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, 2 August 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Summerslam 1994

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994 - Event poster
August 29, 1994
United Center in Chicago, Illinois

It was the summer of 1994. Chicago's new United Center had just opened less than two weeks previously, and the World Wrestling Federation were about to offer the venue its first major event in the form of that year's Summerslam, a show which, much like the 1994 King of the Ring pay per view, simultaneously managed to present both the best and worst of professional wrestling.

Co-headlined by a stellar cage match between rival siblings Bret and Owen Hart, and a less than enthralling Battle of the Undertakers, the WWF's seventh annual Summerslam was an interesting show to say the least.

Here's what went down.

Don't worry, Leslie Nielson's here
Need a quick way to ruin whatever mystique you may have been able to muster by presenting a resurrected Undertaker against his evil clone? Easy. Hire Naked Gun stars Lesley Nielson and George Kennedy to show up and make bad jokes.

Our show tonight began with Neilson narrating a clip in which he pushed Ray Rougeau into a swimming pool, perved on Macho Man Randy Savage getting felt up by two bikini-clad babes and spoke to his smart-ass son, all the while pondering the great question:

'How can there be two Undertakers?'

Summerslam Pre-show
The one and only Todd Pettengill then welcomed us to the United Center, talked about his train ride with Nielson, and gave us the big news that Shawn Michaels and Intercontinental Champion Diesel were now the tag team champions, having defeated The Headshrinkers over the weekend.

As part of the pre-show festivities, Pettengill gave us the background to tonight's key matches, including a look back at how The Undertaker died at that year's Royal Rumble, and the shenanigans surrounding Ted Dibiase's Underfaker.

Pettengill hyped the awesome new arena for a while before we were treated to a cheesy little video featuring Bret Hart, which went something like this.

That of course, led us nicely into the story of Bret and Owen's big rivalrly. For those not paying attention, it started at Survivor Series 1993, took a harsh direction when Owen turned on his brother at the 1994 Royal Rumble, and led to their awesome opening match at Wrestlemania 10. Owen then won the King of the Ring that year, and thus earned a title shot against his brother in tonight's main event.

The Toddster told us that tonight's cage match was designed to not only keep the action inside the ring, but to keep the rest of the hart Family, who would be seated at ringside, out.

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994 - Todd Pettengill shows us the steel cage that will be used in tonight's event
Lex Luger and Tatanka, which all revolved around Tatanka accusing Lex Luger of selling out to The Million Dollar Man. I'd go into more detail, but Wrestlecrap already did a great job of covering this one.

In the remaining 10 minutes of pre-show fun, we had an interview with the owner of the United Center, and a look at the feud between

Another Leslie Nielson promo was followed by Pettengil hyping the crowd, and then, finally, it was on to WWF Summerslam 1994.

Welcome to the show
Still no actual wrestling yet. Instead, Gorilla Monsoon told us about a charity baseball game between the WWF Superstars and members of the Chicago Media.

Heading back to the arena, Randy Savage made his way to the ring to act as host/MC, welcoming us to the show and introducing our commentary team for the evening, Vince McMahon and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

Lawler reminded us about the new tag team champions, HBK and Diesel, pointed out Davey Boy Smith in the crowd, and let Vinnie Mac try to get us excited about Undertaker vs. Undertaker.

With that out of the way, it was finally on to our opening match.

The Million Dollar Team (I.R.S & Bam Bam Bigelow w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu w/ Afa and Captain Lou Albano)

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994 - Captain Lou Albano led The Headshrinkers into battle against I.R.S and Bam Bam Bigelow
Originally scheduled as a tag team title match, there was little point in tonight's opening contest after former champions The Headshrinkers' loss to the Kliq.

Despite this, we had four talented competitors in the ring who worked hard to get the crowd excited with an enjoyable match.

Bigelow and I.R.S were the first members of Ted Dibiase's fledgling Million Dollar Corporation, a stable of heels who would spend most of the following year giving grief to top babyfaces like Diesel and The Undertaker.

For now though, Corporation boss Dibiase had his sights set on the tag team division, and as a result we got a fun match that was a perfect way to start the show.

After seven minutes of solid action, the managers came into play. Afa attacked Bam Bam Bigelow and cost his team the match via DQ.
Your winners via disqualification: I.R.S and Bam Bam Bigelow

Afterwards, the babyfaces attacked, and all four wrestlers brawled right the way to the backstage area.

Another Nielson skit followed. This time, Big Les met up with his cohort George Kennedy. Both men agreed that they were 'on the case,' setting up a running gag from the rest of the show.

Razor Speaks

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994 - Razor Ramon promised to reclaim his Intercontinental title
In a Colliseum Video exclusive, we went to Razor Ramon's dressing room, where The Bad Guy claimed that Diesel and Shawn Michaels had ripped him off by taking his Intercontinental Championship.

Razor told us that NFL hall of famer, Walter Payton would be in his corner in order to counter Shawn Michaels and help Razor reclaim his title.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship match
WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano (w/ Luna Vachon)
Having sold the contract of her boyfriend Bam Bam Bigelow to The Million Dollar Man, Luna Vachon was left with little else to do but bring in Japanese star Bull Nakano to challenge Alundra Blaze for the girl's belt.

Vachon had failed in her own attempts to take the belt from the former Madusa, and had high hopes for her charge, Nakano.

For the bulk of the contest, it looked as though the villains would have plenty to celebrate. The dominate challenger mauled her opponent from pillar to post in what turned out to be a very enjoyable championship match.
WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994 - Bull Nakano on her way to challenge Alundra Blayze for the WWF Women's title

The champion eventually made a comeback, but was again thwarted by her larger foe, and only narrowly took the victory thanks to a bridging German suplex.

Your writer has seen other fans declare this as an incredible match. Though I'm note quite as enthralled, it was certainly very good, and it probably goes without saying that, compared to today's current crop of Divas, Blayze/Nakano did at least look like a five-star classic.
Your Winner and Still WWF Women's Champion: Alundra Blayze

Backstage, Todd Pettengill caught up with tag team champions, Shawn Michaels and Diesel. HBK said that between them, he and Diesel had held the Intercontinental Championship for the best part of two years, and decided that they wanted a little more gold, thus capturing the tag belts.

For his part, Big Daddy Cool promised that he would retain his Intercontinental title in his upcoming match against Razor Ramon.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Diesel (w/ Shawn Michaels) vs. Razor Ramon (w/ Walter Payton)
Though some fans and insiders alike have been quick to deride the infamous Kliq contingent for their monopoly over the WWF heriachy in the mid-90s, it's hard to deny that, when it came to marquee matches, they at least delivered in the ring.

Consider the new legendary ladder match between Michaels and Ramon at Wrestlemania 10 and Diesel's thrilling attempt to capture the WWF title from Bret Hart at that June's King of the Ring event. Both great matches in their own right, topped off with an equally as exciting Intercontinental title match between The Bad Guy and Big Daddy Cool.

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994: Todd Pettengill talks to tag team champions Shawn Michaels & Diesel
In the second longest match on the card, both champ and challenger -along with outside shenanigan-producer Michaels- created a wonderful title match that was simply a joy to watch.

All three men (and Payton) worked supremely well together to capture the crowd in the palm of their collective hand, and pull them along for one hell of a ride.

Unfortunately for the tag team champions, tonight was not to be their lucky night. After controlling much of the action between them, Michaels accidently nailed his partner with the Sweet Chin Music, costing Diesel the title.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Intercontinental Champion: Razor Ramon

Funny, that's two pay per views in 1994 which featured Razor winning the second-tier strap.

As The Bad Guy celebrated, Michaels stormed off to the backstage area, with his understandably irate partner following close behind and demanding an explination that the Heartbreak Kid was unwilling to give.

Fun with Randy
Cameras next cut to our host of sorts, Macho Man Randy Savage. Clearly having fun, Randy claimed that HBK would be in trouble once Diesel caught up with him, then handed back to Vince. Not sure what the point of that was.

Backstage fall out

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994: Shawn Michaels promised to get his buddy Diesel another shot at the Intercontinental championship
In a Colliseum Home Video exclusive, we got individual reactions from both Diesel and Michaels. Big Daddy Cool threw his tag team championship belt on the floor and claimed it was a pittance compared to the IC title. He then blasted Shawn before changing his mind about the tag titles, picking his belt back up off the floor and saying 'at least I still have this.'

In response, Michaels blamed Payton and promised to get Diesel another title shot.

Did Lex sell out?
In another backstage promo with our buddy Pettengill, Lex Luger and Tatanka discussed the results of a WWF Hotline Opinion Poll, in which 54% of fans apparently believed that Luger had sold out to the Million Dollar Man.

In probably the best piece of mic work Tatanka ever did during his WWF run, The Native American reamed Luger a new one, told him to fess up, and then promised to kick his red, white and blue ass when they met in the ring.

Luger claimed that, despite all the evidence, he was not in cahoots with Dibiase, and would beat Tatanka by himself. Let's head to ringside to see what happened next, shall we?

Lex Luger vs. Tatanka

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994: Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
Whether it was due to the storyline, or simply due to the fact that the Lex Express had stalled, Luger received a lukewarm response as he made his way to ringside to battle Tatanka in a passable contest.

Though the match itself wasn't bad, the crowd hardly cared, probably because they were waiting for the inevitable arrival of The Million Dollar Man. When he arrived, Dibiase actually cost Lex the match by distracting him.
Your winner: Tatanka

In the post-match, Luger confronted Dibiase, but was attacked by Tatanka, who revealed that the whole thing had been one huge swerve. Tatanka was actually the one who had sold out, joining forces with The Million Dollar Corporation.

The two new allies went to make their way backstage, only for Dibiase to order Tatanka back in the ring to lay more damage into the prone Luger.

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994: Todd Pettengill reveals the results of an opinion poll into whether Lex Luger sold out to the Million Dollar Man
Those bastards.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Mabel (w/ Oscar)
You know, it wasn't until this battle of rap vs. country that your writer realised how terrible Oscar was at busting rhymes.

Thankfully, the action this short filler match was better than Mabel's manager and his horrible mic work.

Not that the match itself was anything special, but then it probably wasn't supposed to be. Rather, the two men were tasked with getting the crowd suitably prepared for our upcoming double main event, and to that end, they did their jobs well.

Abe Knuckleball Schwartz was briefly shown in the crowd, though nothing came of that, and instead we got a victory for Jeff Jarrett over the man who would challenge Diesel for the WWF title in a year's time.
Your Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Afterwards, Mabel wobbled backstage in pursuit of Jarrett.

Back to the Super Sleuths
Vince McMahon then took to the microphone to tell us that our 'Super Sleuths' were in the crowd looking for The Undertaker. Cut to Nieseon and Kennedy in the entrance way, and an image of The Undertaker behind them.

Naturally, the image went away before the goofy sleuths could spot him.

Pettengill then gave us another recap of the feud between Owen Hart and his brother, the WWF Champion. Remember when Owen kicked Bret's leg out of his leg? Good times.

Still waiting for the steel cage, meant to keep the wrestlers in and their family out, to be constructed, Vince interviewed Stu and Helen Hart about the match.

'I think it's a fever that's possessed Owen, and I just hope he overcomes it some day,' said Helen.
'I just hope that the best wrestler will walk out of that ring,' added Stu.

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart defended his WWF Championship against younger brother Owen

Jerry Lawler then yelled at Stu and Helen before interviewing The British Bulldog, who said that the family feud started at Summerslam 1992 (when Bulldog defeated Bret for the Intercontinental title), and would hopefully end tonight.

The announcers then considered interviewing Bruce Hart, but instead ignored him to speak to Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart, who had been in Owen's corner since King of the Ring. Bruce finally did get a word in, and blamed The Anvil for breaking up the family.

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994: Bret Hart gave a pre-match promo
Backing up his brother's claim, WWF Champion Bret gave an interview to Todd Pettengill, insisting that Jim sewed the seeds of jealousy in Owen. The Hitman said that he hated Neidhart, but didn't hate The King of Harts. Rather, he only wanted to prove he was better than his young brother.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. 'The King of Harts' Owen Hart
Just when you thought the Brothers Hart couldn't possibly top their Wrestlemania classic, they went at it in what turned out to be one of the greatest cage matches of all time.

That's no exaggeration, it really was that good.

In his Kayfabe Commentaries WWF Timeline 1994 shoot interview (a review of which I'll post in a month or so), Sean Waltman claimed that, prior to the show, Bret had insisted he and Owen would take as long as they needed t tell their story.

As a result, we got an half hour classic in which both champ and challenger traded offence and escape attempts in equal measure.

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994: Owen vs. Bret Hart
Starting off slowly and gradually working the crowd into a frenzy, Bret and Owen each made several desperate lunges for the cage door, only to be stopped by their brother. Likewise, every dramatic climb to the top of the stage was thwarted by the other man in what was undoubtedly the highlight of the night.

Following thirty-plus minutes of incredible action, both men climbed over the cage to the outside and continued to brawl. The challenger got his foot caught in the bars of the steel cage, allowing the champion to drop to the outside and retain his title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

But the drama did not end there.

Jim Neidhart leaped over the barricade and clobbered Davey Boy from behind, effectively knocking both the Bulldog, and his wife Dianna, over the guard rail. The Anvil attacked his former Hart Foundation partner, throwing him back into the cage where The Anvil and The King of Harts continued their assault, Owen laying a beat down on Bret as Jim saw off a bunch of rescue attempts by various members of The Hart Family.

Eventually, it took a returning Davey Boy Smith to put an end to things, fighting his way into the cage and coming to The Hitman's aid.

Backstage, Todd Pettengill chased after Owen and The Anvil. Both men were irate at the outcome. Owen was angry at The British Bulldog, and The Anvil at his former partner, The Hitman.

The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker (W/ The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase)
It would take a couple of very talented performers indeed to top that impressive WWF title match. Unfortunately, neither The Undertaker nor his evil clone were up to the task.

Having already introduced his own Undertaker, Dibiase awaited the arrival of the man he originally brought to the World Wrestling Federation at the 1990 Survivor Series.

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1994: Undertaker vs. Undertaker

He had a long time to wait, and so did everybody else.

First, Paul Bearer came out, leading a group of druids who wheeled a casket to the ring. The Undertaker was in the casket, right?


The only thing inside the casket was a big urn with a flashlight inside it. Bearer took it into the ring and waved the flashlight/urn around a bit as 'thunder and lightning' crashed around the arena.

Finally, darkness consumed the United Center, and The Undertaker, the real one, walked slowly to the ring.

Before the opening bell, we had a pose-down of sorts, as Bearer helped The Undertaker out of his hat and robe, and Dibiase mimicked his actions with his own 'Taker.

A lengthy stare-down followed, followed by several minutes of uninspired action with very little of note taking place.

Indeed, it seemed that the spectacle surrounding Undertaker vs. Undertaker was far greater than the actual in-ring conflict.

The crowd were effectively silent for most of the bout, which Vince McMahon on commentary claimed was due to them being 'stunned' at the appearance of two Undertakers. They barely  came to life when The Deadman put his clone away with three Tombstone Piledrivers and stuffed him into the casket.
Your Winner: The Undertaker (the real one)

Two druids came to the ring to take the Underfaker away as The Undertaker saluted Paul Bearer's urn. The casket went backstage, where it was discovered by Nielson and Kennedy. The duo lifted the lid, only to find that the Undertaker II was not inside it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all she wrote, apart from a closing promo in which Bearer and The Undertaker solemnly gloated about their victory.

The final match, and everything that surrounded it, aside, Summerslam 1994 was actually a pretty awesome show. Razor/Diesel, Hart/Hart and even Nakano/Blayze are all well worth tracking down, though the show as a whole ran smoothly and even the opening tag match and Luger/Tatanka bout had their moments. 
Onwards we go then to the final PPV of 1994, the Survivor Series.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

PPV Review: WWF King of the Ring 1994

WWF / WWE: King of the Ring 1994 - Event poster
June 19, 1994
Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland

In the wake of the epic Wrestlemania X, the World Wrestling Federation rolled into Baltimore with its second annual King of the Ring pay per view, a show which accomplished the impressive task of simultaneously presenting some of the best and worst moments of wrestling in 1994.

In many ways an official launch of the company's New Generation brand, an attempt to sever the last ties to the Hogan era and focus on younger talent, the 1994 King of the Ring was headlined by Wrestlemania I star Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, who made his pro debut in 1970.

As if that wasn't enough to cause some serious head-scratching, the show also featured former football player Art Donovan and his now infamous job on commentary.

How much does this guy weigh? 

Let's find out.

King of the Ring pre-show
I've already posted a video of the 1994 King of the Ring PPV pre-show, but in case you've got better things to do with your life than watch all that (and let's face it, you do), here's a few highlights:

Vince McMahon and Randy Savage showed us how each of the eight tournament competitors made their way into the finals. Savage predicted that Bam Bam Bigelow would use osmosis of all things to defeat Razor Ramon, and that Jeff Jarrett would get the better of the 123 Kid.

I thought you had money on the 123 Kid,' McMahon reminded Savage.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Randy Savage and Vince McMahon predict the winners
'I did,' admitted the Macho Man. 'I lost.'

A fresh-faced Johnny Polo interviewed Mabel, who promised to win the tournament (maybe next year, big guy), and we got a look at the back-story between Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and his challenger, Diesel.

With little else of note going on, besides Art Donovan predicting a win for Razor Ramon, it was on with the show.

Welcome to King of the Ring 1994
As the camera took us on a brief tour of Baltimore, Gorilla Monsoon set the scene for tonight's show and introduced a scene in which all eight competitors in tonight's tournament argued against over who would be crowned King of the Ring 1994, each man moving his name around a board containing tonight's brackets.

Todd Peckenpaw (Johnny Polo's name for our favourite goofy mic-man) then gave us a run down of tonight's show before we had a 'very special rendition' of the Star Spangled Banner by Blackfoot frontman Rickey Medlocke which was actually pretty terrible right to the very end. I haven't listened to much Blackfoot, and if that's the kind of vocal performance I can expect, I don't think I want to.

With that out the way, our commentary trio of Savage, Monsoon and Donovan welcomed us properly, and it was on with the action.

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 1
Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon) vs. Razor Ramon
Appearing in the opening match for the second year in a row, Razor Ramon clashed with King of the Ring 1993 finalist, Bam Bam Bigelow in first round action.

Repeating their efforts of the previous year, both men delivered a solid performance to create a good opening round match.

Having punished The Bad Guy in a torture rack, The Beast From the East scaled the top rope, only to be hauled off by his opponent and pinned for a three count.
Your winner: Razor Ramon (advances to the semi-finals)

Backstage, Mabel gave his second backstage interview of the evening, this time joined by Pettengill and his first-round opponent, I.R.S. Each man vowed to be the other in a standard pre-match spat.

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 2
'Randy, is this one of the wrestlers? He looks like a business man!' exclaimed Art Donovan as I.R.S made his way to the ring and berated the Baltimore tax cheats.

Presenting our first How much does this guy weight? of the evening, the actual in-ring action was far better than you might imagine, mostly thanks to the efforts of the always-impressive tax man.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, gimmick aside, Schyster normally gave us a good show when he stepped between the rings, and I'd be perfectly happy to watch any match he's involved in.

Speaking or Irwin, he went over much-hyped favourite Mabel by using a finish far too similiar to the one used in the previous match. Mabel climbed the turnbuckles, Irwin shook the ropes, Mabel fell, Irwin pinned him.
Your winner: I.R.S (advances to the semi-finals)

Up next, we saw a pre-taped Colliseum Home Video exclusive in which Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji told the camera men to hurry up in their locker room to hype the upcoming tag team title match pitting Crush & Yokozuna against reigning champions The Headshrinkers.

Cornette shooed then shooed the camera men away just as quickly, and that was that.

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 3
Tatanka vs. Owen Hart

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Owen Hart battled Tatanka in the first round
The problem with trying to cram a three-round tournament along with other key matches on to one card, is that many of the actual tournament matches go too short to actually stand out as being anything special.

Still, each competitor so far did the best they could with what they had, and both Tatanka and Owen Hart were no exception.

In a little over eight minutes, The Rocket took the fight to his Native American opponent in an exciting battle that had the crowds hooked.

Part way through this one, we got a cut-away to the backstage area, where Razor Ramon and I.R.S were eager to kick off their semi-final match early. It was, thankfully, only a momentary distraction from the contest in the ring.

Following a gripping burst of action, the younger Hart sibling reversed a sunset flip attempt to make it to the next round.
Your winner: Owen Hart (advances to the semi-finals)

Backstage, Todd Pettengill spoke with Intercontinental Champion Diesel and his buddy Shawn Michaels.

'I got two words to say to you Bret Hart,' Big Daddy Cool bellowed 'JACK KNIFE! It's happened before, and it'll happen again.'

Questioned over whether they were concerned about the hyped appeearance of a Hart family member in the champion's corner, HBK dismissed any anxiety by claiming that nobody in Bret's family liked him anyway.

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 4
123 Kid vs. Jeff Jarrett
WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Jeff Jarrett lost to the 123 Kid, then beat him up!Our fourth and final Quarter Final match saw plucky underdog 123 Kid taking on country singer Jeff Jarrett in another short-yet-enjoyable affair.

Lighting up the crowd with a few impassioned bursts of offence, the future X-Pac spent the majority of the contest absorbing punishment from the future TNA Wrestling founder.

Sensing victory, a cocky Double J went for the figure four leglock, only to be rolled up in a small package and pinned.
Your winner: 123 Kid (advances to the semi-final)

Irate at this loss, Jarrett yelled at the referee before taking out his frustrations on the Kid, drilling him with three piledrivers and several splashes from the top rope, despite the involvement of several referees and road agents.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: The results after the first round
With the crowd hot at the despicable Jarrett's actions, Double J stormed backstage, leaving the commentators to wonder whether 123 Kid would be able to compete in the semi-final against Owen Hart.

The New Generation
Touting their New Generation campaign, we were next shown a video comparing old cars to new cars, and old superstars such as Hulk Hogan and the Iron Shiek to newer talent like Ramon and Owen Hart.

I'll remind you again, not that you need reminding, that this show was headlined by Roddy Piper vs. Jerry Lawler. More of that later

Pettengill interviews Bret Hart
World Wrestling Federation Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart fluffed his way through another promo in which he claimed to have the perfect move to defeat any superstar, and refused to reveal which member of his family would be in his corner.

Rare has been the time I've seen a Hitman promo that he didn't manage to mess up in some way.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart (w/ Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart) vs. WWF Intercontinental Champion Diesel (w/ Shawn Michaels)
I have to say, there's something surreal, and almost comical, about seeing Shawn Michaels going through his whole 'Sexy Boy' routine to the sound of roaring engines and shrieking horns that was Diesel's first WWF theme music.

Not that the announcers paid much attention to him, they were far too busy speculating on which member of the champion's family would be in his corner. Keith Hart? Nope? Bruce Hart? Nope.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Todd Pettengill interviews WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
Try Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart, The Hitman's brother-in-law and former tag team partner made his return to the WWF to level the playing field in our title contest.

With that out of the way, what we were left with was a thrilling main event match heavy on both impact and drama.

As you might expect, it was a story in which the wily champion put his skill and quickness against the brute force of the giant challenger. A simple story maybe, but one that worked, especially with the added delight of watching Shawn Michaels dash around the ringside area in his role of Diesel's second, and in seeing The Anvil exhaust himself by chasing the cocky Michaels around the ring.

With the crowd lapping up their every move, all four men worked together to produce a thoroughly entertaining bout that must surely count among Kevin Nash's finest moments.

Just when it looked like Big Daddy Cool might become our new champion following an impressive Jackknife Powerbomb, The Anvil stormed the ring and clobbered him with a clothesline, awarding the challenger the match by DQ.
Your winner by disqualification: Diesel (Bret Hart retains the title)

His deed done, Neidhart stormed to the back, leaving his erstwhile Hart Foundation partner to suffer a beating at the hands of Michaels and Diesel.

Pettengill interviews The King
Given that Roddy Piper failed to appear before a live crowd in the build-up to tonight's main event (a factor that many claim played a key part in the show's abysmal buyrate), most of the hype was left up to Jerry Lawler.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Jerry Lawler rants about his opponent Roddy Piper
Having taunted and mocked his rival for weeks on WWF programming, Lawler told Pettengill that Piper had retired once, and would be forced to do so again after The King had finished with him. Lawler also mocked Piper's vow to donate his winnings to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canda.

King of the Ring Semi Final - Match 1
Razor Ramon vs. I.R.S
In a rematch from their Intercontinental Championship clash earlier that year at the Royal Rumble, Razor and I.R.S started their semi-final contest on the outside, with The Bad guy getting the upperhand before his opponent turned things around with some dirty tactics.

With the crowd somewhat burned out from our previous encounter, this short bout felt completely flat, not that both men didn't do their best to turn things around.

After an uninspiring five minutes, Ramon advanced to the finals thanks to the Razor's Edge.
Your winner: Razor Ramon (advances to the final)

Backstage, a ticked-off Bret Hart stormed the corridors in search of Jim Neidhart. He was unable to find him, nor did anybody have much luck in finding the 123 Kid. The Toddster was supposed to have a pre-match interview with our semi-finalist, but having suffered at the hands of Jeff Jarrett earlier in the match, we were led to believe that the Kid might not make it to his upcoming clash with The Rocket.

Would he or wouldn't he?
King of the Ring Semi Final - Match 2
Owen Hart vs. 123 Kid
After stalling for what felt like forever, his music blaring over the PA with no sight of him, 123 Kid finally emerged, dragging his beaten up body down the ilse with a face that was a contorted mix of determination and pain.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: After a great, if short, match, Owen Hart defeated 123 Kid with a sharpshooter
The crowd were evidently happy to see the youngster, though not so much when Owen Hart dove over the top rope before the bell and splashed the crap out of his rival.

It took Hart less than four minutes to pick up the win, but damn what a four minutes they were. Relentless in their pace and holding nothing back, the two flipped, flopped and flew all over the ring in a brilliant little match well worth tracking down.

A Sharpshooter sent The Rocket through to the final.
Your winner: Owen Hart (advances to the final)

Cutting to the back, we finally got a live appearance from Rowdy Roddy Piper, in the process of pulling down his drawers.

'That's why I've got six kids,' scoffed Piper. 'First thing I do, take off my pants!' 

'there's no such thing as a king.'
WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Roddy Piper loves Hersheys chocolate
After a cheesy and bizarre plug for Hershey's chocolate, Piper finally addressed his upcoming opponent. Promising to first find the young fan who Lawler supposedly bullied into impersonating the Hot Rod on a recent show, Piper then promised to finish off Jerry, and claimed that

Let's hope Felipe VI of Spain doesn't hear about this.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu w/ Captain Lou Albano and Afa) vs. Yokozuna and Crush (w/ Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji)
Yokozuna never really recovered after losing the WWF title at Wrestlemania 10, did he?

Here, he teamed Crush (another man who this writer believes could have achieved bigger things) in a tag team title match which, whilst entertaining for what it was, was a obvious demotion for Yoko, who had spent most of the previous year at the top of the card.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Afa leads WWF Tag Team Champions The Headshrinkers down to the ring for a match against Yokozuna and Crush
As was par for the course with this show, everybody brought their A-game, and though the bout did seem to drag at parts, there were enough bright spots to make it a decent watch.

With the heels taking charge Lex Luger, yet another guy whose WWF career didn't quite pan out as expected, made his way to ringside, distracting the challengers and allowing The Headshrinkers to retain the belts.
Your winners and still WWF Tag Team Champions: The Headshrinkers

Crush sought revenge by attacking Lex on the outside, only for the Headshrinkers to make the save and celebrate with Lex and his ghastly red, white and blue striped Lyrca outfit.

Back once more to our mate Todd, Pettengill interviewed Owen Hart, who promised to outdo his brother (1993's King of the Ring winner) by winning this year's competition.

King of the Ring Final
Owen Hart vs. Razor Ramon
WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Owen Hart vowed to become King
And so we made it to the final at last, as Owen Hart and Razor Ramon locked up to determine who would be crowned king.

Disappointingly, this was neither man's best outing on the show (that honour goes to Razor/Bam Bam and Owen/Kid), but was nonetheless a decent way to cap off the feud and put The Rocket over.

With Razor looking set for victory, Jim Neidhart returned to the ring, aligning himself with his former New Foundation partner by attacking Ramon on the outside.

A three count later, and Owen Hart was your new King of the Ring.
Your Winner and 1994 King of the Ring: Owen Hart

Owen and Jim celebrated by double-teaming The Bad Guy before heading for the coronation area (for lack of anything better to call it), where Todd Pettengill and WWF President Jack Tunney awaited.

As they made their way there, we cut to a reaction from Owen's brother Bret, standing by with fellow Canadian Ray Rougeau. 

'I can't believe what just happened, I don't have any comment,' was all The Hitman could say.

'I'm just thinking that the only motive [Neidhart] had for being in Bret's corner was to keep the title on Bret, hoping that Owen would get a shot in the future,' gushed Randy Savage, giving the whole point of the story away.

Hail to the king, baby
WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Owen Hart  became King
The memorable King of the Ring coronation ceremony then began, with Owen refusing to be crowned by Jack Tunney, and instead asked for 'the only person in my family that I can trust, my main man Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart' to do the honours.

With the power quickly going to his head, Hart ordered Todd to get down on one knee whilst The Anvil handed Owen his crown, cape and scepter.

Adopting a monicker that would serve him for most of his run, Owen declared that his first proclamation as King was that from now on, we should refer to him as The King of Harts.

After what felt like the 10th recap of the Piper/Lawler feud, we finally got to our main event, where Roddy Piper hoped to win some money for the sick kids and shut Jerry Lawler up once and for all.

Rowdy Roddy Piper (w/ a 'fan' dressed up like him) vs. Jerry 'The King' Lawler
If this had been centered somewhere in the mid-card, or at least before the tournament final, it might have gone down a little better. Instead, with both your writer and the Baltimore crowd en route to burn out, it felt like a poor way to end a show.

Doing his best to build up the heat before the bell, Lawler took to the microphone to insult the crowd and the 'sick brats' in Canada.

'I'm not going to give any of my winnings to those brats, or any of you peons' Lawler boasted in the most disposable act ever committed in a wrestling ring. Ooh, Jerry, you evil bastard.

Of course, Piper had a nice reception for his first WWF PPV match since his Intercontinental classic against Bret Hart at Wrestlemania VIII. Not only did Piper bring a full bagpipe band with him, he also had the 'fan' who did such a spot on impression of impersonating him on Raw.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 1994: Roddy Piper and the 'fan' who did a great impression of him
Entering the ring, Piper took to the mic himself to quote his famous line from They Live.

'Lawler, I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum,' he began before turning to the mic to the fan.
'And I'm all outa bubblegum Lawler, you ugly son-of-a-god-damn-goat.' 

The 'kid' (as the commentary team referred to him), was often the most entertaining thing about this match, getting involved here and there and distracting Lawler from the action.

Ten minutes of whatever later, the fan helped Piper pin The King, and earn some money for those poor, sick kids.
Your winner: Rowdy Roddy Piper

Cutting backstage, HBK consoled a distraught Diesel by promising him that he would win the WWF title eventually. By the time the year was out, Michaels' prediction would come true.

Though the Diesel/Hart title clash stood out by a mile as the highlight of the show, followed by the short exchange between eventual King of the Ring winner Owen Hart and his opponent the 123 Kid, there was a lot of enjoyable stuff on this show to make it well worth watching. Heck, if you feel like it, switch off after Owen declares himself the 'King of Harts.' Unless of course, you're the kind of old-school fan you have to believe the WWF were attempting to lure back with their Piper/Lawler main event.
As for Art Donovan's contributions to the commentary team, truth be told I found it more funny than outright bad, and had to wonder if his blatant lack of knowledge about the product could have actually served some purpose on a free TV show. 
Think about it, what a better way to simply and clearly explain the characters and the structure of professional wrestling by having guys like Savage and Monsoon answer such riveting questions as 'Who's the guy with the American flag?'
Maybe I'm alone on that one, but that's another matter for another day. Right now, it's on to Summerslam 1994. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

ARCHIVED WRITING: Favourite Wrestling Moments - When The Hitman Battled The Dead Man

I’ve been reminiscing today; thinking way back to September 20th 1997.

[This is an archived post originally published on the website of a magazine I worked for as a journalist back in 2009.]

That day, I found myself at the Birmingham N.E.C along with my best friend and fellow mark, Dale, and the roster of what was then called the World Wrestling Federation, for the company’s only British date that year, One Night Only.

It was a memorable show for many reasons, not least of which being the controversial finish to the Shawn Michaels/Davey Boy Smith European title match which lay the foundations to what would later become D-Generation-X.

Though for this writer, the most memorable encounter that night took place between Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and The Undertaker.

Though the Excellence of Execution was in the throes of his anti-American gimmick at the time, he was nonetheless a firm fan-favourite over in good old blighty, whilst the ever-popular Phenom was killing time between dropping the world title and doing battle with his soon-to-debut brother, Kane.

Between them, the two legends produced a fantastic 28 minute match that swept those of us in the N.E.C along in a wave of emotion.

Though I’ve forgotten most of the actual in-ring action from that night (this was twelve years ago after all!), I do firmly remember the enthusiastic crowd being split down the middle as Bret an ‘Taker went back and forth in an intense contest which roared to a gripping finale.

I also remember the sign.

In keeping with the spirit of attending a live pro wrestling event, Dale and I had decided that we had to take some sort of sign which we could wave in the air in a vain attempt at getting on camera.

We did get on camera, though not with the sign which is a shame, because it was awesome.

Dale was convincing in his argument that we should pledge our allegiance to the dark side and show our support to The Undertaker.

I didn’t need much persuading. Undertaker had always been entertaining, and as good as Bret Hart was, there had always been someone else who pipped him to the post at the top of my ‘favourite wrestler’ list.

So we grabbed a big piece of card, drew ‘Taker’s symbol on it permanent marker and stuck on a picture of the Dead Man himself.

But I just couldn’t stop there.

I’ve always been of the creative persuasion (which is probably how I ended up writing for a living), and in the days leading up to WWF’s One Night Only, I worked tirelessly on that sign; adding in black stars and more stuck on pictures.

Every night after school, with excitement about the event building, I’d work on that beast until I’d finally created an epic piece of art. When September 20th came, we packed it in my dad’s car and headed off to watch some wrestling.

The match began.

Defending WWF Champion, Bret Hart and former champion, The Undertaker locked up and embarked on an oft-forgotten classic. Dale and I roared our approval for the man in black, waving the sign proudly in the air before Dale got bored and left all the waving about to yours truly.

And then something changed.

As all good matches should do, the Hitman/Undertaker clash drew the crowd in and it wasn’t only easy to make an emotional investment, it was unavoidable. Though as Dale continued to route for the Man from the Darkside, I found myself taken in by the plight of the Hitman in his battle to regain the gold and resenting The Undertaker.

I screamed and yelled for Bret to fight back, to hang on in there, to win the match (hey, I was only 13!), and then I remembered the sign, that work of art I’d put so many hours into.

So I threw it on the floor and, in anger at Undertaker’s latest big move, stomped it raw and disowned it.

Looking back, I’ve never been more glad that I was there for that match. Two months later, Bret was gone from WWF in the wake of Survivor Series ’97, though not before finally converting this long-time naysayer into a bonafide Hitman fan.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Well, after reviewing Wrestlemania X, I was hoping to keep going in chronilogical order, and next tackle WWF King of the Ring 1994.

Then I realised that I don't actually own a copy of this event, and can't seem to get hold of one without buying the Tagged Classics DVD set. Until I can track down King of the Ring 1994 then, here's the preview show I found on Youtube.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 10

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

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

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

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

Here's what went down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Owen Hart battled his brother Bret in a classic opening match
Starting off in the early going with Owen countering his brother's every attempt at asserting himself, this one very quickly ascended into the all-time classic fans still rave about some 20 years later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Howard's hair
WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Howard Finkle got a new head of hair
Given the WWF's youth-orientated output at the time, our next segment was bizarre to say the least. Sy Sperling, president of hair restoration companny Hair Club for Men, introduced his latest client, Howard Finkle.

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

Mixed Tag Team Match: 
Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon vs. Doink & Dink
There's much to suggest that this would be a pretty terrible outing, but that was actually far from the case.

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

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

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

Falls Count Anywhere match:
'Macho Man' Randy Savage vs. Crush (w/ Mr. Fuji)
As a ten year-old boy, I thought this match was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. It was do different, so unique, so awesome.

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

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

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Randy Savage hangs Crush upside down in their Last Man Standing Match
With brief bursts of high-impact brawling, interspersed with nothing happening at all, Wrestlemania's first Falls Count Anywhere was far from either man's finest hour.

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

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

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

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - 'Bill Clinton' enjoyed the show with IRS
In another weird skit, Todd Pettengill interviewed a Bill Clinton look-alike as I.R.S sat behind Mr. President. With the mic then thrust in his face, Irwin told The Toddster that he was delighted to be helping out the big man with his taxes. Alrighty then.

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

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

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

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship match:
WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze vs. Leilani Kai
As far as I can tell, challenger Leilani Kai was the only active competitor to wrestle in a match at both Wrestlemania 1 and Wrestlemania 10.

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

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

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

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

Whoomp! There's Rhonda! 
WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Shawn Michaels and Burt Reynolds
After Men on a Mission's rabble-rousing entrance, in anticipation of their upcoming tag title clash against The Quebecer's, Todd Pettengill was shown backstage with some woman called Rhonda Sheer, who fawned over Shawn Michaels. That was, until Burt Reynolds turned up, and she turned her attentions to him instead.

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

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

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

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

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - 20 years before Daniel Bryan, Johnny Polo began his own Wrestlemania "YES! YES! YES!" chant
A true highlight came when the champions managed to lift the massive Mabel up for a double suplex. This drew a loud roar from the crowd whilst, on the outside, manager Johnny Polo predated Daniel Bryan by 20 years and burst into his own chant of YES! YES! YES!.

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

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

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

World Wrestling Federation Championship Match
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. Lex Luger
Special guest referee: Mr. Perfect
In the opening moments of the match, nothing happened. I mean, literally, nothing. Lex Luger walked around the ring whilst Yokouna got himself ready to compete and Mr. Perfect kind of looked on, uninterested.

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

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Lex Luger battled Yokozuna for the WWF title
Back in the ring, Luger took took to the top rope, nailing his opponent with an admittedly impressive flying crossbody.

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

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

With both Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji laying prone in the ring at the hands of Luger, Perfect ignored Lex's pin attempt and instead focussed on reviving the two managers. Understandably aggrieved, Luger grabbed Perfect's shirt to get his attention. That was the last straw for the corrupt official, who promptly disqualified Luger.
Your winner by disqualification and still WWF Champion: Yokozuna

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

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Mr. Perfect was the special referee for Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna
Bullshit it may have been, but it was an exciting ending to a good match, and culminated in Luger confronting Perfect backstage.

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

Adam Bomb vs. Earthquake
So, here's what happened:

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

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

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

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Jim Cornette cut an awesome promo on behalf of WWF Champion Yokozuna
Backstage, Pettengill met with WWF Champion Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette. 'Yokozuna is still the champion and that's all you need to know, petting zoo.' said Cornette, before cutting a scathing promo against Bret Hart. It was, as you might expect, pretty awesome.

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

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

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match:
WWF Champion Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (w/ Diesel) 
In another major highlight on an all-round entertaining show, Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels took it right to each other in the early going, both men seemingly desperate to declare themselves as the true Intercontinental Champion.

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

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 10 - Razor Ramon makes his way to the ring for an epic ladder match against Shawn Michaels
With thrilling spots and action aplenty, Michaels/Razor 1 was rivaled only by the earlier Hart/Hart encounter in vying for the of honour of match of the night, if not the year.

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

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

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

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

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 10 - Razor Ramon makes his way to the ring for an epic ladder match against Shawn Michaels
A great video package, recounting The Hitman's rise to the top of the WWF, and his subsequent feud with Yokozuna, led us nicely into our main event of the evening.

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

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

World Wrestling Federation Championship match:
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
Having scraped by an earlier challenge from Lex Luger thanks to nefarious shennanigans from Mr. Perfect, Yoko returned to the front line to do battle with fan-favourite Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

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

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 10 - Yokozuna charges at Bret Hart in their main event match
Once again, the champion dominated, but there was to be no repeat of their main event a year earlier. This time, Hart came up with the win after Yoko, still dizzy from the challenger's offence, fell off the top rope in attempting his Banzai Drop. Bret made the cover, Piper made the count, and we had a new WWF Champion.
Your winner and NEW WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart 

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

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

Thursday, 26 June 2014

ARCHIVED WRITING: TNA makes zero impact

TNA wrestling logo
At the conclusion of the final TNA Impact prior to the Against All Odds pay-per-view, I vowed never to watch the show again.

[This is an archived commentary piece originally published on the website of a magazine I worked for during my time as a journalist. Though both the website and magazine no longer exists, this piece, like TNA itself, just won't go away.]

So far, I've stuck to my word.

Impact is far too long (especially given the ammount of ad breaks Bravo throw in here in the UK), complicated and unneccesary to hold my interest, and rather than walking away from the show excited about the group's upcoming matches I find myself annoyed; at TNA for getting it so spectacularly wrong every week, and at myself for wasting so much of my time.

Earlier this morning, I decided to check out a write-up from last night's show just to see if things have improved.

They haven't.

Overlooking the fact that 90% of wrestling TV show reports are very badly written (those by a certain Jack Conner being the obvious exception!), nothing I read about last night's show made any sense.

One minute the Main Event Mafia don't want to talk to TNA's resident geek, JB, the next they do? Why not save that time and have them talk right from the get-go, thus saing time for more actual wrestling.And that's what bugs me the most about Panda Energy's tax write-off. The group seem so desperate to provide an alternative to WWE, marketing themselves as wrestling rather than entertainment.

Sadly, Jarrett, Ruso and company fail to provide either.

I mean, can someone explain to me how having Don West suddenly turn on Mike Tenay before storming off equates to a good wrestling show? Heck, it doesn't even make for good entertainment.

As Good Ol' JR will often mention in his fantastic blogs and Q & As on his wonderful little website, , announcers are there to tell the stories, not to be the stories themselves.

This is probably the first of many anti-TNA rants I'll likely spew here on this site. That's if I decide to keep tabs on the company.

After all, they say if you don't like something, just don't bother with it.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1994

January 22, 1994
Providence Civic Center, Providence, Rhode Island

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

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

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

Here's what went down.

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

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

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

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

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

Tatanka vs. Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon) 
WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Tatanka faced old rival Bam Bam Bigelow
Picking up their old 1993 feud (which saw them clash in an entertaining six man tag at Summerslam 1993), arch rivals Tatanka and Bam Bam Bigelow clashed in a decent, if somewhat slow, opening encounter.

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

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

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

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

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

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Bret and Owen Hart put up a united front before their title match against The Quebecers
Starting with The Hart Brothers' Survivor Series 1993 victory over Shawn Michaels and His Knights, in which 'The Rocket' was the only Hart eliminated, and moving on to Bret refusing the challenge of his brother to a 'fight, we then skipped right to the two siblings having kissed and made up, and cutting a promo about winning the tag team titles.

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

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

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

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

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

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Owen Hart kicked Bret's leg out of his leg
Bret and Owen may not have been a tandem for very long, and even when they were, it was only to lead to their memorable singles feud, but between this match, and their little-mentioned clash against The Steiner Brothers, they didn't half create some quality in-ring action.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon vs. IRS
Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Ross, who spent the rest of this show commentating for the short lived
WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Razor Ramon defended the Intercontinental Championship against I.R.S
WWF Radio, traded places with Dibiase and McMahon for this match. A shame really, as hearing the Million Dollar Man cheering on his former tag team partner, no doubt to Vince's dismay, would have made for some interesting listening.

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

The champion made his way to the ring not long after, and what we got was a match much better than you might expect.

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

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

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

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Razor Ramon defeated I.R.S with the Razor's Edge
Though not for long. Starting his trend of screwing people out of titles, Earl Hebner came out to inform official Joey Marrella what had happened, and instead of simply reversing the decision on grounds of a disqualification, Marella opted to restart the contest. Two seconds later, Ramon pulled a mid-celebration IRS off the top rope with the Razor's Edge, and justice prevailed.
Your winner and still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Razor Ramon

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

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

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

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

World Wrestling Federation Championship Casket Match
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Yokozuna and The Undertaker faced off in a casket match
A sloppy brawl kicked off what was primarily a lousy championship match, with the challenger taking charge until his efforts were thwarted to 'Salt in The Eye' courtesy of Mr. Fuji. A few minutes of generally terrible back-and-forth action followed, with neither man really gaining a clear advantage, even despite 'Taker (as per his gimmick) refusing to sell the champion's offense.

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

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

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Yokozuna got help in defeating The Undertaker
The 10-strong heel contingent attempted to lock Undertaker in the casket, but couldn't succeed until Yoko took the urn from Bearer (Who had foolishly climbed onto the apron) and knocked out The Undertaker's manage.

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

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

Yet things didn't quite end there.

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

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: The Undertaker died :(
In what was supposed to look like a live-feed from inside the casket, Undi' gave us a rather elegent speech about how his spirit lived in the souls of all mankind. The image on the screen then turned to grey, and showed the casket being jolted with bolts of electricity before exploding altogether, despite the actual casket in the arena appearing completely in tact.

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

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

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

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

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: Kevin 'Diesel' Nash got over huge by eliminating seven men
Though I'd question why it made sense to have two faces outnumber a heel, it nonetheless made for an entertaining start, until Kwang (better known to audiences a few years down the line as Savio Vega) arrived to take the number four spot and immediately sucking the life out of the match.

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

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

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

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

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

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: The Royal Rumble match

Other notable moments included:

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

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

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1994: The Royal Rumble match
Thus the conundrum began. Who hit the floor first? Who had won the match? Cue Howard Finkle teasing the audience for the next several minutes, first by saying 'Here is your winner...' and having Lex Luger's music play, then doing the same for Bret Hart.

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

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

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

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.