Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Thursday, 31 August 2017

PPV REVIEW: TNA Final Resolution 2008

TNA Final Resolution 2008 - Event Poster -
The Impact Zone, Florida,
December 7th, 2008

Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling’s final pay-per-view of the year was a let down of epic proportions. Whilst wrestling logic dictates that you use your TV shows to hype your big events, the ever-complicated TNA decided to flip things around and used Final Resolution as a huge plug for TNA Impact.

(NOTE: I originally wrote this review live at the time that TNA Final Resolution happened in 2008. I found a bunch of old reviews in my archives recently and decided to add them to RPW. This is one of them, hence the slightly different format from normal reviews on this site). 

Here’s what went down.

Feast of Fired Match: LAX vs. Rock n Rave Infection vs. Motor City Machine Guns vs. Sonjay Dutt (with So Cal Val) vs. Jay Lethal vs. Curry Man vs. Consequences Creed vs. Shark Boy vs. BG James vs. Cute Kip. 

This is one of TNA’s over-complicated matches.

They call it ‘innovative’, I call it a mess.

The basic premise of this one is that four briefcases are hung from poles in the corners of the six-sided ring. Three of the four cases contain championship shots, whilst the fourth contains a nasty note telling the owner that they’re fired. The guys involved brawl around the ring, grab a case and can only lay claim to it if they land, case in hand, with both feet on the floor.

With a number of talented people involved, you’d imagine that this could potentially turn into a good match, or at least a decent spot-fest.

Instead, it’s a messy, uncoordinated affair that fails excite, or even entertain.
Your winners: Homicide, Hernandez, Curry Man, Jay Lethal

In the post match, there’s a bit of a kerfuffle as Jeremy Borash tries to congratulate the four case winners.

He’s pestered by the Motor City Machine Guns, who are annoyed that Jay Lethal got the floor with the case they pulled down. Seemingly, they thought that landing in the ring with the case was sufficient.

TNA Final Resolution 2008 - Feast or Fired match -

What’s more, Jay’s case is opened on the spot and contains a TNA World Tag Team Title shot.

As for the other three, well, we have to wait until Impact for that one! So after fans have paid their hard earned money for this event, they have to wait until a free television show to get the pay off from this match.


Backstage, Lauren is with Sharmell, The Beautiful People & Kip James.

Angelina Love and Velvet Sky cut another of their uber-annoying promos, this time made worse by the addition of Sharmell in their fold.

They go on their usual spiel about being better than everyone else, before ‘Sarah Palin’ calls Angelina and says she’ll be coming to the Impass [sic] Zone.

Knockouts Six-Woman Tag Match: Sharmell and The Beautiful People vs. ODB, Roxi and Taylor Wylde. 

As tag matches go, this one is pretty decent.

It’s hardly spectacular and certainly isn't the best match on the card, but it’s entertaining enough. Sharmell avoids any action for the most part until ODB finally gets her in the ring. The look on Booker T’s wife is priceless as she stands like a deer caught in the headlights in the middle of the ring before ODB chases her backstage.

With the action still going on in the ring, Angelina Love somehow defeats herself by nailing Taylor with a flying crossbody, only for Taylor to roll on top of her and get the win.
Your winners: ODB, Roxi and Taylor Wylde.

TNA X-Division Championship: Sheik Abdul Bashir © vs. Eric Young

Things start to get better here as Bashir and Young enter into a solid performance.

The only downside to this match is that it’s officiated by Shane Sewell, the wannabe-wrestler who has a problem with the X-Division champion.

Sadly, the announcers spent more time talking about how great the referee was for being unbiased than how good the two athletes were, and when Sewell got involved to help Eric Young win the match, not only was it not surprising, it was a bit naff as well.
Your Winner and new X-Division Champion: Eric Young

In the post-match, Bashir batters Young and Sewell with the title, then runs off with it before Jim Cornette comes out and takes it off him.

I guess Young won’t be the champ for long this time, either.

TNA Knockout Women’s Championship Match: Awesome Kong © vs. Christy Hemme.

This could’ve been a good match had it been allowed time to develop. Instead, it was cut short with a really confusing end.

For the most part,  Awesome Kong dominated her smaller foe until Christy Hemme finally made a comeback with simple DDT. For some reason, this caused enough concern for Kong’s manager, Raisha Saeed, to rush in and interfere, thus costing Kong the match by DQ but allowing her to retain her title.

What? Kong spent the best part of the match in control but as soon as she gets hit with one single move she needs help?
Your winner by Disqualification: Christy Hemme (Awesome Kong retains the title) 

We get a brief respite from the action as we go backstage where Jeremy Borash interviews Kurt Angle.

Kurt gives a great speech about his obsession with facing Jeff Jarrett and his upcoming match against Rhino.

TNA World Tag Team Championship: Beer Money Inc  © (with Jacquelyn) vs. Abyss & Matt Morgan

TNA Final Resolution 2008 - Matt Mogan & Abyss faced Beer Money Inc

This one took forever to get going, with Robert Roode and James Storm trying to get out of the match only to get chased back by Abyss and finally ordered to wrestle by the referee.

However, when it did get going, it turned into a great little match. Storm and Roode have developed themselves as a fantastic tag team, and it was largely thanks to their efforts that this match turned out so good, despite a rubbish finish in which Storm used some brass knuckles for the win.

It’s watching this match where this writer starts to think he’d pay anything to see Beer Money Inc take on his other favourite tag team, The Miz & John Morrison.
Your Winners and still TNA World Tag Team Champions: Beer Money Inc. 

After the match, the Motor City Machine Guns head to the ring.

They say they’re not going to move until Mick Foley comes out and gives them back the TNA World Tag Team Title shot that Jay Lethal ‘stole’ from them.

Instead, Jim Cornette comes out and says that Foley has more important things to worry about (which pretty much means ol’ Jim has been demoted to Foley and Jarrett’s lackey).

He then says he’s going to fetch security, which is the cue for Suicide to make his debut, swooping down from the rafters and cleaning house in a segment that would be pretty cool if it wasn’t for the fact that Suicide’s attire looks dreadful!

Backstage, Rhino is interviewed by Lauren, and talks about how he’s going to beat up Kurt Angle. That match is next.

Rhino vs. Kurt Angle (with Mick Foley as special guest enforcer)

TNA Final Resolution 2008 - Matt Mogan & Abyss faced Beer Money Inc
Though hardly his best effort, Kurt Angle nonetheless delivers the goods here as he and Rhino work a good, entertaining match that builds up slowly and really gets the crowd involved.

Towards the end, the ref gets squashed in the corner, which in wrestling is always, without fail, a clear sign that something untoward is going to happen.

In this instance, Mick Foley gets in the ring to take over referee duties when he is confronted by none other than old friend, Al Snow.

Mick leans out of the ropes to tell Al that they’ll talk later as he’s in the middle of a match.

 Al then gives the Hardcore Legend the weakest looking slap of all time, distracting him just long enough to allow Angle to do something or other and make the cover whilst the announcers try to convince us that Snow travelled all the way to Florida just to slap Mick Foley after the wrestler-turned-author made a joke about Snow in one of his books several years ago.

Yeah, right!

Foley then delivers the final three count to conclude a stupid finish to an otherwise top match.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle (Kurt gets to face Jeff Jarrett at Genesis). 

Backstage, Jeremy Borash interviews the TNA Front Line.

JB asks AJ Styles if he and Samoa Joe can trust Team 3D. Styles shouts at the man with the mic and says he trusts them like brothers, and that they’ll they be bringing home the TNA World Heavyweight Championship tonight.

Let’s find out, shall we?

TNA World Heavyweight Championship 8-Man Tag Match: TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Sting, TNA Legends Champion, Booker T, Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner vs. AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Team 3D.

TNA Final Resolution 2008 - TNA Front Line vs. Main Event Mafia

Only in TNA could you have something as daft as an eight man tag team match for a singles championship. Yet surprisingly, this heated battle between the Main Event Mafia and the TNA Front Line evolves into a pretty good contest.

Strangely, that isn’t the most surprising thing about this match.

No, that honour goes to the fact that the heel turn by Brother Rey and Brother Devon that this critic deemed so inevitable, never happened.

Instead, we get lots of good back and forth action, with the Main Event Mafia getting the upper-hand and Sting saving his own title with a Scorpion Death Drop on Samoa Joe for the win.
Your Winners: The Main Event Mafia (Sting retains the title)

Though Final Resolution did get much better towards the end, with the main event, Angle v. Rhino, and a thrilling tag team title match saving the day, there was too much on this card that really bogged it down. 

With some stupid ideas, over-complicated stipulations and an abundance of stuff that served no other purpose than to promote TNA Impact, Final Resolution failed to give fans their money’s worth. 

And as the group’s final pay per view of the year, it’s a shame that this will be the lasting impression of TNA in 2008 when everybody knows they can do much better.

Let’s hope they do just that in 2009!

I'm slowly working my way through publishing the rest of my TNA reviews from 2008. Until I get round to publishing more, you can also check out: 
For more TNA, WCW, and WWE/WWF reviews, follow Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter or hit 'like' on the brand new Facebook page.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

PPV Review - WWF - In Your House 12: It's Time 1996

WWF / WWE  In Your House 12 - It's Time: Event poster December 15, 1996
West Palm Beach Auditorium, West Palm Beach, Florida.

1996 had started on such a high note for The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, returning from seemingly insurmountable injuries to win the Royal Rumble before going on to realise The Boyhood Dream at Wrestlemania 12.

Yet now that dream was over, Michaels' title run being cut short by Sycho Sid back at Survivor Series '96, leaving The Heartbreak Kid with little more to do than show up to join the commentary team, watching as Sid defended that title against the man HBK originally beat for it, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

But hey, at least Michaels got a place on the show.

Due to injuries, The Man They Call Vader was nowhere to be seen, this despite the entire event being named after his most famous catchphrase.

Instead, those who were able to wrestle on this dark, chilly night in December 1996 were left to work in their own versions of the show's title, promising that it was time for their opponents to get their heads kicked in, for example.

Speaking of time, it's time I stopped this rambling intro and got on with today's review.

Let's do it.


Bret Wants His Belt Back 

Our show tonight began with an intense and dramatic video promoting tonight's upcoming WWF Championship match between reigning champion Sycho Sid and the recently returning Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

This was a great video that dwarfed anything WCW was doing in that department at the time.

When the video ended, Vince McMahon growled his typical welcome, introducing us to his co-commentators Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Jim Ross.

The trio put over tonight's show before taking us to our opening contest.

Leif Cassidy vs. Flash Funk 

WWF / WWE  In Your House 12 - It's Time: Leif Cassidy faced Flash Funk in the opening match You know, when I was a kid, I was far more smitten with Sunny -and later Sable- to ever give Flash Funk's dancing entourage, The Funkettes, the time of day. Looking back now though, I realise that those two women were actually smoking hot, but hey, let me keep it in my pants here and focus on the match.

Yes, let's definitely focus on the match, because it was actually pretty awesome.

With Leif Cassidy now in his post-Rockers solo stint, the man who would go on to become Al Snow had a real serious look on his face as he went toe-to-toe with the perma-grinned babyface.

The result was a very enjoyable bout with lots of high flying and submissions held together by the kind of solid psychology that this kind of wrestling sometimes lacked.

As good an opening match as you could hope to find, ending with a win for newcomer Flash Funk via his patented 450 Splash.
Your Winner: Flash Funk 

After JR told us to buy the Coliseum Home Video release of the 1997 Royal Rumble when it came out in March, he reverted back to heel mode for the arrival of his boys, Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon.

Owen and Bulldog Don't Care About Stone Cold 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 12 - It's Time: British Bulldog & Owen Hart cut a pre-match promo
Backstage, Kevin Kelly suggested to the Tag Team Champions Owen Hart and British Bulldog that their recent lack of focus had been caused by problems they'd been having with Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Davey Boy denied this, telling Austin that he was coming to get him. This caused Owen to tell Kelly off, insisting that he and Bulldog were focussed on one thing and one thing only: successfully defending their WWF Tag Team titles against Diesel and Razor.

That match was next.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (w/ Clarence Mason) vs. Fake Diesel & Fake Razor Ramon 

Not two minutes into this one, AAA's Pierroth & Cybernetico put in a cameo appearance, hanging out at the foot of the ring and pointing. Ostensibly, this was meant to serve as a distraction for the champs, but really they were there to promote their appearance in the upcoming Royal Rumble.

After they left, Stone Cold Steve Austin came down and blatantly brawled with The Bulldog at ringside in front of the officials. Why this didn't lead to a disqualification is anyone's guess.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 12 - It's Time: British Bulldog & Owen Hart defended the tag titles against Fake Diesel & Razor Ramon
Ending it there with a DQ might have been a welcome relief for the West Florida crowd, who seemed completely nonplussed by this whole Heel vs. Heel tag match.

Really, you couldn't blame them.

Though it wasn't bad per se, it was a fairly routine bout that did little to elicit much excitement, with even Vince McMahon admitting on commentary that the fans probably didn't care who won.

In the end, Razor looked to set Davey Boy up for the Razor's Edge, only for Owen to run in and hit him with an enzeguri. Bulldog got the three count, and that was that.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & The British Bulldog 

Afterwards, Austin returned and attacked Bulldog until a gaggle of referees held him off.

Farooq, You're Going Down!

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - It's time: vince McMahon interviewed Ahmed Johnson
After JR told us to buy a Shawn Michaels video called The Heartbreak Express that was due out on March 11th, Vince McMahon took to the ring to welcome the returning Ahmed Johnson.

Looking a little more portly than the last time we saw him, Johnson claimed that the recent injury he had suffered at the hands of Farooq had cost him his house, car and girlfriend.

This seemed a little far fetched, but hey, it's pro wrestling so we'll let it go.

Johnson also claimed that his life was over a long time ago and now he only lived for the fans, who would be rallying round him when he finally faced his arch nemesis in San Antonio at The Royal Rumble.

This brought out Farooq and his Nation of Domination.

Your writer's speakers must be bad because it sounded like Farooq mumbled through his entire promo, but I think basically he said he was going to kick Ahmed's ass at the Rumble.

This was rubbish.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Marc Mero (w/ Sable) 

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - It's time: Hunter Hearst Helmsley defended the Intercontinental title against Marc Mero
Prior to this one getting started, a video package reminded us of the near year-long feud between Marc Mero and Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

If you recall, it started with Sable accompanying Hunter for his match at Wrestlemania 12 before feeling his wrath backstage and being rescued by a debuting Mero.

Helmsley would then hatch an evil scheme, using Mr Perfect to swindle Mero out of the Intercontinental title, leading us to tonight's match, which just so happened to be the first WWF PPV at which Hunter would use Ode to Joy as his theme music.

As for the match itself, it was a perfectly acceptable mid-card title match. Not a five-star classic by any stretch, but enjoyable for what it was.

After a good effort from both men, Earl Hebner took a tumble and the action spilled to the outside. There, Goldust put in an appearance, waffling both champ and challenger with the title belt.

Hebner regained consciousness and began a ten count which Mero beat to win the match but not the belt.
Your Winner Via Count-Out: Marc Mero 

In the post-match, Mero dragged Hunter into the ring and hit him with the shooting star press, then accidentally went to pin him before realising the match was over.

Not content with ruining the match, Goldust returned and beat up Hunter as he made his way to the back. Apparently, Goldie was jealous that Helmsley had been showing an interest in Marlena.

The Champ Speaks 

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - Doc Hendrix interviews Sid
Backstage, Doc Hendrix showed us footage from that morning's WWF Superstars in which Shawn Michaels attacked WWF Champion Sid, then Bret Hart came out and made it a three-way brawl.

Standing next to Doc, Sid merely laughed at the footage and said that because Shawn Michaels had beaten Bret, and Sid had beaten Shawn, it was going to be easy to beat Bret in tonight's main event.

With that, it was back to ringside for our next match.

Armageddon Rules Match
The Executioner (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker 

Before this one got underway, we were reminded of just how we got here in another one of the WWF's awesome video packages.

To refresh your memory, Paul  Bearer had turned his back on The Undertaker at Summerslam 1996 and aligned with Mankind.

That October, Undertaker beat Mankind in a Buried Alive Match at In Your House: Buried Alive, only for Terry Gordy to run out in a mask and help Mankind and all the mid-card heels bury The Dead Man.

In November, The Undertaker had risen to fight Mankind again at Survivor Series 1996.

At the end of that match, Gordy, known as The Executioner, came out again and beat up on 'Taker, leading to tonight's Armageddon Rules match.

For those wondering, Armageddon Rules were essentially the same as a Texas Death Match; no DQ, no count out, a wrestler has to the count of ten after a pin fall or submission to get up again. If he does, the match continues. If he doesn't, it's over.

And so here we were.

I was 12 years old when this all went down and, even at that age, I  knew that The Executioner was kind of a terrible gimmick. 20 years on, I hardly feel much different.

The gimmick wasn't the only thing that was bad, this whole match was stupid.

After a couple of minutes of nothingness, Mankind ran in to make it a 2-on-1 affair, but tripped up and fell flat on his face, ruining the moment dead.

A quick brawl up to the In Your House set led us said set being destroyed, prompting JR to beat us over the head with the joke 'they're tearing the house down!'

Oh, hardy har!

As Undertaker and Executioner wandered off for a brawl backstage that wasn't filmed (we were left staring at a shot of some stairs for ages), Mankind was locked in a straight jacket by some security dudes.

Eventually, this farce returned to the ring, where 'Taker tombstoned his opponent and got the pin. A ten count later saw this one come to a welcome, albeit wholly anti-climatic end.
Your Winner: The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - Bret Hart cut a pre-match promo
Backstage, Doc Hendrix started to interview Bret Hart about his upcoming title shot. The Hitman swore that he'd spent the past eight months thinking about getting his title back, and tonight was his night.

At that point, Shawn Michaels' music struck as the former champ headed out to do commentary.

Naturally, this angered The Hitman so much that he began ranting about how he was much better than HBK, showing shades of the angry heel that he would begin playing just a few months down the line.

After we were shown Shawn Michaels' entrance, it was time for our main event.

World Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Championship
WWF World Heavyweight Champion Sid vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart 

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - Bret Hart challenged Sid for the WWF title
As main events go, this one was terribly average, and a big disappointment given that Bret was capable of so much more.

Here, he spent the bulk of the match systematically working over the Champion, all the while subtly playing the heel in both moves and mannerisms.

Hart's momentum was thwarted by the arrival of Steve Austin, who attacked the challenger on the outside before Owen Hart and an angry British Bulldog arrived to chase him off.

With that brief distraction over, more mediocre action followed, eventually spilling to the outside.

There, Sid pie-faced Shawn Michaels, causing HBK to get up on the apron, where Bret accidentally bumped him off, stumbling into a power bomb and losing the match.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Sid 

Afterwards,  Bret took out his frustrations on Shawn and attacked him. Cameras then cut to Sid heading backstage with his title, and that was all she wrote for In Your House: It's Time.

Over all, In Your House: It's Time turned out to be one of those weird shows that just got worse as it went on. If you have the WWE Network, it's worth taking ten minutes of your time to watch the Flash Funk vs. Leif Cassidy match. It's pretty good and very overlooked, likely because of the roster position that both men held at that time. 
After that, turn it off and watch something else. This was a terribly average show which was only saved from being terrible period by a few small -if forgettable highlights. 

And that's it, every WWF pay per view for the year 1996 in the bag.

Missed any of my other  WWF 1996 reviews? Here's the full list:
Next time, we'll finish our look at 1996 with the final PPV of the year, WCW Starrcade, before starting a brand new year with WWF Royal Rumble 1997. Be the first to check out those reviews by following Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter, or the brand new Facebook page

Thursday, 17 August 2017

PPV REVIEW: TNA Turning Point 2008

TNA Turning Point 2008 event poster -
November 9th, 2008,
The Impact Zone, Florida. 

The main story heading into Total Nonstop Action Wrestling’s Turning Point pay per view event was the coming together of the Main Event Mafia, the heel stable consisting of World Heavyweight Champion, Sting, TNA Legends Champion, Booker T, Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle and Scott Steiner. 

(NOTE: This is a review that I originally wrote live back in in November 2008. I recently found this in my archives and decided to add it to RPW, hence the different formatting from my normal reviews. Youtube videos and links have been added in as an edit in 2017)

Forming an alliance against the TNA Originals (Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Jay Lethal and others), the Main Event Mafia continued their dominance of TNA throughout a stellar card packed with gripping wrestling matches.

It was up to the high-flyers of the company’s X-Division to kick things off, as Eric Young, Petey Williams, ‘Black Machismo’ Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, Doug Williams, Volador, Tanahashi, Consequences Creed, Homicide and Jimmy Rave competed in a thrilling ‘X-Division Rankings’ match.

Fought under Lucha Libre tag rules (whereby, as soon as one wrestler leaves the ring, another can take his place without a tag being made), the match was set up to determine contendership for the X-Division title.

Full of exciting flips, spots, counters and jaw-dropping action, the highlight of the match saw Jay Lethal and CMLL’s Volador trading holds and rolls in an intense back-and-forth battle, whilst Homicide’s devastating tope into the crowd was impressive, but sadly put him out of action.

Ultimately, after everyone else had been eliminated, it was down to long-time fan-favourites, Lethal, and ‘Showtime Eric Young’ as the final two, with Young finally picking up the win.

With the match wrapped up, Eric called Lethal, Williams and Creed back to the ring as he delivered an impassioned speech about their future in TNA.

Yet after an early highlight to Turning Point, Turning Point 2008 did begin to sag somewhat.

The Knockout’s tag-match pitting Knockout Champion Awesome Kong and her manager/valet, Raisha Saeed against ‘Hardcore Queen’ Roxxi and former Knockout champ, Taylor Wilde, simply couldn’t match the previous bout’s energy and excitement.

Despite a strong build-up on TV, what we saw here was little more than your standard tag-team match with a predictable ending. Thank god then that it was kept quite short.
Things continued to be somewhat lukewarm with the next match though, to be fair, this wasn’t the fault of either competitor.

‘The War Machine’, Rhino, defending his pride and his country against ‘evil-foreigner’ and reigning X-Division Champion, Shiek Abdul Bashir in a non-title bout had been built up on the Impact television show as an epic grudge match as Rhino looked set to seek revenge for Bashir’s spiteful comments towards the U.S.A.

For the most part, the bout started off as just that but before long everyone; the live audience, the television audience and even, seemingly, the wrestlers themselves, were heavily distracted by the arrival on the front row of what announcer Mike Tenay referred to as ‘some familiar faces’.

Even before they were visible on camera, the crowds in the impact zone soon turned their backs on the match in hand when music duo, the Insane Clown Posse arrived on the scene in full makeup, along with former TNA, WCW and WWE star, Scott Hall.

The arrival of the trio apparently wasn’t supposed to be part of the show, yet despite everyone’s best efforts, their presence at ringside became much more interesting than the battle in the ring.

That Bashir even went so far as to acknowledge the threesome suggested just how furious the wrestlers were with this distraction, and was, on the whole, a bad idea; lending credence to an otherwise unprompted appearance and sapping every inch of interest out of the match he was supposed to be having.

In the end, it was Rhino who picked up the win before storming off backstage without so much as a raised arm or acknowledgement of victory. Whether this was planned, or whether it was out of sheer annoyance at Hall and the ICP, we’ll probably never know.

But if things had taken a turn for the worse with the previous two matches, things looked to get a lot better with the TNA World Tag Team Title match.

Despite a rather confusing backstage skit in which challengers the Motor City Machine Guns apparently turned on TNA authority figure, Mick Foley, Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin were greeted as firm favourites as they headed to the ring to face reigning champions, Robert Roode and James Storm, better known as Beer Money, Inc.

Where the previous tag team match failed, this one delivered on all accounts and was a testament to the talent of both teams, in particular, Beer Money, Inc.

With the right look, great chemistry and an abundance of skill both on the mic and in the ring, Roode and Storm should surely be looking at some kind of ‘Tag Team of the Year’ awards, and their efforts against the dynamic duo of Shelley and Sabin showed why.

An altogether enthralling match which saw the champs retain in a fast and furious contest.

With the undercard out of the way, it was onto a four-pronged main event featuring the top talent in TNA.

TNA Turning Point 2008 event poster - Christian Cage vs. Booker T - Legends Title match -

First, Booker T successfully defended his TNA Legends Title (a belt he apparently created and simply awarded to himself) in a good, if hardly spectacular, contest against Christian Cage.

In an added stipulation, if Christian lost the match, he’d be forced to become a member of the Main Event Mafia. Somewhat predictably, he did indeed lose the match, and looks set to join the squad on TV unless, of course, rumours about his apparent move back to WWE, come true.

If that match was only ‘good’, then the next match was absolutely fantastic. In an exhilarating ‘Falls Count Anywhere’ bout, ‘The Monster’ Abyss took on Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle.

Without so much as a single dull moment, Angle and Abyss brawled all over the Impact Zone, leading to some great spots around the entrance way including Kurt’s smooth, breathtaking somersault off the stage onto his opponent.

The end came when Angle eventually managed to push Abyss off a raised platform and through the Spanish announce table (those poor Spanish announcers, when will they ever catch a break in pro wrestling!?!) for the win.

Despite the limitations of the old and grey Kevin Nash, his grudge match against ‘The Samoan Submission Machine’ Samoa Joe, was still nonetheless enjoyable, thanks in no small part to former world champ’, Joe.

Though hardly the best match on the Turning Point card, this bout did have its moments, culminating in a win for Nash following a low-blow and a ropes-assisted pin.

TNA Turning Point 2008 event poster - AJ Styles vs. Sting - TNA Title match -

Finally, it was time for the main event. On a card where the matches ranged from mediocre to very good, Sting vs AJ Styles for the World Heavyweight Championship, had a lot to live up to.

Thankfully, it did.

A great battle between the veteran, Sting, and the young lion, Styles, both men gave it their all in an exciting contest which swept the crowd along before interference from the ‘Mafia enabled the Stinger to retain the gold.

All in all then, a great show which saw the Main Event Mafia hold onto their dominance of Total Non-stop Action Wrestling. Match of the night undoubtedly went to Kurt Angle vs Abyss, but many of the wrestlers on the card deserve kudos for putting on one fine performance. 

Over the coming weeks, I'll have a few more TNA wrestling reviews from the past few years. Be the first to check them out by following Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter, or hitting like on the brand new Facebook page.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

PPV Review - WCW - World War 3 1996

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - PPV Review - Event poster
November 24, 1996
Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, Virginia

By November 1996, World Championship Wrestling could seemingly do no wrong. 

Shows would open with world class cruiserweights and some of the finest Lucha Libre stars in the world, and close with globally recognised megastars like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Rowdy Roddy Piper. 

In between, a white-hot angle in the form of the Hogan-led New World Order would ensure that every card helped WCW cement its status as the number one wrestling company on the planet.

With such invincibility behind them, the company repeated one of their most questionable gimmick matches, the three-ring, over-the-top-rope World War 3 battle royal.

Would WCW's unwavering popularity help make this year's 60-man melee a hit? Or was this one destined to spend its history being muttered in the same regrettable tone as The Chamber of Horrors match?

Let's head down to the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia, to find out.

 It's All Going Down at World War 3 

Our show tonight began with the standard Cheesy 90s WCW video package looking at the main matches on tonight's card, after which we got the obligatory introduction from our commentators Tony Schiavone, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan were commentators for the event
The trio discussed Rowdy Roddy Piper, who had arrived in WCW at the previous month's Halloween Havoc looking for a fight with reigning World Heavyweight Champion, Hollywood Hulk Hogan.

After questioning why WCW President Eric Bischoff had been stalling when it came to signing a contract for the match, Dusty warned Hogan that he'd better be prepared for The Hot Rod.

With that, it was on to our opening match.

J-Crown Championship
J-Crown Champion  Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. 

In a return match from their earlier meeting at WCW Hog Wild 1996 that summer, Ultimo Dragon (who was called Ultimate Dragon here for some reason) put his J-Crown collection of belts on the line against Cruiserweight sensation Rey Mysterio Jr.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) bt. Rey Mysterio Jr.
The short-lived J-Crown was a Championship comprised of several different Light Heavyweight titles from around the world, including the long-forgotten World Wrestling Federation Light Heavyweight Championship. So, technically, a WWF title was defended here on a WCW PPV.

I'd say that I'm surprised they didn't make a big deal of this fact, but hey, this was WCW, so I'd be more surprised if they even noticed in the first place.

Anyway, the match itself was typical of WCW PPV openers from around this time.

In other words, it was awesome.

With the reigning champion in control for much of the bout, what we had here was fast paced, exciting, and exhilarating; indeed, everything you could possibly expect from a match featuring Rey Mysterio and Ultimo Dragon.

In the end, it was the latter who picked up the win, bouncing his opponent off the top rope for a wicked slingshot sit-down power bomb and getting the cover, the count, and the match.
Your Winner and Still J-Crown Champion: Ultimo Dragon. 

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Mean Gene interviewed Diamond Dallas Page
Out in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund shilled the new website before welcoming his first guest of the evening, Diamond Dallas Page.

Page refused to get drawn into the controversy surrounding the nWo's attempts to recruit him, nor did he feel like talking about his relationship with his neighbour, Eric Bischoff.

What he did want to talk about, was tonight's 60 Man Battle Royal, and how he was going to win the whole thing.

After all, Page reminded us, nobody had expected him to win BattleBowl back at Slamboree 1996 in May, and yet he'd done just that. So, tonight, it was inevitable in DDP's mind that he would surprise everyone and win the battle royal too.

This was a solid promo from Page, who has looked -and sounded- consistently better on every subsequent 1996  WCW PPV I've reviewed so far here on Retro Pro Wrestling.

One Hand Tied Behind My Back Match
Nick Patrick vs. Chris Jericho (w/ Teddy Long)

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Referee Nick Patrick faced Chris Jericho in a 1-hand-behind-my-back match
If the whole point of professional wrestling is that it's supposed to be entertaining, then this referee vs. wrestler match between Chris Jericho and Nick Patrick was the very epitome of good pro wrestling.

The back story here was that Patrick had been slowly and not-so-subtly aligning himself with the New World Order, showing bias towards the renegade outfit in their battles against WCW stars.

This had raised the ire of several good guys, none more so than Chris Jericho and Teddy Long.

Thus, we had tonight's match, which began with Patrick yelling to the camera about how Long should have brought a towel with him because Chris Jericho was really going to need one.

Who can blame him? After all, everyone knows that if you're gonna survive out there, you've really gotta know where your towel is.

Ahem. Anyway, as I was saying, this was a terrific piece of entertainment with both men playing their roles to perfection and Patrick bumping about the place like an absolute pro.

As was only fitting, Jericho won the match, but not before ensuring both he and Patrick looked awesome.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho

As great as that was, the announcers simply didn't care, instead of talking to us for several minutes about the Roddy Piper / Hulk Hogan drama before showing us Marcus Alexander Bagwell talking to some Internet nerd for WCW online.

From there, it was back to Mean Gene, who was standing by ready to interview the recently injured Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Stylin' and Profilin' With The Nature Boy

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - An Injured Ric Flair was super over with the Norfolk crowd
Flair, who by this point was a fully fledged babyface, cut a captivating and wholly entertaining promo in which he promised that he, The Four Horsemen, Sting, Lex Luger, The Steiner Brothers and others were 100% WCW, and that before long, WCW would own the New World Order.

Watching such brilliant promos like this, it seems even more of a shame that Flair was relegated almost to mid-card status with the arrival of the nWo. He was still insanely over, and deservedly so.

Speaking of Flair, the man he had recently endorsed, Jeff Jarrett, was in action next.

Return Grudge Match
The Giant vs. Jeff Jarrett

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Jeff Jarrett faced The Giant
This was a relatively average match in which the sole highlight was the arrival of Sting.

Now in full Crow mode, Sting made his way from the rafters to the ring and planted Jeff Jarrett with a Scorpion Death Drop behind the referee's back, much as he had done on a recent episode of Nitro.

This gave The Giant an easy opportunity to land a choke slam and pick up a win.
Your Winner: The Giant

The announcers were adamant that this meant Sting was now aligned with the nWo. A fair assumption, if it wasn't for the fact that Jarrett had been bad-mouthing Sting on Nitro and doubting his loyalty to WCW.

The fact that the announcers over looked this and claimed to have no idea why Sting had targeted Jarrett was remarkably dumb.

Piper and Hogan Sign The Contract for Starrcade.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Hulk Hogan signed a contract to face Roddy Piper at Starrcade 1996For a long time around this period, people would complain that for all WCW did right, where the company really let themselves down was in putting older stars like Piper and Hogan at the top of the card.

At the time, I was one of them, but looking back now I realise that there was a good reason why the two veterans remained in the main event spot:

They could get a crowd riled up like nobody else.

At least, that was certainly the case here, where Piper did a phenomenal job of eliciting exactly the kind of emotion that would make his Starrcade match with Hogan a sure fire sell out.

The Amazing French Canadians (Jacques Rougeau & Carl Ouellet w/ Col. Parker) vs. Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray, w/ Sister Sherri) 

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - The Amazing French Canadians faced Harlem Heat
So, apparently, when I first wrote this review, I skipped over writing about this match altogether.

Now that I'm getting ready to publish and going over the show again, I've remembered why:

This thing was tedious to the point of sending me to sleep.

The story here is that Sister Sherri and Col. Parker had endured something of an on-again, off-again relationship, even going so far as almost getting married at Clash of the Champions back in January (weirdly, I thought I'd reviewed that already, but can't seem to find it).

Now though, the relationship was definitely off, with Parker being kicked out of Harlem Heat and join forces with The Amazing French Canadians.

Tonight, the two teams would go at it in this dire contest which, if Harlem Heat won, would result in Sherri getting five minutes alone with Parker.

If that doesn't tell you the outcome, nothing will.

Yep, it was on like neckbones as the straight OGs got the win for Sherri, sucka.
Your Winners: Harlem Heat 

Afterwards, Sherri gave  Parker a good pasting, much to the delight of the commentators. Dusty, God bless him, absolutely laughed his ass off at the site of Parker getting his ass handed to him by Sherri, right up to the point that The Amazing French Canadians saved their manager and hauled him to safety.

Lex Luger is Ready 

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger
After a quick commercial for December's Starrcade 1996, Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger about Sting's strange behaviour, and about Luger's role in tonight's battle royal. 

Luger was as perplexed about The Stinger as the rest of us, and genuinely didn't know what was going on there. What he did know, however, was that he was ready for the fight of his life tonight, and was all in it to help World Championship Wrestling turn the tide against The New World Order. 

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Psicosis

I was so looking forward to this match. I was looking forward to telling you that Dean Malenko and Psicosis had an exciting back-and-forth that served as a perfect example of why the WCW Cruiserweight Division was the best in-ring stuff we had back in the 90s by a quarter mile.

Then the match actually happened, and it turned out I wasn't going to be able to tell you any of that because it was so disappointingly dull.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Psicosis challenged Dean Malenko for the WCW Cruiserweight TitlePsicosis' whole deal was that he was a high-flying luchador, so this match eliminated any reason why anybody would want to see Psicosis by having Malenko spend most of the match putting him in long, tedious submission holds.

At one point, things got so boring that even the announcers stopped caring, choosing instead to talk about the upcoming 60-man battle total that was to be our main event.

Eventually, Malenko pinned Psicosis to retain his title. Somewhere nearby, a cricket chirped.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko

Moving swiftly on...

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) vs. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs & Jerry Sags) vs. The Faces of Fear (Meng & Barbarian w/ Jimmy Hart)

You know those matches that are neither good nor bad, but just kind of there?

This was exactly one of those matches.

The Nasty Boys and The Faces of Fear did the bulk of the work in the early going, with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash hanging out on the apron, having a good time.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - The Outsiders defended the WCW tag titles against Nasty Boys and Faces of Fear
Eventually, Jerry Sags, Brian Knobs, Meng, and Ballbearing got wise to this and forced the reigning champions into battle.

From there, we got your standard triangle tag match, complete with a spot where The Outsiders were tagged in against each other and their opponents dropped to the floor that looked oddly similar to the one employed in the Smoking Gunns vs. Body Donnas vs. Godwins vs. New Rockers match from WWF Summerslam 1996.

Hall tried to pin Nash, but that was broken up, leading to a mass, six man brawl.

With almost everyone else spilling to the outside, Hall hit Knobs with Jimmy Hart's microphone, Nash hit the powerbomb, and that was enough to land the win for his team.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders

Prior to our main event, the announcers once again reminded us that Piper and Hogan would fight next month at Starrcade. Heenan also gave us his pick for the winner of the battle royal - Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko.

Because the battle royal apparently needed three commentary teams, we next went to Lee Marshall and The Living Legend, Larry Zybysko.

Marshall only wanted to tell us about a match he saw between Chris Benoit and The Taskmaster at a WCW house show the previous evening, whilst Zybysko reminded us that was at stake in the battle royal was a shot at the world title.

Switching to Dusty Rhodes and Iron Mike Tenay, both wanted to get back to talking about The Four Horsemen and The Dungeon of Doom, completely giving away the fact that something big would happen between the two factions.

Something Big Happened Between The Two Factions 

Told ya. 

Before the main event could properly get underway, Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan came a-brawlin' round ringside, effectively taking each other out of the battle royal. 

World War 3 (Winner Gets a Shot at WCW World Heavyweight Title)
Sixy Man Battle Royal featuring Lex Luger, The Giant, Steven Regal, Diamond Dallas Page, Road Block, Big Ron Studd, Ice Train, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Syxx, Eddie Guerrero, Jeff Jarrett, And Half The Population of Planet Earth

Honestly, until I sat down to write this review, I'd never actually seen one of these sixty-man battle royals before, but I'd certainly heard about them. 

Mostly, I'd heard that they sucked. 

Indeed, every review, or even mention, of the World War 3 PPV seemed to have the match down as a failure. 

For the longest time, that's something I just couldn't understand. 

I mean, an enormous battle royal featuring basically the entire roster? What's not to like?

Apparently, everything. 

The action, I'm sure, was fine, but most of it was shown to us via WCW's favourite split-screen view, this time splitting said screen into three. 

That meant it was nigh on impossible to actually follow what was going on, especially when the six announcers started calling eliminations that were not even on camera. 

The end result was a cluttered, disjointed mess in which the only highlight was the crowd going wild when it looked like Lex Luger might win the whole thing. 

Unfortunately for Luger, and WCW as a whole, tonight wasn't to be his night. Instead, The Giant picked up the win, planting the first small seed towards his eventually split from the New World Order, but more of that some other time.
Your Winner: The Giant 

Afterwards, the New World Order posed in the ring as World War 3 1996 went off the air.

At the start of this review, I asked whether WCW's huge popularity could stop the sixty man battle royal from sucking. 

The answer is no, it couldn't. 

The main event was -from a visual standpoint at least- an absolute disaster. Coupled with matches which were either disappointingly bad or just painfully mediocre, the battle royal only confirmed the one idea I was starting to get as the show went on: 

This is not a PPV to recommend. 

For more WCW 1996 ppv reviews, see the following links:
Next time, we'll go back and finish off the year 1996 with reviews of WWF In Your House: I's Time and WCW Starrcade 1996. 

o 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.

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.