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

Saturday, 9 February 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 2

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - EVENT POSTER
New 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 welcoming 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.'

Indeed.

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 http://pinterest.com/allpwrestling/

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:

Welcome
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.

Friday, 14 December 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1992

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Event poster
Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, New York
January 19, 1992


Following the controversy surrounding the WWF Championship matches between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker at both Survivor Series 1991, the title was vacated and thus the World Wrestling Federation entered 1992 without a champion at the helm. 

As a result, for the first and only time in WWF/WWE history, the WWF title was on the line in a Royal Rumble match many have declared to be the greatest of all time.

Was the show really that good? Let's find out, shall we?

Welcome
This year's show opens with the one and only Mean Gene Okerlund giving us a run-down of the thirty men who will be competing for the title later on in the show before our commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan welcome us to New York's Knickerbocker Arena, a venue which would eventually be renamed to the less-ridiculous Times Union Centre.

Onto the action at last, and Howard Finkle welcomes us to our opening tag team 'attraction.' Personally, I think I preferred it better when it was an 'encounter' the year prior.






The Orient Express (Kato & Tanaka w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The New Foundation (Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart & 'The Rocket' Owen Hart)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The New Foundation (Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart & 'The Rocket' Owen Hart) vs. The Orient Express (Kato & Tanaka, w/ Mr. Fuji)
If fairytale hero Aladdin forged a hip-hop career in the early 1990s, you'd have to believe that his backing dancers would be attired in much the same way as The Anvil and The Rocket.

Indeed, it's probably fair to say that the baggy trousers and racing flag patterns adorned by Owen and Jim were the most memorable thing about the short-lived team of The New Foundation, though not far behind must surely be this very enjoyable tag team team contest against The Orient Express.

Showing early signs of the flare, technical wizardry and high flying excellence which would endear him to wrestling fans throughout his career, the late, great Owen Hart was undoubtedly the star of this opening match. Surprising both crowds and announcers with moves likely never seen before in a WWF ring and keeping the New York audience in a frenzy.

His partner, Jim Neidhart also played his part well, adding brute force in a match littered with smaller competitors. Perhaps rejuvenated thanks to his partnership with brother-in-law Owen, the former tag team champion looked better here than he had for some time. Elsewhere, Kato and Tanaka looked good as the wily villains keeping Owen isolated from his corner for an elongated babyface-in-peril spot.

Following a great opening contest, The New Foundation picked up the victory thanks to the Rocket Launcher.

Every now and again, Monsoon and Heenan would divert their attention to the other bouts on tonight's card, including a recap of how Bret 'The Hitman' Hart came to lose his Intercontinental Championship without once mentioning The Hitman's relationship to either Owen or Neidhart.
Your Winners: The New Foundation

Speaking of Hart's Intercontinental Title woes, Lord Alfred Heyes gave us a further recap of the situation. In a nutshell, Bret, 'running a temperature of 104 degrees' defended the title 'against doctors orders (depending on who you believe, the backstage situation was either that Hart was considering a move to WCW, or that this was nothing more than to set him up for Wrestlemania), and subsequently lost to The Mountie.

The new IC champ then proceeded to beat down on his victim, only for Rowdy Roddy Piper to rush to the rescue. Mountie took him out too, and thus we had tonight's Intercontinental Championship match.

Pre-match promos
Revelling in the victory, Mountie's manager Jimmy Hart gloated to Sean Mooney about his man's title win, before The Mountie turned his attention to his challenger, vowing to take Piper's manhood, integrity and um, his skirt.

In a manner akin to a delightfully delirious drunk, Piper offered a retort, basically insinuating that 'Jacques Rougeau' (yes, he used The Mountie's real name, shock horror!) was something of a homosexual and vowing to beat him in the following contest.

Intercontinental Championship Match:
Intercontinental Champion The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie for the Intercontinental Championship
One of the biggest disappointments in professional wrestling history must surely be the solo career of Jacques Rougeau. Highly entertaining both between the ropes and in character, with brother Raymond as The Fabulous Rougeaus, and again when teaming with Carl Ouellet as The Quebeccers later in his career, Rougeau was nonetheless one of the most boring in-ring stars during his early-90s run as The Mountie.

It was Piper who saved this match from falling flat, though even The Rowdy One's antics couldn't save the only single's match on the card (and The Mountie's only IC title defence) from being anything more than watchable.

Thankfully, the whole thing didn't last too long. Piper swiftly put his opponent away with a sleeper hold to pick up not only the win, but the first and only singles title of his WWF career.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Rowdy Roddy Piper wins the Intercontinental Championship
Your winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: 'Rowdy' Roddy Pipper

In al honesty, the whole match was worth it just to hear The Fink's classic 'And NEW...' line. If there's one thing this writer truly misses from the good old day's it's Finkle on the mic.

Heading to one our beloved Coliseum Home Video Exclusives next, Lord Alfred Hayes got a few word from the Immortal Hulk Hogan.

In your standard Hogan promo, the Hulkster promised to win the WWF title in the Royal Rumble match and, in something of a theme of the night for the former champion, talked about how this was his cup of tea.

The Bushwhackers Jameson
If you don't remember Jameson, grubby uber-nerd, Prime Time Wrestling star and friend of The Bushwhackers, consider yourself lucky.

Pure Wrestlecrap if ever there was such a thing (I'm only sad that the actual Wrestlecrap induction of Jameson wasn't online at time of writing), Jameson was a revolting, utterly annoying character who was somehow supposed to be a babyface. Here, he joined The Bushwhackers in a pre-match promo in which they promised that the next match would be The Beverley Brothers 'final fling' whatever that meant.

The Bushwhackers (Luke & Butch w/ Jameson) vs. The Beverley Brothers (Blake & Beau w/ The Genius)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The Bushwhackers with Jameson
Imagine the worst professional wrestling match you've ever seen in your whole life, multiply it by infinity and add some annoying git eating his own tie at ringside  and you're probably half-way close to matching the awfulness of this utterly awful affair.

The only good thing about this bout was the commentary from Monsson and Heenan.

In what was by far the worst tag team match that ever happened, The Bushwhackers spent the first six months trying desperately to work the crowd. The effort seemed to have the opposite effect and only served to put the New York audience to sleep. For the next twelve years, The Beverley's beat up on The Bushwhackers until they finally defeated them to end the pain.

Or not, since afterwards we had another sixteen millennia to wait whilst Jameson kicked The Genius in the shin to the delight of absolutely nobody.
Your Winners: The Beverley Brothers

In many ways, I feel like something terrible happened to my life from which I will never recover after watching that terrible thing.

A Word with The Legion of Doom
Prior to their upcoming Word Tag Team Championship defence against The Natural Disasters, champions Hawk & Animal delivered a fairly compelling promo.

"[Typhoon & Earthquake] wanna throw their weight around," quipped Hawk "Well that's OK, we wanna throw your weight around too!"

World Tag Team Championship Match:
WWF World Tag Team Champions The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon w/ Jimmy Hart)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Tag Team Title Match - The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) defended against The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon)
For the first part of this tag team title defence, nothing happened. As the match wore on, nothing continued to happen, and then it was over.

That's the whole match in a nutshell. An entirely dull encounter only made marginally better by the occasional bright spot from The L.O.D and, again, the hilarious banter between our commentary team.

The Disasters eventually won by count-out to end a very underwhelming contest.
Your winners via count-out The Natural Disasters (L.O.D retain the titles)

With the undercard out of the way, it was onto the obligatory promofest spot before the main event.

"Right now, let's take you to Sean Mooney," bellowed Gorilla Monsoon.
"Who?" replies Heenan in one of the more subtly humorous in an altogether hilarious exchange between the two men which ran throughout the show.

PromoRama
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Shawn Michaels talks to Sean Mooney
As it happened, Mooney was standing by to greet a clearly irate Natural Disasters. Jimmy Hart vowed to call both his lawyer and his attorney (huh?) after which Earthquake and Typhoon swore that they were the tag team champions (cue jokes about Kane and Daniel Bryan).

Next, Rowdy Roddy Piper took one step closer to insanity by asking Mean Gene Okerlund where else could a 'skinny fifteen year-old kid come on down and be the Intercontinental Champion'

Who knew that Piper wasn't a grown, muscular adult, but a 'skinny fifteen year-old'?

Back to Sean Mooney, he and Shawn Michaels recapped Michaels' heel turn against former partner Marty Jannety, with the future Hall of Famer insisting that he had saved Jannety from '29 other beatings' and that he was about to become World Wrestling Federation Champion.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The Nature Boy Ric Flair talks to Lord Alfred Hayes
'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair told Lord Alfred Hayes that he had drawn number three in the Rumble match (this was another Coliseum Home Video Exclusive, so apparently the announcers had no idea when Flair would arrive once the match got started), but that it didn't matter anyway because he was still going to win.

Finally, we got the usual brief "I'm gonna win the Royal Rumble" spots from a bunch of competitors, the highlights of which included:

'The Macho Man' Randy Savage talked about getting his hands on Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and becoming WWF Champion, Sid Justice asking us to open our eyes and look at the next champion, The Repo Man giggling like a mischievous school boy, The British Bulldog getting confused and claiming that London was his hometown, and Hulk Hogan going on about cups of tea again like it was the first time he'd heard of the stuff.
WWF Championship Royal Rumble Match
30-Man Battle Royal featuring: The British Bulldog, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Sid Justice, Hulk Hogan, Ted Dibiase, Jake Roberts, Texas Tornado, Sgt. Slaughter, Roddy Piper and more.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Sensational Sherri leads Ted Dibiase to the ring for the Rumble match
And so it was finally down to the main event, the first (and, as of 2012 last) time that the WWF Championship title was on the line in the Royal Rumble Match.

Prior to the match kicking off, WWF President Jack Tunney took to the microphone to basically repeat everything Howard Finkle had said only seconds ago. Surrounded by a chorus of boos from the Knickerbocker crowd, Tunney then gave permission for the best man to win the match, and we were off at last.

'The British Bulldog' Davey Boy Smith was our number-one entrant, starting this year's battle against 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase.

The two kicked things off with a fairly entertaining exchange, though despite a usually impressive show in the Rumble, this was not to be Dibiase's year and he was swiftly clobbered over the top rope, leaving the Bulldog to await the arrival of entrant number three, Ric Flair.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The British Bulldog celebrates eliminating Ted Dibiase from the competition
Much like he would with his now-famous 'but who's side is he on!?!' line four years later, Heenan pretty much telegraphed the ending to this one right from the outset, talking with Monsoon througout the contest about how much Flair had to overcome the odds to claim the gold.

Bulldog and Flair controlled the opening minutes of the match, with Nasty Boy Jerry Sags putting in a brief cameo before being eliminated by Smith, who went right back to work in a thrilling exchange with The Nature Boy.

It's moments like this, watching the Bulldog in action, that you have to wonder if, had he stayed clean and were it not for that thick Lancastrian accent (and trust me, I come from the same town as The Bulldog, I know how we sound!), Davey Boy could have been a major main event player in the 1990s.

The Bulldog was certainly a joy to watch throughout his one-hour plus contribution to the match, and was one of the many highlights throughout an admittedly incredible Royal Rumble match before Flair himself tossed the Wigan-born grappler over and out.

Alas, the one-on-one encounter was  interrupted by the entrance of Haku (also eliminated by The Bulldog) and Shawn Michaels, who gave an impressive performance of his own during his 15 minutes or so between the ropes.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The wrestlers try to throw each other over the ropes
The ring began to slowly fill with superstars, each one brawling around the ring in entertaining fashion. Eventually however, the eliminations began to fly thick and fast until The Nature Boy found himself all alone in the ring. Flair's respite from the action however was short lived, the legendary wrestler recalling in horror as Rowdy Roddy Piper made his way to ringside.

If this had been a fun contest so far, things only got better with the second half of the match, a more star-studded affair featuring headline stars such as Hulk Hogan, Sid, Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Sgt. Slaughter and, erm, Virgil.

The action came thick and hard, everyone doing their best to make this one of the most memorable Rumble matches to date as they vied for the World Title until only Hogan, Sid and Flair remained.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Sid Justice mauls I.R.S
Supposedly on the same side, Sid drew the ire of Hogan by eliminating him from the competition, causing the former champion to act like the proverbial sore loser and try his damnedest to pull Sid over the ropes (seriously, it's when I write things like that, and when I think about some of Hogan's kayfabe tactics, that I have to wonder how the hell he was booked as a good guy).

That allowed Flair to toss Sid over the ropes, win the match, and ultimately the title.
Your Winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion, Ric Flair.

Mr. Perfect made his way to share in Flair's glory, though the celebrations were shortlived as Hogan once again had to have the final word, this time getting into a pull-apart argument with Sid which actually saw the crowd firmly behind Mr. Justice.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Ric Flair gives an interview after winning the WWF/WWE Title for the first time
Finally, WWF President Jack Tunney presented new Undisputed WWF Champion Ric Flair with his title. As Mean Gene held a microphone for the new champion, Flair said that 'to beat the man, you had to beat the man (wooh!)' and that the WWF title was the only wrestling championship that mattered.

Bobby Heenan (who had raced from the commentary position to join his allies) and Mr. Perfect also rejoiced in Flair's victory, claiming that, whilst they hated to say they told us so, well, they told us so.

In a completely bizarre moment, Mean Gene Okerlund then admonished somebody off camera for lighting a cigarette. It was both surreal and incredibly funny at the same time.

The final word, of course, went to the new champion, and that was all we had for the World Wrestling Federation 1992 Royal Rumble event.






So, was the 1992 Royal Rumble match really the greatest of all time? It's certainly up there among the best, though this writer has to believe that the 1991 bout was marginally more entertaining
Still, after an absolutely appalling undercard (when Jim Neidhart is part of the best non-main-event match, you know something's gone awry), it was so refreshing to spend over an hour indulging in some truly gripping action culminating in one of the most memorable title wins of the decade. Maybe not the greatest of all time then, but certainly up there.

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.