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

Friday, 14 November 2014

Archived writing: Top Ten Wrestlers of the 2000s - 2000 - 2009

Kurt Angle celebrates a big win
With 2010 rapidly approaching, it’s that time when people start to look back over the past decade and pick out their favourites in all different areas.

*As you may have gathered, this is an archived piece I originally wrote in December 2009. It was published on the website of a regional magazine I used to work for as a journalist.*


The last ten years in professional wrestling have brought us some memorable moments, matches and stars, and in this piece, it’s the latter that we’ll concentrate on.

Kurt Angle

It was in the latter days of the 1990s that Kurt Angle, Olympic Gold Medalist, first stepped foot inside a professional wrestling ring, but it was with the turn of the millennium that Kurt Angle, Wrestling God, became known as one of the best in the world.

Following an eight-year run with the WWE/F, during which time he captured numerous titles and participated in scores of epic matches, Angle’s personal problems prompted him to take an early contract release and eventually wind up in TNA Wrestling, where he continues to impress.

Whilst his problems outside the ring have all been well-documented (one need look no further than his woes with both Trenesha ‘Rhaka Khan’ Biggers and Jeff Jarrett over the summer months of 2009), Angle has remained a consistently outstanding in-ring performer, frequently getting the best out of his adversaries.

Shawn Michaels

The Heartbrak Kid Shawn Michaels
After missing most of the Attitude Era he helped form due to a crippling back injury, the long-time veteran made a surprise return to action in 2002 and hasn’t looked back since.

On top of his game, The Heartbreak Kid has had more spectacular matches than he’s had dud ones over the past eight years, including his amazing performance against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25.

Arguably even better now than he was in his mid-90s heyday, the Showstopper deserves to be on this list as much, if not more, than anyone.

AJ Styles

In 2002, a new wrestling company by the name of TNA was born in the wake of WCW’s demise.

Still trudging along in a bid to be seen as serious competition to the global powerhouse that is the WWE, only three men who were there at the beginning remain with TNA to this day; James Storm, the increasingly-elusive Jeff Jarrett and ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles.

Throughout his tenure with the company, Styles has earned his reputation as one of the decade’s finest; capturing multiple TNA Triple Crown Championships (with three NWA World Championships, one TNA Championship, the X-Division and Tag titles), becoming the company’s first Grand Slam Champion (winning the Legends/Global title meant he’d won everything TNA had to offer) and entering into a string of memorable performances against a variety of opponents.

Arguably TNA’s biggest home-grown star, the next decade looks set to be even bigger for The Phenomenal One.


Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles (from tnawrestling.com)

Samoa Joe

Another TNA stalwart to make the list, Samoa Joe has enjoyed a strong rise to prominence over the last several years.

A run with the TNA World Championship was well-received by many fans who had longed for the Samoan Submission Machine to reach the top of his game. Add in strong efforts against AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, not to mention his unforgettable efforts against CM Punk in Ring of Honor, and you have to admit that the noughties have been very nice for Samoa Joe.

Bryan Danielson

Daniel Bryan in Ring of Honor
‘The American Dragon’ makes this list primarily for establishing himself as one of the hottest wrestlers in the world without having the backing of a major company (no, ROH are not a ‘major company’, sorry fanboys).

Instead of the backing of a company like the WWE or TNA, Danielson relied on his prowess as an in-ring performer to establish a reputation as one of the best of the best.

Training at the Shawn Michaels’ Wrestling Academy in Texas before making his debut in 1999, Danielson frequently thrilled die-hard fans throughout his tenure with Ring of Honor and a handful of indie-feds.

Having signed a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment in the summer of 2009,  one can only imagine just how far The American Dragon could go in the next decade if he combines his in-ring skills with the company’s penchant for creating global superstars.

Trish Stratus

Few women have done more for modern women’s wrestling than the Canadian beauty, Trish Stratus.

Making her debut in 2000 primarily as a manager, the former fitness model eventually made her way into active competition and, over the next several years, worked hard to develop her wrestling skills, charisma and overall persona to the point where she was regarded as one of, if not the, best of her generation.

A former seven-time WWF/E Women’s Champion, Stratus captured her last belt in her final match against Lita, retiring as champion and moving on to pastures new having captured the hearts of scores of wrestling fans.

Trish Stratus flashes her ass

Edge

Despite being currently out of action, and having suffered several other devastating injuries during his rise to the top, the past ten years have been rather kind to the Rated R Superstar.

Breaking away from his friend and former tag partner, Christian in 2001, Edge embarked on a successful solo career which saw him capture multiple Intercontinental, World and WWE Championships, as well as the 2001 King of the Ring and the inaugural Money in the Bank Ladder match.

Brilliant matches against the likes of The Undertaker and Jeff Hardy, along with his natural charisma, ensure that things are never dull when Edge is around. Here’s hoping he returns to action sooner rather than later in 2010.

John Cena

Perhaps the most controversial entry on this list, Cena has divided popular opinion amongst the wrestling community like no other performer of the past ten years, but it’s hard to deny the impact he’s made.

Touted as the WWE’s franchise player, the five-time WWE Champion has had an incredible run over the last several years and, despite the criticisms he receives, has enjoyed a number of good-to-great matches.

Eddie Guerrero

He may have been a long-established veteran by the time the new millennium came around, competing in tonnes of thrilling matches not only in Mexico but also in the original ECW and the erstwhile WCW, but it was the first half of this decade that Latino Heat really became a true superstar.

After leaving WCW in January 2000, Guerrero, along with Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko and the late Chris Benoit jumped ship to the then World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) as The Radicalz.

Whilst his life outside the ring was plagued by troubles including substance abuse, Eddie was joy to watch throughout a career which peaked with him capturing the WWE Championship in 2004.

Guerrero died the following year, but left behind a legacy as a remarkable performer.


Rey Mysterio

After delighting audiences in AAA, ECW and WCW throughout the 1990s, it was his move to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002 that finally catapulted Rey Mysterio Jr. into the upper echelons of the pro-wrestling elite.

A World Heavyweight Championship run in 2005, following the death of his friend Eddie Guerrero, may have been the peak of his career, but even now Mysterio continues to impress; just look at his fantastic feud with Chris Jericho over the Intercontinental Championship in the summer of 2009.


One of the most entertaining superstars to compete in a ring, Mysterio may not be competing in ten years time, but for the past ten years and more so, he’s been a joy to watch.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Archived writing: Hulk Hogan signs with TNA Wrestling

On Tuesday October 27th 2009, history was made when Hulk Hogan announced he had signed to work for Total Non-stop Action (TNA) wrestling. 

*Another archived piece originally published on October 31st, 2009 on an old website I used to write for*

TNA Wrestling - Hulk Hogan Arrives
 

The move was dubbed by many as pro wrestling's biggest news story of 2009, and it's hard to argue with that; even some 25 years after he captured his first WWF championship (in a match against the Iron Sheik) Hogan's name remains more synonymous with wrestling than any other.

The acquisition of such a household name is undoubtedly a huge victory for TNA in their on-going battle to shed their reputation as a glorified indie league and be seen as a viable threat to Vince McMahon's WWE empire in much the same way that the erstwhile World Championship Wrestling was back in the late 1990s.

Already, the signing has attracted Dixie Carter-Salinas’ organisation a great deal of attention. Within hours of the story breaking, TNA became a top trending topic on micro-blogging service Twitter, whilst every wrestling website, magazine and newsletter on the planet, not to mention a number of non-wrestling-specific sites, have covered Hogan's move to the number two wrestling promotion in detail.

TNA Wrestling - Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter


What's more, when The Hulkster finally steps foot inside The Impact Zone (the studio where TNA tapes their weekly Impact television shows and numerous pay per views) it's almost certainly going to be a good move for business. Though after the initial spike in television ratings, merchandise sales and pay per view buys, will TNA's version of Hulk Hogan really be the answer to all the company's prayers?

'Doing the right thing'

A large portion of hardened wrestling fans believe it won't, backing up their argument by looking at Hogan's history of playing backstage politics, claiming all the best positions on the roster for himself and his friends and generally looking out for number one.

Hogan has already claimed that he may be involved more as an on-air personality or in an authority figure role (because Lord knows TNA needs more of those) than he will as a wrestler. Then again, Mick Foley said the same thing and look what happened there. Besides, can you really see Hogan not donning the famous yellow-and-red ring attire at some point?

Most anti-Hogan/TNA fans can't, and claim that once he comes in, the veteran star will immediately push young TNA mainstays like Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels and current TNA Heavyweight Champion, AJ Styles, down the card, thus ruining all the hard work put into establishing these performers as credible home-grown talent.


They seem to insist that Hogan should be kept away from the Heavyweight Championship picture and spend his days jobbing to Joe, Daniels et all in the mid-card, in a tradition referred to in wrestling circles as 'doing the right thing by the business'.

In this writer's opinion, they are all wrong.

Yes, Hogan should help TNA's young roster establish themselves as legitimate main event players. Let's be honest; outside the community of hardened wrestling fans, nobody has any idea who AJ Styles is. A programme with perennial icon Hogan could, and most likely will, change all of that.

Yet the way to go about this is not by having Hogan job out to all and sundry. This is Hulk freakin' Hogan we're talking about here, the biggest name in the business, and having him come into the company and loose to everyone will, despite the fabricated nature of pro wrestling, cause a certain amount of damage to Hogan's reputation in the eyes of the casual fan.

Let's not forget, it's Hogan's reputation, probably more so than his experience and natural ability to whip a crowd into a frenzy, that TNA are paying for.

There are ways to put a fellow wrestler over without loosing to him, and it's those methods that Hogan should be exploring when locking up with TNA's stars.

Championship material

He should also be given the title.

Wrestling promotions tout their world champions as 'the best we have to offer’. It's an established rule in professional wrestling that the World Heavyweight Champion acts as a representative of sorts for the entire company, and who bigger a star to represent your company than Hulk Hogan?

That said, this reporter doesn't believe he should be handed the belt on his first day with the company. Hogan as TNA champion should be built up into something special, and it's almost entirely plausible that TNA fans, aware of the kind of political clout Hogan carries, would riot should Hogan come in and be crowned champion without any effort.


Of course, the hardcore fans will probably riot anyway, regardless as to whether Hogan wins the belt on his first day or two years down the line. Let’s face it, some people just do not like the aging wrestler and would rather see TNA’s younger stars than the established veteran.

This is fine, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if those same fans want TNA to grow to any kind of prominence, they have to realise that having a star name like Hogan is really the only way to go about it.

Friends in High Places

Political power won't be the only thing The Immortal one is likely to carry with him to TNA, he'll likely bring a number of his friends along for the ride too.

Most long-time fans remember Hogan's 1993 arrival in WCW, after which he swiftly managed to get many of his old WWF buddies signed up to contracts, meaning fans were treated to such brilliant gimmicks as John Tenta playing a shark and of course, the million and one faces of Ed Leslie, none of which got over in the slightest.

In this reporter's mind, TNA will be committing a bigger sin by brining in the Hogan Massive than they would by putting the title on him right off the bat.

For all their flaws, TNA are capable of producing some top quality wrestling when they can be bothered to do so, and there can't be a single person in the world (except for Hogan and his boys, of course) who would rather see the boring Brutus The Bootyman than exciting stars like Daniels, or have The Nasty Boys walking around with the tag straps instead of teams like Beer Money.

Hogan vs. Russo

Then again, Hogan may need his friends around him when it comes to confronting old enemy, current TNA writer/booker Vince Russo.

Back in the dying days of WCW, Russo and Hogan had a spectacular falling out when Russo, known for his love of injecting as much reality into his shows as possible, took a planned angle and turned it into a shoot which the Hulkster deemed to be so offensive that he sued Russo and WCW.

Unless the former nWo leader uses his backstage leverage to have Russo fired (no doubt becoming a hero for the legions of Russo haters that exist), the two will have to learn to work together well if TNA and Hulk Hogan are to have a successful run together.

At time of writing it's too early to say whether they will or not; Hogan has yet to d├ębut for the company and, when he does, all the above factors, plus more besides, will contribute to either TNA's greatest success or worst failure to date.

Yet Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling has at least achieved one thing with the signing of Hulk Hogan; they've got us all talking.


Thoughts on this article - November 2014. I seriously thought Hogan should have been the TNA champion? I was an idiot when I was younger. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Live Event Review: WWE - DX Invasion Tour - November 2009

WWE DX INVASION TOUR 2009
Echo Arena, Liverpool
Sunday November 7th, 2009





*An archived report I originally wrote and published in November 2009.*

As part of their current tour around the United Kingdom, the superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment's Raw brand made their way to Liverpool in early November. 

Performing in front of an enthusiastic crowd, WWE Champion John Cena teamed up with DX (Shawn Michaels and Triple H) to defeat Legacy (Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes & Ted Dibiase) in an exciting main event. During the match, the Legacy boys had their backsides exposed by the crowd favourites, but that was nothing compared to the bare-faced cheek of the ever-popular Hornswoggle, who got involved in proceedings for no real reason. 

Champion Cena picked up the victory for his team by pinning Cody Rhodes.

Elsewhere on the card, United States Champion The Miz successfully defended his title in an entertaining bout with MVP. The cocky champion was loathed by the Liverpool crowd, who cheered on MVP in the hopes that the challenger could dethrone Miz, but it wasn't to be on this night.

MVP's partner, Mark Henry, fared a little better, picking up a win via disqualification when his opponent, Chris Jericho, nailed him with a chair to end a match which was much better than anticipated.

Santino Marella put in an appearance, informing the Liverpool crowd that he had created his own unique form of martial arts; Marella's Martial Arts...or MMA for short! Luckily for the hapless Itallian, his skills, martial arts or otherwise, served him well in a victory over Chavo Guerrero.

Other matches, and full results from the show as follows:


  • Kofi Kingston beat Chris Masters
  • The Hurricane beat Paul Burchill
  • Sheamus beat Primo
  • United States Champion The Miz beat MVP
  • Santino Marella beat Chavo Guerrero
  • WWE Divas Champion & Kelly Kelly beat. Alicia Fox & Jillian Hall
  • Mark Henry beat. Unified Tag Team Champion Chris Jericho via DQ.
  • WWE Champion John Cena, Shawn Michaels & Triple H beat Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes & Ted Dibiase

The 2009 WWE DX Invasion Tour continues through early November, highlighted by a live episode of the company's flagship television show, Raw, on Monday November 8th. If you missed out on this tour, then fear not, the company have recently announced plans to return to these shores in April for the Wrestlemania Revenge Tour 2010.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Archived review: Garage Pro Wrestling - Livin' on the Edge 2009

Grand Pro Wrestling - Livin on the Edge 2009 poster
Garage Pro Wrestling – Livin’ on the Edge
March 20th, 2009
Monaco Ballroom, Hindley
, Wigan

*This is an archived review which I originally wrote in 2009 for The LINC, a magazine/website based in Wigan. GPW have since renamed themselves Grand Pro Wrestling*

The stars of Garage Pro Wrestling were living on the edge at Hindley’s Monaco Ballroom as they delivered a top-notch night of action which saw bitter rivalries continue and, of course, some great work between the ropes.

GPW have carved a niche for themselves as one of the premier grap groups on the British wrestling circuit, and at Livin on the Edge, it wasn’t hard to see why.

With a commendable attention to detail (right down to such subtle aspects as flagging up each bout’s time-limit on their graphic displays) and superior production values to many of their rivals, the company really seem to go out of their way to deliver.

And boy did they deliver.

Getting things underway, Ricky J. McKenzie took on The Juice in a British Title Warm Up match.   Both men worked the crowd well in the early going, with The Juice particularly effective in retaliating to the crowds enthused chants of you’re a muppet!

After as entertaining an opening match as you could want, ‘Juice walked away with the win.

Taking a change of pace, Jak Dominotrescu and his Eastern Block stable made their way to the ring to call out Si Valour and, apparently, challenge hi to a karaoke contest.

What followed was one of those moments in wrestling that is far more hilarious than it really has any right to be, as Dominotrescu put his own comical take on The Pussycat Dolls. Though before Valour really had chance to find his grove in retaliating with a tune of his own, he was cut short by the Eastern Block and what seemed like an impromptu match was underway, with Valour getting the three-count.

Another British Title Warm Up bout followed, with reigning champion, Sam Bailey facing relative newcomer, William Gaylord.

With last month’s debut behind him, Gaylord already appeared to be a natural in his role as the archetypal British Snob, with his traditional European style working well against the flash and panache of Super Sam Bailey.

And despite number one contender to the British strap, The Juice, scoping him out from the entrance way, Bailey managed to keep his focus in another entertaining bout and pick up a victory.

A four corners tag team elimination bout came next to determine the number one contenders to The Young Offender’s tag team trophy.

The Gentlemen’s Club, Lethal Dose and the newly formed team of The Mystics were already set for battle, though before they could they waited anxiously along with the GPW faithful to find out who Heresy had chosen to tag with him.

Making his way on to the entrance, the man from Sin city delivered a superb verbal performance on the microphone as he introduced his new tag-partner, Kastor LeVay.

LeVay proceeded to go on a unhinged rampage and, along with Heresey, dominated proceedings to earn the final elimination and the number one contenders spot.

Returning from the break, things looked set to heat up as former Milan-Field Connection partners, Danny Hope and Jiggy Walker were about to collide in a much-anticipated grudge match.

However, things didn’t quite pan-out that way.

In true heel fashion, Walker delivered another strong piece of mic work almost on par with Hersey’s earlier performance; claiming to have pulled a hamstring whilst warming up which had rendered him unable to compete.

Instead, an enjoyable bout between Hope and Walker’s replacement, The Model followed, with Hope picking up the three count.

Somewhat predictably, Walker revealed his injury to have been a rouse in the post-match shenanigans; attacking his former partner and finally agreeing to a match of Hope’s choosing at the next show. Once again, Walker delivered the goods here and his natural ability to get the crowds riled up was one of the more subtle highlights of the evening.

Speaking of highlights, there was nothing subtle about the next bout as Hindley resident, Martin Kirby went one-on-one with long-time GWP favourite, Joey Heyes.

Prior to the bout, Kirby thanked his adopted hometown crowd for the support they’ve shown him since his GPW debut earlier this year and proceeded to put Heyes over as one of his wrestling heroes.

The two then went on to have arguably the best match of the night; a fast-paced affair building from a sold foundation of chain wrestling to a gipping crescendo, with Heyes bagging the three-count thanks to a nice cross-body from the top.

But Heyes’ night didn’t end there, as he and Kirby were promptly attacked by Hersey and his masked partner. A number of faces tried their best to intervene but swiftly had theirs handed to them before Joeys’ Young Offenders partner, Dangerous Damon Leigh appeared from nowhere to make the save.

Finally, the night’s action concluded with a gripping tag team bout pitting Heavyweight Champion, Bubblegum and El Ligero against the team of Dirk Feelgood and the imposing Juggernaut.

As Juggernaut’s manager, Alan A.A Tasker worked the crowd with aplomb at ringside, the four combatants put on a text book display of tag team wrestling, as the heels quickly cut the ring in half and isolated Ligero from an anxious and infuriated Bubblegum.

The inevitable comeback came, but with Ligero going over the ropes in what looked like a nasty fashion, it was up to the champion to try and overthrow Feelgood and Juggernaut single-handidly.

Yet after as strong an effort as he could muster, even the unwavering support of the crowd couldn’t help Bubblegum defeat two men, and it was Dirk Feelgood and Juggernaut who took the pin.

Over all, a good show from all concerned.  They say you can’t please all the people all the time, but that didn’t stop GPW from trying, and succeeding, with their third show of the year.


With a mix of comedy and drama to appeal to the younger fans and families and some impressive in-ring work to appeal to hardened wrestling fans, Livin’ on the Edge delivered on almost every level.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

PPV REVIEW: WCW - Halloween Havoc 1991

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - Event poster
October 27th 1991,
Chattanooga, Tennessee

*This is an old review from my archives, originally written in 2010. Given the time of year, it seemed appropriate to post it now*

World Championship Wrestling's third annual Halloween Havoc stands out as a memorable pay per view event, though probably for all the wrong reasons.  

Despite a memorable debut from none other than the late Ravishing Rick Rude, a great bout between The Artist Yet to be Known as Goldust, and the man who would go on to raise hell as Stone Cold Steve Austin (and Eric Bischoff dressed as a vampire) it was the opening Chamber of Horrors 'match' which leaves the memory of Halloween Havoc '91 to be uttered in the same embarrassed tones as Lost in Cleveland or the legendary Shockmaster Incident.






The Turner Home Entertainment VHS version, which remains the only lasting record of the show (other than the one sitting in WWE's video library*) omits a number of matches from the undercard.

*2019 UPDATE: The WWE Network didn't exist when I first wrote this review.

This is probably a good thing. After all, does anybody really need to see matches like Bill Kazmaier vs. Kevin 'Oz' Nash or Van hammer vs. Doug Sommers (who?) more than once in a life time? That said, there is one match not included on the tape that is certainly worth a look;  Brian Pillman defeating Richard Morton to be named WCW's first Light Heavyweight Champion.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - Big Van Vader was part of the Chamber of Horrors match
At the time, Flyin' Brian was setting a trend for the kind of fast-paced, high-action cruiserweight styled matches the company would eventually become famed for, and his crowning as the Light Heavyweight champ is one to watch if you can find it (this writer recommends the Brian Pillman DVD put out a few years back).

What there is on the tape ranges from good to awful, though not necessarily in that order. Let's take a look.

Barry Windham  attacked 

The show opens with a shot of Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham pulling up at the arena. As Eric Bischoff tries to get an interview, Arn Anderson and Larry Zybysko show up and slam his arm in the car door. Bet that was painful.

Chamber of Horrors match: El Gigante, The Steiner Brothers and Sting beat Big Van Vader, Cactus Jack, the Diamond Stud and Abdullah the Butcher  

Ah, the infamous Chamber of Horrors match.

This one reads like a who's-who of big-names from the 1990s. You had Sting and the Steiner Brothers, stars synonymous with the WCW brand; Vader,  a phenomenal performer who sat comfortably at the top of the card until Hulk Hogan showed up and ruined everything; the Diamond Stud, later known as Razor Ramon and then by his real name, Scott 'I started the nWo' Hall and, of course, Cactus Jack, the man who would go on to be known as 'The Hardcore Legend', Mick Foley. Throw in wrestling institution The Butcher (and forget about the useless El Gigante, who's only claim to fame is a Wrestlemania 9 match against The Undertaker), and it all made for one star-studded bout.

Unfortunately, that's about all this had going for it.

The basic premise for the contest was that two teams would enter into a no-holds barred cage match which could only end when a wrestler strapped a member of the opposing team into an electric chair, pull a lever and, you know, electrocute him.

And if the concept wasn't ridiculous enough, the execution was equally as stupid.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - Rick Steiner and Abdulah the Butcher in Chamber of Horrors


All eight men immedietly began beating the hell out of each other with an array of weapons including chains, skulls and coffins. Not that you could see much. Half of the match was shot a long way from the ring, with the cumbersome cage obscuring pretty much all of the action. The other half was shot using the ill-conceived 'Refer-eye' camera; yes, a camera attached to the referee's head which led to such awe-inspiring visuals as a close up Scott Steiner's backside, followed by a minute of staring at his thigh.

At one point, some random guy in black tights and a mask appears. He probably came out of the coffin, though since your writer couldn't see anything and the announcers make absolutely no mention of this, it's impossible to be sure.

The whole debacle comes crashing to a close when Cactus Jack (who, to be fair, worked hard in this one) pulled the lever, 'accidentally' electrocuting his own team mate, Abdullah. Fireworks exploded from the chair as Abbi played his best 'oh no, I'm a bit dead' routine, and absolutely nobody in the arena appeared to care.

Afterwards, Abdullah woke up, knocked over Mick Foley, then charged out of the ring and attacked a small army of 'ghouls' who had been charged with taking the victim away. Hilariously, a bloody Cactus joined in with the beat down.

 Johnny B. Badd (with Theodore Long) beat Jimmy 'Jam' Garvin (with Michael 'PS' Hayes) 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - Fabulous Freebirds
After the Fabulous Freebirds, Garvin and Hayes, got the crowd nicely fired up, future Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long led the flamboyant Johnny B. Badd to the ring for a match which seemed to serve no other purpose than to rouse the crowd from the confusion-induced silence resulting from the previous Chamber farce.

In that respect, this nifty little contest does it's job well, with the Freebirds inspiring loud, repeated chants from the audience and the action itself being fun to watch.
In the end, Badd punched out Garvin to win the bout.

The Search for the Halloween Phanton 

In a respite from the action, the announcers sent cameras to Missy Hyatt, who was desperate to find the mysterious Halloween Phanton. When Bobby Eaton walked past, Hyatt asked if he'd seen the Phantom. Frustrated, Eaton replied that he didn't care about the Phantom, he'd just won a match.

Now, when you're watching this as a young child and don't realise there's matches missing from the card, you suddenly think 'what? No you didn't! that was Johnny B. Badd who just won a match'. Much like many other things WCW would do during their time on earth, it was all very confusing.

World Television Champion Steven Austin (with Lady Blossom) defended his title in 15-minute time limit draw against Dustin Rhodes 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - Dustin Rhodes
Rhodes and Austin had a notable string of excellent matches during their time together, and though this one wasn't the peak of such brilliance, it was still a very good match.

The man who would go on to shave his head, call himself 'Stone Cold' held off the challenge of the man who would go on to paint his face and up jobbing out on ECW in an entertaining affair, despite Rhodes numerous, dramatic attempts to capture the television title.

Ultimately, the whole thing ran to a time limit draw.

WCW Halloween Phantom beat Tom Zenk 

The whole point of the Halloween Phantom was that he was supposed to be a big mystery. Nobody knew who he was, where he came from or what he wanted. All they knew that he was big, he was dangerous, and that when he finally was revealed, it was going to be a huge surprise.

Everybody knew that, except for WCW announcer Tony Schiavane, who, after the 'Phantom made short work of Zenk with a Reverse Neckbreaker, ruined the whole thing by declaring "that's a move that a lot of people know as a Rude Awakening". Yeah, thanks, Tony.

WCW World Tag Team Champions The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zybysko) retained their titles against WCW United States Tag Team Champions The Patriots (Firebreaker Chip and Todd Champion) 

The US titles were not on the line here, not that it would have made this any more interesting if they were; Anderson and Zybysko basically wrestled circles around their rookie opponents in a boring contest so memorable this writer can't remember a single thing that happened in it, even though he only watched the tape an hour before writing this piece.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - WCW Phantom
Paul Heyman introduced Rick Rude as his new charge. 

Paul E. Dangerously (the man you probably know best as erstwhile Extreme Championship Wrestling boss, Paul Heyman), who had previously been fired 'for being too controversial for television' returned to WCW and cut a fantastic promo in which he ranted and raved with a passion about the state of WCW whilst Medusa stood around doing nothing. Dangerously went on to announce that he had found the man who would defeat Sting. That man was the Halloween Phantom and, yes Tony Schviane, the Halloween Phantom turned out to be none other than former WWF star, 'Ravishing' Rick Rude.

WCW World Champion Lex Luger (with Harley Race) successfully retained his title against Ron Simmons (with Dusty Rhodes) in a two-out-of-three falls main event. 

Until The Great Khali headlined Smackdown for a while, this main event held some sort of record for the most tedious main event on a wrestling show ever in the history of wrestling shows. Ron Simmons, who had spent most of his WCW tenure in tag teams (and who Attitude Era fans may know best as the APA's Farooq) was an average worker at best, whilst Luger made his way to the main event based purely on his chiseled physique and a knack for over-selling everything.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - Ron Simmons vs. Lex Luger
Putting the two together in a 20+ minute two-out-of-three falls match, WCW presented a main event so mind-numbingly dull it's unreal. Nothing interesting happened for a while, Luger won, and then would go on to do nothing interesting for the rest of his career besides bodyslamming Yokozuna and showing up unexpectedly on Nitro that time.






And thus World Championship Wrestling's Halloween Havoc 1991 show came to a dismal finale. The Chamber of Horrors concept would never be used again (for good reason), the two men who had the best match on the card, or at least the tape, went to the World Wrestling Federation and became huge stars, and Tony Schiavane and other WCW announcers would continue to spoil things until the company's dying day. Judging by this show, it's a small miracle that day didn't come a whole lot sooner.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Updates and stuff

On the face of it, setting out to review every single WWF PPV from Wrestlemania 1-30 is a pretty big task. It's been two years since I first started this, and I'm only a third of the way through. 

It might be taking me a while to get there, but I'm OK with that. Normally, I fit in writing a wrestling review between working a full-time job as a copywriter and taking care of all those awful responsibilities that come as part and parcel of being an adult.

As you may have gathered, I haven't been doing too good a job of that lately.

As I mentioned the last time I wrote a WWF magazine review , we've moved house recently, and even now I still don't have everything set up so that I can sit down and crank out more PPV reviews.

I'll get there, but not yet. I'm still recovering from knee surgery, and not exactly having a good time of it. This means that it's hard for me to properly set up the Big Computer that houses most of my wrestling collection.

It also means that I've started suffering anxiety attacks, which are no fun at all. If you care about that, I've started a blog discussing how I'm dealing with post-surgery anxiety.

But that doesn't mean all is going to go stagnant at Retro Pro Wrestling.

I do have a couple of DVDs that I want to look at, including Hell in a Cell 2009, and the second ECW One Night Stand event. I was going to save those until later in my attempt to do the rest of my PPV reviews in chronological order, but hey, it's better than having no new content on here, right?



I've also got a disk somewhere that contains about two years worth of Raw, Smackdown and PPV reports from -I think- 2008-2009.

If all else fails, expect to see them until I can get back to adding new content.

Oh, and I'll also be contributing new stuff to the awesome Camel Clutch Blog very soon, too.

Friday, 17 October 2014

From the loft: WWF Magazine - January 1998

WWF Magazine - January 1998 - Triple H & Shawn Michaels DX cover
What did World Wrestling Federation magazine predict would happen in 1998? Who did they vote as their favourites of 1997? What were the Legion of Dooms secret talents? We found out all that, and more, in the January 1998 edition of WWF magazine.

Due to all sorts of complicated reasons to do with moving house whilst trying to recover from knee surgery, I'm currently separated from my beloved WWF pay per view collection, meaning it may be a week or two before I get any new event reviews up here. That said, I do have access to the old wrestling magazines I dragged out of the loft a few months ago, so let's go back and look at another one of those, shall we?

WWF Raw Magazine - January 1998

Ah yes, remember when DX were so far on the cutting edge of cool that Triple H came to the ring in polo shirts and slacks? Yep, that was the same time when the World Wrestling Federation were so bold that they could vaguely hint at naughty words on the front cover of their magazine by asking things like Where the @#$%! are we going?






Indeed, as 1997 came to an end and 1998 ushered in the height of the Attitude Era, things were all change for the boys and girls of the WWF, and our first magazine of the year promised us a look at just what to expect. 

Let's turn the page and find out what Editor Vince Russo and his chums predicted for the year ahead, shall we?

Choose your cover - Sable or Sunny

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - SUNNY AND SABLE AD
At the same time that this mag came out, the company also published the January 1998 WWF Raw Magazine, featuring Diva blueprints Sable and Sunny as the star attraction.

I covered this edition back in August, but there's no harm taking another peek.

Basically, fans had a choice of two covers, a special centerfold in which Brock's missus and the former Body Donna frolicked and cavorted wearing very little clothing.

We also got a pictorial essay depicting the violent feud between Mick Foley and Triple H, a behind-the-scenes report from the night Brian Pillman passed away, and more love for Jim Cornette than could ever be healthy.

If you want to take a look at that Raw magazine, go here. Otherwise, let's move on.

Talkin' The Talk

We'll skip the contents page -which lists familiar names such as Howard Finkle (Technical Advisor), Kevin Kelly (Managing Editor) and Bill Banks (Staff Writer) among its credits- and instead skip right to our first feature, the letter's page.

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Letter's page



Among this months fan chat, we had Ms. Marcy Olsen from Tyler, Texas bemoaning the lack of wrestler-penned columns in the magazine. In response, our editor tells us that one particular wrestler has been asking for a column, and wanted to call it OBITS. 

Maybe it's just that too much time has gone by now, but I have no idea what that's about.

We also had Shane Kiplinski from Biloxi, Mississipi, who sent a fax (yes, a FAX), who was mad that Kane didn't speak, and a picture of a crybaby Bret Hart (who by this time was working for WCW), courtesy of one Michael Tyback.

Taka Michinoku signs with the World Wrestling Federation

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Taka Michinoku signs with the World Wrestling Federation
In a feature called 'All you need to know: Tales from the Turnbuckle,' we learned about the recent signing of Taka Michinoku.

The man from Japan had already been making sporadic appearances for McMahon's company since the previous summer but now we were told that a long-term deal had been signed, and  that the light heavyweight star was set to move to the USA to pursue the American Dream.

OK, so the shot I took of this page wasn't exactly the best of quality, but basically we're told that Taka managed to overcome the language barriers to say 'Thank you, Mr. McMahon.

We also got a nice shot of Taka with McMahon, Bruce Pritchard and some random guy with a mustache whom this writer fails to recognise. Any hints, folks?

More Tales from the Turnbuckle

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Jarrett shoots, WWF tour dates
Under the same Tales from the Turnbuckle feature, we were reminded of Jeff Jarrett's recent return to McMahonland and, of course, the worked-shoot interview he delivered on Raw. You remember the one, right?

That was the night Jarrett lambasted both Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff, and ripped into Debra McMichael. I wonder how he expained that one when Mongo's ex-wife joined up with him in the WWF later down the line?

Elsewhere, there was also a shot of Sunny and Mosh of The Headbangers at a recent baseball game, and the latest WWF schedule, including house show dates, TV tapings and the Royal Rumble. 


Remembering Brian Pillman and other news

Turning the page, the Tales from the Turnbuckle news pages continued with a piece about the upcoming special edition of World Wrestling Federation magazine paying tribute to the then recently deceased Brian Pillman.

The mag was set to feature a letter from Vince, articles from Jim Ross and Jim Cornette, an interview with Pillman's former Hollywood Blondes partner, Steve Austin and more, with all proceeds going to support the Loose Cannon's widow Melanie and their children. 

On a less sober note, the You Don't Say box claimed that the only person to recognize Sunny in public was Bruce Springsteen.


From rookies to legends: Max Mini

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Max Mini - From Rookies to Legends
Never let it be said that WWE don't have any original ideas. Before the days of Hornswoggle and El Torito, we had Max Mini and a completely different El Torito. 

In this Rookies to Legends feature, we learn a little bit about the resurgence of the World Wrestling Federation minis. 

The main focus here was on the rise to prominence of Mr. Mini, starting with his victory over the original El Torito at In Your House: Ground Zero and working his way through other 'tiny sticks of dynamite' (the writer's words, not mine) on subsequent episodes of Raw is War.

Of course, as we all know now, the late-90s fascination with mini wrestlers didn't last long, but that hasn't stopped the WWE reintroducing them lately in the form of the little leprechaun guy and Los Matadors' buddy.

Vic Venom bites on Brian Pillman

In just one of many published tributes to the late Brian Pillman, Vince Russo's normally evil alter-ego Vic Venom took time to pen a tribute to the Loose cannon. 

Russo -sorry, Venom- tells us that he was dreading penning this particular article for weeks, before going on to recount his admiration of the former Hollywood Blonde. 

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 -  Vince Russo's tribute to Brian Pillman


Of course, it wouldn't be a Russo article without his beloved !@#%!, and he's sure to throw one of those in before referencing the night Pillman shot on Kevin Sullivan, those tight, tigerprint tights he used to wear in WCW, and his higflying style. 

A nice tribute, though it would have perhaps been nicer if Russo hadn't kept up his trashy, lazy style of writing.

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 -  Brian Pillman 1962 - 1997

Duke Nukem - Playstation Powerhouse

Remember when Duke Nukem was the biggest gaming hero in the world? Before we get on to any new wrestling content, we had a nice two-page ad for the latest Nukem games, Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown and Duke Nukem 64

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 -  Duke Nukem game advert

WWF 1997 Awards

Up next, the staff of World Wrestling Federation Magazine gave us their picks for the best of 1997. Somewhat embarrasingly, thanks to publishing schedules and a lack of hindsight, this January 1998 magazine saw Bret 'The Hitman' Hart voted Wrestler of the Year by all but two staff members, a long two months after he split from the Federation on bad terms.

For the record, the two who didn't vote for Bret both gave the nod to Steve Austin. 



Others who did well in these awards were Brian Christopher (voted Rookie of the Year by Russo and Most Underrated Wrestler of the Year by Kevin Kelly), Triple H (Comeback of the Year from Kelly and Most Improved Wrestler from Bill Banks) and the Legion of Doom, who got three picks for Comeback of the Year.

D-Generation-X - The New Recruits

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 -  Triple H and Shawn Michaels
On to our cover story next, as Vinny Ru discusses the rise of DX and the roles of Hunter and Shawn's hired muscle, Chyna and Rick Rude. 

From there, the story is less about DX themselves, and more about which then-current members of the WWF roster would fit nicely into the fold. 

The New Age Outlaws, an obvious choice which eventually came to fruition the night after Wrestlemania 14, are Russo's first pick, followed closely by Brian Christopher ('Christopher has DX written all over him, but he has to prove himself,') and Sunny. 

OK, so the latter may have been an oddball choice, but Russo claimed that she would be good for Triple H and Hunter thanks to her skills in manipulation and managing tag team champions. 

Quite.

Legion of Doom vs. Disciples of Apocalypse

What would happen if the Legion of Doom and the biker squad led by Crush got into it? And why should the two supposedly fan-favorite teams want to brawl anyway? Bill Banks had the answers in this commentary piece. 

From the L.O.D costing Demolition the tag team titles at Summerslam 1990 to their mutual distain of The Nation of Domination, Banks seemed to be clutching at straws to give these two factions a reason to fight, even suggesting that D.O.A maybe jealous of the Road Warrior's success and thus want to kick their ass.

As commentary pieces go, there wasn't much to this, but it did give Banks and his team an excuse to put together a Legion of Doom personality profile, more of which next.

The Legion of Doom: In profile

A couple of interesting facts from this LOD profile:

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Legion of Doom personality profile
Both Hawk and Animal listed their favourite band as Black Sabbath and their favourite sport as football, yet beyond that, the two were split on lots of things.

Hawk didn't watch TV or play video games, whilst Animal's favourite show was Tales from the Crypt and his favourite game just happened to be the last WWF game featuring he and his partner.

We also learned that Hawk is a 'funny guy' whilst Animal was 'A shrewd and sucessful businessman.'

Favourite movies?

Hawk: The Godfather
Animal: Terminator

Thrilling insights into the personal lives of the legendary team here, folks.

Legion of Doom poster

Turn over from the personality profile, and Legion of Doom fans could have their very own poster of the Chicago tandem to pin up on their walls. 

There isn't an awful lot to say about this poster except that it's here, it exists, and if you loved Hawk and Animal back in the day, it would have made a nice spot on your wall. 

Filling out this L.O.D feature, the opposite side gave us some career highlights, including the night they beat The Nasty Boys at Summerslam 1991, their triumphant return to the WWF in February 1997, and erm, their Chicago Street Fight against the Nation at Wrestlemania 13.

I'm not sure about you guys, but when I think about Road Warrior highlights, that last one sure isn't up there.

Badd Blood 1997 pay per view results

Bypassing an ad for the WWF Travel Club, we next got results from a pay per view which took place at least two months before January 1998, Badd Blood 1997.



Featuring the first ever Hell in a Cell match (a classic war between HBK and The Undertaker), the debut of Kane in that same match, and less memorable moments such as a 'flag match' between Bret Hart and British Bulldog against Vader and The Patriot, and a tag team title match between The Godwins and The Headshrinkers, this feature really made Badd Blood sound like the best event ever. 




1998 WWF Predictions

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - 1998 predictions
We've had our look back at the best of 1997, now it was time to look ahead to 1998 with some seemingly off-the-wall predictions courtesy of Russo. 

Some, such as The New Age Outlaws joining DX, Sable and Marc Mero going their separate ways, and Goldust and Marlena doing likewise, would all come true in some form or another.

Others, such as predicted octagon match between Ken Shamrock and Ahmed Johnson at Wrestlemania 14, The Hart Foundation expanding, and Rick Rude turning on DX to feud with them, clearly didn't.

Elsewhere, our wrestling crystal ball wrongly predicted the rise of The Truth Commission, Flash Funk reverting to his real name of Charles Scaggs (close, we got Too Cold Scorpio instead) and Brakus feuding with Bret Hart who, need I remind you, was already in WCW by the turn of the year.

Marc Mero: Fighting his way out of Sable's shadow

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Marc Mero and Sable
By 1998, Sable was well on her way to becoming a fully fledged top attraction for the World Wrestling Federation. As the pin-up girl for the early days of the Attitude Era, it's arguable to say that her popularity was, if not quite on par with Steve Austin, then at least not far behind.

Of course, this didn't bode well for her husband, former Golden Gloves Champion and Little Richard impersonator, Marc Mero.

As Sable's stock rose, Mero's continued to plummet. and by late 97/early 98, magazine writer Kevin Kelly was pondering whether the two had any chance of success as a duo.

The answer, as we all know now, is a no.

Mero would align with Jacqueline for a while, participate in Brawl for All, and after that, I doubt anybody remembers.

An interview with Del Wilkes - The Patriot

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Del Wilkes - The Patriot
In the last edition of this magazine, Vinny Ru spoke to The Patroit about his life before wrestling and his first forays into the profession. In this edition, we covered his brief stint in WCW, his return to Japan, and his just-as-short run in the World Wrestling Federation, where his red-white-and-blue masked hero schtick came in just at the wrong time.

Of course, Russo and Wilkes discuss that very topic in this interview, with the man insisting that he'd rather try and "fall flat on my face" than never try at succeeding in a world of anti-heros at all. 

"Certainly there's a negative attitude that a person like The Patriot Del Wilkes can actually exist in this society,' he says. 'But I still believe that there's a majorit of people out there who want him to!'

Sorry Del, not enough to keep you around I'm afraid. By early 98, the flag-waving hero was gone, replaced by a land of beer-guzzling, bird-flipping, rebelious anti-heroes, and the WWF enjoyed its greatest boom period ever. 

Don't let your plastic wrestling figures get blood on your furniture

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Jakks Series 5 Wrestling Figures Advertisement
I don't know about you, but I just love the idea that these pretty piss-poor Jakks Series 5 action figures could somehow bleed.

I mean let's face it, they don't look like they could do much more than clutter the bottom of Everything Must Go bins at your local pound shop (That's a Dollar Store for the Americans among us). 

Along with headliners like Stone Cold and Sid (who I believe was also long-gone from the WWF at this stage), we've also got crappy action figures of Rocky Mavia, Flash Funk, Ken Shamrock and a Nation-attired Savio Vega. 

But hey, they're Limited Edition and come with something called Bone Crunching Action, so that must surely count for something, right?


Were the Hart Foundation racist? The Four Horsemen in WWF?

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - The Informer
The Informer was always one of my favourite parts of this magazine as a kid, especially when the rumours he shared came to life on the screen.

Hey, little did I know that the time that the guy behind The Informer and the guy writing World Wrestling Federation programming were one and the same. 

In this month's edition, our inside informat informed us that the Four Horsemen were considering a move to the WWF, that The British Bulldog would soon be splitting from the Hart Foundation and challenging either Bret for the World title or Owen for the Intercontinental One, and that Hakushi would return and feud with Taka Michinoku. 

As much as I would have loved to have seen at least two of those things happen, none of them did. Nor did we ever really get the payoff to DX tarnishing the Nations dressing room with racist graffiti and making it look like the Hart Foundation did it. 

Sadly, this was not one of the Informer's more successful outings

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart on MadTV

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Bret Hart on MadTV
Before he got screwed over by Vince, Shawn and Earl, World Wrestling Federation champion Bret Hart took the time to appear on the popular FOX comedy series, MadTV.

In our final proper feature of the magazine, we got a few snaps of The Hitman putting the MadTV cast in sharpshooters and posing with some guy with a towel.

Over the page, we got Pin 'Em Down, a regular column in which fans supposedly asked questions of their favourite WWF Superstars, who apparently wrote back.

This month, Jerry Lawler refused to admit that Brian Christopher was his son, The Legion of Doom promised to wipe out The Godwins, and Dude Love misquoted The Beatles when responding to a question about why he couldn't get with the times and admit it wasn't the 1960s any more.

And that, for the most part, was all she wrote.

See you at The Royal Rumble

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Stone Cold Steve Austin Royal Rumble Poster
Except of course, for this poster featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin with nails driven into the back of  his bonce. 

There isn't an awful lot I can say about that, apart from yes, Austin went on to win the Rumble and dethrone HBK at Wrestlemania 14.






For now, I'm off to throw this tatty old magazine away and get on with that review of the first In Your House that I've been struggling to finish for weeks. 
I'll be back with more magazines and stuff soon. Until then, catch me on Twitter @Retropwrestling or why not read my latest articles on the very awesome Camel Clutch Blog.
Comments? Questions? Death threats? Fan Mail? Comments below or email cskoyles -at- gmail -dot-  com.

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.