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, 13 January 2017

WHAT'S GOING ON WITH RETRO PRO WRESTLING? Where I've Been, and When I'll Update Again

Anyone paying attention may have noticed that it’s been a while since I last updated things around here - and even longer since I last put any serious effort into writing a new review.

The truth is, as much as I love delving into the past and reliving these shows that I have such fond memories of from childhood, the demands of being a 32 year-old adult haven’t exactly made it easy to do so.

Add full-time work into the general rigorous of being a -ahem- grownup, and there just hasn’t been an awful lot of time left. Worse, even when there was time, there just wasn’t the energy resources available for me to sit here and go through the somewhat gargantuan task of publishing a new Retro Pro Wrestling review.

And believe me, there are times when it does feel gargantuan. This is my normal process for reviewing a new show for this blog:

  1. Watch the show - just generally watch it, take it in, write down a few notes and make a few more notes mentally - 3 hours
  2. Put the show on again, only this time have it mostly in the background as I write the review - 3 hours
  3. Another hour of going through the show again, taking screen grabs, and adding them into the blog - 1 hour
  4. General formatting, spell checking (I’m aware I miss lots of stuff out), publishing, tweeting - 30 minutes.

That’s seven and a half hours - basically a full working day.

More often than not, finding a time when I could block out a full working day to work on what was essentially a hobby wasn’t all that easy to do.

So, what am I getting at? Is this my last hoorah? Am I closing this blog down or -worse- am I leaving it to languish, untouched and without updates like so many abandoned blogs that litter the web?

Not exactly.

You see, a few months ago, I hit a bout of depression and became quite ill. Don’t worry, it happens more than I care to admit. During my ‘recovery’ period, one of the things I did was fire up some old World Wrestling Federation Pay Per Views.

I actually watched the shows that I should have been writing about for RPW (at the time, a bunch of stuff from the latter part of 1996), but without the added pressure of having to take notes and remember stuff so that I could then fire up the laptop and write about them.

You know what? Just doing that made me feel good. OK, not good enough to complete relieve me of the burden of depression, but enough to provide some sort of temporary respite, which -at the time- was good enough for me.

It felt good to just get back to the very reason why I started this blog in the first place -to share my love of pro wrestling as I remember it, and, yes, to complete that mad goal I set myself to review every single WWE PPV from Wrestlemania 1 - 30.

That whole experience made me want to give this another go, but I knew that if I was going to do it, I would have to do it differently. I couldn’t just dive right back in and pretend like nothing happened.

So I took a step back, and really thought about what I wanted to do with Retro Pro Wrestling. I gave myself a break from this blog and for all intents and purposes, I’m still technically on that break.

In the next few weeks, I’m planning to do something of a reboot. The old content will still be there, but I’m going to spruce up the design and approach this with a new, manageable schedule.

My goal so far is to start adding new content from the first weekend in February, committing to no more than one new PPV review per month, with other stuff like the magazine reviews I did fitting in around that.




It’ll be interesting, and I’ve got some work to do, but it’s about time I started to enjoy Retro Pro Wrestling again, and I hope you enjoy it too.

To keep updated on when I’m back with new content and such, please do follow me on Twitter at  @retropwrestling. Other than that, I just want to say thanks for reading, and I look forward to sharing my pro wrestling reviews with you again soon.

Chris.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

PPV REVIEW: WWF KING OF THE RING 1996

June 23, 1996
MECCA Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

When I first sat down to write this WWF King of the Ring '96 review, I did so with an introduction which stated that -at the time- this particular pay per view didn't seem like it was going to be all that big of a deal. 

I wrote this for the simple fact that -being 12 at the time- that's exactly how I remembered it. OK, so we all know that this one event would mark the very beginning of a new era for the World Wrestling Federation and serve as the launching pad for one of pro wrestling's most successful characters ever, but I couldn't quite remember the show being hyped by the WWF as being anything particularly ground-breaking.

Then, tonight's opening video package kicked in, and boy was I ever wrong.

A usually stellar video production, this one didn't just claim that WWF king of the Ring 1996 was going to be a great show, it promised to be 'The Greatest Card EVER in the History of The World Wrestling Federation King of the Ring.'







Given that the previous years' event featured far too many Savio Vega matches (and was ultimately won by King Mabel), it wouldn't take much to live up to such hype and -for the most part- this mid-summer event delivered.


Let's cut the intro here and get down to the arena for tonight's review.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 -  Owen Hart was commentator for the evening with Jim Ross and Vince McMahon Owen Hart is Your Guest Commentator

For seemingly no other reason the 'King of the Ring' being his gimmick (and having nothing else to do on the show), Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart joined Jim Ross and Vince McMahon, making up our three-man commentary team for the evening. Not too surprisingly, the King of Harts did an above-average job on commentary and, for this writer's money, could have easily made the transition to the announce table had his in-ring career ended in less than tragic circumstances.

As 'Wildman' Marc Mero made his way to the ring, Owen claimed he had been cheated out of a spot in this year's event by Mero in their recent qualifying clash on WWF Superstars.

WWF King of the Ring Semi Final
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Wildman Marc Mero (w/ Sable)

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 -  Marc Mero and Sable head to the ring
For the second pay per view in a row, Marc Mero was involved in a really good match with one of the biggest stars of the Attitude Era. OK, so his promos were largely awful and nonsensical, but give he man credit where it's due; when you put Mero in the ring during this period, he usually did his job well.

Even still, it was fairly obvious even then that this wasn't really about The Wildman at all, but rather about 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin who at this stage of the game was still shedding the final layers of his 'Ringmaster' gimmick and morphing into the bad ass sumbitch fans would cheer on in their millions in the years to come.

Sure, he had the bald head, the swagger, and the don't-give-a-damn attitude, but he also had that eiry, here-comes-the-doom, synth-heavy ring music and hadn't quite perfected his Stone Cold Stunner. Yet none of that really mattered tonight.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Steve Austin got a bust lip in his match with Marc MeroWhat mattered was that Austin battered, brawled and wrestled (as in actually wrestled) through a very good opening match, picking up the victory on what would prove to be a career-changing night for the former Hollywood Blonde.
Your Winner: Stone cold Steve Austin (Advances to the 1996 King of the Ring Final)

Backstage, Doc Hendrix interviewed Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, who first insisted that he couldn't possibly lose with God on his side, then changed tune and said that only 'if' he got by his upcoming opponent, Vader, would he get to face Steve Austin in the final.

WWF King of the Ring Semi Final
Vader (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Jake 'The Snake' Roberts interviewed by Doc Hendrix
The big story here was that this was Jake's last chance at securing glory in the World Wrestling Federation after all, at 41 years-old, he wouldn't likely have too many chances left because 41, you see, was apparently very old.

Trust me, if McMahon and Ross mentioned that Roberts was 41 once, they mentioned a hundred times. What they never mentioned, not once, was that his opponent tonight -Vader- was (is) exactly the same age. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, Vader may even be a few months older.

Age aside, the two veterans went at it in a slow, largely forgettable and rather uninteresting contest which ended with the kind of finish that today would send Internet messageboard commentators into a flurry of rage.

After absorbing a whole bunch of punishment, Roberts (he's 41, remember) fought back and went for the famous DDT, only for Vader to pull on the referee's shirt and ultimately get himself disqualified.

Either way, Roberts won, and was through to the final.
Your Winner via DQ: Jake 'The Snake' Roberts (Advances to the 1996 King of the Ring Final)


WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Vader injured Jake Roberts in their King of the Ring match
Not that Roberts looked like much of a winner. Afterwards, 41 year-old Vader launched into a full on assault of 41 year-old Roberts, dragging him into the corner and destroying his mid-section. By the time he was done, a big question mark hung over tonight's WWF King of the Ring final: Would Roberts be able to make it to his match with Austin? Or would the damage done by the big man render him unable to compete?

Only time would tell.


Colliseum Home Video Exclusive: Vader is Angry


"I can't believe they would do something like this to Vader!" yelled Cornette before the big man grabbed hold of him and continually yelled "I'm the King of the Ring!" like a spoiled child who coudln't face coming in second at a school sport's day.

Backstage Sunny -flanked by WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns- complained to Doc Hendrix about The Body Donnas new manager, Kloudi. Having finally composed herself, the Slammy Award winning manager guaranteed a win for her boys against tag team championship challengers, The Godwins.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship Match
WWF Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn w/ Sunny) vs. The Godwins (Phineas I. & Henry O. Godwin w/ Hillbilly Jim)

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Sunny led the Smoking Gunns to victory against The Godwins
As Billy, Bart, and Sunny made their way to the ring, JR expressed his utter disgust at the champions for snubbing a couple of young Smoking Gunns fans in the hotel lobby.

'They [the fans] had their foam hats on and everything,' declared Ross, showing us just how dispicible the champs had become since siding with Sunny.

To their credit, Billy and Bart were actually pretty good in the heel role. Despite never being a truly remarkable mouthpiece for the team, Billy did seem much more comfortable playing a dastardly baddie, especially when he took to the microphone to announce that he had made Sunny feel like Phineas never could. This, naturally raised the ire of the challenger, who raced forward, only to be clocked from behind by Bart.

It's at this point that I would say the match was officially on, but within the space of a minute, we were distracted by a split-screen interview with Kloudie (one of Chris Candido's mates in full drag). Kloudie said nothing of note, other than the fact that she could fill out one of Sunny's old Body Donnas outfits better than Sunny herself ever could.

With that out of the way, we were free to focus on the match itself which was -for all intents and purposes- actually pretty decent.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Split Screen interview with Body Donnas manager Kloudi
Sure, mid-90s WWf standards weren't exactly high to begin with, but as a standard, textbook tag team match, this one was more than respectable, and much credit for that has to go to The Godwins.

With the passage of time, it's easy to look back and think of Henry O. and Phineas I. as little else than just another example of the terrible gimmicks which were so prevalent during this period. Indeed, as a fan at the time, I seem to recall they were basically dismissed as such back in 1996, too.

Yet having watched several of their pay per view bouts recently, I'm inspired to say that -as a pair of pro wrestlers- The Godwins were rather overlooked.

Sure, they weren't going to go hold-for-hold with Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart (or even Austin, when he could still wrestle circles around everyone), but that wasn't what they were there for in the first place. What they were there for, was to entertain the younger members of the audience whilst at the same time posing a serious threat to the titles when the occasion -such as it did now- called for it.

To that end, both men did their jobs well both here, and throughout their WWF tenure. sadly however, merely being good at your job wasn't enough for Henry and Phineas to walk away with the gold on this night. Instead, Bart took off his boot, leveled Phineas in the back of the head with it, and covered him for the three count.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The Smoking Gunns 

To the delight of the crowd, the challengers gained some modicum of revenge in the post-match by beating up on the champs and sending them hightailing to the backstage area.


Doc Hendrix interviews Camp Cornette

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Doc Hendrix interviewed Jim Cornette and Davey Boy Smith
Backstage, Doc Hendrix got a word with Jim Cornette and The British Bulldog. As Clarence Mason and Dianna Hart-Smith stood by, Cornette insisted that nothing could stop his client from defeating Shawn Michaels tonight. As Cornette rambled on, tonight's special-guest referee - Mr. Perfect - wandered into the dressing room.

"What? You think Mr. Perfect is going to change in Shawn Michaels locker room?" asked the Bulldog. "He might get his wallet stolen!"

For reasons unexplainable, that was hilarious.

Not content to leave it there, Davey Boy reminded us all that he'd been both the WWF Intercontinental Champion and one-half of the WWF Tag Team Champions, and was now about to join the WWF 'Triple-Header' club. Always the most eloquent of promo men, The Bulldog wrapped up his pre-match comments by saying that he would beat HBK "In less than a few short hours away." 

Indeed.

Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. The Ultimate Warrior

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Ultimate Warrior faced Jerry Lawler
Much like The Godwins, The Ultimate Warrior had a specific job to do during his short-lived 1996 run with the WWF. Unlike The Godwins, that job was to deliver the spectacle and excitement of the trademark 'Warrior entrance and post-match celebration.

For some strange reason, those in charge at the time believed that the best way for Warrior to do this was to engage in a series of short squash matches and stupid comedy bouts. First came the debut against Hunter Hearst Helmsley at Wrestlemania 12, then that awful non-match against Goldust at In Your House: Beware of Dog, and now this; a nothing-match against Jerry Lawler which served as little more than a respite from the more serious competition.

That being said, both men played the roles they were handed to nigh on perfection here.

Lawler was in a league of his own has he first grabbed a scepter from the King of the Ring coronation area, then proceeded to berate, humiliate, insult and verbally abuse the live audience, getting them so riled up that they couldn't have been more eager to see The Ultimate Warrior charge to the ring and kick The King's royal ass.

Sadly for Warrior, and the fans, that didn't happen. At least not at first.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Ultimate Warrior races to the ring to face Jerry Lawler
Instead, Jerry interrupted Warrior's rope-shaking shenanigans by choking him with the scepter, then proceeded to beat him from pillar to post. At one point, as Warrior was being choked out in the corner, this reviewer was struck with an odd sense of nostalgia, remembering how this was the very same man that headlined multiple pay per views just a few years earlier (including that epic clash with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania) and had been the WWF Champion.

Eventually *that* version of the Ultimate Warrior did surface, no-selling one of Lawler's patented piledrivers before clocking him senseless with a series of clotheslines and the famous warrior Splash for the three count.
Your winner: The Ultimate warrior

Backstage, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts was shown getting bandaged up by a medical professional whilst Doc Hendrix asked World Wrestling Federation President, Gorilla Monsoon, whether Roberts was in fit enough condition to compete.

'I don't know [and] the doctor doesn't have X-Ray glasses, so he doesn't know!' Monsoon yelled in response, which makes me wonder what the hell kind of medical staff they were hiring back then.

Anyway, X-ray specs or nay, Monsoon declared that he was going to allow Jake to compete because he might not have many chances left. After all, he was 41 years-old, and apparently that was practically ancient.

Mankind vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Mankind and  Undertaker had a great match
If I ever get round to writing a list of my favourite WWF pay per view matches from the mid-1990s, this one will surely be up there.

The first of several awesome bouts these two would have over the next few years was utterly captivating.

After years of dreadful Undertaker pay per view matches (his 1995 year-long feud against the Million Dollar Corporation still gives me nightmares), this violent, well-paced match was incredibly refreshing.

It wasn't just The Undertaker who looked good here. In his first WWF PPV match, Mankind was particularly impressive, and certainl proved why he was well deserving of the main event run he would enjoy a few short years down the line.

Speaking of Mankind, it was the basement-dwelling alter-ego of Mick Foley who picked up the win here. After dominating the bulk of the contest, Mankind took 'Taker to the corner, where Paul Bearer was waiting on the apron. It looked as though Bearer was trying to attack Foley but accidentally struck The
WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Mankind Dives into a Chair held by Undertaker
Phenom instead. With hindsight, I don't wonder now if this was an incredibly subtle way of beginning the Paul Bearer heel turn, especially with Owen Hart speculating on that very same thing at the end of the match.

Either way, Bearer drilled his own man with the urn, allowing Mankind to pin synch in the mandible claw for the win.
Your Winner: Mankind

Backstage, Doc Hendrix asked Mr. Perfect why he'd changed in the Camp Cornette locker room.

"What, you're watching where I'm getting dressed now, Doc?" asked Perfect in response.

At that point, World Wrestling Federation Champion, Shawn Michaels arrived on the scene, threatening Perfect with some kind of trouble if tonight's special guest referee didn't call things down the middle. After HBK left, perfect promised that he would indeed be fair and impartial.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. Ahmed Johnson

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Goldust lost the Intercontinental Title to Ahmed Johnson
With Goldust's Intercontinental championship victory over Razor Ramon at the 1996 Royal Rumble feeling like a whole other lifetime ago, The Bizarre one put the title on the line against the latest WWF sensation, Ahmed Johnson.

Though exciting in the early going, with Ahmed taking out his promised revenge against Goldust (Goldie had -for all intents and purposes- sexually abused Johnson on several occasions) in a frenzied attack, it did get really boring really quickly once the champ took over with a series of prolonged headlocks.

Unfortunately, that all but killed the match, right up until Johnson regained control, hit the Pearl River Plunge, and ended what had otherwise been a long, tedious match.
Your Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Ahmed Johnson

Backstage, in a Colliseum Home Video Exclusive, we saw new champion Johnson being congratulated by The Godwins, Savio Vega and, of all people, The Bushwackers. Shawn Michaels turned up for a hug, and with that, it was back to ring side.

The Loose Cannon is Here

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Brian Pillman cut a cryptic, bizzare promo
Up next, Brian Pillman arrived on the scene for an interview with Jim Ross. Ross asked Brian how he thought he'd stack up against the current WWF superstars, to which Pillman responded by calling Jr a 'son of a bitch' at a time when such words were akin to dropping an F-Bomb on today's programming.

Pillman then went off on a cryptic spiel talking about he would 'rape, pillage, and plunder' the entire World Wrestling Federation, and cause some sort of revolution.

As Pillman began making his way backstage, Austin arrived on the scene. In a surreal moment, The two former Hollywood Blondes partners had a stare down in the ilse, though Austin was far too concerned with his upcoming bout to give Pillman much time.

King of the Ring Finals:
Stone cold Steve Austin vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Former partners Brian Pillman and Steve Austin had a showdown
According to all reports, this was originally planned to be a straight-forward, evenly paced, back and forth match between Roberts and Austin. That was until the former was genuinely injured in his earlier match against Vader, prompting a change in script which led us to this: The courageous, past-his-prime veteran valiantly going for one last shot at glory against the take-no-prisoners upstart with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

For what it was, it made for a highly emotionally charged match. Roberts absorbed a great deal of punishment before Monsoon arrived and asked the 41 year-old (remember, he's 41 folks) whether he wanted to give up. He didn't, and made a short comeback, only to fall victim to Austin, and finally be put out of his misery thanks to the Stone Cold stunner.
Your Winner and 1996 King of the Ring: stone Cold Steve Austin 

Of course, it was nothing Austin did between the ropes that made his performance tonight legendary. That would happen next, as he took to the coronation area, and let rip with the one single promo that would ultimately change everything.




'The first thing I want to be done, is to get that piece of crap out of my ring. Don't just get him out of the ring, get him out of the WWF because I've proved son, without a shadow of a doubt, you ain't got what it takes anymore! You sit there and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your psalms, talk about John 3:16…
'Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!.
' All he's gotta do is go buy him a cheap bottle of Thunderbird and try to dig back some of that courage he had in his prime.
'As the King Of The Ring, I'm serving notice to every one of the WWF superstars. I don't give a damn what they are, they're all on the list, and that's Stone Cold's list, and I'm fixing to start running through all of 'em.'

At this point, Austin could apparently hear McMahon trying to wrap up the segment via the PA system, and uttered a very audible, 'piss off,' before continuing his promo.

'And as far as this championship match is considered son, I don't give a damn if it's Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin's time is come, and when I get that shot you're looking at the next WWF Champion, and that's the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so.'

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
World Wrestling Federation Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. The British Bulldog (w/ Jim Cornette, and Dianna Smith)
Special Guest Referee: Mr. Perfect

As Perfect made his way to the ring, we were once again reminded of the dodgy outcome of last month's In Your House: Beware of Dog.

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - British Bulldog challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWF Title
That was followed by the entrance of both champ and challenger, and finally of Gorilla Monsoon, who, in a classic example of bait-and-switch announced that Perfect was now only going to be an outside official, with Earl Hebner calling the shots between the ropes.

As for the match itself, it was -as you may expect- good fun, and gave the earlier Undertaker/Mankind clash a run for match of the night honours.

Personally, I preferred the first installment of Michaels/Bulldog, but that's to take nothing away from what was basically a very fine effort, albeit one with a weird ending.

Following a big ref bump, Perfect took to the ring, just in time for HBK to hit the Sweet Chin Music and make the cover. Perfect started the count, Hebner recovered and started his own count, and then Owen hart - Inexplicably - yanked Perfect (the ref it had been strongly hinted at was on Camp Cornette's side) out of the ring.

Why he did that was never quite explained, and as far as I know, remains a mystery to this day. Either way, a three count was made, and Michaels retained his title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels

WWF / WWE - King of the Ring 96 - Ultimate Warrior, HBK, Ahmed Johnson celebrating after the show
Afterwards, Owen attacked HBK, only for Ahmed Johnson to rush in and make the save. He was promptly followed by vader, and lastly by Ultimate Warrior for a three versus three showdown. Naturally, the good guys cleaned house just as Vince McMahon informed us that Gorilla Monsoon had announced next month's In Your House: International Incident main event - Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, Ultimate Warrior vs. Vader, Owen Hart, and British Bulldog.

Finally, we ended with another Coliseum Home Video Exclusive interview with Camp Cornette. This time, Jimmy insisted that the whole thing had been a conspiracy, Bulldog insisted he was still a better man than Shawn Michaels, and Owen Hart - hilariously- declared 'we've got a great cast here,' whilst holding up the gimmicked cast on his hand which he wore for much of 1996 for absolutely no reason.

And that folks, was all she wrote.






On the whole, I have to say i really enjoyed that show, the opening Austin/Mero match was highly entertaining, Undertaker/Mankind and Bulldog/Michaels were equally excellent, and only the Intercontinental Championship match between Goldust and Johnson proved to be anything less than decent. That said, King of the Ring 1996 is twenty years old this year, and nobody really remembers any of the matches. What they do remember however, is *that* promo, that immortal, legendary promo which served as the catalyst for the huge changes that would sweep through the World Wrestling Federation for the next several years. All that, my friends, is still to come. 

Until then, thanks for reading, and I'll see you again soon for my International Incident review.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Death of WCW - R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez

Bryan Alvarez and R.D Reynolds chart the meteoric rise and spectacular fall from grace of World Championship Wrestling in a book as detailed as it is hilarious.

*Book review originally written 2012*

It's perhaps fair to say that the complex story of World Championship Wrestling is integral to the entire history of professional wrestling. Though today we mostly remember the company as an entirely mismanaged entity full of creative mishaps which occasionally came good -both the highs and lows of the organisation were the catalyst for much of what happened in the entire pro wrestling landscape both at the time and -in some respects- even to this day.

The former National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) territory, funded by billionaire media mogul Ted Turner, floundered for a number of years in the shadow of the mighty World Wrestling Federation (WWE), playing second fiddle to Vince McMahon's outfit and running at a loss until third-stringer announcer Eric Bischoff took the reigns.

Bischoff, who had learned his trade in the dying days of Verne Gagne's now-defunct American Wrestling Association (AWA), was quick to turn the company around and, with the creation of famous New World Order angle, took WCW from being a low-rent WWF to the most powerful wrestling organisation in the world.

Good things, however, rarely last forever and World Championship Wrestling's dominance over the pro wrestling landscape was no exception. Ultimately, it's demise was brought about by a number of terrible, ill-advised decisions both creatively and financially.

It's those decisions which make up the juicer parts of The Death of WCW's story. Rightly so too, for whilst WCW's rise does make for optimistic reading, we all, of course, know it didn't last, and it's the company's downfall that readers really want to sink their teeth into.

When they do, they'll find that story told in great detail; every poorly conceived angle, every ill-fated business decision and monumental display of egotism and stupidity by those in charge at the time are all detailed, often in humorous fashion.

Indeed, many of WCW's blunders are genuinely funny in hindsight, and if Reynolds and Alvarez have any one talent more than others, it's their ability to turn those comical errors into laugh-out-loud anecdotes.

Where the authors fail, however, is in their inability to say anything most fans didn't already know.

Sure, if you're fairly new to pro wrestling and just want a quick history lesson, then this book is a good starting point, but if you were there at the time, or even if you've seen the WWE-produced DVD, The Monday Night Wars, you won't find anything new here.


Despite its promise, The Death of WCW doesn't offer any great new insights into why WCW went under, nor does it provide any great revelations. This is a shame, because if the authors had done a bit more research, if they'd just looked a bit deeper into the story and taken their research further than their back-issues of the Wrestling Observer, surely they could have unearthed a few surprises, or never-before-told stories that would have been a huge selling-point of this book.

Instead, we get a story most long-time wrestling fans already know, albeit one told in a well-written fashion with plenty of humour.

Would this writer recommend The Death of WCW? Yes, it serves well as a historical account of one-side of the Monday Night Wars, and is worth reading at least once.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

TV REVIEW: WWE ECW - October 13th, 2009

ECW: 13/10/09
Lexington, Kentucky

With tensions rising at the top of the ECW mountain, William Regal teams up with Zack Ryder to take on Yoshi Tatsu and ECW Champion Christian in tonight's main event.


Ezekiel Jackson vs. Goldust

Before that however, we get this; one half of last week's tag team contest going at it in a fairly standard wrestling match between the wily veteran and the aggressive rookie.  Though not quite the kind of excellent opening match ECW is capable of delivering, it's nonetheless a passable effort in which Ezekiel Jackson picks up the win thanks to some help from Vladimir Kozlov.
Your Winner: Ezekiel Jackson


Backstage, Zack Ryder catches up with William Regal. The two discuss their tag team match later tonight and it's abundantly clear that the two upcoming partners do not get along. What's also clear is that, whilst Ryder sounds almost wooden, Regal is brilliant in this exchange.

A Word from Sheamus

The Celtic Warrior heads to the ring to rag on his arch-rival, Shelton Benjamin. Bringing up Benjamin's failure to reach the top of the WWE, Sheamus vows to use The Gold Standard as a stepping stone to reach the top himself. It's a decent promo from Sheamus, even if does start to grate after a while to hear his thick Irish accent refer to the company as the 'dubye dubye eee'.

The Hurricane vs. Paul Burchill (with Katie Lea) 

As the rivalry between them grows deeper, Paul Burchill dominates the ever-popular Hurricane for the majority of their average eight-minute match. Gregory Helms' alter-ego does put in some decent offence, but ultimately he proves no match for the powerful Brit as Burchill puts him away with a Jackhammer.
Your Winner: Paul Burchill

Heading to the back, Christian discusses the upcoming main event with his partner, Yoshi Tatsu. In a spot of light comedy to round off the segment, the two out-do each other on their trademark exchange of 'thank you's.


Main Event: William Regal & Zack Ryder vs. Yoshi Tatsu & ECW Champion Christian 

Despite rising tensions between them, Regal and Ryder seem to be able to put their differences on the backburner; functioning reasonably well as a team in a good main event match against Christian and  Yoshi Tatsu until it all breaks down at the finale, allowing the champion and his partner to pick up the win.
Your Winners: Yoshi Tatsu & Christian

Final Thoughts: 
As in previous weeks, the ongoing power struggle surrounding the top of the ECW mountain dominated this week's show, and that's just fine by me. Concentrating on one particular story, that being the saga between Regal, Christian, Ryder and Tatsu, helps to give the show a purpose and focus that other shows can often seem to lack. And of course, when we did take a break from the main story, we were treated to a win by Paul Burchill, which has got to be a good thing, right? Congratulations ECW, another enjoyable show. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

TV REVIEW: WWE ECW - September 22nd, 2009

ECW: 22/09/09
Tulsa, Oklahoma  

With ECW General Manager, Tiffany, suffering a car accident recently, William Regal takes to the helm of Extreme Championship Wrestling and immediately sets out to make his mark as the WWE's 'other brand' heads to Boston.

Here's what went down.

The Abraham Washington Show

Lapping up the chorus of boos, Abraham Washington cuts a charismatic figure as he introduces his guest, Sheamus O'Shaunessy. The talk-show host makes fun of Sheamus' pasty complexion, but the Irishman seems completely oblivious, preferring instead to talk up his recent feud with Shelton Benjamin.

This brings out The Gold Standard himself, who proceeds to explain the concept of teamwork to his Sheamus. It's at this point that the whole thing becomes a little confusing; who's the heel and who's the face in all this?

It appears to be Benjamin as he raises the ire of Sheamus by making fun of his ginger hair.

The whole farce comes to a close with a pull-apart brawl between the two rivals.


Paul Burchill (with Katie Lea) vs. Yoshi Tatsu  All gothed-up with nowhere to go except ringside, the lovely Katie Lea cheers on her man Paul Burchill as he takes on Yoshi Tatsu in a very good opening match.

Both men play off each other's strengths to the best of their ability as the smaller Tatsu looks to gain the upper-hand against the brutish Burchill with stiff kicks and impressive holds. It's a strategy that works well for the young star, and after taking a beating at the hands of his larger opponent, one big blow to the head is all it takes to gain the three count.

Oh Paul, you could've been a contender.
Your winner: Yoshi Tatsu 

In the back, Zack Ryder cuts an impressive, old-school promo in which he vows to capture the ECW title from Christian in tonight's main event.

Katie Lea gets angry at Helms

Paul Burchill storms through the backstage area after his disappointing defeat with Katie Lea in hot pursuit. As Pirate Paul disappears, Gregory Helms arrives on the scene to interview Katie about her upcoming match. But it's bad timing on the part of Helms; Katie is in no mood for small talk.

Britain's best diva (sorry Alicia) lays into the man with the microphone, blaming him for Paul's loss. Still angry, Paul himself returns, beats up the reporter and tells Katie to stay away.

Vladimir Kozlov & Ezekiel Jackson vs. Justin Brady & Brandon Young

You don't need to be Derren Brown to successfully predict the winners of this short squash match. The two local rookies, Brady & Young are obliterated by their more powerful, established opponents as William Regal looks on proudly from ringside.
Your Winners: Vladimir Kozlov & Ezekiel Jackson 

Heading to the back, William Regal catches up with Goldust and the two talk-up their upcoming match this week on Superstars.


ECW Championship Match: Christian defends against Zack Ryder 

A fiercely determined Zack Ryder looks to capture the ECW Championship in a terrific main event match against defending champion, Christian.

With the special ring-introductions out of the way, the two let-rip with a top quality, ppv-worthy performance that delivers on all fronts.

Sadly for Ryder, his best just isn't good enough tonight, and Christian retains with the Killswitch.
Your Winner and Still ECW Champion: Christian

After the bout, William Regal heads to the ring, letting it be known that's coming for the ECW title. The champion replies by beating him up as things come to a close.

Final thoughts: 
It's been a long time since I had the chance to sit down and watch ECW, and I have to say I'm very glad I did. The tag team squash match aside, WWE's 'other brand' certainly delivered in the ring, opening with a strong bout between Burchill and Yatsu and working its way to a roaring finale with that explosive main event between Christian and Zack Ryder. The opening nonsense that was the Abraham Washington to show made little sense to me, but other than that, a very good show that serves as a great reminder to set my Sky+ box and record every show from now on.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

TV Review: WWE Raw - August 2nd, 2010

WWE Raw 02/08/10
San Antonia, Texas

With just two weeks before they’re set to do battle against Nexus at Summerslam, tensions between Team WWE reach breaking point. Elsewhere, WWE Champion Sheamus took on Goldust whilst the Celtic Warrior’s newest rival, Randy Orton, battled The Miz in the main event of WWE Raw.

Here’s what went down.

R-Truth confronted Edge

The Rated R Superstar kicked off this week’s show with an in-ring promo in which he lambasted his Summerslam teammates. ‘I don’t respect John Cena, I don’t trust Chris Jericho, I have no faith in The Great Khali and I barely know Morrison and Truth,’ said Edge, before challenging Nexus leader Wade Barrett to a match.

Instead of Barrett, it was R-Truth who made his way to the ring next, squaring up to his partner and urging him to be a team player. If the seven members of Team WWE didn’t work together, claimed truth, Nexus would win.

Before Edge had the chance to respond, Michael Cole received an e-mail from the Raw General Manager, who booked Edge. vs. Wade Barrett for right there and then.

Edge vs. Wade Barrett

Looking to assert his dominance early on, Barrett controlled the bulk of this fairly average contest before Edge fought back in a valiant comeback and set up his foe for a deadly spear.  Barrett however, was saved at the final moments by the arrival of his Nexus cohorts, who chased Edge up into the crowds, throwing the match out.
Result: No contest 

Returning from commercial, Edge confronted John Cena backstage and questioned why he didn’t come to his aid in the previous match. Cena insisted that since Edge had claimed he didn’t want any help, he wasn’t going to give him any. Infuriated, Edge quit WWE’s Summerslam team!

As Edge stormed off, cameras zoomed out to reveal Chris Jericho stood next to Cena. After a back-and-forth argument between the two, Cena accepted Jericho’s challenge for a match later in the show, with the added stipulation that the loser would have to leave Team WWE.

Nexus confront The Great Khali

Still backstage, John Morrison was found talking to The Great Khali and Ranjin Singh. Following some bog-standard Summerslam hype between the three, Morrison left, wishing Khali good luck in his match against Ted Dibiase (booked for later on in the show) as he did so.

With Morrison gone, members of Nexus approached the Punjabi giant and informed him that if he wanted to switch sides, his door was always open.

Eve, Gail Kim and Natalya vs. Jillian, Tamina and WWE Divas Champion, Alicia Fox

As Divas matches go, this one started out pretty good, especially when Natalya tagged in and proved why she’s one of the most underutilised girls on the WWE roster. Unfortunately, things really fell apart during the inevitable ‘All hell breaks loose, everyone fights at the same time’ spot, at which point it got a little bit messy.

To end things, Alicia Fox planted Natalya with an Axe Kick (though to be honest, it looked more like she just sat on the back of Nattie’s head.) for the three count.
Winners: Jillian, Tamina and Alicia

In the post-match, Alicia took to the microphone to boast about being the most dominant Divas Champion ever. Her moment of glory was short lived however, when Melina, in her WWE return, hit the ring and decked the champ

Non-title Match: WWE Champion Sheamus vs. Goldust 

Prior to the opening bell, fans were reminded of last year’s feud between these two in ECW. Back then, Goldust managed to hold his own against then-newcomer, Sheamus. A year on, and things are very much different. With Goldust still meandering at jobber level, the Irishman is now your WWE Champion, and oh how that showed in this match

Sheamus battered his former enemy from pillar-to-post in a short, brutal, eventually picking up the win with the Celtic Cross.
Your Winner: Sheamus

‘Oh, what a difference a year makes,’ grinned Sheamus in his post-match promo, going on to hype his WWE Championship match against Randy Orton at Summerslam. This was a good, perhaps even underrated piece of work by the WWE, cleverly showing Sheamus’ rapid rise to the top of the WWE hierarchy.

Chris Jericho vs. John Cena (winner must leave WWE’s Summerslam team)

Though hardly the greatest match ever, this was nonetheless a decent outing from the pair, with Jericho dominating the bulk of the battle, Cena gearing up for his signature spots and eventually making the inevitable comeback; Jericho quickly tapping to the STF before his opponent had even locked it in properly.
Your Winner: John Cena

As per the stipulation, Cena’s victory meant Jericho would have to leave Team WWE. Instead, Cena took the microphone and urged his foe to stay on the team. Jericho looked to be contemplating doing so for a spell, before shaking his head and walking off backstage to a chorus of boos.

Jericho and Edge reunite

Backstage, Edge congratulated Jericho on walking out of Team WWE. Returning the compliment, Jericho offered his respect to Edge for quitting the team earlier in the show. The two then eventually agreed to put their differences behind them and, with a handshake and a manly hug, vowed to work together.

Another e-mail from the GM then came in, informing the Canadian duo that they’d be facing John Cena and Bret Hart in a tag match on next week’s show.

Before the next match, we got a look at the new trailer for John Cena’s new movie, Legendary. It looks terrible.

The Great Khali vs. Ted Dibiase

Yeah, this happened. It was neither good nor bad, and ended with Wade Barrett and Skip Sheffield distracting Dibiase, allowing Khali to pick up the win.
Your Winner: The Great Khali

In a pre-taped segment, Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg hyped their new movie before The Bella Twins arrived and urged Farrell to ‘get some coffee’ with them. He politely declined, and that was pretty much the end of that. Much like the last match, it was just one of those things that happened and was neither here nor there.


Non-title Match: United States Champion The Miz vs. Randy Orton

Tonight’s main event began with a pre-match promo from The Miz, who took to the microphone and vowed that he would unquestionably become WWE Champion, sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately for The Miz, the number one contender for the title, Randy Orton, had other ideas. The two had a heated contest between the two in which Mr. Money in the Bank more than held his own against verified main-eventer, Orton.

Yet despite looking for all the world like he belonged in the upper-echelons of the WWE, tonight was not to be Miz’s night. Following an enjoyable scrap, The Viper struck with the RKO to earn the win.
Your Winner: Randy Orton

After the match, Sheamus ran to the ring for an intense staredown with his upcoming Summerslam opponent as WWE Raw faded to black.

Final Thoughts: 
Though this wasn’t the greatest show ever in terms of unexpected surprises, monumental events and outstanding matches, it was, in this writer’s mind at least, very smartly and solidly booked.

Though I’m a bit disappointed that the Edge/Jericho Union was somewhat downplayed, it does add an interesting component to future WWE storylines, and certainly, makes the build up to Summerslam more interesting.

Sheamus’ match against Goldust was very well done. Again, it was hardly spectacular from an in-ring standpoint, but by referencing their history together, it served well to remind fans of how the Celtic Warrior battered his way to the top of the company in such a short time.

Booking The Miz in the main event, and having him look equal to Randy Orton was another smart move, allowing the US Champion to prove that he can handle performing at that level, and getting fans used to an eventual main event push for the Awesome One.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

TV REVIEW: WWE SMACKDOWN - August 6th - 2010

WWE Smackdown: 06/08/10
Laredo, Texas

After being accused by World Heavyweight Champion Kane of being responsible for The Undertaker’s demise, number one contender Rey Mysterio looks to clear his name as well as taking on Drew McIntyre in tonight’s main event. Elsewhere, there’s Intercontinental Championship action and Kofi Kingston goes crazy as Friday Night Smackdown comes from Laredo Texas.

Here’s what went down.

Drew McIntyre confronts Rey Mysterio

In tonight's opening promo, Rey Mysterio recalled the events of last week's show, when Kane not only accused Mysterio of attacking The Undertaker, but also chokeslammed him into the Gulf of Mexico.

Tonight, Mysterio refuted such accusations, though claimed he did know who was responsible for the attack on The Phenom. Yet before he could reveal just who that was, Drew McIntyre arrived on the scene.

The Scotsman antagonized Mysterio and eventually goaded him into a match for later on in the show. Mysterio was fairly boring here, but McIntyre continues to impress.

Matt Hardy vs. 'Dashing' Cody Rhodes

Matt Hardy and Cody Rhodes clashed in an entertaining opening contest. The crowds were firmly behind established veteran Hardy, but sadly for him, the power of the WWE Universe wasn't enough to overcome Rhodes, who dominated the latter part of the match before picking up a convincing win with the Cross Rhodes.
Your winner: Matt Hardy

Following a trailer for John Cena's new film, Legendary (which looks rubbish), a vignette aired in which newcomer Alberto Del Rio called everybody mentally constipated. Honestly, there was probably more chance of the Kizarny gimmick getting over with the crowd than this segment.

Michelle McCool gives up her title.

Well, sort of. Backstage in Teddy Long's office, the Smackdown General Manager insisted that there could only be one women's title belt on the Friday night show. Despite arguing against the ruling, Michelle McCool eventually surrendered her strap to Long, only to reveal that the one remaining belt could split in half. Thus, both girls could keep half the belt, despite there still only being one of them.

Intercontinental Championship: Kofi Kingston defends against Dolph Ziggler

Prior to the bout, the challenger's girlfriend, Vickie Guerrero gave her man a warm introduction, accompanying him to the ring and cheering on Dolph Ziggler as he controlled the early moments of the match.

Kofi fought back, and the two went back and forth in a solid championship match. The end came when Kofi struck his foe with Trouble in Paradise, only for Vickie Guerrero to enter the ring and distract the referee. This gave Ziggler enough time to recover, hit the Zig Zag and pick up the win.
Your winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Dolph Ziggler

However, Ziggler's celebration was short-lived, as Kofi went loco in the post-match, destroying the new champion, and the announce table, in the process.

CM Punk rallies the troops

After boasting about the Straight Edge Society's attack on The Big Show last week, leader CM Punk cut an intense promo on his charges, motivating them ahead of their upcoming six man tag.

CM Punk, Luke Gallows and Joseph Mercury vs. MVP, JTG and Chris Masters

The six battled in a short, forgettable contest with a rather predictable ending; a SES victory which came courtesy of a Luke Gallows boot to the face of MVP.
Your Winners: CM Punk, Luke Gallows and Joseph Mercury

After another of 'Dashing' Cody Rhodes' grooming tips (this one on the joys of combing one's eyebrows), cameras cut to Kane in the back.

The World Heavyweight Champion hovered around an open casket, vowing to defeat Rey Mysterio when the two clash at Summerslam.


Main event: Rey Mysterio vs. Drew McIntyre 

The angry Scotsman and the flying masked man went back and forth in a very good main event, trading the advantage several times before Mysterio earned himself an other predictable victory.
Your winner: Rey Mysterio

After the match, Kane arrived on the scene with his casket in tow and tried to drop Mysterio inside it. Instead, Rey legged it to the stop of the stage, took to the microphone and accused The Big Red Machine of being responsible for taking out The Undertaker.

Visibly shaken, a troubled Kane then chanted 'I love my brother' over and over as Friday Night Smackdown faded to close.

Final Thoughts: 
A good show overall, though it didn't really feel like anything special. The Intercontinental Championship bout was the highlight of the night, especially when coupled with Kofi's post-match beatdown of newly-crowned champion Dolph Ziggler. I know Kingston is popular as hell, but I can't help but feel that if they did ever decide to turn him, Kingston would make a fantastic heel.

Punk's verbal dressing-down of his Straight Edge Society members was an underrated segment of the show. I haven't heard, or read, many people giving it a lot of thought, but personally I thought it was fantastic.

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.