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

Sunday, 30 July 2017

TV REVIEW: WWE SMACKDOWN - October 30th, 2009

Rochester, New York

Fresh from their triumphant performance at Bragging Rights, Smackdown head back to New York with their trophy in tow. Yet with Survivor Series approaching, there’s little time to gloat.

**NOTE: This is a review I originally wrote live at the time in 2009. I found this in my archives and decided to share it here** 

Teddy Long sets up tonight’s main event

This week’s Smackdown kicks off with a word from General Manager, Teddy Long. Not surprisingly, the Smackdown boss is pleased with his team’s victory at Bragging Rights, as is Chris Jericho, who interrupts proceedings to talk about the World Heavyweight Championship situation.

Following Raw’s example, Teddy announces that the title will be contested in a triple threat match at Survivor Series, with The Undertaker defending not only against The Big Show, but against the winner of a match between Jericho and Kane, due to take place later tonight.

Non-title match: Intercontinental Champion John Morrison vs. Dolph Ziggler

The two long-standing rivals get into a battle of wits on the microphone before their war turns physical in a very entertaining contest that Ziggler wins via count-out.
Your Winner via Count-out: Dolph Ziggler 

Backstage, Vince McMahon catches up with Teddy Long, informing the Smackdown GM that his probation period may soon be over following a recent spat of good work.

Not everyone is so happy with Long, as CM Punk arrives to complain about being left out of the world title picture. Hoping to appease one of his biggest stars, Vince books CM Punk in a match with, of all people, referee Scott Armstrong.

Beth Phoenix vs. Jenny Brooks 

Looking to re-establish herself as a dominant force in the Divas division, The Glamazon destroys enhancement talent Brooks in a short and sweet squash match.
Your Winner: Beth Phoenix

Full of Halloween cheer, Vickie Guerrero puts in an appearance dressed as a princess and insists the crowd refer to her as Princess Vickie Guerrero when she leads her boyfriend, Eric Escobar into competition next.

Eric Escobar vs. Matt Hardy

The veteran and the rookie collide in hard-fought contest, with newcomer Escobar looking to establish himself as a threat to the Smackdown roster, and seasoned pro Hardy hoping to get back to his winning ways.

He does just that, picking up the pinfall following a short, passable bout.
Your Winner: Matt Hardy 

After being attacked by his old friend at Bragging Rights, Rey Mysterio heads to the ring to try and work things out with Dave Batista.

Yet Big Dave is in no mood to make amends, instead insisting that their friendship is dead and from now on, Batista only looks out for Batista.

Batista attacks Matt Hardy

Heading backstage after a commercial break, Matt Hardy tries to talk some sense into Batista. Unfortunately for the elder Hardy brother, Batista is adamant in sticking with his new attitude and, just to prove it, he attacks Hardy.

Later on in the show, it is announced that Hardy and Batista will face off next week.

From the Vault: John Cena vs. Chris Jericho - Smackdown 2002

A rookie John Cena, long before he became the biggest thing in modern pro wrestling, tackles an angry Y2J in a good match which proves that Cena could actually wrestle if he wanted to.
Cena wins via DQ when Jericho hits a low blow.

Drew McIntyre vs. Finlay 

Anyone looking forward to an epic battle between Scotland and Ireland is probably disappointed. Instead of a fairly-fought contest, the dastardly Drew McIntyre attacks Finlay on his way to the ring, annihilates him on the outside and heads to the back with an evil grin spread across his face.
No Contest 

Up next, Mickie James wins the 2009 Halloween Diva Costume Contest hosted by Cryme Tyme. The whole thing is rather embarrassing to watch, and ends when Women’s Champion Michelle McCool attacks James after the victory.

CM Punk vs. Referee Scott Armstrong

TNA may have already done the whole ‘wrestling referee’ thing (remember Shane Sewell? Nah, me neither), but that doesn’t stop Smackdown from rehashing that angle as a clearly petrified Armstrong goes up against former World Heavyweight Champion, CM Punk.

No surprise here, the Straight Edge Superstar obliterate the zebra and finishes him off with the Go To Sleep.
Your Winner: CM Punk 

Afterwards, Punk tells an unconscious Scott Armstrong not to forget the beating he just received.

Main Event: Unified Tag Team Champion Chris Jericho vs. Kane (winner earns a title shot at Survivor Series) 

With a spot in the World Heavyweight Championship triple threat match at Survivor Series on the line, Chris Jericho and Kane go at it in a heated main event.

It’s a very enjoyable match, and arguably Kane’s best performance of the last two years. Unfortunately for The Big Red Machine, a good performance is not enough to win the match, and Chris Jericho walks into the Survivor Series main event thanks to the Codebreaker.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho 

Final Thoughts: 

Though far from Smackdown’s finest show, this week’s edition was nonetheless a good effort from all concerned.

In this writer’s mind, a heel turn for Batista was long overdue and should go a long way to freshening up his character and injecting a bit of life into an otherwise stale persona. The only problem there is that it takes away from CM Punk’s status as the brand’s number one bad guy.

In the title picture, your reporter is somewhat disappointed to see Smackdown devoid of its own ideas and simply copying Raw’s main event formula, but if this means Chris Jericho main eventing pay per views again, and possibly even scoring a surprise victory over The Undertaker then I’m all for it

Sunday, 23 July 2017

TV REVIEW: WWE RAW - October 5th, 2009

WWE Raw 2009 logo
Wachovia Arena, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

On the back of an impressive Hell in a Cell pay per view, Raw returns with a new WWE champion in Randy Orton, a beaten-up yet victorious DX and some football player called Ben as your guest host of the evening.

Introducing your guest host

Football star Ben Roethlisberger (yeah right, like I’m gonna type that out all night) is tonight’s guest host and despite the mixed reaction from the crowd looks to be in a great mood.

Wasting no time in getting down to business, Ben announces that tonight’s first match will be a Diva Bowl. Strange coincidence, as your writer sat down to watch Raw this morning, he ate porridge from a diva bowl; it had a picture of Beth Phoenix on it and everything.

Ahem…no more bad jokes, I promise.

Diva Bowl: WWE Divas Champion Mickie James, The Bella Twins, Melina, Maria, Kelly Kelly, & Eve Torres vs. WWE Women’s champion Michelle McCool, Rosa Mendes, Beth Phoenix, Layla, Jillian, Alicia Fox & Natalya

Calling it a Diva Bowl, dressing all the girls up in American Football gear and getting Gail Kim out as the referee does little to disguise the fact that, when all is said and done, this is just your typical Raw diva match, albeit one that starts with what can only be described as the wrestling equivalent of a multi-car pile-up.

As Diva matches go, this one isn’t to bad, nor is it anything particularly special, and after just three short minutes, Mickie James rolls up Alicia Fox to bag the win for her team.
Your Winners: Mickie James, The Bella Twins, Melina, Maria, Kelly Kelly, & Eve Torres

As the divas celebrate in the ring, Randy Orton’s music hits as the new WWE Champion slowly makes his way to the ring.

Let’s go round again

Picking up a microphone, Randy Orton talks about his win at Hell in a Cell; reminding us all that he didn’t need to cheat or take shortcuts to get the job done. Furthermore, says the champion, he won’t be giving John Cena, the man he beat for the title. a rematch tonight.

Naturally, Cena himself has something to say on the matter and, after reminiscing on their memorable performance from twenty four hours ago, challenges Orton to face him one more time.

Both champion and challenger debate the terms and conditions on such a match, and finally agree to face each other in a sixty-minute, no holds barred Iron Man match with both Orton’s title, and Cena’s status as a Raw superstar, on the line.

A tense handshake seals the deal.

Swagger Speaks

Prior to taking on Primo, Jack Swagger reminds the Raw audience that he wasn’t pinned in last night’s Triple Threat match against The Miz and United States Champion Kofi Kingston. With that in mind, The All-American American vows to remain undefeated for the remainder of the year.

Jack Swagger vs. Primo Colon

Due to their short nature, it’s very rare that a squash match is able to be boring, but somehow this one manages to be just that.

Swagger looks impressive, if not particularly exciting, as he kicks off his undefeated streak with a four-minute pasting of poor primo.
Your Winner: Jack Swagger

In the back, Santino Marella finds himself caught up in the midst of a heated argument between the divas. Marella, dressed in referee’s attire, urges them to break it up and implores Mickie James and Alicia Fox to quite literally kiss and make up. Fox slaps the Italian in the chops and he scurries off down the hall as the girls continue to scrap.

Bragging Rights

Raw commentators Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole announce that the aforementioned Iron Man Match between Randy Orton and John Cena will take place at the next pay per view, Bragging Rights. Not only that, but the event will see the winners of all the Smackdown matches team up to take on all the winners of the Raw matches 'for,' announces Cole with a huge smile on his face like he just got the punchline, “bragging rights.”

He’s The Miz and he is…awful?

Backstage, The Miz implores tonight’s host ‘Big Ben’ to give him another shot at Kofi Kingston’s United States championship. Ben complies with the request, but adds the stipulation that, should The Miz loose, he must take to the microphone and announce the world that he is awful.

MVP & Mark Henry vs. Chavo Guerrero & Chris Masters

It takes less than three minutes for MVP and Mark Henry to roll over their opponents in a reasonably entertaining fashion, thanks in large part to some miscommunication on the part of Guerrero and Masters.
Your Winners: Mark Henry and Chavo Guerrero

In the post match, Masters, unhappy with the loss, lays into Chavo and applies the Master Lock. Repaying the favour from last week, Hornswoggle runs out, making the save by biting Masters on the leg.

Chavo and Hornswoggle see to it that Masters leaves the ring, only for the little leprechaun to taunt Guerrero with some DX-like chops leaving Chavo, this writer, and everybody else, utterly confused.

Big Ben’s back, and this time, he’s got company 

Tonight’s host returns to the ring, yet before he an utter a word, Unified Tag Team Champions Chris Jericho and The Big Show arrive on the scene.

With Jericho displaying his always-brilliant comic timing, Big Show plays the straight man as he mocks Big Ben’s size and insists that Ben’s offensive line can’t possibly be as big as The World’s Largest Athlete.

Hoping to find out for sure, the host calls out his buddies. They’re not as big as ‘Show, but come to the ring anyway and threaten to charge into the champions.

Smarter than your average couple of bears, Jerishow bail, only to be confronted by DX, who waste no time in challenging the champs to match.

Ben makes it official and celebrates with Michaels and Triple H, as his teammates bounce around the ring like little kids on Christmas morning.

WWE United States Championship: Kofi Kingston defends against The Miz

In a very enjoyable contest packed with near-falls, Kingston and Miz display great chemistry together as they compete for the US title.

Kingston takes it to his opponent, seemingly knocking him out cold with a huge kick that sends the challenger flailing to the outside. Unwilling to take the count-out victory, the champion rolls his opponent back inside the ring where, after several more explosive near-falls, this thrilling match culminates with The Miz rolling up Kingston for the three count.
Your Winner and new United States Championship: The Miz

Revelling in his victory, Miz takes to the microphone with a reminder that he is The Miz and he is awesome. This writer is inclined to agree.


Cameras head to the back, where Hornswoggle is excited to meet Big Ben, and seems to be suggesting that the host pick him up and hurl him like a football (or something). Santino Marella interrupts, urging Ben to do something about the earlier fracas amongst the divas which resulted in the Italian taking a slap to the chops.

Since no Santino segment would be complete without a bit of comedy, he then proceeds to mispronounce Ben Surf ‘n’ Turf/Rottenburger/Rock ‘n’ Roller’s last name several times, followed by an apology that his Italian accent makes it difficult to pronounce names.

Some how, all it takes is a swift slap to the chops from Hornswoggle, for Marella to get it right and promptly wonder off.

“That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” cries Michael Cole, apparently forgetting all about his embarrassing show at Friday’s Smackdown party.

Next week’s hosts

Will be Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell and Maria Menounos.

Non-title match: Unified Tag Team Champions Chris Jericho & The Big Show vs. DX (Shawn Michaels & Triple H)

Showing little sign of the beating they took twenty four hours ago at the hands of Legacy, Triple H and Shawn Michaels enter into a spirited performance against the tag team champions in an exciting main event.

Both teams work well together to create a fun, nineteen minute bout which comes to an end when HBK hits the Sweet Chin Music on Jericho for the win, no doubt setting up a title match come Bragging Rights.
Your Winners: DX (Shawn Michaels & Triple H)

Afterwards, Big Ben and his buddies head to the ring to celebrate as Raw draws to a close.

Final Thoughts:

Despite the less-than-stellar start, this week’s edition of WWE Raw gradually evolved into a good show.

Miz taking the title from Kofi in an a great bout and DX picking up the win over Jerishow in an enthralling main event more than made up for weaker moments such as the Diva Bowl and the Swagger/Primo snorefest.

Yet the big news coming from tonight’s show was the announcement of a sixty man Iron Man match at upcoming pay per view, Bragging Rights. For new fans not familiar with the concept, an Iron Man match sees two men compete for a set period of time (in this case, an hour) and whoever picks up the most falls wins the bout. Cena and Orton have battled each other on three consecutive pay per views over the last several months, and whilst a fourth, hour-long, bout could be seen as overkill, it does seem that Bragging Rights will finally put an end to their rivalry once and for all. What’s more, providing Triple H stays tied up with the DX thing until at least Christmas time, it will be interesting to see who steps up to the plate in the weeks leading up to Survivor Series to challenge the winner of Orton/Cena for the title.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

TV REVIEW: WWE Raw - October 12th, 2009

WWE Raw 2009 logo
Indianapolis, Indiana

Triple H begins a recruitment drive for a team of Raw Superstars to take on Team Smackdown at Bragging Rights, the Divas Championship changes hands twice, and some woman called Nancy takes to the stage as tonight's guest host.

Chris Jericho - Team Leader

This week's Raw opens up with Unified Tag Team Champion, Chris Jericho, announcing that he is to be the leader of Team Smackdown in the epic tag match at Bragging Rights.

Before he can go much further, Jericho is interrupted by this week's guest host, Nancy O'Dell. The Access Hollywood host announces that tonight's show isn't supposed to start with him, but rather with D-Generation-X.

Triple H stirs the pot

As per Nancy O'Dell's instructions, DX are out next. At least, one half of them are; Shawn Michaels is absent, leaving Triple H to fly solo.

Hunter calls up his old buddy on the telephone, though not without some apparent difficulty.

"You'll have to bear with me, I'm not the most technically savvy guy," says The Game, because apparently you have to be technically savvy to be able to work your own mobile phone.

Hilariously, Triple H gets through to HBK's answering machine, which plays a recording of Shawn singing to his theme tune.

Shawn explains that his daughter got sick and thus he had to stay home. She's OK though, and HBK explains that he read his daughter a story, providing the perfect opportunity to plug the new DX book.

Getting back to the point in hand, Triple H attempts to discuss Bragging Rights, only to be interrupted by Unified Tag Team Champions Chris Jericho & The Big Show.

Jericho, as excellent as he always is on the microphone, declares that even though his partner is a Raw Superstar, he wants Big Show on Team Smackdown. Bemused, and looking to have a little fun, Triple H stirs the pot, asking Big Show whether he always does what Jericho tells him to do. Stirring the tensions further, Triple H teases Show and Jericho into an argument of sorts which leads to the World's Largest Athlete deciding he'd rather be on Team Raw.

In a further twist, Triple H announces that Big Show is welcome to join the team, but only if he beats Chris Jericho in a match!

Bragging Rights Qualifying Match: Big Show vs. Chris Jericho

Though this won't go down as masterpiece of technical wrestling, it's nonetheless a very fun match with an interesting story told well.

With his Napoleon Complex coming to the fore, the cocky Chris Jericho does his best to try the patience of Big Show, who implores his partner not to take things so seriously.

Ignoring such advice, Jericho continues to bite at the heels of the World's Largest Athlete, only to get his backside handed to him in response. Jericho is sent to the outside thanks to a huge chop from his partner, and appears to have injured his knee. In a touching moment, Big Show heads to the outside to check on his friend, but makes it back into the ring before the count of ten, thus winning the bout.
Your Winner via Countout: Big Show (qualifies for Team Raw at Bragging Rights)

Backstage, some girl called Maria (apparently a friend/colleague of tonight's host, Nancy O'Dell, or something) interviews Legacy.

Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase claim that despite still feeling the effects of their Hell in a Cell loss to DX, they're here to compete tonight.

Maria announces that Triple H, in charge of the recruitment drive for Bragging Rights, has set up a qualifying match for Team Raw; Ted Dibiase will face Cody Rhodes and John Cena in a triple threat match. If Rhodes makes the pin, he's on the team, if Dibiase makes the pin, he's on the team, if Cena wins, neither of them are on the team.

Needless to say, the Legacy boys are none too pleased.

WWE Divas Championship: Mickie James defends against Jillian Hall

Mickie James takes it to her opponent in an aggressive contest, yet less than ninety seconds in, the challenger upsets the champion thanks to a powerbomb in the corner and a ropes-assisted pin. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new Divas Champion.
Your Winner and new Divas Champion: Jillian Hall

In the post-match, an ecstatic Jillian Hall celebrates with a song, only to be interrupted by Nancy O'Dell. Tonight's guest host announces that she's been in touch with the other General Managers to arrange a tri-branded Divas trade. The good news for Jillian is that she's still on Raw, the bad news is that she now has to defend her newly-won title against Raw's newest Diva, right now.

WWE Divas Championship: Jillian Hall defends against Melina

In what is quite possibly the worst thirty seconds of wrestling ever committed to camera, Melina botches her way to a short destruction of her opponent to capture the Divas title. Make no mistake about it, Jillian was quite brilliant in her role here. Everything else, however, was awful.
Your Winner and new Divas Champion: Melina

Before we go any further, it's worth mentioning that next week's guest host will be none other than Snoop Dog. This, of course, gives Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler the excuse to say 'Fo 'Shizzle' a lot in the most cringe-worthy fashion imaginable.


Heading into the DX dressing room (which looks for all the world like a shop-front for DX merch), Triple H appears to be talking to a cardboard cut out of HBK, only to reveal that he's actually speaking to the man himself on the telephone. From out of nowhere, Michaels' music strikes, and out comes Horsnwoggle dressed as The Heartbreak Kid, long wig and all.

Comically, Triple H tells the leprechaun off for gimmick infringement, causing Hornswoggle to attack the cardboard cut-out of HBK. Triple H tackles him, but with a swift DX chop, the little buggar is gone. Whilst this writer has never been a fan of Hornswoggle, it has to be said that this was undoubtedly his funniest performance.

Beth gets angry

With the Hornswoggle segment out of the way, we next get the obligatory Santino shot, as the Italian himself is backstage with Nancy and Maria. Beth Phoenix arrives on the scene, unhappy about being traded to Smackdown. The Glamazon threatens to beat up Nancy unless she gets traded back to Raw. Maria gets involved, and she gets threatened too.

Opening his big mouth, Santino comes up with the great idea that Maria and Beth should meet in the ring tonight. Beth shoves him out the way and storms off, leaving Santino to get the last word in: "Just so you know, Beth, every time we were intimate, I faked every organism!"

Give that man a medal.

Bragging Rights Qualifiying Triple Threat Match: Ted Dibiase vs. Cody Rhodes vs. John Cena

Outnumbering their opponent, Legacy take it to Cena with a brutal beat down for the better part of ten minutes before Cena begins his inevitable comeback.

Yet there's a twist in the tale of this fairly average bout as Randy Orton runs to the ring to distract his longstanding rival. Unfortunately, Orton also manages to distract Ted Dibiase, allowing Cody Rhodes to sneak up behind his partner and roll him up for the pin fall.
Your Winner: Cody Rhodes (qualifies for Team Raw at Bragging Rights)

Naturally upset at the loss, Dibiase argues with his partner as Randy Orton does his best to keep the peace. This brings Nancy O'Dell onto the screen with another announcement. Since Legacy don't seem to be getting along, she says they can team up to take on two other men who don't get along in a tag team match. Yep, tonight's main event is going to be Ted Dibiase & Cody Rhodes vs. John Cena and WWE Champion, Randy Orton.

Bragging Rights Qualifying Match: Jack Swagger vs. MVP

In a short and sweet little encounter, Jack Swagger battles MVP for a spot on Team Raw at the Bragging Rights pay per view. Despite his best efforts, Montel Vontavious Porter succumbs to the All-American American in just over two and half minutes as Swagger goes over with a gutwrench powerbomb.
Your Winner: Jack Swagger (qualifies for Team Raw at Bragging Rights)

Tension in the ranks

Backstage, Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes argue some more, accusing one another of planning to pin Randy Orton in their upcoming match. Orton refutes such claims by declaring that he doesn't plan on tagging into the match, thus turning it into a makeshift handicap match. Curiously, Orton tells his boys that if they are thinking of pinning him, then they'd better keep on thinking. Now that made sense.

Bragging Rights Qualifying Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Evan Bourne

Despite loosing the United States Championship recently, Kofi Kingston looks to be in good spirits as he enters into a very entertaining match against Evan Bourne.

The two highflyers go at it in a short, non-stop match packed with plenty of action with both men trading the advantage until Kingston hits Trouble in Paradise for the three count.
Your Winner: Kofi Kingston (qualifies for Team Raw at Bragging Rights)

Backstage, Triple H is on the phone to Shawn Michaels again when Nancy O'Dell and her pal Maria turn up to talk about Maria getting in the ring. Ms. Menounos confesses that although it's been her dream to compete for the WWE, she isn't sure she's ready.

"But don't you remember everything I taught you?" asks Hunter?
"You only showed me how to do two kicks and how to put you in a head scissors for fifteen minutes," she replies, eliciting a small laugh from the crowd.

Further interruptions come from none other than Chavo Guerrero. He wants to know what's going on between DX and Hornswoggle, and believes they're conspiring against him. Furthermore, Guerrero is annoyed that he isn't on team Raw and believes that he should be, and I quote "the stupid captain of the team".

Maria kicks him the goolies, and if you're not down with that, says the cardboard cut out of Shawn Michaels, we got two words for ya.

Six Diva Tag Match: Beth Phoenix, Rosa Mendez & Alicia Fox vs. Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos (with Nancy O'Dell)

Things kick off with Gail Kim taking it to Alicia Fox before tagging into Maria. Despite only being taught a kick and a headscissors, Menounos seems to know enough to pull off an irish whip, snapmare and even a quick pin attempt on Fox, before the latter gains the advantage and tags in Beth Phoenix.

Maria gets the better of the Glamazon and tags out, leaving the ring open for a pretty entertaining contest between the ladies, which finally comes to an end when Kelly Kelly gets a win over Rosa thanks to a legdrop.
Your Winners: Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos

The Miz speaks

After antagonising the crowd for a while, the new United States Champion makes a big announcement. In two weeks time, at Bragging Rights, he'll be taking on John Morrison.

Now that should be awesome.

Miz reminds everyone how great he and Morrison were together even though, according to Miz, he was the talent and Morrison was 'nothing more than a hairdo with abs', because he's The Miz and, yes ladies and gentlemen, he is awesome.

Main Event: WWE Champion Randy Orton and John Cena vs. Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes

Before we get on with the action, Randy Orton lets it be known that he just got off the phone with next week's guest host, Snoop Dog. According to Orton, Mr. Dog has decided that John Cena will compete in one of the biggest matches of his career next week on Raw. Apparently, we don't get to find out what that match is until later on.

With all four men in the ring, Randy Orton drops to the floor, making it abundantly clear that he has no intention of tagging in. Left to fend for himself, Cena locks up with Dibiase for the start of yet another beat down.

After several minutes of non-descript action, Cena makes a brief comeback and tags in an unsuspecting Randy Orton.

With Cena now dropping to the floor, Orton is forced to go at it against Cody Rhodes, before Ted Dibiase tags himself and surprises the champion with a succession of pin attempts. Things get a little more entertaining from there, as Cena tags back in against Dibiase, Orton beats down Cena and, eventually, Dibiase rolls up Orton for the one, two and three.
Your Winners: Ted Dibiase & Cody Rhodes

As John Cena nails Randy Orton with an Attitude Adjuster in the post-match, we're told that he'll face Triple H next week. Michael Cole makes out that it will definitely, no doubt about it, be John Cena's last match on Raw, even though we're yet to reach Bragging rights.

Final Thoughts: 

Since the introduction of the guest-host gimmick, and even for some time before that, WWE Raw has often been accused of doing very little to generate much interest in upcoming pay per views. Tonight's show was different, and thanks in no small part to the number of qualifying matches on the show, went a long way to making Bragging Rights a show many, this writer included, would want to watch.

What's more, the growing tensions between Legacy and Randy Orton, not to mention the appearance of Nancy O'Dell (I've got to admit, I'd never heard of her before tonight, but now I think I'm officially in love) made this a good show, even if it did lack much in the way of great in-ring action.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

TV REVIEW: WWE Raw - October 19th, 2009

WWE Raw Logo
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida

Snoop Dog hosts the final Raw before Bragging Rights as Team Raw fall into disarray, Legacy fall apart and Triple H falls to John Cena in what might just be Cena's last night on WWE Raw. 

Dissension in the ranks. 

Snoop Dog rolls rides into town in a pink limo with Raw's newest Divas, Eve and The Bella Twins, in tow. After working up the crowd and announcing a couple of tonight's matches (as well as Cena/Triple H, we also get Orton/Dibiase and HBK/Jericho), tonight's guest host introduces your regular opening act, D-Generation-X.

Forgoing their usual 'Are you ready?' routine, Hunter and Shawn begin the final push towards Bragging Rights by taking a look at their opponents on Team Smackdown and mocking them one by one in a routine which only really becomes funny by the time they get to newcomers Drew McIntyre and Eric Escobar.

With the opposing team verbally dissected, the rest of Team Raw make their way to ringside and almost immediately start to argue amongst themselves; Cody Rhodes threatens to defeat Team Smackdown all by himself, Big Show threatens Cody, Mark Henry faces up to Show and Jack Swagger chimes in as well until Kofi Kingston, now completely devoid of his Jamaican accent, reminds everyone that they need to work together.

DX agree, though admit that they did see this coming and thus set up a test; a five-on-five tag team match in which, should any member of Team Raw eat the pin, they'll be replaced. MVP's music hits, he leads the Raw Job Squad to ringside, and Team Raw breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Five-on-five tag match: Cody Rhodes, Mark Henry, Big Show, Jack Swagger & Kofi Kingston vs. MVP, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Masters, Evan Bourne and Primo Colon 

Following a match so short and forgettable your reporter couldn't remember who was on MVP's team, Cody Rhodes hits the Cross Rhodes on Primo only for Jack Swagger to tag himself in and take the pin.
Your Winners: Cody Rhodes, Mark Henry, Big Show, Jack Swagger & Kofi Kingston 

Rather than being united in victory, the win only seems to divide Team Raw further, as they spend the next few moments taking turns in throwing each other out of the ring.

If I were you... 

Backstage, Josh Matthews interviews Ted Dibiase about his victory over Randy Orton the previous week. Dibiase tells Matthews that he only did what Randy Orton himself would have done in the same situation. Orton, however, disagrees. "If I were you, I would listen carefully," he says, before telling Ted not to fight back when they compete next.

Non-title match: WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. Ted Dibiase 

Less of an actual match, more of a well played-out angle, no matter what you call it this is fantastic stuff. With anger rising within, Ted Dibiase looks tormented and conflicted as he stands face-to-face with the Legacy leader, doing his best to show restraint as Orton continues to push and provoke him. Finally, Dibiase stands up for himself and pushes the WWE Champion to the mat. Yet this doesn't seem to go far in resolving his torment, as the former tag team champion simply stares and seethes even more, only for Orton to attack with the RKO and pick up the win.

A brilliant segment in which the crowds really got behind Ted Dibiase; surely a turn to the side of the good guys can't be far off?
Your Winner: Randy Orton 

A Tribute to Captain Lou 

Legendary WWE Hall of Famer Captain Lou Albano sadly passed away last week aged 76. Known for his interesting attire, which often consisted of a rubber band hanging from his cheek, his famed talent as a ringside manager and, of course, for playing such a major part in the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection of the late 1980s which helped catapult the then-WWF into the global household name that it is day, Captain Lou was a truly beloved superstar. Taking a moment to remember him, WWE plays us a fitting tribute video.

The Obligatory Comedy Spot 

You know how, every week, we get three obligatory comedy spots with the guest host? Well thankfully, the 'E decide to spare us, and squash all three into one.

Cameras find Snoop Dog chilling out backstage with Eve and The Bella Twins when Hornswoggle, back in his usual garb yet still sporting a DX shirt, shows up for no real reason. Naturally, wherever Hornswoggle goes, Chavo goes too. Guerrero complains about being constantly overlooked by the guest hosts, only to be interrupted by Jillian Hall, who demands a rematch for the Divas Championship before singing a song (assume it's one of Snoop Dog's. You'll have to forgive me, I might actually know who this week's guest host is, but I still don't know his work at all).

Finally, it wouldn't be the Raw comedy moment without Santino Marella, dressed as Charlie 'the' Brown. Santino declares that he wants to make amends for the last time the two met. Snoop Dog sends them all out, and we're lead to believe that he's lighting up some marijuana as a 'technical difficulties' graphic featuring Michael Cole with his arm around Hornswoggle appears on screen. Of course, this being a family-friendly show and all, it's revealed he was actually lighting some scented candles.

Returning back to the arena, Michael Cole sits with his arm around Jerry Lawler and an enormous grin on his mush. "We're actually live now," he laughs, "no more technical difficulties". Because apparently, Michael Cole can't tell the difference between the man he announces Raw with every week, and a leprechaun.

Triple H vs. John Cena 

In what is build as potentially his last match ever on Raw, John Cena displays a valiant effort in a lengthy, dramatic bout with Triple H.

Building up slowly and working towards an exciting finale, both men work hard to deliver a very good television match which, to drag up an old cliché, has the fans on the edge of their seats as Cena and Hunter both kick out of one another's finishing manoeuvres. Unfortunately for the number one contender to the WWE title, the third pedigree proves to be too much, and Triple H walks away with the win.
Your Winner: Triple H 

Up next, The Miz heads out to face some jobber who doesn't even get his name announced. Luckily for the Jobber with No Name, he's saved from a beat down by something altogether wonderful.

Marty Jannetty Returns

Just typing that line above made this reporter very happy indeed. Before The Miz can lock up with his hapless opponent, Snoop Dog appears on screen, flanked by Eve and The Bellas, who pout and pose as Mr. Dog announces that he was unhappy with comments The Miz made about Marty Jannetty on Smackdown. As such, Miz will now face Jannetty in a match.

Non-title match: United States Champion The Miz vs. Marty Jannetty 

Though an enjoyable, basic little bout in its own right, this short affair is made all the more brilliant just for the sheer joy of seeing Marty Jannetty, even if he does appear to have aged pretty badly recently. Jannetty gets in some offence against the champion, including his trademark Flying Fist Drop, before The Miz finally puts the old-timer out of his misery thanks to the Skull Crushing Finale.
Your Winner: The Miz 

Backstage, Chavo Guerrero has words with Jillian as the show heads to commercial.

Divas Championship match: Melina defends against Jillian (with Chavo Guerrero in her corner) 

Melina defends her title in a short nothing match which serves no other purpose than to set up the next angle. The two girls battle for about a minute, with Chavo Guerrero running interference on the challenger's behalf until Hornswoggle, dressed in hip-hop attire, cuts him off, allowing Melina to take the win.
Your Winner and still Divas Champion: Melina 

Afterwards, Chavo goes after Hornswoggle, only to be stopped in his tracks by Snoop Dog. The two circle, looking for a fight, and Snoop takes down Chavo with a spear before celebrating with Hornswoggle and several divas in a dance routine that goes on far too long.

Next Week's Guest Hosts 

Are two NASCAR racers called Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Again, never heard of 'em.

Main Event: Unified Tag Team Champion Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels 

All night long, fans have been anticipating another sure-fire classic between The Heartbreak Kid and The Artist Formerly Known as Y2J. Instead, what we get is an all out war between Team Raw and Team Smackdown.
With both men in the ring, Jericho dishes out some verbal abuse to Michaels before the rest of the Smackdown camp arrive on the scene and outnumber The Showstopper. Luckily for Shawn, back up isn't far behind as Team Raw head to ringside to level the playing field.

Triple H derides Jericho before a familiar cry of "excuse me!" interrupts proceedings. Yes folks it's Vickie Guerrero, who announces that as the official consultant to Team Smackdown, she won't allow anything to happen until Sunday, and that her boys will take their leave.

Hunter, however, has other ideas, and after declaring that the Raw boys don't work for Vickie, they lay into Jericho and his men as Raw closes with a wild brawl between the two teams.
No Contest 

Final Thoughts: 

Though Smackdown still remains far ahead of it's Monday night counterpart in terms of action and entertainment, Raw finally seems to be catching up, and tonight fought back with a very entertaining show. HHH and Cena delivered in the ring, the Cena/Dibiase showdown was intense and as for the appearance of Marty Jannetty, well, that just made me smile. There is little doubt in this writer's mind that Smackdown will counter with a show that is at least equally entertaining on Friday, but even if they don't, the winner in a war over the most entertaining show will pale in comparison to what is likely to be a very enjoyable battle for brand supremacy this Sunday at Bragging Rights.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Hollywood Hulk Hogan - Autobiography

WWE BOOK REVIEW: Hollywood Hulk Hogan Autobiography
Hollywood Hulk Hogan is an engaging, entertaining and insightful biography from a man who revolutionised his chosen profession.

And whilst this book probably won’t be of much interest to anyone who isn’t a fan of pro-wrestling, for those who are, it’s an enthralling history of the man behind the most famous face in the sport, Hulk Hogan.

NOTE: This is a repost of a review I originally wrote back in 2009.

As with similar tomes released by the company, WWE seems to put a spin on Hogan’s book, and at times it seems as much an exercise in self-promotion as a detailed account of the life and times of Terry Bollea.

But at others, it’s a riveting read.

Though some critics have lambasted Hogan for leaving out a number of key issues, mainly from his time in World Championship Wrestling, Hogan does well to recount a career spanning 25 years at the time of publication.

Starting with his early childhood, when Hogan reveals that he was a chubby, out-of-shape kid who loved pro wrestling and admired ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes but never thought he’d ever find himself in the ring, the book goes on to talk about his days playing bass for a number of well-paid bands before finally deciding to pursue a career between the ropes.

What’s good about this book is that although it gives enough background to Terry Bollea’s pre-wrestling days to get an idea of where he's coming from, it doesn’t waste too much time in getting into the reason you want to read it; the wrestling.

From getting his leg broken in his first week of training to his triumphant match against The Rock at Wrestlemania 18, Hogan runs through numerous key episodes in his life and career; the birth of Hulkamania, single-handily carrying the WWF(E) to mainstream attention (Though many wrestlers would like to deny it, it’s hard to argue that Hogan, along with Vince McMahon, wasn’t largely responsible for the huge book in pro wrestling). the 1993 steroid scandal and his controversial exit from McMahon-land, with much more besides.

And the best thing is that Hogan comes across as being genuine and honest.

The man in yellow-and-red has gotten a lot of flack from some in the pro-wrestling community, and many so-called ‘smart’ fans (who probably don’t know half as much as they think) but here Hulk Hogan gets the chance to tell his side of the story.

He talks openly about mistakes he’s made, how Terry Bollea wasn’t quite as clean cut as the Hulk Hogan character he portrayed (there’s lots of talk about Hogan out drinking with other wrestlers and ‘Raisin’ Hell’) and how despite a genuine love of pro wrestling, making money was his number one priority.

Moreover, Hogan seems genuinely upset, annoyed, and at times simply bewildered, at the amount of jealousy and hurtful things hurled in his direction, as well as surprised and delighted at the continued level of support for a wrestler who helped catapult pro-wrestling into the global conscience.

Overall, a good read that should provide a good history lesson for newer WWE fans, a history of how the multi-million dollar, global empire they know today was transformed from a local territory in New York on the back of a phenomenon known as Hulkamania.

See Also: 

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

WCW The Great American Bash 1996

WCW Great American Bash 1996 - Event Poster
June 16, 1996
Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, MD

The summer of 1996 was an interesting time for professional wrestling, particularly when it came to the burgeoning intensity of the rivalry between World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation. 

By June, the latter were using their King of the Ring PPV to begin launching a bona fide star out of ex-WCW mainstay Steve Austin, ultimately creating the Stone Cold character that would shape and define The Attitude Era.

Meanwhile, the former were using two of the WWF's biggest stars, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in a storyline that would ultimately position them as the number one wrestling company in the world. 

Tonight, at the tenth instalment of their 'Great American Bash event, WCW would not only take that storyline, but their entire rivalry with WWF, to the next level. 

Did that make for an enjoyable show? Let's head to the Baltimore Arena to find out, shall we?

Everybody's Pumped Up For The Bash 

Our show tonight began with a cavalcade of madness, not all of it of the Macho kind.

WCW Great American Bash 1996 - Ric Flair, Miss. Elizabeth, Arn Anderson, and Woman of the Four Horsemen
In the first of a series of crazy-hyper promos, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan tried desperately and failed miserably to convince us that he wasn't worried about the possibility of Macho Man Randy Savage getting his hands on him later on in the show.

Savage, meanwhile, was only concerned about his boys Kevin Greene and Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, and how the NFL stars were going to beat up Nature Boy Ric Flair and Arn Anderson.

As for the two key members of The Four Horsemen, they vowed to take no prisoners when they battled Green and  Mongo.

Finally, TV and co-Tag Team Champion Lex Luger promised to add a third title to his collection by beating The Giant, whilst The Giant himself was obviously having none of it.

All of these promos were shot in shaky-wobbly camera mode, apparently to convince us that this was going to be a wild and crazy show, or something.

WCW Great American Bash 1996 - Tony Schiavone & Dusty Rhodes hosted the event
After Tony Schiavone welcomed us to the show, Sgt. Craig Pittman came out with the American flag whilst the Star Spangled Banner played.

This finally took us to our usual intro from Tony Schiavone and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes. Heenan was absent from commentary tonight as he was coaching The Four Horsemen in their match later.

Lots of pre-match rambling followed, including Schiavone paying his respects to the recently departed Dick Murdoch, before we finally got to the ring for our opening match.

There Must Be a Winner
Fire & Ice (Scott 'Flash' Norton & Ice Train) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) 

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - The Steiner Brothers faced Fire & Ice in the opening match
For the majority of this fairly average opening match, the vague stipulation that here must be a winner didn't have any bearing on the contest itself, nor was it ever explained quite why it was necessary.

There was no wild brawling outside of the ring, no use of weapons, just a big standard tag match that -admittedly- did get interesting once all four men started brawling towards the finish.

It was at this point that both teams began trading a series of close calls and near falls to create an exciting sequence which ultimately resulted in a win for Rick and Scott.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers 

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund reminded us that we could chat to WCW wrestlers like Lord Steven Regal on Compuserve before welcoming his first guests of the evening, The Mouth of The South Jimmy Hart and The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Mean Gene interviews Jimmy Hart & The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan
The two Dungeon of Doom members largely ignored Okerlund as they talked about the rivalry between them and The Four Horsemen.

In a typically old school promo, Sullivan threatened to do all kinds of evil things to Chris Benoit in their upcoming Falls Count Anywhere match, mainly to send a message to his Horsemen buddies, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson.

With that, it was on to our next match:

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW US Champion Konnan vs. El Gato 

For those wondering, challenger El Gato was former Badd Company / Orient Express star Pat Tanaka in a cat mask.

Here, he went up against Konnan in an enjoyable, though hardly spectacular outing which saw both men go back and forth with some pretty sweet -and some admittedly sloppy- looking offence.

Eventually, Konnan landed the win to keep hold of the title he would eventually lose to Ric Flair at WCW Bash At The Beach 1996 one month later.
Your Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Konnan 

WCW - The Great American Bash 1996 - Sting cut a promo on Steven Regal, calling Regal gay
Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Sting about his upcoming match against Lord Steven Regal.

In one of those moments that leaves you looking at the screen in disbelief saying 'seriously??' Sting spent the whole interview suggesting that Regal was gay, even going so far as promising to 'straighten him out.'

Honestly, there's no way they'd get away with something like that today.

After one of the 12,000 Glacier vignettes that would air that year, it was onto our next match.

Lord of The Ring
WCW Lord of The Ring Diamond Dallas Page vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell 

Credit where it's due, both men worked their asses off here to provide us with an entertaining match.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Diamond Dallas Page faced Marcus Alexander Bagwell
With reigning Lord of The Ring Diamond Dallas Page going for cheap, cowardly heel heat at every opportunity and Marcus Bagwell flying about the place and pandering to the crowd, they both did a great job in setting up a simple good guy/bad guy dynamic that was pure textbook.

Textbook, however, doesn't always equal interesting, and that was certainly the case here.

Apart from the occasional flashes of brilliance, even a solid effort from both men couldn't stop this one from coming across as average at best.

In the end, Page cheated his way to a victory, retaining a Lord of The Ring ring that nobody cared about.
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page 

Out in the back, our buddy Mean Gene was standing by with WCW Champion The Giant and his manager, Jimmy Hart.

Hart skirted around the question of whether or not he had any kind of vested interest in Lex Luger's career, before taking a step back to allow The Giant to do all the talking.

And talk he did.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart & The Giant
With a lisp.


The Giant's promo was basically solid, as he boasted about his superiority over his challenger and vowed to annihilate him later on in the ring, but it was all done with a curious lisp that was as disturbing as it was distracting.

Otherwise, it was good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff, we got much more of that next:

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.  

I feel like I've reviewed a few Dean Malenko/Rey Mysterio matches already this year, including the strong effort they had at Clash of the Champions XXXIII, but I don't know that I've enjoyed any of them as much as I enjoyed this, their first meeting here at The Great American Bash.

By all accounts, Mysterio was still a relative newcomer to World Championship Wrestling by this stage, but his years of prior experience helped him look like a star against the reigning champion.

Not that Malenko was any kind of slouch.

Playing the aggressor for the bulk of the contest and working over his opponent's arm, The Ice Man displayed that rarest of qualities in which he actually looked every bit the fighting champion he was supposed to be here.

Combined with Rey's dazzling comebacks, this made for what was by light years certainly the best match on the show up to this point.

Malenko retained his title by plastering the challenger to the mat with a powerbomb and using the ropes for leverage on the pin fall.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko 

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger about his world title match against The Giant
Backstage, Mean Gene reminded us to call 1-900-909-9900 to hear all the latest backstage gossip before welcoming a sombre looking Lex Luger.

The tag team and TV Champion admitted that he was only doing the interview out of respect for WCW, but that his mind was really elsewhere - namely in the ring ready to take on The Giant.

After flubbing his lines a bit and finding himself unable to say the word 'pride,' Luger spoke of dethroning The Giant in their main event match later on in the show.

Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. John Tenta 

Having recently returned to the babyface locker room after a spell as the Dungeon of Doom's Shark, John Tenta looked to extract revenge on his former teammate Big Bubba for the recent hatchet job Bubba did on Tenta's hair.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Big Bubba faced Big John Tenta
The result was a match that turned out to be far better than most were probably expecting. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a classic by any stretch, but it was definitely an enjoyable big man outing which ended when Tenta caught Bubba coming off the ropes and squashed him for a three count.
Your Winner: John Tenta 

Post-match, Tenta held a pair of scissors about a small country's length away from  Bubba's beard, and Bubba sold it as though he'd been violently face raped.

As the former Big Bossman scurried off, trying to convince us that his beard had been cut off, Tenta ranted in the ring that this was far from over.

Mean Gene Interviews The Football Players, Baby

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Mongo McMichael, Kevin Greene and Macho Man Randy Savage were insane in this promo
Asked about a strategy, McMichael said he and Greene didn't need one, whilst Greene himself basically yelled the word 'BABY' over and over again with the odd few syllables in between.

Their wrestling coach Randy Savage then came on the scene, ranting and raving in typical Macho Madness fashion, and before you knew it, this one was over.

Everybody in this promo (with the possible exception of Deborah McMichael and Tara Greene) was clearly off their tits on drugs here.

Falls Count Anywhere
The Crippler Chris Benoit vs. The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan 

They brawled in the stands, they brawled in the bathroom, and they brawled in the stands some more.

Everywhere they brawled, Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan were absolutely awesome together.

From start to finish, this wild, out of control brawl was about as fun as wrestling ever gets.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Kevin Sullivan beat up Chris Benoit in the bathroom
Whilst the earlier Cruiserweight Championship match may have been the best bout from a pure wrestling standpoint, this intense street fight was the most enjoyable for the sheer insanity of it.

Things ended when Benoit set up a table on the top rope, got backdropped onto it, then recovered and suplexed Sullivan off it in one of the highlights of the entire event.

A three count later and this one was over.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit 

Afterwards, Benoit continued to attack Sullivan until Arn Anderson, who had been siding with The Taskmaster during this feud, came down and hurled The Crippler across the ring.

This turned out to be a ruse however, and both Benoit and Anderson laid the boots into Sullivan until Dungeon of Doom members came to the rescue.

The Horsemen Are Strong 

Backstage, Mean Gene was doing that creepy-old-guy thing he always did when Woman and Miss. Elizabeth were around. Before he could interview them, however, a sweaty Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit came on the scene, followed by The Nature Boy Ric Flair.
WCW The Great American Bash - Mean Gene interviewed The Four Horsemen

Anderson yelled about how few people could cut it as a member of The Four Horsemen, but that tonight, Chris Benoit had proved well and truly that he could.

Benoit, happy to be back in the fold, added that he had put Kevin Sullivan in his place tonight, and taught him just what happens when you mess with The Horsemen.

Chiming in towards the end of Typical Loud Angry Wrestling Promo #158, The Nature Boy insisted that he and Anderson were more than ready for tonight's match with Kevin Greene and Mongo McMichael.

Special Challenge Match
Lord Steven Regal (w/ Chives) vs. WCW Tag Team Champion Sting 

Apparently Regal had 'backhanded' Sting on a recent WCW show. To hear the commentators talking about it, this was the most heinous thing to have ever happened, meaning Sting was out for revenge against the Blackpool native in a 'special challenge' match.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Steven Regal was awesome in his match against Sting
The match itself was, quite frankly, magnificent. It was mostly Steven Regal being awesome, working the crowd into a seething mass of hatred and making several thousand people hungry to see him get his ass kicked.

Not that they would get to see it.

Regal spent the majority of the contest large and in charge, taking The Stinger apart with a succession of submission moves and trash talking the entire time.

It was awesome to watch, though less so towards the finish when Sting suddenly stopped feeling pain, made a quick comeback and wrapped this one up with a Scorpion Death Lock.
Your Winner: Sting 

Wasting no time in getting back to the ring, it was time for the hotly anticipated Footballers vs. Wrestlers match.

Legends of The World of Wrestling vs. Legends of The Gridiron
The Four Horsemen (The Nature Boy Ric Flair & The Enforcer Arn Anderson w/ Miss. Elizabeth, Woman, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan) vs. Kevin Greene & Steve 'Mongo' McMichael (w/ Tara Greene, Deborah McMichael, and Macho Man Randy Savage 

There's no two ways about it, this match was incredibly good fun.

No, it wasn't a mat wrestling classic, but then it was never supposed to be.

This was all about the spectacle of seeing two huge football players step into the squared circle, and to give them their due, Mongo and Greene played their roles to perfection.

They were big, they were manic, and that was all they needed to be.

Mongo and Greene kept things simple, Flair and Anderson bumped into the place and made the two footballers look like bona fide wrestling stars.

WCW - The Great American Bash 1996 - Deborah McMichael (w/ Woman & Elizabeth) betrayed Kevin Greene
Meanwhile, on the outside, Woman and Elizabeth chased the two footballers' wives off to the back, only to return towards the finish with Deborah, who had changed out of her football-themed attire and was now wearing a long, flowing dress.

In her hand, she carried a briefcase which she presented to her husband. Mongo opened it to reveal a Four Horsemen t-shirt and a butt-load of cash then closed it again and knocked out his partner with it.

Flair made the pin, and Steve 'Mongo' McMichael was now a member of The Four Horsemen.
Your Winners: Ric Flair & Arn Anderson

Afterwards, Mongo joined his new teammates in beating down his former wrestling coach, Macho Man Randy Savage, before the now complete Horsemen stable congratulated each other on a job well done.

The Hostile Take Over: 'They' Confront Eric Bischoff 

Our show tonight finds us in the earliest stages of the New World Order angle.

Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had already debuted on Nitro, but were still being referred to only as 'They.'

On a recent episode of Nitro, 'They' had issued a challenge to WCW for a match, and now it was the responsibility of Eric Bischoff, as Big Boss of WCW, to respond to that challenge.

Inviting Them out onto the stage, Bischoff first sought to get his way out of a lawsuit by asking both men whether or not they worked for the WWF.

They answered in the negative, leaving Bischoff free to continue the year's hottest angle by accepting Their challenge to a match, albeit on his terms.

The match, said Eric, would take place at next month's Bash at the Beach on July 7th, though the three men who would be representing WCW would not be revealed until the following night's Nitro.

When Bischoff refused to be drawn any further on this, Hall got angry and punched him in the stomach. Then, in one of the most memorable moments of the whole nWo angle, Nash powerbomed the boss through the stage.

It was a short, compelling, and utterly convincing angle which, though simple in its execution, made you sit up and take note:

This was no ordinary wrestling angle, this was something big.

As a stunned Tony Schiavone left the broadcast booth to join EMTs and WCW officials in tending to Eric, our pal Dusty gave a sombre promo to camera, declaring his disbelief at what a cruel, terrible world we lived in.

Between The Destruction of Eric Bischoff and Steve McMichael's dastardly turn, Dusty was inconsolable. So distraught was he in fact, that he failed to recognise that Michael Buffer was to be our ring announcer for tonight's main event.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Lex Luger  

WCW - The Great American Bash 1996 - The Giant yelled at the camera after beating Lex Luger
Whilst both Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart getting distracted by the Eric Bischoff saga was a nice touch -Luger even going so far as to check on him en route to the ring- it was about the only part of this match that was.

Everything else, from bell to bell, was miserable and almost unwatchable.

After several minutes of pure crap, The Giant hit his clothesline to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: The Giant 

And that was all she wrote for one of the better PPVs of 1996.

And so it was that we were one step closer to Bash at the Beach 1996, one step closer to the heel turn that would change professional wrestling forever, and one step closer to the true formation of the New World Order. 

That being said, The Great American Bash was -unlike many other PPVs that would come later in the year- not predominantly focussed on the whole invasion thing. 

Here, we had lots of great wrestling from WCW's finest, including a rip-roaring match between Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko, a great wrestling match between Sting and Steven Regal, and a highly entertaining novelty match in the wrestlers vs. footballers gimmick. 

To this writer, all of that proves one thing: 

That whilst it may have been the nWo that helped catapult WCW into the stratasphere, it wasn't the only thing they had going for them. Solid, in-ring action which at times totally outshone the competition was one of the company's best assets, and a tool they used to great effect in retaining fans long after the novelty value of Hall and Nash had worn off.

Admittedly, I've reviewed WCW's 1996 PPVs in a bit of a random order. If you haven't already, you haven't already, you can catch up with other reviews here: 

Next time, we'll go ahead and review WCW World War 3. To be among the first to read that review when it is published, join me on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page, or follow me on twitter at @Retropwrestling. Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

WCW Slamboree 1996 - PPV Review

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Event Poster
May 19, 1996
Riverside Centroplex, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Notable for being World Championship Wrestling's last Pay Per View offering without any involvement from members of the New World Order, Slamboree 1996 also held the distinction of giving us the last ever appearance of WCW's Lethal Lottery / BattleBowl concept.

For the unfamiliar, the idea was that make-shift teams would be drawn out "completely at random," to compete in a two-round tournament, with the winners of those tag matches eventually colliding in an over-the-top rope battle royal. 

Unfortunately, the WCW Brain Trust didn't exactly do the best job of convincing anyone that the draw was in any way even remotely random. 

Here's what went down when WCW held their final BattleBowl live from the Riverside Centroplex in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as the main attraction of Slamboree '96.

It's Time For Lethal Lottery 

Tonight's show began with the customary video package, this one telling us all about the supposedly random drawing of tonight's main feature, which would pit friend against friend and friend and foe on the same page.

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Dusty, Tony, and Bobby commentary team
It's funny how, despite having a larger budget and actually being part of a huge media conglomerate, WCW's video packages always seemed quite tame compared to the WWF's, lacking that sense of drama and suspense that Kevin Dunn's creations often added to a World Wrestling Federation broadcast.

That aside, this was all standard stuff, leading us into the obligatory intro from Tony Schiavone, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

The three expressed their excitement about tonight's show before sending us down to ringside for our opening contest.

Lethal Lottery: Round 1 Tag Match
Road Warrior Animal & Booker T vs. Road Warrior Hawk & Lex Luger 

This was exceptionally dumb and mostly dull.

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Booker T teamed with Road Warrior Hawk to face Animal and Lex Luger
With Schiavone still trying to convince us that the teams had been drawn absolutely at random (thus meaning the odds on Hawk and Animal ending up on opposing teams must have been astronomical), we were presented with the idea that tonight, for the first time ever, we might actually see The Road Warriors fight each other.

Not only did that not happen, but Hawk didn't even get in the ring, allowing Lex Luger to wrestle Animal and Booker T by himself in a match that was 80% chin locks, 10% stalling and 10% uninspired brawling.

Thankfully, nobody had to endure the pain of watching this one for too long, as it was thrown out when all four men brawled to the outside, leading to a double count out.
No Contest (double countout) 

With a lot to cram in tonight, we wasted no time in getting straight on to the next first round match.

Lethal Lottery: Round 1 Tag Match
The Public Enemy (Flyboy Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. Chris Benoit & The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan (w/ Jimmy Hart) 

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Kevin Sullivan teamed with Chris Benoit to face The Public Enemy
Honestly, we were supposed to believe that a completely random drawings just happened -by sheer coincidence- to put tag team partners on the same team.

Seriously, so far this show had proved to be nothing but stupid, but hey, at least this one proved to be a better match than the last one, especially when it descended into the kind of wild, out of control chaos Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge were good at.

Kept short and sweet, this brief but hard hitting contest delivered more than just a quick blast of entertaining brawling, it also set up one of WCW's most intense rivalries when The Taskmaster walked out on The Crippler, leaving Chris Benoit to eat the pin from The Public Enemy.
Your Winners: Public Enemy (advance to round 2)

Once again, a quick recap of the finish was all we got before it was on to our third first round match.

Lethal Lottery: Round 1 Tag Match
Scott Steiner & Sgt. Craig Pitman (w/ Teddy Long) vs. Rick Steiner & The Booty Man (w/ The Booty Babe)

Although it isn't necessarily saying much, this was so far the best match on the card.

Sgt. Craig Pittman worked his ass off in the early going, even managing to get a solid performance out of The Booty Man in what had to have been the best match Ed Leslie had been involved in for years.

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Rick Steiner teamed with Booty Man to face Scott Steiner & Sgt. Pittman
That said, Booty Man and Pittman were merely accessories to the star attraction here; a captivating exchange between brothers and tag team partners Rick and Scott Steiner.

With the future Big Poppa Pump narrowly getting the better of The Dog Faced Gremlin, the two began by exchanging Wrestling holds and takedowns before building into a heated back and forth where they basically just slammed the living daylights out of each other.

It was, in a word, fantastic.

In the end, it was Booty Man and the elder Steiner who prevailed when Rick tried to smash Craig Pitman through the canvas with a German suplex but just pinned him instead.
Your Winners: Rick Steiner and The Booty Man (advance to round 2)

Moving swiftly on...

Lethal Lottery: Round 1 Tag Match
The Blue Bloods (Lord Steven Regal & Squire David Taylor w/ Chives) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan and V.K. Wallstreet 

Yes, I know that The Blue Bloods' butler was called Jeeves, but I always find it hysterical when I hear Dusty refer to the character (performed by the same guy as the company's freaky-looking mascot Wildcat Willy) as 'Chives.'

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Hacksaw Jim Duggan & V.K. Wallstreet faced The Bluebloods
So, from here on in, all mentions of the butler -not that I expect there will be many- will see him go by the name of Chives.

Anyway, Chives' employers only got to team up here after Steven Regal's original partner, arch-nemesis Fit Finlay was taken out of the competition due to getting glass in his eye during a recent parking lot brawl with Regal.

Here, the duo went up against bitter rivals Hacksaw Jim Duggan and V.K Wallstreet in another bout which really made the whole 'random drawing' thing seem like compete BS.

The match itself, whilst not exactly terrible, was certainly nothing special.

The main story here was sworn enemies Duggan and Wallstreet picking up the win despite being unable to get along.

As the former I.R.S tried occupied the referees attention, Hacksaw pulled tape from his pants and used it to knock regal out for the count of three.
Your Winners: Hacksaw Jim Duggan and V.K. Wallstreet (advance to round 2) 

With a lot to get through on this show, it was straight on to the next match.

Lethal Lottery: Round 1 Tag Match
Dirty Dick Slater & Earl Robert Eaton (w/ Col. Robert Parker & Chives) vs. Alex Wright & The Disco Inferno 

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Dirty Dick Slater teamed with Bobby Eaton to take on Disco Inferno & Alex Wright
Like much on this show so far, the best anyone could probably say about this one is that it was short and fairly painless.

A few brief minutes of back-and-forth action ended with Dirty Dick Slater planting the Disco Inferno in the back of the head with his boot and picking up the win for our second foreign object finish in a row.
Your Winners: Dick Slater and Robert Eaton (advance to round 2) 

Again, there was no time for 'tween-match fluff today, it was all about the action.

Lethal Lottery: Round 1 Tag Match
Diamond Dallas Page & Barbarian vs. Hugh Morrus & Meng 

One of the better first round matches on the show, Diamond Dallas Page teamed up with Barbarian to face the latter's Dungeon of Doom stablemates Meng & Hugh Morrus in a fun and furious contest.

Every time Dusty mentioned The Barbarian by name, it sounded like he was calling him 'The Ballbearing,' but as funny as that was, it wasn't the most entertaining part of the match.

That honour goes to the simple joy of watching four rough and ready wrestlers just knocking the hell out of each other for a few minutes.

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - DDP teamed with Barbarian to face Meng & Hugh Morrus
The ending came courtesy of a double pin with The Faces of Fear each getting a pin - Meng covering DDP and The Ballbearing covering Morrus.

Page managed to get his foot under the ropes though, so the referee gave the fall to Dallas and Barbarian.
Your Winners: Diamond Dallas Page & The Barbarian 

Can you believe we're still in the first round here? It already feels like this show has been going on forever.

Lethal Lottery: Round 1 Tag Match
Big Bubba & Stevie Ray vs. Fire & Ice (Scott 'Flash' Norton & Ice Train) 

Oh look, another team that just coincidentally happened to be drawn randomly together.

Not that this was the biggest problem with this one.

For a match that was 95% clotheslines, the match went on far too long, so it came as sweet relief when Fire & Ice finally picked up the win, even if they did use a move as lame as a double shoulder barge to get the job done.
Your Winners: Fire & Ice (advance to round 2) 

Finally, we came to the last first round match, and the one bout the announcers had spent more time tonight talking about than even the upcoming World Heavyweight Championship match.

Lethal Lottery: Round 1 Tag Match
Eddie Guerrero & Arn Anderson vs. Macho Man Randy Savage & The Nature Boy Ric Flair (w/ Woman & Miss. Elizabeth) 

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Woman & Miss. Elizabeth
A short yet explosive bout, this was less your standard tag match and more of a 2-on-1 beatdown of Macho Man Randy Savage, interspersed with flashes of brilliance from Eddie Guerrero.

After Ric Flair beat up his own partner, he went toe-to-toe with Guerrero in an exchange which served as a a taste of what was to come when the two eventually met for the US title later that year at WCW Hog Wild 1996.

The veteran, 13 time champion took charge of his younger opponent, grabbing him by the hand and forcing him to tag Arn Anderson.

Flair then elbowed Savage in the head and tug him in so that the beat down could continue.

When babyface Eddie tried to keep this as a fair fight, he received a Double A DDT for his troubles. The Enforcer then went back outside to continue stacking Savage whilst Flair flopped on top of Guerrero and got the three count.

That was fun.
Your Winners: Ric Flair & Randy Savage (advance to Round 2)

Afterwards, Anderson, Flair, and even Liz continued to beat down on Savage.

Mean Gene Gives Fire & Ice a By 

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Mean Gene Okerlund perved on some Hooters Girls
Flanked by three blonde beauties from the local Hooters, Okerlund told us that, as a result of the double countout in tonight's first match,  one team would receive a by straight to the BatttleBowl.

After what seemed like a lifetime of stalling and general faffing about, one Gene's beauties picked Fire & Ice to be that team.

Two more teams were picked out, Duggan & Wallstreet, and Slater & Earl Robert Eaton.

This was the first match of the second round in the Battlebowl tournament.

This segment was so tedious that your writer was just glad that it ended.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Brad Armstrong 

At this point in the show, the Baton Rouge crowd decided to take a nap and would remain more or less silent for what was otherwise a solid Cruiserweight title match.

Though the audience's deathly quiet apathy was understandable given what they'd had to endure so far (and knowing how much was still to come), it must have been a disappointment for Dean Malenko and Brad Armstrong, both of whom worked hard from start to finish.

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Dean Malenko defended the WCW Cruiserweight title against Brad Armstrong
After a fun bit of back-and-forth in the opening moments, the bulk of the bout saw the champion methodically working over the challenger's knee.

Armstrong made a brief comeback, even trying up The Man of 1,000 Holds in his own Texas Cloverleaf finisher, but alas, it wasn't to be.

Malenko forced his opponent to break the hold by grabbing the ropes, fought back, and hit his patented top rope gutbuster for the three count.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko 

Heading back to Mean Gene and his Hooters Girls, the final two second round matches were announced as Public Enemy vs. Flair and Savage, and DDP and Barbarian against Booty Man and Ric Steiner.

Lethal Lottery Round 2
Earl Robert Eaton & Dirty Dick Slater (w/ Col. Parker) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan & V.K Wallstreet 

To give credit where it's most certainly due, this one was actually better than it looked on paper.

That's not to say it was a masterpiece by anyone's standards, but as a short little bout designed only to advance the story, it worked and was reasonably entertaining for it.

Duggan, being the typical big dumb lummox that he was, spent most of the match trying to beat up his own partner, a move which cost him dearly when he punched Wallstreet directly into a roll-up from Eaton.

A three count later, the Earl and Dirty Dick were through to the Battle Bowl battle royal.
Your Winners: Robert Eaton & Dick Slater 

Afterwards, Duggan continued to beat on Wallstreet and chased after him with his 2x4.

Lethal Lottery Round 2
The Public Enemy (Flyboy Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. Ric Flair & Randy Savage 

WCW Slamboree 1996 - Public Enemy bt. Ric Flair & Randy Savage via Forfeit
After Savage failed to appear when his music struck (just as Flair had done in the first round match), The Nature Boy began heading to the ring, only to be attached by his arch rival, the Macho Man.

A gaggle of security guards rushed to separate the two, and when they failed, Sgt. Pittman and the American Males took over, finally bringing some peace.

The referee declared Rocco Rock & Johhny Grunge as the winners, and thus Public Enemy were through the final as a result of one of their opponents leaving the match, and two others never making it in the first place.
Your Winners via Forefeit: The Public Enemy 

Moving on, we went straight to our third and final second round match.

Lethal Lottery Round 2
Diamond Dallas Page & Barbarian vs. Rick Steiner & The Booty Man (w/ Kimberly) 

There were that many matches on this show that it was hard to still care much by this stage.

When your writer paid attention, this looked like a passable, by-the-book tag bout that ended when DDP intercepted a pin attempt by drilling booty Man round the back of the head with an elbow.

The Ballbearing made the pin, and this one was over.
Your Winners: DDP and The Barbarian 

Wasting no time, it was straight on to our next match.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Konnan vs. Jushin 'Thunder' Liger (w/ Sonny Onoo)

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - Jushin 'Thunder' Liger challenged Konnan for the US title
One of the better matches on the show so far, both champ and challenger exchanged the kind of offence not seen anywhere else on the show.

That made this one as refreshing as it was enjoyable.

Again, I'm not saying this was five star stuff, but compared to what else was on the card, it was a good effort.

In the end, Konnan got the pin and kept his title for a little while longer.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Konnan 

Out by the entrance, Mean Gene brought out Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Woman, and Elizabeth.

In one of his typical bat shit crazy promos, Flair faces about how he had finally sent Randy Savage away to the loony bin for good, before turning his attentions over to football player, Steve McMichael.

First seen on a wrestling pay per view back at 1995's Wrestlemania 11, McMichael had been a thorn in the Four Horsemen's side over the past few weeks, something The Nature Boy was willing to stand no longer.

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - The Nature Boy Ric Flair called out Steve 'Mongo' McMichael
McMichael came out to confront his rivals, prompting Flair to challenge him, and a partner of his choosing, to a pro wrestling match. Mongo said he already had a partner, and brought out Kevin Green, who continually yelled at Flair and Anderson, inviting them to "rock 'n' roll."

This segment was mostly fine up until Green came in and cut his promo. It sounded like the kind of thing you hear when a sitcom has a pro wrestling storyline despite the sitcom's writers never having seen actual wrestling. What you usually end up with in those situations is some over-the-top version of what somebody who has never seen wrestling imagines it is like. That was how Kevin Green's Slamboree promo came across.

Battle Bowl Final: Eight Man Battle Royal
Featuring: Scott 'Flash' Norton, Ice Train, Dirty Dick Slater (w/ Col. Parker), Earl Robert Eaton, Flyboy Rocco Rock, Johnny Grunge, Diamond Dallas Page, The Barbarian

As baffling as it was boring,  the first part of this match was your standard battle royal stuff. In other words, everybody just beat on each other without anything exciting happening.

A quick succession of eliminations then left us with four men remaining. Ice Train body slammed the other three of them, after which DDP responded with a Diamond Cutter.

Two more Diamond Cutters followed, on each for Johnny Grunge and Ballbearing.

Then, in the most confusing moment so far, DDP pinned -yes pinned- Grunge and Ice Train.

In a battle royal. 

That you win by throwing your opponent over the ropes. 

With no mention at all that pins were allowed.

The final few moments, in which Page and Barbarian went at it, were actually decent, but it was certainly a relief when Dallas eventually hit the match winning Diamond Cutter.
Your Winner and Lord of The Ring: Diamond Dallas Page 

I'd say something about the prize being an actual ring which you couldn't actually see on camera, let alone if you were live in the arena, but this show feels like it's been going on for so long now that I'm just glad it's almost over.

Mean Gene Interviews The Giant & Jimmy Hart 

WCW Slamboree 1996 Review - The Giant defended the WCW title against Sting
Backstage, Jimmy Hart used his promo time to express how scared he was about being handcuffed to Lex Luger for the duration of tonight's title fight, and begged The Total Package to let him off.

For his part, The Giant called Sting a thorn in his side, a rat under his bed, and a cockroach in his apple pie (is that a thing?) and promised to squash not only tonight's challenger, but also the new Lord of the Ring, DDP.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Sting (w/ Lex Luger) 

This might not have been the longest title fight in history, but Sting and The Giant certainly used their time effectively to create a surprisingly good main event.
The most enjoyable part of this was the way that The Giant looked like an absolute monster whilst at the very same time Sting looked like he had a very credible chance at capturing the title.

Sure, the two ref bumps were totally unnecessary, but that aside there was actually a lot to enjoy here.

The finish came as Luger and Jimmy Hart (who were handcuffed together) were grappling on the apron for control of Hart's megaphone.

Just as Sting looked to have the match won, the thing slipped from their grasp and clonked him on the head, allowing The Giant to grab the big win and retain his title.
Your Winner and Still WCW World Heavyweight Champion: The Giant 

From there, it was back to Tony, Bobby and Dusty for our final comments, and that was all she wrote for WCW Slamboree 1996.

And so that was that.

If anything, WCW Slamboree 1996 felt very much like a midcarder's show. Despite obvious appearances from stars like Sting, Luger, The Giant, Flair, and Savage, the majority of this show was focussed around midcard performers. 

What made this one worse, was that the majority of those midcarders were not exactly the type of performers anybody should have been making the focus of their PPV. 

That aside, there were a few worthwhile matches on here, whilst it was good to see where the push of DDP -who would go on to be one of the hottest stars of the late 1990s- really began. 

Honestly, there's nothing here to make me really recommend this show to anybody, but if you do happen to check it out, I'd say skip about 60% of the Lethal Lottery stuff. 

Next time, we'll review WCW Great American Bash 1996. To be among the first to read that review when it is published, join me on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page, or follow me on twitter at @Retropwrestling.

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