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

Sunday, 17 February 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 3

Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan
March 29, 1987

The stars were aligned and shining down bright on Vince McMahon and his Sports Entertainment Revolution that fateful night in March 1987. With a record breaking crowd, a commentary team unrivaled anywhere in the business and a stacked card leading up to the biggest professional wrestling match of, well, all time, Wrestlemania III looked set to live up to all of its hype and then some.

And boy did it ever.

Twenty-six years later, Wrestlemania III lives on as the one to beat, the standard bearer by which all other installments of WWE's flagship event are judged.

Why? Let's find out, shall we?

Welcome everyone!
Resplendent in a typical 1980s' styled tuxedo and with his trademark growl ringing out across Michigan, Vince McMahon took to the center of the ring to welcome everybody to Wrestlemania III before introducing soul legend Aretha Franklin to the capacity crowd for a rendition of America the Beautiful.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - Vince McMahon welcomes everyone to the show
Music out of the way, it was on to our commentary team for the evening, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, accompanied for our introductions by baseball legend Bob Uecker and TV beauty Mary Hart.

The Can-Am Connection (Tom Zenk & Rick Martel) vs. Don Muraco & 'Cowboy' Bob Orton (w/ Mr. Fuji) 
And so after spending the last two Wrestlemanias as Roddy Piper's lackey, 'Cowboy' Bob Orton finally  got to see in-ring action at the big event.

Teaming with muscleman Muraco to take on the fresh young babyface duo of Zenk & Martel, Orton's first wrestling contribution to Wrestlemania was a great way to start the show.

Though hardly the longest match on the card, all four men worked hard within the time they had to deliver an entertaining opening bout which really kicked off the night's action in the right fashion.

Following  a good burst of back-and-forth action, Martel splashed The Magnificent One to pick up a win for the good guys.
Your Winners: The Can-Am Connection.
WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - Hercules cuts a pre-match promo with Bobby Heenan

Up next, fans were treated to a recap of the ongoing saga between Hercules and Billy Jack Haynes, a story largely centered around which man's full nelson submission hold was superior. This took us backstage to the Wrestlemania Interview Center, where Mean Gene Okerlund hoped to get a few words from Hercules and his manager, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

In a curious comment, the brutish grappler claimed that he wasn't just Hercules, he was the Hercules. You know, son of Zeus, legend of Greek mythology? You've got to admit, Herc looked pretty good for being thousands of years old.

Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan)
When the two Full Nelson Masters finally met between the ropes, the result was a fun, enjoyable big man brawl.

Both men (though Haynes in particular) looked like surefire headliners-in-the-making as they beat each other around the ring before toppling to the outside, where Haynes locked in the 'nelson and ignored the official as the ten count crept upon them.

Hardly the best professional wrestling match that ever took place, this was nonetheless great fun from start to finish.
Double Count-out

In the post-match shennanigans, Herc' used his trademark chains to bust Billy Jack wide open.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - Hillbilly Jim holds up Haiti Kid & Little Beaver like they're his kids
Heading back to the interview center for more pre-recorded comments, King Kong Bundy -with  pint-sized partners Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook by his side- threatened, quite typically, to squash his upcoming opponents, Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid and Little Beaver.

Offering a response, Hillbilly claimed he wasn't scared of Bundy, but did worry about his 'two little buddies.' Throughout the brief interview, Jim treated his partners not as the adults they were, but as little children, even going so far as to scoop up both Haiti and Beaver as a mother would her young offspring. It was quite weird.

Six-Man Mixed-Tag Match:
King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook vs. Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid & Little Beaver
The rules for this one were simple. As Gorilla Monsoon so eloquently put it 'the small guys will fight the small guys, the big guys will fight the big guys.'

Speaking of Monsoon, he and Ventura were joined on commentary for this one by Bob Uecker, who was arguably the best thing about the whole match.

That's not to say this was terrible (though to be fair it wasn't very good either), and for what it was, it was at least watchable, but your life won't be seriously ruined if you never see this match.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - King Kong Bundy with Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook
The end came when Bundy beat up on Little Beaver, earning a disqualification as a result.
Your Winners by Disqualification: Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid & Little Beaver

Cutting once more to the backstage area, Mary Hart attempted an interview with the ever-lovely Miss Elizabeth, only for Intercontinental Champion 'Macho Man' Randy Savage to interrupt proceedings and order Elizabeth to start making her way down the isle.

The Wrestlemania Interview Center must have been based in a different city or something; it would be at least half an hour before Savage's match against Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat took place. Either that or Liz was a really slow walker.

After a look at the feud between 'King' Harley Race and The Junkyard Dog over Race's reign as king, we returned to the Interview Center where Mean Gene caught up with The King, manager Bobby Heenan and, for no reason that was ever made quite apparent, The Fabulous Moolah. 

Your standard heel promo ensued, with everyone declaring that JYD would bow to the king by the end of the match. It was decent mic work from all involved, though not nearly as entertaining as guest commentator Uecker's reaction to the sight of Moolah.

'Moolah's here? No wonder you guys are here all the time!' the baseball legend enthused, totally ignoring the fact that Monsoon and Ventura were probably there 'all the time' since that was their job.

'I gotta get with Moolah!' he continued, taking off to apparently go find the former women's champion. That alone was hilarious enough to make watching Wrestlemania 3 worth it.

Loser Must Bow Match
The Junkyard Dog vs. 'King' Harley Race (w/ The Fabulous Moolah & Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan)
WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - The JYD Junkyard Dog has some choice words for 'King' Harley Race
Playing up the whole regency schtick, the laws here stated that whoever lost the match would be forced to bow before his victor.

Before that however, we were treated to a decent little match in which Race bumped all over Michigan for his opponent before finally stealing a win with a release belly-to-belly suplex.
Your Winner: Harley Race

Afterwards, Race took his rightful place on the throne (ie: a fold-up chair) and, as stipulated, JYD curtsied before the king. All was not finished however, as the Dog beat up his rival some more to the delight of the record-breaking crowd.

Heading backstage once more World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan spoke with Vince McMahon about his upcoming main event battle against Andre the Giant. The Hulkster gave a fairly nonsensical promo in which, I think, he promised to beat the giant.

In yet another pre-taped interview, The Dream Team of Greg Valentine, Brutus Beefcake and Luscious Johnny Valiant were asked by Mean Gene Okerlund why they would need an extra man in their corner in the form of Dino Bravo. 

Johnny V replied, though I legitimately have no idea what he said apart from it having something to do with scrambled eggs.

The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond Rougeau) vs. The Dream Team (Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine & Brutus Beefcake w/ 'Luscious' Johnny Valiant and Dino Bravo)
Back in the days before Jacques and Raymond became 'Fabulous', here we see them at their bland babyface best as they took the action to their larger foes in the early going.

For a four minute match, this one turned out to be pretty decent with barely a dull moment in sight. After shenanigans involving Dino Bravo, the The Hammer scored the pinfall to give his team the victory.
Your Winners: The Dream Team

Yet whilst the match itself was great, the post-match angle made about as much sense as Johnny V's pre-match promo. For reasons that this writer still hasn't been able to figure out despite watching this match four times (two of those with the sole purpose of trying to work this out), Johnny V, Valentine and Bravo all took off, leaving Bruti alone in the ring. A face turn was approaching for Beefcake, though for what reason I guess we'll never know.

Prior to the next contest, we were given a recap of the rivalry between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Adorable Adrian Adonis,  all stemming from Adonis turning the Piper's Pit into The Flower Shop, and the faux-Scotsman not being best pleased with it.

Piper gave his pre-match promo first, insisting that he wasn't afraid of 'a man in a dress' before Adonis blurted out something rather unintelligible (noticing a theme here anyone?) which seemed to swear that he would cut Piper's hair by the end of the match.

Hair vs. Hair Match
Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Adorable Adrian Adonis
Billed as Piper's last stand, Roddy would take off to make movies for a couple of years following this match though, as history has since proven, this wouldn't quite be the end of Hot Rod's in-ring career in quite the way it was advertised.

Nonetheless, Piper received the largest ovation of the night to this point as he took the belt from his kilt and began whipping his nemesis around the ring.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - The birth of Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake
Adonis soon returned the favour, and the two proceeded to entertain the fans with a riotious slap-stick brawl.

There was nothing good about this match from a technical wrestling standpoint, but for pure showmanship and a lesson on how to really work a crowd, this is a must-see match.

Six minutes from the opening bell, Piper slapped on the sleeperhold and won the match, thus 'retiring' on a high note and keeping his hair.
Your Winner: Rowdy Roddy Piper

As per the stipulations of the match, Adonis was forced to have his head shaved. Yet rather than Piper do it, Brutus Beefcake returned to the ring and took the sheers to Adonis' blonde locks as Piper held manager Jimmy Hart to the mat.

Again, no explanation was given for why Beefcake had any involvement in the match, though I'm sure it made sense to somebody back in 1987 and, even if not, we can all say we just witnessed the birth of one of pro wrestling's most memorable gimmicks; Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake.

In a quick, pre-recorded promo hyping the upcoming match, Jimmy Hart and The Hart Foundation put over Danny Davis as their new teammate. As The Mouth of the South did what he still does best, former referee Davis hung on the shoulders of Bret and Jim and smirked like a special needs patient having his photograph taken with his favourite wrestlers.

Six Man Tag Team Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation (Bret 'The Hitman' Hart & Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart) and 'Dangerous' Danny Davis w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) and Tito Santana 

For no reason whatsoever, Jesse Ventura was introduced to the live crowd before this thrilling six-man tag team match which came about as a result of Davis costing both The Bulldogs and Santana their respective titles (The Bulldogs the tag belts to the Harts and Santana the IC strap to Savage).

Though they had less than ten minutes to do their thing, The Harts and The Bulldogs did what they did best and started to tear the house down. With the ever-reliable Chico also flying around the ring, this had all the makings of a classic, though instead it became mostly a good match built to put over Davis as a new wrestler.

Indeed, the former official scored the pinfall over Davey Boy Smith to earn victory for his team.
Your Winners: The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis
WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan with Andre The Giant and Mean Gene Okerlund
Heading to the back for more pre-recorded thoughts, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan claimed that the butterflies were in his 'stomachs' (all of them?) as he was looking forward to Andre the Giant defeating Hulk Hogan in tonight's main event.

'The Natural' Butch Reed (w/ Slick) vs. Koko B. Ware 
So yeah. This happened.

Both men traded the offence in a decent, if entirely forgettable content which was over before it even really got started.

Following a few short minutes, Butch Reed put away Koko for a short, painless victory.
Your Winner: Butch Reed

Following the bell, Tito Santana ran down to the ring for unexplained reasons and started to tear of Slick's suit. Yep.

Up next, we got a review of the rivalry between Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage, before both men exchanged words in anticipation of their upcoming Intercontinental Championship match.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat has some choice words for 'Macho Man' Randy Savage before their classic match
I will say one thing, the theme music WWE's production crew overdubbed for Steamboat gave the upcoming clash an altogether dramatic feel which was entirely fitting.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship Match.
WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion 'The Macho Man' Randy Savage (w/ Miss. Elizabeth) vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat (w/ George 'The Animal' Steele)
You know all about this match already, don't you? If you've been a wrestling fan for more than a day, you know about this match.

You've heard how great it was, how it still stands the test of time as a five-star classic, a moment for the ages, a battle which many have tried to match and few have ever surpassed, and you're thinking 'but was it really that good?'

In a word, yes.

Though modern indie fans weened on a diet of American Dragon vs. Samoa Joe may not agree, the Savage/Steamboat encounter was everything you could want in a professional wrestling match and then some. From bell to bell, both men grabbed your attention and kept you hooked all the way through, delivering an absolute gem of a match which saw Steamboat bag the pin, the win and the title.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Intercontinental Champion: Ricky Steamboat

Heading once again to the backstage area, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, flanked by some anorexic grandmother who looked a bit like shock-rocker Alice Cooper, promised to destroy The Honky Tonk Man when they met in the ring later that night.

In retort, Honky Tonk vowed to nail The Snake with Shake, Rattle and Roll. 

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts (w/ Alice Cooper) vs. The Honky Tonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart)
And so when all the words were spoken, the only thing left to do was brawl. And brawl they did.

By and large, this followed a similar path to many of tonight's bouts; hardly a wrestling classic yet entertaining enough from start to finish. Nothing truly memorable happened, but this was at least a watchable contest which came to an end when Honky cheated his way to victory.
Your Winner: The Honky Tonk Man

Gaining a measure of revenge, Roberts and Cooper then ganged up on the far-outmatched Jimmy Hart and threatened to put Damian on him.

After the match, Mean Gene Okerlund announced that together, everybody in the building had set a new indoor attendance record of 93,000+, a record which wouldn't be broken for 13 years.

The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff (w/ Slick) vs. The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell) 
Slick, still in his Chico-torn clothes, led his foreign fanatics down to ringside before asking Howard Finkle to introduce Nikolai Volkoff for another heat-seeking rendition of the soviet national anthem.

Before the burly Russian could get more than a few lines in however, 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan raced to the ring in his street clothes and claimed that Volkoff could no longer sing his country's anthem because America was the 'land of the free.'

So yeah, go work that one out.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - WWF Champion has words for Andre The Giant before they met at WM III
When the action finally commenced it was fun yet entirely forgettable, with nothing of note happening until Hacksaw stormed the ring and cost The Killer Bees the match by taking out The Iron Sheik with his trusty 2x4.
Your Winners by Disqualification: The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff 

Finally, the only thing we had left was our main event, the reason those 93,000 and something fans packed into the Silverdome, the biggest match in professional wrestling even today; Hogan vs. Andre.

Following a few last words from both champ and challenger, it was down to ringside.

World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship Match
WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan)
Bob Uecker (yes, him again) was our guest ring announcer and Mary Hart was our guest timekeeper, but nobody cared about that.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - Andre The Giant and Bobby Heenan are carried to the ring for their WM III clash with Hulk Hogan
Indeed, they were all here to see the biggest wrestling match that had ever existed. Even today in 2013, no wrestling match in history has quite generated the kind of fervent response that Hogan/Andre I did in 1987. Say what you want about Austin/Rock, Hart/Michaels or any other storied rivalry of the modern era, they all paled in significance compared to this one.

It was the match upon which everything was focused  the bout that built the foundations of today's WWE, and it was, well, your typical Hulk Hogan match.

The champion took the blows to the challenger in the early going, only for Andre to block a bodyslam attempt by toppling onto his former friend for a near fall. The Giant then beat Hogan around the ring until the champion Hulked Up, hit The Bodyslam Heard Round The World, and scored the three count.
Your Winner: Hulk Hogan

Following the bell, Hogan celebrated by posing for the crowd for what felt like fifty years.

And so, that was the card of cards, the Wrestlemania of all Wrestlemanias, and even now, it was an awesome show. Hogan/Andre lived up to the spectacle, Savage/Steamboat stole the show with an incredible performance and ever match before and in between entertained in its own way. Indeed, you won't find a card full of technical wrestling classics here, but you will find as solid, complete a show as you're ever likely to see.
The first truly good Wrestlemania and the one against which all others are judged, this is essential viewing.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 2

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - EVENT POSTERNew York, Illinois, Los Angeles
April 7, 1986 

The late, great Gorilla Monsoon had a saying at the early Wrestlemania events which went something like this: "That was/This is a happening!"

Sadly, that's about the best thing one could possibly say about the second 'Mania event: It happened.

The first,  and indeed only, Mania to take place on a Monday, this was basically a terrible show laden with poor matches, poor booking and even worse commenting, occasionally interspersed with a decent match.

Split across three different venues in three different time zones, let's look at what happened.

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York

It should be noted that the version I'm watching for this review is an apparently heavily-edited Coliseum Home Video release which begins with a bog-standard introduction and the voice of Vince McMahon, sounding for all the world as though even he would rather be anywhere but at the event as he welcomed us to 'Wrestlemania 2, what the world has come to.'

Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is what the world has come to. You see how low we've sunk?

'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff vs. 'Magnificent' Don Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji)

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - 'The Sinister' Mr. Fuji backs Don Muraco
As both men locked up in the center of the ring, we were treated to some pre-recorded audio clips in which Muraco claimed he could beat Orndorff because he had 'The Sinister Mr. Fuji' with him before Orndorff replied by talking about how much he'd been to the gym lately.

Mr. Wonderful gained the early advantage in the match, even taking time out to racially insult Mr. Fuji before  squaring up once again with the Magnificent one. The two locked up and Muraco gained the upperhand with what guest commentator Susan St. James referred to as 'ancient Chinese techniques' but was, in actual fact, a top wristlock.

Before long, the action spilled to the outside and both men were counted out in under five minutes, drawing a very audible 'BULLSHIT!' chant from the New York crowd.
Double count-out

If you thought that was a bad way to start the show, things were only set to get worse from there on in.

George 'The Animal' Steele vs. 'The Macho Man' Randy Savage (w/ Miss. Elizabeth)
The story here was a simple one; Savage was the dastardly heel who treated his pretty young valet Elizabeth like dirt. All the while, crazed mad man George Steele had developed something of an infatuation with Liz, drawing the jealous ire of  'The Macho Man.'

That was good enough for the two to clash at the second annual Wrestlemania, though sadly not good enough to actually produce a decent match.

If watching Savage run away from Steele for a while before the two engaged in fairly bland combat wasn't dull enough, even that was ruined by Susan St. James who uttered one cry of 'uh oh' after another whenever either man went anywhere near each other.

At first this was kind of comical, but by the end, even Vince McMahon had caught the 'uh ohs' and it became nothing more than annoying.

Things came to a close when Savage rolled up Steele and got a ropes-assisted three-count for the win.
Your Winner: 'Macho Man' Randy Savage

Afterwards, 'The Animal' ate some turnbuckle and chased a referee away. It was rubbish.

George Wells vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts.
If you don't remember former Canadian Football Leaguer and professional wrestler George Wells, don't worry about it, nobody else does either.

Still, the man looked kinda of awesome as he beat Roberts up and down the ring to yet more 'uh oh's from James and McMahon.

Not a good match by anybody's standards, but at least fun to watch  Jake Roberts sell like a trooper before picking up the win with a crafty DDT.
Your winner: Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

Post-match, Roberts draped his snake over Wells, causing the defeated star to foam at the mouth.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - 'Rowdy Roddy Piper' promises to quit wrestling if Mr. T can knock him out
Following a recap of Rowdy Roddy Piper's involvement at the end of a Mr. T boxing match on Saturday Night's Main Event, we were taken to pre-recorded interviews with  both men.

Speaking first, Piper first claimed that he was cute before going on to insist that he would retire from everything in the world if T could knock him out and ending the interview by racially abusing his upcoming opponent.

In response, Mr. T, accompanied by Smokin Joe Frazier and The Haiti Kid, insisted that if Piper did some 'dirty stuff', T would also 'do some dirty stuff.'

And that's all there is to say about that.

Special Attraction Boxing Match:
'Rowdy' Roddy Piper (w/ Lou Duva and 'Cowboy' Bob Orton) vs. Mr. T (w/  Smokin Joe Frazier and The Haiti Kid
As boxing matches go, this one was pretty terrible and looked absolutely nothing like an actual boxing match.

As Susan St. James continued to treat us with more 'uh ohs' both men traded the advantage through several rounds of nondescript inaction before the referee took a tumble and, in one of Wrestlemania's more memorable moments, Piper got himself disqualified by bodyslamming his opponent.
Your Winner: Mr. T

With the first main event of the show over with, we were finally spared any more of Susan 'Uh Oh' St. James as the show moved on to part two.

Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois

Our commentary team for this portion of the show consisted of Gorilla Monsoon, 'Mean' Gene Okerlund and some woman called Cathy Lee Crosby who Wikipedia informs me is an actress (hey, don't judge me, I wasn't even two years-old when this show took place).

WWF Women's Championship:
WWF Women's Champion The Fabulous Moolah vs. Velvet McIntyre
WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - The Fabulous Moolah celebrates her win over Velvet McIntyre
The saddest thing about this match is that, even at less than a minute long, it was actually the best match on the card to this point.

McIntyre took control throughout the contest before missing a top rope splash, allowing Moolah to roll on top and gain the pinfall.
Your winner and Still WWF Women's Champion: The Fabulous Moolah

When a minute-long match is the best thing on the show so far, you know you're in trouble.

Flag Match:
Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff (w/ Classie Freddie Blassie)
Whereas the rules in most flag matches involve capturing your opponent's flag or something along those lines, the rules here were...well, they were never quite explained.

This was certainly billed as a flag match, with both the US flag and the flag of Soviet Russia resting in opposite corners, though what we actually got was a fairly nondescript encounter which ended when Freddie Blassie tossed his walking cane to Volkoff, Kirchner intercepted and struck Volkoff. The referee recovered from being knocked on his booty and made the three count.
Your Winner: Corporal Kirchner.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - Atlanta Falcons NFL Star Bill Fralic confronts Big John Studd before they meet in a 20 man battle royale
Afterwards, Kirchner raised the USA flag and waved it above his head. Apparently the rules had been that whoever won would get to wave their flag about. Riveting.

Prior to the upcoming battle royal, Mean Gene moderated a debate between Big John Studd and NFL star Bill Fralic over whether football players or wrestlers were the superior athletes. In an interesting twist, Fralic easily outshone Studd on the mic.

20 Man Open-Invitational Battle Royale
Featuring: Big John Studd, Andre The Giant, The Hart Foundation, Dan Spivey, Bil Fralic, William 'The Refrigerator'  Perry, Russ Francis, Harvey Martin Bruno Sammartino and more.
Another of Wrestlemania's most memorable matches, and one which is included on lots of compilation tapes, let it be known that this one is memorable for the spectacle only, for it was far from a five-star classic.

OK, so few battle royals ever are, but apart from the appearance of Chicago Bears star William 'The Refrigerator  Perry who gained a huge ovation from the Illinois crowd, absolutely nothing interesting happened here.

A big, convoluted mess, this eventually ended with Andre The Giant eliminated The Hart Foundation to pick up the win.
Your Winner: Andre The Giant

Finally, we were given an out-and-out great match next in the form of Illinois' main event.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship: 
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dream Team (Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine & Brutus Beefcake w/ 'Lucious' Johnny Valiant) vs. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid w/ Captain Lou Albano and Ozzy Osborne)
Let's pretend rock star Ozzy wasn't present for this match, since he does nothing and achieves nothing apart from standing around shaking in a salmon-coloured suit.

His men however, did a great job as they worked mostly with Greg Valentine to produce a compelling match which eschewed the usual tag formula to stand out a mile as the best match on the card.

Following an entertaining performance, the Bulldogs captured the titles after Davey Both Smith pinned Valentine.
Your Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: The British Bulldogs

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - The commentary team for the LA portion of the show included Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and TV star ElviraFinally, it was on to the Los Angeles portion of the show.

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California

For the last part of the show we were led through the action by
Jesse 'The Body' Ventura (looking like an Egyptian pharaoh in drag), sexy vampire TV host Elvira and Lord Alfred Hayes who, despite not saying much throughout the broadcast, at least came across as less nervous than he had the previous year

Ricky Steamboat vs. Hercules Hernandez
A relative newcomer at the time, Hercules Hernandez (still with last name in tact) went one-on-one in arguably one of the best patches he would have for the World Wrestling Federation.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - Ricky Steamboat takes it to Hercules Hernandez
Of course, that had much to do with the always-awesome Ricky Steamboat, who probably never had a bad match in his life.

OK, so this wasn't the greatest match of all time, nor did it quite live up to the previous tag team title encounter, but it was nonetheless an enjoyable affair which reached its conclusion when Steamboat nailed Herc' with a bodypress for the three count.
Your winner: Ricky Steamboat

What happened next likely caused deep emotional scars for many who saw it.

Adorable Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Uncle Elmer
So yeah. Here with a big fat man in a granny dress and make-up getting the stuffing beaten out of him by an even bigger fat man dressed like a special needs kid on a day outing.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - Uncle Elmer vs. 'Adorable' Adrian Adonis..yep, this happened
Adonis bumped around for a while without a single blow of offence, before something happened that nobody cared about, and Adonis quite literally fell off the top rope, landing on Elmer and pinning him.

This. was. awful.
Your Winner: Adrian Adonis
Your loser: Everybody who saw this match

Thankfully, things picked up with our next match.

Tito Santana & Junkyard Dog vs. Terry & 'Hoss' (Dory) Funk (w/ Jimmy Hart)
Somewhere along the line there was a decent back-story to just how this match came to be, but that isn't as important as the fact that this was all kinds of fun.

With Hoss Funk and Chico taking on most of the actual wrestling work, JYD dealing with his usual smash-mouth offence and Terry Funk (who actually didn't look like an old man in 1986) bumping all over the place in his usual crazy fashion, what we had here was a match that was enjoyable from start to finish.

Following an all-out riot of a bout, Terry Funk smashed JYD with Jimmy Hart's megaphone to win the match for his team.
Your Winners: Terry & Hoss Funk.

At last, it was down to our main event

World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage Match
WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan)
The story came from Bundy interfering in Hogan's title defence against Don Muraco, the two heels destroying the champion in the process and injuring his ribs.
WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - King Kong Bundy dominates WWF Champion Hulk Hogan in their WM2 Steel cage match

With said ribs all bandaged up, Hulk Hogan nonetheless stepped inside The Big Blue Cage to gain revenge on King Kong Bundy.

The result was a surprisingly entertaining brawl which ended an otherwise lackluster show on a high note.

Both men played their parts perfectly before Hogan predictably 'Hulked up' and escaped the cage.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan

Following the match, Hogan dragged Bobby Heenan into the ring and beat him up too.

Whilst Wrestlemania I had the historical relevance thing working in its favor, and whilst future shows would have, you know, being decent shows on their side, Wrestlemania 2 had absolutely nothing going for it beyond a couple of decent tag matches and Elvira's boobs. 
Nothing important happened, there are no matches on the card that will change your life, nothing. Skip it, and go watch Wrestlemania III.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

EVENT REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania I

Madison Square Garden, New York City
March 31, 1985

If somebody put a gun to your head and ordered you to name the most important pro wrestling event of all time..Well, it would be a bit absurd and overly-harsh, wouldn't it? Though at least you could tell them with some certainty that such an honor can only go to the first ever World Wrestling Federation spectacular, Wrestlemania. 

Surely no other event quite changed the game like Vince McMahon's answer to Starcade. This was the event that created a legend still going strong nigh on thirty years later. This was the event which ushered in a new era of professional wrestling, turning our beloved 'fake sport' into a multi-million dollar entertainment spectacular and this was the event, which, for all its pomp and circumstance wasn't actually very good.

What did actually go down at WWE's first Wrestlemania? Let's find out, shall we?

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura welcome us to 'The Wrestling Extravaganza of All Time!'
Following your typical cheesy-80s introduction, complete with aching synth rock and terrible pictures of tonight's competitors, Gorilla Monsoon welcomed us to 'The wrestling extravaganza of all time.' Sadly, this wasn't to be the last awkward turn-of-phase to be heard this evening.

Gorilla and broadcast partner Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, then handed over to Howard Finkle, who introduced the one and only Mean Gene Okerlund for his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Interestingly, neither Gene nor the majority of the MSG crowd seemed to know the words.

From Okerlund via Monsoon/Ventura and a bumbling Lord Alfred Hayes (who for all the world looked like he had no idea how he'd ended up there), we were at last sent to pre-recorded comments from our opening combatants.

Tito Santana told Okerlund that he had 'some goals' and that nothing would get in the way of such goals, not even The Executioner, before said Executioner (Buddy Rose in an awful mask) fumbled his way through a retort in which he gave away his match strategy of attacking Santana's leg.

Tito Santana vs. The Executioner
WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: The Executioner gives his tactics away to Mean Gene Okerlund
'I tell ya, Gino. Wrestlemania has lived up to everything I thought it would be,' quipped Jesse Ventura before either man had even locked up in the first ever Wrestlemania match. Clearly The Body hadn't given the event much of a change before it had even begun.

Anyway, down to the action as Chico and The Executioner went at it in a fairly decent opening match.

Modern-day fans may not find much to get excited about here, but it was at least an enjoyable, textbook encounter which ended with a crowd-popping win for Santana.
Your Winner: Tito Santana

Once again we had an awkward link-up from a clearly-nervous Alfred Hayes. Quite possibly reading from some sort of auto-cue (or, if not, looking for one), Hayes handed us back to Mean Gene with more pre-recorded interviews from the "super wrestlers."

This time round, Special Delivery Jones promised to 'Get Down' for us, before his opponent, King Kong Bundy promised to squash S.D

S.D Jones vs. King Kong Bundy (with Jimmy Hart)
WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: King Kong Bundy (w/ manager Jimmy Hart) literally squashed Special Delivery Jones
If you were looking for excitement, adventure and really wild things here, you'd be sorely disappointed. Instead, what we we got was a push, a splash and a pinfall for a quick squash match which made your average Raw divas bout look like an iron man match in comparison.

According to the WWF, the match was a 'record breaking nine seconds' long. In actual fact, nine seconds was simply the amount of time it took Bundy to get from one side of the ring to another. The actual time was more closer to half a minute, but let's not squabble over twenty seconds of nothing, shall we?
Your Winner: King Kong Bundy

Out in the back, 'Maniac' Matt Bourne told Mean Gene Okerlund that Ricky Steamboat was too nice and that he would beat up Steamboat. In retort, Ricky bumbled something about Wrestlemania being an 'extravaganza across the nation' (told you there was plenty awkward-turns-of-phrase on this show) and that he would be the one to emerge victorious in the following contest.

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Ricky Steamboat vs. Maniac Matt Bourne
Ricky Steamboat vs. 'Maniac' Matt Bourne
In the best match on the card so far, Matt 'One Day I'll be Doink' Bourne was thwarted in his attempts to beat up Ricky Steamboat by the superior wrestling skills of The Dragon.

Moving at a decent pace, this was an enjoyable affair which stands out as one of the highlights of Wrestlemania 1. To be fair, this wasn't saying much given what else was on the card, but it did stand out in what was otherwise a card flooded with mediocrity.

Steamboat picked up the win thanks to a crossbody from the top rope.
Your Winner: Ricky Steamboat

Up next, Lord Alfred Hayes stumbled his way through another link, almost forgetting the name of Bruno Sammartino as Steamboat and Bourne tried to get around him to the locker room. It was unintentionally hilarious.

Cutting to more pre-recorded stuff, the retired Sammartino cut off his son, David, by threatening to beat up Lucious Johnny Valiant. Offering a reply, Valiant claimed that his man, Brutus Beefcake would win the upcoming match and that Bruno Sammartino was a crazy person.

David Sammartino (w/ Bruno Sammartino) vs. Brutus Beefcake (w/ Johnny Valiant)
Stealing yet more thunder from his son, Bruno Sammartino was given an even greater introduction from Finkle for his role as ringside manager than David Sammartino who was, you know, supposed to be wrestling.
WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: David Sammartino grapples Brutus Beefcake

With the pressure of being his father's son apparently resting on his shoulders then, young David tried in vain to offer us something decent between the ropes. Alas, the best he and Beefcake could produce turned out to be a long, drawn out yawn-fest which resulted in a double-disqualification after Big Bruno once again hogged the spotlight and joined David, Beefcake and Valiant in a big ol' brawl.
Double Disqualification

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Inter-Continental Champion, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine"Still to come, the confrontation of all time!" said Gorilla Monsoon. One can only assume he was talking about tonight's main event, but first, we had our first title match of the evening in the form of Greg Valentine  defending the Intercontinental Championship against the Junkyard Dog. 

This time, Alfred Hayes fluffed his lines so badly that he was actually cut off, the cameras going to Valentine and manager Jimmy Hart. Naturally, the champion promised to beat his opponent, whilst the challenger muttered something about having a bone.

Inter-Continental Championship Match:
Inter-Continental Champion Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Junkyard Dog
Yep, back in those days, we still had the Inter-continental title as opposed to the Intercontinental title. Amazing how much difference a hyphen makes, isn't it?

Grammar aside, this was a decent match which, like much of the card, has sadly aged badly.

The live Madison Square Garden crowd appeared to eat up every single blow here, but, watching this bout some 28 years later (as it was at time of writing), it really isn't much to write home about.

After a seesaw battle, Valentine pounced on JYD and scored the three-count by resting his feet on the middle rope for leverage.

Incensed, The Hammer's arch-rival Tito Santana raced to the ring and informed the referee what had happened. Taking Chico's word for it, referee Dick Krole continue the match, giving the victory to JYD via countout.
Your Winner: Junkyard Dog (Valentine retains the title)

'The title does not change hands on a countout,' said Monsoon for the thousandth time, 'So Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine is still the reigning Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship.' Yep, Greg Valentine was not only a wrestler, but a championship too.

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: The Iron Sheik provided the comedy
More mic-based hilarity came next, first from  Alfred Hayes, who introduced the next set of interviews with  'Both these teams had pointed opinions, let's hear some more about those opinions they had to express' and then from the always-outlandish Iron Sheik, who, in preparation for his upcoming tag-team title match alongside partner Nikolai Volkoff insisted that 'this is my best time of life for sharp-situation.'


Shieky was amazing here.

Offering the obligatory comeback, the WWF Tag Team Champions Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham (better known, with manager Captain Lou Albano as The US Express), claimed that they were on their way to the ring 'right now.' This despite both still clearly wearing street clothes.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match
Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik (w/ 'Classy' Freddy Blassie) vs. The US Express (Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham, w/ Captain Lou Albano)
Undoubtedly the highlight of this tag team title match was the opening gambit which saw Volkoff infuriate the live crowd with a rendition of the Russian national anthem. Drawing the kind of heat today's stars can only dream of, it was a simple-yet-effective move which gave the crowds even more reason to cheer when the good guy team of Windham and Rotundo finally made their presence felt.

As for the match itself, it was, like everything on the show, fun if hardly spectacular.

A somewhat short affair for a title match, the end came when Sheik & Volkoff's manager, Freddy Blassie blasted Windham with his cane. The bad guys scored the pin, and we had our first ever Wrestlemania title change.
Your Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik

Post match, Blassie denied ever having a cane to Mean Gene Okerlund before the Sheik went off on another unintelligible, yet still highly comical, rant.

Prior to our upcoming $15,000 Bodyslam Challenge between Big John Studd and Andre The Giant, we were taken to some pre-recorded words from Studd and his manager Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.
WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Mean Gene Okerlund tries to steal Big John Studd's money

Holding a WWF-branded gym bag stuffed with crumpled one dollar bills, John Studd promised that Andre (as per the match stipulation) would be retired when he failed to slam Studd. Heenan said some stuff too, but honestly the only interesting thing about this promo was Gene Okerlund's hilarious attempts to steal John Studd's money.

$15,000 Bodyslam Challenge
Big John Studd (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan) vs. Andre The Giant.
To clarify, the rules of this match were pretty simple: If Andre could slam Studd, he would win $15,000 dollars (or a gym bag stuffed with ones, as it were), if he couldn't, he would have to retire.

Nothing much happened, and though it was most likely a spectacle (or a 'spectacle of all time' if we're going by Gorilla's terms) at the time, there was nothing too exciting about watching Andre kick Big John around for a while and then bodyslam him.
Your Winner via bodyslam: Andre The Giant.

After the match, Andre gave some of his money away before Heenan stole the bag back and ran off. In post-match comments with Gene Okerlund, Andre insisted he didn't really care about the money anyway.

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Cyndi Lauper and Wendy Richter
From there, MTV star Cyndi Lauper told us how she'd been trained to manage by Lou Albano, and knew exactly what she was doing in backing Wendi Richter in the upcoming Women's Championship match. Richter, for her part, claimed that it had taken two people (Fabulous Moolah and Leilani Kai) to strip her of her title, but that she would reclaim the gold tonight.

In an era when female wrestlers weren't exactly known for their glamour, it has to be said that Richter was something of a hottie.

Anyway, that aside, Moolah and Kai gave their comments, saying nothing of note before it was down to ringside.

WWF Women's Championship:
WWF Women's Champion Leilani Kai (w/ The Fabulous Moolah) vs. Wendi Richter (w/ Cyndi Lauper) 

Making their way to the ring to the sound of Lauper's hit Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (no doubt an appropriate song to play before two women proceed to knock the crap out of each other), Richter and Lauper raced to the ring to a huge ovation from the New York crowd and wasted little time in locking up with the Hawaii-based champion.

Modern-day sports entertainment fans used to the Age of The Diva will likely have something of a culture shock on viewing this encounter; after all, it was an actual wrestling match.

Not the greatest wrestling match of all time, that's true, but at least entertaining enough to keep you interest from bell to bell. To the delight of the audience, Richter countered the champion's flying crossbody with a pinfall attempt to regain her gold.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Women's Champion: Wendi Richter

The new champion spent some time celebrating with Lauper and Lauper's manager David Wolf, complete with another beat down on the villainous Kai and Moolah.

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Lord Alfred Hayes was perpetually perplexed throughout the show
Backstage, the girls continued to celebrate and Lauper told Gene Okerlund that she'd 'brought her towel' in case Moolah attacked her because, you know, when somebody's going to beat you up, having a towel really helps.

Finally, it was time for our main event.

Give Vince McMahon his due, even many years later, the shenanigans which preceded tonight's headliner still come across as a grand spectacle and added a certain sense of awesome which was otherwise lacking from tonight's show.

Perma-smiled baseball manager Billy Martin was introduced first, receiving a huge ovation from the MSG crowd as he made his way to the microphone as our guest ring announcer.

He was followed by guest time-keeper Liberace, who came to the ring wearing something akin to the kind of thing your grandad might have worn back in the day, and kicking his legs around the ring with The Rockettes. Finally, Muhammad Ali arrived to take up joint officiating duties with Pat Patterson and we were set for a match.

Led to the ring by a clan of pipers, Rowdy Roddy Piper & Paul 'Mr. Wonderful' Orndorff were escorted to the ring by Cowboy Bob Orton.

They were followed, to the roar of the crowd, by WWF Champion Hulk Hogan, Mr. T and their third, Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka. 

Rowdy Roddy Piper & 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff (w/ Cowboy Bob Orton) vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (w/ Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka)
WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Hulk Hogan, Mr. T and Jimmy Snuka
It's one of the most memorable, talked about professional wrestling matches of all time. It's the main event of all main events, it's the encounter upon which the whole success of Wrestlemania I, and thus in turn all subsequent Wrestlemanias was based and it was, well, not bad.

The crowd were on their feet from the start of this chaotic main event to the very end. Purposefully overbooked, it was a fun, if hardly outstanding match which at least lived up to the big-match hype.

All four in-ring competitors played their parts perfectly whilst Snuka, Orton and Ali all added to the spectacle.

The end came when Orton accidentally struck Orndorff with his cast, allowing Hogan to gain the three count.
Your Winners: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T

Afterwards, just about everybody involved in the match not called Orton, Orndorff or Piper celebrated in the ring and shook hands, before Hogan and Mr. T, surrounded by everybody in the world, gave a final backstage interview to Mean Gene Okerlund.

And so that was that then, the first ever Wrestlemania over and done with. Worthwhile checking out for historical purposes or simply to complete your collection, but from an in-ring standpoint, there's nothing here that is absolutely must-see stuff. 

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the awkward comments, teleprompter links, gaffs and general weirdness of the interviews and commentators were far more entertaining (albeit mostly unintentionally so than the matches themselves.

If we were talking about quality only, there's no chance in hell (pun intended) that Vince McMahon would've looked at Wrestlemania and said 'Hey! That was great! Let's do it again!'
Thanfully, he only looked at the bottom line, and some thirty years later, we still have 'the wrestling extravaganza of all time.' 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

January Wrestling Thoughts: In Praise of Big Show/Del Rio and why Dolph Ziggler reminded me of Rick Martel

So I haven't posted a new review since the end of 2012 due to a whole bunch of computer problems and other stuff nobody cares about.

Indeed, because nobody cares about that stuff, I won't go on about it. Though since I haven't posted anything for a while, I felt compelled to talk wrestling and that's exactly what I'll do.

In praise of Alberto Del Rio and Big Show
It may not have been the out-and-out Greatest Show on Earth from an in-ring standpoint, but I must admit I enjoyed this year's Royal Rumble very much.

It occurred to me half way through the Del Rio vs. Big Show Last Man Standing match that both men had a mighty task on their hands and that, indeed anybody would have in that undercard spot.

Such is the legacy and aura surrounding the 'Rumble and the whole Road to Wrestlemania thing that 90% of people tune in or buy a ticket for the sole purpose of seeing the Royal Rumble match itself. Heck, even a great deal of title matches at these shows are often little more than a welcome bonus to the big battle royal itself.

So when the show begins, it isn't always easy to get too excited about the preliminary matches; nobody else is either.

Thus it seems to take something special to really capture the audience's attention in the first part of the show and actually entertain them, rather than, as is often the case, help them to kill time before the 30-man action commences.

This year, with the addition of a blockbuster main event in the form of Rock/Punk, the job of the warm-up acts was particularly tough. Yet, all praise to both Del Rio and Big Show, they succeeded.

Sure, this wasn't the greatest match of all time (it wasn't even the greatest Last Man Standing match of all time), but in the space of fifteen or so minutes my interest in both men and their battle went from being less than nothing to being utterly compelled in how this one would turn out.

I can't help but feel that had this bout main event a caliber show (perhaps a B-Level pay per view would suffice), that Show and Del Rio would have delivered even more, but for an opening match, this was very enjoyable stuff and, if I were wearing a cap right now, I would certainly doth it to both combatants.

The Royal Rumble Match - Expecting the unexpected
It came as little surprise that star-on-the-rise Dolph Ziggler shone brightly in this year's over-the-top-rope encounter. His performance in some ways reminded me of Rick Martel's 1991 showing; the arrogant heel working his backside off to back up his claims and deliver the performance of the evening.

My only disappointment with Ziggler was that he didn't go all the way to the final two.

In my mind, the outcome of this match was a foregone conclusion. For weeks (possibly months) leading into the 'Rumble, I had no doubt that John Cena would emerge victorious; it was a conclusion which made sense and I have no problem with him winning.

That said, it was at least my hope that Ziggler would cement his status as headliner-in-waiting by grappling his way from number one spot to a final showdown with Cena which would surely bookmark their rivalry so that it could be picked up again after 'Mania season and giving The Show Off even more to brag about as he continues his rise up the WWE food chain.

Along with the return of Chris Jericho, Dolph's elimination was one of the rare moments that my emotions were jolted by this pay per view and I was sucked away from the world of cynical smarkdom and back into the pure enjoyment of being a wrestling fan.

The Rock Wins WWE Title to the surprise of just one guy on the Internet. 
Really, did anyone genuinely believe that CM Punk would leave Phoenix with the WWE title still around his waist?

It would have made very little sense in the grand scheme of things, and at least we got a riveting main event out of it.

But hey, apparently this guy didn't think so. I know I shouldn't laugh, but I did. And the follow-up video is even funnier.

Other wrestling I've been watching lately
I may not have been able to review anything lately, but I've still been watching some older pr-wrestling shows, notably Fully Loaded 2000 which was a pretty good show throughout, and WCW Starcade 1999 which was anything but.

I'll eventually sit down to review both those shows, probably in the next couple of weeks, but for now thanks  for reading. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to come join me on Twitter at @allpwrestling or on Pinterest at

Saturday, 22 December 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1993

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - The event poster (notice stars such as Ultimate Warrior, British Bulldog and Crush appearing on the poster but not at the event)
ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California
January 24, 1993

If 1993 was to be the year that the World Wrestling Federation fell to a creative, self-parodying low then the group's first pay per view offering of the year displayed only the slightest hint at the dire levels of mediocrity that were to follow in the coming months.

Indeed, whilst Royal Rumble 1993 was far from the best of its kind to date, it was nonetheless a reasonably enjoyable show.

Here's why:

Our commentators for this evening's broadcast are none other than Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan. The famous duo welcomed us to the show before going on to deliver the kind of classic performance that made them such a legendary double-act in the annals of pro wrestling, complete with Monsoon threatening to 'knock out' The Brain at every opportunity.

With that out of the way, it was on to the action.

The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. The Beverley Brothers (Blake & Beau)
WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott)
In age before he came the 'Genetic Freak,' a barely recognisable (compared to his current form) Scott Steiner made his World Wrestling Federation pay per view debut along with brother Rick 'The Dog Faced Gremlin' Steiner in an enjoyable battle against perennial 'jobbers to the stars' The Beverley Brothers.

Kicking off the show with a tag team match had grown to become something of a Royal Rumble staple over the past several years, and though this year's effort was no match for the outstanding Rockers/Orient Express encounter two years prior, or even the Express/New Foundation bout which followed in '92, this year's tag bout was still a fun affair.

Especially towards the end.

Sure, things may have started out slow, but it didn't take long for the pace, and the action, to pick up and a good, solid contest to ensue.

It would be easy to say that the Steiners, one of the highlights of the NWA before joining McMahon, carried their opponents throughout the match. It would be easy, but it would also be very unfair; the Beverleys worked at least as hard as their opponents here until Blake succumbed to a Frankensteiner to give the win to the newcomers.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers

One of the curious things about this year's show, at least the version your writer was able to get his hands on, was the distinct lack of tween-match promos. Though we didn't get many of them at the 1993 event, we did at least get a good video package recalling the rise, fall and subsequent implosion of one of The Rockers, which of course led us into our first championship match of the night.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Sensational Sherri and her enormous hair
Before the match got underway, Sensational Sherri (who had been managing Shawn Michaels up to the point that she was accidentally struck with a mirror by Marty Jannetty) made her way to ringside sporting a new hairdo bigger than several forests and plonked herself in a neutral corner, where she would pull off some of the most dreadful acting this side of your favourite soap opera throughout the match.

God rest her soul, and your reviewer remains a huge fan of Sherri, but this was not one of her career highlights.

It must certainly be classed as a highlight for the early singles career of one future Hall of Famer. Though not quite up to the standard of their later Monday Night Raw match (following Jannetty's firing and subsequent rehiring due to drugs) this was a compelling match from start to finish.

Depending on what rumours you read online, either Jannetty or Michaels were drunk in this match, and if one of them were, it only serves to make this bout all the more impressive.

Jannetty took it to Michaels in the early going before the champion regained the advantage and pummelled his former partner around the ring for a while.

After teasing whose side she would be on throughout the match, a dorky-looking Sherri eventually saw the light and slapped her former beau. She also tried to nail Michaels with her shoe, though that backfired and it was the challenger who came up on the wrong end of a stiletto.

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Shawn Michaels confronts Sensational Sherri
Shawn and Sherri then played up the incident before Jannetty got to his feet, only to eat a superkick and give the match to the champion.
Your Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels

A distraught Sherri then raced to the back, crying and freaking out whilst Mean Gene Okerlund scolded her like a weary parent admonishing their spoiled, stroppy teenager.

'Damnit Sherri, calm down!" yelled the bald headed one.

As awful as this was, it was still quite unintentionally hillarious, and came to an end when Michaels pursued his ex-consort, only to be attacked by Jannetty. The rivalry continued...

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. The Big Boss Man
Despite reports elsewhere that this was an awful match, rest assured, it wasn't. Though moving at a completely different pace and style than the two matches prior, and the one which would follow, both men made the best of what they had to deliver a decent big-man brawl.

A good guy and friend of Hulk Hogan the last time this reviewer saw him, Bam Bam Bigelow had been absent from the WWF for a number of years, returning in late 1992 as a menacing bad guy and getting his PPV debut against a soon-to-be-departing Big Boss Man.

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Bam Bam Bigelow makes his PPV debut as a heel
Easily the worst match on the card, that isn't actually that big of a criticism given what else was on offer that night in California and this battle of the behemoths was at least watchable.

Unsurprisingly, Bigelow picked up the win with his trademark diving headbutt.
Your Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow

Before the final singles match of the show, we were treated to another video package putting over Razor Ramon as a big menacing bully (especially after he attacked Owen Hart on an episode of WWF Mania) who would stop at nothing to get his hands on the World Wrestling Federation Championship.

Both Razor, and his upcoming opponent Bret 'The Hitman' Hart gave us our only pre-match promos of the night before it was onto our second championship contest.

World Wrestling Federation Championship 
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Razor Ramon
If you believe Hart, his title defence on this show was supposed to be against none other than The Ultimate Warrior. Though such a planned bout has been largely discarded as a Hitman fantasy, it's interesting to note that Warrior was at least on the original poster for the event.

Alas, the face-painted one had left McMahonland before the event, leading us to this makeshift encounter which was arguably better than anything Hart and Warrior could have put together.

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Mean Gene Okerlund interviews World Wrestling Federation Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
With Stu and Helen Hart watching at ringside, the defending champion performed his usual singles match against the dastardly Ramon; that is, a very good match in which The Hitman put his technical prowess against a more aggressive opponent, staggered around the ring making his trademark fish-face for a while and eventually wrapped up his foe in the Sharpshooter.

Arguably one of Scott Hall's better matches that didn't involve Shawn Michaels and a or a ladder, the ending of this match was never really in doubt. Sure, The Bad Guy had been pushed hard since his 1992 debut, but even then it was hard to buy him as a real threat to Hart's title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Throughout the show, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan had coyed excitedly like a kid at Christmas about having the honour of introducing The Narcissus to the World Wrestling Federation.

Apparently, nobody had told Heenan that his new arrival had actually been christened The Narcissist Lex Luger , not that it mattered to the former manager.

The Narcissist Debuts
One-time WCW star and victim of Vince McMahon's failed World Bodybuilding Federation experiment Luger was revealed to WWF audiences flanked by a wall of mirrors.
WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - The Narcissist Lex Luger debuts

Preening, flexing and generally admiring his own chiselled physique, Luger's pose-down was soundtracked by Bobby Heenan gushing and orgasming over the new arrival's admittedly impressive figure.

'Look at those muscles, look at that BACK! Let's hear you speak in your beautiful,melodious voice'  cooed Heenan in a fashion so over-the-top you'd be forgiven for thinking you watching the start of a gay porno than a pro wrestling debut.

Eventually, Luger did speak, insisting that he was 'beyond perfection' and challenging Heenan's nemesis, Mr. Perfect to a match.

With such blatant displays of homoeroticism out out of the way, fans were treated to a bathroom break with the arrival of Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra (or rather, two nobody's portraying the duo, obviously), who hyped that year's Wrestlemania IX taking place at Caesar's Palace. With hindsight, this dreadful segment should have surely served as a warning to just how bad that show would turn out to be.

And with the undercard all finally done and dusted, it was on to the main event.

Royal Rumble Match:
30-man battle royal featuring: Bob Backlund, Ric Flair, Jerry 'The King' Lawler, Papa Shango, Yokozuna, Berzerker, The Undertaker, The Natural Disasters, 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, Mr. Perfect, Damien Demento and more.

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Bob Backlund was a highlight (and record breaker) of the Royal Rumble match
In the modern era of the WWE, we're all used to the tradition that the winner of the Royal Rumble match goes on to challenge for the gold at Wrestlemania, though some of us probably forget that it was this match that began that tradition.

Sure, that made the outcome somewhat limited, especially in a match cluttered with life-long midcarders nobody would ever buy as viable headliners (at least not at the time), but it certainly made for an interesting dynamic, especially in the early going.

Last year's winner and then-current Rumble record holder (for longest time in the ring) Ric Flair drew this year's number one spot, getting the match under way against a recently returning Bob Backlund, himself former champion with a five-plus year reign.

Before long, they were joined by Ted Dibiase and Jerry 'The King' Lawler and though most have declared the 1992 match to the be the most star-studded ever, it was a treat for this old-school fan to see four legends of different eras and territories all going at it in the ring at the same time.

Sure, they may have been several (in some cases many) years past their peak, but it was still a thrill to see them all going at it. Papa Shango and Brian Knobbs made brief cameos too, and Virgil hung around for a while, but it was the Flair/Backlund/Dibiase/Lawler exchanges which were early highlights.

Speaking of highlights, it was Bob Backlund's turn to set a new time record this year and, as with previous Rumble record holders, Backlund pretty much stole the show single-handily. Lasting for just over an hour, Backlund worked his pasty white butt off in this match and had the crowds rooting for his every action throughout the match.

As an interesting side note, the Rumble time record had been broken every single year since Bret Hart set it at 25+ minutes at the first event in 1998. After Backlund's new 61+ minute record in 1993, the record wouldn't be broken again until Chris Benoit took the honour in 2001.

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - Giant Gonzales debuts and confronts The Undertaker
Back to this year's match, and just like most years, the action was broken into two halves by something rather unexpected.

This time out, it was the debut of Harvey Wippleman's new charge Giant Gonzales who made his way to the ring in his now infamous Nearly Naked Neandethol Man attire and beat the hell out of The Undertaker, setting up their Worst Match in the History of the World encounter at Wrestlemania IX.

Other notable events included:

  • Carlos Colon entering at #24 and even Gorilla Monsoon having trouble recognising him. Monsoon then referred to 45 year-old Colon as a 'youngster.'
  • Bobby Heenan referring to Typhoon as 'Tugboat'
  • Mr. Perfect eliminating Flair to a huge ovation (Perfect would beat Flair in a 'loser-leaves-WWF' match the following night on Raw)
  • Earthquake and Yokozuna beating each other up
It was Yoko himself who eventually triumphed. After disposing of Backlund, he and Randy Savage went at it in a fantastic exchange which saw the former champion really make a star out of his larger opponent. After absorbing a huge amount of punishment, Savage eventually got the better of Yoko, nailed him with the Flying Elbow Drop and, ridiculously, attempted to pin him.

Yoko 'kicked out' and Savage literally jumped over the top rope to eliminate himself, bringing about one of the most contrived and stupid endings to a Rumble match ever.
Your Winner: Yokozuna 

WWF/WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1993 - "I'll knock you out!" Monsoon and Heenan were hysterical on commentary

A promising start to an otherwise dire year for the World Wrestling Federation then, the 1993 Royal Rumble event was at least an entertaining show. The rumble match itself wasn't nearly as boring as some critics would have you believe, and the Intercontinental Championship match alone is worth checking out this pay per view. 
Really though, apart from Bob Backlund's stand-out performance, the true highlight of this show was the hysterical banter from our hosts Monsoon and Heenan. More on form than they ever had been, the duo made even the dullest of moments that much better. Trust me, no matter how many times you hear Gorilla say "I'll knock you out," to Heenan (or even threaten to get somebody else to do it), it only gets more and more hilarious.

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.