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 Molly Holly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Molly Holly. Show all posts

Thursday, 18 February 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Rebellion 2001

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Event poster
November 3, 2001 
Manchester Arena, Manchester, England 

Finally...The Rock returns to Manchester for World Wrestling Federation Rebellion, the latest in a series of UK-exclusive WWF Pay Per Views were nothing of lasting consequence ever seemed to happen.

Yes, it's becoming the norm that every Retro Pro Wrestling review of these shows starts with that kind of introduction, but while it's true that these shows rarely mattered in the grand scheme of things, that doesn't make them all completely terrible.

Since establishing both Rebellion and Insurexxion as UK PPV brands, the company had at least put some effort into delivering marquee matches and giving both shows a big-time feel.

Did that pay off in terms of quality entertainment? Or was this show forgettable in every sense f the word?

Let's head down to the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England, to find out.






Tonight, it’s Austin vs. Rock III

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Paul Heyman and Jim Ross called the show
Though their match at Wrestlemania 19 is generally referred to as Austin vs. Rock 3 (being their third ‘Mania main event outing together) the actual third PPV main event match for the title between Steve Austin and The Rock would take place tonight here at The MEN Arena.

To build up to that, our opening match combines clips and soundbites from their previous feuds to make it appear as though tonight’s match was to settle a recent grudge between them even though they hadn’t had much interaction on TV since The Rock returned a few months previously.

Nonetheless, the video was decent stuff and led us to the usual pyro, crowd shots and greeting from our announcers Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

The duo also told us that we’d see Chris Jericho defending the WCW title against Kurt Angle and then sent us to the ring for our opening contest.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Steel Cage Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. WWF European Champion Christian

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Edge after beating Christian in a cage match
Edge
and Christian had been a solid tag team and were good performers in their own right, but when they met in the ring that never really translated into the kind of awesome matches you’d hope they would have.

The two had met in a ladder match back at WWF No Mercy 2001 and that had suffered due to some problems with pacing.

This time out, the ‘brothers’ met in a cage match and though their pace was much better, the match still wasn’t quite as good as this writer hoped it would be.

Then again, maybe that’s simply a matter of me managing my expectations rather than there being anything wrong with the match itself.

After all, it was still an above-average effort that clearly delighted the Manchester crowd, and at the end of the day, that’s probably all that matters.

Towards the finish, Christian looked to scale the cage and escape, only for Edge to drag his opponent’s feet through the cage bars and hogtie them with wrist tape so that he (Edge) could climb over and to the outside.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Edge 

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Hugh Morrus and Chavo Guerrero were perverts
After a video that reminded us that Kurt Angle had recently turned heel and joined The Alliance (dumbest move ever, by the way) we went backstage where Chavo Guerrero was all excited about his special assignment interviewing the divas.

Before Chavo could speak to any of the women, however, he was interrupted by Hugh Morrus who claimed that he too had been sent to do interview duties.

After a brief argument, the former Misfits in Action teammates stormed into the divas' locker room where Trish Stratus was busy getting changed.

The two turned into a couple of childish school children and giggled a lot before Trish sent the boys packing, promising to set them up an interview with her buddy Lita.

Scotty 2 Hotty vs. The Hurricane

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Scotty 2 Hotty faced The Hurricane
Honestly, I think anybody who has anything bad to say about it this match either has no soul or is too far up their own arse to appreciate the fun that wrestling is supposed to be.

Both The Hurricane and Scotty 2 Hotty were competent light heavyweight wrestlers with entertaining gimmicks that were over with the crowd.

Combined, this made for a very enjoyable match that was a lot of fun to watch.

Although it wasn’t going to be a Match of the Night contender, that was never its purpose.

Scotty and Shane had one job: go out and be entertaining.

They succeeded tremendously in that job and when Scotty 2 Hotty picked up the win thanks to his worm, it was a victory well earned.
Your Winner: Scotty 2 Hotty

Out in the back, Chavo and Hugh perved on Lita putting her pants on before Diamond Dallas Page told us that English people being depressed wasn’t a bad thing it...was a good thing.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. The Big Show

Thankfully, this was short and painless.

The two battles back and forth for what couldn’t have been more than three minutes. It wasn’t very interesting, but it wasn’t offensively bad or anything either.

After taking a Diamond Cutter from Page, The Big Show clambered to his feet, chokeslammed his opponent into oblivion, and won the match.
Your Winner: The Big Show

Afterward, DDP took to the microphone to claim that his loss was a good thing because now he’d get to leave the awful country of England.

Kurt Angle and the Knights of the Round Table

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Debra, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, and Shane McMahon talk strategy
Out in the back, Guerrero and Morrus had given up pretending to want to interview anybody and were now openly admitting that they just wanted to barge into different locker rooms hoping to find women in various states of undress.

Alas, they had no such luck this time as Mighty Molly Holly was fully attired, though she was appalled that the two former WCW stars had seen her without her cape.

Speaking of WCW, Alliance members Shane McMahon, US Champion Kurt Angle, WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, and his wife Debra were sat around a table in a darkened room with a spotlight of them.

They were there to talk strategy for tonight’s show but everything went awry when Kurt realized that they were sat at a round table in England. Thus, he began comparing himself and his colleagues to the Knights of the Round Table.

“And of course, if we’re the good knights, there’s gotta be bad nights,” said Kurt.
“I’m having a bad night right now,” replied Austin, who got so fed up with Angle that he yelled at him and stormed off.

Ok, so that was pretty funny.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship Three-Team Elimination Match
WCW Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) vs. The A.P.A (Bradshaw & Farooq) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy)

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Matt Hardy waits t
Though it was fairly obvious that Farooq and Bradshaw would be eliminated first to give us another standard Dudleyz/Hardyz encounter, that didn’t stop this one from being a pretty good match.

For the most part, it was no different to any of the countless other matches you’ve seen between these teams so if you enjoyed those you’ll enjoy this one and if you hated every match you’ve ever seen between them then this one will do little to change your mind about them.

This fan quite enjoyed it, and even though The Dudleyz got the predictable win thanks to the 3D, it was still a good outing.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: The Dudleyz

Out in the back, Vince McMahon urged bitter rivals The Rock and Chris Jericho to shake hands and bury the hatchet so that Team WWF would have a better chance of winning at Survivor Series.

The two did as their boss requested, but as soon as Vince was gone they started brawling until a gaggle of referees and Arn Anderson broke them up.

William Regal vs. WCW Cruiserweight Champion Tajiri

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - William Regal cuts a pre-match promo before facing Tajiri
Before the match, William Regal took to the microphone to address his hometown audience, thanking them for spending their unemployment allowance on coming to see him wrestle and insisting that he was a better role model than David Beckham and any one of the Manchester United football team.

Having firmly established himself as the heel, Regal locked up with his former sidekick Tajiri in a really good wrestling match.

The two took it to the mat, pounded the shit out of each other, and occasionally bust out a few fancy moves to create one of the better matches on what had already been a decent show.

Unsurprisingly, Regal picked up the victory with his Regal Stretch, but his celebration was short-lived when Tajiri recovered and blew the Green Mist of Doom in the Alliance Commissioner's face.
Your Winner: William Regal

01.15.52 - Angle

Backstage, Michael Cole interviewed US champion Kurt Angle who made fun of Chris Jericho’s Y2J nickname and promised to take his WCW title from him.

WCW Championship
WCW Champion Chris Jericho vs. WCW US Champion Kurt Angle

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Kurt Angle challenged Chris Jericho for the WCW title
As was often the case with most wrestlers on these UK shows, it really felt as though Angle and Jericho weren’t giving it their all here, but let’s be honest:

Angle and Jericho at even 50% are still better than many people at 100% and so this was still a very good see-saw battle in which both champ and challenger traded the advantage several times.

They worked at a decent pace that was enough to keep the crowd entertained and deliver a captivating dual of submissions, suplexes, and more all without overexerting themselves.

After a good effort, Y2J rolled up his opponent to retain the WCW title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: Chris Jericho

Unhappy with the decision, Angle attacked Jericho after the bell and destroyed him with a few Angle Slams.

Finally, The Rock Has Come Back to Manchester

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Michael Cole interviews The Rock
Out in the back, Michael Cole asked The Rock how he could concentrate on his title match with Stone Cole with all that he had going on with Jericho.

The Great One clearly couldn’t concentrate because all that he seemed to care about was whether Cole liked pie or strudel.

Which one was it? Did Cole like pie...or strudel.

IT DOESN’T MATTER...

Obviously.

Divas Tag Team Match
Mighty Molly & Stacy Kiebler vs. Lita & Torrie Wilson

Special Guest Referee: Trish Stratus
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I think this was the first instance of the company sandwiching a women’s match between the two high profile PPV main events to give the crowd a breather.

Of course, the “divas bathroom break” would be a running joke for years until the women started to be taken more seriously, and I’m pretty sure it all started here.

The match was...well, it was a divas bathroom break which was a shame given that Molly Holly and Lita were talented performers and Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler at least looked like they were putting the effort in despite their limited experience.

Ultimately though, this was a whole lot of nothing leading up to an admittedly cool finish which saw Lita pick up the win for her team.
Your Winners: Lita and Torrie Wilson

Much like Kurt Angle in the previous match, Stacy Kiebler was unhappy with the result and confronted special referee Trish Stratus, only to get slapped and bulldogged.

Finally, after a look back at the long rivalry between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, it was time for the two to meet in our main event.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Steve Austin puts The Rock in a Boston crab
Much as Angle and Jericho had done, Austin and The Rock failed to bring their A-game here, but their B-game was still good enough to provide a quality main event.

The two superstars took the obligatory walk up to the entrance in the early going and battled around ringside for a while before returning to the ring for an enjoyable back and forth brawl.

At every opportunity, Austin would throw his middle fingers in the air, mostly at the crowd but also towards referee Earl Hebner.

Finally having had enough of such behavior, Earl flipped Austin off in response and very loudly yelled ‘F**K YOU!’

Hebner’s potty mouth would later be punished when both champ and challenger accidentally bumped into him in quick succession, forcing the head zebra to lie out on the canvas for half a year.

Seriously, I’ve heard of referees ‘taking a nap’ when they get bumped in a match, but I’m pretty sure Earl got his full eight hours in here.

While he was doing that, Rock put the sharpshooter on his opponent only for Stone Cold to break free and apply a sharpshooter of his own.

“That’s not one of Austin’s specialty moves,” said Jim Ross apologetically, covering for the fact that the champion had applied possibly the worst version of the hold you’d ever seen.

Honestly, if you’re of the opinion that The Rock’s sharpshooter was awful, you need to see this match just to see how much worse Austin’s was.

Anyway, with the referee still out cold, we got run-ins from both Angle and Jericho before finally, Austin hit a stunner to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Steve Austin

Afterwards, Austin and Angle hugged and made their way backstage, presumedly to celebrate a triumph that few fans in the United States would ever actually hear about.






It’s fair to say that not a single one of the WWF’s UK-only PPVs were ‘must-see’ TV, and I say that as a Brit who was there love for some of the earlier shows.

Still, while WWF Rebellion 2001 wasn’t exactly essential viewing, it was at least one of the better UK shows, with a decent double main event in the form of Rock/Austin and Angle/Jericho, a decent opening cage match and a surprisingly fun match between Scotty 2 Hotty and The Hurricane.

Don’t go out of your way to watch this, but if you’re bored and looking for something to watch, Rebellion should at least keep you relatively entertained for two hours and 15 minutes.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

PPV REVIEW: WWF Armageddon 2000

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - event poster
December 10, 2000, 
Birmingham–Jefferson Civic Center, Birmingham, Alabama

I've said it before that the World Wrestling Federation's annual December PPV often felt like an off night for the company and its roster; a chance to slow it down a gear before things picked back up in the run towards the Royal Rumble.


Tonight, however, something just felt different.

Armageddon 2000 was to be headlined by a multi-man Hell in a Cell match which the company were promoting as the biggest thing to happen in the WWF since...

..Well, since ever.

That alone made the show feel important right from the outset.  At a time when Hell in a Cell is basically just another match, it's refreshing to find a show where the 'demonic steel structure' is still held in some reverence.

Yet for all the hype, would the World Wrestling Federation really be able to deliver? Or would this be yet another lacklustre December PPV in which everyone took a night off?







Let's head to Birmingham, Alabama to find out.

The End is Here

Tonight’s show began with an awesome video package that interspersed scenes of war, violence, and general-Armageddon-things with shots of the WWF’s top stars.

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the show
On its own, it wasn’t too impressive, but it was the song that accompanied it that really made it work.

An obvious nod to The Doors’ track of the same name, The End was a Jim Johnson original with Jim Morrison-esque vocals that really made for a compelling introduction to tonight’s show.

What wasn’t so great was the take on Sweet Home Alabama which accompanied the opening crowd shots and introduction from Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler.

On its own, the music was annoyingly repetitive, but the worst part was that it’s cheery, upbeat tone was totally at odds with the general theme of doom that you’d want for a show called Armageddon.

With the Hell in a Cell hanging seriously low over the ring, Ross and Lawler told us that Mick Foley had promised to resign if anyone was seriously injured in tonight’s match.

Vince Don’t Want No Coffee

Backstage, a limousine pulled up. Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe argued over who was going to open the door to allow Vince McMahon to step out of it.

For some reason that I can’t be bothered to look up, Vince was limping with a cane as he pushed onto into the arena, refusing an offer for coffee because he wasn’t in the mood for it, damnit.

That was a mostly odd and pointless segment.

Six Person Inter-Gender Elimination Match
Team Xtreme (Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and Lita) vs. The Radicalz (WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Perry Saturn w/ Terri)

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Lita teamed with The Hardy Boyz to face The Radicalz
Before the bell, a video recap told us how this match came about:

Lita challenged Dean Malenko to a Light Heavyweight Championship match, lost, and had to go on a date with the champion.

She then tricked him into taking her to a hotel room for some nookie, reminded him that he was a married man, then had Matt and Jeff Hardy attack him.

The actual match was pretty good even if it was entirely predictable.

Busting out the kind of entertaining spots that you’d want from a PPV opener, this fun, fast-paced elimination match obviously came down to just Malenko and Lita.

After a good bit of back-and-forth, the former put the latter in the Texas Cloverleaf and this one was done.

All round, an enjoyable effort, and not just because Terri got involved and flashed her ass at one point.
Your Winner: Dean Malenko

Afterwards, Malenko hurled Lita out of the ring. The Ice Man showed more personality in this one little bit then he had done for his entire career.

Eventually, The Hardyz came to Lita’s aid while Michael Cole got a ringside interview with her.

Clearly in agony, the former women’s champion insisted she could beat Malenko.

Angle is Ready

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Lilian Garcia interviews WWF Champion Kurt Angle
Backstage, Lillian Garcia interrupted Kurt Angle’s workout routine to get an interview.

As excellent as he ever was on the microphone, the WWF Champion admitted that there was no way he could properly prepare to face five other men inside Hell in a Cell, but that he wasn’t worried anyway because he was an Olympic Gold Medalist who was sure to win.

The promo was followed by a flashback to No Way Out 2000, when Triple H backdropped a battered and bloody Cactus Jack through the cage roof to the ring below.

Man, it feels like such a long time ago that I reviewed that show.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion William Regal vs. Hardcore Holly

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - William Regal defended the European Championship against Hardcore Holly
This was a better match than William Regal had with Hardcore Holly’s cousin Crash a week earlier at Rebellion 2000, but it still wasn’t Regal’s finest hour.

Before the match, the European Champion took to the microphone to insult the Alabama crowd, labeling them all as overall-wearing, beastiality-loving rednecks.

He was great at this part, but when Alabama’s own Bob Holly came down and the match got underway, it never really went past being inoffensively decent.

After a short encounter, Raven inexplicably ran in and destroyed Holly with an Even Flow DDT.

The champ capitalized and, one three count later, this was all over.
Your Winner and Still European Champion: William Regal

On Smackdown, Kurt Angle had broken an alliance with HHH and Rikishi by blasting the latter with the world title.

Backstage at Armageddon, ‘Kishi cut a convincing promo in which he told Kevin Kelly that it didn’t matter who else turned on him because he had sacrificed his heart, body, and soul for a shot at the WWF title and would take advantage of that shot tonight.

I may be in the minority, but I enjoyed main event ‘Kishi.

Chyna vs. Val Venis (w/ WWF Women’s Champion Ivory)

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Val Venis bodyslams Chyna in their singles match
Right to Censor were upset with Chyna for appearing in Playboy, so Val Venis was tasked with taking her out in this short, uninteresting match.

I’m usually a fan of Chyna and tend to give her more credit than some reviewers, but there was nothing about this match that made me want to pay attention.

Val won after Ivory interfered.
Your Winner: Val Venis

Post-match, Chyna went to attack Ivory but Venis returned and planted The Ninth Wonder of the World with a powerbomb.

Steph is Scared

Afterward, we once again flashed back to No away Out, where Cactus Jack set a barb-wire wrapped 2x4 on fire and blasted HHH with it.

Back live in the arena, Stephanie McMahon told Vince that she was scared for her husband’s safety in the upcoming main event.

For his part, Vince replied that he’d had enough of Commissioner Foley and would put a stop to him and his actions.

The Animal Within

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - The Undertaker gave a compelling interview to Kevin Kelly
Earlier in the day, The Undertaker met Kevin Kelly inside Hell in a Cell to about his history in the sadistic cage.

Talking about how he felt more like an animal than a human Inside Hell in a Cell, ‘Taker went into graphic, gruesome detail about the violence he’d inflicted on both Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley, and promised to do the same to someone here tonight.

This was excellent stuff that really sold how brutal the Hell in the Cell match was, as well as how wicked the American Bad Ass could be.

Vince Hates the Main Event

With The Stooges by his side, the Chairman of the Board took to the ring to express just how much he was opposed to tonight’s main event.

The backstory here was that Vince didn't want the main event to go ahead because it contained all of his top stars in one violent match. If any of them -or many of them- got injured, then he was down a lot of money.

It was a smart backstory, but despite Vince being a genius on the microphone, he struggled to get that message across, not even in a subtle way.

Last Man Standing Match
Kane vs. Chris Jericho

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Kane puts a submission hold on Chris Jericho in their last man standing match
At Fully Loaded 2000, Chris Jericho was involved in one of the greatest Last Man Standing matches ever against Triple H.

This was nowhere near on a par with that one, but it was still a pretty solid effort by all accounts.

Kane destroyed Jericho, but the plucky Y2J continually found a way to fight back, eventually dropping The Big Red Machine in an awkward table spot before burying him under a stack of fake toxic waste barrels that were made up the set.

At the last possible second, Kane’s arm shot through the barrels but it was too little, too late.

Teddy Long called for the bell and this gripping Last Man Standing match was over.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho

Out in the back, Jonathan Coachman had to get past Debra’s boobs so that he could have a word with Commissioner Foley.

In a good promo, Foley insisted that he knew how dangerous tonight’s main event was, but that he was committed to seeing that it went ahead anyway.

Live from New York, it’s The Heart Break Kid

Dancing around on the stage at WWF New York, Shawn Michaels was asked if he had any advice for tonight’s Hell in a Cell competitors.

Despite being in the first-ever cell match back at Badd Blood 1997, HBK declared that there was nothing he could say as literally anything could happen tonight.

We then flashed back to Hell in a Cell 2 at King of the Ring ‘98, where Undertaker chokeslammed Mick Foley onto some thumbtacks.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship Fatal Fourway Match
WWF Tag Team Champions Right to Censor (Bull Buchanan & The Goodfather w/ Steven Richards) vs. Edge & Christian vs. Road Dogg & K-Kwik vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley)

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - The Dudleyz do 'Wassup' on Edge
This was a solid effort from all involved, even if the first half of the match seemed to matter very little.

Things started with all four teams taking to their corners as in a traditional tag team match.

It was fine, and the actual wrestling that took place during this portion of the match was good enough, but you knew that it would eventually break down into a free-for-all, and so did the crowd.

From very early on, they got loud with their ‘WE WANT TABLES’ chants, making anything going on in the ring seem like it was killing time until they eventually got them.

Inevitably, The Dudley Boyz went through a crowd-popping burst of offense, taking out everyone in their path and reaching under the ring for the furniture.

'I think Bubba Ray’s got wood.....on his mind!’ Yelled JR, who clearly knew what he was doing.

The actual tables never really came into play in the match, but the whole chaotic closing minutes of the match were still very enjoyable.

Eventually, Christian hit Bubba with the Unprettier, Edge made the cover and Right to Censor lost the tag team titles without even being beaten.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - HHH told his wife that the WWF Championship was the most important thing in the world to him. What a jerk.
Backstage, Triple H told his own wife that the WWF Championship was the most important thing in the world to him.

Honestly, with that kind of attitude, it’s a miracle their relationship lasted so long.

The Game then cut a scathing promo in Steph’s face, promising that nothing would stop him from getting the title back tonight.

We then flashed back once again to HHH/Cactus from No Way Out, with Hunter sending Jack crashing off the cage through the announce table.

Curiously, both HHH and Steph had referred to that match as taking place ‘last year,’ even though it had only been in February.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion ‘The One’ Billy Gunn vs. Chris Benoit

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Chris Benoit puts the crossface on Billy Gunn
If you’re the kind of fan who hates Billy Gunn, you’ll probably love this match.

The intercontinental champion got his ass handed to him in what was, admittedly, a thoroughly satisfying contest.

After getting destroyed for most of the contest, The One submitted to the Crippler Crossface snd relinquished his title.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Chris Benoit

And that was about it for Billy Gunn’s push as a major star in the WWF. He’d do nothing of note until Chuck Palumbo turned up, eventually turning up in TNA as The Outlaw and, um...Cute Kip.

100% Coffee Fuelled

Earlier in the day, Stone Cold Steve Austin had hung out in some kind of random kitchen, telling Jim Ross that he’d been drinking coffee all day and was now ready to go stomp a mudhole in his opponents.

Austin didn’t care that Hell in a Cell had shortened Shawn Michael’s career, or that it had ended Foley’s, all he cared about was becoming the champion again.

As all the main event promos had been so far, this was very compelling stuff from Stone Cold.

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Trish Stratus faced Molly Holly and Ivory in a three-way for Ivory's women's championshipWorld Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship Triple Threat
WWF Women’s Champion Ivory vs. Molly Holly vs. Trish

It would be years before the women were putting on matches that consistently rivaled the men’s and tonight was no exception despite having competent workers in the form of Ivory and Molly Holly in there.

This was an incredibly short match that barely lasted more than two minutes.

The actual action was OK for what it was but, really, what can you do in two minutes?

Ivory won. Very few people cared.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Ivory

Afterward, Test and Albert came down to get Molly after she cost Trish the match, but Crash came down and challenged them to a brawl.

This led to the return of the APA, who came after their rivals.

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - The Rock silences Kevin KellyFinally, The Rock has Come Back...to Hell

Backstage, The Rock cut a captivating promo in which he promised Kevin Kelly that he would sweat and bleed and beat everyone’s candy asses when he walked straight into hell to become our six-time WWF Champion.

The Great One was on fire here, and I’m glad he cut a serious promo rather than goofing around for laughs, an approach which only added to the gravitas of our main event.

Six-Man Hell in a Cell for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Kurt Angle vs. Triple H vs. Rikishi vs. The Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

I love HHH’s theme here, by the way, it’s a mix of My Time and The Game, and it sounds epic.

The Undertaker came out to 'Rollin’which was surprising because they had to edit out American Bad Ass on the WWE Network but somehow Limp Bizkit was still ok.

In between them both, Kurt Angle was the third man to make his way to the ring, an odd position given his status as the reigning champion.

Regardless, this match met every exception.

A glorious celebration of pro wrestling violence, the match was essentially a three-act story.

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - The Rock silences Kevin Kelly
In the first act, all six men brawled wildly around the ring until Vince McMahon and The Stooges came down with a flatbed truck carrying a bunch of kennel bedding that you immediately knew somebody would take a bump on later.

McMahon had his cronies attach a chain between the cage door and the truck to rip the door off. The Chairman’s aim was to use the truck to tear down the cage completely, but Foley came down, beat a bunch of people up and had McMahon escorted away by security.

This led to act two, an even wilder, bloodier brawl in which all six men made their way to the junk cars that made up the entrance set and annihilated one another. Everyone except Rikishi got busted open.

It was chaotic, it was fun, and it was as brutally brilliant and brilliantly brutal as you might hope for.

Eventually, the match wound up on the top of the cell where Rikishi almost caved Angle’s skull in with a chair before -somewhat predictably- being the one to take the big bump off the top of the cage to the truck courtesy of an Undertaker chokeslam.

Back in the ring for the final act, only HHH, Angle, The Rock, and Austin remained, and even they could barely stand.

After a gripping climax, Angle barely got a hand on The Rock’s chest to pin him for the three count.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Kurt Angle

Afterward, Austin delivered one last stunner to Angle, but that was all he was capable of.

Battered, bloodied, and absolutely broken, nobody could stand. Nobody could move.

Hell in a Cell had delivered everything the WWF had told us it would.







And that’s why I love this show so much.

From an in-ring standpoint, only the main event stood out as anything special, but man did it ever stand out.

The story throughout the night was that this was one match so brutal and diabolical that it would forever change the lives of those who entered it, and then they came through by really selling us on the fact that it really had done that.

The story and the sell may have been better than most of the matches, but it made for compelling viewing.



For other year 2000 pro wrestling reviews see:
Other WWF Armageddon reviews:
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

GAME REVIEW: WCW Backstage Assault (2000)

Released in the last few years of World Championship Wrestling's existence, WCW Backstage Assault has often been called the worst pro wrestling games ever, if not one of the worst games period.

While the game certainly has an abundance of faults (and we'll get into all of them soon enough), this review could easily be titled In Defence of WCW Backstage Assault because yes, it sucks, but it's also quite fun.

Besides, one of the biggest criticisms levied against the title -that it's a pro wrestling game without an actual pro wrestling ring- seems kind of harsh.

Guys, come on, the game is called Backstage Assault. The whole premise is that WCW's biggest superstars would settle their scores backstage.

Complaining that there's no wrestling ring in a game that's all about what goes on Backstage is like complaining that there are no options to drive a car in Super Awesome Motorcycles 4. That's not what the game is about.

Ah, you say, but that's not the same at all. This is a game about wrestlers wrestling for a wrestling company, it should be a reflect of what an actual wrestling show is/was like at the time.






To that argument, I say that actually, it's a great reflection of what wrestling was like back at the turn of the millenium.

A Reflection of the State of Pro Wrestling 

Seriously, go back and watch WCW programming from the last 18 months of their existence. The company, indeed, wrestling as a whole, did feature a lot of backstage stuff, wild brawls and weapons-based hardcore matches. 

To that end, WCW Backstage Assault was an attempt to showcase that side of the wild and weird world of professional wrestling that we were all seeing on our TV screens a lot more back at the time, and though it didn't quite work, having a game that focused on lockerroom brawls and the like wasn't exactly the crime a lot of critics made it out to be.

Still, even having said all that, there's no escaping the fact that many aspects of this game left a lot to be desired.

Let's dive into it, shall we?

First Impressions



Though the opening video may not be the greatest of all time, it's certainly nothing to scoff at. In place of the usual fast-paced clips of huricanranas, powerbomb and other in-ring offence, this one featured more on hardcore matches and other backstage brawls because, and I feel this is worth repeating, this was a game about FIGHTING BACKSTAGE.

In between all that, we got clips of the terrible hardcore junkyard invitational from Bash at the Beach 1999, as well as clips featuring the likes of Ms. Hancock (Stacy Keibler) and Major Gunns, because, again, this was a fairly good reflection of the sexed-up product that WCW was putting out on television at the time.

From there, things quickly start to go awry as the menu screens look like they were designed by a five year-old on paint, but hey, more of that later.

Roster


This is usually the point where we'd just run through who is in the game, but there's no way we can go any further without talking about how horribly organised the whole roster menu is.

You know on most wrestling games the playable characters are either featured in a straight list that you scroll down (such as in the Smackdown games) or a grid-like formation such as with past WCW games. Here, the folks responsible for designing Backstage Assault decided to try and reinvent the wheel only to come up with a triangle.

I mean, this thing is terrible. Wrestlers are organised into several groups, so you have to scroll left-to-right to choose a group, then scroll up and down to chose wrestlers within that group. 

If that's not frustrating enough, it gets worse by the fact that the groups aren't even organised into any logical sense. Rather than having say, one group for main eventers, another for nWo-affiliated stars and another for cruiserweight, wrestlers seem to have been thrown together at random.

For example, when you first start the game without unlocking any characters, the group 'WCW 1' features Jeff Jarrett and Torrie Wilson, plus a bunch of players you need to unlock. Group 2 features Booker T and Corporal Cajun, so I suppose you could argue a Misfits in Action connection there, but there's also David Flair in this group. 

As for the cast of available characters, there's an interesting mix of starting players.

Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, Hulk Hogan, DDP, Sting and Goldberg are all present and accounted for, as are WCW mainstays like Disco Inferno, Konnan, Madusa, Stevie Ray, Jimmy Hart, and Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker. 

Yet there's also some very curious choices as to who is, and isn't featured in the starting line-up. 

WCW regulars from around this time like Billy Kidman, Buff Bagwell, Chris Kanyon and Vamprio are all featured in the game, but only as unlockable characters. The same goes for stars like Bret Hat and Scott Hall.

Yet, oddly enough, if you'd always dreamed of playing a video game as Doug Dellinger, here was your opportunity. WCW's head of security is a starting character, but Rey Mysterio Jr. isn't.

The most curious addition of all in this starting line-up is Mona, who was already competing in the WWF as Molly Holly by the time this game was released.

Honestly, it's almost as if they picked the starting roster out of a hat.

Create-a-Wrestler 

Once again, this seems like a case of the game developers unnecessarily trying to reinvent the wheel and coming up short. 

Rather than starting from scratch, Backstage Assault gives you several template characters (Punker, Warlock, Biker grrrl and others) that you can tweak and fine-tune to your own liking. To be fair, these pre-set characters do look better than anything this hamfisted writer usually comes up with on his own, but customising them is such a laborious process that I ended up giving up on this section altogether.

Sure, there's a good array of costumes, including alternative attire for the likes of Sting (if you always wanted to be Wolfpac sting, here's your chance), Kevin Nash, and Bret Hart.

There's also some things that are clearly taken from the WWF, such as a mask called 'Hardcore' with is obviously to help you create Mankind character and -just as in WCW Mayhem- an outfit that is exactly the kind of thing Kane would wear.

So far, so cool, but there's no way to change up the position of your created character or the camera angle you view him at so that you can get a better look at how the customised features actually appear.

It's so cumbersome that unless you're really eager to give a punk rock character a Hollywood Hogan beard, you might as well not bother.

Match Types

With this game, you can have any match type you want as long as it's a hardcore brawl in the backstage area. In other words, forget ladder matches, cages, or even tag team matches, this is straight-up one-on-one weaponfests from start to finish.

Not that this in itself is necessarily a bad thing. As we'll get to in a little while, the fights themselves are entertaining enough to make up for the lack of diversity.

Hardcore Gauntlet and Hardcore Challenge 


While this game won't be praised for its variety (or for much of anything else for that point), it does at least throw you a bone by giving you two different challenges to take on.

Hardcore Gauntlet is exactly what it sounds like - it's a gauntlet style match pitting you against seven other competitors with no breathing room in between.

Meanwhile, the Hardcore Challenge is the game's main story/career mode and, for the most part, it's a lot of fun.

OK, so there isn't a lot of variety in terms of what you actually do, and it's basically just having one fight after another, unlocking a variety of hidden wrestlers, moves, venues, and attire to use in the Create-a-Wrestler mode, but things are kept interesting by giving you a whole lot of stuff to unlock and serving up unique challenges in order to unlock it all.

For example, you need to set your opponent on fire (yes, on fire), in order to lock Vampiro, while jumping off a truck in one match will unlock something else and using different weapons in different fights will also unlock specific things.

The only problem is that there's so much to unlock that you'll find yourself playing the game forever if you want to uncover all of the game's hidden treasures. Still, it's enjoyable enough to play that if you really had nothing better to do, you could easily waste a day getting through it all.

Game Play


Other reviewers have criticized Backstage Assault for its lack of intuitive controls (three different strike buttons and one grapple button that you can use for a limited number of other moves), the lag that often occurs between pressing a button and the resulting move actually being performed on the screen, and the wild camera angles that suddenly change without warning or logic. 

You know what? I agree with all of those complaints. From a purely technical point, the gameplay sucks.

But...here's the thing...

Once you get used to how everything works, working through the game, particularly in Hardcore Gauntlet mode, actually proves to be pretty entertaining.

Though this could easily just turn into "pick up a weapon and bludgeon your opponent with it until you win," the game encourages and rewards creativity. 

For example, you get more points the more different moves you try, and those points result in more unlockables, and positive things tend to happen when you rip phones and kitchen sinks off the walls and waffle your opponents with them. 

OK, so it's not particualrly difficult to beat your opponent even on hard mode, but again, there's enough stuff to play around with to ensure that the whole game is way moe enjoayble than it might first appear.

Speaking of appearances...

Graphics 


Make no mistake about it, this game looks like somebody's arse.

As much as this game is an absolute guilty pleasure for me, even I can't defend how utterly horrible it looks.

I know it's 20 years old, but even compared to other games that were out around this time, the whole thing is a mess. The backgrounds and menu screens are muddy and fuzzy and the wrestlers are a crime against design.

If it wasn't for the attire they were wearing, you'd often have no idea who was who. Sid, Chris Candido, and Ric Flair, for example, are just three carbon-copy blonde dudes who look almost identical. The only way to tell them apart is that Sid is slightly bigger than the other two and Flair wears green trunks.

Meanwhile, Scott Steiner looks like an old man, and the woman are, quite frankly, an abomination, and whoever is responsible for them should be forever ashamed.

Visually, the only time this game shines is with its entrance videos. Before each match, the competitors' entrance music (or a stock theme) plays over clips of them performing or generally larking about.

It's a pretty cool touch, but even that doesn't make up for how horrendous the graphics are on this thing.

Music and Commentary 

Last but not least, the one area where this game does come into its own is the audio. 

As in Mayhem, commentary is provided by Tony Schiavone and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and is generally very well done.

OK, so if you play the game for a long time you start to hear certain soundbites repeated, but for the most part, the commentary remains relevant, clever, and timely.

Meanwhile, most of the stars have their actual entrance music, or at least a Jimmy Hart Version of it (which is ironic since most WCW themes were JHVs of other songs to begin with). 

Final Impressions 

I'll be honest with you: 

I bought a copy of this game off eBay for the sole purpose of reviewing it for this blog, expecting to hate it just as much as everybody said I would.

Yet while I admit that it looks like ass and can be frustrating in parts, I actually found the whole process of going round setting people on fire, and hitting them with trashcans to be a lot of fun.

WCW Backstage Assault may be just about the worst professional wrestling game of all time, but for this plan, it's a pure guilty pleasure.



Thanks for reading. For more reviews of retro pro wrestling games, shows, and more, follow RPW on Twitter or like the Facebook page here. 


More WWE Wrestling games from Retro Pro Wrestling. 

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.