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 Quebecers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quebecers. Show all posts

Thursday, 2 August 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Event poster
February 15th, 1998,
Compaq Center, Houston, Texas

Back in the day, the 20th instalment of the In Your House franchise was always called No Way Out until somebody pointed out that those initials spelt NWO, and that the NWO was, of course, the reason why WCW were kicking the World Wrestling Federation's ass every which way but west. 

Not wishing to promote the competition, the WWF braintrust quickly scrambled for a name change.

The  event became No Way Out of Texas, and was the last major stop on the road to Wrestlemania 14.

Here's what went down as the company began shaping the storylines that would deliver our marquee matches for the biggest event of the year.

The Renegades Are in Charge 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Our show tonight began with the usual video package, this one telling us that whilst the road to glory often meant  making sacrifices and generally being a good guy fighting for what's right, renegades like Stone Cold Steve Austin, the New Age Outlaws, Cactus Jack, and Chainsaw Charlie had managed to make it to the top by being defiant, crazy, and a bunch of badasses.

Tonight, we'd see all those men, and more, at No Way Out of Texas.

That took us to the opening pyro, shots of a truly rabid crowd, and a welcome from Jim Ross.

Ross informed us that Shawn Michaels wouldn't be competing in tonight's big eight Man main event (he was recuperating from the injury he suffered when he landed awkwardly on the casket in a match with The Undertaker at Royal Rumble 98) and that because that match was likely to be so intense, it had also been turned into an anything-goes, no holds barred affair.

JR's broadcast colleague, Jerry 'The King' Lawler added that D-Generation-X would have a hard time finding any replacement on the same level of HBK (and man, would they ever!), and with that, it was onto our opening match.

Marvellous Marc Mero & The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/ Luna Vachon) vs. The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher)

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Goldust and Luna Vachon
The ever-stunning Sable had accompanied Marc Mero to the ring but, playing up the heel gimmick in which he was supposedly jealous of his wife's popularity, Mero had sent her to the back, claiming that there was only room for one beautiful woman at ringside, and Luna Vachon was it.

Meanwhile, Luna's man The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust was supposed to be imitating Marilyn Manson, but actually bore an uncanny resemblance to Manson's on-again-off-again bassist, Twiggy Ramirez.

Together, Mero and MansonDust teamed up to take on Mosh and Thrasher in a match which, fun though it was, existed solely to serve as a backdrop to the rivalry between Sable and Luna.

After an enjoyable opener which saw Thrasher get busted open (Attitude Era = Blood), Sable returned to the ring to resume the argument she'd been having with Luna before the match (and on that week's episode of Raw).

This distracted Mero and MansonDust, who had actually been getting on quite well in some kind of Odd Couple double act.

The distraction allowed the Headbangers to do the old-switcharoo and win the match, not that anybody cared, or even noticed.
Your Winners: The Headbangers 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Sable challenges Luna to a fight
They didn't notice because all eyes were firmly on Sable, and just Sable, not even Luna who she was mad at, just Sable.

We got ample shots of the irate beauty yelling at someone off camera, as if having the two in the same shot would somehow diminish Sable's sex appeal (which is dumb anyway, Luna was weirdly hot in her time).

Eventually, she got her hands on Vachon, only for a gaggle of officials to break it up.

Finally, Mero got in Sable's face, but she shoved him flat on his ass and sent him packing to end a fun first 20 minutes of the show.

Owen Hart Answers A Different Question 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Owen Hart threatened to bust HHH's leg
Backstage, Michael Cole asked European Champion Owen Hart how he was going to co-exist with Stone Cold Steve Austin after the two had endured a bitter rivalry the previous year, complete with Owen breaking Austin's neck at Summerslam 1997 and then losing the Intercontinental Championship to him at Survivor Series 1997.

Owen responded by answering a different question entirely and telling Cole that he didn't give a damn who D-Generation-X picked as their partner tonight.

Finally getting to the question at hand, Hart tole Austin that as long as they stayed out of each other's way, they'd be fine.

To finish, he then turned his attention back to Hunter Hearst Helmsley, telling the DX member that when the two met in the ring, he was going to 'bust [his] legs,' which I suppose is a step up from kicking his leg out of his leg.

Sunny is Here 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Sunny was the guest ring announcer
Looking pretty in pink, the ever-delightful Sunny came down to the ring to provide guest commentary for our next match.

I care not what you say, nobody was hotter than Sunny back in the day.

World Wrestling Federation Light Heavyweight Championship
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku vs. Pantera 

With nary a Cowboy From Hell in sight, Pantera wore his best dollar store leggings and cheap zebra print leotard to challenge Taka Michinoku for the Light Heavyweight Championship.

Despite almost nobody in the entire audience caring, both champ and challenger did their best to entertain, though sadly all their efforts were overshadowed by guest commentator Brian Christopher. 

At first stopping by to claim that Michinoku had cheated when he beat him for the title at In Your House 19: D-Generation-X, Christopher was obnoxious in a way that I'm sure wasn't part of his heel persona, and was so distracting that it was hard o pay attention to what was going on in the ring.

Then he started breaking out the casual racism, making random references to tacos when talking about Mexican Pantera (who was actually supposed to be his ally), and then -I kid you not- calling Taka 'slant-eyed.'

The match went on with hardly anyone paying attention until Taka hit the Michinoku Driver to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku

Post-match, Brian wanted to attack the champ, but when his daddy tried to stop him, Taka flew off the top rope to the outside and levelled them both.

The Lawler boys then tried to attack, but Michinoku ran off thro. CNN know

Cactus & Funk Are Ready For a Fight

Out in the back, Cactus Jack and Terry Funk were talking to Kevin Kelly for America Online.

In a fumbling non-promo, the two repeated each other's claims that they didn't care who the eighth man was going to be in the main event, they were going to beat up everybody anyway.

Right on.

The Quebecers (Jacques Rougeau & Pierre Laffite) vs. The Godwins (Henry & Phineas Godwin)

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The Godwins beat The Quebecers in a horrible match
Having recently returned to the World Wrestling Federation The Quebecers looked far worse than the last time they'd appeared together on a WWF PPV, which was several years ago at Wrestlemania 10.

They even looked worse than the last time they'd appeared on a WCW PPV, a little more recently at World War 3 1996, when they were known as The Amazing French Canadians.

Sadly, there was nothing amazing about them in this match.

Sure, they could still pull off some nice looking moves, but their contest with The Godwins, born of a recent rivalry played out on Shotgun Saturday Night, just sucked the life out of the arena.

After a whole bunch of blandness, Henry Godwin clotheslined Pierre from the outside and Phineas got the win.
Your Winners: The Godwins

Afterwards, The Godwins hit The Quebecers over their heads with buckets for good measure.

The New Age Outlaws Aren't Getting Any Respect

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The New Age Outlaws interviewed by Doc Hendrix
The running story throughout tonight's show was the mystery of who would be replacing Shawn Michaels in tonight's big eight-man main event.

Would it be somebody returning like Sycho Sid? A brand new superstar?

Nobody knew, and that was part of the excitement.

Next, Doc Hendrix tried to solve that mystery once and for all by asking The New Age Outlaws who the mystery man was.

To Doc's dismay, and the Outlaws' frustration, they didn't know either, and had actually assumed that Hendrix had called them out to tell them who the eighth man was.

Pissed off that they'd been left out of the decision-making process, the tag team Champions went off to get some respect, presumably from Triple H.

I know what you're thinking...

I'm not a real athlete, I'm just a wrestler...

Remember those PSAs? I do, my friend and I used to quote it to each other all the time.

Anyway, we got one next, so that was a fun trip down memory lane.

National Wrestling Alliance North American Championship
NWA North American Champion Jeff Jarrett (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Bradshaw

Jeff Jarrett had originally come to the ring not only with Jim Cornette (making his first PPV appearance as a manager since Survivor Series 96) but also fellow NWA stablemates Barry Windham and The Rock 'n' Roll Express.

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Jeff Jarrett defended the NWA North American title against Bradshaw
The referee had ordered those three backstage, leaving us with a reasonably good one-on-one match.

Like a lot of undercard matches in the history of pro wrestling, this one wasn't going to set the world on fire, but it was decent outing that was probably the best match Bradshaw had been involved in since he joined the WWF.

In the end, Jarrett waffled the challenger with Cornette's tennis racket to lose the match but keep the title.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Bradshaw (Jeff Jarrett retains the title)

Post-match, Bradshaw took out Jarrett and The Rock and Roll Roll Express with the tennis racket, but Barry Windham tripped him up and the numbers game got too much for Bradshaw.

That's when long-time NWA mainstays The Legion of Doom ran in to make the save and bring this fun part of the show to a close.

Triple H Makes it a Handicap Match

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Michael Cole interviews Triple H (w/ Chyna)
Proving that he could indeed take the reigns as head of DX in the absence of Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley cut a compelling promo in which he claimed that, because nobody was capable of filling Shawn Michaels' shoes, he wasn't picking a partner and had decided that tonight's main event would be a handicap match.

Michael Cole then informed Hunter that WWF officials were probably going to put someone in the match anyway, which was a good way to defer the blame for the eventual pick away from HHH.

The Rock Over Shadows Farooq

Backstage, Doc Hendrix interviewed The Nation of Domination about their upcoming 'War of Attrition' with Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, and the Disciples of Apocalypse.

Whilst Nation leader Farooq took the microphone to yell at Doc, The Rock gurned and posed for the camera and was genuinely hilarious.

If for nothing else, this show is worth tracking down for this segment - Rock was hysterical.

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The Rock poses during a Nation of Domination interviewWar of Attrition
The Nation of Domination (Farooq, D'Lo Brown, Mark Henry, Kama Mustafa, and WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock) vs. Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, Chainz, Skull, and 8-Ball

When they called it a 'War of Attrition' that didn't mean there was any kind of special stipulation going on; it was just a way to sell a big ass tag match in the same way that WCW used to sell matches by calling them 'Super Special Grudge Match' or the like.

Still, as matches go, this was at least an exciting one, with exactly the right combination of star power, heated rivalries, and solid action.

After an explosive contest that proved to be a surprise highlight of the evening, Shamrock slapped Rocky in the ankle lock to win the match.
Your Winners: Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, and the DOA

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The Rock yells at Farooq after their match
Afterwards, Rock yelled at Farooq and Farooq took out his frustrations by hitting D'Lo Brown. D'Lo then wanted to get at Farooq but the whole thing was diffused by Kama and Henry - clearly interesting times were ahead for The Nation of Domination.

Austin is a Babyface 

Out in the back, Michael Cole interviewed Stone Cold Steve Austin who, like all three of his teammates, claimed he didn't care if there was an eighth man.

He then cut the closest thing he'd come to a proper babyface promo so far when he said that even though it was 'fun to whip someone's ass anywhere in the world,' it was even better in his home state of Texas.

That took us back to Ross and Lawler, who claimed to have one of Steve Austin's kindergarten report cards.

Even though it was clearly just a blank piece of card, the two claimed that it said Austin didn't play well with others, even as a child.

Next, we got a special video package looking at the rivalry between Vader and Kane.

That match was next.

Vader vs. Kane (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Kane vs. Undertaker
After making his debut by attacking brother The Undertaker at Badd Blood: In Your House 18, Kane had been on the warpath, destroying everyone in his path and even locking The Undertaker in a casket which he set on fire at the 1998 Royal Rumble,

With The Dead Man presumed gone, Kane had next turned his attention to Paul Bearer's former charge, Vader.

The match was mostly dull with flashes of excitement, especially at the finish.

Kane popped up from a Vader moonsault, got blasted with a fire extinguisher and powerbombed, but popped up again and landed a big tombstone piledriver for the win.
Your Winner: Kane

In the aftermath, Kane pulled a wrench from under the ring and smashed Vader in the face with it.

The attack was so bad that Vader had to be wheeled out on a stretcher.

After quickly telling us about Wrestlemania 14, Jim Ross told us that Vader's face had been caved in.

He and Lawler also confirmed Michael Cole's earlier suggestion that the WWF would indeed select a partner for Team DX

Non-Sanctioned, Anything Goes Eight-Man Tag Team Match
Stone Cold Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, and WWF European Champion Owen Hart vs. Triple H, Savio Vega, and WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Bad Ass Billy Gunn and Road Dogg Jesse James) w/ Chyna

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Eight Man main event (the mystery man was Savio Vega)
And so after all the hype, all the mystery and suspense, the mystery eighth man was revealed to be Savio Vega.

I remember at the time what an enormous feeling of disappointment we all felt with what has to be the most underwhelming selection of a replacement, and you cave still tell what a let down it was watching it even years later.

You know what I don't get?

How come the World Wrestling Federation were able to decide that this was an unsanctioned match - meaning they had nothing to do with it, yet could still force an eighth man in there and have one of their referees officiate it?

Explain that to me, oh Mighty Lords of Kayfabe.

Anyway, with the bad guys all in the ring, Owen Hart came down followed by Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack, all three of whom littered the ring with weapons before Austin blew the roof off the place with his entrance.

With that, the match was on.

Things started with a wild, weapon-filled brawl that was out of control in the worst sense of the word.

Sure it had some fun spots, but trying to watch eight men have four different fights at once gets to be confusing.

Thankfully, things did 'settle down' into your standard tag match (albeit one filled with weapons and barbed wire) and turned out to be a hugely enjoyable main event.

The heels dominated proceedings, with Owen Hart constantly trying to come to his teammate's rescue and Austin launching a trash can at Billy Gunn in a truly beautiful spot. Then, after getting wrapped up in barbed wire, Cactus Jack made the tag to Stone Cold, who cleaned house and stunned Road Dogg to win the match.
Your Winners: Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, and Owen Hart

Afterwards, Chyna confronted Austin and goaded him into giving her a Stone Cold Stunner to send the crowd home even happier than they already were.

And so the Road to Wrestlemania turned it io a gear with what proved to be a hot main event which capped off a truly mixed bag of a show.
Next stop, Wrestlemania 14.

Apart from that big eight-man match, there was nothing here that really stood out as being anything remarkable, but enough reasonably entertaining stuff (the opening tag match and the Nation/Team Shamrock stuff) that stopped it from being a one match show.

1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 10

WWF/ WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Event poster
March 20, 1994
Madison Square Garden, New York

The World Wrestling Federation, which returned to Madison Square Garden for Wrestlemania X in 1994, was an entirely different entity than the one which had kick-started the group's rise to prominence in the same building only nine years earlier. 

Gone were the halcyon days of the rock 'n' wrestling connection, Hulkamania and Lord Alfred Hayes, replaced instead by a company struggling to recompose itself in the wake of The Steroid Trial and a mass exodus of the company's biggest stars. 

Whereas 1993 mainly bridged the gap between the old and the new, 1994 really was the year that the New Generation really came into its own, with the tenth Wrestlemania serving as a showcase of things to come.

Here's what went down.

Wrestlemania Rewind

Our show opened with a sentimental look back at Wrestlemania I in 1985, complete with overly-soppy music and slow-mo visuals, before the modern era took over with tonight's opening graphics and a theme tune that most newer fans think of as Linda McMahon's signature track, but which to this writer will always be the definitive Wrestlemania theme.

The camera panned over a rambunctious crowd, eventually finding Vince McMahon in the center of the ring, trademark growl in tow, welcoming everyone to the show.

With the ring surrounded by a choir whose outfits were as bright red as McMahon's bow tie, the WWF Chairman introduced our first special guest for the evening, Marc Mero.

Oh no, wait. That's the actual Little Richard, who treated New York fans to an admittedly decent rendition of America the Beautiful. 

With that out of the way, McMahon introduced his co-host for the evening, Jerry 'The King' Lawler. Basking in the glow of MSG, Lawler enthused about watching Yokozuna leave the arena still WWF Champion.

Brother against Brother

McMahon then introduced us to a recap video, in which Todd Pettengil reminded us of the saga between Bret and Owen Hart, starting at Survivor Series 1993, taking us via the 1994 Royal Rumble and eventually bringing us to tonight, where a recently-turned Rocket finally got his chance to square off against The Hitman.

'The Rocket' Owen Hart vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
Yes, this match really was as good as you've heard.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Owen Hart battled his brother Bret in a classic opening match

Starting off in the early going with Owen countering his brother's every attempt at asserting himself, this one very quickly ascended into the all-time classic fans still rave about some 20 years later.

With McMahon and Lawler divided over which brother was 'ahead on points,' Bret eventually got the better of his brother with a stiff clothesline to the outside.

The Hitman continued with a couple of near falls, and a series of armbars straight out of Chris Jericho's Man of 1004 holds playbook. It wasn't long before Owen regained the advantage, abandoning the technical wrestling approach employed in the early moments and attacking his older sibling on the outside.

Back and forth they went, each man taking turns to punish the other in a thrilling contest well deserving of its five-star status.

Towards the climax, Bret dove over the top rope onto Owen yet damaged his knee in the process. Back inside the ring, The Rocket took advantage by kicking Bret's leg out of his leg again and working over the injured knee, but still, the resilient Hitman battled on.

Eventually making a comeback, The Hitman took control, shooting his brother face-first into the corner and dropping a leg for a two count. A bulldog and a piledriver followed, yet when Hart attempted a victory roll from the top rope, the younger Hart countered, pinning the former champion's shoulders to the mat for a three count.

From build-up to execution, all the way to the dramatic finale, this was a practically flawless match that transformed Owen Hart into a bonafide star.
Your Winner: Owen Hart

Backstage, Owen Hart, complete with an ugly glob of spit plastered to his cheek, fluffed another promo as he basked in his victory and doubted Bret's chances of winning the title later on in the show.

In another Wrestlemania flashback, Gorilla Monsoon reminded us of the near-disaster that was Wrestlemania II.

Howard's Hair

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Howard Finkle got a new head of hair

Given the WWF's youth-orientated output at the time, our next segment was bizarre, to say the least. Sy Sperling, president of the hair restoration company Hair Club for Men, introduced his latest client, Howard Finkle.

Sporting a spiffy new wig, Finkle looked so delighted with the new faux-do that he failed to remember his cue in introducing our next match.

Mixed Tag Team Match: 
Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon vs. Doink & Dink

There's much to suggest that this would be a pretty terrible outing, but that was actually far from the case.

Employing the usual mix-tag rules that saw Doink squaring off with Bam Bam and his mini-me partner battling Luna, this was actually a fun little bout that got better when the former duo were leading the action. Dink and Luna played their parts well too, and though this was far from a must-see attraction, the short time frame and smart booking did make it at least enjoyable.

The heels won when Bam Bam planted the clown with a flying headbutt for a three count.
Your Winners: Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon

Bridging the gap between matches, Gorilla Monsoon took us back to Wrestlemania III, and the memorable showdown between Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant.

Falls Count Anywhere Match:
'Macho Man' Randy Savage vs. Crush (w/ Mr. Fuji)

As a ten-year-old boy, I thought this match was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. It was so different, so unique, so awesome.

Now, as a 30-year-old man who really should be doing something better with his life than watching pro wrestling, I view Savage vs. Crush in an altogether different light.

Perhaps your jaded reviewer is just much more cynical in his old age, but this one really didn't age well.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Randy Savage hangs Crush upside down in their Last Man Standing Match

With brief bursts of high-impact brawling interspersed with nothing happening at all, Wrestlemania's first Falls Count Anywhere was far from either man's finest hour.

Eschewing the rules of your usual arena-wide skirmish, this one had the added plot device of a wrestler having 60 seconds to return to the ring after being pinned. If he made it, the match would continue. Thus, we had as much time in which one man waited patiently for the return of the other as we did any actual wrestling taking place.

Gradually making their way backstage, Crush (who looked more like he was back in Demolition than at any other time in his solo run), was eventually pinned by the Macho Man. A throng of curious onlookers then watched as Savage tied up his opponent in a weird, ominous device that looked as though its sole purpose was to hang a pro wrestler upside down.

Since Crush was unable to make it back to the ring in the allotted time, Randy Savage won his final WWF match.
Your winner: Macho Man Randy Savage

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - 'Bill Clinton' enjoyed the show with IRS

In another weird skit, Todd Pettengill interviewed a Bill Clinton look-alike as I.R.S sat behind Mr. President. With the mic then thrust in his face, Irwin told The Toddster that he was delighted to be helping out the big man with his taxes. Alrighty then.

A brief respite then came in the form of a look back at that weekend's Fan Axxess event, where fans could enjoy such festivities as having Mike Chioda deliver a three-count as you pinned your brother, getting your photo taken inside a coffin with Paul Bearer and appearing on camera with Captain Lou Albano.

Back to Wrestlemania, Randy Savage claimed that we hadn't seen anything yet, before diving into the crowd at Madison Square Garden's Paramount theatre, were more fans were watching the action on close-circuit TV.

This took us to another Wrestlemania flashback, this time the Macho Man's WWF title win at Wrestlemania IV.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship Match:
WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze vs. Leilani Kai

As far as I can tell, challenger Leilani Kai was the only active competitor to wrestle in a match at both Wrestlemania 1 and Wrestlemania 10.

Here, she put up a valiant effort against reigning champion Alundra Blayze in a short match that was enjoyable whilst it happened and then instantly forgettable once it was over.

Since the whole return of the WWF women's division was built to revolve around the woman once known as Madusa, it should come as no surprise that Blayze retained her title, using a bridging German suplex as her weapon of choice.
Your winner and still WWF Women's Champion: Alundra Blaze

As Alundra celebrated her victory, cameras cut to ringside, where former champion The Fabulous Moolah was seen watching on alongside notable veterans such as Mae Young and Nikolai Volkoff.

Another recap followed as Monsoon took us back to Wrestlemania IV and that weird, overly-long segment featuring Roddy Piper, Brother Love, and that guy with the cigarette.

Whoomp! There's Rhonda! 

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Shawn Michaels and Burt Reynolds

After Men on a Mission's rabble-rousing entrance in anticipation of their upcoming tag title clash against The Quebecers, Todd Pettengill was shown backstage with some woman called Rhonda Sheer, who fawned over Shawn Michaels. 

That was until Burt Reynolds turned up, and she turned her attention to him instead.

Burt then told us that he wanted to go to Fanfest. Apparently, nobody told him it had already ended.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Quebecers (Jaques and Pierre w/ Johnny Polo) vs. Men on a Mission (Mabel and Mo w/ Oscar)

An entertaining bout from the outset, all four men did their best with what they had to put on a good show that really rejuvenated the New York crowd.

There was little to this match to make it stand out from any other countless tag team encounters, with Mo playing the babyface-in-peril to the Quebecer's nefarious heels, before big, bad Mabel eventually made the hot tag and began bullying everybody with his bulk.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - 20 years before Daniel Bryan, Johnny Polo began his own Wrestlemania "YES! YES! YES!" chant

A true highlight came when the champions managed to lift the massive Mabel up for a double suplex. This drew a loud roar from the crowd whilst, on the outside, manager Johnny Polo predated Daniel Bryan by 20 years and burst into his own chant of YES! YES! YES!.

Men on a Mission eventually won the match by countout, and celebrated with the tag team titles afterward as though they'd won the things. Polo tried to get the babyfaces to give the belts back, but they completely ignored him. Intentional or not, that was pretty funny.
Your winners via countout: Men on a Mission (Quebecers retain the tag team titles)

Off to Wrestlemania VI next, and the Champion vs. Champion match between Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. Weird since I don't believe either man was on great terms with the company at the time.

Special Guest Celebrities

In the run-up to our first title match, our special guest celebrities were introduced. Rhonda Sheer was our special guest timekeeper, and Mark Wahlberg's older brother would be our ring announcer. Oh, Curt Hennig showed up to the referee, too.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Match
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. Lex Luger
Special Guest Referee: Mr. Perfect

In the opening moments of the match, nothing happened. I mean, literally, nothing. Lex Luger walked around the ring whilst Yokouna got himself ready to compete, and Mr. Perfect kind of looked on, uninterested.

Eventually, champ and challenger met in the center of the ring, exchanging verbal taunts and open-handed slaps before brawling to the outside.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Lex Luger battled Yokozuna for the WWF title

Back in the ring, Luger took to the top rope, nailing his opponent with an admittedly impressive flying crossbody.

What transpired from there was a match every bit as good as it could be given who was involved. Not a classic by any means, but a solid championship match in which both competitors played their roles well.

After absorbing some brutal punishment from the champion, Luger fought back with gusto, eventually knowing down Yoko for what would have been a three count had Perfect not suddenly turned heel.

With both Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji laying prone in the ring at the hands of Luger, Perfect ignored Lex's pin attempt and instead focussed on reviving the two managers. Understandably aggrieved, Luger grabbed Perfect's shirt to get his attention. 

That was the last straw for the corrupt official, who promptly disqualified Luger.
Your winner by disqualification and still WWF Champion: Yokozuna

'Listen to this crowd, they know exactly how they feel about that result,' exclaimed Vince McMahon, as the New York crowd erupted with a very loud, very clear chant of BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Mr. Perfect was the special referee for Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna

Bullshit, it may have been, but it was an exciting ending to a good match and culminated in Luger confronting Perfect backstage.

Another look back to years past, this time we saw the terrible blindfold match from Wrestlemania VII between Jake Roberts and Rick Martel.

Adam Bomb vs. Earthquake

So, here's what happened:

Howard Finkle introduced Adam Bomb's manager, Harvey Wippleman. Wippleman stole the microphone and berated Finkle with a series of very grownup insults, including 'Big nose, monkey face, and banana nose.'

Wippleman then tore Finkle's tuxedo, causing Fink to push Harvey on his butt. Adam Bomb himself then came to his manager's aid and grabbed Finkle by the throat. Earthquake took Bomb to the floor, sat on him, and pinned him.

That was that. Not much point in it, I'll give you that, but it was a distraction from the more serious bouts at least.
Your winner: Earthquake

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Jim Cornette cut an awesome promo on behalf of WWF Champion Yokozuna

Backstage, Pettengill met with WWF Champion Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji, and Jim Cornette. 'Yokozuna is still the champion, and that's all you need to know petting zoo.' said Cornette before cutting a scathing promo against Bret Hart. It was, as you might expect, pretty awesome.

A Wrestlemania VIII flashback took us to Indianapolis and an appearance from The Undertaker.

Obviously, there would be no Undertaker appearance this year, what with him dying at the Royal Rumble and everything.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match:
WWF Champion Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (w/ Diesel) 

In another major highlight on an all-around entertaining show, Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels took it right to each other in the early going, both men seemingly desperate to declare themselves as the true Intercontinental Champion.

Following a squabble with referee Earl Hebner, Michaels' bodyguard Diesel was expelled to the lockerroom in the early going, leaving both men to after the vacant championship in an utterly gripping contest that delivered on all levels.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 10 - Razor Ramon makes his way to the ring for an epic ladder match against Shawn Michaels

With thrilling spots and action aplenty, Michaels/Razor 1 was rivaled only by the earlier Hart/Hart encounter in vying for the honor of match of the night, if not the year.

Giving it absolutely everything they had, the two Kliq buddies produce a great match which ultimately ended when Michaels took a tumble off the ladder and got his foot caught in the ropes, giving The Bad Guy ample time to scale the rungs and retrieve the belt.
Your winner and New WWF Intercontinental Champion: Razor Ramon

Up next, we were supposed to have a big tag team match. Backstage, the heel contingent, consisting of Rick Martel, I.R.S., Jeff Jarrett, and The Headshrinkers, couldn't agree on who would be the team captain, which apparently meant we wouldn't be having the match at all.

Back out in the arena, Ted Dibiase told Bill Clinton that everybody had a price for the Million Dollar Man.

Our final Wrestlemania rewind of the evening brought us the World's Largest Toga Party at Wrestlemania IX, and Bret Hart getting shafted out of the WWF title.

A great video package recounting The Hitman's rise to the top of the WWF, and his subsequent feud with Yokozuna, led us nicely into our main event of the evening.

Special guest Schlebs

Before the actual action began, we got our special guest time keeper, some blonde from Beverley Hills 90210, and our special guest ring announcer, Mr. Bruce Reynolds himself.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 10 - Razor Ramon makes his way to the ring for an epic ladder match against Shawn Michaels

Receiving a thunderous ovation from the MSG faithful, Rowdy Roddy Piper was introduced as our special guest referee.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Match:
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Having scraped by an earlier challenge from Lex Luger thanks to nefarious shenanigans from Mr. Perfect, Yoko returned to the front line to do battle with fan-favorite Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

Like a true pro, Bret sold his leg injury from earlier in the evening all the way through this enjoyable championship clash.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 10 - Yokozuna charges at Bret Hart in their main event match

Once again, the champion dominated, but there was to be no repeat of their main event a year earlier. This time, Hart came up with the win after Yoko, still dizzy from the challenger's offence, fell off the top rope in attempting his Banzai Drop. Bret made the cover, Piper made the count, and we had a new WWF Champion.
Your winner and NEW WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart 

Celebrating in the ring, Hart was soon joined by a visibly disappointed Lex Luger, along with Randy Savage and other top babyfaces, who celebrated with the new champion as the show went off the air.

And so we reached the end of the show, but the beginning of a whole new era in the World Wrestling Federation. With Owen Hart emerging as a true star, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon significantly raising their stock, and The Hitman leading the charge, things were looking promising for fans. 
An all-round good show with few, if any, major duds, only the opening Hart Brothers clash and the IC Title ladder match are real must-see matchups, but this was by far one of the better Wrestlemanias the company had produced so far, and is a pretty enjoyable watch from start to finish. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1994

January 22, 1994

Providence Civic Center, Providence, Rhode Island

For this writer, 1994 was an interesting time for the World Wrestling Federation. Sandwiched somewhere between the dying days of Hulkamnia's Last Hoorah! and the dawning of the fully-fledged New Generation Era, '94 nonetheless produced its own memorable moments.

As the first full calendar year with no Hulk Hogan on the WWF schedule, it was a time for stars like Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels and Kevin 'Diesel' Nash to take center stage.

Ushering in this final break-away from the superstars of old, the 1994 Royal Rumble set the precedent for the kind of action, angles and over-the-top drama that would form the nucleus of the year ahead.

Here's what went down.

Welcome to the show
We were brought into a nice, tidy little graphic introduction, complete with cheesy music that wouldn't have sounded good in 1984, never mind 1994, Just when you thought Vince McMahon's trademark Welcome every-wannnn growl would be absent, there it comes, bang on cue, as Vinny Mac, resplendent in a cheap tuxedo and red bow-tie, sets his stall as our lead play-by-play man for the show.

'And tonight I'll be joined by...' began McMahon, feigning surprise as the familiar evil-laughter of Ted Dibiase cackled through the PA, and The Million Dollar Man himself made his way ring side to join the boss on commentary.

'Well, I wasn't expecting this,' lied Vince.

Dibiase talked about how much money he had before hinting that 'You [Vince] could be working for me,'

'Well that is a laugh,' quipped the WWF owner.  With that out of the way then, it was down to our opening match.

Tatanka vs. Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon) 
WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Tatanka faced old rival Bam Bam Bigelow

Picking up their old 1993 feud (which saw them clash in an entertaining six man tag at Summerslam 1993), arch rivals Tatanka and Bam Bam Bigelow clashed in a decent, if somewhat slow, opening encounter.

As the story goes, this was supposed to be the concluding chapter in the Native American's latest storyline with Evil Foreign Dude, Ludvig Borga. Alas, Borga suffered an injury shortly before the event and had to bow out, never to be seen on WWF TV again.

That's probably just as well. As nice as it would have been to see Tatanka and Borga end things properly, Bigelow was a far superior competitor who managed to carve out a much better match with Tatanka than the rather limited Borga would have been able to.

Think this one was pretty boring? Well, it was, in places, but think about how much worse it could've been with Borga in Bigelow's place.

Tatanka picked up the win in under 5 minutes with an impressive flying cross-body from the top rope.
Your winner: Tatanka

Up next, we got a recap of the ongoing saga between Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and his brother, Owen Hart.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Bret and Owen Hart put up a united front before their title match against The Quebecers

Starting with The Hart Brothers' Survivor Series 1993 victory over Shawn Michaels and His Knights, in which 'The Rocket' was the only Hart eliminated, and moving on to Bret refusing the challenge of his brother to a 'fight, we then skipped right to the two siblings having kissed and made up, and cutting a promo about winning the tag team titles.

Though we didn't find out exactly how or why everything was rosy in the Hart family again, the promo itself was actually pretty fun, with Bret convinced that everything was fine again and smarmy younger brother Owen putting himself over in true heel fashion. Watching this back now, it's hard to believe how gullible The Hitman could have been.

After a quick reminder that The Quebecers lost, and then regained, the tag team titles in a couple of matches against the makeshift tandem of Marty Jannetty & The 123 Kid, we then got a 'live' promo, again from the Brothers Hart, conducted by none other than our old buddy, Todd Pettengill. 

This time, Bret confessed to being overly confident about winning the tag team titles from The Quebecers, and promised to offer shots to everyone, including The One Two Three Key. For his part, The Rocket, who's later promo gaff would go on to become the stuff of legend, promised Bret that 'I'm going to make you proud of you,' and confirmed that we would have new champions.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Quebecers (Jacques and Pierre w/ Johnny Polo) vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and 'The Rocket' Owen Hart
'I don't think tonight is gonna be the night for the Bret Brothers,' quipped Ted Dibiase, continuing the theme of anything Hart-related coming complete with verbal faux-pas a plenty.

Still, as Johnny Polo (better known to most fans as ECW icon Raven) watched his men defend the titles, the four competitors in the ring put on a thrilling tag team championship match.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Owen Hart kicked Bret's leg out of his leg

Bret and Owen may not have been a tandem for very long, and even when they were, it was only to lead to their memorable singles feud, but between this match and their little-mentioned clash against The Steiner Brothers, they didn't half create some quality in-ring action.

Following an outstanding, textbook tag team affair, things gradually broke down when Johnny Polo countered some Hitman offence by pulling down the top rope, causing the former WWF Champion to topple to the floor and injure his knee.

With their Providence crowd growing rabid, the Quebecers cheated and connived to keep their fallen prey on the outside, attacking when possible and building towards an apparent count-out finish.

Instead, Bret battled back into the ring and mounted the slightest of comebacks, though rather than making the hot-tag to Owen, he opted for a Sharpshooter instead. The results were not pretty. Unable to stand thanks to the damage on his knee, The Hitman stumbled, leading the referee to stop the match and award the win to the Quebecers.
Your Winner via Bret Being Selfish: The Quebecers

Visibly irate at Bret's refusal to tag in, Owen hovered over his prone brother, berating him for his selfishness. Then, in one of the most dastardly moves in all of pro wrestling, Owen Hart turned on his brother Bret by kicking his leg out of his leg. Yep.

Ray Rougeau tried to get a word with Bret, or at least one of the gang of officials who surrounded him but was shooed away by former Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson.

Backstage, Todd Pettengill interviewed Owen, who ranted and raved that 'You're too damn SELFISH Bret, and that's why I kicked your leg...out of your leg.

And so began not only an excellent heel run for Owen Hart that would last for most of his WWF tenure but also the gripping Owen vs. Bret feud, which would spill over into their classic match at Wrestlemania 10.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon vs. IRS

Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Ross (who spent the rest of this show commentating for the short-lived WWF Radio) traded places with Dibiase and McMahon for this match. A shame, really, as hearing the Million Dollar Man cheering on his former tag team partner, no doubt to Vince's dismay, would have made for some interesting listening.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Razor Ramon defended the Intercontinental Championship against I.R.S

IRS clearly didn't care who was on commentary; he was too busy ordering the Providence crowd to pay their taxes as he made his way to the ring.

The champion made his way to the ring shortly after, and we got a better match than you might expect.

I may have said this in the past, but strip away the goofy gimmick, and IRS could turn it on in a WWF ring when given the chance. His win in a 'glorified squash match' over the 123 Kid at Summerslam 1993 was pretty entertaining, and here, the former Varsity Club member brought his A-game, too.

Razor performed well too, and looked to have the match in hand until the referee took a tumble, presenting arch-nemesis Shawn Michaels with an opportunity to rush to the ring and knock out The Bad Guy with The Fake IC Title.

Everyone's least favourite tax man made the cover, the ref revised himself just long enough to make the three count, and it looked like we had a new champion on our hands.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Razor Ramon defeated I.R.S with the Razor's Edge

Though not for long. Starting his trend of screwing people out of titles, Earl Hebner came out to inform official Joey Marrella what had happened, and instead of simply reversing the decision on grounds of a disqualification, Marella opted to restart the contest. Two seconds later, Ramon pulled a mid-celebration IRS off the top rope with the Razor's Edge, and justice prevailed.
Your winner and still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Razor Ramon

Call me crazy, but I would have been perfectly OK with a short Intercontinental Championship reign from the tax man.

Anyway, moving on, Paul Bearer wailed and moaned about the 'double deep, double wide' casket he and his charge had created for The Deadman's upcoming casket match against WWF Champion Yokozuna.

The feud between the two heavyweights, which started at the 1993 Survivor Series, was briefly recapped in a video package that focussed primarily on The Undertaker and Bearer being creepy and Yoko being a big giant coward.

With that out of the way, it was on to a WWF title match that is famous to this day, though not necessarily for the right reasons.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Casket Match
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Yokozuna and The Undertaker faced off in a casket match

A sloppy brawl kicked off what was primarily a lousy championship match, with the challenger taking charge until his efforts were thwarted due to 'Salt in The Eye' courtesy of Mr Fuji. A few minutes of generally terrible back-and-forth action followed, with neither man gaining a clear advantage, even though Taker (as per his gimmick) refused to sell the champion's offence.

Just when it looked like The Phenom had mounted a big enough comeback to end the match, the nefarious Crush entered the fray and socked the challenger. He was followed by, of all people, Kabuki, then Genichiro Tenryu and Bam Bam Bigelow.

As the champion dozed inside the open casket, The Undertaker fought off his four new adversaries, only for a slew of heels, namely Adam Bomb, The Headshrinkers, Diesel and Jeff Jarett, to hit the ring and turn the tides back in the evil-doers' favor. Fuji stole the urn, Bearer stole it back, knocked out both Fuji and Cornette, and used The Power of the Urn to inspire another Undertaker comeback.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Yokozuna got help in defeating The Undertaker

The 10-strong heel contingent attempted to lock Undertaker in the casket but couldn't succeed until Yoko took the urn from Bearer (Who had foolishly climbed onto the apron) and knocked out The Undertaker's manager.

As Undertaker absorbed a bunch of offence from his attackers, green smoke began to spill from the urn, which Vince McMahon, in all earnestness, suggested was taking Undertaker's power with it.

A couple of diving headbutts from The Headshrinkers and finishers from the other bad guys, and Undertaker was shut inside the casket, earning a win for a groggy Yokozuna.
Your winner and still WWF Champion: Yokozuna

Yet things didn't quite end there.

As the heels began wheeling Undertaker backstage, eiry smoke started to ooze from the coffin. This was followed by the ominous gong WWF fans have been well-trained to associate with The Undertaker and an image of the man himself.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: The Undertaker died :(

In what was supposed to look like a live feed from inside the casket, Undi' gave us a rather elegant speech about how his spirit lived in the souls of all mankind. The image on the screen then turned to grey and showed the casket being jolted with bolts of electricity before exploding altogether, despite the actual casket in the arena appearing completely intact.

To wrap up this supposedly-dramatic spectacle, Marty Jannetty put on an Undertaker outfit and was hoisted up to the rafters.

'The Undertaker is levitating above us!' McMahon gushed as fans watched clearly-visible wires carry 'The Undertaker' up to the heavens.

Royal Rumble Match:
30-Man Battle Royal featuring: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, Lex Luger, Shawn Michaels, Crush, The Steiner Brothers, Diesel, Jeff Jarrett, The Great Kabuki, Doink The Clown, Rick 'The Model' Martel, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine, Kwang, Owen Hart and more.
Other reviewers may tell  you that, whilst the 1994 Royal Rumble wasn't exactly bad, it was at least the wrong side of boring. Offering a different opinion, this writer doesn't mind telling you that he quite enjoyed the '94 offering of the annual over-the-top extravaganza.

A year on from their WWF PPV debut at Royal Rumble 1993, brothers Scott and Rick Steiner drew numbers one and three, respectively, with one of their old foes and Wrestlemania IX opponents, Samu, bridging the gap at number two.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Kevin 'Diesel' Nash got over huge by eliminating seven men

Though I'd question why it made sense to have two faces outnumber a heel, it nonetheless made for an entertaining start until Kwang (better known to audiences a few years down the line as Savio Vega) arrived to take the number four spot and immediately sucking the life out of the match.

Things picked up with number five entrant Owen Hart, who made his entrance to a thunderous chorus of boos from the Rhode Island faithful before quickly disposing of Rick Steiner. Bart Gunn was our sixth participant, his arrival heralding 90 seconds of nothing as all four competitors hung out on the ropes.

The fun really began with entrant number seven, Diesel. Towering over his opponents, he quickly disposed of everything in the ring. 1993 Royal Rumble standout Bob Backlund put up a valiant, if brief, fight against the big man before being dumped over the top in short order. Billy Gunn met the same fate, albeit without putting up much of a fight.

As Diesel strolled around the ring waiting for his next opponent, we were shown footage from the back, where Kabuki and Tenryu beat up Lex Luger and left him lying for dead.

Virgil made a brief cameo, ultimately helping Diesel add to his tally, and it wasn't until Randy 'Macho Man' Savage hit the ring that anybody really had a chance. Still, watching the future WWF Champion dump seven men over the top rope in quick succession was pretty entertaining.

From there, things settled into your usual Royal Rumble outing. People came and went, and we got a fairly fast-paced, enjoyable battle royal.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: The Royal Rumble match

Other notable moments included:
  • Former Rockers partners Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty renewing their old rivalry by laying into each other with some furious rights and lefts.
  • The tease of an eventual break-up between Michaels and Diesel, the former playing a part in the latter's elimination.
  • Greg, 'The Hammer' Valentine, putting in an appearance and getting a great reaction from the live crowd
  • Vince McMahon speculating with some degree of sincerity that Sparky Plugg could win the match.
The ring filled up with participants, including 1991 Royal Rumble star Rick Martel, Bret Hart, who sold his earlier knee injury right to the end, and Lex Luger, who showed absolutely no visible signs of the backstage assault he suffered earlier. 

Ultimately, it was Hart and Luger who emerged as the final two, with Michaels and Fatu as runners-up. Following a brief tussle, Bret and Lex toppled over the top rope and hit the floor roughly simultaneously.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: The Royal Rumble match

Thus the conundrum began. 

Who hit the floor first? 

Who had won the match? 

Cue Howard Finkle teasing the audience for the next several minutes, first by saying 'Here is your winner...' and having Lex Luger's music play, then doing the same for Bret Hart.

Ostensibly to show that there was no clear winner, the real reason for this tease was, according to legend, so that Vince McMahon could gauge fan reaction and decide which one of the two main event starts would headline Wrestlemania X. 

Though The Hitman was by far the crowd's favourite, the match was ultimately declared a draw, with both men going on to battle Yoko for the title at the 10th Wrestlemania. I'll review that show next time.
Your winners: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Lex Luger

Another year, another Royal Rumble in the bag then. Though this was far from the Greatest Show on Earth, it was at least a reasonably entertaining one for those of us who first became wrestling fans in the first half of the 1990s. The Harts/Quebecers match is certainly worth tracking down. Though most will remember this match only for Owen Hart's epic heel turn (and, of course, him kicking Bret's leg out of his leg), the in-ring action made it by far the best match on the card. Elsewhere, the Rumble match itself was a good launching pad for many of that year's storylines, and The Undertaker's death was so over-the-top you can't help but smile. 

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.