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, 29 March 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede Event Poster
July 6, 1997
Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta

In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede has long been one of my favourite pro wrestling events of all time, so I've been both excited and nervous about reviewing the show for Retro Pro Wrestling for some time now. 

Excited, because I'd get to relive an event that was such an enjoyable moment in my childhood and nervous because, well, what if it didn't live up to my memories?

What if a show that I've always considered perfect turned out to be anything but?

Honestly, one way or another, I can't wait to find out for sure, so let's get this intro over with and head down to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for In Your House 16.

Shades of Grey 

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede
Our opening video package tonight highlighted the rivalry between Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin, telling us that the line between heroes and villains had become blurred and that the World Wrestling Federation was now coated in shades of grey.

This led us to the arena, where Vince McMahon growled his way through his usual welcome before introducing us to his colleagues Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

In the spirit of the occasion, all three wore cowboy gear and Stetson hats. One of the three would become synonymous with his hat and would barely be seen without it thereafter.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) vs. Mankind 

After defeating him in the final of last month's WWF King of the Ring 1997, Hunter Hearst Helmsley had been engaged in a heated rivalry with Mankind that would last throughout the summer months.

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - Chyna helped HHH against Mankind
Tonight, they squared off in a wild and violent opening contest that served as the perfect introduction to tonight's show.

Rather than settling their differences, this match only intensified the rivalry between Mankind and Hunter, with the two beating the hell out of each other both in the ring and out.

It was on the outside where this on came to an end, with Helmsley and Mankind ignoring the referee's ten count and continuing to brawl on the outside. The referee reached ten and we had ourselves a draw.
Double Countout

Not that the match being over meant anything. The two continued to brawl through the crowd and up towards the entrance until all the officials ran out to the rescue.

This one was far from over.

The Hart Foundation Received a Heroes Welcome 

Up next, Doc Hendrix voiced a video package which showed us The Hart Foundation living it up in their home town and embracing the crowds at the annual Calgary Stampede event.

This then took us to Doc attempting to interview The Hart Foundation live in the backstage area, only for Stone Cold Steve Austin to interrupt things.

Austin was dragged off by Pat Patterson and a handful of others whilst Bret told Doc that he didn't want to gang up 5-on-1 against Austin but instead wanted to wait until it was 5-on-5 to prove that The Hart Foundation really were the best ever.

Taka Michinoku vs. The Great Sasuke 

In response to the runaway success of WCW's Cruiserweight division, the WWF had first experimented with bringing in luchadors at the 1997 Royal Rumble before deciding to launch their own Light Heavyweight division here with newcomers Taka Michinoku and The Great Sasuke.

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - Taka Michinoku faced The Great Sasuke
As the latter made his way to the ring, Vince McMahon told us that we had some pre-recorded comments from The Great Sasuke, but sadly we would never hear them.

There was a weird pause, then -in a theme that would run throughout the rest of tonight's show- Hunter and Mankind came out for another brawl among the crowds before finally disappearing backstage again.

When the bell finally rang, Michinoku and Sasuke took a while to gel, but when they did, their match was a thing of beauty.

Stiff strikes combined with some stunning aerial moves and breathtaking suplexes made this a joy to watch.

In the end, Sasuke hit the Thunderfire Powerbomb to win the match.
Your Winner: The Great Sasuke 

Meanwhile, out in the parking lot, a battered and bloodied Hunter Hearst Helmsley continued to wage war with Mankind in what would prove to be a highlight amongst many on tonight's show.

Doc Hendrix Interviews Paul Bearer and Vader

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - Doc Hendrix interviews Vader & The Undertaker
Backstage, Doc Hendrix asked Paul Bearer how he could live with himself after claiming that The Undertaker had murdered his entire family.

Bearer insisted that it was true, and that The Undertaker would regret it tonight when Vader defeated him for the WWF Championship just like he'd beaten him at the 1997 Royal Rumble.

With that, it was on to our only title match of the evening.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion The Undertaker vs. Vader (w/ Paul Bearer) 

Going at it for the second time on pay per view, reigning WWF champion The Undertaker put up
WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - WWF Champion The Undertaker vs. Vader
his title against Vader in a solid effort.

This may not have been the best match on the card, but it was still a fairly good big man brawl, with Paul Bearer camping it up on the outside only adding to the entertainment factor.

After a good, long battle, the champion hit the Tombstone Piledriver to keep the title around his waist.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: The Undertaker  

In order to put plenty of distance between that match and our main event, we then got another look at the same Bret Hart autograph signing we were shown earlier in the broadcast.

This led to another video, this one looking at the recent gang wars between The Nation, The Disciples of the Apocalypse and Los Boricuas, and somehow making it relevant to our big five-on-five main event.

The Americans Are Ready 

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust and The Legion of Doom
Backstage, Doc Hendrix stood by with Goldust, The Legion of Doom, Ken Shamrock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Goldust, The LOD, and Shamrock all had not very interesting things to say, whilst Austin simply walked off, ready for battle.

Time for the Formalities 

Prior to the bell, Howard Finkle asked the Calgary faithful to stand whilst country group Farmer's Daughter sang the Canadian National Anthem.

Finkle, wearing a Stetson of his own, then introduced us to the Premier of Alberta and Stu and Helen Hart.

This whole thing was a nice touch which really leant an air of importance to tonight's show.

Finally, it was down to the main event.

Five on Five Tag Team Match
Goldust, Ken Shamrock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) vs. The Hart Foundation (Brian Pillman, Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart, WWF European Champion The British Bulldog, WWF Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart) 

Yes, this was as good as you've been told.

From the opening ten man stare down like something out of a western to the final moment when Owen Hart rolled up Steve Austin for the three count, everything about this match was phenomenal.

The crowd had been electric all night, but here they really blew the proverbial roof off, creating the kind of atmosphere that you barely saw in the mid-90s.

The action itself was off the charts, with all ten men working to their strengths to create one of the best main events of the decade.
Your Winners: The Hart Foundation 

Afterwards, it took an army of referees, road agents, and rent-a-cops to get the American team out of the ring.

Austin came back with a chair and waffled Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart, but the rest of The Hart Foundation plus more security guards all pounced on him, put him in handcuffs and carted him off.

That just left the Canadian heroes to celebrate in the ring with their entire family, including all the Hart brothers, Stu & Helen, and all their grandkids, among them Harry Smith and current Smackdown superstar Natalya.

Thus, one of the greatest shows of the 1990s, and one of this writer's personal all time favourites came to an end.

So, did Canadian Stampede live up to the fond memories I have of it?


This show well deserves to be regarded as one of the most entertaining shows of all time and was absolutely solid from start to finish. 

In an age where WWE are tiring fans out with six-hour shows, perhaps they could look back to their past to rediscover just how awesome they could make things by trimming the fat and keeping things short.

After all, this was only a four-match card and yet it still stands the test of time, even 20 years later.

1997 events reviewed so far:
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
  10. WCW - Slamboree 1997
  11. WWF - King of the Ring 1997
  12. WCW - Great American Bash 1997 
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Top 10 WWF / WWE Wrestling Themes of the 1980s

top 10 WWF wrestling themes of the 1980s
Just recently, we got done reviewing the two major contributions to music  m made by pro wrestling in the 1980s  - first 1985's Wrestling Album and its 1987 follow-up, Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2

There was some dross on those albums sure (hello, Land of 1,000 Dances) but there was also a lot of good stuff too (Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Coo anyone?), and that got me thinking...

Namely, it got me thinking about the fact that so many of my favourite WWF wrestling themes came from the 1980s.

Sure, the 90s had some gems, but let's be honest, the 80s really was the golden age of the pro wrestling theme, wasn't it?

With that in mind, let's turn back the clock and count down Retro Pro Wrestling's top then WWF themes of the 80s.

10: Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake 

No, I'm deadly serious.

Though I'm not sure it was entirely suited to a male-stripper-cum-hairdresser, Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake's theme tune was a terreffically fun piece of music that always had me bopping along whenever the Booty Man would make his way ringside.

I even mentioned in an earlier review what a good little track it was.

OK, so it wasn't exactly iconic like a lot of stuff on this list, but it was undeniably catchy, and a great fit for the popular crowd favourite.

9: The Rockers

Given how truly iconic 'Sexy Boy' would become, I think many of us overlook what a kick-ass track Shawn Michaels' first WWF entrance theme really was.

Tearing to the ring with partner, Marty Jannetty, Michaels' Rockers entrance was always a highlight of late-80s WWF programming for this writer, and a big part of that was because of this theme.

Sure,  it sounds a lot like a demo version of The Ultimate Warrior's track, but then who says that's a bad thing?

8: Macho Man Randy Savage - Pomp & Circumstance

The very first moment that first chord strikes up - you know you're in for something special. Despite what you might think about the late Warrior's personal views, there's no denying that when it comes to being a physical presence back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, nobody came close to The Ultimate Warrior.

What he lacked in wrestling ability, the Warrior made up for by being a force of pure cosmic insanity that was just fascinating to watch as a kid, and I dare say that the man who would become one of the most popular characters of all time just wouldn't have been half as entertaining without this smash-mouth theme tune.

 6: Mr. Perfect - Perfect

And no, we're not talking about that abomination of a remix/audio vomit that was the Mr. Perfect song from 1993's Wrestlemania: The Album.

We're talking about that magical, grandiose piece of music that would accompany the one and only Curt Hennig (and was later ripped off for Shawn Stasiak in WCW), the one that when you hear it you instantly know you're in for a great match, the one that is, in every sense of the word, the perfect theme.

Yeah, I went there.

5: Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase - It's All About The Money 

Few wrestling themes from any era are quite as instantly recognisable as the soundtrack of evilness that was The Million Dollar Man's theme - and not just because Ted Dibiase himself played the role to perfection.

From Ted's opening cackle to Jimmy Hart's Nintendo-esque guitar riff, everything about this theme is glorious, not to mention seriously addictive.

Trust me - listen to the video and then go about your day. I bet you find yourself singing "money, money, money, money, mu-kneeee" at least once today.

4: Slick - Jive Soul Bro 

As I believe I mentioned in my review of Piledriver, I'm never entirely sure if it's politically correct to like Jive Soul Bro, but damn do I find it entertaining.

You see, although it may very catchy and infectious and full of the kind of rhythms that force you to bop your head whenever you hear it, what really makes Jive Soul Bro such a great song is that -like all good wrestling themes- it perfectly embodies the character that was Slick.

For those only familiar with The Doctor of Style from that time he officiated Daniel Bryan & Aj Lee's wedding, he was a devious and conniving heel manager who espoused the idea that 'honesty is the best policy' despite being one of the most dishonest guys on the roster.

It was a character that Slick played wonderfully, and that he carries forward in this song as he talks about all his failed attempts to be a player  and date multiple women.

The man was hysterical, and easily one of my favourite characters of the decade.

Take one listen, and I'm sure you'll see why.

3: Derringer - Demolition 

'Here comes the Ax, and here comes the Smash-ugh'

The second you heard those words, delivered in a guttural snarl over a menacing, heavy metal guitar riff, you know you were about to see one of the most unique acts in the WWF at that time.

From their BDSM-style ring attire to their face paint and no-BS ring style, Demolition were like nothing else.

I mean, yes, they were a direct rip-off of The Road Warriors, but when you're a little kid, you neither know, nor care about that.

All you care about is these two bad-ass dudes coming down the ring to destroy somebody. It was exciting as hell, and that excitement started the very moment you heard this hard-hitting Derringer track, taken from the Piledriver album.

2: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers - All American Boys  

Glorious, hilarious, and ridiculously catchy, Jimmy Hart penned this theme for his Canadian team The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, and it's been one of my favourites since.

OK, so it lacks the bad-ass riffage of Rick Derringer's Demolition theme, and it isn't quite as iconic as the song that's in our number one spot, but then very few actually are.

Instead, what we've got here is a track that was so perfectly suited to Jacques and Raymond, two brothers who managed that rare feat of pulling off the 'we're nice guys really' heel gimmick to perfection.

Honestly, just give it a listen - isn't it fantastic?

1: Hulk Hogan - Real American 

I love All American Boys so much that I was tempted to give it the number one spot, but let's be honest:

How could I?

How could I justify handing the title of the 1980s Wrestling theme to two Canadians pretending to be Americans when we've got the actual, genuine, Real American right here?

Besides, it's Hulk F'N Hogan - the embodiment of 80s wrestling and the reason why we're even talking about the WWF and it's superstars here today.

Yes, I know the track was originally intended for I.R.S and The Stalker, but aren't you glad this scorching rock song became synonymous with the biggest thing in wrestling instead?

I mean Real American sounds HUGE in every possible sense of the word.

I still get shivers down my spine when I hear it even today, and you better believe  that it doesn't take long for me to start rocking out when I hear that sharp-yet-strangely-uplifting guitar riff.

Here's to Real American.

Here's to Hulk Hogan.

Here's to all the stars -and the rocking tunes- that made the 1980s such a fun time to be a wrestling fan.

Disagree with any of my picks?

Let me now in the comments below, or by commenting on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page

Alternatively, let's connect on Twitter @RetroPwrestling

Thursday, 15 March 2018

PPV REVIEW - WCW The Great American Bash 1997

WCW The Great American Bash 1997 - Event Poster
June 15, 1997
The MARK of the Quad Cities, Moline, Illinois

That The Great American Bash is the only WCW Pay Per View that WWE decided to revive once they bought out the company likely speaks volumes about a great idea this event was. 

Take the best that your company has to offer, present them in some blockbuster matches and present the whole thing with a good deal of American patriotism, and you've got all the makings of a successful event.

Yet as we all know, having a great idea doesn't always equal greatness once that idea is brought to life.

So, was The Great American Bash as good as it could have been? Was putting Diamond Dallas Page in the main event the best way for WCW to present the best that it had to offer?

Let's head down to the Quad Cities to find out.

America, Land of the Free 

WCW The Great American Bash 1997 - Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Our opening video tonight played up the patriotic theme of The Great American Bash, painting Diamond Dallas Page as the American Working Class Hero in his battles with his main event opponent, Macho Man Randy Savage.

This took us to our regular trio of Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, who got us looking forward to not only Savage/Page II (which they now told us was no DQ), but also our big tag team title match pitting Champions The Outsiders against The Nature Boy Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper.

From there, it was off to ringside and on to the first of our nine-match card.

Special Respect Challenge Match
Psicosis (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Ultimo Dragon 

WCW The Great American Bash 1997 - Psicosis & Sonny Onoo
The goofy name of this match didn't actually mean anything, it was just something WCW often did on PPVs to make every match seem more important than it was.

Basically, Sonny Onoo had turned on Ultimo Dragon at the previous month's Slamboree 1997 and had then hired Psicosis to apparently teach Dragon a lesson.

Silly name aside, this was a fairly fun opening contest. No, it wasn't the best Cruiserweight bout ever, but it had some entertaining spots and was a good way to kick off the show.

In the end, Psicosis went to whip Dragon into the ropes, where Onoo was waiting to kick his former charge, but Dragon reversed the whip and Psicosis got a boot to the mush.

Ultimo Dragon then applied the Dragon Sleeper and this one was over.
Your Winner: Ultimo Dragon 

Out in the back, Chris Benoit was being interviewed by some geek for

I'd love to tell you what Benoit was saying, but I could barely hear him over the sound of the geek typing on a laptop that was bigger than my house.

Match to Determine Number One Contenders to the WCW Tag Team Titles
Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Sister Sherri) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) 

WCW Great American Bash 1997 - Sherri leads Booker T & Stevie Ray - Harlem Heat
Though certainly nothing out of the ordinary, this was as good as you'd probably expect from two teams with as much experience as Harlem Heat and The Steiners.

A solid, hard-hitting contest came to an end with The Steiners looking as though they had the whole thing won. Then, randomly, Vincent (of all people) came down and got involved, costing Rick and Scott the match by DQ:
Your Winners and Number One Contenders to the WCW Tag Team Titles: Harlem Heat 

Afterwards, Rick and Scott beat the hell out of Vincent. Tellingly, none of Vince's nWo colleagues came out to help him.

As random as it seemed, the announcers told us that this was the perfect example of The Outsiders trying to control things and handpick their opponents, preferring to fight Harlem Heat over The Steiner Brothers.

Konnan vs. Hugh Morrus

WCW Great American Bash 1997 - Hugh Morrus faced Konnan
Konnan had turned on Hugh Morrus after they lost to The Steiner Brothers at last month's WCW Slamboree.

The two had been at war ever since, culminating in a match that was as sloppy as it was tedious.

You know, I used to think I was a fan of Konnan, but the more I watch him the more it almost looks as if he genuinely didn't know how to wrestle and was making it up as he went along.

Not that such a crappy looking performance stopped him from winning. Morrus got knocked out on the turnbuckle and couldn't respond when Konnan locked on the Tequila Sunrise, so this was over.
Your Winner: Konnan 

Next, we went to Mean Gene Okerlund for our regular reminder to call the WCW Hotline.

Gene hinted that somebody -he couldn't say who- might be joining WCW on the following evening's Nitro broadcast after falling out with his current employer. It turned out to be Raven, but apparently not for a few more weeks.

WCW Great American Bash 1997 - Mean Gene interviews The Public Enemy
From there, Gene welcomed The Public Enemy, who cut a ridiculous and dumb promo in which they bemoaned the fact that they had been overlooked for a WCW Tag Team title shot and vowed that they would get one sooner rather than later.

To end this utterly annoying segment, Johnny Grunge and Flyboy Rocco Rock went into the crowd to erm 'party.'

The whole thing was cringe-worthy and not entertaining in the slightest.

Mortis must be handcuffed at ringside
Wrath (w/ James Vanderberg & Mortis) vs. Glacier 

This was probably one of the best matches Bryan Clarke ever had.

WCW Great American Bash 1997 - Glacier faced Wrath
I'm not saying it was amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but it was certainly compelling, with both Glacier and Wrath working hard to keep you invested from start to finish.

Speaking of the finish, James Vanderberg kept referee Nick Patrick distracted by fighting him for the keys to Mortis' handcuffs. Meanwhile, Mortis himself threw a chain into the ring, only for Glacier to get hold of it and waffle Wrath with it.

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

Afterwards, the evil trio handcuffed Glacier to the ropes and attacked him until all he referees ran out to the rescue.

World Championship Wrestling Women's Championship
WCW Women's Champion Akira Hokuto (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Madusa 

WCW Great American Bash 1997 - Akira Hokuto w/ Sonny Onoo
The deal here is that if Madusa loses, her WCW career is over.

The All-American fan favourite up a valiant effort against her Japanese rival in a decent match, but it wasn't enough to save her career.

Akira Hokuto worked over the challenger's leg for the majority of the match before finally pinning her in what would be the last WCW women's championship match we would ever see.
Your Winner and Still WCW Women's Champion:  Akira Hokuto 

Afterwards, Mean Gene acted like the biggest dick in the world by bugging both Madusa and one of the guys helping her to the back for an interview.

Both blew him off, but Mean Gene kept following them, yelling down the mic about how Madusa's career was over and prompting the crowd to chant 'Leave her alone!' 

This was good advice because Okerlund looked like a hugely insensitive asshole here.

Death Match II
Chris Benoit vs. Meng (w/ Jimmy Hart) 

WCW Great American Bash 1997 - Meng with Jimmy Hart
With his real life partner and former manager Woman now presumedly retired, Chris Benoit went up against Meng in a return Death Match, a sequel to their previous outing at Slamboree.

Much as with that earlier match, anyone expecting barbed wire and blood galore here would be sorely disappointed.

In WCW, a Death Match apparently meant your standard no DQ, Last Man Standing outing.

Honestly, it's kind of impressive how many different ways WCW could come up with to present a no DQ style contest.

Unfortunately, this one lacked the intensity of their earlier battle and as such tended to drag on in places. Still, it was a reasonable effort, if not exactly the kind of thing anybody would want to rush out and watch.

In the end, the two paid homage to Wrestlemania 13's Bret Hart/Steve Austin ending, with Benoit applying the Crippler Crossface and Meng never actually giving up but instead passing out.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit 

Afterwards, they put Chris Benoit in a neckbrace and wheeled him off on a stretcher, but apparently, that was the only stretcher in the building because we then had to wait for five hours whilst they brought it back to take Meng out on it too.

Somehow, Meng fell off the stretcher and had to be hurled back onto it whilst Mean Gene Okerlund ranted and raved on the mic.

Okerlund shilled the Hotline some more before we went to our next match.

Steve 'Mongo' McMichael (w/ Debra McMichael) vs. Kevin Greene

WCW Great American Bash 1997 - Debra & Steve 'Mongo' McMichael
A whole year after turning on him at WCW Great American Bash 1996, Steve 'Mongo' McMichael faced retribution from fellow football star Kevin Greene in this simple yet mostly enjoyable outing.

Neither man broke new ground in terms of innovation, but by working some basic spots and playing to their strengths, both were able to deliver some decent entertainment.

In the finish, Jeff Jarrett ran out to hit Kevin Greene with the Halliburton but waffled Mongo instead.

Jarrett then stormed off in frustration whilst Debra McMichael yelled at him.

Greene made the cover and this one was over.
Your Winner: Kevin Greene  

WCW Great American Bash 1997 - Madusa gets her knee checked out
Backstage, we saw Madusa, still sobbing with pain, having her knee checked over.

Tony Schiavone told us that if it was serious then Madusa wouldn't be able to compete for months. Schiavone then quickly remembered that we'd seen her retired by Akira Hokuto, and tried to save face.

He failed.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash w/ Syxx) vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper & Nature Boy Ric Flair 

This was slow, dull and lifeless, apart from one key spot where Ric Flair got into a brawl with Syxx on the outside.

WCW Great American Bash 1997 - nWo Wolfpac
The two fought all the way to the back, leaving Rowdy Roddy Piper alone to face Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.

More tedium followed, then The Outsiders won and I just about woke up to watch the rest of the show.
Your Winner: The Outsiders 

Prior to the main event, Michael Buffer introduced the Quad Cities' own Mickie Jay as our referee and gave us some pretty fireworks, which was nice.

Falls Count Anywhere
Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Diamond Dallas Page (w/ Kimberley) 

Finally making all the previous mediocrity worth sitting through, this stellar main event delivered on just about every level.

Upping the ante from their earlier No DQ bout at WCW Spring Stampede 1997, Macho Man Randy Savage and Diamond Dallas Page waged an all out war against one another, brawling all over the arena in a fight that was just utterly thrilling from start to finish.

Savage was at his most insane best here, taking out several referees and a photographer, and almost taking out Kimberley too.

Not that being bat shit crazy was enough to keep Diamond Dallas Page down.

DDP held his own throughout the match, but the arrival of Scott Hall in the finish made this into a handicap and that was more than Page could handle.

An Outsiders Edge followed by a Savage elbow drop finished off the match and the show.
Your Winner: Macho Man Randy Savage 

I feel like I've said this about a WCW show before - the opening match was great fun, the main event was awesome, but everything in between ranged from the passable to the piss poor. Watch for the Savage/Page outing and the ongoing rise of Diamond Dallas Page into a bonafide superstar, but otherwise, Great American Bash 1997 is not essential viewing. 

1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
  10. WCW - Slamboree 1997
  11. WWF - King of the Ring 1997
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Movie Review: No Holds Barred (Hulk Hogan, Zeus)

No Holds Barred Movie Review (WWE / WWF / Hulk Hogan)
Despite most reviews for No Holds Barred being terrible, I genuinely thought I'd enjoy this movie.

After all, I have a track record of liking things that nobody else does.

I'm the guy, remember, who enjoyed Diesel vs. British Bulldog from In Your House 4: Great White North; a match so bad that even Vince McMahon himself reportedly threw his headset down in disgust after it was over.

I'm the guy who genuinely believes that Metallica wrote some of their best songs on the Load and Reload albums, and who prefers shows like From Dusk Til Dawn to Game of Thrones or any of that crap.

So yeah, my tastes tend to be a little weird. I tend to find the good in even the worst of things, but when it comes to this 1989 wrestling-themed monstrosity, I'm sorry, not even I can find much good to say about it.

Released at the height of the Hulkamania boom in order to cash in on said boom and propel its lead actor, Hulk Hogan to Hollywood megastardom.

In that sense, you could say that No Holds Barred was a success. Hogan did enjoy an acting career.

It's just that nobody else besides Hogan enjoyed it.

In every other sense, especially a creative one and certainly a financial one, No Holds Barred was a resounding failure.

Which is a shame, because what the film initially promise sounds good:

All the this-would-only-ever-happen-in-a-movie action, sharp dialogue, and rocking soundtrack that made the 1980s such a golden age for over-the-top movies, with the added addition of pro wrestling, which was still red hot at the tail-end of the decade.

Yet if you were expecting wrestling's answer to Rocky, or, hell, even Kickboxer, then be prepared to be disappointed.

What we've got instead is, well...

Imagine pro wrestling were real (what!?! You mean it's not!?!), and imagine that Ted Turner had been unable to lure Hogan to his network with money back in the 1990s.

Imagine that Turner had instead decided to try and beat Vince McMahon in the wrasslin' business not by signing up bonafide superstars like Hogan and Randy Savage, but by launching what was essentially a glorified version of Bum Fights.

That's basically what this is.

Hogan stars as, well, Hogan basically stars as himself; a World Wrestling Federation Champion beloved by the fans and a giant box office draw.

No Holds Barred Movie Review:  Jake Bullet (Bill Eadie / Demolition Ax)
Except here, he's not red-and-yellow wearing Hulk Hogan but blue (and once white but mostly blue) wearing Rip,  a well-loved superstar who has his own hand signal that looks like a cross between a Hawaiian Shaka sign and Rip telling you to give him a call.

When we first meet the champ, he's heading to the ring to defend his title against Bill Eadie, better know as Demolition Ax but here known as Jake Bullet.

If that name sounds familiar to you, you're probably a fan of British sci-fi comedy, Red Dwarf.

Honestly, I spent days trying to figure out where I knew the name Jake Bullet from before it dawned on me that it was the name assumed by Kryten in the 'Dwarf episode Back to Reality.

Speaking of getting back to things, let's get back to our film.

No Holds Barred Movie Review: Rip meets Jake Bullet (Bill Eadie)
Hogan puts Bullet away with ease, much to the delight of the audience but the utter dismay of World Television Network exec, Brell.

It's never explained if Brell is his first name or his last name.

It's just his name. In that way, he's a bit like Prince or Madonna, if Prince and Madonna were psychopathic, bug-eyed television executives with a penchant for shouting the words 'JOCK ASS' whenever they got angry.

And trust me, he gets angry a lot.

Mostly, he's angry because his network is bottom of the ratings, and it's all because of Rip and the World Wrestling Federation.

He's angrier still when his attempts to buy out the WWF Champion with a blank cheque fail, prompting him to shout 'JOCK ASS' several times more.

No Holds Barred Movie Review: Rip meets Brell
In fact, Brell is angry pretty much all the time, until he and his two underlings go to an underground dive bar for reasons that are never explained (a common theme in the movie) and stumble across some bizarre form of no holds barred street fighting.

One of the participants is none other than Stan Hansen, who is listed in the credits -I kid you not- as Neanderthal.

Anyway, watching Stan 'Neanderthal' Hansen and his chums beat the crap out of each other gives Brell an idea:

He'll simply stick these street fighting miscreants on his network as an alternative to pro wrestling and win the ratings war.

When a solid mountain of a man known as Zeus enters -and quickly wins- Brell's ludicrously-named 'Battle of The Tough Guys,' the TV exec gets his wish.

No Holds Barred Movie Review: Stan 'Neanderthal' Hansen
Zeus' presence makes the show a hit, but for the evil Brell, that's no longer enough.

Now, he won't stop until Rip faces Zeus, and when I say he won't stop, I mean it.

As you can probably guess, we eventually get the big main event match, but not before we sit through a simple yet utterly baffling plot that basically has to do with Brell coaxing Rip into the match, but where hardly anything is given the explanation it needs.

Early on, we see Hogan in a board meeting, headed up by the cold-yet-beautiful Samantha (played by Joan Severance).

Now, Samantha may be his agent, or his manager, or even just some really bossy woman who is strangely passionate about pro wrestling merchandise sales.

We're never actually told.

No Holds Barred Movie Review: Samantha
All we know is that she's an attractive woman who somehow has a vested interest in Rip's career but definitely isn't interested in him sexually...

...At least she wasn't until the two were forced to share a hotel room and she finds herself all hot and bothered at the sight of some Hulkster booty.

So she starts swooning over our hero, or at least or hero's ass, and this angers Brell because...well, nobody's entirely sure.

We get a vague idea that Samantha was working for him, but that only poses more questions than it answers.

Was she working with Rip and then sold out to Brell?

Was she specifically hired to work with the Champion? If so, what happened to Rip's last manager/agent/random business person?

What, ultimately was Samantha supposed to do to mess with Hogan besides manage his merchandise sales?

Honestly, it makes even less sense than you think, as though a lot of key scenes have been left on the cutting room floor.

On the one hand, there is plenty of evidence that this is actually what happened.

You get the impression that at least some of the people who made this film wanted it to appeal to the Hulkamaniacs - basically kids. So including only the most essential scenes helps keep it simple and kid-friendly.

There's two big problems with this, however.

1: It's as though all the wrong scenes have been cut - so aiming for simplicity actually makes the movie far more confusing. All the stuff that tells you what's going on has been stripped from the movie.

2: A lot of the things that happen are far from kid-friendly.

Our poor Samantha is hit by a man, nearly raped and generally treated in a way that no woman (or human being, for that matter) should ever be treated, especially in a movie that is largely going to be watched by younger audiences.

The best part is that I haven't even mentioned the scene where Sam thinks Hogan is indulging in a little pre-sleep self-love but he's actually just doing push-ups in his skimpy speedos.

No Holds Barred Movie Review: Hulk Hogan's ass
Honestly, if you're planning to watch this film, be prepared to see a of Hulkster ass.

The worst part of all this, however, is that despite all the attempted raping going on, you're still never sure how Samantha is connected to Rip and Brell, or what Brell's goons tormenting her is supposed to achieve other than upsetting the champ in some vague, unexplained way.

The whole thing simply lacks any sense of cohesion, or any sense at all for that matter, and is basically a string of loosely-connected scenes strung together in a way that just about gets us to our main event:

Hogan Rip vs. Zeus.

And that in itself is odd.

You see, in most films I've seen (and I've seen a few), the bad guys don't succeed, but here, Evil Brell's one goal from the start of the movie is to get Rip on his network, by the finale, he's succeeded in doing just that.

He also succeeded, in booking a pretty good main event.

I mean it.

No Holds Barred Movie Review: Hulk Hogan as Rip
Rip vs. Zeus, as stylised and over-the-top though it may have been (this is a movie, not a wrestling show after all), was actually far more enjoyable than a lot of Hogan's matches at the time.

Plus, it takes-place in a TNA-style, multi-sided ring, so when you consider that along with the fact that this movie reminds me a lot of Turner/Bischoff luring Hogan to WCW, I guess you could say that the movie was a head of its time.

Only in that regard however. In every other way it's a simply terrible piece of cinema that not even I -bizarre appreciator of things most people hate- could learn to like.

I suppose that makes me a JOCK ASS.

PS: Can't get enough of Hulk Hogan and Zeus?

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Thursday, 1 March 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF - King of the Ring 1997

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Event poster June 8, 1997
Providence Civic Center, Providence, Rhode Island

Since it was first established as its own Pay Per View event, King of the Ring had gone on to become the one event where new stars were born or, at the very least, elevated to a whole new level among the WWF Hierarchy.

Owen Hart's big win in 1994 helped solidify his status as one of the company's top stars, and even King Mabel, as atrocious as he may have been, enjoyed a brief main event run on the back of his 1995 King of the Ring victory.

Then there was Stone Cold Steve Austin,  who used his victory to usher in the dawning of a new era and propel himself to pro wrestling immortality.

Tonight, four new competitors would get the opportunity to take that big step towards the main event scene.

Which one of them would be crowned king? Let's head to Providence, Rhode Island to find out.

A Night of Firsts 

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Jim Ross & Vince McMahon Our opening video told us that tonight was going to be a night of firsts; the first time reigning tag team champions had fought one another (not sure if that's technically true, but hey ho), the first time any of the men in tonight's King of the Ring final had the chance to win it, and potentially the first time that we could have an African American WWF Champion.

From there, we got all the usual fireworks and hoopla before Vince McMahon welcomed us to the show and his broadcast colleague Jim Ross declared that the excitement in the air was akin to the Super Bowl.

Vince introduced us to the international commentary teams, and with that, it was on to our opening match.

King of the Ring Semi Final 1
Ahmed Johnson vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) 

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Ahmed Johnson - "These Assholes Can't Spell My Name" And so it begins.

This was a passable opening match, but a far cry from the kind of full-on epics that WCW were starting their pay per view with at the time.

After a few minutes of fairly forgettable action, Ahmed Johnson went for the Pearl River Plunge, only for Chyna to get up on the apron and distract him.

That was enough for Hunter Hearst Helmsley to attack and Pedigree his way into the final.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley 

Prior to taking on Jerry 'The King' Lawler in our next match, Mankind took to the microphone to call out Paul Bearer for abandoning him in favour of obsessing with bribing The Undertaker (this was around the start of Bearer teasing the arrival of Kane).

From there, Mankind, who was fast becoming a solid babyface thanks to his series of sit-down interviews with Jim Ross, turned his attentions to Jerry Lawler in a promo that was as entertaining as it was compelling.

The King Arrives

Backstage, Todd Pettengill reminded The King of how he cheated his way into the match by beating Goldust with his foot on the ropes, only to have The Golden One send Lawler rolling down the Raw is War ramp in comical fashion.

Irate, The King snatched the microphone and made his way to ringside with it, insulting Lawler, the fans, and Mankind en route.

King of the Ring Semi Final
Mankind vs. Jerry 'The King' Lawler 

The match itself was surprisingly good.

I say surprisingly because the majority of Lawler's WWF matches up to this point has largely been played for comic relief, but here he went after Mankind in what proved to be an entertaining contest.

Alas, it wasn't to be Lawler's day. Mankind shoved his fingers down The King's throat and advanced to the final.
Your Winner: Mankind 

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Ahmed Johnson - Todd Pettengill interviews Brian Pillman
Out in the back, Todd Pettengill interviewed Brian Pillman, asking him whether or not he felt responsible for Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels winding up in a match against one another.

Pillman began taking credit for the whole thing until Austin snuck up behind him and attacked him, dragging him into the men's room and flushing his head down the toilet.

This was all good stuff, except for the fact that when they went into the toilet cubicle there just happened to be a camera pointing down directly at the bowl.

Talk about making suspension of disbelief difficult.

Crush (w/ The Nation of Domination) vs. Goldust (w/ Marlena) 

Goldust and Marlena were over huge here, again thanks to a series of sit down Interviews which attempted to add a sense of realism to Goldie's bizarre character.

Unfortunately, his huge popularity did little to help this match which, despite not being terrible, wasn't exactly good.

After several minutes of fairly nondescript action, Goldust picked up the inevitable win over Crush.
Your Winner: Goldust 

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Doc Hendrix interviews Sid & The Legion of Doom
Out in the back, Doc Hendrix interviewed The Legion of Doom and Sid about their upcoming match with The Hart Foundation.

Hawk and Animal were ready to extract some revenge but were not sure they could trust Sid.

In response, Sid claimed that there was no reason to worry because he was the master and ruler of the world, which seems like as good a reason as any.

Offering a retort, The British Bulldog, Owen Hart, and Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart told Tod Pettengill that they were not afraid of their opponents and were more than ready to whoop some booty.

The Hart Foundation (WWF European Champion The British Bulldog, WWF Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart, and Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart vs. Sid & The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) 

If I'm not mistaken, this was Jim Neidhart's first WWF PPV appearance since the 1995 Survivor Series.

Here, he teamed with brothers-in-law Owen Hart and The British Bulldog to take on The Legion of Doom and by far the most over man in the match, Sid.

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Todd Pettengill interviews British Bulldog, Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart and Owen Hart
Throughout 1996 and 1997, Sid was easily the most popular man on any PPV he appeared at, and this one was no different.

So it actually made a lot of sense to keep him on the apron for the majority of this mediocre contest.

That way, after Hawk and Animal had finished working with all three members of The Hart Foundation, Sid was able to get the hot tag and make the live crowd absolutely blow the roof off in the process.

Alas, it was the former two-time champion that lost the match for his team, botching a sunset flip from Owen Hart before being pinned by the Intercontinental Champion.
Your Winners: The Hart Foundation 

Whilst that match was going on, Vince and JR told us about next month's In Your House: Canadian Stampede, which just happens to be one of my favourite PPVs of all time.

We were then shown an awesome video package reminding us about how Steve Austin's career had taken off since winning the 1996 King of the Ring.

Mankind Can't Wait to be King 

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Todd Pettengill interviews Mankind
King of the Ring finalist Mankind told Todd Pettengill that he didn't feel that great following his match with Jerry Lawler earlier, but that he was more than ready to beat Hunter and -stealing a line directly from The Lion King- just couldn't wait to be king.

It was another solid effort on the microphone from Foley, and another perfect example of why he fit so easily into the company's main event scene at the height of the Attitude Era.

King of the Ring 1997 Final
Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley 

This was certainly not the best match these two would ever have but it was, despite a slow start, a good effort which served to give us one of the 1997's most memorable feuds.

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Hunter Hearst Helmsley
The action only really got really good towards the finish, when Hunter Pedigreed Mankind through the announce table, after which Chyna battered the former Cactus Jack with the sceptre meant for the King of the Ring Winner.

Back inside, a second Pedigree earned Helmsley the crown.
Your Winner and 1997  King of the Ring: Hunter Hearst Helmsley 

For the first time since King of the Ring became its own pay per view, there was no throne for the victor to sit on and no special coronation area.

Instead, Todd Pettengill gave Hunter his crown and cape in the ring.

Hunter then used the crown to beat on Mankind some more, a move designed to guarantee that we would see a lot more from these two over the coming months.

The Hart Foundation Issue A Challenge 

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - The Hart Foundation issued a challenge
Prior to our next match, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart led The Hart Foundation down to the ring, where he cut a fantastic promo about his impending return to action following a recent knee surgery.

Infinitely better on the mic as a heel than he ever was as a babyface, The Hitman put over the unbreakable bond he had with his Hart Foundation family (which by now also included Brian Pillman) and challenged any five wrestlers from the World Wrestling Federation to challenge them at what Bret first called In Your Hase.

He quickly corrected himself, referring to next month's event as In Your House, and setting up a huge ten man tag that I can not wait to review.

After that, Bret insisted he was going to do colour commentary on the next match, but Dave Hebner and Jerry Briscoe ushered him and his crew backstage.

Steve Austin Won't Cripple Shawn Michaels

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Doc Hendrix interviews Stone Cold Steve Austin
Speaking to Doc Hendrix, Steve Austin claimed that he wasn't going out to injure Shawn Michaels, preferring to keep him around since he would make more money as a Tag Team Champion with Shawn on his side.

But, insisted Stone Cold, if HBK brought the violence tonight, Austin would have no problem in taking Shawn out once and for all.

Austin then walked through the backstage area as Vince McMahon, foreshadowing their big feud, claimed that he was genuinely puzzled as to why fans liked Austin because he was a cheater and said bad words.

Austin then nearly came to blows with The Hart Foundation before confronting McMahon at ringside.

Shawn Michaels is Confused

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Doc Hendrix interviews Shawn Michaels
In response to Austin's promo, his opponent and tag team partner Shawn Michaels told Doc Hendrix that he and Austin were not going to give The Hart Foundation what they wanted, which was to see the two of them tear each other apart.

Still, Shawn claimed -not altogether convincingly- that he was a little conflicted between focusing on Austin as an opponent and Austin as a partner.

WWF Tag Team Champion Shawn Michaels vs. WWF Tag Team Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin. 

Making his first PPV appearance since the 1997 Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels sauntered to the ring looking for all the world like he couldn't give a damn about being there.

I don't mean that was part of his gimmick either, the Heartbreak Kid looked as though he'd just gotten out of bed and didn't want to be wrestling tonight.

Thankfully, Michaels changed his tune once the bell rung, and went on to deliver an absolute stormer with Austin.

The two battles back and forth multiple times in a match which was good not only when compared to the rest of the dross on this show, but legitimately awesome in its own right.

Towards the finish, referee Tim White took a bump. Austin hit Michaels with the stunner, then when White was unable to make the count, Austin got frustrated, picked him up and gave him a stunner too.

This gave HBK the chance to recover and hit Austin with the Sweet Chin Music. He made the cover and a second referee ran out, only to ignore the pin attempt and focus on Tim White.

Annoyed, Michaels superkicked that referee, prompting Earl Hebner to come out and disqualify both men.
Double DQ

The crowd hated that result, and so too did Michaels and Austin, who argued about it all the way to the back.

Farooq Issues a Warning 

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Todd Pettengill interviews Farooq
Interviewed by Todd Pettengill, Farooq said:

'Undertaker, don't worry about Paul Bearer's blackmail, worry about this black male.' 

Which I suppose was kind of clever.

Paul Bearer Yells at The Undertaker 

Backstage, Doc Hendrix told The Undertaker that whatever terrible secret Paul Bearer was using to manipulate the WWF Champion it didn't matter because everybody still loved him.

Angry, Paul Bearer -who was now completely free of the corpse paint, was fatter than ever, and had ginger hair- snatched the mic and told both Doc and The Undertaker that he could make The Dead Man do whatever he said.

Looking despondent, The Undertaker slopes off, ready to compete.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion The Undertaker vs. Farooq (w/ The Nation of Domination)

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 1997 - Doc Hendrix interviews The Undertaker & Paul Bearer
I've watched this match several times now, each time hoping that I'll see it in a new light and find something positive to say about it.

My hopes failed to materialize. Instead, every time I watch this match I hate it -and myself- a little more.

Honestly, this was an appalling, tedious mess that should be avoided at all costs.

The Undertaker won. Everybody who ever saw this match lost.
Your Winner and still WWF Champion: The Undertaker

I used to own this event on VHS tape, but every time I watched it, I would literally fall asleep. That was over a decade ago. 

When I sat down to watch and review this event just recently, I was convinced that it can't have been as bland and boring as I remembered it, but alas, it was. 

Sure, the Austin/Michaels match was great, and Hunter vs. Mankind had its moments, but outside of that, and a surprisingly entertaining Mankind/Lawler encounter, everything else fell flat. 

Watch for the Austin/Michaels match, and if you're interested in the evolution of Hunter Hearst Helmsley, but otherwise, avoid.

1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
  10. WCW - Slamboree 1997
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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.