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

Saturday, 22 December 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1993

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - The event poster (notice stars such as Ultimate Warrior, British Bulldog and Crush appearing on the poster but not at the event)
ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California
January 24, 1993


If 1993 was to be the year that the World Wrestling Federation fell to a creative, self-parodying low then the group's first pay per view offering of the year displayed only the slightest hint at the dire levels of mediocrity that were to follow in the coming months.

Indeed, whilst Royal Rumble 1993 was far from the best of its kind to date, it was nonetheless a reasonably enjoyable show.

Here's why:

Welcome
Our commentators for this evening's broadcast are none other than Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan. The famous duo welcomed us to the show before going on to deliver the kind of classic performance that made them such a legendary double-act in the annals of pro wrestling, complete with Monsoon threatening to 'knock out' The Brain at every opportunity.

With that out of the way, it was on to the action.

The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. The Beverley Brothers (Blake & Beau)
WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott)
In age before he came the 'Genetic Freak,' a barely recognisable (compared to his current form) Scott Steiner made his World Wrestling Federation pay per view debut along with brother Rick 'The Dog Faced Gremlin' Steiner in an enjoyable battle against perennial 'jobbers to the stars' The Beverley Brothers.

Kicking off the show with a tag team match had grown to become something of a Royal Rumble staple over the past several years, and though this year's effort was no match for the outstanding Rockers/Orient Express encounter two years prior, or even the Express/New Foundation bout which followed in '92, this year's tag bout was still a fun affair.

Especially towards the end.

Sure, things may have started out slow, but it didn't take long for the pace, and the action, to pick up and a good, solid contest to ensue.

It would be easy to say that the Steiners, one of the highlights of the NWA before joining McMahon, carried their opponents throughout the match. It would be easy, but it would also be very unfair; the Beverleys worked at least as hard as their opponents here until Blake succumbed to a Frankensteiner to give the win to the newcomers.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers

One of the curious things about this year's show, at least the version your writer was able to get his hands on, was the distinct lack of tween-match promos. Though we didn't get many of them at the 1993 event, we did at least get a good video package recalling the rise, fall and subsequent implosion of one of The Rockers, which of course led us into our first championship match of the night.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Sensational Sherri and her enormous hair
Before the match got underway, Sensational Sherri (who had been managing Shawn Michaels up to the point that she was accidentally struck with a mirror by Marty Jannetty) made her way to ringside sporting a new hairdo bigger than several forests and plonked herself in a neutral corner, where she would pull off some of the most dreadful acting this side of your favourite soap opera throughout the match.

God rest her soul, and your reviewer remains a huge fan of Sherri, but this was not one of her career highlights.

It must certainly be classed as a highlight for the early singles career of one future Hall of Famer. Though not quite up to the standard of their later Monday Night Raw match (following Jannetty's firing and subsequent rehiring due to drugs) this was a compelling match from start to finish.

Depending on what rumours you read online, either Jannetty or Michaels were drunk in this match, and if one of them were, it only serves to make this bout all the more impressive.

Jannetty took it to Michaels in the early going before the champion regained the advantage and pummelled his former partner around the ring for a while.

After teasing whose side she would be on throughout the match, a dorky-looking Sherri eventually saw the light and slapped her former beau. She also tried to nail Michaels with her shoe, though that backfired and it was the challenger who came up on the wrong end of a stiletto.

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Shawn Michaels confronts Sensational Sherri
Shawn and Sherri then played up the incident before Jannetty got to his feet, only to eat a superkick and give the match to the champion.
Your Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels

A distraught Sherri then raced to the back, crying and freaking out whilst Mean Gene Okerlund scolded her like a weary parent admonishing their spoiled, stroppy teenager.

'Damnit Sherri, calm down!" yelled the bald headed one.

As awful as this was, it was still quite unintentionally hillarious, and came to an end when Michaels pursued his ex-consort, only to be attacked by Jannetty. The rivalry continued...

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. The Big Boss Man
Despite reports elsewhere that this was an awful match, rest assured, it wasn't. Though moving at a completely different pace and style than the two matches prior, and the one which would follow, both men made the best of what they had to deliver a decent big-man brawl.

A good guy and friend of Hulk Hogan the last time this reviewer saw him, Bam Bam Bigelow had been absent from the WWF for a number of years, returning in late 1992 as a menacing bad guy and getting his PPV debut against a soon-to-be-departing Big Boss Man.

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Bam Bam Bigelow makes his PPV debut as a heel
Easily the worst match on the card, that isn't actually that big of a criticism given what else was on offer that night in California and this battle of the behemoths was at least watchable.

Unsurprisingly, Bigelow picked up the win with his trademark diving headbutt.
Your Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow

Before the final singles match of the show, we were treated to another video package putting over Razor Ramon as a big menacing bully (especially after he attacked Owen Hart on an episode of WWF Mania) who would stop at nothing to get his hands on the World Wrestling Federation Championship.

Both Razor, and his upcoming opponent Bret 'The Hitman' Hart gave us our only pre-match promos of the night before it was onto our second championship contest.

World Wrestling Federation Championship 
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Razor Ramon
If you believe Hart, his title defence on this show was supposed to be against none other than The Ultimate Warrior. Though such a planned bout has been largely discarded as a Hitman fantasy, it's interesting to note that Warrior was at least on the original poster for the event.

Alas, the face-painted one had left McMahonland before the event, leading us to this makeshift encounter which was arguably better than anything Hart and Warrior could have put together.

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Mean Gene Okerlund interviews World Wrestling Federation Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
With Stu and Helen Hart watching at ringside, the defending champion performed his usual singles match against the dastardly Ramon; that is, a very good match in which The Hitman put his technical prowess against a more aggressive opponent, staggered around the ring making his trademark fish-face for a while and eventually wrapped up his foe in the Sharpshooter.

Arguably one of Scott Hall's better matches that didn't involve Shawn Michaels and a or a ladder, the ending of this match was never really in doubt. Sure, The Bad Guy had been pushed hard since his 1992 debut, but even then it was hard to buy him as a real threat to Hart's title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Throughout the show, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan had coyed excitedly like a kid at Christmas about having the honour of introducing The Narcissus to the World Wrestling Federation.

Apparently, nobody had told Heenan that his new arrival had actually been christened The Narcissist Lex Luger , not that it mattered to the former manager.

The Narcissist Debuts
One-time WCW star and victim of Vince McMahon's failed World Bodybuilding Federation experiment Luger was revealed to WWF audiences flanked by a wall of mirrors.
WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - The Narcissist Lex Luger debuts

Preening, flexing and generally admiring his own chiselled physique, Luger's pose-down was soundtracked by Bobby Heenan gushing and orgasming over the new arrival's admittedly impressive figure.

'Look at those muscles, look at that BACK! Let's hear you speak in your beautiful,melodious voice'  cooed Heenan in a fashion so over-the-top you'd be forgiven for thinking you watching the start of a gay porno than a pro wrestling debut.

Eventually, Luger did speak, insisting that he was 'beyond perfection' and challenging Heenan's nemesis, Mr. Perfect to a match.

With such blatant displays of homoeroticism out out of the way, fans were treated to a bathroom break with the arrival of Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra (or rather, two nobody's portraying the duo, obviously), who hyped that year's Wrestlemania IX taking place at Caesar's Palace. With hindsight, this dreadful segment should have surely served as a warning to just how bad that show would turn out to be.

And with the undercard all finally done and dusted, it was on to the main event.

Royal Rumble Match:
30-man battle royal featuring: Bob Backlund, Ric Flair, Jerry 'The King' Lawler, Papa Shango, Yokozuna, Berzerker, The Undertaker, The Natural Disasters, 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, Mr. Perfect, Damien Demento and more.


WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Bob Backlund was a highlight (and record breaker) of the Royal Rumble match
In the modern era of the WWE, we're all used to the tradition that the winner of the Royal Rumble match goes on to challenge for the gold at Wrestlemania, though some of us probably forget that it was this match that began that tradition.

Sure, that made the outcome somewhat limited, especially in a match cluttered with life-long midcarders nobody would ever buy as viable headliners (at least not at the time), but it certainly made for an interesting dynamic, especially in the early going.

Last year's winner and then-current Rumble record holder (for longest time in the ring) Ric Flair drew this year's number one spot, getting the match under way against a recently returning Bob Backlund, himself former champion with a five-plus year reign.

Before long, they were joined by Ted Dibiase and Jerry 'The King' Lawler and though most have declared the 1992 match to the be the most star-studded ever, it was a treat for this old-school fan to see four legends of different eras and territories all going at it in the ring at the same time.

Sure, they may have been several (in some cases many) years past their peak, but it was still a thrill to see them all going at it. Papa Shango and Brian Knobbs made brief cameos too, and Virgil hung around for a while, but it was the Flair/Backlund/Dibiase/Lawler exchanges which were early highlights.


Speaking of highlights, it was Bob Backlund's turn to set a new time record this year and, as with previous Rumble record holders, Backlund pretty much stole the show single-handily. Lasting for just over an hour, Backlund worked his pasty white butt off in this match and had the crowds rooting for his every action throughout the match.

As an interesting side note, the Rumble time record had been broken every single year since Bret Hart set it at 25+ minutes at the first event in 1998. After Backlund's new 61+ minute record in 1993, the record wouldn't be broken again until Chris Benoit took the honour in 2001.

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Giant Gonzales debuts and confronts The Undertaker
Back to this year's match, and just like most years, the action was broken into two halves by something rather unexpected.

This time out, it was the debut of Harvey Wippleman's new charge Giant Gonzales who made his way to the ring in his now infamous Nearly Naked Neandethol Man attire and beat the hell out of The Undertaker, setting up their Worst Match in the History of the World encounter at Wrestlemania IX.

Other notable events included:

  • Carlos Colon entering at #24 and even Gorilla Monsoon having trouble recognising him. Monsoon then referred to 45 year-old Colon as a 'youngster.'
  • Bobby Heenan referring to Typhoon as 'Tugboat'
  • Mr. Perfect eliminating Flair to a huge ovation (Perfect would beat Flair in a 'loser-leaves-WWF' match the following night on Raw)
  • Earthquake and Yokozuna beating each other up
It was Yoko himself who eventually triumphed. After disposing of Backlund, he and Randy Savage went at it in a fantastic exchange which saw the former champion really make a star out of his larger opponent. After absorbing a huge amount of punishment, Savage eventually got the better of Yoko, nailed him with the Flying Elbow Drop and, ridiculously, attempted to pin him.

Yoko 'kicked out' and Savage literally jumped over the top rope to eliminate himself, bringing about one of the most contrived and stupid endings to a Rumble match ever.
Your Winner: Yokozuna 

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - "I'll knock you out!" Monsoon and Heenan were hysterical on commentary
A promising start to an otherwise dire year for the World Wrestling Federation then, the 1993 Royal Rumble event was at least an entertaining show. The rumble match itself wasn't nearly as boring as some critics would have you believe, and the Intercontinental Championship match alone is worth checking out this pay per view. 
Really though, apart from Bob Backlund's stand-out performance, the true highlight of this show was the hysterical banter from our hosts Monsoon and Heenan. More on form than they ever had been, the duo made even the dullest of moments that much better. Trust me, no matter how many times you hear Gorilla say "I'll knock you out," to Heenan (or even threaten to get somebody else to do it), it only gets more and more hilarious.


===============


Friday, 14 December 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1992

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Event poster
Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, New York
January 19, 1992


Following the controversy surrounding the WWF Championship matches between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker at both Survivor Series 1991, the title was vacated and thus the World Wrestling Federation entered 1992 without a champion at the helm. 

As a result, for the first and only time in WWF/WWE history, the WWF title was on the line in a Royal Rumble match many have declared to be the greatest of all time.

Was the show really that good? Let's find out, shall we?

Welcome
This year's show opens with the one and only Mean Gene Okerlund giving us a run-down of the thirty men who will be competing for the title later on in the show before our commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan welcome us to New York's Knickerbocker Arena, a venue which would eventually be renamed to the less-ridiculous Times Union Centre.

Onto the action at last, and Howard Finkle welcomes us to our opening tag team 'attraction.' Personally, I think I preferred it better when it was an 'encounter' the year prior.

The Orient Express (Kato & Tanaka w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The New Foundation (Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart & 'The Rocket' Owen Hart)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The New Foundation (Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart & 'The Rocket' Owen Hart) vs. The Orient Express (Kato & Tanaka, w/ Mr. Fuji)
If fairytale hero Aladdin forged a hip-hop career in the early 1990s, you'd have to believe that his backing dancers would be attired in much the same way as The Anvil and The Rocket.

Indeed, it's probably fair to say that the baggy trousers and racing flag patterns adorned by Owen and Jim were the most memorable thing about the short-lived team of The New Foundation, though not far behind must surely be this very enjoyable tag team team contest against The Orient Express.

Showing early signs of the flare, technical wizardry and high flying excellence which would endear him to wrestling fans throughout his career, the late, great Owen Hart was undoubtedly the star of this opening match. Surprising both crowds and announcers with moves likely never seen before in a WWF ring and keeping the New York audience in a frenzy.

His partner, Jim Neidhart also played his part well, adding brute force in a match littered with smaller competitors. Perhaps rejuvenated thanks to his partnership with brother-in-law Owen, the former tag team champion looked better here than he had for some time. Elsewhere, Kato and Tanaka looked good as the wily villains keeping Owen isolated from his corner for an elongated babyface-in-peril spot.

Following a great opening contest, The New Foundation picked up the victory thanks to the Rocket Launcher.

Every now and again, Monsoon and Heenan would divert their attention to the other bouts on tonight's card, including a recap of how Bret 'The Hitman' Hart came to lose his Intercontinental Championship without once mentioning The Hitman's relationship to either Owen or Neidhart.
Your Winners: The New Foundation

Speaking of Hart's Intercontinental Title woes, Lord Alfred Heyes gave us a further recap of the situation. In a nutshell, Bret, 'running a temperature of 104 degrees' defended the title 'against doctors orders (depending on who you believe, the backstage situation was either that Hart was considering a move to WCW, or that this was nothing more than to set him up for Wrestlemania), and subsequently lost to The Mountie.

The new IC champ then proceeded to beat down on his victim, only for Rowdy Roddy Piper to rush to the rescue. Mountie took him out too, and thus we had tonight's Intercontinental Championship match.


Pre-match promos
Revelling in the victory, Mountie's manager Jimmy Hart gloated to Sean Mooney about his man's title win, before The Mountie turned his attention to his challenger, vowing to take Piper's manhood, integrity and um, his skirt.

In a manner akin to a delightfully delirious drunk, Piper offered a retort, basically insinuating that 'Jacques Rougeau' (yes, he used The Mountie's real name, shock horror!) was something of a homosexual and vowing to beat him in the following contest.

Intercontinental Championship Match:
Intercontinental Champion The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie for the Intercontinental Championship
One of the biggest disappointments in professional wrestling history must surely be the solo career of Jacques Rougeau. Highly entertaining both between the ropes and in character, with brother Raymond as The Fabulous Rougeaus, and again when teaming with Carl Ouellet as The Quebeccers later in his career, Rougeau was nonetheless one of the most boring in-ring stars during his early-90s run as The Mountie.

It was Piper who saved this match from falling flat, though even The Rowdy One's antics couldn't save the only single's match on the card (and The Mountie's only IC title defence) from being anything more than watchable.

Thankfully, the whole thing didn't last too long. Piper swiftly put his opponent away with a sleeper hold to pick up not only the win, but the first and only singles title of his WWF career.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Rowdy Roddy Piper wins the Intercontinental Championship
Your winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: 'Rowdy' Roddy Pipper

In al honesty, the whole match was worth it just to hear The Fink's classic 'And NEW...' line. If there's one thing this writer truly misses from the good old day's it's Finkle on the mic.

Heading to one our beloved Coliseum Home Video Exclusives next, Lord Alfred Hayes got a few word from the Immortal Hulk Hogan.

In your standard Hogan promo, the Hulkster promised to win the WWF title in the Royal Rumble match and, in something of a theme of the night for the former champion, talked about how this was his cup of tea.

The Bushwhackers Jameson
If you don't remember Jameson, grubby uber-nerd, Prime Time Wrestling star and friend of The Bushwhackers, consider yourself lucky.

Pure Wrestlecrap if ever there was such a thing (I'm only sad that the actual Wrestlecrap induction of Jameson wasn't online at time of writing), Jameson was a revolting, utterly annoying character who was somehow supposed to be a babyface. Here, he joined The Bushwhackers in a pre-match promo in which they promised that the next match would be The Beverley Brothers 'final fling' whatever that meant.

The Bushwhackers (Luke & Butch w/ Jameson) vs. The Beverley Brothers (Blake & Beau w/ The Genius)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The Bushwhackers with Jameson
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 Monsson 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.
Your Winners: The Beverley Brothers

In many ways, I feel like something terrible happened to my life from which I will never recover after watching that terrible thing.

A Word with The Legion of Doom
Prior to their upcoming Word Tag Team Championship defence against The Natural Disasters, champions Hawk & Animal delivered a fairly compelling promo.

"[Typhoon & Earthquake] wanna throw their weight around," quipped Hawk "Well that's OK, we wanna throw your weight around too!"

World Tag Team Championship Match:
WWF World Tag Team Champions The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon w/ Jimmy Hart)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Tag Team Title Match - The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) defended against The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon)
For the first part of this tag team title defence, nothing happened. As the match wore on, nothing continued to happen, and then it was over.

That's the whole match in a nutshell. An entirely dull encounter only made marginally better by the occasional brights pot from The L.O.D and again the hilarious banter between our commentary team.

The Disasters eventually won by count-out to end a very underwhelming contest.
Your winners via count-out The Natural Disasters (L.O.D retain the titles)

With the undercard out of the way, it was onto the obligatory promofest spot before the main event.

"Right now, let's take you to Sean Mooney," bellowed Gorilla Monsoon.
"Who?" replies Heenan in one of the more subtly humorous in an altogether hilarious exchange between the two men which ran throughout the show.

PromoRama
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Shawn Michaels talks to Sean Mooney
As it happened, Mooney was standing by to greet a clearly irate Natural Disasters. Jimmy Hart vowed to call both his lawyer and his attorney (huh?) after which Earthquake and Typhoon swore that they were the tag team champions (cue jokes about Kane and Daniel Bryan).

Next, Rowdy Roddy Piper took one step closer to insanity by asking Mean Gene Okerlund where else could a 'skinny fifteen year-old kid come on down and be the Intercontinental Champion'

Who knew that Piper wasn't a grown, muscular adult, but a 'skinny fifteen year-old'?

Back to Sean Mooney, he and Shawn Michaels recapped Michaels' heel turn against former partner Marty Jannety, with the future Hall of Famer insisting that he had saved Jannety from '29 other beatings' and that he was about to become World Wrestling Federation Champion.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The Nature Boy Ric Flair talks to Lord Alfred Hayes
'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair told Lord Alfred Hayes that he had drawn number three in the Rumble match (this was another Coliseum Home Video Exclusive, so apparently the announcers had no idea when Flair would arrive once the match got started), but that it didn't matter anyway because he was still going to win.

Finally, we got the usual brief "I'm gonna win the Royal Rumble" spots from a bunch of competitors, the highlights of which included:

'The Macho Man' Randy Savage talked about getting his hands on Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and becoming WWF Champion, Sid Justice asking us to open our eyes and look at the next champion, The Repo Man giggling like a mischievous school boy, The British Bulldog getting confused and claiming that London was his hometown, and Hulk Hogan going on about cups of tea again like it was the first time he'd heard of the stuff.


WWF Championship Royal Rumble Match
30-Man Battle Royal featuring: The British Bulldog, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Sid Justice, Hulk Hogan, Ted Dibiase, Jake Roberts, Texas Tornado, Sgt. Slaughter, Roddy Piper and more.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Sensational Sherri leads Ted Dibiase to the ring for the Rumble match
And so it was finally down to the main event, the first (and, as of 2012 last) time that the WWF Championship title was on the line in the Royal Rumble Match.

Prior to the match kicking off, WWF President Jack Tunney took to the microphone to basically repeat everything Howard Finkle had said only seconds ago. Surrounded by a chorus of boos from the Knickerbocker crowd, Tunney then gave permission for the best man to win the match, and we were off at last.

'The British Bulldog' Davey Boy Smith was our number-one entrant, starting this year's battle against 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase.

The two kicked things off with a fairly entertaining exchange, though despite a usually impressive show in the Rumble, this was not to be Dibiase's year and he was swiftly clobbered over the top rope, leaving the Bulldog to await the arrival of entrant number three, Ric Flair.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The British Bulldog celebrates eliminating Ted Dibiase from the competition
Much like he would with his now-famous 'but who's side is he on!?!' line four years later, Heenan pretty much telegraphed the ending to this one right from the outset, talking with Monsoon througout the contest about how much Flair had to overcome the odds to claim the gold.

Bulldog and Flair controlled the opening minutes of the match, with Nasty Boy Jerry Sags putting in a brief cameo before being eliminated by Smith, who went right back to work in a thrilling exchange with The Nature Boy.

It's moments like this, watching the Bulldog in action, that you have to wonder if, had he stayed clean and were it not for that thick Lancastrian accent (and trust me, I come from the same town as The Bulldog, I know how we sound!), Davey Boy could have been a major main event player in the 1990s.

The Bulldog was certainly a joy to watch throughout his one-hour plus contribution to the match, and was one of the many highlights throughout an admittedly incredible Royal Rumble match before Flair himself tossed the Wigan-born grappler over and out.

Alas, the one-on-one encounter was  interrupted by the entrance of Haku (also eliminated by The Bulldog) and Shawn Michaels, who gave an impressive performance of his own during his 15 minutes or so between the ropes.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The wrestlers try to throw each other over the ropes
The ring began to slowly fill with superstars, each one brawling around the ring in entertaining fashion. Eventually however, the eliminations began to fly thick and fast until The Nature Boy found himself all alone in the ring. Flair's respite from the action however was short lived, the legendary wrestler recalling in horror as Rowdy Roddy Piper made his way to ringside.

If this had been a fun contest so far, things only got better with the second half of the match, a more star-studded affair featuring headline stars such as Hulk Hogan, Sid, Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Sgt. Slaughter and, erm, Virgil.

The action came thick and hard, everyone doing their best to make this one of the most memorable Rumble matches to date as they vied for the World Title until only Hogan, Sid and Flair remained.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Sid Justice mauls I.R.S
Supposedly on the same side, Sid drew the ire of Hogan by eliminating him from the competition, causing the former champion to act like the proverbial sore loser and try his damnedest to pull Sid over the ropes (seriously, it's when I write things like that, and when I think about some of Hogan's kayfabe tactics, that I have to wonder how the hell he was booked as a good guy).

That allowed Flair to toss Sid over the ropes, win the match, and ultimately the title.
Your Winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion, Ric Flair.

Mr. Perfect made his way to share in Flair's glory, though the celebrations were shortlived as Hogan once again had to have the final word, this time getting into a pull-apart argument with Sid which actually saw the crowd firmly behind Mr. Justice.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Ric Flair gives an interview after winning the WWF/WWE Title for the first time
Finally, WWF President Jack Tunney presented new Undisputed WWF Champion Ric Flair with his title. As Mean Gene held a microphone for the new champion, Flair said that 'to beat the man, you had to beat the man (wooh!)' and that the WWF title was the only wrestling championship that mattered.

Bobby Heenan (who had raced from the commentary position to join his allies) and Mr. Perfect also rejoiced in Flair's victory, claiming that, whilst they hated to say they told us so, well, they told us so.

In a completely bizzare moment, Mean Gene Okerlund then admonished somebody off camera for lighting a cigarette. It was both surreal and incredibly funny at the same time.

The final word of course, went to the new champion, and that was all we had for the World Wrestling Federation 1992 Royal Rumble event.

So, was the 1992 Royal Rumble match really the greatest of all time? It's certainly up there among the best, though this writer has to believe that the 1991 bout was marginally more entertaining
Still, after an absolutely appalling undercard (when Jim Neidhart is part of the best non-main-event match, you know something's gone awry), it was so refreshing to spend over an hour indulging in some truly gripping action culminating in one of the most memorable title wins of the decade. Maybe not the greatest of all time then, but certainly up there.


===============


Saturday, 8 December 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1991

Miami Arena, Miami, Florida
January 19, 1991

With American armed-forces battling bravely to drive Iraqi invaders from Kuwait, the World Wrestling Federation saw fit to use the ongoing struggle in the Gulf War to draw interest in their product; turning former fan favourite Sgt. Slaughter into a loathsome Iraqi sympathiser and shooting him right to the top of the card.

It was this fascination with the horror of the war that served as the central theme for the promotion's 1991 Royal Rumble event. Patriotism was in full flow and that cowardly Slaughter was about to get what was coming to him from the All-American heroes of the WWF.

If that sounds like a somewhat dodgy idea for a wrestling show, that's probably because it was, and who could blame fans at the time for being skeptical about McMahon's latest PPV offering when the last time out we were presented with a dire show which gave birth to The Gobbledy Gooker.

With all that being said then, it's perhaps a surprise that this January 1991 show turned out not only to be the best Royal Rumble event to date, but one of the best pro wrestling pay per views to have come along in quite some time.

Here's what went down:

Welcome to the show
In fitting with the 'We're America, don't mess with us' theme, today's show opened up with a live rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before we got a look at all the participants in tonight's Rumble match which straight away begged two questions:

Shane Douglas was in the WWF in 1991? Really!?!
How come Brian Knobbs was in the Rumble and not Jerry Saggs?

That aside, we also got a run down of the other bouts on tonight's card before our announcers for the evening, Gorilla Monsoon and 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper welcomed us to the show before heading down to Howard Finkle, who introduced us to tonight's opening 'tag team encounter.'

Not a match, an encounter.

The Orient Express (Tanaka & Kato w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannety)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1991 - The Rockers and The Orient Express delivered a classic opening match
And what an encounter this one turned out to be.

Surpassing even Ricky Steamboat and Rick Rude's effort at the '88 event in terms of sheer quality and enjoyment, to this day the Orient Express/Rockers clash remains one of the best undercard matches in the history of both the Royal Rumble, and WWE pay per views on the whole.

There was scarcely a dull moment in sight as both teams waged an exhilarating see-saw battle for just under twenty minutes before Jannety caught Tanaka with a creative sunset flip for the three count.
Your Winners: The Rockers

Backstage, a delirious Macho King Randy Savage informed Sean Mooney that he had been guaranteed a title shot against Sgt. Slaughter should Slaughter be victorious in his upcoming WWF title match.

"Now wait a minute, I think you're forgetting something," urged Mooney. "What if the Ultimate Warrior retains his title tonight?"

Apparently such things weren't an issue in the Kingdom of Madness; Savage had already sent Sensational Sherri out into the arena in an effort to coax the Warrior into offering the same deal.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1991 - Sensational Sherri attempts to seduce WWF Champion, The Ultimate Warrior
As Mene Gene Okerlund stood by, flustered as ever with microphone in hand first drew the WWF Champion out by insulting him. When Warrior arrived, decked in red, white and blue attire with matching facepaint and jacket, Sherri changed her tune in an attempt to seduce the champion, at one point eve dropping to her knees.

There's something about Sherri being on her knees like that which should provoke all kinds of jokes, especially after Sherri planted a soft kiss on the champions lips, to which Ultimate Warrior responded by sniffing his two fingers as though they'd done much more than just share a kiss.

Alas, now is neither the time or the place for such things, so all I'll say is that the outcome of this passable segment was entirely predictable; Warrior refused and ran off, prompting Savage to charge through the curtain and do absolutely nothing of note.

The Barbarian (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan) vs. The Big Boss Man
Perhaps the most surprising thing of this whole pay per view was that the second match on the card turned out to be nowhere near as dull as it probably looked on paper.

Sure, it was no Five Star Classic, but then very few matches are.

Instead, what we got here was a very enjoyable brawl between two behemoths in front of a white hot crowd which came to its conclusion after The Boss Man reversed a pin attempt by The Barbarian to pick up the win.
Your Winner: The Big Boss Man

Out in the back with Sean Mooney, General Adnan wailed some kind of gibberish before his charge, Sgt. Slaughter vowed to create turmoil and chaos when he beat The Ultimate Puke in their upcoming title match.

To be fair, it was a fairly engaging promo from tonight's challenger.

Offering a retort, the champion insisted that he only took orders from 'the warriors that ride upon [his] back,' snarled a bit and promised to become The Ultimate Victor.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Match
WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter
There's been some fairly damning reports of this match elsewhere on the Internet, though in all honesty this reviewer doesn't believe it was all that bad.

OK, so it wasn't all that good either, but then it was never really likely to be.

Much like the Boss Man/Barbarian encounter (yes, encounter) before it, this WWF title match was never supposed to be a memorable wrestling war for the ages.

What it was supposed to be, was yet a further development in the ongoing saga of USA vs. Iraq, as portrayed by World Wrestling Federation Superstars.

To that end, this contest definitely delivered.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1991 - The Ultimate Warrior controls Sgt. Slaughter in their WWF Championship match
The champion controlled the early moments of the match, though it didn't take long for Sensational Queen Sherri, complete with a wardrobe change into a foxy little black number (what can I say? Sherri was quite the sexy woman!), to get involved in the match.

Coaxing the Ultimate Warrior out of the ring, the devious Sherri led the champ up the ilse, where he was viscously attacked by Randy Savage.

Returning to the ring, Warrior fell victim to his challenger's onslaught until the power of the warriors (or live crowd, if you prefer), inspired the inevitable comeback.

Yet the champ's dominance was short-lived and as the match reached its dramatic climax, Savage returned to the ring, blasted Warrior with his sceptre and gave the win to the evil friend of Iraq.

Hardly the greatest championship match to ever materialise, but if its sole purpose was to further storylines and set up two big money bouts at Wrestlemania XII, then it's hard to deny that it did it's job well.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Sgt. Slaughter


WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1991 - Sgt. Slaughter is the new WWF Champion
As Slaughter was handed the WWF title, Monsoon and Piper practically lost their minds and acted like Adolf Hitler had just risen from the dead and subjected the President of the United States to a spot of anal rape.

Thankfully, they were given a brief respite from crying foul and a chance to rest both their minds and mouths as the action soon returned to the ring.

Koko B. Ware (w/ Frankie) vs. The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart)
As 90% took a nap and the other 10% went to the bathroom, former Rougeau Brother Jacques in his new persona of The Mountie took on The Bird Man in what would turn out to be the most boring thing to ever happen, not just in the history of pro wrestling, but in the entire history of everything that ever, happened, ever.

In a truly tedious nine minute affair which lasted ten minutes too long, The Mountie dominated Koko B. Ware before finally putting him, and us, out of our collective misery.
Your Winner: The Mountie
Your Loser: Everybody who ever saw this match


Fans in the arena were given a break while us were treated to yet more enraged rants about the title match from the Hot Rod before it was onto promos galore.

First of all, new World Wrestling Federation Champion insisted that he always did what he said he was going to do and that the WWF fans now had a champion they could respect because 'I'm the World Wrestling Federation Champion, and that's an order,'

Except it's not really though is it, Sarge? That's just a statement.

Anyway, we were then given a series of comments from WWF fans wishing the American armed-forces well in their war against Iraq. The most curious thing here was that none of these fans really seemed to know, nor care, what they were talking about, as though somebody had simply pushed a camera in front of them and said 'Hey, so what do you think about Hairy Back Harry and his Wibbly Wobbly Waffle Party?"


WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1991 - The Legion of Doom vow to win the Rumble match
Next to step before the cameras, participants in this year's Rumble match gave their thoughts on the upcoming main event. Among the more memorable promos, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts vowed to cut through the other men to get his hands on Rick 'The Model' Martel, Davey Boy Smith said he was glad to be a bulldog (which was only slightly less nonsensical than the time he claimed that he would win the Royal Rumble because he was, and I quote, 'bizarre.') and Hawk claimed that nobody wanted to 'take a ride' on neither him nor his Legion of Doom partner, Animal. 

Just the thought of 'riding' Hawk and Animal sends shivers down this fan's spine.


Up next,  Macho King Randy Savage insisted that he had been the WWF Champion forever and always, despite not holding the belt since Wrestlemania V, all the while, Sensational Sherri winced and gurned like she was in the throes of a rather unpleasant orgasm. Warrior then came banging on the door, causing Savage and Sherri to run away.

They say there's a fine line between genius and insanity, and after watching this promo from Savage, it's really quite difficult to tell just which one he was.


Finally, The Million Dollar Man told us that his 'bodyguard' Virgil would clean the dog muck from his shoe due to the mighty dollar. All the while, my only thought is that doesn't sound like any kind of bodyguard I've ever heard of.

Dusty & Dustin Rhodes vs. Ted Dibiase & Virgil
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1991 - Ted Dibiase gives Virgil his orders
The man who would go on to become Goldust made his WWF PPV d├ębut by teaming with daddy dearest to settle the ongoing feud between The Million Dollar Man and The American Dream.

Less of an actual match and more a prolonged angle, Virgil was ordered by his 'master' (Monsoon's words, not mine) to take out Dustin Rhodes, yet the evil henchman constantly came up short against the dynamic Rhodes Jr.

Finally fed up with his servant's failures, Dibiase entered the fray and dominated his less-experienced opponent in order to show Virgil 'how it's done.'

After Virgil messed up and accidentally struck Dibiase, the Million Dollar Champion battered his employee and tossed him from the ring, then rolled up Dusty (who had spent the majority of the match on the apron) to win the match and send The Dream packing back to WCW.

Though mostly built as a set-up to the angle that would follow, this was nonetheless an enjoyable outing by the two tandems.
Your Winners: Ted Dibiase & Virgil


WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1991 - Virgil finally confronts Ted Dibiase
After the match, Dibiase grabbed a microphone and ordered Virgil to fetch the Million Dollar Championship and wrap it around Dibiase's waist. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Virgil instead clocked his employer and turned face as the crowd's erupted in a fashion usually reserved for the second coming of Jesus Himself.

Seriously, the crowds went absolutely loco here in a moment which must surely be Mike Jones' favourite of his entire career, though it does make this writer somewhat sad that just a year later Virgil would be relegated to a 'Jobber to the Stars' role.

Afterwards, Hulk Hogan dedicated his entry in the Royal Rumble match to everyone in the American Armed Forces, before Gene Okerlund received an unconfirmed report that Sgt. Slaughter defaced the American flag. Hogan then turned his attention to vowing revenge on Slaughter.

And yes, this promo featured that memorable gaffe when Hogan forgot Suddam Hussein's name.


The Royal Rumble Match
30-Man Battle Royal featuring: Hulk Hogan, Earthquake, Rick 'The Model' Martel, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine, Bret 'The Hitman' Heart, Dino Bravo, British Bulldog, Legion of Doom, Mr. Perfect, The Bushwhackers and more.
For the second time in Royal Rumble history, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart drew the number one spot, though instead of Tito Santana, it was Dino Bravo facing him at the start of this year's Rumble match.

Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine soon joined the action as what would become to best Rumble match to this point really got underway.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1991 - Rick 'The Model' Martel gave an impressive performance in the Rumble match
With the ring filling up throughout the contest and eliminations scarce, there was plenty to enjoy about this year's match, though a surprise highlight was certainly Rick Martel.

Not only did The Model beat Ted Dibiase's record from the previous year by lasting over 52 minutes in the ring, he did so whilst putting on an entertaining performance and was often the best thing to watch in the ring.

Another true highlight of the match has to be the entrance, and elimination of Bushwhacker Luke. who did the Bushwhacker Stomp down to the ring, across the ring, and, after an immediate elimination at the hands of Earthquake, all the way back to the dressing room. It was genuinely one of the funniest moments I've ever seen on a pro wrestling show. So funny in fact, that words alone can't do it justice.


Speaking of Earthquake (which we were before we watched that video on repeat until we just couldn't laugh any longer), it was the big man who was left in the ring with Hulk Hogan, and finally eliminated to allow The Hulkster to become the first man to win two Royal Rumble matches.
Your Winner: Hulk Hogan

Hogan then celebrated his victory for the next several millennia to end arguably the best Royal Rumble event so far.

Indeed, this really was a terrific show. Kicking off with one of the best tag team matches this writer has ever seen and ending with an utterly enjoyable Royal Rumble match, with all but the dire Mountie/Koko confrontation entertaining on some level, it's hard not to argue that the 1991 Royal Rumble trumped all previous efforts by Vince McMahon's company and makes for must-see viewing.

===============


Saturday, 1 December 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1992


WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - EVENT POSTER
Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio
November 25, 1992

With most of the behemoths of the late 1980s now long gone, replaced by a strange mix of smaller, more technically proficient stars and a some of the strangest, most cartoonish combatants seen anywhere on television, 1992 was a strange year for the World Wrestling Federation. 

As a result, the '92 version of long-standing pay per view Survivor Series was an altogether weird affair. For saying this was a period of only four, well-established PPV events, the show we're about to review came across as something akin to a modern day WWE B-Show. An enjoyable B-show, sure, but a B-Show nonetheless.

Here's what went down:

For reasons unbeknownst to just about everybody, The Reverend Slick (now a gospel-preaching good guy), welcomed us to the show by rambling on about how awesome of a show we were about to watch. It was neither relevant, nor entirely coherent, but there you go.

From there, our commentary team of Vince McMahon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan welcomed us to the show, and we were right on to the action.

High Energy (Owen Hart & Koko B. Ware) vs. The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu, w/ Afa)
Winning all sorts of awards for the Worst Pro Wrestling Attire This Side of Damien Demento, undercard team High Energy were fed to relative newcomers The Headshrinkers in an admittedly entertaining opening contest.

As the first Survivor Series show not centred around 'traditional' elimination matches, it was an interesting change of pace to see the annual November show open up with what was essentially a throw-away tag match.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - OWEN HART & KOKO B. WARE - HIGH ENERGY
Owen Hart and The Headshrinkers looked good in their exchanges, while Koko B. Ware had no problem playing the proverbial babyface-in-peril, though it was during The Bird Man's lengthy time between the ropes that the match sagged somewhat.

Alas, The Headshrinkers went over thanks to a big fat splash (that's the technical term for it, in case you were wondering),  to further their ascent in the WWF Tag Team Ranks.
Your Winners: The Headshrinkers

Backstage, Lord Alfred Hayes pointed a microphone at The Big Boss Man. An enraged Boss Man insisted that he stood for Law, Order and Justice, and that his rival, Nailz, would get what's coming to him in their upcoming Nightstick on a Pole match.

Offering a retort, Nailz himself swore revenge on the Boss Man for apparently beating him up when the man in the orange jumpsuit was serving 'hard time.' The sad thing (or not), is that this would have actually been a half-way decent promo if Nailz didn't sound like a slightly constipated old man doing his best 'Ole Anderson as The Shockmaster' impression.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - NAILZ
In a fairly bizarre move, we then cut to Mean Gene Okerlund, standing by with none other than The Big Boss Man, who essentially gave us exactly the same promo as he'd done just a few minutes ago.

Either this was a funky move from Coliseum Home Video, or WWF producers really couldn't get enough of the Big Boss Man.

Nightstick on a Pole match.
The Big Boss Man vs. Nailz
Prior to his interview with Nailz, Sean Mooney had issued us a grave warning; this was going to be  a brutal match. And I mean, brutal. To hear Mooney talk, we were about to watch a No Holds Barred First-Blood Ladder Match inside a Hell in a Cell cage wrapped in barbed wire and surrounded by flames in which the only way to win is to physically murder your opponent (No stealing my ideas, WWE Creative).

Instead, what we got was two big dudes punching and kicking and occasionally slamming each other until Boss Man retrieved the nightstick from the pole, dropped it, and eventually defeated his rival with the Boss Man Slam.

For what it was and given who was involved, this was at least a watchable contest with a hot crowd, but honestly Mooney, the last time I stubbed my toe it was more brutal than this.
Your Winner: Big Boss Man

Out in the back, Sean Mooney tried to get a few words with the loser of the match. Nailz, sounding for all the world like his voice had been disguised in a manner akin to those anonymous, shadowed-out crime victims you see on TV, claimed yet more injustice and stormed off.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - RAZOR RAMON & RIC FLAIR
Killing time with yet more promos, Tatanka told Lord Alfred Hayes that he would defeat Rick 'The Model' Martel and take back his sacred eagle feathers when the two met in the ring later that evening. The undefeated Native American at least showed signs of charisma, though I dare say he did little to make this reviewer care about his rivalry, unlike Ric Flair and Razor Ramon.

Speaking to Okerlund, the dastardly duo were enraged by footage of Mr. Perfect turning face by pouring a jug of water over Bobby Heenan and agreeing to team up with Macho Man Randy Savage in what was easily the most anticipated match of the night.

After Flair basically lost his shit, Ramon threatened to 'carve...(Mr. Perfect)...Up.'

Rick 'The Model' Martel vs. Tatanka
WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - DOINK THE CLOWN
Returning to the ring, Tatanka looked to retain his undefeated streak, and reclaim those all-important eagle feathers against a barely-interested Martel, who came to the ring dressed like the world's most effeminate sailor.

Only a few minutes into the very mediocre action, Doink The Clown strutted out to tease and torment the crowd.

Whether it was the distraction of the clown's presence, or the fact that nothing interesting happened in the ring, this came across as nothing more than a filler match in which Tatanka defeated The Model with a flying chop to bring about a welcome end.
Your winner: Tatanka

Backstage, Sean Mooney spoke to Randy Savage and Mr. Perfect. In an entertaining promo, Perfect claimed that The Nature Boy wanted to be just like him, and that even though he was on Savage's team.

Adding his own tuppence' worth, an ever-intense Macho Man told Perfect that he neither liked nor trusted him, but that they'd still make The Perfect Team regardless. Fair enough then I suppose.

Ric Flair & Razor Ramon vs. Randy 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
Elsewhere, I've seen this likened to a modern-day Raw main-event, which I'm really not sure is a fair comparison.

For one thing, this was a well put thought-out match with a decent back-story reaching beyond merely 'let's throw four feuding wrestlers in a tag match.' 

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - RANDY SAVAGE BATTLES RIC FLAIREven despite the absence of Savage's original partner, The Ultimate Warrior (who abandoned ship mere weeks earlier), this was still a well-built match with a replacement who made sense.

Perfect, as Flair's now-former Executive Consultant and one-time AWA tag team partner of Scott 'Razor Ramon' Hall (something vaguely alluded to on screen), supposedly knew Savage's opponents better than anybody, and thus was the 'perfect partner' for the Macho Man.

As for the match itself, it was by far the most entertaining bout of the night to this point. Flair pulled out his trademark I'm Getting my Ass Kicked routine (seriously, is there anyone in the history of wrestling who's moves whilst selling a beating are arguably more memorable than his offence?), Perfect displayed not an inch of ring-rust after being out of action for a year (with back trouble), whilst Ramon and Savage also played their parts well.

Though far from a classic, this match becomes one of only two 'highly recommended' bouts on the whole card, and ended via disqualification when the referee basically got fe up of the heels and called for the bell.
Your Winners via disqualification: Randy Savage & Mr. Perfect

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - FLAIR AND RAMON ARE ANNOYED!
Razor and Flair continued their beatdown in the post-match, only for a chair to enter the party, used by the good guys to gain a measure of revenge.

If you thought Flair blew his lid in his pre-match promo, you should really hear him lose his freakin' mind following their DQ loss. Mad as ever, the bad guys both raved about how unfair the outcome of their match had been.

Lord Alfred gets a massage
Prior to the pay per view debut of future WWF Champion, Yokozuna, we were shown a pre-recorded video in which Lord Alfred Hayes entered the sumo star's dressing room, only to find Yoko receiving a massage from a couple of floozies geisha girls.

Mr. Fuji then invited Hayes to receive a massage, kicking him right back out of the room as soon as the microphone man began to enjoy himself a little too much.

Intentionally or not, this was really rather funny.

Yokozuna vs. Virgil
WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - YOKOZUNA BATTLES VIRGIL
'[Yokozuna] hasn't really been tested yet in the World Wrestling Federation, but he's about to be tested RIGHT NOW!' grunted Vince McMahon, lying to just about everybody as Virgil charged to the ring to meet his doom.

For a squash match (and it's impossible to view this as anything else), tis was actually a reasonably enjoyable affair.

Virgil tried to hold his own against his colossal opponent, but was quickly squashed, quite literally by big Yoko.
Your Winner: Yokozuna

Out in the back with Sean Mooney once more, Mooney interviewed an elated Perfect and Savage. The new best buddies sort of just threw turkeys around the room and called each other 'the best.' It was entirely pointless, though admittedly kind of entertaining.

Traditional Survivor Series Elmination Match:
WWF Tag Team Champions Money Inc & The Beverley Brothers (w/ Jimmy Hart and The Genius) vs. The Natural Disasters and The Nasty Boys.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - TED DIBIASE IN WHITE TRUNKS
The only traditional elimination match on this year's Survivor Series card saw a bunch of tag teams going at it seemingly because they had nothing else better to do.

Though the match itself was a fairly fun affair, it was hardly memorable and did little more than help pass the time.

Indeed, it's possible that the most interesting thing in this match was Ted Dibiase's all-white ring attire. You know, Dibiase, the guy who wore black trunks throughout the bulk of his WWF career. Seeing him in white was just odd, as though he'd turned face without bothering to tell anybody.

Even McMahon and Heenan seemed to lose interest pretty quick, turning their attentions instead to hyping the company's upcoming tour of Europe.

Still, this was a pretty decent time-filler that ended with a win for sole survivors The Nasty Boys.
Your Winners: The Nasty Boys 

After the match, Alfred Hayes caught up with Virgil, who warned defending WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart to be wary of Yokozuna. Your writer isn't certain of course, but I'm sure Virgil referred to Yoko as Yakamuza. 

 WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - PAUL BEARER FAN IN CROWD
Coffin Match
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Kamala (w/ Harvey Wippleman and Kimchee)
So here's your back-story: Kamala is a big fat guy who doesn't like The Undertaker and is afraid of coffins. With that in mind, the two went at it in the WWF's first ever coffin match (later better known as Casket Matches), in which the loser would be nailed into a big coffin.

The picture to your left is a Paul Bearer fan in the crowd. Of course, he had nothing to do with the match itself, but I just thought this was an awesome resemblance, so there you go.

As matches go, this was piss poor, and yet for some reason the crowd were into it enough that you hardly noticed.

After a contest mostly dominated by Undertaker, The Dead Man eventually pinned his opponent, tossed the Ugandan Giant into the coffin and did a shoddy job of nailing it shut.
Your Winner: The Undertaker 

Prior to our main event, we received words from both Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and reigning WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION SHAWN MICHAELS
Michaels claimed that since the recently-released British Bulldog had defeated Hart for the IC title and he (Michaels) in turn had defeated The Bulldog for the gold, all evidence suggested that Shawn could therefore defeat Bret for the title.

In response, Hart put Michaels over as a great professional wrestler, though he obviously claimed to better, and vowed to win their upcoming battle.

Between the two interviews, we saw Harvey Wippleman screaming at Kimchee to get Kamala out of the coffin. When the Ugandan Giant did emerge, he was quite visibly shaken.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Match
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels
As you've probably gathered by now, the bulk of WWF Survivor Series 1992 hardly made for essential viewing. Though mostly enjoyable in their own right, you can pretty much live a full and happy life without having seen any of the other matches on this card.

That said, the main event is certainly must see viewing.

A far cry from the gimmicks galore that surrounded the WWF at the time, and even further from the wild, heated brawl these two men would have seven years later at the very same event (yes, the infamous Montreal Screwjob), this was simply two awesome wrestlers on the verge of their peak being allowed to hit the ring and wrestle.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1992 - SHAWN MICHAELS BATTLES BRET HART FOR THE WWF TITLE


And oh did they ever wrestle.

We that all-important ring psychology, we had technical mat-based wrestling and moves off the ropes, we had fast-paced action and slow, methodical action. We had both champ and challenger trading the advantage and we had a crowd eating up every minute of it.

Sure, there's been better pro wrestling matches before and since, some of which even involving one or both men, but this was an outstanding main event match all the same and would still be so even if it didn't come on the back of a rather mediocre undercard.

As for who won? The Hitman slapped Michaels in a sharp-shooter to retain the title after almost thirty minutes of solid action.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

In the post-match, Santa Claus made his way to the ring, handed Hart a piece of blue paper (I swear!), and then proceeded to celebrate with the WWF Champion to close the show.

And that, my friends, was that. Though about a thousand times better than the dire 1991 show, there was still nothing beyond the world title match that really fills this writer with the kind of fuzzy-warm memories usually reserved for old-school wrestling.
As I said earlier, your life won't be any worse off if you never see this show, but if you do decide that you want to see WWF in the final days of their bridging the gap between the Hogan Era and the New Generation, you'll at least be moderately entertained in doing so. 






Saturday, 17 November 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1991

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Event poster
November 27, 1991
Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan

Between The Undertaker's debut at the 1990 Survivor Series and his first WWF title shot a the same event a year later, much had changed in the landscape of the World Wrestling Federation.

In the space of a year, Macho Man Randy Savage and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts had entered into a bitter rivalry, switching places in the all-important heel/face divide. Bret Hart had broken away from The Hart Foundation to capture the Intercontinental Championship, leaving a tag team division once peppered by great technical and high-flying teams who were now rapidly being replaced by the bulk and brute force of combos such as Legion of Doom and The Nasty Boys, and man-servant Virgil had finally severed ties with The Million Dollar Man.


All of this, and much more, made for an interesting time at the fifth annual WWF (WWE) Survivor Series, which went a little bit like this:

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Macho Man Randy Savage gets bit by a snake
The show started with a recap of the intense angle from WWF Superstars in which Jake 'The Snake' Robert's snake took a bite out of Randy Savage's arm. The gripping segment, which only became even more dramatic with the arrival of a distraught Elizabeth and a helpless Rowdy Roddy Piper at ringside, was followed by anannouncement from WWF President, Jack Tunney. 

Tunney declared that  that, due to the snake shenanigans  neither Savage nor Roberts would be permitted to compete in tonight's show.

The recently reinstated Savage would however, face Savage 'at the earliest possible convinience', which just so happened to be that coming Tuesday in Texas. From that point on, it became pretty clear that anybody who had paid money for this show had basically shelled out to view one long schill for yet another event they'd have to pay for just a few days later.

Honestly, though a couple of memorable things would ultimately happen at Survivor Series 1991, it's only real purpose was apparently to promote another pay per view.

All that aside, it was on to the opening contest.

Four vs. Four Survivor Series Elimination Match
Ric Flair, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, Warlord and The Mountie VS. Rowdy Roddy Piper, The British Bulldog, Virgil and Intercontinental Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

And so for the first time ever in the history of Survivor Series, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase was a part of A survivor Series team of which he wasn't actually the captain.
Instead, that honour went to The Nature Boy himself, as he led his men through a scorching hot opening contest which entertained from bell to bell.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Ric Flair backs off from The British Bulldog
Every man involved had the chance to shine in this compelling opening encounter, and did so with gusto, yet it was  Flar and Davey Boy Smith who, in this writer's opinion, stood out the most in the early part of the match, the latter taking on all comers in some strong exchanges before finally being eliminated by Flair.

From there, the whole thing got a bit weird, and despite the continued efforts of all involved (yes, that includes Warlord), the ending put a dampener on things when, as Flair laid low on the outside, all hell broke loose between the ropes, causing the referee to disqualify everybody except for Flair in one fell swoop.

The ending aside, Survivor Series 1991 had gotten off to a fine start with a match that must surely be regarded as highly underrated when it comes to discussing the finest moments of the annual November event.
Your Winner and sole survivor: Ric Flair

The show was then put in the command of Mean Gene Okerlund who cut a special interview with the one and only Macho Man Randy Savage.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Randy Savage is interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund
Resplendent in an outfit that was ridiculous even by the former champion's usual flamboyant standards, the master of Macho Madness declared that as much as the aforementioned snake bite had caused him pain, that was nothing compared to the torture of hearing and seeing Elizabeth crying at ringside.

Liz herself then joined Savage and Okerlund on the podium to continue the never-ending hard-sell for the Tuesday in Texas pay per view. Elizabeth was as bland and uncomfortable on the microphone as ever.


4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Elmination Match
Sgt. Slaughter, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, El Matador Tito Santana and Texas Tornado vs. Col. Mustafa, Bezkerker, Skinner and Hercules

Featuring the oddest combination of mid-card talent perhaps very combined in one ring, this match sucked so bad that the first time I saw it, I was rendered fast asleep within minutes and only awoke again half way through the hype for the Undertaker/Hogan showdown.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Tito Santana and Texas Tornado vs. Col. Mustafa, Bezerker, Skinner and Hercules
On repeat viewing, it turned out that I hadn't really missed much.

Despite a flurry of excitement from Chico Santana in the early going, this soon disintegrated into a dull, sluggish affair in which barely anything of interest happened.

One by one, the bad guys (includiing everybody's favourite nut-job The Iron Shiek in his guise as Mustafa) fell victim to the good guys in a bout so boring that even your commentary team of Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon had trouble paying much attention.
Your Winners: Sgt. Slaughter, Jim Duggan, Tito Santana and Texas Tornado

Up next, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts spoke with Mean Gene Okerlund, offering a response to Randy Savage's earlier promo as the show once again went into the hard sell for Tuesday in Texas. 

With that out of the way, it was time for some last minute hype in the build up to our main event (you know, the main event featured in the middle of the show), as we were shown an abridged version of the following clip:


World Wrestling Federation Championship Match: 
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defends against The Underaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
And so the match around which the entire show had been built, the first ever singles match to take place on a Survivor Series card was here, slap bang in the middle of the card.

And boy did it suck.

'Taker gained the advantage over the champion in the early going, then spent 90% of the contest stalking his prey around the ring, choking Hogan out for a while before breaking up the monotony by occasionally clobbering him over the back.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - The Undertaker in his match against Hulk Hogan
Once in a while, Hogan would mount a comeback, only to be beaten by his challenger. Eventually, during one of The Hulkster's many identical comebacks, 'Real World's Champion' Ric Flair made his way to ringside.

Suitalby distracted, Hogan went to the outside to beat up Flair. Returning to the ring, Hogan turned his attention to Undertaker, but was then distracted once more by Paul Bearer. As Undertaker's manager kept the referee busy, Undertaker picked up Hogan for a tombstone and planted him right onto a steel chair laid out by Flair.

Three seconds later, we had a new WWF Champion and this abysmal match was over.
Your Winner and new World Wrestling Federation Champion: The Undertaker

In the wake of that decision, a raft of promos followed:

  • Rowdy Roddy Piper offered a bat-shit crazy promo in which he went loco on Flair, Undertaker, and the Survivor Series itself. In Piper's usual insane style, he mentioned something about Hogan having hairy teeth and otherwise lost his marbles before the eyes of the world.
  • Ric Flair gave us a similar intense promo, his much more compelling and coherent as he talked about costing Hogan the title and eventually becoming the champion himself.
  • The Natural Disasters talked smack about The Legion of Doom and Big Boss Man
  • Jack Tunney informed us that there would be a world title rematch between Hogan and Undertaker at, yep, you guessed it, Tuesday in Texas.
  • LOD and the Boss Man gave their response to Earthquake, Typhoon and IRS.
4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Elimination Match 
The Beverley Brothers and The Nasty Boys vs. The Bushwhackers and The Rockers
All eight men played their parts well in a match that was far more entertaining than it had any right to be given that a quarter of the participants were Bushwhackers.

Even still, Luke and Butch got the crowd firmly into an otherwise throw-away contest before being eliminated within the first ten minutes of action.

The Rockers gained a measure of retribution by taking out Beau Beverley before taking it in turns to play the babyface-in-peril against the Nasties and Blake Beverley. It was during their comeback that Jannety scooped up one of the Nasty Boys for a slam, inadvertently catching Michaels with his opponent's boot and causing him to be pinned by Knobs.
WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - The Rockers argue

The Beginning of the End of The Rockers was nigh. The team, who hadn't seemed to be functioning all that closely since the start of the match, became engaged in a heated argument as Michaels told his partner off for getting him taken out then stormed out of the arena towards eventual superstardom as a singles star.

Left to fend for himself, Jannety soon succumbed to his opponents and was easily defeated. All the while, Monsoon and Heenan shilled for the Tuesday in Texas  pay per view as though their lives depended on it.
Your Winners and sole survivors: Jerry Saggs, Brian Knobs and Blake Beverley.

With that out of the way, it was down to probably the only instance you'll ever see of I.R.S headlining a WWE pay per view.

3 vs. 3 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Irwin R. Schyster and The Natural Disasters (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Big Boss Man and World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Champions The Legion of Doom.
Though hardly a five star mat classic, this final match of the evening was another rare case of a contest being far more enjoyable than the wrestlers involved would have you believe it could be.

Boss Man and IRS worked a fast, hard-hitting style in the early going before the match gave way to the battle of power between the Disasters and the LOD.

As the action spiralled out of control, I.R.S drilled Boss Man with his briefcase for the first elimination of the match. 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - The Legion of Doom and Big Boss Man
Hawk, Animal, Earthquake and Typhoon again took over the match with a fairly interesting exchange before I.R.S once again attempted to land a briefcase shot, this time missing a blow to Hawk and drilling Typhoon instead. Hawk covered his foe and Typhoon was gone.

Irate at the decision, Earthquake  yelled at I.R.S and left the ring with his partner, getting counted out in the process.

And so it was. Despite holding his own against Legion of Doom for as long as he could, Schyster was quickly and easily pinned by the tag team champions.
Your Winners and sole survivors: The Legion of Doom

Closing the show, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed new World Wrestling Federation Champion The Undertaker in a final bit of hype for Tuesday in Texas.




If I'd paid money for that show, I'd be incredibly pissed off. OK, so at least three of the five matches ranged from mildly entertaining to balls-out awesome, but it didn't take too much time for the WWF to reveal that the only reason Survivor Series took place in 1991 was to further sell a second pay per view just several days later. Seriously, just when you thought the overt shilling was bad enough BEFORE the title change, in the two matches which followed Hogan and Undertaker's snoozefest, the Texas pay per view was all Monsoon and Heenan could take about, distracting from the show.
As far as quality goes, this is certainly a step up from the abysmal 1990 affair, but compared to Survivor Series shows in the late 80s, this sucked a bunch.

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.