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

Friday, 26 December 2014

More WWF Hasbro wrestling figure goodies

We're almost done playing with WWF Hasbro figures at Retro Pro Wrestling HQ, though before I put these bad boys on eBay and move on with my life, I figured we'd have one last trip down memory lane. 

Unlike the other recent posts with a particular theme, this time around, we've got a few things going on here, tag teams, feuds, randomly-gathered-together grapplers with little in common, it's all here.

Hulk Hogan and Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake: BFFs

WWF Hasbro Figures - Hulk Hogan and Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake
They teamed up to take on the dastardly duo of Randy Savage and Zeus at Summerslam 1989, and then again in an attempt to prize the tag team titles away from Money Inc. at Wrestlemania 9, though even when they weren't tearing it up in the ring together, Hogan and Beefcake were firm friends. When Hogan jumped ship to WCW in 1994, it was Beefcake who followed suit, adopting every possible ring name known to man before finally disappearing from the face of the earth. 

More Beefcake (probably too much)

WWF Hasbro Figures - Two Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake
Because you can never have enough Booty Man in your life. 

WWF Ric Flair vs. WCW Ric Flair

WWF Hasbro Figures - IRS and Tatanka renew their rivalry

Speaking of seeing double, here's a somewhat out of focus shot of WCW legend Ric Flair squaring off against his constipated WWF self. 

Pay the Gift Tax

WWF Hasbro Figures - IRS and Tatanka renew their rivalry
I've mentioned a number of times on this blog that I'm a fan of Mike Rotunda's in-ring work as I.R.S, whilst the Native American Tatanka was always a firm favourite as a child. With that in mind, I couldn't resist pairing the two Million Dollar Corporation members together to relive their feud over a pre-heel-turn Tatanka's head dress.

The Nasty Boys

WWF Hasbro Figures - The Nasty Boys
If there's one problem with being an adult, it's that all Brian and Jerry's talk of Getting Nasty no longer has quite the same connotations as it once did. Oh, for the loss of innocence...

The Legion of Doom

WWF Hasbro Figures - The Legion of Doom
Sticking on the tag team theme, here's Road Warriors Animal and Hawk. Slightly out of shot, hidden behind the rest of the Slayer CDs, Paul Ellering and Rocco. 

Legends of the Old School

WWF Hasbro Figures - Old School legends Hogan, Savage and Warrior
The only thing that would have made this one better, would be if I still had my other Macho Man figure. 

And finally

For more Hasbro pics, see:

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

WWF Intercontinental Championship matches - Hasbro Figure style

Though the Intercontinental Championship is undergoing something of a resurgence in prestige as of late, there's no denying that its stock has fallen dramatically over the last decade or so, a far cry from the days when winning the second-tier strap really meant something. 

In this week's episode of grown-man-playing-with-wrestling-figures, I used the toys I had to put together some memorable -if not necessarily classic- moments in the belt's history.

Ultimate Warrior vs. Honky Tonk Man
Summerslam 1988

WWF Hasbro Figures - Ultimate Warrior vs. The Honky Tonk Man - Summerslam 1988

The self-proclaimed 'Greatest Intercontinental Champion of all Time' used every trick in the book to keep his hands on the title for a record-setting 64 weeks. Yet the longest reign in history was all over in less than 30 seconds when the World Wrestling Federation's latest megastar, the Ultimate Warrior destroyed Honky Tonk Man at the first ever Summerslam pay per view.

Continuing his rise to prominence, Warrior would hold on to the belt all the way to his legendary champion vs. champion clash against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 6.

The Mountie vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper
Royal Rumble 1992

WWF Hasbro Figures - The Mountie vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper - Royal Rumble 1992
Though Rowdy Roddy Piper's victory over defending champion The Mountie at the 1992 Royal Rumble may not have been a classic in the traditional sense, it was notable for kickstarting the only single's title run for one of the WWF's biggest stars.
It's just a shame it was so short lived. A few months later, at Wrestlemania 8, Piper dropped the belt back to former champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, the man the Mountie had defeated for the belt in the first place.

Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat
Wrestlemania 3

WWF Hasbro Figures - Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat - Wrestlemania 3

We've already covered this one in Randy Savage's greatest feuds and matches, but hey, his match with Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3 was so good its worth repeating again. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Macho Man Randy Savage's Greatest Feuds and matches - As told by WWF Hasbro Figures

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - Macho King Randy Savage
Whether he was tearing it up as a heel or basking in the adulation of the World Wrestling Federation Faithful, the legendary Macho Man Ran Savage certainly had more than his fair share of memorable rivalries. 

Though it may be a bit of a stretch to say that his every match was an outright classic, you could always be confident that when Savage was on the card, his match would be among the best of the night.

I could spend the next several hours telling you all about my favourite Macho Man feuds, but then, why bother when I could just have some old Hasbro wrestling figures do it for you?

The only thing that makes me sad about this post is that I would have liked to feature the other Macho Man figure I clearly remember having - the one with the white jacket, tassels and hat.

I loved that toy as a kid, though alas it seemed to have gone up into the attic 13 or so years ago before just, well, disappearing.

That aside, it's time to bring the toyz.

Savage vs. Steamboat
Wrestlemania 3 - Intercontinental Championship 

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat - Wrestlemania 3
Some still consider it one of the greatest matches of its time, if not all time, and for good reason, Savage/Steamboat was a phenomenal match that would have been the sole talking point of Wrestlemania 3, you know, if that whole Hogan/Andre thing hadn't happened.

And yes, before you say anything, I'm aware that Ricky Steamboat hadn't been forced to take his Dragon gimmick to such goofy extremes at this point, but hey, I'm working with what I have here. 

On another note, Steamboat was the first figure I ever owned, bought for me by Nan on a random supermarket trip to Asda. 

Moving on then...

Savage vs. Hogan
The Mega Powers Explode 

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - Macho Man Randy Savage vs.Hulk Hogan - The Mega Powers Explode at Wrestlemania 5

Easily one of the most well-told stories in pro wrestling, the saga of the Mega Powers had it all: There was action, excitement, drama, romance, jealousy, rage, and the World Wrestling Federation's two biggest stars first teaming up and then colliding over the biggest prize in the game.

Ready to relive the night the Mega Powers exploded? Here's my Wrestlemania 5 review.

Savage vs. Flair
Wrestlemania 8 - WWF Championship match

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - Macho Man Randy Savage vs.Ric Flair - Wrestlemania 8
Having captured the WWF Championship at the 1992 Royal Rumble, Ric Flair marched into a feud with former champion Savage, who had once again seen the light and become one of the good guys. 
Central to this story was Flair's insistence that, before Miss Elizabeth had been such an integral part of the Macho Man's life, she had indeed taken a ride or two on Space Mountain. 

After much build up, the two finally met in an awesome match at Wrestlemania 8 which saw Savage claim his second WWF Championship. 

Savage vs. Jake The Snake

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - Macho Man Randy Savage vs.Jake 'The Snake' Roberts - This Tuesday in Texas
One of Savage's last big-time feuds as a full-time competitor before he settled down into a commentator and occasional performer, this one was actually fairly short-lived considering the time period. 

Along with The Undertaker, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts' attacked Savage at his Summerslam 1991 wedding to Miss Elizabeth. That led to an intense rivalry and a particularly memorable angle on an episode of WWF Superstars in which Savage was attacked by Roberts, and then genuinely bitten by a snake.  

As a result of their hatred reaching such levels, WWF President Jack Tunney forbid both men from competing at the 1991 Survivor Series, and instead booked them on a second PPV just a few days later entitled This Tuesday in Texas, where the two went at it in a "short, sharp burst of violence," with Savage picking up the win. 

Savage vs. Warrior
Wrestlemania 7 - Retirement match 

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - Macho Man Randy Savage vs.Ultimate Warrior from Wrestlemania 7

Savage and The Ultimate Warrior actually had two matches. Their Wrestlemania 7 'Career Ending'  match and, weirdly, a second bout seventeen months later in London, England, at Summerslam 1992

In the former, Savage was in full Macho King mode, with Sensational Queen Sherri by his side, whilst in the latter, both champ and challenger were beloved babyfaces. It's perhaps this difference in the dynamic that made their WM7 encounter only marginally better, but still, each time these two faced off, it was something pretty special.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF King of the Ring 1995

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Video cover
June 25, 1995
CoreStates Spectrum 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For this writer, going back to the 1995 WWF King of the Ring brings about mixed feelings. This was the year that my childhood markdom reached an all-time high, a time when I believed Big Daddy Cool Diesel was the coolest thing on Earth, second only to perhaps the White Power Ranger. Yet even then, I knew that Mabel in a prominent role on WWF was something I definitely did not want to see.

Now 30 years-old, I'm almost dreading what we're about to watch tonight. Still, we're here now, so let's take a look at what went down.

Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love
That old familiar sound of Vince McMahon's Growl of the Gods kicked things off, telling us all about what a wonderful place Philadelphia is over a birds-eye-view of the city courtesy of the WWF Blimp.

This might have been where the Declration of Independence was signed, but tonight, McMahon claimed Philadelpha was all about something called monARCHY, which we can only assume was his impassioned attempt at making monarchy and anarchy sound like the same thing.

Stephanie Wiand kills the mood
After such a dramatic, dynamic introduction from Vince, you'd probably expect the air of excitement to continue, perhaps with the familiar sweeping shot of the live crowd, or at the very least more McMahon growling.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Stephanie Wiand introduced our last qualifying match between Savio Vega and IRS
Instead, after the opening graphic, we went to a rather subdued Stephanie Wiand stood in front of a curtain for a Colliseum Home Video exclusive.

'As you know,' said Steph. 'The last King of the Ring Qualifying Match' took place right here at the CoreStates Spectrum before tonight's show, and as a special treat to you, here it is.'

I mean nothing against Ms. Wiand personally, but after leaping around like a bit of a loon at the first In Your House back in May, it was a tad disappointing to see Stephanie doing her best to make a match between IRS and Savio Vega sound about as appealing as contracting an incurable disease.

Regardless, let's go check it out, shall we?

King of the Ring Qualifying match:
IRS (w/ The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase) vs. Savio Vega (w/ Razor Ramon)
In the weeks leading up to the show, Razor Ramon was set to appear in the quarter finals until a legitimate injury suffered in a house show match against arch-rival Jeff Jarrett took him out of action. Instead, The Bad Guy lead his buddy to the ring for a short, snappy little match against veteran IRS, the winner filling the vacant spot left behind by Ramon.

With the crowd firmly on his side, the man once known as Kwang dominated most of the action, constantly keeping on top of his opponent with near falls and take downs galore before finally landing the three count.

OK, so it would have been nice to see a more balanced match, but that's just the opinion of one IRS fan, and all in all, tonight's opening contest was fine for what it was.
Your Winner (advances to the quarter finals): Savio Vega

Afterwards, Vega celebrated like he'd already won the entire tournament.

The King of the Ring begins
WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Doc Hendrix and Vince McMahon were commentators for the show
Finally, we got more McMahon growling and the usual 'WELCOME EVERY-WAN!' introduction, complete with the sweep through the crowd, and the 1995 King of the Ring was underway.

Along with his commentary partner Doc Hendrix, McMahon did a sterling job of making tonight's show sound like one of the most important event in the history of pro wrestling, and with that, it was on to the competition proper.

Pettengill interviews Savio
Backstage, our old buddy Todd Pettengill caught up with a lively Savio Vega. The question, how does one prepare for the King of the Ring having only qualified minutes earlier?

The answer: An over-excited, flag-waving, wide-eyed ramble about being the first Peurto Rican King of the Ring. All the while, Razor Ramon stood by, smiling and nodding like he either didn't know, or didn't care, what was going on.

Imagine the Ultimate Warrior cutting a promo whilst on happy pills, and you've got some idea of what this one was like.

King of the Ring Quarter Final
WWF Tag Team Champion Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. Savio Vega (w/ Razor Ramon) 
As the behemoth Yokozuna made his way to the ring, we reminded of how he made his way into the competition be beating off old rival Lex Luger, thanks to a well-placed leg-drop on the outside of the ring.

Following the aforementioned promo from Savio, we went back to the entrance, for our first glimpse of a really young Matt and Jeff Hardy opening up the doors for Mr. Vega and Razor to head to the ring.

The bell rang, and after a bunch of flag-waving and crowd baiting, our 1995 King of the Ring tourmament was properly underway.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Razor Ramon helps Savio Vega celebrate his win over Yokozuna
A forgettable, if not necessarily bad opening round match saw Savio triumph over a former two time WWF Champion who would never again enjoy the kind of prominence he had known just two short years ago.

Indeed, it's curious that Yokozuna was never again a serious fixture in the WWF main event scene, especially when he'd proved -in this writer's mind at least- to be an efficient monster heel.

Instead, the sumo star was currently enjoying a tag team run with 1994 King of the Ring winner Owen Hart, whose attempt to attack Savio backfired, ultimately resulting in a countout win for Vega.
Your winner (advances to the semi-final): Savio Vega

Backstage, Jerry 'The King' Lawler had some choice words for long-time enemy, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart. In the build up to their upcoming Kiss My Foot match, Lawler had been doing everything he could to make his foot as nasty as possible, and was now promising to ram it down to the throat of The Hitman after they got done with their match.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Jerry Lawler made his foot as nasty as possible ready for his 'Kiss My Foot' match against Bret Hart
Even as an 11 year-old boy, I knew this was ridiculous, and trust me, it hasn't gotten any better with age.

King of the Ring Quarter Final
The Roadie (w/ WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett) vs. Bob 'Spark Plug' Holly
I'm going to say this now and stand by it forever: The Roadie versus Bob Holly was the most enjoyable match on this whole show.

Though neither man were perhaps in serious contention for the throne, they nonetheless made the most of what they had with an utterly entertaining outing.

Going all out from the beginning, this was a fast paced affair that really caught the attention -and received the approval- of the Philly faithful.

After a valiant effort, Holly's combination of speed and strength was no match for the cunning of The Road Dog, who countered Bob's dive from the ropes with a boot to the face to score a dodgy three count, dodgy in the sense that Holly actually kicked out on two, not that the referee seemed to care.
Your Winner (advances to the semi-final): The Roadie 

Backstage we went once again, this time with the man McMahon referred to as one of the 'odd's on favourites' for the competition: Shawn Michaels.

King Kong Bundy, and promised to go all the way by topping Supreme Fighting Machine Kama in our next content.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Bob Holly vs. The Roadie was match of the night
The Heartbreak Kid spoke to Todd Pettengill about qualifying for the competition with a win over

King of the Ring Quarter Final match
Kama (w/ The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase) vs. Shawn Michaels
If you were expecting your usual HBK classic here, your reviewer has some bad news: This wasn't such a match.

OK, so even at his worst, The Showstopper could deliver a match better than many others' best, but this just wasn't on a level you'd expect from the man who could have a decent match with just about anybody.

Nor was it all Kama's fault. The former Papa Shango laid on the offence thick, making the best use of his somewhat limited skills to play the role of the aggressor whilst Michaels -who had marked his recent babyface turn by growing the most unkempt of facial hair- did as little as he could possibly get away with.

Thus we had 15 minutes of one of the best workers in the business lying around on the floor doing nothing. Whilst this may have achieved the aim of making Kama look like something of a bad ass, it hardly made for the most exciting of matches.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Shawn Michaels w/ Todd Pettengil. HBK faced Kama in a time limit draw
Having spent most of the match killing time, Michaels almost scored the pinfall right at the last possible second, only for the time limit to elapse, resulting in what the ring announcer declared to be a double draw.

Even McMahon and Hendrix questioned that announcement, neither being quite sure how it was possible for one match to reach a draw twice.
Time limit draw - neither man advances to the semi finals

Afterwards, an irate HBK uttered a very clear BULL SHIT, before posing for the live crowd, which was about the only time he put any effort in throughout the entire thing.

Following the fiftieth camera shot of the Stridex Blimp, we went backstage once more to Todd Pettengill, who hyped up our last quarter final match of the evening, pitting The Undertaker against Mabel.

To remind you, Mabel made his way into the tournament by squashing Adam Bomb at In Your House 1, whilst The Undertaker earned his spot by toppling Jeff Jarrett.

The interval continued with Vince and Doc chatting about the show so far before throwing us to a pre-recorded video featuring Bob Backlund.

The Backlund Campaign Train goes to Philly
WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Bob Backlund on the campaign trail to become US President
Like many long-term fans, this reviewer is a big fan of Backlund's mid-90s heel run, but there was something about this video, in which the former WWF Champion went around Philadelphia as part of his presidential campaign, that was just awkward.

Not necessarily bad, or wrong, or anything like that, just awkward, as though neither here, nor anybody involved with this segment, had any idea what they were supposed to be doing.

With that over, we went back to Doc and Vince for yet another look at the Spanish and French commentators. Vince especially seemed a tad obsessed with showing us the other commentary teams on this show, probably because it was more interesting than anything actually taking place in the ring.

Speaking of which.

King of the Ring Quarter Final
Mabel (w/ Mo) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
En route the ring, Mabel took the time to talk to Stephanie Wiand about how he planned to become this year's King of the Ring. After vowing to destroy The Undertaker, Mabel signed off by calling his interviewer 'Pretty Stephanie,' a sign, perhaps, that The World's Largest Love Machine was still gaining momentum after his attempts to charm Pamela Anderson back at the Royal Rumble.

True to his word, the big man dominated the early going of this slow, mediocre affair, thwarting the Dead Man's speed and agility with brute force.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Mabel beat Undertaker in the last quarter final match
Much to the delight of the Rest in Peace chanting crowd, The Phenom did mount a spirited comeback, but his every effort was constantly met with resistance from the former tag team champion. All the while, McMahon suggested that not having the Urn to hand had much to do with Undertaker's struggles.

The supposed source of the Dead Man's power had been stolen back at Wrestlemania 11 by Kama, who subsequently melted it down into a gold chain.

Speaking of Kama, following a ref bump towards the end of the match, it was the Million Dollar Corporation member who played a role in the finish. Undertaker planted Mabel with a chokeslam, only for the Supreme Fighting Machine to clock 'Taker round the back of the head.

Mo revived the referee, and one three count later, Mabel had advanced to the King of the Ring final.
Your Winner (advances straight to the final as a result of the draw between HBK and Kama): Mabel

Post-match, Kama's plans to further punish his rival were halted when The Undertaker rose to his feet and chased the Urn-destroyer to the back at a speed only marginally slower than the snails-pace set by the preceeding match.

WWF Hall of Fame Ceremony 1995
WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - WWF Hall of Fame Class of 1995
In a break from all that non-stop action, we next took a look back at the previous night's Hall of Fame ceremony. Unlike the grand ceremony, complete with lavish production values and overall sense of spectacle that we all know and love today, back in 1995, the Hall of Fame took place in the function suite of a nearby Mariot Hotel.

In a weird way, the low-budget affair seemed to somehow add a greater air of legitimacy  to the event, as though this really was all about the WWF honouring stars like The Big Cat, Ernie Ladd, The Fabulous Moolah, George 'The Animal' Steele and Pedro Morales, rather than just another WWE show designed to squeeze more money out of fans during Wrestlemania weekend.

Forget the big stage, bright lights and big-time event feel of today's ceremonies, here we had a simple table with seats for the full WWF Hall of Fame Class of 1995, along notable figures such as Alundra Blayze (who inducted Moolah), Gorilla Monsoon (inducted Pedro Morales) and Vince McMahon.

Among clips of the inductions (during which Ivan Putski decided to forgo the usual acceptance speech in favour of leading the audience in a sing-song), we also got shots of the pre-event activities.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - The Undertaker at the 1995 Hall of Fame
Among the more memorable moments, we had Razor Ramon wearing the world's worst bright blue slacks-and-blazer get-up whilst playing tug-of-war with a kid in a wheelchair over a toy IC title, and The Undertaker looking for all the world like Satan's Pimp in an admittedly cool (for the 90s) black-and-purple number.

The Road Dogg is ready for action
Back to tonight's proceedings, Todd Pettengill was backstage for an interview with Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie. Though it's hard to say if this is the first time the King of the Ring semi-finalist had referred to himself as the Road Dogg, it's certainly fair to say that Mr. Armstrong did his damndest to get it over as his new moniker.

'The Road Dogg is going to win the King of the Ring. Who's going the Win the King of the Ring? The Road D-O-Double-G, that's who. And you're doggity dog-gone right the Road Dogg is gonna win the King of the Ring.'

OK, so that's hardly a word-for-word dictation of this promo, but it isn't far off.

King of the Ring Semi-Final:
The Roadie (w/ Double J) vs. Savio Vega (w/ Razor Ramon)
Having told us countless times in the space of a few minutes that he (the Road D-O-Double-G) was going all the way, it was time for Roadie to finish talking the talk and start walking the walk in our one and only semi-final match of the evening.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - The Road Dogg and Jeff Jarrett with Todd Pettengill
As matches go, this one was yet another mediocre King of the Ring outing with very little working in its favour. Too short to really pick up momentum and with a practically dead crowd watching on, this one came and went in a fairly unspectacular fashion.

Not that Roadie and Savio didn't do their best. To give them their credit, they did at least put some effort in, though it wasn't enough to save this from being a passable, if immediately forgettable encounter.

After just a few minutes of back and forth action, Double J hopped up on the apron to distract the referee. One push-Roadie-into-Jarrett-and-send-the-latter-flying-off-the-apron move later, and Savio was able to roll up his opponent and score a date with Mabel in the process.
Your  Winner (advances to the final): Savio Vega

'I can't believe this is happening here tonight!' exclaimed Vince McMahon, who had the final say over everything that happened tonight.

Meanwhile, Carlos Cabera prepared to catch up with Savio for a ringside interview. Trying to be helpful, Doc Hendrix got in on the act, claiming to 'translate' the Spanish-language interview for English-speaking Audiences.

As Savio spoke jubilantly to Cabera, Hendrix mistranslated his obvious words of hope and enthusiasm as 'I don't know what I'm doing here..I can't beat Mabel...Mabel is going to wipe the floor with me.' before telling us that Cabera had urged Vega to give up now, and that that the Carribean sensation was seriously contemplating it.

Though it doesn't sound all that funny written down, thanks to Hendrix's perfect comic timing, and some awesome facial expressions from Razor Ramon, this one little moment had your writer laughing out loud and giggling long into the next match.

Bret Hart's pre-match promo
WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Bret Hart faced Jerry Lawler in a Kiss My Foot match
By the summer of 1995, the rivalry between Jerry Lawler and Bret Hart had  been going on for two years and counting. It began at the 1993 King of the Ring, continued at that year's Summerslam PPV and had featured infrequently on WWF programming ever since.

With seemingly no end in sight for this feud, the two had squared off the previous month, with Lawler upsetting Hart at In Your House 1 thanks to interference from Hakushi and Shinja, leading to Hart demanding one more match against the King.  Lawler agreed, but only with the provision that the loser of the match had to kiss the winner's feet.

With the stipulation set, The King had spent the last several weeks covering his feet in all kinds of dirt, and refusing to watch them afterwards.

Not that The Hitman was concerned.

Standing in the same glamorous backstage area used by Stephanie Wiand earlier (IE, in front of a curtain), Bret delivered a pre-taped promo in which he claimed tonight was all about redemption.

The Excellence of Execution was loathe to admit that he'd been training hard for a match against Lawler, but admitted that he'd done so in order to avoid making any mistakes in his pursuit for revenge against his long-term tormentor.

Offering a retort, Jerry gave an interview to Stephanie Wiand on his way to the ring, claiming that Bret didn't stand a chance in their upcoming match, and that those nasty, foul-smelling feet of his would definitely be kissed.

Kiss My Foot Match
Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
Having been so subdued in the previous match, the Philly crowd really came alive for Hart vs. Lawler, reacting to every big spot like they were witnessing a genuine five-star classic.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Jerry Lawler speaks to Stephanie Wiand before his match against Bret HartNot that anyone would actually class this match as such. Enjoyable, sure. Entertaining, certainly, though far from a must-see attraction.

After coming out all guns blazing, The Hitman took a spill into the ring steps in the early going and spent much of the remainder of the content absorbing the punishment -including three trademark piledrivers- from The King.

Just when it looked like a proper comeback was iminent, Lawler took off his boot -exposing that disgusting foot in the process- and used it to regain the upperhand.

Indeed, it was Jerry's cowardly heel schtick that really made this one such fun to watch, though despite dominating for the majority of the contest, he wouldn't be walking away with a win.

Towards the finale, the action once again spilled to the outside, providing an opportunity for Shinja and Hakushi to rush ringside in an attempted repeat of Hart and Lawler's In Your House outing. This time however, 'Kushi struck the wrong man and laid out his ally with a swift thrust to the throat.

Seizing the advantage, Bret took the fight back to the ring, where a side Russian legsweep, backbreaker and second-rope forearm smash ultimately led to the match-winning Sharpshooter.
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

'Now, Jerry 'The King' Lawler must kiss Bret Hart's foot!' declared the ring announcer as The Hitman sat on the ropes and took off both boot and sock. Hoping to make the save, Hakushi and Shinja returned, setting up The Excellence of Execution for another attack. Once again, their plans backfired, Hakushi lept off the ropes, Bret moved out of harms way and The King was drilled by his own back-up plan.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Bret Hart made Jerry Lawler kiss his own feet
After cleaning house, Bret shoved his barefoot into his opponent's mouth before making Jerry Lawler kiss his own feet.

Disgusting? Absolutely. If I wanted to see grown men put their bare feet in each other's mouths, I'd be watching a completely different kind of video right now.

The end of the Hitman/King rivalry? Absolutely not. This whole thing would lead us to something much worse: The introduction of Isaac Yankem DDS. 

Time for the final
After a short video promoting the World Wrestling Federation's involvement with the Special Olympics, we were reminded that, whilst talented performers Bret and Owen Hart had won the last two tournaments, this year, our King of the Ring would either be Mabel or Savio Vega.

King of the Ring Final
Mabel (w/ Mo) vs. Savio Vega (w/ Razor Ramon)
If you thought reading about four Savio Vega matches in three hours was bad, imagine how the crowd felt. Having come to life for the Kiss my Foot match, they -quite rightly- went back to sleep for what proved to be an utterly tedious King of the Ring Final.

At one point, this one became so boring that the crowds completely stopped caring on the action and amused themselves with arena-wide ECW! ECW! chants.

Taking the message to heart, the two men did pick it up in the final moments, with Vega scoring a succession of crowd-popping near-falls before being ultimately caught, squashed, and pinned by your 1995 King of the Ring winner.
Your Winner and King of the Ring: Mabel

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Mo declares Mabel the new king
Afterwards, Razor Ramon confronted Men on A Mission, only to recieve a serious beat down for his troubles. This brought out a returning 123 Kid, who likewise took a pasting from Mo and Mabel.

King Mabel is crowned
Reaching the winner's podium, Mabel took his cape and sword, plonked his ginourmous rump in the throne, then sat by as Mo delivered a promo almost as a slow as our final, telling us all to bow down to King Mabel.

As an irate crowd began hurling garbage at our devious duo, Razor, Savio and the Kid made a second attempt to seek redemption, only to be held away by the referees, never -as far as I'm aware- to fully get their revenge.

A word with the Million Dollar Corporation
In another pre-recorded interview with Miss. Wiand, Sid gloated about injuring the elbow of WWF Champion Diesel in their title match a month earlier. Promising to do yet more damage tonight, big Sid was backed up by his tag team partner and Million Dollar Corporation cohort Tatanka, who was all fired up about taking on former team mate Bam Bam Bigelow. 

In response, Diesel told Todd Pettengill that even a Big Daddy Cool at 50% was more than Sid could handle. Backing up his new ally, Bigelow promised that he and the WWF Champion would set the place on fire.

Sid & Tatanka (w/ The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase) vs. World Wrestling Federation Champion Diesel & Bam Bam Bigelow
It's likely that even the worst of main events would look pretty good when coming after the snooze-fest that was Mabel vs. Vega, but for the first few minutes of this tag team contest, it did look like we'd get a main event way beyond expectations.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1995 - Million Dollar Corporation members Sid and Tatanka w/ Ted DibiaseBoth teams came out swinging in what looked set to be a pretty good main event, right up until the moment Bam Bam began to play the role of babyface in peril. From that moment on, things disintegrated into a slow, sluggish affair interspersed with the occasional rare flesh of excitement.
It's not that this was particularly bad, it's just that, after watching Bigelow take yet another beat down at the hands of Tatanka and Sid, things became so dull that you began begging for it to just be over.

Thankfully, things did eventually come to an end. After hitting Tatanka with the Jackknife powerbomb, Diesel refused to complete the three count, instead demanding that Sid tag in for another showdown.

Deciding against it, Sid dropped from the apron and made his way backstage, setting up our Lumberjack Match main event at In Your House two and leaving Tatanka to eat the match-deciding pinfall.
Your Winners: Diesel and Bam Bam Bigelow

And that, my friends, is pretty much that. Following the bell, we got the usual pyro-and-smoke celebration which followed Big Daddy Cool around for much of 1995. Then the video cut out, and all we were left with is a sigh of relief that this one is finally over.

Though it may have looked bad on paper, King of the Ring 1995 did have the potential to prove everybody wrong and actually deliver something worthwhile. Unfortunately, it failed on pretty much all accounts. Not to take away from the talents of either man, but when the best match on a major Pay Per View event is between midcard acts Bob Holly and The Roadie, it's probably fair to say that something went wrong somewhere. 
Speaking of things going wrong, looking back, it's hard to fathom just what the long-term plan was supposed to be regarding Savio Vega. 
Pushed as The Underdog That Could in his four King of the Ring matches, and then squaring off against Jeff Jarrett for the Intercontinental Championship on the following night's Monday Night Raw, the future looked bright for the former Kwang, yet beyond that title shot, can anyone really remember one significant thing he did until his eventual heel turn and siding with the Nation of Domination? 
All in all, a lackluster show that offered nothing any of us need ever witness again....apart from maybe the Undertaker's Hall of Fame suit.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

WWF Championship History 1990 - 1991 - As told by Hasbro Wrestling Figures

WWF / WWE - Hasbro wrestling figures
Time for something a little different today, dear readers: I'm getting rid of my old WWF Hasbro Action figures. 

Though before they finally leave my life once and for all, I thought it might be fun to go back and recreate some classic moments, matches and more from years gone by.

Today, here's how I imagine the promo pics  for the three big WWF Championship matches of 1990 - 1991 might look if they done with dusty old wrestling figures that had been in my loft for ten years.

Wrestlemania 6
Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior 

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - 1990-1991: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior

In a epic battle of the immortals, WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior challenged Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania 6. Following a classic back and forth struggle, The Warrior prevailed, only for Hogan to steal his thunder in the post-show celebrations.

To relieve the action, here's my WWF Wrestlemania 6 review, and just for the sake of completion, here's Hogan and Warrior with their stunt doubles:

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - 1990-1991: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior - two versions

WWF Royal Rumble 1991
Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter 

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - 1990-1991: Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter - Royal Rumble 1991

Warrior held on to the title for the remainder of 1990, but by early 1991, his run as the WWF's leading star would come to an end at the hands of Sgt. Slaughter. Slaughter was riding a wave of momentum and attracting heat like no other heel at the time thanks to his Iraqi sympathizer gimmick, and was the perfect choice to dethrone the Warrior at the 1991 Royal Rumble

The only real difference between the real thing and this picture? Slaughter's vest was in better condition at the Rumble. 

Wrestlemania 7
Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - 1990-1991: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter - Wrestlemania 7

A year after he dropped the title to Warrior, Hogan finally reclaimed his title by taking on Slaughter at the Stars & Stripes spectacular that was Wrestlemania 7. Hogan would hold the WWF Championship throughout the spring, summer and early Autumn before finally dropping it to The Undertaker. Sadly however, my Dead Man hasbro figure -complete with BRIGHT ginger hair- was lost somewhere in transit, so that's where today's story ends. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

PPV REVIEW: In Your House 1

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Event poster / cover
May 14, 1995,
Onondaga War Memorial, Syracuse, New York

Though Monday Nitro was still a few months away, with Eric Bischoff squarely at the helm of World Championship Wrestling, the period that would come to be known as The Monday Night Wars was ready to begin. 

Taking the first shot, one of Bischoff's opening acts as WCW overload was to increase the number of PPV offerings put out by the company. Not to be outdone, WWF boss Vince McMahon responded in kind with the In Your House concept, offering cheaper, two hour PPVs in between what was then the company's annual Big Five - Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, King of the Ring, Summerslam and Survivor Series.

Despite a depleted talent roster (evidenced in two Bret Hart matches) and a main event pitting Sid against World Champion Diesel, the inaugural In Your House event nonetheless showed plenty of promise for McMahon's latest creation, at least, it did to begin with.

Here's what went down.

Welcome to In Your House
And so the new era in the World Wrestling Federation got underway with Todd Pettingill giving us a run down of tonight's card, which as well as the aforementioned World Title clash, also featured a Wrestlemania 11 rematch pitting The Smoking Gunns against tag team champions Yokozuna and Owen Hart, and a match fans had been dying to see for years, Adam Bomb against Mabel. 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Commentators for the evening were Vince McMahon and Doc Hendrix
Pettengill also reminded us that tonight, live, one lucky WWF fan would win a holiday home in Florida.

We are live
Cutting to the arena, McMahon growled like a beast in welcoming us to the show, before introducing his broadcast colleague Doc Hendrix and the Spanish Announce Team.

With that out of the way, it was on to our first match.

Hakushi w/ Shinja vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
In the better of his two enjoyable performances tonight, The Hitman took to the ring to face off against Japanese star Hakushi.

Before his entrance, Bret put Hakushi over as a great, undefeated competitor, yet vowed that his opponent had 'never seen anything like The Excellence of Execution.'

Taking a moment to dedicate the match to Helen Hart (it was Mother's Day after all), Hart then stormed to the ring to a huge ovation and got the In Your House series off to a fantastic start in a wonderful match.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Hakushi took on Bret Hart in the opening contest
It's a shame Hakushi didn't stick around much longer. If this highly enjoyable affair was anything to go by, he could deliver between the ropes and add some much needed depth to the roster.

Yet despite a valiant effort, the man in white was dealt his first WWF loss at the hands of The Pink and Black Attack in what would prove to be the best match broadcast on tonight's show*
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

After celebrating with the New York faithful, a victorious Hitman appeared to tweak his knee in leaving the ring, surely a good omen for his next opponent, Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

Win a house with Stephanie Wiand
You remember Stephanie Wiand, right? Introduced as a, erm, Christmas present for Todd Pettengil on an episode of Saturday morning favourite, Mania, Steph showed up here to remind us that later on, they'd be giving away that big vacation home in Florida.

She even took the time to show us footage of an armoured car escorting all the entries to the arena, you know, because this was such a big deal.

Handicap match:
WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie vs. Razor Ramon
WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Razor Ramon took on Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie in a 2-1 handicap match
Having dropped the Intercontinental Championship to the would-be country star back at Wrestlemania, Razor Ramon's troubles with Jarrett and his Roadie were far from over by the time In Your House rolled around.

Originally scheduled as a tag team contest pitting Jarrett and Roadie against Razor and his buddy the 123 Kid, an injury to the latter sadly forced him out of action.

Undettered, The Bad Guy took the fight to his rivals in what proved to be a very entertaining handicap match.

OK, so this one didn't quite match the techincal brilliance of our opening contest, though for pure drama and excitement, Ramon's struggle to overcome the odds certainly had the Syracuse crowd pumped.

On video too, this was a good, fun encounter that finally ended with good triumphing over evil. Razor planted the Intercontinental Champion with the Razor's Edge and scored the three count.
Your winner: Razor Ramon

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Savoi Vega made his WWF debut, coming to the aid of Razor Ramon The fight continued after the opening bell, with Ramon setting up Roadie for the Razor's edge, only to be attacked from behind by Jarrett and locked into the figure-four leglock.

Aldo Montoya of all people then rushed to the rescue, only to be quickly disposed of by Jarrett and Roadie. With our hero still writhing in pain, a mysterious man in a short-sleeved shirt appeared from nowhere and finally saved the .day.

Not happy about a supposed 'fan' being in the ring, officials rushed to break up the fracas before the man was escorted backstage by New York's finest.

Lawler demands the match happen right now
Backstage, The King was found yelling at WWF President Jack Tunney, demanding that his scheduled match against Bret Hart be bumped up the card so that he could take advantage of The Hitman's earlier knee injury.

Whilst we're on that subject, wouldn't have made much more sense for Bret to injure his knee during the match with Hakushi, rather than whilst simply leaving the ring. For one thing, it helps establish Hakushi as a dangerous threat, though perhaps more importantly, it makes the company's number two babyface look like less of a clumsy idiot.

Anyway, the long and short of it here was that Tunney refused to rearrange the card, leading us instead into our next thrilling encounter.

King of the Ring Qualifying match
Mabel (w/ Oscar) vs. Adam Bomb 
WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Mabel defeated Adam Bomb in their King of the Ring qualifying match
Having recently turned their backs on happy-go-lucky manager Oscar, the more serious, the new look Men on a Mission walked menancingly to the ring for Big Mabel's qualifying match against Adam Bomb.

Before the opening bell, Hendrix gave the nod to the man from Three Mile Island, pointing out Mabel's lack of experience in single's competition.

Alas, experience or not, Mabel picked up the win in a match that was actually much better than you might expect.

Let's not get carried away here, I'm not saying this was actually good or anything, but at just under two minutes long (most of which Bomb spent jumping around and delivering flying clotheslines), it never really had the chance to suck.

Unfortunately for Bomb, all that flying was to be his downfall. After dominating the bulk of the match, he bounced off the ropes with a flying cross-body, only to be caught and squashed by the former tag team champion.
Your Winner: Mabel

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Razor Ramon introduced Savio Vega as an old friend from the Caribbean
Backstage, Todd Pettengil and his Mullet of Doom caught up with Razor Ramon in the Superstar Hotline room. With him, the mysterious man who saved his bacon earlier, and who was finally revealed to be 'Caribbean Sensation' Savio Vega.

Ramon told us was an awesome guy Vega was, only to be cut off by Pettengill, who was eager to get to the ring for our upcoming tag team team title match.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Title Match
WWF Tag Team Champions Yokozuna & Owen Hart (w/ Mr. Fuji & James E. Cornette) vs. The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart 

As the contenders made their entrance, an irate Jerry Lawler stormed to the ring, again trying to get his match against the injured Hitman moved up the card.

Again, Lawler was denied, and it was on to our tag team title rematch.

If you remember, Owen Hart goaded then-champs The Smoking Gunns into a match for the gold at Wrestlemania 11, promising to reveal a mystery partner on the night.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Owen Hart teamed with Yokozuna to successfully defend the WWF Tag Team titles against the Smoking Gunns
That partner turned out to be former champion Yokozuna, who hadn't been seen since his losing effort, in a casket match, against The Undertaker at Survivor Series 1994.

Taken completely by surprise, the cowboys proved no match for a super-sized Yokozuna, and lost the titles. Yet tonight was to be their revenge. With no surprises, Billy and Bart were well prepared and ready to take back the titles.

Unfortunately for them, the King of Harts and the sumo star had other ideas.

Moving at a much slower pace than our previous matches, this was nonetheless a decent effort for what it was, namely a five-minute filler that saw the champs retain when Owen pinned Bart following a Yokozuna legdrop.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: Yokozuna and Owen Hart

Backstage, Todd Pettengill caught up with a pensive Big Daddy Cool Diesel. Covering a lot of ground in a rather somber interview, the WWF Champion first talked about his mother passing away at Christmas, a recent attack at the hands of Henry Godwin, and of course, his renewed friendship with Shawn Michaels.

If you recall, HBK hired Sid to be his bodyguard for his Wrestlemania title match against Diesel, only for Sid to inadvertantly cost the challenger the match. The following night on Raw, Big Sid didn't take too kindly to being given 'the night off' and handed in his notice by powerbombing Michaels to oblivion.

That brought Diesel out to the rescue, turning Michaels babyface in the process and setting up tonight's main event.

After vowing to put an end to Sid on behalf of his buddy, Diesel then cheered himself up by referencing 'Beatles hit I Am The Walrus, and was all smiles as he promised to win later on.

Jerry Lawler introduces his mother
With his match against The Hitman about to happen, Lawler was in a much better mood as he made his way to the ring next. Though before he went into action, The King took time to introduce us to his 'mother,' who in actual fact was some young model/bad actress.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Bret Hart lost to long-time rival Jerry Lawler after interference from HakushiI'm not sure whether the implication here was that Lawler was so young his mother looked like a super model, or that the King had some sleazy incestual relationship going on, either way, it was prety weird, and all led to 'mother' urging her 'son' to defeat The Hitman.

Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
The King was looking forward to doing exactly that, planning, no doubt, to take out Hart's injured knee. Yet Bret had other ideas. In a brief backstage promo, The Excellence of Execution to be a rouse. His leg was fine, and he was looking forward to destroying Lawler.

And destroy him he did, at least for the first couple of minutes. With The King playing the cowardly heel to a tee, Hart battered his long-time rival (don't forget, this whole thing began at King of the Ring 1993) from pillar to post.

Just when it looked over for The King, shennanigans came into play. Hakushi's manager Shinja put in an appearance, which somehow led to the referee falling through the ropes, getting his foot caught, and dangling upside down outside the ring.

With the official, erm, tied up, Hakushi rushed to the ring and helped Lawler by attacking The Hitman. By the time referee Earl Hebner returned to the ring, The Hitman was so stunned he couldn't kick out of Lawler's pin attempt, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Jerry 'The King' Lawler

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Todd Pettengill and Stephanie Wiand revealed the winner of the Florida vacation home
Backstage, an intense Sid told us, in typically creepy, whispered tones, that he was indeed The d that, much like grains of sand in an hourglass, Diesel's time as WWF Champion was coming to an end.

Todd Pettentigill dials a wrong number, some guy wins a house
It was the moment we'd all been waiting for, no, not the main event, the moment one lucky fan won that big vacation home in Florida.

Before the winner was revealed, the ever excitable duo of Pettengill and Wiand raked through the entries. Todd then threw Steph into the big glass box which held all those entries and had her run back and forth across them for a while. I'm not sure why either, that's just what happened.

Once Wiand was done with whatever she was doing, she joined Pettengil in first dialing a wrong number, before finally reaching the winner, who, despite watching the show live on PPV, was convinced it was a joke.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Diesel defended the WWF Title against Sid in the main event
As the largely apathetic crowd went mild at the reaction, we cut back to Vince and Doc, who finally took us into our main event of the evening.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Big Daddy Cool Diesel vs. Sycho Sid (w/ Ted Dibiase)
When reviewing pro wrestling matches, it's sometimes important to keep a little perspective. OK, so by no means was Sid vs. Diesel for the WWF title a classic match, though let's remember that this took place back in 1995, an all-time low for in-ring quality in the World Wrestling Federation.

It's also worth pointing out that there's been far worst matches than this, and no doubt will continue to be so for a long time to come.

Sure, as the second longest match on the card, this certainly seemed to drag in points, but to give both men their credit, at least they seemed to try.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Diesel and Sid square off in their WWF title matchStarting off slowly and rarely picking up the pace, both men traded the advantage several times before Diesel gained the upperhand and planted his nemesis with the Jacknife powerbomb.

Yet before he could score the victory, Sid's Million Dollar Corporation teammate, Tatanka ran in and attacked, ultimately leading to the same result we would've had without the interference: A win for Big Daddy Cool.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Diesel

Afterwards, Tatanka and Sid continued their beat down of the champion, only for Diesel's new ally, Bam Bam Bigelow to race down for the save. This led us nicely into Tatanka vs. Bigelow, the first of three post-show dark matches to take place at the first In Your House.

For the record, the othe dark matches were as follows: The Undertaker beat Kamala and Davey Boy Smith went to a time-limit draw with brother-in-law Owen Hart in a King of the Ring qualifying match taped for an upcoming episode of Raw.

And so, after getting off to a thrilling start with Bret vs. Hakushi, the first In Your House event limped to a lackluster finally, decreasing in quality every step of the way. With the exception of that opening content, and quite possibly the Razor vs. Jarrett/Roadie handicap match, you're not missing a great deal if you never see this show, yet whilst the actual card was nothing to write home about, in terms of historical significance, it has to be argued that In Your House 1 deserves a least a footnote in the story of the WWE. From here on in, there was no going back, it was regular pay per views all the way. Indeed, if you've ever felt the need to bemoan the E's Pay Per View overkill and needed something to blame, you can probably start here. 

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.