years to come.

All that was left then was for the announcers to recap tonight’s action and put over a then-unnamed pay per view that was set to take place in February 1989.

That PPV would turn out to be the Chi-Town Rumble ‘89 which we’ll review in a few weeks here on Retro Pro Wrestling.







Starrcade ‘88: True Gritt was a pay per view which ran just shy of three hours and yet featured just seven matches, meaning each one got significant time.

Each one was different in its own right and each one had something to enjoy about it, with only the Road Warriors vs. Sting & Dusty Rhodes match failing to impress this fan.

Highlight of the night went to Flair and Luger, though if you like old school pro wrestling you should find much to enjoy about this one.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

EVENT REVIEW: NWA The Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review
July 16, 1988 
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

What we're about to review today isn't the 1988 Great American Bash PPV event that featured Luger vs. Flair for the title.

Rather, it's an event recorded from The Great American Bash tour that was filmed and uploaded in its original form onto the WWE Network, meaning no announcers, no exciting opening video packages, just raw footage of the matches as they took place.

If you want to read about the PPV, you'll find that Great American Bash 1988 review here.

Otherwise, let's head down to Greensboro for a night of NWA action.






Rip Morgan & NWA Western States Heritage Champion Larry Zybysko vs. Bugsy McGraw & White Lightning Tim Horner

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Larry Zybysko
No fancy intros or special introductions for what is essentially a recording of a house show.

Instead, we got a cold open with Bugsy McGraw and future Smoky Mountain Wrestling star ‘White Lightning’ Tim Horner making their way to the ring.

There, they were met by Western States Heritage Champion Larry Zybysko and Rip Morgan, the latter of whom broke out the traditional New Zealand Haka while McGraw bounced around the ring like a loon.

To be honest, yours truly didn’t have high hopes for this match but it turned out to be a great deal of fun.

Teddy Long was our referee and he apparently enjoyed himself so much that he’d become a life long fan of tag team matches.

Not that you could blame him.

All four men worked hard to deliver a short, explosive opening contest which ended after Tim Horner finally got the hot tag from McGraw and cleaned house.

Lightning by name, Lightning by nature, Horner scored a flash pinfall over Morgan in seven minutes ten seconds, the official time given to us by a young, moustachioed ring announcer by the name of Tony Schiavone.
Your Winners: Bugsy McGraw & Tim Horner

With two rings set up for our main event War Games match, Ronnie Garvin demanded that his next match take place in the ring other than the one officially designated to him.

There was no reason for it, but Garvin had just turned heel a week earlier at the actual Great American Bash ‘88 PPV so this was a good way to show fans that he was now a Grade A d**k.

Ron Garvin (w/ Garry Hart) vs. The Italian Stallion

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Rugged Ronnie Garvin
For further d**kishness, Garvin demanded that he be announced as a former world champion and then feigned an ankle injury in the first ten seconds of the match.

Of course, this was just to lure in The Italian Stallion so that he could punch him out with his famous ‘Hands of Stone’ before sitting on The Stallion’s chest and beating him in what Schiavone told us was 35 seconds.
Your Winner: Ronnie Garvin

Post-match, Garry Hart lambasted the crowd for daring to boo his man and called them hypocrites.

Dick Murdoch vs. Gary Royal

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Dick Murdoch
There will be modern-day fans who dislike this match for being little more than forearm shots and a headlock, but personally this long-time wrestling fan enjoyed it immensely.

After letting Gary Royal put him in a headlock for the first minute of the match, Dirty Dick Murdoch soon gained the advantage and simply bullied his opponent for the next five minutes.

He threw him in the corner and hit him with forearms, argued with Teddy Long (the only official for all three matches so far), took Royal to the outside and did the same again.

The action was slow and methodical but it really presented Murdoch as a brute and a bully and was far more entertaining than some folks would give it credit for.

At the end of six minutes and 59 seconds (thanks, Tony), Murdoch dropped Royal on his noggin and pinned him with a wicked sh*t-eating grin on his face.
Your Winner: Dick Murdoch

Moving on

Non-Title Match
NWA Florida State Champion Rick Steiner vs. Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Jimmy Garvin & Precious
I’m not saying pro wrestling isn’t legit or anything, but it certainly seemed like Tony Schiavone was making up the match times as he went along.

He called this one in five minutes, twenty-five seconds even though it lasted less than three.

Rick Steiner attacked from the opening bell, Ronnie Garvin made a comeback. Kevin Sullivan came down to help his Varsity Club teammate, Garvin saw him off and got a pin from out of nowhere.

It was barely even a match.
Your Winner: Jimmy Garvin

Can you believe that was our fourth match on this card and we’re barely past 25 minutes?

The New Zealand Sheepherders (Luke Williams & Butch Miller w/ Rip Morgan) vs. The Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - New Zealand Sheepherders vs. Rock 'n' Roll Express
Unfortunately, we didn’t get another Haka from the New Zealanders which would have been cool. Instead, we got them pointing at the New Zealand flag a lot and calling the Americans scum bags before Ricky Morton invited them to kiss some Rock & Roll ass.

With the pre-match banter out of the way, both teams engaged in what was easily the best -and the longest- match on the card so far.

Ok, so it wasn’t nearly as long as Tony Schiavone made it out to be (I’m starting to wonder if Schiavone’s watch was dodgy), but it was still a good 14 minutes of old-school tag team action that had the crowds roaring at every possible turn.

Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson were -as usual- insanely over with the NWA audience while Luke & Butch were reviled in equal measure.

That meant that everything they did got a huge ovation, all of which made for seriously engaging viewing.

After battling against the odds (with Rip Morgan running plenty of blatant interference), the Rock & Roll Express picked up the predictable, but nonetheless satisfying, victory.
Your Winners: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express

Up next, Garry Hart led another man into battle.

Al Perez (w/ Garry Hart) vs. Brad Armstrong

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Al Perez vs. Brad Armstrong
You know, I’ve never noticed before how much Al Perez looks like he could have been Seth Rollins’ older brother.

Here, he took on Road Dogg’s actual brother Brad Armstrong In a weird match that was clearly designed to give the fans a breather after the excitement of the Sheepherders/R&R Express match.

Things went incredibly quiet as Armstrong took control in the early going, even though his simple approach of working over Perez’s arm was effective.

Outside shenanigans courtesy of Mr. Hart later turned the tables and put Perez in control, at which point the fans really came alive for the first time in the match.

After more decent yet unspectacular action, Hart grabbed Armstrong’s leg on a suplex attempt allowing Perez to fall ontop of just opponent for the Uno, dos,tres.

Bunkhouse Handicap Match
NWA United States Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton, Sweet Stan Lane and Jim Cornette) vs. The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers)

NWA Great American Bash 1988 -Jim Cornette
Anything goes according to our man Schiavone, but referee Tommy Young makes both teams go to their corner and enforces tags because logic.

The Fantastics wanted Jim Cornette to start the match but, naturally, the cowardly manager was having none of it.

What followed was a fun match with a hot crowd and a simple story that added a touch of humour to an otherwise basic tag match.

When they were getting their butts kicked, The Midnight Express continually reached to their partner Jim Cornette hoping that he’d tag in, but he flat out refused. This irritated Sweet Stan Lane and Beautiful Bobby Eaton so much that they threatened to punch him.

Naturally, James E. then wanted to tag in when his men were in control and even wanted to score the match-winning pin despite Beautiful Bobby having it all taken care of.

This ended up costing the Midnights the match as the Fantastics kicked out, fought back, and, when Cornette accidentally threw powder in Bobby’s face, they beat him up and won the match.
Your Winners: The Fantastics

This fan honestly expected Sweet Stan and Beautiful Bobby to turn on Cornette after the match, but no such luck.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World Television Champion Mike Rotunda (w/ Rick Steiner and ‘Games Master’ Kevin Sullivan) vs. Sting

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Mike Rotunda vs. Sting
Sting
was easily the most popular dude on the roster so far on this show and was also the only guy to get actual entrance music.

Unfortunately, that popularity alone wasn’t to secure him a title victory despite putting on a valiant effort against Mike Rotunda.

Early in the match, Rotunda’s team mates Rick Steiner and Kevin Sullivan got involved but Sting whooped their butts so referee Tommy Young let it slide.

Then, after a decent match, they got involved again only this time Young had decided that enough was quite clearly enough and threw the match out.
Your Winner via DQ: Sting (Mike Rotunda retains)

Post-match, Rotunda and Steiner began pushing and shoving one another until Kevin Sullivan broke them up.

Skywalker Match
The Russian Assassin & Ivan Koloff (w/ Paul Jones) vs. The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal w/ Paul Ellering)

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Scaffold match
Skywalker match = scaffold match.

We were getting into main event territory now which meant that everyone got music, but if you were expecting a bit of Iron Man for The Road Warriors you’d be disappointed. Generic Rock Theme #1234 was the order of the day here, at least on the Network.

As far as match quality goes, this was certainly one of the better scaffold matches the NWA had presented.

It was certainly better than the Road Warriors outing against The Midnight Express back at Starrcade 1986 and better than the second scaffold match we saw back at Starrcade 1987 between the Midnights and The Rock & Roll Express.

This was mostly thanks to the efforts of Ivan Koloff, who had no problem tripping himself up on the platform and pretending to almost lose his balance umpteen times. It was a masterful  job that saved this from being just another ‘dudes stay on the edges of the platform where it’s safe and punch each other until eventually dropping to the ring.’

To be fair, that’s precisely what Road Warrior Hawk and The Russian Assassin did, but at least Koloff made things interesting in his pairing with Animal.

Alas, making things interesting wasn’t enough to win the match.

He and the Assassin both took unremarkable bumps back to the canvas to lose the match.
Your Winners: The Road Warriors

Afterwards, Hawk, Animal, and Paul Ellering all beat up on Paul Jones

War Games
The Four Horsemen (NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair, Barry Windham, NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, and James J. Dillon) vs. Lex Luger, Dusty Rhodes, Paul Ellering, Dr. Death Steve Williams, and Nikita Koloff

This was a solid match well worthy of main event status and, despite getting pretty chaotic once the ring filled up, remained compelling from start to finish.

Dusty Rhodes and Arn Anderson kicked things off and both bladed within about two minutes because of course, why wouldn’t they?

From there, more bodies entered at regular intervals to create a wildly entertaining brawl that raged on all the way through to The Match Beyond where Rhodes finally put James J. Dillon in  a figure four to win the match.
Your Winners: Dusty Rhodes, Lex Luger, Nikita Koloff, Steve Williams, and Paul Ellering

Post-match, the triumphant heels walked off into the sunset while the Four Horsemen checked on their fallen comrade.







For the most part, the Greensboro stop on the Great American Bash 1988 tour was better than it perhaps looks on paper. While only a few bouts really stood out as anything special (Sheepherders vs. Rock & Roll Express, Fantastics vs. Midnights and the main event War Games match), everything else was at least decent enough to make watching this show an enjoyable experience.

Personally, I would have liked WWE to have brought in some guys to record a commentary track in order to enhance the overall presentation of this event, but that’s a small niggle that takes nothing away from what was generally an OK show all-round.



Other 1988 events:
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Thursday, 25 March 2021

Top 8 Best Things About The WWF Invasion Storyline

Top 8 best Things About the WWF Invasion Storyline
The WCW/ECW vs. WWF Invasion storyline that dominated Raw and Smackdown throughout the majority of 2001 has gone down in history as a disaster, ranking up there only with Katie Vick and The Gobbledygooker as some of the worst things McMahon & Co. ever forced upon their audience.

Still, despite its lasting legacy of terribleness, The Invasion angle did occasionally produce some good stuff too.

Sure, the WCW contingent that invaded the WWF boasted practically zero star power, and the two bonafide stars it did have (DDP and Booker T) were buried beyond belief. 

Sure, it gave us head-scratching defections like Christian joining The Alliance for no other reason than lumping him in with the other heels. That's not to mention Kurt Angle likewise jumping ship in literally in the last few weeks before the whole thing ended, despite the fact that he’d spent all summer feuding with Alliance leader Steve Austin.

And sure, the whole thing became more about The McMahons than any attempt at presenting a seemingly legitimate Invasion attempt, but honestly, it really wasn’t all bad.

Over the last few months, I’ve been documenting the Invasion-era PPVs here on Retro Pro Wrestling and watched the whole storyline play out, including all of the Raw and Smackdown shows in between.

Having done so, I genuinely believe that some of it was very entertaining.






Don’t believe me?

Here’s the eight best things to have come out of the WCW/ECW vs. WWF Invasion Storyline.

8. Kurt Angle Douses The Alliance in milk


It was a scene that would play out countless times over the years and was even referenced in Kurt Angle’s Hall of Fame induction; the Olympic Gold Medalist driving a milk truck to the ring and spraying everyone in sight with the white stuff.

The spot was, of course, a spoof of Alliance leader Stone Cold Steve Austin’s beer bath angle from March 1999, and served as the perfect spot for Angle to stick it to his arch-rival.

It went over huge too, partly because of the absurdity of it all, but mostly because Angle was enjoying a huge run as one of the company’s top two babyfaces. In fact, during the few months after Wrestlemania 17 while The Rock was away filming The Scorpion King, Angle had been the top face and would remain hugely over until his utterly nonsensical heel turn in the last few weeks of the Invasion.

Of course, it also gave us one JR's classic calls:

"The Billion Dollar Princess has become the dairy queen!"

7. Shane Helms Becomes The Hurricane 


Shane Helms had begun to get over in WCW’s Cruiserweight division during the dying days of the company’s existence.

He even had a terrific outing with Chavo Guerrero at WCW Greed, emerging victorious to become the new Cruiserweight champion and bringing that title with him over into the World Wrestling Federation.

There, he quickly lost the title to Billy Kidman and spent the first half of the invasion as a non-descript background character.

Things changed when he started appearing on TV wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt and professing his admiration for Hal Jordan’s alter-ego.

Not content to leave it there, Shane ‘Hurricane’ Helms decided to ditch his civilian name altogether and began referring to himself simply as The Hurricane, complete with superhero attire.

Despite being part of the heel Alliance faction, Hurricane soon became one of the more popular fan-favorite characters of that group, with only RVD (more of whom later) getting larger pops while part of the Alliance.

Hurricane was soon rewarded for his growing popularity with a European title run of not insignificant length (at least not in the modern age) and soon adopted himself a sidekick in the form of ‘Mighty’ Molly Holly.

In fact, Helms was so over with this gimmick that when he basically stole Molly from her then-boyfriend (and sympathetic babyface) Spike Dudley, the crowd continued to cheer him despite it being a pretty dick move.

The Hurricane would remain a popular act within the WWF for most of his run, even getting a high-profile match with The Rock. Alas, the WWF being the WWF, the ever-popular super hero would later ditch his alter-ego and go back to being regular old Gregory Helms.

5. Rob Van Dam’s Feud With Jeff Hardy


Not long after he arrived on the scene as part of the WCW/ECW Alliance, Rob Van Dam entered into a wildly entertaining feud with Jeff Hardy which resulted in some quality matches over the hardcore title.
The two would face off at the Invasion PPV, again at Summerslam 2001, and at least once on an episode of Smackdown.

While there wasn’t much to the storyline beyond both men wanting to outdo one another and prove themselves to be the superior wrestler, the actual matches between them were mostly excellent and a real highlight of the first few months of the Invasion.

When it was over, Jeff went back to teaming -and later feuding- with his brother Matt, enjoying a brief run with the WCW tag team titles while RVD emerged from the feud with the hardcore title still around his waist and would hold onto it until well after the whole Invasion storyline was over.

4. Rock vs. Jericho 


OK, so you could argue that a battle between two WWF stars such as The Rock and Chris Jericho could have still happened without the invasion, but this is one instance where the WWF vs. WCW/ECW storyline bombing so bad actually resulted in something awesome.

Owing to the lack of star power and generally poor ratings the Invasion was getting, Vince had The Rock come back after filming The Mummy Returns, immediately bury Booker T with his “who in the blue hell are you?” line and then beat him for the WCW Championship.

The Great One would then team with Chris Jericho for reasons that I can’t remember and probably don’t matter, but when Jericho accidentally whacked his partner with a chair, this caused a rift between the two.

The Rock began to remind Jericho that he’d never captured ‘The Big One’ and insulted him for his lack of success in high-profile matches while Jericho claimed this simply wasn’t true and promised to dethrone the WCW Champion at WWF No Mercy 2001.

True to his word, Y2J captured The Big Gold Belt from his partner/nemesis thanks to some botched shenanigans from Stephanie McMahon. The match was awesome and must have surely been in the conversation when most people were naming their Match of the Year picks.

Simply a great singles match and one of the best from the entire Invasion.

3. Paul Heyman Gives Vince McMahon a Piece of His Mind 


In the build-up to the final battle at Survivor Series 2001, ECW leader and then color commentator Paul Heyman was given a microphone and free reign to say whatever was on his mind.

It turned out what was on his mind was how much he hated Vince McMahon. After talking in general about his disdain for the Chairman, Vince Himself made his way to ringside and that's when Heyman really let him have it.

Though this cynical fan really doubts that it wasn't entirely a "shoot" promo as it was presented to be, it was certainly incredibly compelling and one of the most enthralling spots in the storyline.

2. Sing-Along With The Rock and Stone Cold 


Heyman wasn't the only one to deliver an excellent promo in the build-up to Survivor Series. On the go-home Raw, WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and WCW Champion The Rock met face-to-face in the ring to deliver a promo for the ages.

It started with the two snatching the microphone from one another and building up epic amounts of tension and ended with them singing Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville as a duet before Rock planted Austin with a Rock Bottom. 

Though it wasn't as soaked in realism as Heyman berating of Mr. McMahon, Rock and Austin's verbal jousting looked like the most fun two wrestlers could ever have and was simply a joy to watch.

1. The Rise and Rise of Rob Van Dam

Having impressed in that aforementioned feud with Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam quickly caught fire as one of the most popular stars in the company throughout the duration of the Invasion storyline. 

In fact, I'd even dare to say that the reactions he received were on a par with the likes of headline acts like Austin and Angle. 

His popularity didn't go unnoticed and despite being aligned with The Alliance for the duration of the storyline, he was presented as a babyface and was even teased as rivaling Stone Cold Steve Austin for the title of Alliance leader.

This led to him being placed in a WWF title match, taking on champion Austin as well as Kurt Angle in a triple threat match. Though you could easily be skeptical and say that RVD's role in the match was simply to give Austin a win without Angle suffering a loss, if you followed the entire storyline, Van Dam's rise to the main event seemed entirely fitting and a natural result of his growing stardom.

Unfortunately, it wasn't to last.

Just a few months after the Invasion storyline ended, Van Dam found himself in a nothing mid-card feud with Goldust. Sure, that feud gave us a decent match at No Way Out 2002, but it seemed like such a comedown after The Whole F'N Show had proven himself to be one of the company's most over stars in 2001. 






2001 Reviews:

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.