Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Sunday, 17 April 2016

BOOK REVIEW: CHRIS JERICHO - BEST IN THE WORLD (AT WHAT I HAVE NO IDEA)

I began my recent review of Chris Jericho's first book,  A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex, by noting how my main motivation for picking up a book I'd read several times over was to prime me ready for delving into his most recent tome, Best in the World (At What I have no Idea). 

Reading both back to back, what struck me the most was just how different the two memoirs are in almost every conceivable way. Sure, Jericho's trademark wit was there in abundance on every page, and sure it was still an enjoyable read for the most part, but beyond that, if you didn't know it to begin with, you'd be forgiven for thinking the books were written by two entirely different people.

Look, I get it. A Lion's Tale is a story about a young kid chasing his dreams and overcoming every obstacle hurled in his past to do so. Best in the World is about a man who achieved his dreams and is now living the high life as a famous Superstar. The man born Chris Irvine leads a much different life today than the one he describes in his first book, so it's not going to be the same kind of story, but there was more to it than that.

As a fan of wrestling, rock 'n' roll, and generally of anybody who chases their dreams and eventually catches them, I have nothing but respect and admiration for Chris Jericho, but reading Best in the World, I did find myself questioning whether or not I should. There was just something about Jericho's book that made me feel uncomfortable, and it was only when I got half way through that I realised what that something was.

The one thing that had made A Lion's Tale such a captivating, deeply engaging book was sorely lacking in Best in the World; that one thing was a simple word called humility.

That first book is my favourite wrestling memoir ever (and yes, that include's Foley's), partly because it was so easy to get behind the young dream-chaser as he made mistakes, learned lessons and kept pushing to make it to the big time no matter what happened. The Chris Jericho in that story was easy to relate to, the kind of guy you want to get behind, root for, and cheer for when he finally makes it to the promised land.




The Chris Jericho I've just spent reading about -and as a big fan of his it pains me to say this- came across as something of prima donna not opposed to throwing a tantrum or two to get his own way.

In a way, I kind of bizarrely admire that, a man who won't take no for an answer and will do all he can to succeed, but there were times in reading this book that I found it really hard to like the guy I was reading about, and that was disappointing.

Sure, some of the anecdotes were insightful (and that's all this book feels like, a collection of anecdotes Jericho wrote down whenever they happened to occur to him), and there were still a few belly laughs to be had, but the Chris Jericho in this book is -sadly- not the Chris Jericho I became a huge fan of years ago.

Other pro wrestling book reviews: 


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Chris Jericho - A Lion's Tale - Around the World in Spandex

This past Christmas, good ol' Santa Claus brought me a copy of The Best in the World (at what I have no idea), the third memoir from WWE Superstar, Fozzy frontman, and one-time Goldberg-goader, Chris Jericho. Before I got into reading it however, I wanted to go right back to the beginning of Y2J's journey, and picked up my old copy of A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex. 

Though I'll often claim that A Lion's Tale is up there in my top three all-time favourite wrestling book's (Foley's original bestseller and Bret Hart's epic autobiography being the other two), it's been a good few years since I last sat down to recount Jericho's journey from body slamming his buddy in their high school Big Time Wrestling Federation to his memorable WWF debut in the summer of 1999.


Going back through it over the past week, I've remembered quite clearly why I fell in love with this book in the first place. Jericho's remarkable attention to detail, coupled with a level of humility that's pretty rare in the pro wrestling industry, make him a captivating storyteller as he pulls you along the proverbial rollercoaster of emotions.

One minute you're laughing out loud at some of the more awkward interactions a young Chris Irvine has with his heroes (My name's Chris, too), the next you're rooting for the plucky young Lion Heart as he scratches and claws his way through an industry littered with over-inflated egos and backstage politics. In between, Jericho tugs at the heartstrings when talking about his mother and her tragic accident and his genuine love for his wrestling brothers, provides fascinating insights into the less-than-glamorous side of working his way up in the industry and then returns to the trademark Y2J humour.






I have no shame in admitting that the former Undisputed Champion is something of a personal hero of mine, as much -if not more- for his work ethic and unwavering commitment to pursuing his dreams as anything he's ever done on television to keep me and millions of other fans entertained. As such, though I doubt the man will ever read this review, I do need to say thank you to Chris for documenting his journey in A Lion's Tale. 

The story is nothing short of inspiring, and having been unable to put this book down over the last couple of days, I feel more motivated having just finished this book at 8.30 on a Tuesday morning than I have in a long while. 

The book has also rekindled my love for pro wrestling, something that I've found severely lacking in the last couple of months since I last wrote anything here on Retro Pro Wrestling. Though I'm pretty sure I'll never be as passionate about the current product as I was about the stuff I grew up with, Around the World in Spandex was the perfect reminder of why I fell in love with this unique sport in the first place, and for that, if nothing else, I consider this book not just one of my top three, but quite possibly the best pro wrestling memoir ever written. 

Saturday, 26 December 2015

TV SHOW REVIEW: WWE SMACKDOWN - December 11th 2009

WWE Smackdown: 11/12/09
Houston, Texas

**NOTE: This review was written live at the time in December 2009. I recently found it in my writing archives and decided to post here**



With just two days to go before he locks up with World Heavyweight Champion The Undertaker at TLC, Batista takes on a returning Rey Mysterio in a street fight whilst Luke Gallows makes his in-ring debut and Intercontinental Champion John Morrison indulges in a bit of racial stereotyping.

Such fun.

Batista Speaks


As he prepared to challenge The Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship in a chairs match at TLC, Batista made his way to the ring to speak his mind, and he had a lot to say.

Hyping up his forthcoming battle with The Phenom, Big Dave also took the time to play down his street fight later on in the show with Rey Mysterio, insisting that the masked superstar did not deserve to be in the same ring with him. Furthermore, The Animal insisted that not only did he not need Rey, he didn't need the fans either.

CM Punk & Luke Gallows vs. Matt Hardy & R-Truth

After assisting CM Punk, in demolishing both Hardy and Truth over the past two weeks, Luke Gallows made his official in-ring debut as he teamed with the Straightedge Saviour to take on a team looking for revenge.

Before the match began, Hardy gave out copies of his brother Jeff's new DVD, much to the chagrin of Punk, who urged the audience not to accept what he called 'poison'.

It was a fun way to kick things off and was followed by some equally fun action between the ropes. A decent opening contest saw both teams trade the advantage before Gallows picked up the win with his 12 Steps finisher.

Your Winners: CM Punk & Luke Gallows

Backstage in Teddy Long's office, the Smackdown General Manager was joined by bitter ex-lovers Vickie Guerrero and Eric Escobar.

Escobar laid into his former girlfriend in Spanish before helpfully translating for Teddy to reveal that he was basically insulting her. Not surprisingly, this resulted in Guerrero urging Long to book Escobar in a match against Chris Jericho.

From the Vault: Kane defeated US Champion MVP in a non-title match (June 2007)

Remember when MVP was one of the hottest new superstars on the Smackdown brand? When he was a larger-than-life, egomaniac heel and was thus entertaining as hell?

If not, this match showed the man also known as Montel Vontavious Porter in a better light than his usual three-minute appearances on Raw usually do as he battled Kane in a decent contest. The Big Red Machine won after a chokeslam. Yep, that happened.

Mike Knox vs. Kane

As Kane walked backstage with his music blaring (I wonder if he has his theme tune randomly playing wherever he goes, like in the Supermarket or at the hairdressers), he was stopped in his tracks by Mike Knox.


Knox insisted that he and The Big Red Machine were a lot alike, and claimed that he enjoyed fighting him on last week's show. Kane denied being anything like Knox, but admitted that he enjoyed their match too. Because of this, the two behemoths agreed to fight again later on in tonight's show.

Eric Escobar vs. Chris Jericho

Following a short exchange of offence between the two combatants, Vickie Guerrero interupted to change this into a handicap match, with Jericho's partner The Big Show joining the fray.

What followed was a mildly entertaining destruction of Escobar by the Unified Tag Team Champions, resulting in a win for the pair with the Walls of Jericho.

Your Winners: Chris Jericho & The Big Show

Afterwards, the champs took the microphone to hype their upcoming Tables, Ladders & Chairs match against Shawn Michaels and Triple H, vowing to end DX once and for all.

Drew McIntyre & John Morrison face off

In a final confrontation before they meet for Morrison's Intercontinental Championship at TLC, the champion and his challenger, Drew McIntyre, faced off in the ring.

McIntyre began by bemoaning the lack of attention afforded to him by WWE Magazine (his opponent features on the cover of the latest edition) and liking the chances of Morrison retaining at the PPV to a Scottish fable like the Loch Ness Monster.

This brought out Morrison himself, decked in full Braveheart attire as he claimed to be William Wallace (ask your history teacher) and addressed his rival in a faux Scottish accent.

The Shaman of Sexy verbally put down McIntyre, made fun of Scottish background for a while then beat him up.

Racial stereotyping aside, this was actually pretty fun.

Kane vs. Mike Knox

Smackdown's resident giants collided in a decent rematch from last week's show and faired slightly better than they did in their previous encounter.

The two behemoths battled back and forth, yet even Knox's ever-impressive flying cross-body block was not enough to secure victory as Kane planted his foe with a chokeslam to earn the three count.

Your Winner: Kane

Please let this go somewhere. As much as your reporter has always been unimpressed by Kane, Mike Knox does appear to have a lot of potential and it would be great to see him fulfil it.

Maria & Mickie James vs. WWE Women's Champion Michelle McCool & Layla

In what was probably the best match she's had at least since moving to the Friday night show, Mickie James looked good as she teamed with a returning Maria to take it to the woman she'll face for the Divas title at TLC, Michelle McCool, and her best friend, Layla El.

As short as most Divas matches usually are, this was nonetheless a good show from all four women, resulting in a win for the Number One Contender as James pinned Layla.

Your Winners: Maria & Mickie James.

After Todd Grisham and Matt Striker ran down the final card for Sunday night's TLC pay per view, it was on to the main event.

Street Fight: Batista vs. Rey Mysterio

Making his return following a knee injury, Rey Mysterio looked to extract some revenge from his friend-turned-foe, Batista in a good main event.

Batista looked better than he has in a while thanks to the efforts of his diminutive opponent as Mysterio flew around the ring in the early going before The Animal took it to the outside and proceeded to demolish his foe with a series of heavy blows involving the ringside furniture.

Not surprisingly, Big Dave maintained his momentum as he headed into a World Heavyweight Championship fight with The Undertaker by pinning Mysterio following a brutal chairshot.

Your Winner: Batista

In the post-match, The Animal continued to assault Mysterio before the lights dimmed and The Undertaker arrived on the scene, sending his upcoming opponent packing as Smackdown came to a close.

Final Thoughts: With TLC just two days away, tonight's edition of WWE Smackdown did everything it was supposed to do. Hype for three of the pay per view bouts (the TLC tag match, Batista/Undertaker's chairs clash and the Morrison/McIntyre bout) was played well and generated interest in the matches, whilst the in-ring action ranged from decent to good.




Certain parts of the opening to the Punk/Gallows vs. Hardy/Truth bout where edited out of the UK broadcast (all we missed was Punk badmouthing Jeff Hardy and his DVD again), but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the intro to that match, with Hardy giving out the DVDs and Punk doing his best to be heard over R-Truth's rapping, simply because it was something different.

And with that, I'm out of here and off to look forward to this Sunday night and WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs.

Friday, 18 December 2015

GAME REVIEW: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 (X-Box)

I've always thought that wrestling games probably have quite a limited appeal when compared to a lot of games, but as a huge wrestling geek, I have to say I loved this latest instalment of the WWE franchise.

**NOTE: This was written back in 2010 when Smackdown vs. Raw first came out. I recently found it in my writing archive and decided to post it here**

Mainly, I love that there's just so much to do in this game; Smackdown vs. Raw is no 'play it once, get to the end and never bother with it again' experience.

Instead, the game offers a multitude of modes, challenges and games to enjoy that will keep fans coming back to it time and time again.

Road to Wrestlemania mode






To start with, there's the much-hyped Road to Wrestlemania in which you take on the role of a number of WWE Superstars (John Cena, Triple H, Edge, Randy Orton, Mickie James and your own created character) and guide them through various scenarios and matches to the main event of WWE's flagship event, Wrestlemania.


Playing this mode as your own created character is perhaps the most fun of all as you play the part of a fan who finds himself thrust into the bright lights of sports entertainment and at war with wrestling supremo; Vince McMahon. It's probably the longest and most challenging storyline of them all as McMahon throws one seemingly-impossible-to-conquer obstacle in front of you after another; but hey, that's part of the fun, right?

What's weird about the Road to Wrestlemania storyline mode, is that most of the story-lines are actually better than half the things WWE produces on its TV shows; intricate, well-thought-out plots with entertaining beginnings, satisfying middles and logical conclusions.

Game play

That's not the only way Smackdown vs. Raw matches up to its real-life counterpoint; the in-ring action comes as close to emulating an exciting WWE match as I've seen in any wrestling game; holds and counter-holds, slams and counter-slams are all accounted for, and in this writer's mind make for a realistic experience when battling other stars.

At least it does on most levels, because the game does have its flaws, and they can make for very frustrating game-play at times.


Ever seen a wrestling match in which a referee gets in the way of the combatants and accidentally gets knocked out? Well in Smackdown vs. Raw, it's like the referees love nothing more than to get in your way and no matter how many times you aim for your opponent, it's almost inevitable that you'll end up solidly decking the official on more than one occasion. What's worse, if it happens too often, the stupid referee thinks nothing of disqualifying you!

This is just one of the problems with the target-system within the game, with the biggest problems being completely exposed in tag team matches.

Flaws

Playing the Career Mode (in which you work your way up the ranks, winning match after match and capturing title after title), your reviewer found himself competing for the tag team championships with Evan Bourne as a tag team partner.

If Bourne struck me once, he struck me a thousand times and, if that wasn't bad enough, he even cost us the titles in a ladder match by throwing me, his own partner, off the ladder and putting me in a submission hold whilst our opponents climbed to the top of the ladder and captured the gold. Needless to say, I throw stuff at the TV whenever I see Evan Bourne now!

The same tag team matches also saw our opponents turn on each other and start fighting (this was an obvious glitch, not part of the storyline), then stand around doing nothing until I had recovered from a recent beating and was ready to fight again. Weird, huh?

If all that becomes too frustrating for you, you can always step out of the ring and into one of the game's many opportunities to create stuff.

Create a character

The create-a-character mode has lots of options, and you really can customise every minute detail of your own ring-warrior, including adding your own pictures and logos for attire and tattoo. The only problem with it is that this mode comes with a point system, with each item carrying its own number of points. Once you've used up your points quota, you can't add anything else to your character, which can be a bit frustrating if you have an ideal image in mind but can't quite free up two points to add in that kick-ass tattoo.


Once you've got your own character created, you can head into the wonderful 'create a finisher' mode, where, well, you get to create your own finishing moves. I had lots of fun with this, and my own character now comes complete with an entirely impossible finishing move where he leaps off the top rope, completes a number of forwards, backwards and sidewards flips in mid-air and somehow lands flat on his head into a foe's midsection. It's brilliant.

You can also make your own entrances, using stock music from the game's library or by uploading your own, using videos (again either from the game or create your own), add in poses, pyro and fan reactions and much more.






If it seems like there's a lot to take in, that's because there is, though, for the sake of brevity, we'll leave it here for today. All of this, however, means that if you like WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010, you'll find yourself going back to it time and time again and getting tonnes of enjoyment out of it long after you first bought it. 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

TV SHOW REVIEW: WWE SUPERSTARS - December 10th 2009

WWE Superstars: 10/12/09
(UK Broadcast – 11/12/09)

**NOTE - This review was written live at the time in 2009. I recently found it in my writing acrhives and uploaded it here**



The newest addition to the WWE Universe finally d├ębuts in the UK with two matches from Smackdown and a Raw main event between long-time rivals MVP and Jack Swagger.

Here's what happened on our first glimpse at WWE Superstars.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Finlay


As Smackdown kicked off tonight's show, the Belfast Brawler looked to give the cocky Ziggler a lesson in respect in a tough contest.

With some hard-hitting action flowing back and forth between the grizzled veteran and the rising star, the two delivered a decent opening contest which saw Ziggler pick up another win thanks to the Zig Zag.

Your Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Backstage, Josh Matthews interviewed MVP. Porter recapped his rivalrly with Jack Swagger before making fun of his opponent's lisp.

The Hart Dynasty vs. Slam Master J & Jimmy Wang Yang


In a short -but fairly entertaining- contest, David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd made short work of their seldom-seen opponents. Even Natalya got involved, bodyslamming Yang on the outside in a move which the announcers insisted had 'changed the world'. A slight exaggeration perhaps?

Your Winners: The Hart Dynasty

Prior to tonight's main event, Jack Swagger took to the microphone to rile up the crowd and talk down his forthcoming opponent, MVP.

Jack Swagger vs. MVP


Afforded much more time than any number of their three-minute Raw outings, Swagger and Porter were free to really showcase their talents in a fine main event by TV standards.

MVP looked to be in control for the bulk of the contest, with both men impressing with some solid action in a well-paced, enjoyable affair.

Yet despite Porter's best efforts to finally overthrow his arch-rival, he eventually found himself eating the pin when The All American American landed his patented Gutwrench Powerbomb.

Your Winner: Jack Swagger

And that just about does it for tonight's show.

Final Thoughts: Whilst fans in the US are well accustomed to this show, for us Brits, this was our first chance to take a look at it on TV, and I have to say, WWE Superstars made a strong first impression.




Whilst the two undercard matches were decent enough, the MVP/Swagger match was a joy to watch, and you only wish they'd be allowed to do more of this stuff in front of a bigger audience on Raw.

Away from the ring, your reviewer was surprisingly impressed by the look and feel of the show. Far from feeling like some third-rate B show (think Heat in its dying days or Velocity), Superstars felt like something special, and I for one look forward to more shows.


Friday, 4 December 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2009

WWE - TLC 2009: Event Poster
WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs
Sunday December 13th 2009,
San Antonio, Texas

**Note: This review was written live at the time. I've since found it in my writing archives and am posting it here for the sake of completion**

World Wrestling Entertainment's final pay per view of the decade brought about a number of big changes to the WWE Universe, with young stars such as Sheamus and Drew McIntyre competing for gold, DX looking to capture the tag championships for the first time and, of course, ECW's Christian & Shelton Benjamin looking to steal the show.

Here's what went down when WWE presented TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs







Dark match: CM Punk vs. R-Truth


In a match not shown on the pay per view broadcast, R-Truth defeated rival CM Punk, but don't be surprised if their bitter feud continues come Friday night.
Your Winner: R-Truth

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

Ladder match for the ECW Championship: Christian defends against Shelton Benjamin


WWE - TLC 2009: Christian vs. Shelton BenjaminIn the run up to TLC, Christian and Shelton Benjamin vowed to steal the show with their ladder match for the former's ECW Championship, and they didn't disappoint.

Giving it everything they had, the two veterans put forth a phenomenal effort to deliver a well-paced, exciting opening contest with plenty of action and jaw-dropping spots.

After both men thrilled the crowd for the best part of twenty minutes, it was Christian who reached the top of the ladder first to retain his championship.

Your winner and still ECW Champion: Christian

Following a hype package for tonight's Unified Tag Team Championship match it was on to a title bout of a different kind as Smackdown took centre stage.

Intercontinental Championship: John Morrison vs. Drew McIntyre


WWE - TLC 2009: John Morrison vs. Drew McIntyre
Proving he can do far more than simply destroy people in short TV matches, challenger McIntyre stepped up his game as he took the match to his opponent, pummeling him around the ring in a decent title match.

Morrison made the inevitable comeback, but the sadistic Scott proved to be too much for the Shaman of Sexy, and following a nasty Kobashi DDT, it was McIntyre who won the match, and his first WWE title.

Your winner and NEW WWE Intercontinental Champion: Drew McIntyre

In the backstage area, Vince McMahon congratulated the new Intercontinental champion on his win, only for Josh Matthews to interrupt as he sought an interview with the WWE Chairman. Instead, McMahon implored Matthews to speak with McIntyre, who insisted it wasn't much of a surprise that he had won before Sheamus arrived on the scene to claim that the Scotsman wouldn't be the only one leaving with the gold tonight.

WWE Women's Championship: Michelle McCool defends against Mickie James


WWE - TLC 2009: Michelle McCool vs. Mickie James
With the ever-present Layla by her side, champion McCool looked to retain her gold and further humiliate her popular rival following weeks of abuse on Smackdown. Yet James wasn't about to take this lying down, and looked strong against her foe in this passable contest which seemed to send the live crowd to sleep.

In the end, it wasn't to be Mickie's night as a distraction from Layla enabled McCool to hit the big boot and pick up the win.

Your winner and still WWE Women's Champion: Michelle McCool

Wasting no time in getting on with things, we head back to Raw for another championship match.

Tables match for the WWE Championship: John Cena defends against Sheamus


WWE - TLC 2009: John Cena vs. Sheamus
After his hot-shot rise to the main event thanks to Jesse Ventura's Breakthrough Battle Royal, The Celtic Warrior Sheamus looked to dethrone John Cena in this enjoyable title contest.

Cena brought his usual game, which tonight impressed against his Irish adversary and helped to create a good match before, in a move that shocked just about every pro wrestling fan on the face of the earth, Sheamus hurled his foe off the top rope and through a table to capture the WWE Championship.

Your winner and NEW WWE Champion: Sheamus

Admit it, you didn't see that coming.

Chairs match for the World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker defends against Batista


WWE - TLC 2009: Undertaker vs. Batista
In the week's leading up to tonight's event, The Animal appeared to have the advantage over The Phenom; beating him senseless with a steel chair on at least two occasions.

Yet as the two met in the ring, The Undertaker finally gained a modicum of revenge in this mediocre title match.

At one point, Big Dave looked to have the win after he pushed his opponent into the referee then blasted him with a low-blow and a chair shot to the head for the three count. Unfortunately for Batista, Teddy Long arrived on the scene, explaining that whilst chairs were legal, low-blows were not and ordering the match to be restarted.

Coming so close to losing his title seemed to motivate The Undertaker further, and as the match began again, the champion wasted little time in blasting his foe with a vicious chairshot. A Tombstone Piledriver then sealed The Animal's fate.

Your Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: The Undertaker

Backstage, Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes confronted Kofi Kingston, trying to instil fear in him prior to his match with their Legacy co-hort, Randy Orton. Kingston was not intimidated by the duo, and promptly barged into Orton's dressing room to see him face-to-face before they met in the ring.

Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston

WWE - TLC 2009: Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston

One of the most intense rivalries the Raw brand has seen in a long time came to ahead in this very entertaining match between bitter enemies Orton and Kingston.

The latter looked impressive as he continued to bounce back from his opponent's typically calculating offence, but it wasn't to be his night as The Viper countered a Trouble in Paradise attempt with an RKO to steal a victory.

Your Winner: Randy Orton

Backstage, Orton's erstwhile Evolution team mate, Batista, threatened to beat up Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long with a chair if he didn't 'make things right'.

TLC Match for the Unified Tag Team Championships: Chris Jericho & The Big Show defend against Shawn Michaels & Triple H


WWE - TLC 2009: DX (Triple H & Shawn Michaels) vs. Jericho (Chris Jericho and Big Show)
Though Christian and Shelton Benjamin had done plenty to fulfil their promise of stealing the show at the start of the night, the two teams competing for the Unified Tag Championship certainly gave them a run for their money in a very exciting Tables, Ladders & Chairs match which quickly spilled out of the ring and down the entrance ramp.

All four men battled back and forth, trading vicious blows and innovative spots in this agreeable main event before DX finally put an end to Jerishow's remarkable run as champions when the Heartbreak Kid scaled the ladder and retrieved the gold.

Your winners and NEW WWE Unified Tag Team Champions: Shawn Michaels & Triple H

And that just about ends tonight's show.






Final thoughts: It's the end of the year, the end of the decade, and World Wrestling Entertainment certainly went out in style. Top-and-tailed by two thrilling matches in the ECW Championship ladder match and the tag title main event, TLC was a good show by all accounts.

Personally, this writer is happy to see both Drew McIntyre and Sheamus holding gold, not only for the big surprise factor that came with the latter's shock victory, but simply because it's a strong indication that the Big 'E are putting plenty of faith in their rising stars.
By the way, didn't John Cena say that, if he did lose the title, he'd cash in his rematch clause immediately?



Tuesday, 24 November 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF IN YOUR HOUSE 6: RAGE IN THE CAGE

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage Event poster
February 18, 1996,
Louisville Gardens, Louisville, Kentucky

In the modern era, a WWE Pay Per View between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania is as commonplace as a 20-minute' Authority promo kicking off Raw, or another round of rumours spelling the demise of TNA wrestling. Yet back in 1996, this was an entirely new concept. 

For the first time ever, the Wrestlemania title shot would be on the line on PPV as Shawn Michaels continued the journey towards realizing his boyhood dream by defending his Royal Rumble 1996 win against the man who had put him out of action in the latter-half of 1995, Owen Hart.

Elsewhere, Owen's brother Bret defended the WWF Championship against Michaels' long-time BFF Big Daddy Cool Diesel inside the very cage which gave this sixth installment of In Your House its subtitle.





What else was in store on that history-making night back in Louisville? Let's go find out together, shall we?

In Your House Free for All

And so we start tonight's show with another Free for All, the mid-1990s' version of today's kick-off pre-show, albeit with a much-less subtle approach at trying to draw in a few more last-minute buys. 

Tonight's show kicked off, as these things often did, with our old mate, Todd Pettengill, who made his way from the In Your House set and told us it was 'party time.' Ahem, right. 

After hyping the crowd and putting over tonight's big cage match, Pettingzoo sent us over to our broadcast team for the evening, the incomparable Vince McMahon and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Doc Hendrix interviews world champion Bret Hart
This at a time when Lawler still bothered to make an effort, the cowardly king was ill at ease with even the slightest mention of Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and his slippery friend, but seemed a lot happier to hear that Vader had been reinstated and would be here tonight. 

More hype for the main event followed, with a video package which reminded us how Diesel lost the WWF championship to The Hitman back at Survivor Series 1995, then got pissed off that Undertaker had earned a shot at the 1996 Royal Rumble and cost The Dear Man his match with The Undertaker. 

Of course, this would all lead us to Diesel/Taker at Wrestlemania, but for now, it was time for Big Daddy Cool to get his rematch, not that the champion seemed to concerned. In an exclusive backstage interview with Doc Hendrix, The Hitman claimed that he'd lost all respect for Diesel, and that since he'd never lost a cage match before, he didn't plan on doing so tonight. 

Tatanka (w/ The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase) vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Todd Pettengill interviews Jake 'The Snake' Roberts
Surprising most people with the fact that he was still employed by the World Wrestling Federation back in early 1996, Tatanka made his way to the ring with Ted Dibiase to kick off tonight's in-ring action against a visibly out of shape Jake 'The Snake' Roberts. 

Whether it was the fault of Jake (then doing his recovered-alcoholic-born-again-Christian), Tatanka, or simply the fact that this match seemed to have absolutely no heat to it, the whole thing was painful to watch. 

After five-plus minutes of brain-cell-killing non-action, Jake leveled the Native American with the DDT, struggled to turn him over, and scored the win. 
Your Winner: Jake Roberts

The good news at least, was that Jake was insanely over, and did elicit a good response from the Kentucky faithful following his win.

Realizing the Boy Hood Dream 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Doc Hendrix interviews Shawn Michaels
After shilling for last minute PPV buys, our buddy Todd took us to a video package recounting Shawn Michael's recent run and his battle with Owen Hart later tonight. The video reminded us of how he fortified the Intercontinental Championship at In Your House: Great White North, later collapsed after being kicked in the head by Owen Hart, and eventually announced his return at the Royal Rumble.

Doc Interviews HBK
That took us to a backstage interview in which Shawn himself spoke to Doc Hendrix about his upcoming match, insisting that he had been listening when Owen Hart took credit for putting HBK out of action, but that he would put an end to all that later tonight. 

Vader returns 

From there, we were reminded of the reason for Vader's suspension - namely that he beat up on the ever-lovable Gorilla Monsoon, a move Jerry Lawler claimed was in self-defense after Monsoon delivered a couple of chops to The Mastodon's broad, hairy chest- and also that the big guy would be returning to action on tonight's show. 

This led us to an in-ring interview where the former WCW champion and his manager, Jim Cornette, were interviewed by the Toddster.


'Jim Cornette, your dream has come true,' began Pettengill. 'You and your attourney, Clarence Mason, have managed to successfully get Vader reinstated.' 

'Let's get one thing straight. We're in Louisville, Kentucky, and I OWN this town,' Cornette replied, before going on to say that Vader was now 'on a march to the WWF title.' 

In a baffling turn-of-phrase, Cornette next told us that Vader was going to 'be here tonight,' a somewhat obvious statement given that Vader was actually stood right next to him at the time. 

As the Free-For-All ended, Cornette promised that we'd get Vader in a match, even if everyone in the World Wrestling Federation was too scared to face him. 

Welcome to In Your House 

Our show began proper with the WWF block signature, proceeded by a clip of Sunny in a bikini advising us that 'viewer discretion is advised.' 

A look at Diesel's rivalries with Bret Hart and The Undertaker led us to the usual pyro and ballyhoo, and my favourite part of any WWF PPV, Vince McMahon growling like a possessed-man. 

'Welcome EVERY-WAN, TO IN YOUR HOUSE' 

Jerry Lawler gave us a little hype for our upcoming show, and with that, it was on to our opening match. 

Cry baby match:
Razor Ramon vs. 123 Kid (w/ Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase)

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - 123 Kid lost a crybaby match to Razor Ramon
Vince and his chums have come up with some dumb stuff in its time, and I'm pretty sure this idea should be up there with the dumbest of the dumb. 

After costing Razor the Intercontinental Championship back the 1996 Royal Rumble, The Kid had spent much of the intervening weeks labeling Razor a 'Cry baby,' leading us to a match tonight in which the loser would have to wear a giant diaper and suck from a giant baby's bottle. 

Silly stipulations aside, the match actually started off in fine form, with The Bad Guy pummeling his former protege from pillar to post in a reasonably exciting burst of action. Yet when the 123 Kid rolled to the outside, manager Ted Dibiase was there to come to his rescue, temporarily blinding Razor with a handful of baby powder and allowing The Kid to jump from the top and drill his one-time mentor with a swift-looking dropkick. 

Apparently worn out from that brief flury of excitement, the two Kliq buddies then decided to take it easy, killing off the middle of the match with an extended sleeper hold from Kid to Razor, followed by a momentary comeback for Ramon which led us to both men taking a nap in the middle of the ring. 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - 123 Kid upset after losing to Razor Ramon
Things did pick up towards the finish, with Razor finally mounting a solid comeback and leveling his opponent with two Razor Edges to wrap things up, yet as fun as that might have been, the mid-bout nothingness certainly put a dampener on things. 
Your Winner: Razor Ramon

'Wait a minute, what's this?' asked Vince McMahon as referee Tim White handed the aforementioned diaper and bottle to Ramon. You know, sometimes Vince's corny commentary makes me smile, but sometimes he says stupid things like this, and it just ruins it. What do you mean 'What's this?' it's the stipulation for the match we've just watched, the same stipulation that you and your fellow announcers spent weeks hyping on TV. 

Anyway, that little rant over, Razor forced a prone Kid to gag on the bottle, put the diaper on him, then walked away, continuously shrugging as if it to say 'What? Don't look at me, I didn't book this.'

For his part though, 123 Kid did sell the whole perfectly, first not realising where he was, then thinking he'd won the match, and then, when what had happened finally dawned on him, it's fair to say the look on his face was absolutely priceless. 

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Elizabeth Hilden) vs. Duke 'The Dumpster' Drossee 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Triple H led to the ring by adult porn star Elizabeth Hilden
As the 'Kid made his way backstage, McMahon announced that we'd be going backstage to Ray Rougeau and Sunny, that didn't happen.

Instead, we got Hunter Hearst Helmsley being escorted to the ring by adult model Elizabeth Hilden* (*link NSFW) in order to battle Duke Drossee, with the latter seeking revenge for the unwelcome hair cut he recently received at the hands of the future World Champion.

After a wild brawl in the early moments, the match slowed to a crawl as Hunter methodically took his opponent apart. Naturally, the Garbage man did mount a comeback, even going so far as to plant his arch rival with the Trash Compacter.

Yet rather than scooping victory, an over-confident Drossee left the ring for his trusty garbage can. The referee grabbed the main part of the can, distracting Duke long enough for Triple H to grab the lid, drill his opponent from behind, and steal a victory.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Following Hunter's long, hobbled walk to the back (complete with a smooch from Ms. Hilden), we were next reminded of Yokozuna's recent babyface-turn on an episode of Raw.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Yokozuna cuts his first ever English speaking promo
The basic story was that Yoko had slowly fallen out of favour with Camp Cornette following the arrival of Vader. After weeks of tension, it all came to a head on an episode of Raw when Davey Boy Smith accidentally legdropped the former WWF Champion in a tag team match against Two Dudes With Attitudes. 

Post match, Cornette had berated his charge, only for the big man to attack him, Smith and Owen Hart. 

With that recap out of the way, we were taken to Doc Hendrix, who gave us Yoko's first ever English speaking promo. Apparently forgetting that we'd been told for years that Yoko was Japanese, the big man yelled in an American accent, all to deliver one clear message:

Jim, Owen, Davey, you're gonna get your ass kicked!

The British Bulldog (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Yokozuna 
Following a short, reasonably entertaining match in which both men worked well together, the Man From Erm..Not Japan looked to have this one all sewn up.

Not that Jim Cornette was likely to stand by and watch his erstwhile charge take home the winner's purse. In front of his home stage audience, Jim leapt up into the ring and attacked Yoko with his trusty tennis racket. Naturally, the giant wrestler felt nothing, and was all set to attack his former manager when Vader himself hit the scene, and worked with Bulldog to handcuff their rival to the ropes.
Your Winner (via disqualification)

One handed, the sumo star battled back, prompting a gaggle of referees and road agents to finally hit the ring in an attempt to break things up. Yet despite the efforts of former wrestlers and officials, it took the arrival of scrawny attorney-at-law Clarence Mason to put an end to the Camp Cornette Massacre.

Shawn Michaels - The 'Never Say Die' Kid

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Owen Hart and Jim Cornette gloat about Shawn Michaels' misfortunes
With the in-ring madness dying down, Vince took us to a video package in which Todd Pettengill documented Shawn Michael's epic struggle towards winning the 1996 Royal Rumble and heading to Wrestlemania, all after getting beaten up by thugs, and suffering a knock-out blow at the hands of Owen Hart on an episode of Raw.

Always one for stealing the show back in the days before 'stealing the show' seemed to be every pro wrestler sports entertainer's modus operendi, The Heartbreak Kid appeared literally dancing on the rooftop of the In Your House set before using a short zip line to make his way to the entrance way in a pre-cursor of his famous entrance at Wrestlemania 12. As different as it might have been, this writer can't help but feel a little uncomfortable knowing the ultimate fate of Michaels' opponent several years later.

Number One Contenders' Match: Owen Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Shawn Michaels dances on the ceiling of the In Your House set
And so we finally got down to the action, with The Heart Break Kid defending his Wrestlemania championship shot against the man who put him out of action, The King of Harts.

Much stalling and showboating on the part of Michaels led us slowly into what was by far one of the best bouts on the card, indeed perhaps of the entire year of 1996.

With commentators Lawler and McMahon at their ever-biased best (including The King's comical claim that Owen invented the camel clutch), the two in-ring combatants brawled, wrestled and flew around the ring in a gripping back-and-forth battle which proved undoubtedly why they were two of the best in-ring performers the 1990s had to offer.

A dramatic pause from the non-stop action came when Owen hit the very same enziguri kick that originally took HBK out of action. Michaels wobbled, staggered and fell out of the ring, though rather than taking the count out victory, the King of the Ring winner went for the pin, only for Michaels to kick out and reboot the match.

A dramatic closing sequence followed, ultimately culminating in Sweet Chin Music and a three count.
Your Winner: Shawn Michaels

With his spot at Wrestlemania secured, Shawn Michaels celebrated triumphantly, even dancing with a young fan in the ring.

A Word from the Hot Rod 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Todd Pettengill interviews WWF President Roddy Piper
As the ring crew began setting up the cage for our main event, Todd Pettengill introduced us to interim WWF President Rowdy Roddy Piper. In typical charasmatic fashion, The Hot Rod warned Shawn Michaels to bring his A-Game at Wrestlemania, before booking another match at the show, pitting Vader vs. Yokozuna. 

This, of course, raised the ire of Jim Cornette and Clarence Mason, both of whom came out for a rant against the Pres'. 

An enjoyable interaction between Jim and Roddy followd, the long and short of it being that if Vader lost, Yoko might just have an opportunity to put his hands on his former manager. 

World Wrestling Federation Championship Cage MatchWWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. 'Big Daddy Cool' Diesel 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Bret Hart defends the WWF title against Diesel in a cage match
Having been told time and time again that The Hitman had never yet lost a steel cage match, it was finally time to see if he could keep that streak alive by going one on one with arguably one of his greatest rivals, the big man Diesel. 

Indeed, your reviewer has always enjoyed seeing these two in action against each other, and whether it was at the Royal Rumble 1995, the Survivor Series later that year or their first major encounter at King of the Ring 94, Bret vs. Diesel was always a highlight of the show. 

Thankfully, neither man disappointed tonight. 

Though some may see the rather slow, sluggish nature of this one as a negative, in many cases it was actually the one thing that made it so special to this writer; the perfect, dramatic finale to the saga of Bret vs. Diesel. 

Speaking of dramatic, the finish came with Big Daddy Cool having gained the upper hand. Yet just as he was about to slide out of the ring, The Undertaker tore through the canvas from beneath the ring and dragged Diesel to hell (or at least under the ring), giving the champion the perfect opportunity to scale the cage, fall to the floor, and win the match.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Bret Hart 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Diesel and Undertaker stare down to end the show
As Bret disappeared following his victory, Big D pulled himself up back into the ring, his pants torn asunder, with The Undertaker in hot pursuit. 

As the last In Your House before Wrestlemania came to a close, The Phenom scaled the cage and silently called for the demise of Big Daddy Cool. 

In Your House Extra 

Backstage, Doc Hendrix interviewed a wild-eyed and crazy Roddy Piper, who ranted and raved his way to booking Big Daddy Cool vs. The Undertaker for Wrestlemania 12 on March 31st, Anaheim California. 





All in all then a decent show. OK, so the concept of the Crybaby Match was beyond ridiculous, but let's face it, we've all seen worse. Elsewhere, the two main event matches more than delivered, whilst Triple H vs. Drosse was a decent enough filler match. Not the longest show in the history, but this one did exactly what it was supposed to do; namely set us up nicely for the Road to Wrestlemania.  More of that next time. 


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.