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, 18 May 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Summerslam 1993

WWF / WWE Summerslam 1993: Event poster
August 30, 1993
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan

It was the summer of 1993 and the Lex Express had rolled its way across the United States of America in an attempt to turn the former Narcissist Lex Luger into something akin to Hulk Hogan 2.0.

Fresh from slamming WWF Champion Yokozuna on Independence Day (thus turning babyface in process), America's new favourite patroit traversed the country on a 'Call to Action' tour, drumming up support for his one and only title shot against big Yoko.

That title shot, plus a bunch of other stuff, would take place tonight at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Here's went down.

Summerslam pre-show
Before any of tonight's action got underway, we were 'treated' to a special pre-show, live, apparently from Todd Pettengill's house.

With his fritos, over-sized soda and Summerslam program at the ready, Pettengill basically lounged around on his sofa, talking in his usual goofy manner and running down tonight's card.

Despite the somewhat silly premise, the pre-show was nonetheless an effective way to explain the background to each of tonight's main storylines. Watching this show some 21 years after it took place, it was pretty handy, and there was nothing too offensive involved until it ended with this overly-sentimental, gag-inducing music video for Lex Luger.

With that out of the way  then, it was on with the show.

Welcome everyone to the Palace of Auburn Hills!
WWF Summerslam 1993 began with Mean Gene Okerlund giving us the abridged version of Lex Luger's recent storyline over footage of the challenger arriving at The Palace of Auburn Hills earlier that evening.

Cut away to the opening graphic, after which announcer Vince McMahon growled a throaty Welcome everywaaaaaaaan and we were live in The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Joining McMahon on commentary for tonight's action, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan got his 'money-grabbing hands' (his words, not mine), ready for the arrival of our opening match.

The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase vs. Razor Ramon
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Razor Ramon vs. Ted Dibiase
The story behind this one was hardly the stuff that heated rivalries are made of, but it was certainly a simple, effective way to get two talented wrestlers together in one match.

Having been upset by plucky youngster The 123 Kid, Razor Ramon was routinely mocked and goaded by Ted Dibiase, the latter even suggesting that 'The Bad Guy' hang up the tights and take a job as The Million Dollar Man's domestic servant instead.

Unsurprisingly, Ramon declined Dibiase's offer, instead challenging him to a match at Summerslam.

The result was this, a solid opening contest that served its purpose well in getting the Michigan crowd well fired up.

It always strikes this writer as odd when fans look down on those opening the show. Second only to the main event itself, a show's first match surely must be the most important on the card. It's this spot that sets the tone for the rest of the event, warming up the crowd and getting them psyched for more action.

To that end, both Ramon and Dibiase did a stellar job. 

After trading the advantage several times, The Bad Guy slammed his opponent's head into an exposed turnbuckle and nailed him with the Razor's edge, causing Ted Dibiase to eat the three count in what would be his final wrestling match in a WWF ring.

With the years on top finally catching up with him, Ted Dibiase would soon retire completely. After a few months in All Japan, Dibiase returned to the World Wrestling Federation for a stint on commentary, before inflicting Fake Undertaker on the world and ultimately going on to form the Million Dollar Corporation stable.
Your Winner: Ted Dibiase

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Todd Pettengil apparently watched the show at home and was there live at the same time!
Out in the crowd, Todd Pettingill interviewed The Steiner Brothers' mother and sister in one of the worst interview segments ever seen on WWF PPV.

'What was it like when they were kids? Were you always telling them "No Frankensteiners!?"' Todd asked of Momma Steiner.
'Sure,' she replied, clearly having no clue what was going on. 'Whatever you say, it sounds good!'

For her part, the Steiner Sister referred to Rick as 'Rob,' probably confusing thousands of casual fans the world over.

Thankfully, this awkward moment was interupted by the arrival of James E. Cornette, who led his team of The Heavenly Bodies down to ringside for our next match.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers (Rob Rick & Scott) vs. The Heavenly Bodies (Gigolo Jimmy Del Ray & Doctor. Tom Pritchard w/ Jim Cornette)
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Tag Team Championship Match - Steiner Brothers vs. Heavenly Bodies
Hey, wait a minute. Wasn't Todd Pettengill supposed to be watching Summerslam at home with his Fritos? Just couldn't keep away, could you, Todd?

Anyway, that aside, what we had here was an exciting tag team match as The Steiners, adorned  in the purple and gold of the University of Michigan, went up against Smokey Mountain Wrestling mainstays The Heavenly Bodies.

Your textbook tag match, with Scotty playing the proverbial babyface in peril (this in the days when he still looked human and could get away with such things) for much of the match before the inevitable hot tag led to a couple of Steiner-Lines courtesy of the Dog Face Gremlin.

Pritchard turned tides again for his team, striking Rick with Cornette's tennis racket. Alas, it was not to be the 'Bodies day. Scott produced a Frankensteiner, Rick made the cover, and the WWF tag team champions retained their gold.
Your Winners and still WWF Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers

Backstage, some guy called Joe Fowler spoke with Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and his bodyguard, Diesel. Michaels claimed that the argument over who was the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time would be settled tonight when he faced Mr. Perfect. For his part, Diesel claimed his only job was to keep 'the chicks' off the champion's back.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Joe Fowler interviewed Diesel and Shawn Michaels about the latter's Intercontinental Championship match against Mr. Perfect
For those wondering, Joe Fowler was an actor who was in Mighty Ducks and Independence Day. Admittedly, I didn't know either, and had to turn to IMDB.

Needless to say, Fowler didn't last long in the World Wrestling Federation. The most I can find about his tenure with the company was that he did Summerslam 1993 and a handful of stuff from the 'WWF Command Centre' and that was all she wrote, but hey, with Pettengill still around, why would the WWF need another goofy, over-excitable mic man?

That aside then, let's get back to the matches.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Diesel) vs. Mr. Perfect)
Given who was involved, this one had all the potential to be an absolute classic. Sadly, our second championship match of the evening didn't quite live up to expectations, but it was still Michaels vs. Perfect, a match with two men who, even at their worst, could produce a match a thousand times better than many men could do at their best.

Starting off slowly, with both men trading holds and feeling each other out, the match gradually picked up the pace into a fast, exciting affair with sound wrestling from both champion and challenger.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Intercontinental Championship match - Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect
With the crowd firmly behind Mr. Perfect, the former IC champion really took it to the reigning champion, but alas, another reign was not in the cards. 

After a great match, the action spilled to the outside, where HBK landed a sweet looking superkick to the jaw of his opponent. Returning to the ring for a few, Perfect once again found himself on the outside, where he fell victim to an attack by Diesel which gave the champion a win via countout.

It may not have been the ideal ending to a pay per view title match, but given Michaels' role at the time as a dastardly heel who would do anything he could to keep the gold around his waist, it was at least an appropriate finale to a solid effort.
Your winner via countout and still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels

In the post-match, Diesel clocked Mr. Perfect in the ring, knocking him out cold. As the reigning champion made his way backstage, Todd Pettingill grabbed Shawn Michaels, asking whether he was happy to retain his belt in such a cowardly way. Michaels insisted that all the questions had been answered, and that he was still the greatest Intercontinental Champion.

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund also asked Shawn Michaels for comments in a Coliseum Home Video Exclusive. Michaels basically repeated exactly the same thing he'd just told Pettingill before Perfect returned and attacked him.

A gang of officials including Pat Patterson, Shane McMahon and Bill Alfonso eventually broke up the scuffle and we were sent to the relative calm of another Joe Fowler interview.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: 123 Kid vs. I.R.S
This time, Fowler was standing by with the 123 Kid, who was on something of a roll, having defeated both Razor Ramon and Ted Dibiase in upset victories. 

Whether it was all part of his character as the perenial underdog, or genuine nerves at making his WWF PPV debut, the future WCW Crusiersweight Champion came across as incredibly shy and awkward in his vow to 'give it a hundred and ten percent and throw caution to the wind.'

I.R.S vs. 123 Kid
Prior to his opponents arrival, I.R.S claimed that Michigan was known as Tax Cheat City, or something like that, much to the chagrin of the live audience.

Their jeers turned into raucous cheers with the introduction of 123 Kid, and a great little match was underway.

Other fans have referred to this contest as little more than a squash match, but in this reviewer's mind, that hardly seems fair.

Yes, I.R.S was in control for much of the bout, but this was much more than your usual Superstars fodder. An entertaining, quick-paced match, of which the Kid's big comeback was a genuine highlight, this one was very enjoyable despite its limited time.

Unfortunately, aforementioned comeback was shortlived. I.R.S took down his rival with a brutal clothesline for the win.
Your Winner: I.R.S

Despite having competed in a dark match earlier on (in a winning effort against Barry Horrowitz), Owen Hart apparently had to buy a ticket to watch brother Bret take on Jerry 'The King' Lawler in our next match.

The Rocket was joined on the front row by his other brother, Bruce, and the two were interviewed by Pettengill, saying nothing that was  very interesting.

Jerry cries off
Scheduled to face Bret 'The Hitman' Hart after viciously assaulting the former WWF Champion at that year's King of the Ring pay per view, Jerry Lawler instead limped to the ring on crutches and claimed to have been involved in a car accident, caused by some little old later, that had badly damaged his knee.

Rendered 'unable to compete' Lawler then announced his substitute in the form of his 'very own court jester', Doink the Clown.

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Doink the Clown
With Hulk Hogan out of the picture, Matt 'Doink' Bourne was left as one of only two men to have competed at the first Wrestlemania still featuring regularly on WWF pay per view (the other, of course, being Mike 'I.R.S' Rotundo).

Here, the wiley veteran put his skills to work in a good effort against The Hitman, though not before he soaked Bruce Hart with water, causing the Hart brothers to jump the rail and get a few shots in on the clown.

Picking up where his siblings left off, Bret brought Doink back into the ring to begin a good, if not necessarily great match. 

Just when it looked like Bret was about to put Doink away, Lawler, who had been watching at ringside, revealed his injury to be a ruse (shock, horror!), leaping up into the ring to attack The Excellence of Execution with his crutch.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Bret Hart

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993:  Bret Hart vs. Jerry LawlerOn cue, WWF President Jack Tunney made his way to ringside, stating that, since Lawler had proved himself able to compete, he had to wrestle right there and then or else face permenant suspension from the World Wrestling Federation.

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Jerry 'The King' Lawler
Following a wild, enjoyable five minute brawl that reignited the Michigan faithful, Bret Hart used Lawler's own patented piledriver against him before slapping on the Sharpshooter.

As predicted, Lawler quickly gave up.

Less predictably, The Hitman refused to release the hold. The usual 'Men in Shirts' contingent rushed to the ringside to intervene, yet Hart was unrelenting, syncing the hold in tighter as retribution for the anguish Lawler had caused to his family in the build up to this contest. 

Eventually, after cheering on their brother from ringside, Owen and Bruce hit the ring and bargained with their brother. 

Hart finally let Lawler go, but was punished for his actions by having the decision reversed. Jerry Lawler was thus named the 'Undisputed King of the World wrestling Federation' and, in a stupid move, Bret Hart actually looked surprised at the referee's decision.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Jerry Lawler

Post match, officials tried to get Lawler onto a stretcher, through their progress was hindered by a second attack from Bret, a shot from Bruce, and a final double ax-handle from the apron courtesy of The Rocket.

The King was finally carried away on a stretcher, raising his arm in victory, much to the ire of the crowd, as The Hitman celebrated in the ring with his siblings.

Ludvig Borga has words for Lex Luger
In a pre-taped vignette, Ludvig Borga wandered about in some rundown part of town, talking about how the United States was falling apart, and how he was gunning for the one and only Lex Luger.

Wrapping things up, Borga said "I'm going to take my opportunity to show all of these so-called American wrestlers, AND Marty Jannetty, what Ludvig Borga is all about.'

Whether Borga was insinuating that Jannetty was not a wrestler, or not an American citizen, will forever remain one of professional wrestling's great unsolved mysteries.

Colliseum Home Video exclusive time!
Backstage, Mean Gene caught up with Bret, Bruce and Owen Hart for an always entertaining Coliseum Home Video Exclusive.

'I couldn't believe that  they reversed the decision,' quipped Okerlund.
'You couldn't believe it? My brothers couldn't believe it, my fans couldn't believe it, and I couldn't believe it.' replied the Hitman.

Come on dude, seriously? You held Lawler in that sharpshooter for like three whole minutes after you'd already won the match.

Anyway, Hart promised that things were not over between himself and The King. Bruce claimed that the Hart family were coming for Lawler, and Owen said that Lawler deserved a broken leg.


Ludvig Borga vs. Marty Jannetty
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Marty Jannetty vs. Ludvig Borga
True story: Around this time, Marty Jannetty was my absolute favourite wrestler. Look, I was nine years old at the time and for reasons that I can't quite fathom 21 years later, Janetty looked like the coolest dude in the world.

Though perhaps not so much here, where, despite a valiant effort against Finland's finest, he was ultimately pulverized and put away quickly.

To those who were watching at the time, this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Borga's star was still on the rise in the summer of 1993, and killing people dead was pretty much his thing.

As the Finnish Fiend destroyed the former Rocker, Heenan and McMahon took the time to put over Borga's achievements in boxing, powerlifting and well, just about everything apart from professional wrestling.

Not a great match by any standards, and certainly not anything you need to seek out, though in no means was this necessarily bad. Just dull, perhaps, and ending quickly thanks to Borga's Torture Rack.
Your Winner: Ludvig Borga

Whatever happened in between the previous match and our upcoming encounter, it was cut out of his home video release, meaning we went straight down to Howard Finkle, who announced that our next match would be the 'no countout, no DQ' Rest in Peace match between The Undertaker and arch-rival Giant Gonzales.

Rest In Peace Match
Giant Gonzalez (w/ Harvey Wippleman) vs. The Undertaker 
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Rest in Peace match - The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez
You have to wonder what kind of drugs the WWF brain trust were smoking when they looked at the first Gonzales/Taker clash at Wrestlemania 9 and thought 'Hey, that went well, let's do it again at Summerslam!'

The way both matches turned out, this writer can only assume it was pretty strong stuff.

Which sadly couldn't be said about anything that took place here. 

Since we last saw these two on ppv, Gonzalez' manager Harvey Wippleman had enlisted the services of Mr. Hughes to steal the Undertaker's coveted urn, and take out his manager, Paul Bearer.

As a result, The Phenom made his way to the ring solo and threw himself around the ring for the best part of ten minutes to try and create an at least passable offering.

For his part, Giant Gonzalez basically stood around in a new suit, one featuring much more airbrushed hair than his famed 'flesh suit.' Speaking of that suit, did you know that it turned up on Ebay last year, signed by old El Gigante himself?

If you think I'm spending more time talking about Gonzalez' attire to the detriment of covering the action, allow me to correct you. There was no action, at least not until Paul Bearer returned to the WWF, knocked out Wippleman and took the urn back.

That gave The Deadman the strength to clothesline the Giant half a dozen times, finally taking him off his feet with a flying clothesline and scoring the pin. 

That whole 'no countout, no dq thing? barely came in to play.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Afterwards, Giant Gonzales took his frustrations out on Wippleman, chokeslamming him to hell and ultimately turning babyface in the process for a run that would last all of five minutes before he left the company that October.

Cutting to the back, our old friend Joe Fowler held the microphone aloft as Jim Cornette cut an explosive promo on behalf of WWF Champion Yokozuna and manager Mr. Fuji.

Cornette expressed his outrage at the outcome of the earlier Heavenly Bodies/Steiner Brothers clash, though vowed that Yoko would not suffer the same fate as the Doctor and the Gigolo. Rather, Cornette claimed that Yokozuna was going to tear Lex Luger in an absolutely thrilling promo that ended with just one word from our champion:


Six Man Tag Team Match:
Tatanka & The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon) & The Headshrinkers (Fatu & Samu w/ Afa)
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Six Man Tag - Tatanka & The Smoking Guns vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & The Headshrinkers
The look Native Indian Tatanka passed to Cowboys The Smoking Guns as the three arrived for this contest was priceless. For their part, Billy and Bart could only look on and applaud the undefeated Tatanka. 'Hey dude, we're all friends here, right?'

Friends or not, all six men worked together almost flawlessly to produce a strong six-man tag team match which, on paper, should have been little more than pre-main-event filler.

Far surpassing most expectations, this strong, exciting match did a great job of enhancing the ongoing rivallry between Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka, while giving the Gunn brothers an opportunity to mix it up with one of the WWF's premier tag teams.

Following some good action before an admittedly subdued crowd, Tatanka survived a Triple Flying Headbutt attempt from his three adversaries and rolled up Samu for the three count.
Your Winners: Tatanka and The Smoking Gunns 

Outside the arena, our buddy Joe Fowler spoke with Hank Carter, the driver of the Lex Express tour bus. Carter, who apparently couldn't even get a ticket to the show his troubles, had been watching the whole show from a small screen on the coach. Speaking to fowler, the coach driver put over Luger as some kind of modern day saint, and, obviously, picked him to win the upcoming WWF Championship match.Kiotika Suzuki
Out in the arena, Todd Pettengill hung out with some drunk, grown-up man called Bruce whose mother had made him a cute little red, white and blue suit.

With that out of the way, it was onto our main event.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji) vs. Lex Luger
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: WWF Title Match - Lex Luger vs. WWF Champion Yokozuna
Adding to the big match spectacle of the hottest main event of the summer, we had a whole pre-match ritual in which both competitors' countries were well represented.

Howard Finkle drew huge heel heat, asking the Michigan faithful to show some respect for Kiotika Suzuki, on hand to sing the Japanese National Anthem. The Internet gives me nothing on Suzuki other than his appearance at this very event, so if anyone reading knows more about him than that, please do let me know in the comments below.

Following Suzuki's heat-inducing singing, Finkle had a chance to redeem himself by introducing our Master of Ceremonies for the main event, none other than Macho Man Randy Savage, accompanied by 'singing sensation' Aaron Neville.

Savage worked the crowd, before turning over to Neville, who promptly handed over the Stars and Stripes flag he'd been carrying to belt out the US National Anthem.

In the background, former Orient Express member Akio Sato stood waiting, ready to fly the Japanese flag on behalf of the WWF Champion.

After much ado then, we finally got our entrances, Yoko with his usual geisha and an entourage which included Jim Cornette in a neckbrace (selling an angle from Smokey Mountain Wrestling which wasn't mentioned once on this show), and Luger with an introduction which saw Macho Man refer to him as 'the next World Wrestling Federation Champion.'

And then, finally, it was underway, the most well-built match of the year, champion vs. challenger, USA vs. Japan, Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna.

Was it any good? Well yes, actually.

Having never seen this match before, I'll admit to being pleasantly surprised that this wasn't an absolute stinker.

Of course, it helps that Yoko could move incredibly well for his size, but give Luger his credit, he really worked well here to prove himself worthy of main event status.

Following an explosive start, the action spilled to the outside, where, in this normal-sanctioned match, the count out and usual disqualification rules were ignored much more than in our earlier Rest in Peace match.

Regardless of the rules, the crowd were certainly wild for this one, sitting on the edge of their seats, hearts in their mouths with every near fall, waiting for the moment Luger finally made the three count, waiting, for a moment that would sadly never come.

Admittedly, I haven't read enough dirt sheet goss or seen enough shoot interviews to understand why this match turned out the way it did (other than the urban legend that Luger gave the game away in a bar the night before, which I don't believe), but even now it doesn't make sense.

A win for Luger here would have been the perfect ending to the summer-long storyline of the one time Narcissist taking pride in something more than his own appearance, standing up for his country and battling the Big Monster From Japan, en route to the WWF title and status as a true American hero.

Instead, this dramatic main event contest came to a disappointing finale via countout. After finally bodyslamming the champion, Luger stupidly forearm-smashed Yoko to the outside, where the big man lay, out cold. The referee counted, Luger beat up on Fuji and Cornette, and Lex Luger won by countout.
Your Winner via Countout: Lex Luger (Yokozuna retains the WWF Championship)

Joined in the ring by Savage, The Steiners and Tatanka for a celebration of epic proportions, Luger was drowned in red, white and blue balloons whilst Vince McMahon sold the victory as though Luger had single-handily won World War 2 or something.

The fact that Yoko retained the WWF Title was barely mentioned until the very end, and even then, it came as an afterthought to the feel good ending to Summerslam 1993.

Wrapping things up at last, we got another look at that overly-sentimental Hero video that I posted at the top of this review.

In all honesty, Summerslam 1993 was a much better show than this writer was anticipating. Sure, we had the Rest in Peace match clogging things up, but with three solid title matches, no less than two Bret Hart contests and bouts which, on paper, shouldn't have amounted to much going far beyond expectations, this was a pretty good show. 
The only downside to this event was that, beyond Undertaker/Gonzalez, nothing was really resolved here. Luger and Yokozuna would continue to be at loggerheads until at least Wrestlemania 10, Bret Hart and Jerry Lawler would feud, on and off, until well into 1995, and Mr. Perfect would still be at war with Michaels, and the later Diesel, in the run up Survivor Series 1993
That aside, a decent show that, whilst not necessarily a must-see event, is certainly better than you may have imagined.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

WWF King of the Ring 1993 Report

Yesterday's review of WWF King of the Ring 1993 got me searching through Youtube for more on the inaugural KOTR pay per view. 

Pay Per View 'reports' were a regular feature of World Wrestling Federation programming about the time my eight year-old self first became a wrestling fan. Presented either by Mean Gene or everybody's favorite goofball, Todd Pettengill, they were a quick and effective way of presenting the big events as something special, while at the same time shilling the holy hell out of them.

Here, Mean Gene gives us our King of the Ring report, after which, an irate Shawn Michaels stormed to ringside and berated Vince McMahon for booking him against Crush at the ppv.  Remember, this was when Vince was presented as nothing more as a babyface announcer fond of shouting such memorable lines as 'What a manouver!' and my own personal favourite, 'One, Two, He got him! No he didn't!'

As a bonus, here's Jimmy Hart and Hulk Hogan on the set of Thunder in Paradise, hyping the latter's WWF Championship defense against Yokozuna.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF King of the Ring 1993

WWF / WWE: King of the Ring 1993 - Poster
Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio
June 13, 1993

Not content with promoting four of the biggest wrestling events in the known world, in 1993, Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation added the King of the Ring to their pay per view offering, rounding out what nineties fans would affectionately refer to as 'The Big Five.'

Of course, this wasn't the first time the King of the Ring had been contested inside WWF rings. Since as early as 1985, the title had been used as feud-fodder for the likes of Harley Race, Haku and Macho King Randy Savage. Other notable names to have triumphed in the  annual tournament include Ted Dibiase, Tito Santana and inaugural king, Don Muraco.

Still, this was certainly the first time the competition had been broadcast as as PPV spectacular. Ostensibly a stop-gap between the much-maligned Wrestlemania IX and that year's Summerslam, by all accounts, WWF King of the Ring 1993 was much more.

It was a chance to rebuild and reward Bret 'The Hitman' Hart following his 'Mania loss to the mighty Yokozuna, and for the sumo superstar himself to seek a measure of redemption against a soon-departing Hulk Hogan. 

In short, it was an opportunity for the WWF to roll back on the right tracks after Hogan's Wrestlemania input had so derailed things.

Here's what went down.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Randy Savage, Jim Ross and Bobby Heenan called the action
Welcome to the heartland of America
As was the standard, today's show opens up with Vince McMahon's trademark growling, welcoming everybody to The Heartland of America, and running down tonight's card.

Out in the arena, our commentary team consisted once again of Jim Ross, Bobby Heenan, and former 'King' Macho Man Randy Savage. 

Wasting absolutely no time then, it was straight onto our opening match.

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 1
Razor Ramon vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
In the years following the 1993 King of the Ring, The Hitman's efforts have been lauded as the highlight of the show, and for good reason.

Look no further than his opening contest against Razor Ramon for a fine example of how Hart, like Ric Flair and others before him, could have a great match against just about anyone.

Not that The Hitman deserves all the credit here. Razor himself was on fine form here, going on the offence and taking charge in a rematch from their world title clash at that year's Royal Rumble.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Razor Ramon was unphased by Bret Hart when they met in the first quarter-final match
In front of a somewhat subdued crowd, both men brawled, grappled and wrestled their way through an exciting opening match that reached its conclusion when The Hitman countered a top rope suplex, landing on his opponent and securing the three count.
Your Winner: Bret Hart (advances to the semi finals)

As a distraught looking Razor made his way backstage, Jim Ross took us to a recap from a recent episode of WWF Superstars, where Mr. Hughes assisted Harvey Wippleman and Giant Gonzales in taking out The Undertaker and Paul Bearer. The dastardly heels were so successful in their endeavor that Hughes walked away with 'Taker's urn, and held it proudly now as he awaited the arrival his King of the Ring opponent, Mr. Perfect

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 2
Mr. Hughes (w/ Harvey Wippleman) vs. Mr. Perfect
Playing a sound strategy, Perfect deployed his speed in the early going in a deft attempt at countering the immovable bulk of Hughes. Yet even a sweet looking dropkick was no match for Hughes' strength, and the big  man quickly took control of the match, pounding his foe to the mat and dominating in a decent, if somewhat forgettable encounter.

As Hughes mauled his opponent, Bret Hart popped up in a little box in the corner of the screen to answer questions from Jim Ross. As the man set to face the winner of Perfect/Hughes, who would The Hitman rather wrestle? Unsurprisingly, Hart stated his preference for fellow babyface, Mr. Perfect.

A short time later, Perfect mounted a brief comeback to the delight of the Ohio faithful, but was once again stopped in his tracks by Hughes, who clocked him one with The Undertaker's urn.

That was enough for the referee, and the match was awarded to Perfect via DQ.
Your Winner via DQ: Mr. Perfect (advances to the semi final)

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Mr.Fuji promised that Yokozuna would defeat WWF Champion Hulk HoganMean Gene Okerlunnd spoke to Mr. Fuji and Yokozuna. Fuji claimed that Hogan had cheated his way to victory in their Wrestlemania IX non-match, taking advantage of a Yokozuna who had just wrestled 'A twenty minute match.' (Yoko/Hitman lasted less than 10 minutes)

For his part, Yokozuna squashed the idea that he wouldn't speak English until  his babyface turn a few years later, and promised that Hulk Hogan was 'going down.'

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 3
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan
'This is the first King of the Ring to be crowned,' lied Macho Man as this one got underway, perhaps forgetting that not only did he win the competition in 1987, but also later defeated the man in the ring, 'Hacksaw King' Duggan, for the crown in 1989 (Hacksaw himself earned the right to the throne after defeating King Haku, who, in turn, bested 1986 winner, 'King' Harley Race).

As for the match itself, it was pretty much as you might expect.

As short as it was boring, this six minute slugfest came to an end with a win for The Beast from the East.
Your Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow (advances to the semi final)

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Hacksaw Jim Duggan lost to Bam Bam Bigelow (Pigelow) in the quarter finalsTed Taylor brought us a Coliseum Home Video Exclusive as he spoke to The Smoking Guns and The Steiner Brothers. Both teams were set to team up for an eight man tag team match against Money Inc. and The Headshrinkers later on in the show.
Backstage, former Red Rooster

Billy Gunn suggested the match might turn into a 'mini battle royal,' Scott Steiner promised to breakout the Frankensteiner whilst brother Rick Steiner went crazy, barking a lot and talking about dogs.

Ah, those were the days, when Scott Steiner was the 'normal one' out of the two Steiner bros.

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 3
'Narcissist' Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
Posing and boasting prior to the match, the smug look on Luger's face was quickly wiped away when Howard Finkle announced that the referee had ordered The Narcissist to cover up his bionic elbow prior to wrestling Tatanka. 

Throwing a tantrum at first, Luger eventually relented, padding up as on commentary, Heenan suggested Tatanka should have his shoe laces tied together to make it fair.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: The Narcissist Lex Luger strikes a pose before facing off against Tatanka
It was in this match, more than any other, that the commentary team were really on form.

'Why do they call you The Brain anyway? I've never figured that out,' asked Ross.
'Well, why do they call you Jim Ross?' replied The Brain.
'Because that's my name.'

OK, so it's stupid, but it certainly made this reviewer chuckle.

Elsewhere, we had Bam Bam Bigelow pop up in the corner to insist that he wanted to face 'The Indian' in the semi-final, whilst in the ring, both men put on a solid, if not quite spectacular effort.

As the time wore on and the announcers basically gave the result away, both men upped their efforts, creating quite the dramatic contest that inevitably ended in a time limit draw.
Time limit draw (Bam Bam Bigelow advances to the King of the Ring final)

Outraged, Luger demanded five more minutes to finish off Tatanka. Meeting with refusal, Luger took matters into his own hands, removing his elbow pad and knocking out the undefeated Tatanka with The Steel Elbow of Doom.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: The Narcissist Lex Luger strikes a pose before facing off against Tatanka
Mean Gene causes trouble
Standing backstage with both Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart, Mean Gene Okerlund went back to his old shit stirring ways by causing an argument between the two semi-finals.

'Why did you say you wanted to face Perfect, Bret? Is it because you think he's an easier option?'

With that, the floodgates were open, leading to accusations of 'My dad could beat your dad' and Perfect claiming that he 'owed' Bret from their Summerslam 1991 match, where The Hitman beat Perfect to claim the Intercontinental title.

That match was next.

King of the Ring Semi-Final:
Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
If Hart's matches were the highlight of King of the Ring 1993, then his match with Perfect was the Highlight of the Highlights.

For nigh on twenty minutes, both former Intercontinental Champions proved beyond any doubt why, even today, they are held in such high regard as exceptional talents.

By far the match of the night, this semi-final contest saw Perfect slip slowly back into familiar heel territory, playing dirty to counter The Excellence of Execution's well-delivered offence.

Not to be outdone, Hart fought Fire with Fire and the result was a thrilling encounter that combined everything you could ask for and more from two seasoned performers.

The end came when Bret reversed a small package attempt to secure his spot in the finals.
Your Winner: Bret Hart (advances to the King of the Ring final)

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Jimmy Hart's Hulk Hogan jacket
Disapointed at losing despite a valiant effort, Perfect initially stormed off, before returning to the ring to embrace his friend Bret Hart and wish him well in the finals.

An interview with Hogan
Backstage, cameras focused on the back of Jimmy Hart's jacket, complete with an airbrushed portrait of Hulk Hogan himself.

In a standard Hogan promo, the WWF Champion talked about his big muscles, about the power of Hulkamania and about being a five time champion, vowing to remain that way after he'd 'tested the big Yokozuna.'

Okerlund then pointed out that Mr. Fuji would be in the corner of Yokozuna, prompting Hogan to hand over to his manager, Jimmy Hart.

'People always ask me what it's like to manage The Immortal Hulk Hogan,' said Hart. 'They wanna know what it's like. And I tell them, Hulk Hogan has red, white and blue running through is veins...He was born and raised in the USA.'

Whether he knew it at the time or not, Jimmy Hart used the WWF King of the Ring 1993 event to reveal the opening lyrics of Hulk Hogan's WCW theme tune.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji)
And so the showdown was set, the first proper encounter between the last of WWF's old school contingent and the new breed of larger-than-life WWF Superstars.

As the challenger made his way to the ring, flanked by a gaggle of Japanese photographers, his eight minute match with Bret Hart at Wrestlemania IX once again swelled in time, from the twenty minutes purported earlier by Mr. Fuji, to Bobby Heenan's claim that said title match actually went thirty minutes.

Regardless, this new title match went just shy of quarter of an hour, and was decent without ever threatening to become anything special.

Hogan took the early advantage, twice attempting to to slam his enormous challenger to no avail. Yoko fought back, using his size and strength to his advantage, wearing the champion for a couple of near falls.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Hulk Hogan dropped the WWF title to Yokozuna
As the match neared its conclusion, the five time champ 'Hulked Up,' but as he prepared to drop The Legdrop of Doom, Harvey Wippleman, disguised as a photographer, hopped up onto the apron and shot a fireball into Hogan's face.

That was enough for Yokozuna to drop his own massive thigh across Hogan's chest and pick up his second WWF title.
Your Winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion: Yokozuna

Post match, the new champion celebrated his win by dragging the fallen Hogan into the corner and hitting him with a Banzai Drop.

'Look at these children here in the seats, they're crying!' Bobby Heenan exclaimed, as cameras cut to a small child who looked on, completely non-plussed.

'Has Yokozuna ended Hulkamania?' asked Jim Ross, to which the answer was 'yes, at least until Hogan signed with WCW the following year.'

Interview time
Backstage, a disgruntled Mr. Perfect admitted he wasn't feeling too great following his match with Bret Hart, nor did he feel much like talking to Taylor 'Coliseum video or not.'

A dumbfounded Rooster passed things over to Mean Gene for a word with Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and his newly-acquired bodyguard, Diesel. 

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Shawn Michaels introduced Diesel as his new bodyguard
The Heartbreak Kid claimed that Hulk Hogan was a dinosaur who was not on the IC champ's level, to which Okerlund responded that Michaels had been watching too much Jurassic Park.

Okerlund then asked HBK about his 'so-called bodyguard,' who had recently joined the company, assisting Michaels in recapturing the title from former Rockers partner, Marty Jannetty. Shawn revealed the name of his new 'insurance policy,' and with that, it was back to the action.

Eight-man tag team match
WWF Tag Team Champions Money Inc. (Ted Dibiase & IRS) and The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu w/ Afa) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott Steiner) and The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart Gunn)

In a break from anything which actually mattered, the WWF's four premier tag teams filled some time in a passable eight-man effort.

As Ross, Savage and Heenan spent most of their time ignoring the action to ruminate on the apparent Death of Hulkamania, the match waged on  and came to an end with a win for the good guys after Billy Gunn trapped 1988 King of the Ring Ted Dibiase in the second small package of the evening.
Your Winners: The Steiners and The Smoking Gunns

Afterwards, all eight men engaged in a spot of fisticuffs until the good guys cleaned house.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: New WWF Champion: Yokozuna
Before we went any further, it was backstage once more, where Mean Gene was standing by with new WWF Champion Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji, WWF President Jack Tunney, and a group of photographers.

Displaying his usual lack of charisma, President Tunney congratulated the new champion. 'I know Mr. Fuji is very happy about this,' said Tunney.

For his part, Mr. Fuji basically said 'I told you so,' exclaimed the death of Hulkamania and promised that he and the champion would celebrate right there in America.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels  (w/ Diesel) vs. Crush
To this day, your writer still doesn't know why Crush wasn't a bigger star in the early 1990s. For all intents and purposes, his various title shots against Shawn Michaels, including this fairly entertaining bout, was just about the pinnacle of his run as a neon-clad babyface.

Throughout the match, the big Hawaiian used a smart combination of speed, power and agility to take it to the champion, but Michaels was right there with speed of his own and, of course, some sly interference from Diesel.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Crush challenged Intercontinental Champion - Shawn Michaels
After some enjoyable action, Crush's arch nemesis Doink the Clown came out in twin form, causing the distraction which led to a superkick-induced win for the champion.
Your Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels

Backstage, Mean Gene reminded Bam Bam Bigelow that he was well-rested following his bye into the King of the Ring final. Bigelow agreed, yelling 'FRESH AS A DAISY' with a level of violence which belied such a sweet image.

King of the Ring Final
Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
'Bam Bam Bigelow has had an hour and twenty minutes to rest, and only fought for eight minutes, Bret Hart has rested just forty minutes  and has already wrestled for 36 minutes.' said Jim Ross as our final got underway. Given the exaggerations regarding time limits tonight, your reviewer has no idea whether that's true or not.

What certainly is true, is that this was a fantastic main event.

Rounding off the evening in much the same way that he started it, Bret Hart went toe-to-toe in a thoroughly entertaining match, succumbing to the brute force of 'FRESH AS A DAISY' Bigelow and playing the underdog in peril for most of the contest.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Shawn Michaels successfully defended the Intercontinental Championship against Crush
In a confusing and unnecessary move, Luna Vachon waggled to the ring at one point to clock The Hitman with a chair, allowing her man to get a three count over the former WWF Champion following a top-rope headbutt.

Just as Bigelow was celebrating, Earl Hebner rushed to the ring to explain the situation to referee Joey Marella. Rather than disqualifying Bigelow and just awarding the match to Hart, Gorilla Monsoon's baby boy restarted the match, signalling a gradual comeback for Hart, all leading to his eventual, much applauded win via the move of the night: A quick roll up.
Your Winner and 1993 King of the Ring: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

After celebrating with the fans, Hart was led to the coronation area, where Mean Gene Okerlund waited on to receive the king.

Clad in cape and crown and brandishing his scepter, The Hitman didn't have long to rest in his throne before he was interupted by relative newcomer to the World Wrestling Federation, USWA legend, Jerry 'The King' Lawler. 

Claiming to the only real king in the WWF, Lawler berated Hart, who responded in kind by leading the crowd in a chant of 'Burger King! Burger King!'

Not taking too kindly to being referred to as a popular fast food chain, Lawler struck Hart, destroyed the coronation set and beat the living hell out of Bret Hart, thus beginning a feud that would last, on and off, for at least two years, and provide fans with some highly entertaining moments.

A great ending then to an all-round great pay per view. Ignore the eight-man tag match and the Bigelow/Duggan encounter, and what you've got is a fun show packed with solid action that is well worth checking out, as much for the matches themselves as for the impact this show would have on pro wrestling in general.
After King of the Ring 1993, Hulk Hogan would head off to film Thunder in Paradise and start the New World Order, disappearing from WWF screens until 2002. Bret Hart would begin his aforementioned feud with Jerry Lawler whilst competing with a freshly-turned Lex Luger  for the position of the company's top babyface. For his part, Yokozuna would prove to be a solid heel as he fought off the advances of Luger and The Undertaker before finally dropping the belt back to Bret at  Wrestlemania 10. 
On a personal note, I'd like to apologise to regular reads of this blog for the lack of updates over the last several month. Real life responsibilities being what they are, I just haven't had the time to commit to what is essentially a fun little hobby project. That said, I hope to be back with another review very soon. Thanks for reading, thanks for your comments and thanks for your support. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

ARCHIVED WRITING: WWE 2009 Draft: Things look good for Smackdown

Back in 2008-2009, I took good advantage of my day job as a journalist to pen a regular pro-wrestling feature on my 'zine's website. Said website is no longer active, but I do still have a bunch of the stuff I wrote.

So, in an attempt to add more content to Retro Pro Wrestling, whilst at the same time making this blog a sort of complete archive of my 20+ years as a wrestling fan, I thought I'd share some of those features (and later Raw, Smackdown and PPV reviews) with you guys.

Here goes.

On the face of it, the annual draft which took place on Monday’s three-hour edition of WWE Raw seems to prove the E's own lackadaisical attitudes to their other brands.

Once again Raw dominated the draft proceedings and, at least on paper, depleted Smackdown’s stock when it comes to the amount of talent left on the blue show.

With WWE Champion Triple H taking his title with him to Raw, Smackdown finds itself without a main event champion (at least until Backlash).MVP, Matt Hardy and The Big Show have also been moved over to Monday nights, diminishing Smackdown’s star power even further.

It’s almost as though WWE wants you to believe that Raw is the only show that really matters, enforcing the point by bringing over the majority of Smackdown stars who are even remotely over and who come armed with a decent amount of talent.

Though this time, perhaps Raw’s gain isn’t necessarily Smackdown’s loss.

Assuming that Edge doesn’t somehow get switched in the supplemental draft on Wednesday, let’s look at who Teddy Long has on his books right now:

CM Punk, Chris Jericho, Jeff Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Rey Mysterio, Edge; six men who, between them, could deliver some outstanding matches over the course of the next twelve months.

Add some on-form performances from The Undertaker, get Christian over in the supplemental draft and you’ve got the makings of a solid top-tier on what I’ve often thought of as WWE’s ‘wrestling show’.

Of course, this could all go skew-whiff.

Judging by the spoilers for this Friday’s show, it seems the company don’t quite have enough faith in their new Smackdown line-up to let them get on with it, and have given us a Raw main event to finish things off.

Not only that, but feuds which should have ended thanks to the split seem to be continuing on, draft or no draft.

Still, I remain optimistic.

Creatively, World Wrestling Entertainment seems to be in limbo at the minute, with the aftermath of Wrestlemania 25 still lingering in the air.

Let them get all the loose ends tied up with Backlash (which, by the way, is free on Sky Sports for fans in the UK), and hopefully Smackdown can get on with being an awesome show.

At least until the next draft.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

ARCHIVED WRITING: Wrestlemania 25 + post WWE Raw thoughts

So, Wrestlemania 25 has been and gone and your blogger scored a pitiful 4/9 on the prediction front.

[NOTE: This is an archived post I wrote elsewhere after WM25.]

Regardless of my psychic abilities and despite the general feeling among the internet wrestling community that it was a pretty poor show, I found it pretty entertaining.

Money in the Bank 2009 wasn’t the greatest incarnation of the annual spotfest, but it certainly had it’s moments; not least of which was that Shelton Benjamin spot.

The Shawn Michaels/Undertaker clash left me, and probably everybody else, speechless and far surpassed anything that took place in the two title bouts.

If there’s any heavy criticism to be flung in WM25’s direction, it’s down to the omission of the tag team title unification bout in favour of a performance from Kid Rock which went on far too long and a very badly done Divas Battle Royal.

That said, I did find the whole Saninto/Santina thing far funnier than it should have been. If you ask me, Anthony Carelli could well have a career in Hollywood comedies should The Big ‘E ever wish him well on future endeavors.

Following Wrestlemania, WWE hosted Raw the following evening.

Is it just me, or was this actually a pretty naff show? The in-ring action wasn’t bad for the most part, but even when you consider the announcement of two title matches for Backlash, it really seemed as though the group were simply killing time until next week’s draft.

I’d love to write a blog about the draft later this week but, being realistic, I know I probably won’t have time.

If I don’t get round to it, here’s what I would have said:

“The WWE draft is completely pointless given the company’s own disregard for roster splits. However, it would be pretty awesome if CM Punk and Christian were drafted to Smackdown and had some good matches.”

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

ARCHIVED WRITING: Wrestlemania 25 predictions

The Showcase of the Immortals, the Grandest Stage of them All, The Big One, Wrestlemania 25 takes place this Sunday, April 5th 2009 and here’s who I think will be leaving Houston, Texas with a tick in the win column.

[NOTE: This archived post contains my original predictions for Wrestlemania 25, originally posted on the morning of April 5th, 2009.]

Tag Team Unification Bout

Next to Michaels/Undertaker, this is probably the one this blogger has been looking forward to the most.

Forget Triple H/Orton. Who cares about Show/Cena/Edge? Those who regular tune in to the blue brand will hopefully agree that Carlito, Primo, Miz and Morrison have the potential to provide a surprising highlight of the night.

Who’s going to win? Miz & Morrison of course. Or at least, they should.

The Dirt Sheet Duo have been on a role these past twelve months and a win here should further cement their status as the premier tandem in the company.

And if Carlito & Primo do somehow snatch a win, expect M & M to grab the straps somewhere down the line.

Regardless as to who wins this one, it should be a pretty entertaining affair.

Money in the Bank

This one is hard to pick, especially as I’m not all that interested in it.

What makes predicting a winner even harder is that the wrestler I think will win is at odds with the wrestler I want to win.

I really want MVP to walk away with the briefcase, simply because he’s fun to watch and I reckon he’d be great in the upper echelons of WWE.

That said, my gut instinct tells me CM Punk is going to win, transfer to Smackdown in the draft and get into something long term, hopefully with Edge.

The IWC seems to have their collective coffers on Christian, but I’m bucking the trend and going with the Straight Edge Superstar.

25 Divas Battle Royal

Let’s face it, nothing long term could be achieved by having a diva on a one-shot deal win this.

No, this one needs to go to someone active on the roster who could benefit. I don’t really care who wins, but the way things are going at the minute, I’m guessing it’s even going to be Michelle McCool or Maryse.

With a quick flip of the coin, I’m siding with Marsye.

Intercontinental Championship: JBL vs. Rey Mysterio

Does anyone even care about the IC title any more? It seems to change hands with every title defence.

Which is why I reckon JBL will buck the trend and walk away from his home state of Texas with the title still in tact.

Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy

The build up to this one has been pretty solid, though even still it isn’t a match I’m aching to see.

It should still be entertaining nonetheless, and I’m backing the younger Hardy snatching a victory after spending the bulk of the bout getting beaten up by his brother.

That way, Matt still gets a push simply be looking so dominant, but the crowds are left feeling happy with a win for the ever-popular Jeff.

Chris Jericho vs. The Legends.

Easy, all logic in the world would say Chris Jericho has to win this one.

It makes no sense to build him up as one of the most effective heels in the biz, only for him to loose to a bunch of old men.

And since this isn’t TNA, where whatever doesn’t make sense is usually want ends up happening, I’m picking Jericho to win.

Just think of the bragging rights a win would afford him here. Sure, he’ll only end up beating three old dudes, but these are three old dudes held in high reverence by the wrestling world.

So, Jericho to win, but to then please the crowds by getting attacked by Flair, Piper, Snuka and Steamboat.

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

Above all others, this is the match everyone wants to see at ‘Mania, and if I were Michaels or ‘Taker, I’d be praying to God that the match could live up to everyone’s expectations.

As for the result, surely that’s already a forgone conclusion?

HBK has looked awesome in the hype for this one, and he should benefit from that alone without needing to win.

Meanwhile, The Dead Man must surely want vengeance. More's the point, for as long as Undertaker is still active, his Wrestlemania streak should be kept in tact.

That way, WWE creative already have a ready-made storyline for many Wrestlemanias to come.

World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs. John Cena vs. Big Show

After Cena was pinned clean by Big Show on this Monday’s WWE Raw, many have predicted that this is a sure sign of him walking away with the Big Gold Belt come Sunday.

I beg to differ, and I’d bet the bank on Edge retaining.

I don’t know why, but whenever Edge wins a big match, it always seems to come as a complete surprise, and what better place to deliver the unexpected than at Wrestlemania 25?

Sure, Cena bagging the gold would make for one of those ‘Wrestlemania Moments’ The Big ‘E are so fond of, but so too would a shock win for the Rated R Superstar, especially if includes a cameo from Christian.

WWE Championship: Triple H vs. Randy Orton

Plain and simple, I’m going with Triple H. The McMahon clan have had their backsides handed to them by Randy Orton and his pair of whipping boys lately, it’s time they got their revenge.

And besides, there could be much more mileage in this one.

To surmise then, here’s my picks:

Tag Team Unification: Miz & Morrison
Money in the Bank: CM Punk
Divas Battle Royal: Maryse
IC Title: JBL
Hardy vs. Hardy: Jeff
Jericho vs. Legends: Jericho
Michaels vs. Taker: Undertaker
World Heavyweight Championship: Edge
WWE Championship: Triple H

Saturday, 22 March 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 9

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: event poster
April 4, 1993
Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada

No discussion about the worst WWE PPV events of all time is complete without Wrestlemania IX cropping up, rearing its toga-covered head and reminding us of its absolute worst moments.

But was the show really that bad?

This reviewer does not think so.

Sure, there was plenty to lambaste (and I will, at length), but in between all that, there were many moments of pretty enjoyable wrestling, too.

Not convinced? Let's take a look at the show, shall we?

Welcome to Caesers Palace!
No early-90s pay per view offering would be quite complete without Vince McMahon growling like the proverbial man possessed over an opening graphic. This year, McMahon kept it short. In just twenty odd seconds, he revealed himself to be far more excited about the location of this year's spectacular than he was about any of the matches involved.

Unfortunately for all concerned, that pretty much set the tone for the whole affair as the pomp and ceremony -tacky as it may have been- took far greater precedent than the action.

Having made his mark, Vince passed over to Gorilla Monsoon, whose role as Host of Wrestlemania IX involved nothing more than appearing on camera twice for a total of about thirty seconds on a show spanning multiple hours.

Still, Monsoon, dressed in a black, green and gold toga and flanked by two clearly bored actors dressed as Roman guards, did the best job he could by saying hello and immediately handing over to former WCW announcer, Jim Ross.

Opening ceremony
Wearing a toga of his own and surrounded by more actors, Ross made his World Wrestling Federation debut by beaming happily at the camera and running down tonight's card.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Jim Ross made his World Wrestling Federation debut
Ross then introduced us to Finkus Maximus (better known to you and I as veteran ring announcer, Howard Finkle) before proceeding doing his best to make the Wrestlemania opening ceremony sound like a legtimate huge deal.

As two actors dressed as Julius Caesar and Cleopatra arrived on an elephant, Ross really did try hard to make us care.

'Oh my, isn't that tremendous,' he said without a flash of sarcasm as the elephant reared up on its hind legs before returning to a more natural position on all fours.

Caesar and Cleopatra (who may or may not have been the same actors from the 1993 Royal Rumble) walked around the ring before commentator Macho Man Randy Savage was carried to the ring on a sedan, surrounded by muscular hunks and cheap hookers masquerading as 'celestial virgins.'

'The Macho Man, [with] a little grape action there,' Ross informed as Savage popped the fruit in his mouth, giving you just some idea of how badly the Oklahoma native wanted us to care.

Finally greeting Ross, Savage told us that we had a 'lock and load' situation going on and that the 'grapes were great,' before, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan arrived, riding backwards on a camel.

After falling off the camel, Heenan engaged in banter with Ross and Savage, the latter of whom made his first utterance of a phrase he would use repeatedly throughout the show. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it was time to Do The Thing.

At last.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match:
WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Luna Vachon) vs. Tatanka (w/ Sensational Sherri)
WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Luna Vachon was in the company of Intercontinental Champion, Shawn Michaels
As an eight year-old, I thought that the pairing of arrogant pretty boy Shawn Michaels with the deranged and freaky-looking Luna Vachon was an odd one to say the least.

Now approaching thirty, I still do (especially as Michaels ignored his valet from the moment he walked through the curtain), though I can at least appreciate the logic in such a partnership. Why wouldn't the Intercontinental Champion hire the services of the reputably dangerous Vachon to counter any attempt at shenanigans by his former squeeze Sensational Sherri, now in the corner of his Native American challenger.

Over twelve minutes after Wrestlemania IX began, the bell finally sounded and our opening contest was underway.

Despite both champ and challenger having zero chemistry with their respective seconds, this turned out to be a fine match.

Sure, Michaels would have, and already had, better matches in his career, the champion performed to his usual high standards. Tatanka was no slouch either. Indeed, both men worked hard to deliver an entertaining opener which was spoiled only by the finish.

As Heenan bickered with Savage and Savage continued to rant about doing the thing, Jim Ross called eighteen minutes of solid action until Michaels, in danger of being counted out, dragged the referee out of the ring.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Tatanka helps Sensational Sherri to the back following his count-out win over Intercontinental Champion, Shawn Michaels
The champion made his way back between the ropes and straight into a samoan drop from Tatanka. The challenger made the cover, but the referee returned to the ring and, rather than count the fall, awarded Tatanka the match via count-out.
Your winner via count-out: Tatanka (Shawn Michaels retains the title)

In the post-match, Luna Vachon waylaid rival Sensational Sherri then ran off at speed as Tatanka came to the rescue.

Things then moved to the back, where Mean Gene Okerlund proclaimed that 'Julius Caesar himself would have been proud to be involved in this Wrestlemania.'  Maybe Gene was busy at the craps table when Caeser himself made his grand entrance earlier in the show.

Okerlund lavished praise on The Steiner Brothers, who arrived on the scene to talk about their first Wrestlemania match in which they vowed to overthrow The Headshrinkers.

The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu w/ Afa) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott)
As Rick and Scott made their way to the ring, a fan held up a sign which read 'New York loves The Steiner Brothers and The "Under"taker. I'd say something about that, but I'm still kind of irked at the lack of apostrophe in Caesar's Palace.

That aside, this was another solid encounter.

Arguably even more enjoyable than the opening clash, The Steiners and The Headshrinkers engaged in a hard-hitting, smash-mouth tag team match.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: The Steiner Brothers speak to Mean Gene before facing The Headshrinkers
In the early going, Jim Ross informed us that Luna Vachon had assaulted Sensational Sherri back in the First Aid area. Otherwise, the focus was purely on the two teams in the ring as they fought a memorable battle with a number of highlights, including a key moment where The Headshrinkers dumped Scotty head first over the top rope, where Afa added to Steiner's woes with a cane shot across the spine.

After just just shy of fifteen minutes, this entertaining match saw The Steiners pick up the three count thanks to a Frankensteiner from Scott.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers

Backstage, Mean Gene claimed to have just seen Doink The Clown deface a statue, but did nothing about it. Okerlund reminded Doink of the Clown's biggest sins, including throwing pies in the face of little children and, worst of all, beating up Crush with a fake arm.

In response, Doink insisted he was bringing the fun to Wrestlemania and, with a nod and wink in the direction of things to come, joked that Crush might 'see double vision' in their upcoming clash.

Crush vs. Doink The Clown
This is the point where eight year-old Chris would be hiding behind the sofa. OK, so Doink was awful as a babyface, but as a sinister heel with a split personality, he was genuinely terrifying, especially to a pre-pubescent boy.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Doink The Clown talks to Mean Gene about facing CrushThe bulk of this eight-plus minute match was nothing to write home about. The mighty Crush beat up on his sneaky adversary around and outside the ring, battering down with a series of exaggerated fists and boots and occasionally shaking things up with the odd snap mare or neckbreaker.

Doink mounted a comeback, diving off the ropes to wear down his foe and ramming Crush's head into the ring post to a faint smattering of applause.

'Everybody here is psyched to the max!' enthused Savage as the Las Vegas crowd sat on and watched in near silence.

Doink made several attempts to hide under the ring, only to be pulled back by Crush and thrown about the ring some more. Eventually, with the referee down, a second Doink emerged from under the ring, saving his doppleganger from Crush's Cranium Crush by hitting the big Hawaiian with the deadly Fake Arm of Doom.

As the announcers raved about a Double Doink (beating Paul Vasquez by some seventeen years), the original Doink made the cover, the referee woke up long enough to hit the three count, and this one was thankfully over.
Your winner: Doink The Clown

Next, we went to a man equally loved and loathed by wrestling fans, the one and only Todd Pettengill. Situated up in the cheap seats, with a pair of sunglasses and a backwards baseball cap complimenting his toga outfit, Pettengill moved around a sea of drunk and rowdy fans trying to conduct a survey into whether there really had been two Doinks or whether it was all just an illusion.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Doink The Clown, unmasked after his match with Crush
The Toddster had little luck with that one, though he did manage to give us the obligatory 'LOL! Foreigners can't speak English good' joke by interviewing two Japanese fans who only understood the word Yokozuna.

Razor Ramon vs. Bob Backlund
After an outstanding performance at that year's Royal Rumble, Bob Backlund was relegated back to the jobber status he would endure until his memorable metamorphosis into the psychotic Mr. Backlund in the summer of 1994.

Here, he was overthrown by Razor Ramon in an entertaining, if instantly forgettable encounter.

Despite a valiant effort against a much larger opponent, Backlund's efforts were thwarted when Ramon pulled out an inside cradle for the win.
Your winner: Razor Ramon

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund caught up with WWF Tag Team Champions, Money Incorporated.

Okerlund reminded Ted Dibiase and I.R.S of how their feud with the Mega Manics began, namely with a briefcase to the injured face of Brutus Beefcake.

Dibiase responded by saying it was time Beefcake and his partner Hulk Hogan put up, or shut up. Dibiase claimed that Vegas, The City of Money, was Money Inc.'s backyard, and that their opponents had no chance of winning.

For his part, I.R.S said they would 'beat [Beefcake's] face into oblivion' and also told Gene that, if they thought Beefcake's face was bad, he should see Hogan's.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: The Mega Maniacs faced Money Incorporated for the WWF Tag Team Titles

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship match
WWF Tag Team Champions Money Incorporated ('Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase & I.R.S) vs. The Mega Maniacs (Hulk Hogan and Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake w/ Jimmy Hart)

Emerging through a cloud of red smoke, Brutus Beefcake wore a protective face mask, playing up to the legitimate injury he suffered which had kept him away from WWF pay per view since Wrestlemania 6).

For his part, The Hulkster, besides appearing much slimmer, sported a shiner and several stitches. The company covered this with the story that Money Inc. had hired goons to beat up Hogan at the gym the night before.

The truth, depending on who you believe, is either that Randy Savage punched him out after finding out Hogan had an affair with Elizabeth, or that The Immortal One was involved in a jet ski accident.

Their look was a far cry from that of the last time they had teamed up on pay per view to face Macho Man and Zeus at Summerslam 1989.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Money Inc. find out they'll lose the belts if they walk out of their match with Hogan and Beefcake
The match itself was good (if not a little long) for what it was, though despite the best efforts of all four men, it lacked that all-important Big Match Feel you have to believe they were going for.

After threatening to walk out (only to be told they would thus forfeit their titles if they did so), Dibiase and I.R.S returned to the ring and took control, cutting off Hogan from his partner by choking him out with a tag rope.

Hogan did the whole babyface-in-peril thing well, and the crowd lit up when Beefcake finally took the inevitable hot tag to a huge pop from the Vegas faithful or, as Savage put it 'the fans are hanging from the rafters...except Caesar's Palace doesn't have rafters, but it has columns and they're hanging from the columns.'

Nice save, Macho.

Beefcake eventually came up short against the champions, losing his mask in the process.

The match then reached it's thrilling climax when Hogan drilled both opponents with the mask. The referee was down so, as Hogan and Beefcake covered their opponents, manager Jimmy Hart turned his jacket inside out to reveal zebra stripes, and made the three count.

The Mega Maniacs celebrated with the titles, but alas their triumph was short lived. A second referee rushed to ringside and decreed that not only could a match not end by 'Manager Changing His Jacket,' but that Hogan had been disqualified.
Your winner via disqualification: Money Inc.

The champions may have escaped with their gold intact, but they certainly didn't look too much like winners. Hogan and Beefcake disposed of them before Jimmy Hart threw former charge turned referee Danny Davis from the ring.

'The Mega Maniacs are The Mega Maniacs,' said Savage, keeping up his outstanding work at the announce table.

Hogan, Beefcake and Hart went through the usual post-match posedown celebration for what felt like the hour, eventually opening up Money Inc.'s gold-plated briefcase, removing a brick from it, and tossing money out into the audience.

The show then went back to Todd Pettengill and his gang of rowdy drunks. Pettengill spoke with singer Natalie Cole, who couldn't believe The Mega Maniacs had given away real money. He then spoke with the C.E.O of Caesar's Palace, who took the opportunity to shill his area and said that the wrestlers 'really appreciated themselves to the local community.'

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Mean Gene interviews Mr. Perfect about the latter's match with Lex Luger
Twenty one years later, I still have no idea what that means.

Backstage, Mean Gene spoke with Mr. Perfect. Okerlund told Perfect that, earlier in the day, Lex Luger had knocked out WWF Champion Bret Hart with his steel elbow thing. Perfect said he didn't know who Luger thought he was, raved about his own perfect week, then messed up trying to say 'The Narcissist Lex Luger' and instead made for the ring.

The Narcissist Lex Luger (w/ a gang of thong-wearing ladies) vs. Mr. Perfect
The cameraman spent much of Luger's entrance filming the rear ends of his female flunkies. Not that this writer is complaining.

Luger then spent some time posing in front of mirrors which shot fireworks before Perfect arrived on the scene to an enormous ovation.

This was another decent match which saw both men trading the advantage. With the crowd firmly on his side, Mr. Perfect using technical wrestling to combat The Narcissist's power-based offense.

Alas, as was fast becoming a trend with Wrestlemania 9, another good match reached failed to reach a clean finish. This time round, Perfect got his foot on the ropes to counter a Luger pin attempt. Unfortunately for the former Intercontinental Champion, the referee didn't see it, and thus awarded the match to Luger.
Your winner: Lex Luger

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: The best thing Lex Luger ever brought to the ring?
Afterwards, Perfect argued with the referee, only to receive a metal-plated elbow to the head from Luger.

Perfect recovered quickly and ran backstage, where he found Luger chatting to Shawn Michaels. Somehow, Perfect wound up brawling, and then getting beaten up by, the Intercontinental Champion.

Back in the arena, Savage and Bobby Heenan got into a heated argument before Jim Ross difused the situation by sending over to Gorilla Monsoon for his second cameo of the evening.

Monsoon hyped up the remaining two scheduled matches before going back to How..I mean, Finkus Maximus.

Giant Gonzales (w/ Harvey Wippleman) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
And so we have it, folks: One of the most notoriously bad matches in WWE history. Giant Gonzales, wearing That Infamous Suit, made his way to the ring first, followed by The Undertaker.

The Deadman, along with his pet vulture, came to the ring on a kind of hearse carried by four musclemen and flanked by a druid who didn't seem to quite get the whole gimmick, slapping hands with fans en route to the ring.

The bell rang, and fans were subjected to a match so terrible not even your usually-optimistic reviewer can excuse.

To his credit, The Undertaker did what he could to make the slow, immobile Gonzales look like a credible threat, though his efforts were continually diminished whenever the former El Gigante lumbered around the ring throwing awkward-looking offense.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: An iconic shot of The Undertaker at Wrestlemania
Things, whatever they were, fell apart at the end when Harvey Wippleman got involved and was taken out by The Undertaker, and Paul Bearer stuck his nose in, only to receive the same treatment courtesy of Gonzales.

The Giant then pulled out a chloroform-soaked rag, using it to knock out his opponent and thus lose the match via disqualification.
Your winner via disqualification: The Undertaker

Post match, a slew of officials rushed to Undertaker's aid. Gonzales beat up most of them, but Earl Hebner, Jack Doan and Paul Bearer managed to get Undertaker on a stretcher.

As Gonzales soaked up the jeers from the crowd (and a brief chant for Hulk Hogan), The Undertaker walked back to the ring, his face like a zombie, and took out his rival, leading to their ill-fated rematch at Summerslam 1993.

Despite a horrible match in which he got knocked out, The Undertaker stood 3-0 at Wrestlemania.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Hulk Hogan challenges the winner between Bret 'Hitman' Hart and Yokozuna
It was almost time for our main event world title match between Bret Hart and Yokozuna, a match which had largely been ignored by the announcers until now.

Though rather than give a final few words to either the champion or the challenger, Mean Gene Okerlund showed us a recap of Yoko killing both Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Bret Hart (in separate instances) then spoke to Hulk Hogan, a man who, as far as everybody was concerned at the time, had nothing to do with the final match of the evening.

Hogan played up the idea that Money Inc. were responsible for his black eye, before telling Bret Hart that Hogan, and all his Hulkamaniacs were on his side. Hogan claimed that he had looked into The Hitman's eyes and questioned the greatness of Hulkamania, which is why he was issuing a challenge to either Hart or -and I quote- 'The Jap, brother,' depending on which man won the upcoming match.

Todd Pettengill was back out in the audience, interviewing a mute kid and a couple of drunk dudes in togas who started brawling.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Yokozuna challenged Bret 'The Hitman' Hart for the WWF title

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji)
If you were watching this show, you'd be forgiven for forgetting this match was schedule to take place, that's how much attention it got throughout the broadcast.

Still, it was here, and the fans in Caesar's Palace were excited.

Yoko made his way to the ring first, greeted by a couple of geishas and a chorus of boos. The Hitman, decked in all-pink attire, arrived next, greeted by a huge symphony of applause fro the Las Vegas faithful.

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart prepares for battle
The bell rang, the match was on.

Everything was going well. Both men worked to deliver everything you'd want in a big-man vs. little man clash on a main event scale. The nimble, technically-sound Hitman used everything from legitimate wrestling to down and dirty tactics to get the better of his larger opponent, but 'The Man from the Orient' continued to fight back using a winning combination of surprising speed and raw power.

The challenger's offense was certainly impressive, but it seemed that it would be no match for the champion, who wrapped up Yoko's expansive thighs into the sharpshooter.

Behind the referees back, Mr. Fuji threw salt into the eyes of the champion. The move seemed to practically cripple Hart, who fell back and was promptly put away for a three count, ending what had otherwise been a thrilling, if short, main event.
Your winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion: Yokozuna

As your writer sat trying to figure out how salt in the eyes could take a man off his feat, Yoko grabbed the world title belt and celebrated, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Hulk Hogan.

Playing the good guy, Hogan went immediately to check on the defeated Hitman. Somewhat foolishly, Mr. Fuji took to the microphone and challenged Hogan to fight Yokozuna there and then. Recieving Bret Hart's blessing, Hogan accepted.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Yokozuna vs. Hulk Hogan

WWE / WWF WRESTLEMANIA 9: Yokozuna enjoys his brief reign as WWF Champion
Yokozuna grabbed Hogan. Fuji threw salt. Hogan ducked. Yoko took the salt to the eyes (but didn't fall down like a wimp).  A punch to Fuji, a clothesline to the champion and a Leg Drop of Doom Later, the new WWF Champion Yokozuna was now the former WWF Champion Yokozuna.
Your winner and new WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan

As per the norm, Hogan celebrated with the title to end the show.

An anti-climatic end then to a disappointing show. Though Wrestlemania 9 was never going to stand out as The Greatest of All Time, your reviewer truly believes it would have stood out as being at least a decent effort were it for all the random cheap finishes and that Gonzales/Taker match.
Michaels/Tatanka, Steiners/Headshrinkers and even Mega Maniacs/Money Inc. stood out as being worth watching, whilst others, namely Hart/Yoko, Luger/Perfect and Ramon/Backlund all held their own until their respective endings.
Yet thanks to the poor finishers, Giant Gonzales, the tacky toga shtick and the Hogan/Yokozuna non-match, the 1993 edition of the WWF flagship even is widely regarded as one of the Worst Ever.
A shame really, as at least seventy percent of the in-ring action was actually pretty good, even it was marred with Randy Savage's awful commentary. Do The Thing, Oh yeah, brother!

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.