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, 15 October 2020

PPV REVIEW: WWF Backlash 2001

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - Event Poster
April 29, 2001,
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois

A month prior to Backlash 2001, the World Wrestling Federation had presented Wrestlemania X-Seven, an event that would go down in history as arguably the greatest Wrestlemania event of all time. 

That incredible show was the peak of a tremendous run of great shows for the company, with the quality of their in-ring product as good as it had ever been.

Still, a lot had changed in the few weeks since 'Mania.

Once sworn rivals hell-bent on homicide, Steve Austin and Triple H were now on the same page, a whole host of ECW stars were integrating themselves into the roster, and the creative clusterf**k that was The Invasion was drawing ever closer.

With all that going on, could the WWF keep up their hot streak and deliver a show every bit as awesome as Wrestlemania 17?

Let's head down to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois to find out.







No Power. No Gold. Know Power. No Gold

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - Paul Heyman and Jim Ross called the event
Once upon a time, Triple H had arranged for Stone Cold Steve Austin to be run over by a car at Survivor Series 1999.

A year later, Austin got his revenge by carrying out the attempted murder of The Game at Survivor Series 2000.

Now, the two were a tag team because that’s how pro wrestling logic works.

Tonight, as our compelling opening video told us, the two would take on The Undertaker and Kane.

This was a pretty good video that played up the Two Man Power Trip aspect of the whole story while glossing over the whole part about Austin and HHH literally trying to kill each other prior to teaming up.

Then, after the obligatory pyro, crowd shots and a greeting from announcers Jim Ross and Paul Heyman, it was on with the show.

The Dudley Boyz (D-Von Dudley, Bubba Ray Dudley, and Spike Dudley) vs. The X-Factor (X-Pac, Albert and Justin Credible)

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - The Dudleyz faced The X-Factor
Throughout tonight’s opening contest, JR constantly tried to get ‘the wizards of the wicked wood,’ over as a new nickname for The Dudleyz. It sounded ridiculous and it’s no surprise that name didn’t stick.

When he wasn’t coming up with goofy names, Ross joined Heyman in calling what was a pretty decent match.

Were this any other bunch of wrestlers, this may not have gone down so well, but The Dudley Boyz were so insanely over that everything they did elicited a huge response from the live audience.

Combine that with the fact that all six men turned up motivated and ready for action and what you had here was a solid opener that came to a close with a win for The X-Factor.
Your Winners: The X-Factor

Post-match, The Dudleyz got their revenge by putting X-Pac through a table.

Speaking of which, here’s something that I’ve noticed on the last several PPVs:

Every time Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley did the whole ‘D-Von! Get the tables!!’ bit, the tables were never actually got. The other team always stopped them from either setting up the table or putting somebody through it. As such, the table either never came into play at all or else did so only in the post-match shenanigans.

Speaking of shenanigans:

Meanwhile, Backstage...

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - William Regal greets The Duchess of Queensbury backstage
‘The Duchess of Queensbury’ (a woman in a pompadour) arrived in a limousine with two close protection officers. William Regal was delighted to see her.

Across the arena, Kurt Angle told Lillian Garcia that he owned Chris Benoit and would take him out in their upcoming Ultimate Submission match.

Back in the arena, the announcers told us that Jerry Lynn had defeated Crash Holly for the Light Heavyweight Championship earlier on Heat.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Rhyno vs. Raven

Taking the WWF Hardcore division to another level, Rhyno and Raven gave us an awesome brawl that was way better than expected.

In one sense, this was every hardcore match you’ve seen from this time period; the two littered the ring with garbage weapons and proceeded to beat the crap out each other with them.

Yet they did so with such an intensity and with such stiffness that it made the whole thing an exciting match to watch.

After the better part of ten minutes, Rhyno murdered babyface Raven with a gore to retain his belt.
Your Winner and Still Hardcore Champion: Rhyno

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - Michael Cole tries to interview Shane 'The Pain' McMahon
Up next, we were taken back to Smackdown where Shane McMahon read an awesome fairytale called ‘Shane & The Beanstalk’ about his rivalry with his dad and, more specifically, his Dad’s hired goon, The Big Show.

Live in the arena, Michael Cole tried to get an interview with Shane but Stephanie McMahon interrupted and tried to get Shane to call off his Last Man Standing match with Show.

Naturally, Shane O’ Mac refused.

More Backstage Buffoonery

Kevin Kelly had better luck than Michael Cole in getting an interview. He interrupted WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin who was strong-arming Debra as they made their way into the arena.

Given the accusations of Austin’s real-life domestic abuse against Debra, that looked pretty uncomfortable.

Anyway, The Texas Rattlesnake told Kelly that there was no way he was losing the WWF title tonight as long as HHH did his part.

Elsewhere, Jonathan Coachman tried to ask the Duchess of Queensberry what the rules were to the match named after her.

Before she could answer, however, William Regal interrupted, thus keeping up the long-standing joke in wrestling that the rules for such a match don’t actually exist.

Duchess of Queensberry Rules Match
William Regal vs. Chris Jericho

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - The Duchess of Motherflippin' Queensbury
These two had met in a decent match at Wrestlemania 17. Since then, Chris Jericho besmirched Regal by peeing in his tea, leading to this match.

Needless to say, this was a quality match even if the whole Duchess of Queensberry stuff did get a little silly.

With Her Majesty herself looking on (even though Her Royal Highness would have been the correct title) Jericho and Regal put on a wrestling clinic for the first half of the match until Y2J looked to get the win with the Lionsault.

Before he could make the cover, however, the Duchess declared that the time had expired on Round 1.

Jericho then made Regal tap to the Walls of Jericho, but she declared that you couldn’t win by submission. Next, Regal blasted his opponent with the Duchess’s scepter, causing her to make it a No DQ match.

Having finally had enough, Jericho threw Her Ladyship into the ring and put the Walls on her, but Commissioner Regal came in, destroyed him with a chair and that was that.

Again, the whole ‘making up the rules on the fly’ stuff got a bit much, but this was otherwise a very good performance.
Your Winner: William Regal

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - Vince McMahon orders Big Show to destroy Shane
Backstage, Vince McMahon made Big Show promise that he’d hold nothing back against Shane McMahon. Show promised and the two shook hands, both laughing maniacally as this somewhat awkward and slightly cringe-inducing segment came to an end.

We then got a video package featuring shots of Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle making most of the roster tap out, followed by a quick shot of Krispin Wah himself warming up backstage.

He and Angle would go head to head next.

30-Minute Ultimate Submission Match
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - Kurt Angle faced Chris Benoit in an Ultimate Submission iron man match
In case you’re unsure, an Ultimate Submission match was basically a submission-based iron man match.

Before the bell, Angle got himself some heat by insulting Chicago’s most famous figures and promising to make Benoit squeal like a pig.

The match eventually got underway and turned out to be every bit as good as you probably expected.

Regardless of whatever happened away from the ring, Benoit and Angle were two masters of their craft. Here, they proved it by delivering a masterclass of professional wrestling that remained captivating from start to finish.

The two held nothing back as they wrestled each other to a 3-3 draw in the allotted half hour.

Harkening back to Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 12, the match then went into overtime with sudden death rules applying.

A few more minutes of action followed before Benoit slapped Angle in the crossface to take home the 4-3 victory.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit

Backstage, HHH and Stephanie McMahon were watching Undertaker and Kane have a heated discussion on a television monitor.

The Game thought that The Brothers of Destruction were trying to come up with an excuse for losing to him and Austin, but Steph was more concerned with insisting that her brother Shane was living in a fairytale.

Last Man Standing Match
The Big Show vs. Shane McMahon

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - Big Show faced Shane McMahon in a Last Man Standing match
If the last match has been as good as expected, this one was certainly better than expected.

Shane and Show had last met on PPV in a street fight back at Judgement Day 2000. That had been OK but a little underwhelming.

This was much better.

Early on, Shane knocked Show out with chloroform, only for Vince to run in and destroy his own son with a chair.

The match continued to the point that Big Show was just toying with Shane O’Mac, letting the referee count him up to right before picking up the WCW owner and chokeslamming him again.

It was at this point that Test put in an appearance, and this is where things got really good.

(I bet that sentence has never been written before).

Test and Show brawled to the entrance. Shane followed and ended up climbing to the top of the structure around the entrance while Test planted Big Show.

Then, in typical Shane McMahon fashion, he plummeted fifty feet to his doom, crash landing on his opponent.

Test helped his former almost-brother-in-law to his feet and this utterly enthralling bit of entertainment was done.
Your Winner: Shane McMahon

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - Grandmaster Sexay gets weird on Steve Blackman
Backstage, Vince wrote off Shane and declared that Triple H was his only son.

Meanwhile, over at WWF New York, Steve Blackman started to tell Jim Ross that despite having issues with Shane in the past, he hoped he was OK after that match.

‘I never thought I’d see him do something like that,’ said Blackman, referring to McMahon’s epic leap of faith. That’s funny because Shane pulled an almost identical stunt in their match at Summerslam 2000.

Before he could get much further, Grandmaster Sexay turned up and had a seizure in Blackman’s face.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship Triple Threat Match
WWF European Champion Matt Hardy vs. Christian vs. Eddie Guerrero

Although this kind of felt like filler, it was at least pretty entertaining filler.

All three men worked hard to deliver a fast-paced stormer of a match, but who knows how much better it could have been if they’d been given more time to shine.

Edge ran in towards the finish to try and help Christian win, but Jeff Hardy then put in an appearance to even the score.

That allowed Matt Hardy to hit Eddie Guerrero with the match-winning Twist of Fate.
Your Winner and Still European Champion: Matt Hardy

Afterward, we got the eight-thousandth replay of Shane’s big fall.

All Titles on the Line
WWF Intercontinental Champion Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon) & WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin WWF Tag Team Champions Kane & The Undertaker

WWE / WWF Backlash 2001 - Steve Austin pleads with The Undertaker
The last time all the titles were on the line was back at In Your House 3: Triple Header when Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and WWF Champion Diesel faced WWF Tag Team Champion Yokozuna and British Bulldog, with the Bulldog standing in for Owen Hart.

Speaking of Michaels, Jim Ross reminded us that if The Game won tonight, he’d be only the second man in history besides HBK to win the WWF title, European Championship, Intercontinental title, and tag team titles.

There were times when it felt as though this really long match was never going to end and there were times when it was so good that you didn’t really want it to end.

At one point, Kane played face-in-peril for six years and it really started to drag, but then just like that the whole thing picked up again and the match got utterly compelling.

Towards the finish, Undertaker and Austin went for a walk through the crowd. Stephanie McMahon tried to help her man but got Kane’s foot in her face.

That brought out Vince McMahon and a sledgehammer. Hunter used it and one three count later we had new tag team champions.
Your Winners and NEW tag team champions: Triple H & Stone Cold Steve Austin

Afterward, the new champions celebrated their hard-fought victory as Backlash 2001 came to a close.







I may be wrong, but I’m willing to state that Backlash was a fairly flawless show.

Every match was good in its own way, with the Benoit/Angle submission match really standing out as match of the night.

Coming on the back of one of the best Wrestlemanias ever, this was a great time to be a fan.




Other reviews of 2001 pro wrestling events: 
More Backlash Reviews:
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Thursday, 8 October 2020

PPV REVIEW: NWA Starrcade 1984 - The Million Dollar Challenge

November 22, 1984
Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, North Carolina

Back at Starracde 1983, Dusty Rhodes had appeared multiple times and, in between cutting a series of bizarre promos, appeared to challenge the winner of the Harley Race vs. Ric Flair title match.

Between then and now, Flair had actually lost and regained the title at least twice, but give credit to the National Wrestling Alliance, they stuck with their long-term booking plans and presented Rhodes vs. Flair as tonight's feature attraction.

Not only was the title on the line, however, but the winner of the match would also win one million dollars, hence the Million Dollar Challenge subtitle of tonight's show.

As for the rest of the card?

Well, let's head down to the Greensboro Colliseum and check it out, shall we?







Welcome to Starrcade, The Premier Event of the Decade

We began tonight's show with a brief look back at the finish to Starrcade 1983's main event with Ric Flair pinning Harley Race to become our new World Heavyweight Champion.

Alas, as our announcers Bob Caudle and Gordon Sollie were quick to remind us, that was then and this is now.

Tonight, three-time World Heavyweight Champion Flair would defend the title against Dusty Rhodes in a match where a million dollars was also on the line.

The two then hyped up tonight's show before sending it down to the ring where the ring announcer clearly got lost and wasn't sure what to do.

The Premier Event of the Century, Starrcade '84

Seriously, he first welcomed all the ladies and gentlemen to Starrcade '84, calling it 'The Premier Wrestling Event of the Decade.'

He then changed his mind and introduced us again, this time to 'The Premier Event of the Wrestling Century.' After that, poor Mr. Ring Announcer flipped through his papers but still couldn't figure out what to say next so ended up asking referee Earl Hebner.

National Wrestling Alliance Junior Heavyweight Championship
NWA Junior Heavyweight Champion Mike Davis vs. Denny Brown

Eventually, the ring announcer figured out what was happening and we got on with our opening contest, a decent junior heavyweight match between champion Mike Davis and challenger Denny Brown.

This was an interesting match as it was clearly just two guys competing to see who the better wrestler was with no animosity and none of the back-stories that are usually attached to almost all modern pro wrestling matches.

At one point, Brown even went crashing out of the ring. Rather than capitalizing on this by heading out to attack him, Davis left the ring, checked on his opponent and held the ropes open for him so that he could get back in the ring.

Unfortunately, being Mr. Nice Guy didn't work out quite so well for the champion.

At the finish, Davis hit a bridging German suplex on Brown but ended up pinning himself when Brown got his arm up at the last second.
Your Winner and NEW Junior Heavyweight Champion: Denny Brown

Afterward, Davis was irate for like two seconds but then congratulated the new champion.

The ever-confused ring announcer declared the wrong man as champion before correcting himself.

Backstage, Tony Schiavone hung out in the dressing room to let us know that he'd be hanging out in the dressing room for the rest of the show and conducting interviews.

Mr Ito vs. Brian Adias

There wasn't much to this match. It was only a few minutes long and very much felt like filler, but even then it was a decent enough match.

After a few minutes of basic, old-school professional wrestling, Adias lifted his larger opponent up for an airplane spin and won the match.
Your Winner: Brian Adias

Seriously, only in the 80s would that move end a match.

National Wrestling Alliance Florida Heavyweight Championship
National Wrestling Alliance Florida Heavyweight Champion Jesse Barr vs. Mike Graham

This was another really good quality match. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the kind of raging classic you’d see from today’s performers, but neither man held anything back and gave us nothing less than solid wrestling from start to finish.

After an unrelenting performance, champion Jesse Barr used the ropes for leverage to get the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winner and Still Florida Heavyweight Champion: Jesse Barr

Up next, we flashed back to a recent TV taping on which Ricky Steamboat and Dick Slater had been beaten up after competing in a tag match.

Sollie and Caudle told us that Steamboat had put $10,000 of his own money on the line to get revenge.

Tag Team Elimination Match
The Zambuie Express (Kareem Muhammad & Elijah Akeem w/ Paul Jones) vs. Assassin Number 1 & Buzz Tyler

There wasn’t much to this match. It was mostly just punching, clobbering, and more punching, but there was something about the way that the crowd was super into every blow that made it just incredibly fun to watch.

At least it was fun until the finish.

We were told that this was an elimination-style tag team match, but after Assassin #1 pinned one of the Zambuie Express, the match should have continued, right?

Even the announcers seemed to think so, but then it was revealed that their respective partners had been counted out and thus had both been eliminated.

It was a little confusing and would have made more sense if they’d just kept this to a standard one-fall tag, but hey, it’s a small complaint.
Your Winners: Assassin Number One and Buzz Tyler

Backstage, Dusty Rhodes was sad chilling while Tony Schiavone bigged him up.

Rhodes then cut a fast-paced shouty promo in which he promised that Ric Flair would become yesterday’s newspaper.

He probably meant 'yesterday's news,' but with Dusty, who knows?

Anything Goes Match for the National Wrestling Alliance Brass Knuckles Championship
NWA Brass Knuckles Champion Black Bart (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. NWA Tag Team Champion Ragin’ Bull

The Brass Knuckles Championship was essentially a precursor to the modern-day hardcore championships. The announcers told us many times that anything goes, but sadly neither champion Black Bart nor challenger Manny ‘Ragin’ Bull’ Fernandez really took advantage of that stipulation.

For the most part, this was just a straight-up wrestling match with added blood.

It was OK for what it was, but certainly, nothing that anybody should rush out to see.

Eventually, J.J Dillon tossed the champion a length of rope but Bart got rolled up and pinned by the Ragin’ Bull.
Your Winner and NEW NWA Brass Knuckles Champion: Ragin’ Bull

As the show went to intermission in the arena, Ricky Steamboat talked to Tony Schiavone backstage.

When he wasn’t repeating the phrase ‘everybody has been gearing up for this night all year’ over and over again, Steamboat told Schiavone that he had been seriously injured when Tully Blanchard, Black Bart and Ron Bass attacked him and was in a lot of pain. Regardless, he was looking forward to getting his revenge on Blanchard.

God bless Steamboat, he was one of the greatest in-ring performers ever but his promos were never much to write home about.

Offering a retort, TV champion Tully Blanchard and his manager J.J. Dillon reminded us of the stipulations for their match:

The title could change hands on a DQ and if Blanchard tried to run away, he’d lose the title.

The champion didn’t seem too concerned by this. He insisted that Steamboat was going down and that after that he’d go after the world champion no matter who that might be.

Tuxedo Street Fight
Loser Must Leave Town
Paul Jones (w/  Kareen Muhammed) vs. Jimmy Valiant (w/ Assassin Number One)

So, Jimmy Valiant was no longer doing the Charlie Brown gimmick he had back at Starrcade 1983. That’s a bit of a shame. As ridiculous as it was, I kind of enjoyed it.

What I didn’t enjoy this chaotic mess of nonsense.

In the opening moments, Valliant tied Paul Jones to the ropes and very quickly stripped him down to his undies.

Honestly, I thought that’s how a tuxedo match should end, but not this one. Jones broke free and went on the attack but Valliant made a comeback and looked to be in control until JJ Dillon interfered, giving the win to Mr Jones
Your Winner: Paul Jones

The loss meant that Jimmy Valiant now had to ‘leave the area,’ though it was never expressly stated what that meant.

  • Did he have to leave the NWA?
  • Did he have to leave whatever territory he was most closely associated with?
  • Or did he simply have to leave the town they were in like every wrestler on the show would have to anyway?

If so, for how long?

Who knows?

Not me, that’s who.

Ric Flair is Ready

Backstage, Tony Schiavone reminded us that Ric Flair had been champion for a year after defeating Harley Race at the first Starrcade. This wasn't technically true. Flair had dropped and regained the belt a bunch of times over the course of the year, but apparently, none of those occasions counted.

Anyway, The Nature Boy warned The American Dream that he better be half the man he claimed to be when they stepped in the ring tonight.

National Wrestling Alliance Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion ‘Cowboy’ Ron Bass (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Dick Slater

It’s starting to feel like Dillon is in practically every segment on this show. Meanwhile, Dick Slater used to be dirty but apparently, he’d had a wash since turning babyface.

This was all part of one of the hottest storylines in the company between Dillon’s stable and a gaggle of babyfaces but sadly the heat generated by that story didn’t translate into a quality match.

Though the fans were into it, there was nothing special about this one.

Bass won when Slater got disqualified for putting his hands on the official.
Your Winner and Still Mid-Atlantic Champion: Ron Bass

Post-match, Slater got revenge by taking out both Bass and Dillon.

We then got a brass rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner as a clearly unsteady cameraman tried to focus on the flag.

Keith Larson & Ole Anderson vs. Ivan & Nikita Koloff

Keith Larson was the brother of Don Kernodle.

Know how I know?

Because the announcers mentioned it about twenty times before he and Ole Anderson had even fully reached the ring.

Seriously, this was like the NWA’s version of Rellik.

Speaking of Kernodle. He showed up in a neck-brace to hang out on the apron and wave the American flag with Ole Anderson and Keith Larson who was his brother don’t you know?

The match finally got underway and turned into a good, solid traditional tag team match.

The faces spent the first part of the contest in control, Anderson and Larson taking turns to work over Ivan Koloff's arm until The Russian Bear turned the tides for his team with a Greco-Roman eye poke.

From there, we got bear hugs aplenty and some enjoyable action before Ivan picked up the win for his team by blasting Larson with a chain behind the referee’s back.
Your Winners: Ivan & Nikita Koloff

Afterwards, Don Kernodle took to the ring and used his crutches to beat the crap out of the Koloffs.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World TV Champion Tully Blanchard (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Ricky Steamboat

Both men had put up $10,000. Winner takes all.

Well, this was excellent.

Proving that consistent selling really is a lost art these days, Ricky Steamboat came into the match with his injuries and sold them well from bell to bell in the kind of way that you just do t see today.

When he did get control of the match, he proved why he was one of the greatest of his generation With some outstanding work. Tully Blanchard was no slouch either and played his role perfectly.

That included being the devious heel champion who blasted his opponent in the head with a discreet International Object to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still TV Champion: Tully Blanchard

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Wahoo McDaniel vs. Superstar Billy Graham

In direct contrast to the previous match, this wasn’t very good at all.

Superstar Billy Graham looked nothing like you remember Superstar Billy Graham looking like. He looked like how Bruno Sammartino looked in the last few years of his life and was apparently doing a weird karate gimmick.

Wahoo McDaniel was incredibly over, but even his popularity did nothing for the match.

Wahoo won with a tomahawk chop but the whole thing was not fun.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Wahoo McDaniel

Out in the dressing room, Tony Schiavone interviewed Smokin’ Joe Frazier and two men who would be the judges for our main event.

It was hard to tell if Frazier was drunk, bored, or had taken one too many punches to the head, but his interview comments made him sound dumb.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. The American Dream Dusty Rhodes

Special Guest Referee: Smokin’ Joe Frazier
In one of those bizarre, it-could-only-happen-in-the-80s moments, Dusty Rhodes came down wearing a silver and purple robe with purple smoke bellowing out and Prince’s Purple Rain (dubbed on the network) playing.

I mean, I love Prince, but it but just looked odd for Dusty.

Meanwhile, Flair came down in a hot pink robe that made him look like a drag queen.

The match started off well, got better, and was on the verge of turning into an all-time classic...

...Then Joe Fraizer got involved and the whole thing turned to hell.

Dusty got an admittedly nasty-looking cut in his eye that Fraizer kept stopping the match to check out the eye and eventually just stopped the match, awarding it to Flair.
Your Winner and Still NWA Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

If that had happened today there'd be very loud "BULLSH*T" chants and possible riots.

Post-Match Interviews

Backstage, Ric Flair told Tony Schiavone that he only cared about two things:

The title and his million-dollar cheque. He had both and was therefore happy.

After cutting to Sollie and Caudle, Schiavone then caught up with a very angry Dusty Rhodes who was unsurprisingly irritated at both Flair and Fraizer.

Finally, after the post-show credits, Fraizer himself cut another sloppy-arse promo in which he defended his terrible decision making.







Starrcade 1983 had been both historically important and critically acclaimed. Starrcade 1984 was neither.

Sure, only the Graham/McDaniel match was flat-out bad, but outside of the Blanchard/Steamboat match and the first two-thirds of the main event, nothing was particularly memorable. Then there was that ending, which was both infuriating and insulting.

Seriously, Starrcade 84 is not a show you necessarily need to spend any time with.



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Thursday, 1 October 2020

PPV REVIEW: WRESTLEMANIA 17

April 1, 2001 
Reliant Astrodome, Houston, Texas

Before we begin today, I want to point out that, having watched all of the previous sixteen Wrestlemanias, this is the first event that truly felt like a modern 'Mania.

You know how Wrestlemania has the huge entranceway, the massive ramp, and the general sense that this is an event beyond any normal pro wrestling event?

Wrestlemania 17 was really the first event that had all of that and was the first event which truly felt like the spectacle of all spectacles.

Don't believe me?

Let's head on down to the Houston Astrodome for an event many consider to be one of the best Wrestlemania's of all time.







Welcome to the Showcase of The Immortals

Our opening video package was melodramatic in the best sense of the world.

It showed us a whole different bunch of people, from farmers somewhere in middle America to street food vendors in Asia all finding a way to huddle round a television - proving that no matter what their circumstances, they had always found a way to watch past moments like Mike Tyson knocking out Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 14 and Yokozuna enjoying his short-lived title reign at Wrestlemania 9.

Credit where it's due, this was a well-done intro.

Then, as Limp Bizkit's My Way blasted out, we got a quick opening credits package featuring tonight's main stars followed by a deliberately dramatic greeting from lead announcer Jim Ross.

Ross' broadcast colleague for the evening was Paul Heyman, who was insanely excited about making his first Wrestlemania appearance.

If you're wondering where Jerry 'The King' Lawler was, he had recently walked out of the World Wrestling Federation after his real-life wife, The Kat, had been fired for apparently being a bit of a spoiled diva.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho vs. William Regal

This all came about because Chris Jericho besmirched Commissioner William Regal. Regal retaliated by booking Jericho in a match against half the world, but Y2J then got his own back by peeing in Regal's tea and dressing up as Doink to beat him up.

Tonight, they looked to settle the score in a fun opening contest that really could have been even better had they given it five more minutes.

As it was, Regal/Jericho was a fine opener but then given the talent of both men, it was probably always going to be good.

The story going in was that Jericho's shoulder was injured and Regal spent the majority of the match going after it. This wasn't enough to secure a victory, however, as Y2J hit the lion sault to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho

Out in the back, Shane McMahon arrived in a limousine bearing the license plate 'WCW 1.'

Elsewhere in the arena, The APA smoked stonking-big cigars with Jacqueline. Texas native Bradshaw was super excited about being in the Astrodome and proceeded to recall every major event that had happened in the arena.

He and Farooq were in action next.

Six-Man Tag Team Match
The Right to Censor (Bull Buchanan, The Goodfather, and Val Venis w/ Steven Richards) vs. Tazz and The APA (Farooq & Bradshaw w/ Jacqueline)

This started as your standard six-man but soon disintegrated into a free-for-all and a pretty decent one at that.

Ok, so this was never going to win Match of the Night honours, but it served a purpose and, as short little brawls go, was pretty good fun.

After a few minutes of hard-hitting offence, Bradshaw hit the Clothesline from Hell on The Goodfather and won the match for his team.
Your Winners: The APA & Tazz

Backstage, Trish Stratus wheeled an apparently catatonic Linda McMahon in her wheelchair. Stephanie McMahon approached and ordered Trish to hand crush some ice ready to celebrate her pops beating Shane McMahon later on.

This was during the time that Vince had committed Linda to an institution, had an affair with Trish, and then turned on Trish and started treating her like trash for no reason.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship Triple Threat Match
WWF Hardcore Champion Raven vs. Kane vs. The Big Show

This was very entertaining.

Most of the match was fought backstage, with people being slammed through windows, doors and tables, riding around on golf carts and generally beating the crap out of each other.

The main story of the match was The Big Show and Kane colliding while Raven was kind of lucky to be there, but even he played his part well and contributed to an enjoyable garbage brawl.

Eventually, all three men made their way back to the stage where Show lifted Raven up to throw him off the stage. Kane kicked them both off then jumped on top of Show and pinned him for the three.
Your Winner and NEW Hardcore Champion: Kane

Backstage, Edge and Christian wanted to know if Kurt Angle wanted to go and celebrate with them after they all won their matches tonight, but The Olympic Gold Medalist was too concerned with watching a video of Chris Benoit making him tap.

"If your hand taps the mat but there's no official referee and no official bell and it wasn't an official match, then officially you didn't tap," said Angle, mesmerised by the video on the screen.

Meanwhile, at WWF New York, Superfly Jimmy Snuka stood around posing.

The Champ is Here

Out in the crowd, Jonathan Coachman interviewed a fan who had travelled all the way from Brisbane, Australia for Wrestlemania.

Meanwhile, WWF Champion The Rock arrived at the arena, hung up his title belt and jacket, and wandered off again.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion Test vs. Eddie Guerrero (w/ Perry Saturn)

Whenever people talk about the greatest Wrestlemania matches of all time, nobody in history has ever mentioned Test vs. Eddie Guerrero for the European title at Wrestlemania 17.

And that's OK.

Not every match has to be an absolute showstopper. Some of them can just be a fun way to fill a few minutes, and that's exactly what this was.

Sure, the ever-talented Guerrero managed to get the best out of his opponent and give us a solid match, but this wasn't going to win any awards.

After a very good effort, Test took out Eddie's cornerman, Perry Saturn, only to get distracted dealing with Dean Malenko. Eddie then clocked the champion with the title belt to claim it for himself.
Your Winner and NEW European Champion: Eddie Guerrero

Backstage, Michael Cole interviewed a homeless man who vaguely resembled Mick Foley.

The man told Cole that even though Vince McMahon had embarrassed and humiliated him, he was still going to be impartial when the boss took on his own son Shane later on in the show.

Elsewhere in the arena, Stone Cold Steve Austin was so over that he got a huge pop for walking into a dressing room and sitting down.

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

Before the match, heat-seeker Angle ripped on the Texan crowd and mocked them for being Texan.

The actual match started good, got better, became great, and then kind of went out on a whimper.

Forget your sports entertainment, this was proper professional wrestling. At one point, somebody breathed hard in the referee's general direction, causing the official to collapse to the mat and go into a coma.

While that was going, Angle tapped to the Crippler Crossface but, as he said earlier since there was no official and no bell, it didn't count.

More excellent action continued, then after several close, dramatic near falls, Angle scored the win with a sloppy-looking roll-up.

As finishes go, it was very anti-climatic, but everything that went before it was brilliant.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle

Backstage, William Regal was mortified to find Kamala standing on his desk and rubbing himself with a framed picture of Her Majesty The Queen.

Though I'd like to think this was just a call-back to Drew Carey mentioning The Ugandan Giant to Triple H back at Royal Rumble 2001, he was actually there to compete in tonight's gimmick battle royal.

Eventually, with a little help from Kimchee, the Commissioner managed to talk Angle down.

The Rabid Wolverine Attacks

Up next, a video package showed us some of the WWF superstars taking part in a Wrestlemania pep-rally with members of the armed forces.

Back in the arena, Kevin Kelly tried to interview Kurt Angle, only for Chris Benoit to appear and attack our Olympic Hero and slap him in the crossface.

A second video package followed this one highlighting the rivalry between Chyna and WWF Women's Champion Ivory.

That match was next.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship
WWF Women's Champion Ivory vs. Chyna

Right To Censor banned from Ringside

The story was that Chyna had been injured at the hands of Right to Censor and had to sign a waiver insisting that she wouldn't sue the WWF if she got re-injured in this match.

For what it was, this was OK, but it was basically just The Ninth Wonder of the World making short work of her much smaller opponent and destroying her in about three minutes.

This was Chyna's final Wrestlemania appearance.
Your Winner and NEW Women's Champion: Chyna

Backstage, Vince McMahon made sure that Trish Stratus knew when to bring his catatonic wife down to the ring during his match with Shane.

Michael Cole then interrupted him to discuss Shane McMahon buying WCW, but Vince wasn't interested in that.

We then got a look back at the rivalry between the McMahon boys, including Vince telling his son that he wished he'd never been born.

Nice.

Street Fight
Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon (w/ Stephanie McMahon)

Special Referee: Mick Foley
Shane McMahon didn't have his own Here comes the money theme yet, so came down to the same No Chance in Hell theme as his old man. Before the bell rang, Shane shouted out to his WCW boys -namely Lance Storm, Hugh Morrus, Chavo Guerrero, Shawn Stasiak and Stacy Keibler- who were watching the big event from a skybox.

Then, the bell rang, and this turned into a thoroughly enjoyable bit of storytelling.

Yes, there've been greater street fights in history from an actual wrestling perspective, but this was the perfect way to bring the months-long McMahon saga to a close.

After a few minutes of brawling, Trish Stratus wheeled the catatonic Linda McMahon to ringside but then turned on Vince and gave him a good slapping. That led to a Trish/Stephanie McMahon brawl, taking the two ladies out of action.

The evil Vince McMahon then propped his wife up in the corner of the ring so that she'd have to watch her own son get destroyed, but at the last minute, Linda stood up, revealed that she was fine, and kicked her husband straight square in the bollocks.

Shane O' Mac then debuted Coast to Coast, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner: Shane McMahon

Earlier that weekend, at the Axxess convention, Kevin Kelly interrupted The Hardy Boyz autograph signing to ask them about TLC. Matt and Jeff were nervous but also excited.

Back in the arena, Triple H sat in his dressing room grunting while Undertaker hung out in the boiler room, shadow boxing. The two would meet later on in the show, but TLC was next.

Tables, Ladders and Chairs II
World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship TLC Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (D'Von & Bubba Ray Dudley) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy) vs. Edge & Christian

At Summerslam 2000, these three teams had changed the game by competing in the incredible TLC I. Personally, I think I preferred that match to this one, but don't get me wrong, TLC II was still all kinds of awesome.

The big difference this time around was that we got run-ins from former ECW Stars Spike Dudley and Rhyno. The latter was a friend of Edge & Christian while the former was, obviously, there to help out his family members. Lita got involved too, and with nine different people involved it at times got a little chaotic, but it was still several shades of epic and a joy to watch.

The highlight was the famous moment that Edge lept off a ladder and speared Jeff Hardy who was hanging from the device that suspended the title belts over the ring.

After many similar insane spots, Edge and Christian won the match just as they had done at Summerslam, this time with Christian sat atop Rhyno's shoulders while The War Machine scaled the ladder.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian

We then got another look at Axxess with both fans and superstars alike talking about how awesome the whole thing was.

Following some banter from Ross and Heyman, Howard Finkle told us that Wrestlemania X-7 had set an all-time attendance record for any event at the Houston Astrodome of 67, 925 fans.

Heenan and Okerlund Return Home

Before the Gimmick Battle Royal, Mean Gene Okerlund was introduced as our guest play-by-play announcer before Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan made his first 'Mania appearance since Wrestlemania 9 as our special guest colour analyst.

Heenan clearly forgot he wasn't on Nitro any more and immediately called Mean Gene 'Tony.'

Oops.

There was also this gem:

Heenan: "Repo Man, last week he repo'd his own car. This man is nuts."
Okerlund: "About four years ago, he got my mother-in-law's"
Heenan: "About four years ago, everybody got your mother-in-law."

Genius.

Gimmick Battle Royal
Featuring The Bushwhackers, Duke 'The Dumpster' Drosse, The Iron Sheik, Earthquake, The Goon, Doink The Clown, Kamala (w/ Kimchee & Harvey Wippleman), Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael P.S Hayes, One Man Gang, The Gobbledegooker, Tugboat, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, Sgt. Slaughter

The individual entrances for the old-school performers lasted twice as long as this very brief battle royal, but that was kind of the point.

This was never about giving us a good match, it was about the nostalgia trip, and it was a lot of fun, especially with Heenan and Okerlund cracking wise the whole time.

The interesting thing was how over Doink The Clown was. He easily got the biggest pop of the whole match and there was very loud booing when he was
finally eliminated.

Eventually, The Iron Sheik won.

I say 'eventually' the whole battle royal lasted about three minutes.
Your Winner: The Iron Sheik

Post-match, Sgt. Slaughter returned to the ring and slapped Sheiky Baby in the cobra clutch.

This was supposed to create a feel-good moment, but you sort of got the impression nobody ever really cared about Slaughter as much as the WWF often thought they did.

We're Motorhead and We'll Kick Your Ass


A video package followed highlighting the rivalry between Triple H and The Undertaker. This came down to The Game bragging that he had beaten everybody there was to beat only to be reminded that he'd never beaten The American Bad Ass.

Those two would meet next, but first HHH got a Super Special Entrance in which Motorhead played a version of his theme song live.

God bless the legendary Lemmy Kilmister, but there was no hiding the fact that he forgot the lyrics to this song of the way through it.

Triple H vs. The Undertaker

This was by far The Undertaker's best Wrestlemania match up to this point and perhaps even one of his best individual matches ever - at least at this stage of the game.

They started in the ring, went for a crazy brawl through the crowd and returned to the ring again, all the while building the drama.

After an incredible battle, 'Taker sent The Game for his Last Ride to go 9-0 at Wrestlemania.

The Streak continues...
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Finally, after a look back at their epic rivalry set to Limp Bizkit's 'My way' it was time for The Rock to defend the WWF Championship against Stone Cold Steve Austin in a showdown for the ages.

No Disqualification Match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

And man, what a showdown it was.

Surpassing just about every Wrestlemania main event that had ever come before it, Rock/Austin quickly developed into an all-time classic.

It had the huge, big-match feel of Hogan/Andre, the drama and intensity of the very best Attitude Era matches, and a certain intangible quality that came as a result of Rock and Austin's unmatched star power.

Apart from an unnecessary ref' bump, everything about this match was perfect, violent, brutal perfection that was drenched in blood, and forced you onto the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Speaking of the finish, that came when Vince McMahon came down to the ring and Austin revealed that he had sold his soul to The Devil Himself, making a pact with the Chairman and turning heel in the process.

When Rock refused to die, Vince handed Austin a chair which the Texas Rattlesnake used to just bludgeon his opponent before finally securing the pinfall.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Post-match, Austin and Vince shared a beer and toasted over the prone, lifeless body of The Great One.







Wrestlemania 17 has often been described as the greatest Wrestlemania of all time, and after watching it today, it's obvious that it at least deserves to be in the running.

Rock/Austin, HHH/Taker and TLC 2 were the real highlights, but in between everything else worked well and served its purpose. Even the Gimmick Battle Royal -while not great from an in-ring perspective- was a welcome bit of nostalgia and gave us some hilarious banter between Heenan and Okerlund.

Overall, an exceptional show that is very much worth tracking down.



Thursday, 24 September 2020

Top Ten WCW PPV Matches from 1996 - 2001

Top Ten WCW PPV Matches from 1996 - 2001: Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.As regular Retro Pro Wrestleing readers may recall, last week's review featured WCW Greed, the final ever World Championship Wrestling Pay Per View.

That means we've now covered every single WCW PPV from January 1996 up until the company's demise, and what better way to celebrate that fact than by looking back on the top ten best matches from that time period?

Before we get into it, here's the criteria:

There isn't one.

The only criteria for choosing these matches is how much I enjoyed them.  It doesn't matter if other matches were better from a workrate perspective or anything like that. If I had a good time watching it, it goes in.

On a similar note, these top ten WCW PPV matches aren't necessarily in exact order. Other than the number-one ranked match which remains one of my all-time favourites, there's no reason why any of the other matches are ranked where they are.







If you want to argue that my ninth pick is actually better than the match at number four, you're probably right.

Anyway, without further ado, let's dive into it.

10. Triple Ladder Match - 3 count vs. Jung Dragons vs. Noble & Karagious - Starrcade 2000

Top Ten WCW PPV Matches from 1996 - 2001: The Jung Dragons & Lea Meow
The last 18 months of WCW's existence was hardly known for producing quality entertainment. Now ould you ever consider the likes of 3 Count and The Jung Dragons to be among the company's most illustrious stars.

Still, there's no doubting that this high-octane spotfest from Starrcade 2000 was a lot of fun.

That said, so were most of the matches between these six men.

For what felt like the majority of the year, WCW would book The Jung Dragons and 3 Count against each other. When that got boring, they broke Evan Karagias away from the latter and Jamie Noble away from the former and had them establish a new tag team so that we could have lots and lots (and lots) of different six-man and three-way matches.

Though they'll never go down as all-time classics, they were insanely good fun and always a highlight of any show they happened to be on.

9. Blitzkrieg vs. Juventud Guerrera - Spring Stampede 1999



There's no denying the fact that 1999 was clearly the worst year in World Championship Wrestling's history, at least from a creative standpoint. Watching all 12 of their 1999 PPVs as I did for this blog was a tedious, frustrating, and sometimes downright infuriating process.

Yet in the midst of all their horribleness, the company somehow managed to pull a rather excellent Pay Per View out of their ass in the form of Spring Stampede 1999. The show featured several excellent contests, including a Raven's Rules tag team match pitting Raven and Saturn against Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko, a thoroughly entertaining hardcore match between Hak (Sandman) and Bam Bam Bigelow, and a gripping cruiserweight title match which pitted tag team champions Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio (also the cruiserweight champion) against one another. 

Heck, even the main event -in which DDP won his first World Heavyweight Championship- was good stuff.

To be fair, a case could be made for any one of those matches to feature somewhere on this list, but for some reason, this compelling match between Juventud Guerrera and oft-forgotten cruiserweight star Blitzkrieg has always stood out to me as an absolute gem.

Remember, this isn't meant to be the definitive list of great PPV matches according to some strict scientific criteria. It's one dude's opinion, and this dude says that Blitzkrieg/Juvi is a favorite.

8. Steven Regal vs. Dave 'Fit' Finlay - Uncensored 96


Making their way from Blackpool and Belfast respectively, Regal and Finlay set out to show the American audiences how things were done in the UK and Ireland with a stiff, hard-hitting contest that was violently entertaining from start to finish.

OK, so the crowd at WCW Uncensored 1996 didn't seem to care much for it at the time, but if you ask me, few things are as fun as watching two talented wrestlers just beat the living crap out of each other as these two did here.

7. Falls Count Anywhere match: Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan - Great American Bash 1996


For obvious reasons, I try not to draw too much attention to Chris Benoit on RPW, but to leave out this fantastic Falls Count Anywhere match from The 1996 Great American Bash would be to deny Kevin Sullivan his rightful place on this list.

Of course, the old joke is that Kevin Sullivan booked his own divorce during his feud with Benoit, but there was no joking around when the two beat the hell out of each other all the way to the men's bathroom and back again.

This wasn't the only match from that year's Great American Bash to make it onto this list, and the one we'll get to later was (arguably) better, but man, what a heck of a fight this was.

6. Ladder Match: Syxx vs. Eddie Guerrero - Souled Out 97


Let's be honest - there wasn't a lot to like about WCW's ill-advised nWo Souled Out PPV in 1997. An attempt at running an nWo-only PPV, the show was mostly a creative and financial disaster.

So sure, with so much bad stuff surrounding it, the Eddie Guerrero/Syxx ladder match was always going to look good, but even taken out of context, this was still an excellent contest.

Of course, it could have done without the heel commentary referring to Eddie as a "Mexican jumping bean,' but that's another argument for another day.

5. Jeff Jarrett vs. Booker T - Bash at the Beach 2000



Even when WCW was at its peak in terms of popularity and creative excellence, the company's PPV main events were normally huge disappointments in which Hulk Hogan and a bunch of other  dundering old-timers wandered around the ring doing as little as possible. 

Then, at Bash of the Beach 2000, Hulk Hogan 'dropped' the title to Jeff Jarrett in an infamous angle in which he merely laid down and handed JJ the win. The show as a whole is remembered more for this -and Vince Russo's subsequent worked-shoot/shoot- promo than it is for anything that actually happened in the ring, but that's not to take anything away from the tremendous effort Jarrett and Booker T would have in the actual main event.

Proving that WCW could deliver exciting action at the top of the card, this was as good as it got at the time and still holds up today as a quality match.

4. Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko  - Great American Bash 1996


Told you Benoit/Sullivan wasn't the only match from Great American Bash '96 to feature on this list. Truthfully, this whole list could have been made up of matches featuring Dean Malenko and Rey Mysterio and you'd have a hard time arguing that it wasn't a reflection of the best matches ever - but I wanted to add some variety. 

Yet while I may have left out some of their matches to make room for some of WCW's other talented stars, it would be a crime against all that is good and decent to leave out this absolute five-star worthy cruiserweight classic.

3. DDP vs. Goldberg - Halloween Havoc 98


The story surrounding this match may be more famous than the match itself. In his 2018 Hall of Fame speech, Goldberg recalled how Diamond Dallas Page had the whole thing meticulously planned out, even presenting him with a 15-page script to follow.

WCW being WCW, however, the show ran long and the PPV cut off before most people could see the match. Fortunately, we got to see it for free on Nitro the following day (and on the Network years later) and it was tremendous.

Clearly, DDP's meticulous planning paid off as this Halloween Havoc 1998 match was one of his best, and I've yet to see Goldberg involved in anything better.

2. DDP vs. Randy Savage - Spring Stampede 1997



The Randy Savage/DDP feud was the hottest storyline in professional wrestling in 1997. Their promos and angles were magic, and every time the two locked up in the ring it was a thing of pure beauty. 

This match from Spring Stampede 1997 was the highlight of an incredible feud that still stands up today as being worthy of its place on this list.

1. Cruiserweight Title vs. Mask Match: Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Eddie - Halloween Havoc 97



Ask me to name my favourite matches of all time, and off the top of my head, I'll tell you that my top two are the HHH/Rock ladder match from Summerslam 1998 and this all-time classic between two true legends from Halloween Havoc 1997

Incredible from start to finish, Eddie Guerrero was at the peak of his WCW heel run here, and was an excellent antagonist for the ever-popular Rey Mysterio Jr. Take that good old fashioned good versus evil story and combine it with the outstanding talent of two men like Mysterio and Guerrero, and what you had here was not just one of the best WCW PPV matches, but one of the best matches of all time, period.







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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.