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

Showing posts with label Haku. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Haku. Show all posts

Thursday, 27 August 2020

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 2001

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Event poster
January 21, 2001
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana

It's fair to say that the year 2000 was the last full calendar year that everything was 'normal' in the world of professional wrestling as we knew it back then. 


By the end of that year, there were still three major players - the WWF, WCW, and ECW. Sure, the latter two may have been on their last legs, but they were there.

By the end of the year 2001, however, everything would be different. Not only would WCW and ECW be gone, but they'd be owned by the World Wrestling Federation, while the WWF itself would be only months away from not even being the WWF any more thanks to those pesky Panda People.

Still, at least everything seemed normal on that late January night when the World Wrestling Federation brought the Royal Rumble to New Orleans.






Here's what went down at the last Royal Rumble of an era remembered so fondly by so many of us...

The First Step Towards Immortality

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Jim Ross called the event
Tonight’s video package was a bold, dramatic affair that told us that if Wrestlemania was the showcase of the immortals then the Royal Rumble was the first step towards immortality.

As with 99% of the company’s PPV intros, it was very well done and really got you psyched for the show.

The camera then panned the huge crowd both live in the arena and at WWF New York. Man, I bet WWE -or indeed any wrestling company in the world- would kill to have such a huge crowd that was as red hot as the ones back then.

Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler welcomed us to the show and, with that, it was down to ringside.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF World Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley)

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Edge and Christian battled The Dudley Boyz
The Dudleyz wasted no time going after their opponents and attacked them right from the opening bell, but Edge & Christian soon managed to cut D’Von off from his partner and dominate the bulk of the match.

That whole part was fine, but it did look as though it was going to give us a fairly bland opening match with neither team performing anywhere near the level they were capable of.

Then they began building towards the finish and it was absolutely tremendous.

Near falls followed counters followed reversals followed more near falls, all in one utterly enthralling finale which came to a head with a win for Bubba Ray and D’Von courtesy of the 3D.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: The Dudley Boyz

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Drew Carey meets Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Earlier, on heat, comedian Drew Carey arrived at the arena. Also on that show, Vince McMahon addressed something that had happened on Smackdown and told us that, yes, Steve Austin would be in tonight’s Rumble match and, yes, Triple H would be challenging Kurt Angle for the WWF title.

Back live in the arena, HHH urged Stephanie McMahon not to let her hatred of Angle’s manager, Trish Stratus get in the way of him becoming champion.

After Steph was done ranting about her man winning tonight’s match, they were interrupted by Carey, who was excited about bumping into Kamala at an airport.

Honestly, that’s what he said.

He also said that he wanted to talk to Vince McMahon about promoting PPVs since the only reason he was there on the show was to promote his own upcoming PPV special.

Steph didn’t know where her Dad was, but she did want to introduce Drew to Trish, partly to get the comedian out of Hunter’s way (because who has time to talk about Kamala’s singing career when you’ve got a title match?) but mostly to stick it to Trish.

Always Poundin’ Ass

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Farooq and Bradshaw with their questionable t-shirts
Across the arena, Farooq and Bradshaw were playing cards and drinking beer. They got into it about something but I’m not sure what because I was too distracted by their ridiculous APA: Always Poundin’ Ass t-shirts.

Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?

I sort of got the idea that they were talking about which number they’d drawn for the Rumble as both men flashed one another bits of paper and agreed it was going to make things interesting.

Crash Holly then burst on the scene to warn the two men that if they got in his way, he’d have no problem throwing them over the top rope.

‘DAMN,’ said Farooq.
‘And people call us drunks,’ added Bradshaw.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

In the past year, these two had given us many great matches at events like Judgement Day 2000, Summerslam 2000 and many others, so it was fitting that they kicked off 2001 with another scorcher.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Chris Benoit faced Chris Jericho in an excellent ladder match
I’ve always said that my favorite match of all time was the Intercontinental Championship ladder match between Triple H and The Rock at Summerslam 1998, but I genuinely believe that Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho at the 2001 Royal Rumble might be every bit as good as that one.

Honestly, I’ve watched so much wrestling over the course of running this blog that I start wondering if I’m not becoming a bit desensitized to it all.

Then a match like this comes along and reminds me why I do love pro wrestling.

I can’t remember the last time I spent so long literally on the edge of my seat, utterly enraptured by every move. Nor do I ever remember joyously yelling ‘HOLY S**T!’ as often as I did here.

It was stiff, it was brutal, it was dramatic,  and it was absolutely exceptional.

Quality stuff from start to finish, this one ended when Jericho knocked Benoit from atop the ladder to the outside then climbed up and captured his third Intercontinental Championship.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho

Out in the back, Drew Carey was busy getting rejected by Trish Stratus when Vince McMahon walked in.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Drew Carey flirts withTrish Stratus
Seizing his opportunity, Carey quizzed McMahon on how to better promote his upcoming PPV, but Vince was more interested in encouraging him to enter the Royal Rumble match.

Yep, that was happening.

Don’t Worry About Chyna

Across the arena, Chyna was gearing up for her match with Ivory as her buddy Billy Gunn urged her not to go through with it.

The Ninth Wonder of the World was in rough shape after being on the receiving end of a spike piledriver at the hands of Right to Censor, but she wasn’t going to let that get in the way of getting revenge on arch-rival Ivory.

Instead, she stormed off and insisted that Gunn would be better off worrying about the 29 other men he’d have to fight in the Rumble.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your New Intercontinental Champion

Before we went back to Ross and Lawler, Michael Cole got a quick word with new IC champion Y2J.

Referring to Benoit as ‘one of the toughest bastards I’ve ever faced,’ Jericho kept it short and sweet, declaring that he’d proven his rival wrong once and for all.

World Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship
WWF Women’s Champion Ivory (w/ Steven Richards) vs. Chyna

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Chyna presses Ivory in their women's title match
Though the match was very short, it was actually kind of fun to watch Chyna woman-handle her much smaller opponent, throwing her around like a rag-doll and generally kicking her ass all over the place.

Then the finish came, and it was really underwhelming.

The challenger backed the champion into the corner and went for her trademark cartwheel handspring elbow. However, as she struck Ivory, Chyna’s neck injury was reaggravated and she collapsed to the mat like a sack of crap.

A barely-conscious Ivory draper an elbow over her opponent and won the match in the space of just a few minutes.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Ivory

Selling the seriousness of the injury, Chyna lay prone on the mat, unable to move as Jerry Lawler abandoned his position at the announce table and hit the ring to check on her.

Chyna’s buddy Billy Gunn came down, quickly followed by agents Sgt. Slaughter and Tony Garea as we got a really long stretcher job.

I’ll Touch You, Trish

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Trish Stratus confronted Stephanie McMahon backstage
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon headed to makeup to her hair fixed, only to find her nemesis Trish Stratus was already there.

Trish offered to touch it up for her, leading McMahon to warn the blonde beauty that if she cost HHH the title then Steph would, yes, touch her.

The crowd cheered at the thought of some Steph/Trish touching.

Ahem.

Drew Carey is a Big Deal

Elsewhere, Harvey Wippleman handed some wrestling gear to a very nervous-looking Drew Carey.

‘Hey, who's the guy in the goofy mask?’ Asked Carey as Kane walked in, looked at the comedian, and left again.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Kane stares down Drew Carey backstageNo doubt that would pay off later.

As if to hammer home the point that Carey being there was a big deal, his name was dropped in another segment when Vince McMahon told Lo-Down (Chaz and D’Lo Brown with Tiger Ali Singh) that neither of them would be competing in the Royal Rumble because they’d been replaced by Carey.

You’ve gotta feel bad for D’Lo Brown.

He was one of the most entertaining parts of the early Attitude Era midcard and now he was basically comic fodder.

Who Will Win the Championship?

At WWF New York, a bunch of fans gave their pick for the WWF title match.

It was pretty much a 50/50 split between those who thought HHH would win and those who were rooting for Kurt Angle.

Back in the arena, HHH got psyched up for the big match by snarling at himself in the mirror.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Kurt Angle (w/ Trish Stratus) vs. Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon)

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Trish Stratus led WWF Champion Kurt Angle into battle against Triple H
Point of interest, this was the first WWF PPV in which Triple H used his Motörhead ‘The Game’ theme.

After his entrance, Hunter engaged in a solid wrestling match with Kurt Angle which was mostly very good.

Why only mostly?

Because at one point, Steph and Trish got into a predictable catfight that had to be broken up by Vince McMahon because this was during the time when he booked himself to be shagging the beautiful Ms. Stratus.

That was unnecessary, but the rest of the match was damn fine.

The Game dominated, for the most part, spending a large part of the bout working over the champion’s leg before just going all out to try and beat him.

Toward the finish, Earl Hebner got murdered which gave Stone Cold Steve Austin the chance to run out and get revenge on HHH for costing him the title recently.

The Texas Rattlesnake smacked his rival in the face with the title belt then planted him with a stunner for good measure before hauling a mostly-dead Earl Hebner back in the ring.

A lifeless Kurt Angle managed to drape an arm over his opponent, Hebner made the slowest count in all history and the Olympic Gold Medalist had once again barely escaped another match with his title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Kurt Angle

Afterward, The Game stormed off, presumedly to find Austin.

Finally, The Rock Has Come Back...to New Orleans

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Kevin Kelly interviews The Rock
Interviewed by Kevin Kelly, The Rock cut a fantastic promo about tonight’s 30-man rumble.

First, he addressed rumors that Kane and The Undertaker were in cahoots (that again?) and vaguely suggested they might be into some kind of weird brotherly incest before insisting that he’d throw both men over the top.

Finally, he confirmed that it may all come down to him and Stone Cold, if you could detect the odor of his efforts in the kitchen.

A video package followed, highlighting tonight’s Rumble competitors. The video did a good job telling us that Rikishi had the number 30 spot as well as showcasing main event stars like Kane, Undertaker, The Rock, and Stone Cold.

30 Man Royal Rumble Match featuring The Hardy Boyz, Drew Carey, Kane, Raven, Honky Tonk Man, The Rock, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Billy Gunn, Rikishi and more...

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Drew Carey tries to buy his way out of fighting Kane in the Royal Rumble match
From start to finish, this was one of the most entertaining Rumbles in history with nary a dull moment in sight.

Howard Finkle gave us the rules of the match, including the fact that there’d be two minutes between entrances.

Then it was on with Jeff Hardy as competitor number one, Matt Hardy as number three, and Bull Buchanan between them at number two.

The brothers made short work of Buchanan then turned their attentions to one another, holding nothing back as they battled tooth and stopping only to dispose of number four entrant Farooq.

Drew Carey made his way out at number five and rejoiced as Matt and Jeff eliminated each other at the same time. His celebration was short-lived, however, as Kane was out at number six.

Pacing up and down the ring looking goofy and nervous, Carey offered Kane a handshake. When that didn’t work, he offered him money.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - The Honky Tonk man put in a surprise appearance in the Rumble match
Naturally, the Big Red Machine declined that too and was about to chokeslam Carey when number seven Raven came to the rescue.

Realizing he wanted none of that, the Drew hopped over the top rope and eliminated himself.

Raven’s arch-rival Al Snow then came out and filled the ring with garbage so that the two of them -along with Perry Saturn and Steve Blackman- could attack Kane hardcore style.

The Big Red Machine eventually cleaned house, only to be joined by none other than The Honky Tonk Man. Appearing in his first Rumble match since his last surprise appearance at the 1998 Royal Rumble, Honky wanted to sing his theme song, but Kane wanted to chokeslam him and eliminate him.

Guess who won that exchange?

With Honky gone, The Rock came out at number 13 to kick off the second, more serious half of the rumble.

In other highlights.

The Big Show returned to the company after a lengthy absence and murdered everyone in sight with chokeslams before being quickly eliminated by The Rock. To get his revenge, Show dragged Rock under the bottom rope and chokeslammed him through a table.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - The Brothers of Destruction, Kane and The Undertaker
The Undertaker revealed that he and Kane were working together after all. The two cleaned house and then dominated the match.

Stone Cold Steve Austin was attacked by Triple H during his entrance. The Game beat Austin to a bloody pulp. Austin did a gruesome blade job that was even more intense than his infamous crimson mask from Wrestlemania 13. At one point, he honestly looked like Frank from the first Hellraiser movie.

Haku returned to the World Wrestling Federation, appearing in his first WWF PPV since the 1992 Royal Rumble. Haku looked impressive here, almost as impressive as he’d looked when he won the WCW Hardcore title at WCW Sin just one week before this event.

In the end, it came down to Austin, Kane, and The Rock. Kane got rid of The Great One but got smacked upside the head with a chair several times by Austin before being clotheslined over the top rope with force.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Ladies and gentlemen, Stone Cold was going to Wrestlemania, and as the show closed, he threw a beer bash to celebrate.







Apart from the women’s title match which wasn’t really anything, WWF Royal Rumble 2000 was an awesome show from beginning to end.

Jericho/Benoit was the match of the night and is worth checking out for Jericho’s performance if nothing else.

Elsewhere, Kane and The Rock shone as MVPs of an utterly enthralling Rumble match.

A show well worth tracking down.

Other reviews of 2001 pro wrestling events: 
For more Royal Rumble reviews see:

Thursday, 20 August 2020

PPV REVIEW: WCW Sin 2001

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Event poster
January 14, 2001,
Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

Back in the day, there was a rumour floating around that World Championship Wrestling wanted to run a PPV series based on the seven deadly sins. 


Unfortunately, we'd never get to witness Tony 'Big T/Ahmed Johnson' Norris returning from his run in Harlem Heat 2000 to collide with Abdullah the Butcher in a Cheeseburger on a Pole street fight at WCW Gluttony. Nor would we ever see the inevitable moment in which Kevin Nash headlined WCW Sloth.

WCW would be closed for good just days after kicking things off with WCW Greed, but before that the seeds were planted with this:

The one and only WCW Sin pay per view.

Today, the event is infamous more for Sid Vicious' horrific broken leg than any of the actual matches, so why don't we head down to Indianapolis, Indiana and see what else went down besides that injury?







This is Sin

After all these years, WCW finally figured out how to make a good PPV opening video with just a few months left to go.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson called the event
Tonight's opening package was set to a haunting choral soundtrack and featured shots of World Championship Wrestling's biggest stars interspersed with graphics displaying the names of the Seven Deadly Sins.

The shots of the wrestlers didn't seem to have anything to do with the actual words on the screen, however. For example, Gluttony was immediately followed by a shot of Sid Vicious laughing like a maniac.

Whether this was a thinly-veiled dig at Sid for putting on some weight in the last year is anyone's guess.

I will say one thing though, they missed a trick by not showing a shot of Bryan Clarke when 'Wrath' came up on the screen.

Given that this PPV was called Sin and we'd have 'Greed' in March, I do wonder if the plan was to rebrand a bunch of other PPVs with the seven deadly sins, but I guess we'll never know.

Let Me Do This Alone

Anyway, after a greeting from our announcers Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson, we went backstage where Shane Helms encouraged his 3 Count partner Shannon Moore not to get involved in the upcoming cruiserweight title match.

Moore agreed, and it was on with the show.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero vs. Sugar Shane Helms

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Chavo Guerrero defended the Cruiserweight title against Sugar Shane Helms
You know, I can't remember the last time I watched a WCW cruiserweight PPV title match that didn't include a bunch of overbooking, mad stunts and run-ins.

Though the company still had talented performers who could work in the cruiserweight style, the division itself had -like almost everything else in the company- gone dramatically downhill.

So it was absolutely refreshing to see Chavo Guerrero defend his title against Shane Helms in a straight-up one-on-one match with no BS or wackiness.

It was an awesome match too, maybe not an all-time classic, but certainly a thrilling bout with lots to enjoy, including a gripping reversal-of-a-reversal-of-a-reversal finish that saw Chavo retain the gold with a Brain Buster.

Even though he won, there were many moments when it looked like Helms really could be our new champion, making this one of those occasions when a wrestler really did get more over despite losing.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Chavo Guerrero

After Chavo's obligatory celebration, Schiavone and Hudson took some time to speculate on the identity of the mystery man who would be competing in tonight's main event.

If you're wondering where their usual partner, Mark Madden was, he had recently been fired for basically telling the truth about what a dismal state the company was in.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Mike Tenay interviews Nature Boy Ric Flair as he arrives at the arenaTo be honest, I'm not complaining. The guy may have his fans, but this writer isn't one of them. Between him being a grown man making Jay & Silent Bob references to his repeated attempts to get himself over, there wasn't a lot to like about him.

Still, why they only had a two-man booth when the ever-awesome Mike Tenay was right there is anyone's guess.

Tonight, Tenay was relegated to waiting around backstage for CEO Ric Flair to arrive and then questioning him about the mystery man when he did so.

Unsurprisingly, Nature Boy wasn't letting anything slip, but insisted he'd reveal the mystery man when the time was right.

Vito is Ready for Reno

Yes, this feud was still going on.

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund caught up with Big Vito who had apparently reunited with his former partner Johnny The Bull.

Cutting a decent promo, Vito declared that it didn't matter what Reno and the Natural Born Thrillers did to him, he was going to get revenge tonight.

Big Vito vs. Reno

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Big Vito faced Reno
This was a surprisingly good match which surpassed all expectations.

Ok, so neither man had ever sucked, but they weren’t exactly known for stealing the show either, so it was a treat to see them go at it in such a fast and furious fashion.

Make no mistake about it, something had lit a fire under these two which meant they bust hump to give us the best match they were capable of.

In the end, Reno won with his Roll of the Dice finisher, but before that, there was a lot to enjoy here.
Your Winner: Reno

Finally, it seemed WCW had gotten out of the annoying habit of cramming 20 backstage segments into 90 seconds of pre-match time.

Here we just had one.

Mike Sanders offered Brian Adams some money to do a job for him (remember, the Acolytes were doing an APA gimmick), but after Sanders left, Bryan Clarke revealed that they’d been paid more money by somebody else to do a different job.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Evan Karagias and Jamie Noble faced The Jung Dragons

The Jung Dragons (Yang & Kaz Hayashi w/ Lea Meow) vs. Knoble & Karagias (Jamie Knoble & Evan Karagias)

I just typo’d and accidentally wrote ‘The Hung Dragons.’ Something tells me that would have been an entirely different tag team.

Anyway, this was a lot of fun - a frantic Cruiserweight showdown with all the flips, flops, and flying you could ask for.

After all kinds of big-time moves and breakneck wrestling, a simple roll-up earned Kaz Hayashi & Yang the win.
Your Winners: The Jung Dragons

Post-match, the losers beat up The Jung Dragons because that’s what heels do.

Meanwhile, backstage, Totally Buff (Lex Luger & Buff Bagwell) arrived in a purple hot rod and started complimenting each other’s appearance.

Mike Sanders vs. Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller (w/ Miss Jones)

If Miller wins, he becomes commissioner. If Sanders wins, he gets Miss Jones

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Ernest 'The Cat' Miller and Miss Jones
Since both men were arguably better on the microphone than in the ring, it made sense for them to each have some pre-match promo time before locking up.

Sanders began things, reminding us of the match stipulation and insisting that the WCW Commissionership was a role worth having because it paid well.

That’s probably about the only real reason anybody would want the job since it was basically meaningless now that Ric Flair was running things as CEO.

Ernest Miller, however, thought differently. Proving himself to be very over with the live crowd, The Cat insisted he could beat Sanders as long as he had the people behind him and was going to use the Commissionership to help WCW ‘get back on top.’

Ah, there’s nothing like a company openly admitting that they were failing live on air.

What didn’t fail was this match. Though it may be hard to believe, this was a very entertaining little match.

A rematch from their kickboxing encounter back at Halloween Havoc 2000,  Sanders and Miller put their best foot forward to deliver a bout that was made all the more enjoyable thanks to how beloved The Cat was by the audience.

Towards the finish, Sanders’ Natural Born Thrillers henchmen Shawn Stasiak and Mark Jindrak ran in to beat up Miller, but that’s when Kronik arrived.

The hired guns saw off Sanders’ goons then approached the commissioner himself, refunding the money he’d paid them by stuffing it in his mouth.

Miller hit the Feliner and became our new Commissioner.
Your Winner: Ernest Miller

Afterward, Miller and Miss Jones danced and celebrated their big win.

The Time for Talking is Over

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Bill Goldberg and Ric Flair watch a monitor
Backstage, Ric Flair and Goldberg watched the earlier arrival of Buff Bagwell and Lex Luger on a monitor. The CEO made the upcoming match between the three of them a No DQ match as if that actually meant something.

In the previous match we saw Sanders hit a blatant low-blow on Miller and Miss Jones kick Sanders in the back of the head all in front of the official, but sure Ric, make Goldberg vs. Totally Buff No DQ.

With that done, Ric had Goldberg go over to a couple of fans to sign an autograph and take a picture. It seemed like a weird thing to show on camera...

Elsewhere in the arena, Mean Gene interviewed Jeff Jarrett about tonight’s fatal four-way main event. Jarrett insisted that he had Scott Steiner’s back and was mad at Okerlund for suggesting otherwise.

‘The time for talking is over,’ claimed Gene as the segment came to an end, even though there’d be more interviews still to come.

Team Canada (Lance Storm, Elix Skipper and Mike Awesome w/ Major Gunns) vs. The Filthy Animals (Konnan, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Billy Kidman w/ Tygress)

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Team Canada (from L-R: Elix Skipper, Major Gunns, Lance Storm and Mike Awesome)
Special referee: Hacksaw Jim Duggan

I’ve been wondering recently why  Juventud Guerrera was no longer in the Filthy Animals, then it occurred to me that this must’ve been around the time he got canned for going crazy on an Australian tour.

Meanwhile, Hacksaw Jim Duggan was the special referee here after turning his back on America, joining Team Canada, then changing his mind about the whole thing and getting booted out.

In other words, Duggan’s heel turn bombed and nobody wanted to boo him, so they made him face again.

As a replacement, of sorts, Team Canada had Florida native Mike Awesome join them.

Before the bell, Lance Storm introduced the penalty box rule, telling us that anybody who broke the rules would get sin-binned.

The gimmick added an interesting aspect to what could have been a great match in its own right but, ultimately, it ended up making the whole thing confusing and hard to follow.

Sure, much of the in-ring action was pretty good, but with people constantly coming in and out of the penalty box it just got too much.

Storm won thanks to the Canadian Mapleleaf, ending a match which sounded great in theory but was shoddily executed.
Your Winners: Team Canada

Backstage, Mike Tenay interviewed The Natural Born Thrillers.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Mike Tenay interviews Mike Sanders
“Well Mike Sanders, it looks like you won’t be needing that fancy commissioners’ office any more," said Tenay, who had clearly been taking lessons from Mean Gene on how to be a smug prick interviewer.

Ignoring The Professor, Sanders swore revenge on the ‘jacked-up muscle heads’ Kronik before Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire promised to defeat the Insiders for the tag team titles.

I guess Palumbo’s ‘Perfect Event’ tag team with the other Shawn was all over.


Across the way, Diamond Dallas Page and Kevin Nash were shown stretching in anticipation of the match. This must have been a really big deal because usually when they cut to Nash backstage before a match he’d be reading a magazine or goofing off but nope, tonight he was in serious wrestler mode.

World Championship Wrestling World Hardcore Championship
WCW Hardcore Champion Terry Funk vs. Meng vs. Crowbar (w/ Daffney)

Terry Funk was the champion but Meng carried the title down to the ring. If you’ve read any previous WCW PPV reviews on this blog you’ll already have encountered one of the many rants about how much WCW ran this angle, so we won’t go into it again today.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Meng won the WCW Hardcore title then showed up at the WWF Royal Rumble the following week
Instead, let’s just say that at some points this was a really good hardcore match and at other times it was incredibly sloppy.

If there’s one thing we can learn from it, it’s that Crowbar really wasn’t very good at selling.

At one point, he had Terry Funk in a figure four. Meng -widely regarded as perhaps the legit toughest wrestler ever- punched him twice in the head and the former Devon Storm didn’t even flinch.

Meng then dove off the top rope -seriously- splashed the bejesus out of Crowbar and murdered him with a piledriver, and the guy got back to his feet a few seconds later.

Then, Funk made a pin attempt on Meng and Crowbar tried to break it by lightly tugging on Funk’s t-shirt. It was so ineffective that Funk could have won the match, but that wasn’t the finish so he had to stop covering Meng for no reason which looked stupid.

A few seconds later, Meng slapped the Funker in the Tongan Death Grip and became our new hardcore champion. He’d be gone from the company and in the WWF a week later.
Your Winner and NEW Hardcore Champion: Meng

Out in the back, Ric Flair congratulated Ernest Miller on becoming the new commissioner then proceeded to give him the night off, because that's how important the job was.

Mean Gene then interviewed Sid, who did the whole sinister, psychotic whispering promo thing that we hadn't really seen him do since his last WWF run.

To be honest, he said nothing that would come as much of a surprise:

He was in the maint and was planning to win it.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Insiders (Diamond Dallas Page & Kevin Nash) vs. The Natural Born Thrillers (Sean O'Haire & Chuck Palumbo)

WCW Sin 2001 Review - The Insiders (DDP & Kevin Nash) defended the tag team titles against Sean O' Haire and Chuck Palumbo
Before the match got started, we were shown a video that told us how Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire became the new Thrillers tag team.

Of course, it had previously been Palumbo and Shawn Stasiak and O'Haire partnered with Mark Jindrak, but then a tag team battle royal was held to determine new number one contenders to the Insiders' titles, and those four men were the last ones standing.

NBT leader Mike Sanders then made a match between them, with the last two men remaining becoming the new tag team.

Palumbo and O'Haire were it, and here we were.

Speaking of Sanders, he came down with the rest of his team and announced that he was going to make substitutions throughout the match -ultimately creating a handicap scenario- but Ric Flair came out and squashed that idea dead.

The match itself was pretty decent, with the youngsters working hard and the veterans playing to their strengths. Everything was going pretty well, but then WCW had to spoil it with an overkill finish.

Despite Flair threatening fines and suspensions if the rest of the Natural Born Thrillers got involved, they did so anyway, but this proved just to be a distraction so that Lex Luger could come out with a chair for some reason.

Page took care of Luger while Kevin Nash stood around in the ring, trying to act as though he wasn't just waiting for Buff Bagwell to run in and hit him with a monkey wrench.

O'Haire then hit the Seanton Bomb and, one three count later, this was all over.
Your Winners and NEW tag team champions: Chuck Palumbo & Sean O'Haire

Backstage, the Natural Born Thrillers celebrated their big victory while Mike Tenay stood around to get an interview.

Mike Sanders claimed that Totally Buff's involvement had nothing to do with them, while Tenay hinted that The Insiders would be going after Buff.

First Blood Match for the World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW US Champion General Rection vs. Shane Douglas

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Shane Douglas challenged General Rection for the US title
Throughout the latter half of the year 2000, Shane Douglas had two things going for him:

1: He could cut an effective heel promo
2: He had Torrie Wilson by his side.

Torrie had been released from her contract in December, presumedly as a cost-cutting measure, so now Douglas' only redeeming feature was his mic skills.

Tonight, he used them to announce that he was going to defeat General Rection and use the US title as a stepping stone to get to Scott Steiner's World Heavyweight Championship.

Rection, however, had other plans.

He took the fight to the challenger in a mediocre match that could have been a lot better had they given a damn about the stipulation.

You see, this was a first blood match, with a steel chain hanging above the ring that they were supposed to grab and use as a weapon to bust their opponents open with. Logic would have it that both men would be eager to get the chain and win the match, but this was WCW, were logic was a dirty word.

Instead, both men completely ignored the chain and wrestled a normal match -albeit for one brief battle through the crowd- before coming to the finish, where Douglas pulled a chain out of his boot and waffled the champ with it for the fall.

Why couldn't he have just done that in the opening minute of the match?
Your Winner and NEW US Champion: Shane Douglas

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Scott Steiner (w/ Midajah)
Backstage, Scott Steiner gave one of his usual insane interviews to Mean Gene, claiming that he didn’t trust anybody and would go down in history as the greatest world heavyweight champion of all time.

Elsewhere in the arena, a bloody General Rection had a mental breakdown over losing the US title.

No Disqualification Match
Totally Buff (Lex Luger & Buff Bagwell) vs. Goldberg & Sgt. Dwayne Bruce

If either Goldberg or Sarge wins, Goldberg is banned from WCW for life.
This all came about as an evolution of Luger’s feud with Goldberg.

At Starrcade 2000, Buff had attacked Bill’s trainer, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker Dwayne Bruce, forming a team with the Total Package and leading us into tonight.

Despite the No DQ stipulation, referee Mickey Jay still enforced tags and the first half of the match was played out like your basic tag team encounter.

It was OK, but not particularly great, though I will give them some credit for an interesting finish. Remember earlier when I said that showing Goldberg signing autographs for a fan was weird?

It paid off here.

Towards the end, Luger was arguing with the fan and grabbed him by the shirt. Goldberg came to the guy’s rescue but it was all a ruse. The ‘fan’ sprayed Big Bill with mace, giving Luger & Bagwell the upperhand.

Lex put Goldberg on his shoulders, Buff planted him with the Buff Blockbuster and just like that, Goldberg’s WCW career was done.
Your Winners: Totally Buff

With the match over, a defeated Goldberg struggled to get to his feet before struggling to the back, walking out of World Championship Wrestling for good.

The move was supposed to give Bill time off for shoulder surgery, but the company was bought out by the WWF two months later and we wouldn’t see Goldberg again until he turned up in All Japan Pro Wrestling in 2002.

Here on Retro Pro Wrestling, we won’t meet him again until we get to WWE Backlash 2003.

Four-Way Match for the World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Scott Steiner (w/ Midajah) vs. Jeff Jarrett vs. Sid Vicious vs. Road Warrior Animal


WCW Sin 2001 Review - Sid Vicious broke his leg in a horrific accident
This had been built for weeks as Steiner vs. Sid vs. Jarrett vs. A Mystery Man chosen by Flair.

Speculation ran rampant on who it would be. A returning Sting? A defecting WWF star?

Nope, it would be a bloated Road Warrior Animal, a reveal that would have been a bit deal 10-15 years earlier, but in 2001 was really underwhelming.

Not that Animal came out at first. Flair said that he would reveal his mystery man when the time was right, making this a three-way dance and leaving your writer with a sick feeling in his stomach.

Why?

Because the moment I saw Sid wearing those denim shorts, I remembered that this was the night he horrifically broke his leg.

Ugh, I feel ill just thinking about that.

Fortunately, they cut away from that terrible moment, showing us Flair getting his mystery man and cutting back to the ring with Sid in the ring for a really really long time with a messed up leg.

For some reason, they couldn’t just take Sid out of the match and carry on, so it all had to be cut short.

The Mystery Man came out in a mask, stomped Sid once, and allowed Steiner to pin Sid for the three count.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Scott Steiner

I mean, imagine being Sid, being talked into doing a high spot by an official, breaking your leg doing it, and then having to sit in the ring in agony waiting to be pinned.







That main event was beyond awful, not because of anything that happened pre Sid’s leg, and not even because Road Warrior Animal was the biggest disappointing reveal since The Higher Power, but because of the horrible way WCW handled the injury and the finish.

Sid’s leg was a mess. They should have gotten him out of there immediately and improvised a new finish.

Instead, they kept him in the ring and even had Steiner kick him a bunch of times.

It was really hard to watch.

Other than that, this was actually a decent show with a really enjoyable undercard.

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Thursday, 12 December 2019

EVENT REVIEW - SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991

December 12th, 1991
Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan

While WWE have shown more willingness to let their NXT and NXT UK stars work for other promotions in recent years, there was a long time when the sports entertainment empire weren't exactly known for getting along with other pro wrestling organisations.

So, when the company joined forces with Japanese outfit Super World of Sports (SWS) in 1991, it wasn't exactly the norm.

Not that it should have come as much of a surprise.

As proven with the recent Saudi Arabia deal, Vince McMahon will do business with just about anybody if the price is right, and the price was certainly right for this partnership.

SWS was backed by Megane Super, a company who had earned millions selling -of all things- eyeglasses. Using Megane Super's millions, SWS had built up a decent roster and had booked several cross-promotional cards with the World Wrestling Federation.






One of those shows featured the infamous John Tenta vs. Koji Kitao match in which Kitao refused to work with the man better known back then as Earthquake.


It says something about just how controversial Kitao's performance was that this was the only match anyone remembered from a card which also featured Randy Savage vs. Genichiro Tenryu, and  Hulk Hogan vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu. 

But we're not here to talk about that show today, no sir. We're here to talk about SuperWrestle 1991, the show which took place six months after the infamous Kitao/Quake shoot.

Here's what went down when that particular event came to us live from the Tokyo Dome.

Masakatsu Funaki vs. Jerry Flynn


SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Masaharu Funaki bea Jerry FlynnThe last time Jerry Flynn made an appearance here on Retro Pro Wrestling, he was taking part in that terrible Junkyard Battle Royal at WCW Bash at the Beach 1999.

Eight years before that, however, ol' Lightning Foot look to have all the makings of a solid grappler as he locked up with a man long considered to one of Japan's greatest mixed martial artists, Masaharu Funaki.

Not surprisingly, Funaki's shoot-style came into play here, with the two combatants trading swift martial arts kicks in between periods spent trying to out-wrestle each other on the mat.

If you're the sort of fan who likes fast-paced offense, lots of drama and high spots aplenty, you might hate this opening contest.

If, however, you enjoy any bout that makes pro wrestling look like something vaguely resembling a legitimate sporting contest, you might enjoy this short-but-sweet contest very much.

After only five minutes -most of which Flynn and Funaki spent on the ground- Funaki made his opponent tap.
Your Winner: Masaharu Funaki

Post-match, the two hugged it out in a sign of sportsmanship.

Ultimo Dragon vs. Jerry Estrada

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Ultimo Dragon and Jerry Estrada celebrate after their match
Apparently, the booking committee looked at this card and said "you know what? This needs more Jerry!"

Enter legendary luchador Jerry Estrada, who went at it with Ultimo Dragon in what proved to be a very enjoyable contest indeed.

Much faster and much more athletic than our opener, this was everything you'd want from a Lucha-resu bout in the early 1990s.

Both men flew around the ring at breakneck speeds, flipping and twisting and tossing each other around -and out of- the ring, with the Tokyo Dome crowd hanging on their every move.

At one point, they hit a suplex spot off the apron which saw them crashing straight into the front row. It was a genuinely exciting moment that popped the crowd -and this writer- huge.

After an incredibly fun seesaw battle, Dragon reversed a pin attempt and scored the three count in what would be his first match in Japan in the Ultimo Dragon gimmick.
Your Winner: Ultimo Dragon

The sportsmanship continued as the two men celebrated together after the bell.

Inter-Promotional Tag Team Match
King Haku & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs.  Ashura Hara & Davey Boy Smith

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - King Haku teamed with Yoshiaki Yatsu to face British Bulldog and Ashura Hara
So far, this show couldn't have been booked any more perfectly.

We started with a shoot-style matched, moved into a fast-paced, high-flying bout, and now had ourselves a tag team match with four burly bruisers knocking the hell out of each other.

At first, this didn't seem like it was going to be all that interesting, but it soon heated up into another enjoyable performance, with all four men putting in a strong effort in every sense of the word.

Though not the best bout on the card, it was still a fun watch right up to the point that the British Bulldog rolled up Haku for the pin.
Your Winners: Ashura Hara & Davey Boy Smith

Alas, there was to be no display of sportsmanship here. Haku and Yoshiaki Yatsu beat up on the Bulldog after the match and dropped him with a wicked tiger-bomb/elbow-drop combo.

After a cut-away, Davey Boy and Ashura Hara were shown standing tall once again, this time sporting some kind of mysterious trophy.

I've scoured the web but I've still no idea what that trophy was actually for. What I do know, is that it certainly wasn't the infamous Royal Samovar Trophy the Bulldog had won two months earlier at the Royal Albert Hall.

We're Gonna Need a Montage

Apparently, there was no room on the broadcast/recorded version of this show to include the first three matches so, instead, we got a musical highlight montage.

The three matches included:

Great Kabuki, Takashi Ishikawa, Samson Fuyuki vs. Kendo Nagasaki, Shinichi Nakano, Tatsumi Kitihara in a six-man tag
Minoru Suzuki taking on Wellington Wilkins Jr in another UWF-rules shoot fight
Goro Tsurumi, Apollo Sugawara, Fumihiro Niikura vs. Kenichi Oya, Don Arakawa, Akira Katayama.

Disappointingly, the Kendo Nagasaki mentioned above wasn't the British star fans might remember from World of Sport, but rather the version of the character played by Kazuo Sakurada.

The Rockers (Marty Jannetty & Shawn Michaels) vs. George  & Shunji Takano

We joined this match in progress with Marty Jannetty and George Takano trying to take each other apart in the middle of the ring.

Jannetty worked the majority of the contest, with Shawn Michaels tagging in whenever he could and throwing superkicks around like confetti.

I'll rarely have less than glowing praise for anything involving The Rockers, but this just sadly wasn't half as good as you might have hoped it would be.

OK, so it was far from terrible, but having already been spoiled by a couple of very good undercard matches, this one somehow just fell short.

In the end, Jannetty scaled the top rope but was taking his time at diving off, so Michaels gave him a push.

The move backfired. Jannetty was caught with a big boot by Takano and quickly ate the pin.
Your Winners: George & Shunji Takano

Afterward, an irate Michaels berated his partner, urging him to 'use [his] head.'

Fair play to The Rockers, they were committed to their break-up storyline even in what was essentially a non-cannon show.

The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase (w/ Sensational Sherri) vs. The Texas Tornado Kerry Von Erich

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Texas Tornado Kerry Von Eric squared off with Ted DibiaseThis was a World Wrestling Federation exhibition bout, with Earl Hebner taking the place of the Japanese referees who had officiated most of the proceeding bouts.

Though not a technical masterpiece, the two told a very good story in which Kerry Von Erich kept trying to lock Ted Dibiase in the Iron Claw, only for Dibiase to continually escape.

It was a simple story perfectly told, especially as the Japanese faithful went crazy every time the Tornado even gestured that he might apply the claw.

The highlight of the match came when the two brawled to the outside, where the Million Dollar Man blasted the Texas Tornado with a couple of wicked chair shots.

Clearly preparing himself for the Attitude Era, Hebner turned a blind-eye to such blatant cheating and allowed the match to continue. That gave Von Eric the perfect opportunity to mount a comeback and finally put the diabolical Dibiase in the claw.

Sensational Sherri came to her man's rescue, so Kerry slapped the claw on her instead. The distraction allowed Dibiase to level his opponent from behind, hit a DDT that would make Jake Roberts proud, and scored the three count.
Your Winner: Ted Dibiase

Super World Sports Light Heavyweight Championship

(Match to determine the inaugural champion)

Rick 'The Model' Martel vs. Naoki Sano

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Naoki Sano faced Rick Martel to determine the first SWS Light Heavyweight Champion
Yes, he was a model, and yes, Rick Martel was excellent in this short, compelling match with Naoki Sano.

Given less than eight minutes to do their thing, neither man held anything back, going toe-to-toe in what proved to be a thoroughly explosive contest.

Leaving it all on the line, Martel and Sano went at it hard and fast until the latter hit the former with a beautiful German suplex to become the first -and only- SWS Light Heavyweight Champion.

The company would fold just six months later.

Sano would hold onto the title the entire time.
Your Winner and NEW SWS Light Heavyweight Champion: Naoki Sano

Post-match, Sano was presented with the title belt and a special trophy.

Koji Ishinriki vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Koji Ishinriki vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Up next, it was the turn of SWS to have their exhibition match.

For some bizarre reason, former sumo star Koji Ishinriki entered the ring to The Beatle's Eleanor Rigby, while Yoshiaki Fujiwara beat Daniel Bryan to the punch by a good twenty years in opting for Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.

Like the earlier Dibiase/Tornado bout, this was more about the story than anything else, with the plucky, inexperienced Ishinriki looking to get the upper hand against the grizzled old veteran, Fujiwara and getting increasingly more frustrated when he couldn't do so.

The two kept to a simple pattern here. They'd lock up, wrestle a bit, Ishinriki would get the better of Fujiwara, Fujiwara would no-sell the offense and hit a big move of his own. The crowd would go absolutely crazy for Fujiwara, and the whole thing would start again.

As things progressed, the Ishinriki's frustration became all the more evident as he switched from trying to out-wrestle his opponent to simple kicking and chopping the raging bejeezus out of him.

Alas, it didn't work. Fujiwara sold practically nothing and eventually locked his foe in a submission hold for the win.
Your Winner: Yoshiaki Fujiwara

It was a strong showing, though I understand why it might not have been everyone's cup of tea.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon w/ Jimmy Hart)

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Legion of Doom faced The Natural Disasters
Playing off their existing popularity in Japan, Earthquake was billed as 'Earthquake John Tenta' while Hawk and Animal were introduced as 'Legion of Doom, The Road Warriors' and entered the ring to their iconic Black Sabbath Iron Man theme music.

The match was everything you'd expect a Legion of doom/Natural Disaster match to be.

It was far from terrible, but apart from one small spot where everybody went outside and began blasting each other with chair shots (again, with no repercussions from referee Earl Hebner), nothing much happened.

Still, at least everyone cooperated and actually worked.

After a passable tag team title match, the champions hit Typhoon with the Doomsday Device to retain their gold.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The Legion of Doom

More trophies were handed out to the Road Warriors after the match.

Seriously, I don't know much about Japanese pro wrestling, so if somebody reading this does, and could enlighten me as to the significance of the trophies, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Hulk Hogan

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Hulk Hogan wrestled Genichiro Tenryu in the main event
If your only experience of The Immortal Hulk Hogan is from his time at the top of the WWF and WCW, then you might be surprised to see him bust out a few actual wrestling holds rather than just relying on the whole kick-punch routine.

In fact, though this might not have been the best match on this particular card, it was probably one of the best Hulk Hogan matches you're ever going to see in terms of actual, honest-to-goodness wrestling.

He and Genichiro Tenryu started off trading holds and submissions before eventually getting p'd off with one another and resorting to chops and punches.

From there, it was more of the kind of Hogan match most of us are probably used to, albeit without all the Hulking Up and usual shenanigans.

A good main event to end a good show, this one came to the end after Hogan busted out his trademark Ax Bomber (his go-to finisher in Japan) and won the match.
Your Winner: Hulk Hogan

Post-match, Hogan helped Tenryu to his feet and the two embraced before Hogan did his usual crowd-pleasing routine to end the show.






Though it lagged a bit in the middle, SWS/WWF SuperWrestle '91 was mostly a really good show.

That Ultimo Dragon/Jerry Estrada match served as the standout match of the show evening but had some stiff competition from the Light Heavyweight title match.

Though not every match could reach those lofty standards (looking at you, tag team title match), there was nary a dud insight here and, on the whole, this made for a very enjoyable two hours.

If you want to see Ultimo Dragon early in his career, or need an example of what Hulk Hogan was capable of when he actually bothered to wrestle, go hunt down this show.


Other 1991 pro wrestling reviews:
Other Japan-based wrestling reviews:

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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.