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

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

PPV REVIEW: ECW November to Remember 1999

November 7th, 1999
Buffalo, New York

(NOTE: This ECW November to Remember review was originally written back in 2009. I recently discovered a bunch of my archived reviews and wanted to include them here on RPW, hence the introduction referencing 'ten years' and the different format from normal RPW reviews) 

Ten years (2017 update: make that 20!) to the day that Paul Heyman's Original Extreme Championship Wrestling presented the '99 version of their pay per view event, November to Remember, your favourite wrestling reviewer does just that; remembering  an event which featured Masato Tanaka challenging Mike Awesome for the ECW title and a great three-way dance between Jerry Lynn, Tajiri and Super Crazy.

Joey Styles and Cyrus the Virus opened the show







In front of a rabid crowd, ECW's legendary announcer, Joey Styles and the smooth-talking Cyrus the Virus welcomed everybody to the show before Joel Gertner arrived. Gertner did absolutely nothing of note, instead taking a back seat to the arrival of Tazz.

The Human Suplex Machine, about to embark on a career in what was then the World Wrestling Federation, was greeted by loud chants of 'You Sold Out!' from the Buffalo crowd.

Ignoring them, Taz instead turned his attentions to antagonising Styles. The announcer made the smart move and left the ring, leaving Tazz to take his frustrations out on Gertner before hyping his upcoming match with crowd-favourite Rob Van Damn.

Spike Dudley beat Simon Diamond 

Prior to the bout, Diamond and Dick Hertz went through an innuendo-laden promo before Jazz came out for no reason and was swiftly destroyed by Hertz.

The match itself was nothing special, with Diamond essentially brutalising his opponent throughout until Spike Dudley scored the upset with the Acid Drop.

Little Guido beat Nova

After the match, The Full Blooded Italians ran in and attacked Dudley, causing Nova to run in for the save and resulting in an impromptu match against Little Guido.

Better than the previous contest, Nova looked genuinely impressive against his diminutive opponent until Big Sal interfered on behalf of his FBI teammate and ultimately cost Nova the match.

The two men continued their assault in the post-match until Chris Chetti came to the rescue. Danny Doring and Roadkill then ran in, destroying the returning Chetti and bringing to an end the overkill of run-ins.

Honestly, if WWE or TNA presented that many pre and post-match run-ins in such quick succession, your reporter is sure that fans would hate it. But of course, this was the original ECW, who could seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of their ever-loyal fans.

 Jerry Lynn beat Yoshihiro Tajiri and Super Crazy in a Three-Way Dance. 



Tajiri was led to the ring by a wheelchair-bound Jack Victory and Steve Corino, who cut a pre-match promo putting over 'The Japanese Buzzsaw' as the 'King of the three-way dance'.

Tajiri certainly disappoint here, but neither did his opponents, Jerry Lynn and Super Crazy; the latter hitting a jaw-dropping moonsault from atop the entrance set. Unfortunately for Crazy, it wasn't enough to win the match and shortly after he was eliminated by The Japanese Buzzsaw.

Jerry Lynn eventually pinned Tajiri to end a very exciting bout that was easily the best on the card to this point.

Afterwards, Lynn was attacked by Steve Corino, but managed to overthrow his adversary and leave with his head held high.

Da Baldies (Spanish Angel, Tony Devito, P.N. News and Vito LoGrasso) beat New Jack and The Chair Swingin' Freaks (Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten) in a handicap match.

With a 4-on-2 advantage, Da Baldies wasted no time in attacking The Chair Swingin' Freaks until New Jack and his plethora of weapons came to the rescue. What followed was one of ECW's trademark out-of-control hardcore brawls that spilled all over the arena and was thus hard to keep track of.

Save for a death-defying spot in which New Jack leaped off the top of a basketball board and nearly killed himself, nothing interesting happened until Spanish Angel blasted Jack with a guitar and won the match for his team.

Sabu and Bill Alfonso Cut a promo

In a rare sombre moment for ECW, Alfonso put over Sabu's upcoming contest against Chris Candido, dedicating the bout to the memory of Sabu's recently-deceased friend.

Sabu beat Chris Candido 

Back on home turf following an ill-fated run in the WWF, the sadly-no-longer-with-us Chris Candido made his way to the ring with real life partner Tammy Lyn Sytch (who had a much better run in the big leagues as Sunny) to take on Sabu in a disappointing affair.

As one of the most popular stars in the company, Sabu had the full support of the ECW faithful behind him as he and Candido made full use of chairs and tables to beat the hell out of each other. Unfortunately, the two didn't do anything fans hadn't seen a million times before, and when Sabu finally made his opponent submit with the Camel Clutch, nobody cared.

Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka warmed up

Backstage, Tanaka stopped running on a treadmill long enough to tell Mike Awesome that he would take his title. Awesome, busy working on his arms, replied by threatening to break Tanaka's back.

Mike Awesome beat Masato Tanaka to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship

With Judge Jeff Jones in his corner, champion Awesome successfully defended his title against Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling's Masato Tanaka in the best match on the card.

The two behemoths collided in a hard-hitting battle with some high-flying action which belied their well-built frames, and after withstanding some brutal punishment at the hands of the challenger, Awesome finally beat his foe with a top-rope Awesome Bomb.

Rob Van Dam beat Taz to retain the ECW World Television Championship

Hoping to leave the company with some gold around his waist, a WWF-bound Taz met Rob 'Mr. Pay Per View' Van Dan in a decent bout. The challenger looked to be on form too, dominating the bulk of the contest with some heavy-handed offence. Ultimately, however, it was Van Dam who left with the title after beating Taz thanks to the Five-Star Frog Splash.

Afterwards, a departing Taz showed his respect to the champion, slapping hands with Van Dam and shaking hands with the Television Champion's manager, Bill Alfonso.

Rhyno and The Impact Players (Lance Storm and Justin Credible) beat The Sandman and ECW Tag Team Champions, Raven and Tommy Dreamer. 



For most of its tenure, and certainly afterwards, Raven, Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman were the true embodiment of Extreme Championship Wrestling, and seeing all three on the same team was a huge attraction for this pay per view.

Their opponents, Lance Storm, Justin Credible and Rhyno were the newcomers on the scene and out to make a name for themselves.

The Sandman, making his return to the company followed a disastrous run in World Championship Wrestling, takes more time to get to the ring than the actual match lasts for; soaking up the adulation from the fans before joining his partners to take on the Impact Players and Rhino.

The match itself was decent enough, though hardly fitting of a true main event performance and after ten minutes of action, Raven turned on The Sandman, drilling him with a Singapore Cane shot that allowed Justin Credible to pick up the victory for his team.







This event would ultimately prove to be ECW's penultimate November to Remember event. The group presented one more in 2000 before eventually being taken over by the global wrestling powerhouse that is World Wrestling Entertainment.

Thankfully, the final outing for November to Remember was a much better send off for the pay per view, as despite a couple of great bouts, the 1999 version was ultimately nothing special.


For more ECW, WWE, WCW, and TNA reviews follow Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter or like the new Facebook page.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

PPV Review: WCW NWO Souled 1997

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Event Poster
January 25, 1997
Five Seasons Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Having dominated the professional wrestling landscape throughout the second half of 1996, there was no doubting that the New World Order was the hottest thing in professional wrestling. 

With this angle alone, WCW had cemented their reputation as the number one professional wrestling company of the 1990s, kicking off the decade's biggest boom period.

So you can understand the reasoning of WCW Executive Vice President and on-screen nWo boss Eric Bischoff when he created an entire Pay Per View centered exclusively around the nWo.

It was, in theory, a good idea, and at first glance, nWo Souled Out certainly looked a hell of a lot different than your typical pro wrestling event. Yet in a classic example of style of substance, the cool aesthetic of this show didn't exactly translate into quality, nor buyrates for that matter.






Here's what went down at the first -and only- NWO Souled Out, live from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Renegades Arrive 

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review -  Syxx
Our show tonight began with the arrival of the New World Order, traveling into the arena among a convoy of what I'm pretty sure were garbage trucks.

Ambulances ran along side, sirens blazed, and members of the nWo shouted and hollered as though they were having the time of their lives.

At one point, Syxx ran behind one of the garbage trucks and yelled 'look at me!' but then didn't actually do anything cool, or anything at all for that matter, so who knows what that was about.

The whole thing was shot in some murky, black-d and-white tone, really creating the impression that what we were witnessing here was the arrival of an apocalypse.

We Are In Control 

In many ways, it was.

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Eric Bischoff & Ted Dibiase commentated on the event
As we went to a pre-tapes vignette that saw Eric Bischoff ranting from a podium and other members of the nWo all shouting out various sound bites, it became obvious that what we were watching here was supposed to be a revolution: the death of pro wrestling as we knew it, and the birth of something altogether brand new.

Five minutes into this thing, the show finally cut to the arena, where Bischoff stood aloft the same podium as in the opening promo.

It was, admittedly, pretty sweet looking.

Things then got real boring, real quick, as nothing happened for several minutes apart from Easy E basking in the glory of his own creation. Finally, he was joined on commentary by Ted Dibiase, and we had ourselves our first contest.

Chris Jericho vs. Masahiro Chono 

As the two wrestlers made their way to the ring, we were shown a bunch of overweight bikers hanging around the entrance way, apparently to create the impression that this event was edgy and bad ass.


We were also shown a couple of average looking housewives hanging out on motorcycles. Apparently, these were 'babes.'

This must have been some different variation of the word 'babe' that I hadn't heard of because these girls were anything but.

As the match itself, it was about as good as it could be given the overall distraction of this whole event basically being one big gimmick.

Towards the start, Eric Bischoff noted on commentary just how successful the end had proven to be, and how they didn't have to give away tickets for free just to get people to come, a clear dig at the WWF Royal Rumble 1997 held the previous week which was famous for being heavily papered.

Whilst that was funny, the rest of the pro-nWo stuff quickly stopped being entertaining, and took away from what was otherwise a good opening match.

In the end, Chris Jericho got pushed off the top through a table on the outside, then kicked in the head and pinned by Masahiro Chono to make it nWo 1 - 0 WCW tonight.
Your Winner: Masahiro Chono



I should also point out that half way through that match, a bunch of WCW stars including Harlem Heat and Sister Sherri, Brian Knobs, The Faces of Fear, Arn Anderson, Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, and Debra McMichael all made their way out and took seats at ringside.

Crowning Miss nWo

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Jeff Katz interviews a Miss nWo Contestant
Up next, Eric Bischoff showed us photographs of some of the many women who had applied to be part of the Miss nWo contest. All the while, the crowd chanted 'boring, boring.'

They were right. It was.

Finally, Bischoff sent us to Jeff Katz, who asked two of the contestants a question each, both questions laden with sexual innuendo.

The women clearly hadn't bee told what to say, so they simply blushed and barely said anything at all.

Mexican Death Match Hugh Morrus (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Big Bubba

Though slow and sloppy in parts, this one did have its moments, and certainly wasn't the worst match ever.

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Big Bubba faced Hugh Morrus in a Mexican Death Match
That, however, is about the best I can say about it.

In the end, Big Bubba ran Hugh Morrus over with a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Seriously.

Morrus couldn't get to his feet before the count of ten, so this one was over.
Your Winner: Big Bubba 

Prior to the next match, Jeff Katz spoke to some more housewives on motorbikes.

Eric and Ted then told us about the nWo website, and with that, it was back to the ring.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Michael Wallstreet 

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Debra McMichael watched Jeff Jarrett from the crowd
This was a mostly boring match that was only made interesting by Debra McMichael spending most of it trying to convince hubby Mongo to help out Jeff Jarrett.

Eventually, he did, drilling Michael Wallstreet with his briefcase then threatening to beat up Nick Patrick if he didn't make the pin.

As such, Jarrett got the win to put the scores at nWo 2 - 1 WCW.
Your Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Afterwards, Debra declared Jarrett the winner whilst Arn Anderson looked on disapprovingly.

More Miss nWo nonsense followed, and then it was on to our next match.

Buff Bagwell vs. Scotty Riggs 

As parts of the whole anti-WCW gimmick, the good guys didn't have music, which of course denied us the chance to hear one of the greatest themes of all time:


That, however, was the least of anyone's problems with this match.

Though it did have its moments, the bout between the two tag team partners went about twice as long as it needed to.

To make matters worse,  the majority of this one was shot using a shaky, poor-quality camera that the production crew had been cutting to intermittently throughout the show.

Ted Dibiase tried to pass this off as some new, cutting edge filming technique, but honestly, it just looked dreadful.

In the end, Buff Bagwell debuted his new finisher, The Buff Blockbuster, hit Scotty Riggs with it, and scored the pin fall.
Your Winner: Buff Bagwell

Between that and the next match, the Miss nWo segments continued to get worse.

Not only could none of the women actually hear Jeff Katz, but it became very apparent that, even if they could, they'd never be able to respond to his suggestive questioning with anything like the kind of answers he was looking for due to this being a PG show and all.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Scott 'Flash' Norton

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Diamond Dallas Page faced Scott 'Flash' Norton
Having courted Diamond Dallas Page for months, the New World Order finally offered him membership on a recent episode of Nitro.

Page had faked joining, only to turn his back on the renegade outfit and cement the babyface turn that would catapult him to stardom.

Tonight, the nWo had sent Scott 'Flash' Norton out to get revenge in this rather nondescript little match.

Like much on this card, it wasn't exactly terrible, just not very interesting, either.

Towards the finish, DDP hit the Diamond Cutter, which prompted Buff Bagwell, flanked by Vincent, Michael Wallstreet, and Big Bubba, to come out and offer Page a second chance to join them.

In an exact repeat of the first time this happened on Nitro, Page faked joining and even put on an nWo t-shirt, but then hit Norton with another Diamond Cutter, beat up the nWo B-team, and ran off into the crowd.

Nick Patrick -who really deserved MVP of the night status- told us that he was awarded the match to Norton via count-out, and this one was done.
Your Winner Via Count Out: Scott Norton

Post match, an irate Buff yelled that Page would never get another chance to join them.

More Jeff Katz nonsense followed before we moved quickly onto our next match.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner)

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - The Outsiders defended the tag titles against The Steiner Brothers
Finally, we got ourselves a pretty enjoyable match.

OK, this wasn't exactly a masterpiece of technical wrestling, but both members of The Steiner Brothers and Scott Hall all showed up with their working boots on, whilst you have to  give at least a smidgen of credit to Kevin Nash who, despite being the weak link here, at least did an impressive job of selling some heavy Steiner suplexes.

Save for an extended period in the middle of the match that saw Rick Steiner playing the babyface-in-peril which bored the hell out of everybody in the arena (and yours truly), this was mostly fun to watch.

The end came when Nick Patrick took a tumble, Scott Steiner got the better of Scott Hall, and WCW official Randy Anderson ran from his seat into the crowd to count the pinfall.
Your Winners and New WCW Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers

Afterwards, Eric Bischoff ranted about what a great injustice this was and how he was going to get it cleared up with the WCW Championship Committee. Bischoff would indeed reverse the decision on Nitro, but for now it was certainly a great moment on an otherwise tedious show.

Ladder Match for the WCW United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Syxx

The story here was that Eddie Guerrero had won the vacant US title in a tournament final back at Starrcade 96, only for Syxx to come down, steal the belt, and declare himself the champion.

So, after the anonymous ring announcer introduced the actual champion as 'The Mexican Jumping Bean Eddie Guerrero' (gotta love some casual racism, right guys?) he then announced Syxx as 'The United States Champion of The World,' which was obviously dumb.


That aside, this was, not too surprisingly, the best match on the show so far by a million miles, and also one of the best of Sean Waltman's entire career.

A series of jaw-dropping aerial moves combined with some punishing ladder spots made this a joy to watch.

In the end, both men tussled for the title atop the ladder before Eddie hit Syxx square in the face with it, then kept the belt to win the match.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Eddie Guerrero

Afterwards, Eddie celebrated like he'd just won the belt for the first time, then headed into the crowd to share the glory with Brian Knobs, Arn Anderson, and The Faces of Fear.

Miss nWo Pageant

WCW NWO Souled Out 1997 Review - Miss Lorie was a Miss nWo finalist
I always try to err on the side of optimism with these reviews, but even I don't have anything good to say about this.

It was just dumb.

None of the women really looked like they had a clue why they were there, and mostly just gurned awkwardly for the camera whilst Eric Bischoff took half a millennia to tell us that the least attractive woman there had won it. Bischoff then proceeded to snog the face off the woman in a move that was just too odd for words.

The woman then took her 'throne,' which was quite literally a toilet painted black and decorated with nWo logos.

Moving swiftly on

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant

Back at World War 3 1996, The Giant won a title shot against Hollywood Hulk Hogan.

This caused tension and meant that The Giant became the first person to leave the nWo after just a short period with the group.


Tonight was that shot and, for all intents and purposes, it was your typical Hulk Hogan main event - not the worst thing ever, but hardly enthralling stuff either.

After a few minutes of mediocre action, The Giant chokeslammed Hogan. Nick Patrick refused to count the pin, so The Giant chokeslammed him too.

This brought out Buff Bagwell and a bunch of nWo members, all of whom got more chokeslams.

Hulk Hogan then attacked his rival with a guitar, and this one was apparently over.
No Contest

Afterwards, the nWo spray painted their logo on The Giant's ass then randomly yelled stuff at the camera until the show went off the air.







And so the nWo Pay per View experiment came to an end. After everything I've said so far, you'd probably expect me to recommend avoiding this one, but that's not the case. 

Despite everything, NWO Souled Out 1997 is worth watching at least once, just for the novelty value, just don't expect to be entertained by much of what goes on in the ring. 

Indeed, the premise was solid here, but the execution was, sadly, piss poor. 

That being said, credit does have to be given to one Nick Patrick, who not only referred every single match on the card but did so with a charisma and enthusiasm that was unmatched, even among WCW's more animated referees. 



1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF Royal Rumble 1997
Next time, we'll go back to the WWF for In Your House: Final Four, before returning to WCW with Superbrawl VII. To keep up with all the latest reviews at Retro Pro Wrestling, like the Facebook page or follow along on Twitter @Retropwrestling

Thursday, 26 October 2017

PPV REVIEW: TNA Hard Justice 2009

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review
Sunday, August 16th, 2009
Orlando, Florida

With the Main Event Mafia’s stranglehold on the company still as strong as ever, Eric Young’s World Elite faction adding further dissension amongst the roster and The Blueprint Matt Morgan heading to the main event, the stars of TNA look to settle scores and end wars as Hard Justice comes live from the Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida.

(NOTE: This review was originally written at the time that TNA: Hard Justice originally aired in August, 2009. I found a bunch of my old TNA reviews in my archives recently and wanted to share them on RPW, so here we are.) 







Here’s how this one went down:


X-Division #1 Contender's Steel Asylum Match: Suicide vs. Chris Sabin vs. Amazing Red vs. Alex Shelley vs. Jay Lethal vs. Daniels vs. Consequences Creed vs. Dinero

The good thing about these multi-man X-Division matches is that you always know more or less what to expect; a bunch of crazy spots strung together some exciting aerial action all set to the usual soundtrack of ‘This is Awesome!’ chants.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that; there are very few better ways to get a crowd pumped up and ready for the show by throwing together your most innovative-yet-underutilized wrestlers into a thrilling spotfest.

And that’s exactly what this is; a fun and exciting spotfest which comes to a close when Daniels escapes the confines of the cage to win the contest.

Oh, and for those of you paying attention at home, Dinero is none other than former WWE could-have-been, Elijah Burke.
Your Winner: Daniels

In the post-match, Daniels gives a strong performance on the microphone as he makes his intentions clear; he’s coming after that X belt.

Cameras then head backstage, where Matt Morgan vows to capture the TNA World Heavyweight Title in his triple threat match against Sting and reigning champion Kurt Angle.


Bounty Match: Jethro Holiday vs. Abyss

JethroRemember when I used to be called Trevor Murdoch in WWEHoliday looks to claim the big reward offered by Dr. Stevie for the total annihilation of The Monster Abyss in a mediocre match.

Not surprisingly, he fails.

After several minutes of average action which really struggles to really crank it up a gear, Abyss lands the Black Hole Slam for the one, two and three.
Your Winner: Abyss

After the match, Holiday receives a telling off from Dr. Stevie, and responds in kind by decking him.

Battle for the Feast or Fired Brief Case: Rob Terry vs. Hernandez

Britain’s own Rob Terry puts the Feast or Fired briefcase containing a World Heavyweight Title shot on the line against crowd favourite Hernandez in a short and sweet squash match.

Prior to the opening bell, Hernandez takes to the mic to remind everyone of his Latin American heritage. Then, he takes out Brutus Magnus and Doug Williams and pins Big Rob in about two seconds.
Your Winner: Hernandez

Backstage, Lauren interviews Beer Money Inc. James Storm and Bobby Roode promise to halt the British Invasion.

IWGP Tag Team Championship Match: Beer Money Inc. vs. British Invasion (champions)

It’s always a pleasure to watch Robert Roode and James Storm compete, and tonight is no different as they challenge the team of Brutus Magnus and Doug Williams for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s version of the tag team titles.

With World Elite leader, Eric Young, on commentary and a brilliant chant from the crowd aimed at the Brits (which sadly can’t be printed!), the four men enter into a spirited performance before Young assists his stablemates in picking up the win.
Your Winners and Still IWGP Tag Team Champions: British Invasion

Feeling somewhat annoyed by all this, Beer Money beat everyone up in the post-match.

Backstage, Cody Deaner and ODB hype the next contest with a forgettable turn on the microphone.


TNA Knockouts Championship: ODB w/ Cody Deaner vs. Angelina Love (champion) w/ Velvet Sky & Madison Rayne

There probably isn’t a wrestling fan in the world who doesn’t enjoy watching the TNA Knockouts going at it in the six-sided ring.

Since the formation of the division, the likes of ODB, Awesome Kong and, of course, The Beautiful People have proven to be a breath of fresh air when it comes to women’s wrestling in the states; providing a viable alternative to the ‘smart, sexy and powerful’ (similarly, there probably isn’t a wrestling fan in the world who thinks that is a good strap-line) Divas of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Yet your writer is fairly confident that people would like them even more if they were just allowed to go at it in straight, no-nonsense wrestling matches without any complications or confusions.

As it is, this match is full of both, and it really detracts from an otherwise enjoyable spot of wrestling.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been paying much attention to Impact lately and have lost some of the story along the way, but it never seems to be made clear whether this is actually supposed to be a tag match, or whether it just happens to descend into one by way default.

Either way, some bodged interference from Madison Rayne allows Cody Deaner to get the roll up on Velvet Sky and we have a new Knockouts champion. Is it Deaner? Is it ODB? I honestly couldn’t tell you.
Your Winner and New TNA Knockouts Champion: Either Cody Deaner or ODB

Afterwards, the Beautiful People argue about who’s to blame for the loss. Love and Sky apparently decide it’s all Rayne’s fault.

X-Division Championship Match: Samoa Joe vs. Homicide (champion) 

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review: Samoe Joe vs. Homicide - X Division Title
These two have had some tremendous battles back in their Ring of Honor days, and not surprisingly they put on one of the best matches of the card thus far.

That’s not to say this a classic by any means, but it’s certainly an engrossing contest in which the smaller champion does his best to avoid being destroyed by his much larger challenger.

He doesn’t succeed, however, and Samoa Joe leaves the Impact Zone as your new TNA X-Division Champion.
Your Winner and New X-Division Champion: Samoa Joe.

Backstage, Kurt Angle invites himself into Matt Morgan’s dressing room. The Blueprint is less than thrilled about this, though when Angle promises him a spot in the Main Event Mafia on the provision that one of the two of them leaves with the strap, he seems happy enough.

TNA Tag Team Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match: Team 3D vs. Scott Steiner & Booker T

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review: Team 3D vs. Booker T & Scott Steiner - TNA Tag Titles
On paper, this match has everything you could ask for; four of the most celebrated tag team wrestlers going at it in a wild, arena-wild brawl for the gold.

In practice, however, it sadly fails to live up to expectations.

Sure, things start off strong, and it looks to be an exciting contest, but it just seems as though they were given too much time to kill and, as such, it’s very easy to lose interest about halfway through.

Things pick up towards the finish though, and following a double-pin, a look the video footage gives the nod to the Main Event Mafia boys.
Your Winners and Still TNA Tag Team Champions: Scott Steiner and Booker T. 

Backstage, TNA Legends Champion, Mick Foley, runs down the differences between himself and challenger, Kevin Nash.

TNA Legends Championship: Kevin Nash vs. Mick Foley (champion)

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review: Kevin Nash vs. Mick Foley -TNA Legends Title
Given the advancing years of a champion and challenger who are both more or less past their prime, it’s surprising that this hard-hitting contest is much better than expected.

In a brutal bout with blood, barbed wire and chair-bashing galore, the two veterans battle back and forth before interference from Main Event Mafia girl, Traci Brooks helps Kevin Nash regain the gold.
Your Winner and New TNA Legends Champion: Kevin Nash 

In the post-match, the new champion continues his assault on Foley until, in a bizarre twist, Abyss runs out for the save.

Afterwards, in the back, Lauren interviews Sting, who hypes tonight’s main event.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat Match: Matt Morgan vs. Sting vs. Kurt Angle

TNA Hard Justice 2009 Review: Sting vs. Kurt Angle vs. Matt Morgan -TNA World Title
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the main event of the evening as young up-and-comer, Matt Morgan tries to overthrow the two veterans en route to being crowned new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

Yet after battling his way through a good, but not great, match and working hard to prove that he deserves to be on the same level as Angle and Sting, The Blueprint, unfortunately, comes a cropper on the wrong side of a Kurt Angle chair shot and takes the pin from the Olympic Gold Medallist.
Your Winner and Still TNA World Heavyweight Champion:  Kurt Angle







Despite all the criticisms levelled at TNA’s product, you have to give the group credit for knowing how to present a pay per view. 

A stacked card with a solid match-promo-match structure helps TNA’s PPV offerings to come across as big events which are above and beyond merely an extended edition of their Impact TV show. 

Yet all the wonderful presentation in the world can’t distract from the fairly lacklustre action.

None of the matches on tonight’s show were particularly bad, and even the confuddling Knockouts Championship match was saved by the fact that, well, it’s the Knockouts (seriously, devote the first hour of Impact to the Beautiful People playing chess, and your reporter would be just as happy), but almost all of them seemed to be lacking that certain special something you’d expect from a pay per view event. 

Which is a shame, because TNA really are not quite as bad as everyone makes out. Then again, they could be so much better. 

I'm slowly working my way through re-publishing all of my old TNA reviews from 2008 - 2009. For now, you can also read:
For more TNA, WCW, and WWE/WWF reviews follow Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter or hit 'like' on the brand new Facebook page.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1997

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Event poster
January 19, 1997
Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas

By the time 1997 rolled around, the World Wrestling Federation found itself at the receiving end of a creative and financial ass-whooping from nearest rivals, World Championship Wrestling. 

Over the course of the new year, McMahon's sports entertainment empire would begin planning for their triumphant comeback by shifting closer and closer towards an edgier, PG14 product that we would all come to know as the infamous Attitude Era.

Yet at the 1997 Royal Rumble, all of that still seemed very, very far away.

A far cry from the adult-orientated programming we'd be watching by the end of the year, our first big event of 1997 found itself in an awkward and uncomfortable position between the family-friendly New Generation of old and the X-Rated Attitude Era that was to come.






Did that make for a good show?

Let's head down to the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas to find out.

Shawn Michaels is a Man  

Tonight's show began with an opening video in which a deep, foreboding voice told us that whilst Shawn Michaels was once a cocky, abrasive youth looking to realize his boyhood dream, he was coming back to San Antonio tonight as a fully grown man, ready to reclaim his title.

That led us to the opening pyro, and a presentation which honestly looked better than many WWF pay per views had in the past.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and Jerry 'The King' Lawler did commentary
Vince McMahon was our lead announcer tonight, introducing us first to his co-commentators Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, and then to our Spanish and French announce teams, the latter of which was made up of the father and son duo of Raymond Rougeau and Jacques Rougeau Sr.

For some reason, all the announce tables had little flags to show which country they were representing. It was a small thing, but it did make a nice touch.

With all that out of the way, it was on to our opening contest.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Mr. Hughes) vs. Goldust (w/ Marlena) 

Prior to this one starting, Todd Pettengill voiced a video package which told the story how this match came about.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Hunter Hearst Helmsley defended the WWF Intercontinental title against Goldust
Basically, we had Jerry Lawler being homophobic and outright asking Goldust if he was 'queer' (because being gay was still weird in the 90s you see), Goldust said no, and clocked Lawler, which made him a babyface.

Meanwhile, Hunter Hearst Helmsley decided that he wanted Marlena. When she turned him down, he just tried to kidnap her instead.

Seriously.

This all led to tonight's opening match, complete Mr. Hughes in the short-lived role as Hunter's pre-Chyna bodyguard.

The bout itself was mostly long and dull, as though both men had been given a lot of time to kill but neither wanted to use much energy so that they could still compete in the Royal Rumble match later.

After what felt like an eternity, Hughes distracted Goldust so that Helmsley could knock him down, drill him with the Pedigree, and win the match.

Honestly, the only good thing about this whole thing was that you could see Marlena's nipples pressing through her top. I'm sorry. I'm a pervert.
Your Winner and Still WWE Intercontinental Champion: Hunter Hearst Helmsley 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Bret Hart vowed to win this year's Royal Rumble match
Before our next match, we got pre-recorded comments from Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, and Mankind.

The former promised to win the Royal Rumble, whilst the latter claimed to be interested only in beating up a lot of people in the big match.

Farooq (w/ Clarence Mason, and The Nation of Domination) vs. Ahmed Johnson 

This was a fun, big man brawl that entertained without doing anything spectacular.

After some decent back-and-forth action, The Nation of Domination ran in to stop Farooq from getting his ass kicked, causing him to get DQ'd instead.
Your Winner via DQ: Ahmed Johnson 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Farooq and Ahmed Johnson continued their rivalry
Post match, Ahmed chased off members of The Nation and Pearl River Plunged one unknown random member off the ring steps and through the French announce table. To be fair, that was pretty awesome.

Terry Funk is From Texas 

In another pre-recorded clip, Terry Funk said that even though there were bigger wrestlers, stronger wrestlers,  faster and younger wrestlers than himself, he was from Texas.

I think he meant that he was going to win the Royal Rumble, but this was never really explained.

Farooq is Angry 

Backstage, Farooq yelled at The Nation and promised to beat up Ahmed Johnson in the Royal Rumble match later, because Uncle Tom, or something.

I don't know, this was garbage.

Vader vs. The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - The Undertaker faced Vader
These two would have a much better match later on in the year when Vader challenged The Undertaker for the WWF title at Canadian Stampede.

If you really want to see these two go at it, that's the one to watch because this one wasn't very good at all.

Like the opening contest, it was mostly long and dull, only getting exciting when Paul Bearer showed up.

That was the cue for the action to spill to the outside, where Bearer leaped off the apron and nailed The Undertaker with the urn. Vader then dragged his foe into the ring, hit him with the Vader Bomb, and pinned him.

Thus we had the start of Paul Bearer managing Vader, a move that would also see The Mastodon in a Tag Team with Mankind.
Your Winner: Vader 

Afterwards, The Undertaker was pissed off at his loss, so he chokeslammed the referee, destroyed a bunch of furniture at ringside, then yelled at Vince McMahon.

Steve Austin is Taking Out The Trash 

Backstage, Steve Austin told the cameramen off for being where they didn't belong and said that he was going to toss '29 pieces of trash' over the top rope tonight.

The British Bulldog is Bizarre

God bless Davey Boy Smith. This still cracks me up even today.


H├ęctor Garza, Perro Aguayo, and Canek vs. Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal, and Fuerza Guerrera

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - AAA's luchadores competed in a 3 vs. 3 match
'Only in the World Wrestling Federation can you see a spectacle like this,' said Vince McMahon, despite taking the idea to book a bunch of AAA's luchadors directly from WCW.

Unfortunately, McMahon didn't seem to give a damn about this one, and neither did the San Antonio crowd.

Despite all six men trying to engage the fans, everything they did was met with silence, something which really took a shine off the whole thing.

After several minutes of spots that lacked any rhyme, reason, or purpose, Perro Aguyo hit Heavy Metal with a double stomp off the top rope to win the match for his team.
Your Winners: Perro Aguyo, Canek, Hector Garza

Finally, after Vince shilled next month's In Your House PPV and Howard Finkle told us that the attendance was 60,477, it was time for tonight's Rumble match.

1997 Royal Rumble Match 30 Man Battle Royal Featuring: Crush, Ahmed Johnson, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin, British Bulldog, Owen Hart, The Sultan, Terry Funk, and more 

Defying the odds, Nation of Domination member Crush and The Nation's arch-rival, Ahmed Johnson drew numbers 1 and 2 respectively.

The two kicked things off with a wild brawl, which was only briefly interrupted by the arrival of Fake Razor Ramon at number 3. Ahmed quickly eliminated The Bad Guy, then eliminated himself by jumping over the top rope and chasing after Farooq, who had just appeared in the entrance.


Crush stood there shaking his head as though saying 'lol, what a dickhead,' before Phineas I. Godwin came down to kick things off again.

Steve Austin entered at number five, and it was here where things started to get interesting. Phineas eliminated Crush, Austin eliminated Phineas, and then it was time for Bart Gunn to come in, get his ass kicked, and get thrown out again.

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts suffered the same fate, and it wasn't until the arrival of The British Bulldog that we started to get your typical rumble match.

Other highlights from the 1997 Royal Rumble included:
  • Owen Hart 'accidentally' eliminating The British Bulldog
  • Mill Mascaras stupidly eliminating himself by diving off the top rope onto the outside to attack Pierroth and Cybernetico
  • Ahmed Johnson chasing off Farooq with a 2x4 that was so big it would make Hacksaw Jim Duggan jealous.

After a while, Austin found himself as once again the only man in the ring and quickly disposed of Savio Vega and Jesse James (Road Dogg) before coming face to face with Bret Hart.


It was only at this point that the Rumble match began to pick up steam, with the likes of Vader, The Undertaker, Mankind, Rocky Maivia, Terry Funk, and Fake Diesel also getting involved.

Towards the finish, Funk and Mankind had both been eliminated and were brawling on the outside. This distracted the attention of all the referees so that they didn't see Bret eliminate Austin.


Stone Cold was then able to slip back in, eliminate everyone who was left, and win one of the most boring and uneventful Royal Rumble matches in history.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Afterwards, Bret Hart was so irate that he yelled at the referees and Vince McMahon, much as The Undertaker had done earlier.

Crunch Time

Prior to our main event, we were shown an awesome video package which showed us how Sid had beaten Shawn Michaels for the WWF title at Survivor Series 1996, and all the events that had led up to tonight's rematch.

That took us to a promo recorded on WWF  Superstars from earlier that day in which HBK said that he had the flu, but that when it came to the crunch, he would be ready to beat Sid and get his title back.

World Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Championship
WWF World Heavyweight Champion Sid vs. Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario)

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1997 - Shawn Michaels beat Sid for the WWF Championship
There's no fancy or elaborate way to explain say it - this match sucked.

The majority of the contest was simply big Sid wearing down the challenger before HBK made an exciting comeback towards the finish and captured his second WWF Championship for what would prove to be a very short-lived run indeed.

So yeah, not the greatest main event in the world, and certainly not the greatest start to 1997, but don't worry folks, things would eventually get much, much better.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels

Afterwards, the new champion celebrated his title victory with what seemed like the entire city of San Antonio, basking in the adoration of his hometown crowd until the show went off the air.







Overall then, that was a disappointing start to a brand new year of World Wrestling Federation Per Per Views. 

Many have lauded 1997 as a great year for pro wrestling, but what a lot of those fans seem to forget, is that all the really good stuff didn't come until at least the summer. At the Royal Rumble, all we got was a bunch of dull, disappointing, and completely underwhelming matches. 

Thank goodness that the year was going to get a hell of a lot better. 
Next time, it'll be the turn of World Championship Wrestling's nWo Souled Out experiment, before we return to the World Wrestling Federation for In Your House: Final 4. Don't miss any new Retro Pro Wrestling Review by following along on Twitter @Retropwrestling or liking the RPW Facebook page.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

PPV REVIEW: TNA Slammiversary 7 2009

TNA Slammiversary 7 - Event poster
June 21st, 2009
Detroit, Michigan

The good thing about TNA Wrestling’s seventh annual Slammiversary pay per view being shown three days later on Bravo TV is that, before making the commitment to watch it, your reporter got the chance to ask other people whether they thought it was actually worth watching. 

(NOTE: This is a review I originally wrote live at the time Slammiversary 7 took place back in 2009. I recently discovered a bunch of my old TNA reviews and wanted to add them to RPW, so here we are.) 

The bad thing about TNA Wrestling’s seventh annual Slammiversary being shown on Bravo TV at all is that, when those you ask tell you that it's a very good show, you're then committed to staying up past 1AM just to finish watching it and pull together a few comments.






And so it is that with weary eyes and a big jug of coffee, your favourite pro wrestling reviewer sits down to review all the action.

Here’s what went down:


King of the Mountain X-Division Title Match: Chris Sabin vs. Alex Shelley vs. Consequences Creed vs. Jay Lethal vs. Suicide (champion)

I’ve got to admit, the King of the Mountain match always confuses me a little, but for those even more confused than I am, here’s the gist:

King of the Mountain kind of works like a multi-man, reverse-ladder match in that rather than climbing up the ladder to try and retrieve the title and bring it back down, competitors take the title up the ladder and win the match by hanging it up. But there’s a further twist, in that in order to be ‘eligible’ to hang the title, you first have to gain a pinfall or submission, and whoever you pin or make submit has to spend time in a penalty box.

That any clearer? No, thought not. Don’t worry about the rules though, just sit down and watch this one in all it’s lightning quick, high flying glory. You want insane spots? You want Chris Sabin taking an epic leap off the penalty box into the middle of the aisle and nearly killing everybody?

You want action, excitement, a bit of drama and even a spot of comedy (Motor City Machine Guns and Lethal Consequences indulging in a group hug of sorts in the middle of the ring is damn funny!)? Well, you got all that, and a lot more.

Man, this is a fun match, but ultimately it has to come to an end and does so when Suicide hangs the belt to retain his title.
Your Winner: Suicide

In the back, Shane Douglas talks up his match against ‘Don’t Call me Christopher’ Daniels.

Daniels vs. Shane Douglas

The stipulation for this one is that if Douglas wins, he gets Daniels’ spot on the TNA roster. Or something.

Anyway, this is the one match on the card that really could be terrible but actually isn’t too bad. It’s a well-paced, old school affair and though it won’t be winning any match of the year (it won’t even come close to being the match of the night), it’s decent all the same.

Daniels picks up the win with Best Moonsault Ever.
Your Winner: Daniels

In the back, Jeremy Borash tells TNA World Champion, Mick Foley, that he doesn’t like his odds in the second King of the Mountain match tonight. Foley replies by singing ‘He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands’ (update in 2017 - I wonder if Bray Wyatt was watching), but replacing ‘Whole World’ with ‘World Title’.

Ahem. Yes. Anyway.

TNA Knockouts Championship Match: Tara vs. Angelina Love (champion)

For those of you new to TNA, you might recognise Tara.

Remember Victoria? ‘Retired’ from WWE?

Yeah, well now she’s in TNA looking fit and healthy and kicking bum. Your Knockouts Champion, Angelina Love, comes to the ring with Velvet Sky and that other woman in tow, and when your reporter stops drooling over the stunning women, it's on.

This is another decent match, not the best either woman has had separately, but still pretty decent and almost immediately it's clear to tell that Tara is much better suited to TNA’s women’s division.

Why? Because these girls actually wrestle, and wrestle well.

I’d hazard a guess that Tara will eventually win the title, but tonight’s not her night as Madison Rayne blinds the former Diva with some hairspray, allowing Angelina to pick up the win.
Your Winner and Still TNA Knockouts Champion: Angelina Love

In the back, Stevie Richards (or rather, Dr. Stevie), Raven, and Daffney are backstage with Lauren.

Raven does his best to creep out Lauren whilst Richards puts over the Monsters Ball match. Lauren runs off and the three weirdos have a group hug. It’s very weird, but then, that’s what they’re going for.

Inter-Gender Monsters’ Ball Match: Raven and Daffney vs. Abyss and Taylor Wilde.

Monsters Ball = Generic Hardcore Match.

And by God what a sick hardcore match this one is!

At times it’s a bit slow and stodgy, especially when Abyss and Raven take centre stage, but whilst both do manage to get some decent spots in, it’s the girls who really impress here.

Taylor is fearless, Daffney is a freaking lunatic, and between them, they steal this one.

A trip through the crowd by both boys and girls is especially fun, particularly when Taylor launches herself off the top of the set and crashes down on her rival. As is Daffney getting hurled out of the ring and squashing Raven and Richards.

But that’s not the best bit.

The best bit comes at the end, when, with the obligatory thumb-tacks spread all over the ring, Taylor Wilde spinebusters Daffney into the tacks with a sickening thud.

Now, there are some people who’ve criticised TNA for allowing a girl to be involved in such violence, but hey, Daffney’s a grown women, and all kudos to her for taking such a sick bump.

Oh, and as for the end? Raven goes for an Even Flow DDT, Abyss counters with a Black Hole Slam into the tacks, and this one is over.
Your Winners: Abyss and Taylor Wilde.

Holy moly, that was intense. Let’s calm things down a bit shall we?

Matt Morgan vs. Sting

If you didn’t know, every match in TNA has to have some sort of stipulation. For this one, if Matt Morgan wins, he’s in the Main Event Mafia.

After Morgan, Sting makes his way to the ring. He’s tremendously popular tonight, but that doesn’t stop him having a really boring match with Morgan.

It lasts all of ten minutes, if that, and apart from Sting hitting a missile dropkick, nothing even remotely interesting happens.

The Stinger hits the Scorpion Death Drop, and we’re done.
Your Winner: Sting 

After teasing all night that Team 3D may not show up (they were in Japan defending their IWGP tag titles just last night), it turns out Ray and Devon are here after all, and they’re set to defend their TNA belts against your writer’s favourite tag team following the demise of Miz & Morrison; Beer Money Incorporated.

TNA World Tag Team Title Match: Beer Money Incorporated vs. Team 3D (champions)

TNA Slammiversary 7 - Beer Money Inc vs. Team 3D

There’s a reason why Robert Roode and James Storm are my favourite tag team; they consistently put on good matches, even against a team like ‘3D, who despite being legends in their own right, are starting to slow down.

The match kicks off and as Don West and Mike Tenay spend the first couple of minutes arguing amongst themselves, they miss out on some really good opening action, including a sweet head scissors from Storm on Devon.

Things progress, and this really does feel like a ‘big time’ pay per view tag team title match. You can fault TNA for many things, but when it comes to running a tag team division, the company are a million miles better than World Wrestling Entertainment.

Part way through, The British Invasion come down to join West and Tenay (who sounds like such a whiny little girl these days) and are brilliant on commentary as Team 3D and Beer Money remain brilliant in the ring.

Not surprisingly, Magnus, Terry and Williams get involved in the finish of this one, causing the distraction to Devon, who gets rocked with the DWI and loses the match.
Your Winner and New Tag Team Champions: Beer Money Incorporated. 

It should be noted that earlier on in the show (I think it was just before the tag bout, but I’m growing tired now), there’s an interview backstage with AJ Styles and Samoa Joe.

After AJ’s done with his piece, Samoa Joe addresses Kurt Angle and says something along the lines of:

“Kurt, I have taken out the rest of the Main Event Mafia, tonight, it’s about you, tonight, we become the most powerful force in pro wrestling.”

Now, when he says “we” is he talking about himself and the man standing next to him, AJ Styles, or is he talking about himself and Kurt Angle?

Hmm, let’s find out shall we?

King of the Mountain World Heavyweight Championship Match: Aj Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Jarrett vs. Kurt Angle vs. Mick Foley

Leading into this match, everything in the world said it should fail.

Yes, Angle, Styles and even Jeff Jarrett can put on some good stuff, but nowhere near to the level of the X-Division guys in the opener.

Samoa Joe is what he is at this point, which is not bad but barely motivated, but Mick Foley?

Huge fan of the guy but he’s far too broken down to be taken seriously as a world champion and competitor at this stage of his game.

Still, this one actually transpired into a very good match complete with some wicked spots from Foley himself, who surprises the hell out of just about everybody by digging down deep and pulling out some Hell in the Cell ’98 style action.

But that’s not the biggest surprise, folks. Oh no, that comes at the end, when Samoa Joe reveals that the ‘we’ he referred to earlier really was Joe and Angle. The Nation of Violence resident climbs the ladder, hands Kurt Freakin’ Angle the title, and the match is over!
Your Winner and New TNA World Heavyweight Champion: Kurt Angle







Well, it seems that popular opinion was right, this was a very good show. 

The X-Division opener stole it from the get-go, the tag title match really had a ‘big time’ feel to it, and the main event surpassed any and all expectations. Add in Daffney’s insane bump on the tacks and a fair effort in the girls’ title match, and you’ve got a solid card. Sting/Morgan was easily the worst match of the night, followed by Daniels/Douglas, but TNA Slammiversary 2009 was a good show and one that you should certainly check out if you get the chance.



I'm slowly working my way through re-publishing all of my old TNA reviews from 2008 - 2009. For now, you can also read:

For more TNA, WCW, and WWE/WWF reviews follow Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter or hit 'like' on the brand new Facebook page.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

5 Times WWE Experimented With The Attitude Era Before It Started

As regular readers of Retro Pro Wrestling will know, we've just finished covering every WWF and WCW pay per view that took place in 1996. 


It's been a fun time.

We got to relive the formation of one of the most successful gimmicks of all time in the New World Order. We got to watch Shawn Michaels' first WWF championship run, a run which -though it may have bombed at the box office- certainly delivered plenty of quality main events throughout the year.

We also got to witness the very first examples of the World Wrestling Federation experimenting with the kind of programming that would form the nucleus of the much-missed Attitude Era.


Whilst the general consensus is that the Attitude Era as we know it today began in the latter half of 1997, 1996 saw many moments that would have fit right in with the edgier, more adult-orientated programming that the World Wrestling Federation would begin peddling in the wake of the infamous Montreal Screwjob.

Don't believe me?

Just check out this list of five times that the WWF experimented with the Attitude Era a whole year before it started.

1: Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel - Good Friends, Better Enemies

Even though he was gone for most of it, The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels probably deserves more credit than he gets for developing the foundations of the Attitude Era in it's formative years.

It wasn't just his -ahem- attitude throughout 1997, nor the foundation of D-Generation-X that earned HBK his PG14 badge, but also some of the high profile matches he had back in 1996.

It started with this one - a no disqualification championship match against former buddy Kevin 'Diesel' Nash at In Your House 7.



Sure, this match - Shawn's first as WWF Champion - may have been tame compared to the kind of all-out violent chaos we would get in the thick of the Attitude Era, but for early 1996, it was groundbreaking.

The two smashed through tables, used Mad Dog Vachon's prosthetic leg as a weapon, and introduced fans to the kind of no holds barred style that would be a staple of the Attitude Era's in-ring product.

2: Stone Cold's 'Austin 3:16' speech

Though tame by comparison to the kind of promos we'd get once the Attitude Era kicked off proper, the monologue that Steve Austin delivered following his 1996 King of the Ring victory was groundbreaking in its ferocity and close-to-the-bone style.


For newer fans, imagine CM Punk's 'Pipe Bomb' delivered back at a time when even the word 'ass' was too much to be broadcast on WWF TV.

It would take at least another year for Austin to go from popular mid-carder with a cool gimmick to all out superstar, and another year after that before he would become the trash-talking phenomenon we know so well today, but credit where it's due - Stone Cold was one of the first to drop an Attitude Era style promo in the World Wrestling Federation.


3: Mankind vs. The Undertaker - Boiler Room Brawl 

The whole of Foley vs. Taker throughout 1996 could be considered a precursor to the Attitude Era - they had wild, violent matches that really raised the game for everyone, but it was the Boiler Room Brawl back at Summerslam 1996 that was really the standout moment.


The only other time this writer remembers the action spilling backstage was the time Macho Man Randy Savage faced Crush in a Falls Count Anywhere match at Wrestlemania 10, but even that didn't come close to matching what we saw in the Boiler Room brawl - this one really set the tone for the kind of backstage brawls and hardcore matches that were a staple of the WWF's adult-focused product.

4: In Your House: Mind Games

Remember earlier when I said that some of Shawn Michaels' 1996 title defenses helped introduce the in-ring style that would become famous in the Attitude Era? Look no further than his landmark outing with Mankind for the perfect example of just that.


But it wasn't just the match itself that made Mind Games such a perfect example of the WWF experimenting with the Attitude Era before it started. 

Early in the show, we had an appearance from ECW mainstays Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, and Paul Heyman. Then there was the moment Steve Austin, Brian Pillman, and Owen Hart all got together in the ring to rag on Owen's brother Bret, in which the language went above the usual family-friendly fare that was used at this time.

In fact, I don't think I can sum this one up any better than I did in my original review, where I wrote:

 it has to be said that this one was memorable not for the matches, but for the shift in tone that was a little less subtle than the companies previous steps towards an edgier product.From the ECW invasion at the start of the show to the dramatic and violent main event, via Stone Cold Steve Austin's 'off-colour' comments and the occasional use of suggestive language, this was a milestone in the World Wrestling Federation's gradual transformation into the Attitude Era. 

5: JR's Heel Turn 

The heel turn itself sucked, but it did give us much more than the ill-fated Fake Diesel and Razor Ramon thingt also gave us a turning point in how Vince McMahon was perceived on TV.


Up until that point, Vinny Mac had been just an over-enthusiastic broadcaster famous for shouting "One, Two, he got him! No he didn't" and of course "What a maneuver!" but JR was the first person to go out on television and out McMahon as the owner of the World Wrestling Federation.

From there, everyone from Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin to The Undertaker would be seen on TV, confronting McMahon as the owner of the company whenever things didn't quite go their way.





That's all I've got, but I'm sure there are plenty more examples out there. If you can think of any, drop me a line and let me know. You can reach me either here via Retro Wrestling, on the new RPW Facebook page, or on Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

PPV REVIEW: TNA Destination-X 2009

TNA Destination X 2009
Sunday March 15th, 2009
Orlando, Florida.

This TNA review is from my archives. I'd found a bunch of old posts recently and decided to share them here on Retro Pro wrestling. 

By 2009, I had largely abandoned writing about TNA because their weekly Impact shows were becoming so infuriatingly awful.

Yet where the company did usually come into their own was on PPV. As such, I decided to give them one more shot with Destination-X.







Man, was that ever a mistake.

Here’s what happened.

Six Woman Tag Match: Madison Rayne, Angelina Love & Velvet Sky vs. Roxxi, Taylor Wilde and The Governor.

The girls go at it in your straightforward women’s match which doesn’t take too long to get started, nor to finish.

Before your writer has time to stop wondering if there could possibly be a worse name for a female wrestler than The Governor, Taylor Wilde has a bridging German suplex on Madison Rayne and ultimately gets the win.
Your Winners: Roxxi, Taylor Wilde & The Governor.

There may be a lot wrong with TNA’s Knockouts division right now but, thankfully, that match isn’t one of them.

There is, however, a lot wrong with this next unsanctioned match.

Brutus Magnus vs. Eric Young

Young answers and does his best to save a pretty sloppy match against that bloke off Gladiators.

Unfortunately for all of us, EY ain’t no miracle worker, and despite his best efforts, he still can’t help Magnus looking as though he’s completely lost out there.

In the end, Bruti hits Tormentum (which is still the worst-looking finisher in all of pro wrestling in this writer’s opinion!) for the three count.
Your Winner: Brutus Magnus

As we set up for the upcoming Match of 10,000 tags, Sheik Abdul Bashir comes out to provide a bit of a distraction.

To wrap up a segment which achieves absolute zilch, Jim Cornette appears, tells Bashir that nobody likes him and we’re done.

Match of 10,000 Tacks: ‘The Monster’ Abyss vs. ‘The Blueprint’ Matt Morgan

Despite the terrible moniker, this could have been a very good, brutal and bloody brawl. Instead, it was a standard big-man bout with the added ‘on a pole’ stipulation and some drawing pins.

Not surprisingly, Abyss absorbs the inevitable tack-bump and thus loses the bout.
Your Winner: ‘The Blueprint’ Matt Morgan

As a fan, no matter how much you defend pro wrestling, you’ll always have moments when pro wrestling will repay you by providing something so bad that you’re embarrassed to sit and watch it. And if you haven’t had one yet, you sure will if you watch this next segment.


One night With ODB Finals

It’s hard to explain this one properly without an abundance of cursing, but let’s try. Basically, ODB has been holding a contest in which one lucky-fan gets to spend the night with her.

The three finalists are TNA wrestler, Shark Boy (and yes, watching somebody called Shark Boy is usually embarrassing enough!), some old bloke and Cody Deaner, who’s actually signed a contract with TNA, so you know who’s won this one.

Jeremy Borash hams it up as a host of a ‘Blind Date’ like segment. In the end, the whole thing is decided by the most cringe-worthy dance contest ever. Deaner wins. End of.

And yeah, that was bad, but things don’t get any better just yet.

TNA Knockouts Championship Match: Awesome Kong (champion) vs. Sojourner Bolt.

This is a disaster. OK, there have been worse matches, but it’s still pretty bad. Sojo comes across like she hasn’t a clue what she’s supposed to be doing when going on the offence, and even Kong isn’t all that on form.

Kong kills Sojo. Kong wins.
Your Winner and Still TNA Knockouts Champion: Awesome Kong. 

Hopefully, the in-ring return of Samoa Joe can pick things up a bit next.

Samoa Joe vs. Scott Steiner

TNA Destination X 2009: Samoa Joe faced Scott Steiner
Nope, it can’t.

Good Lord, Joe looks like some fat extra from a cruddy straight-to-DVD film about cannibals.

 It’s a far cry from the days when Joe was going to Kill you. Though, to be fair, in his new ‘look at me, I’m crazy violent’ gimmick, he is actually more likely to, you know, literally kill you.

For all intents and purposes, Scott Steiner is pretty much an after-thought in this match. He gets busted open in the early going then cracked with a lead pipe to win via disqualification.
Your Winner by disqualification: Scott Steiner.

In the post-match, Samoa Joe beats on Scott Steiner some more as they go into the crowd to finish a pretty naff match.

Then, after a quick promo from ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles, it’s on with his match.

TNA Legends Championship: Booker T (champion) vs. AJ Styles

TNA Destination X 2009: AJ Styles faced Booker T for the Legends Title
Hurrah! Finally, we get a quality match! Booker T stops being a lazy so-and-so and actually puts some effort in here, though it’s still AJ Styles who really makes this one stand out.

After all the pap on this card, Styles and Booker deliver the goods, and this one wraps up with a great finish culminating in AJ hitting the Styles Clash for the pin.
Your Winner and new TNA Legends Champion: AJ Styles

Before we get to the next match, we get the most ridiculous thing ever.

Backstage, Samoa Joe has gone banana. He’s got his big knife, and it’s got Scott Steiner’s blood on it. Next, he says, he’s going to go slice and dice the rest of the Main Event Mafia.

There’s so many things wrong with this that it would take an age to talk about, so let’s just shake our heads in disapproval and move on, shall we?

TNA Tag Team Title Off The Wagon Challenge Match: Beer Money Inc. (champions) vs. Team 3D

This could be a very good match were it not for the silly ‘Off the Wagon’ stipulation (which essentially means that should the challengers lose cleanly, they’re out of a job) and pointless, over-complicated booking.

All four men do what they do and do it well. The cowardly James Storm gets his team disqualified but Jim Cornette re-starts it, only for Beer Money Inc. to then get counted out.

Why bother?
Your Winners by Count-Out: Team 3D (Beer Money retain the titles)

If you were thinking of tuning out and this point and doing something productive instead, nobody could blame you.

That said, you would be missing out on one cracking match that comes next.

TNA X-Division Ultimate X Match: Alex Shelley (champion) vs. Chris Sabin vs. Suicide vs. Jay Lethal vs. Consequences Creed

Now, this is what it’s all about! This is by far the best match of the night; a supreme spot-fest of the finest calibre.

It matches like these for which the chant That was Awesome! was coined.

If you want to see a match steeped in storytelling and that all-important ring psychology, there are better matches out there for you, but if you want to see a bunch of talented chaps doing some pretty cool stuff, check this one out.

This isn’t the best X-Division match ever, and there’s certainly room for improvement, but after such a shoddy show so far, it’s a much welcome relief.

In the end, Suicide performs a mad leap off the scaffold, grabs the X belt and is your new champ’.
Your Winner and New X-Division Champion: Suicide

That match was a lot of fun. Shame it resulted in a guy who looks like a wanker bagging the X strap.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Sting (champion) vs. Kurt Angle

TNA Destination X 2009: Kurt Angle faced Sting for the TNA Title
This being TNA, we, of course, can’t have a straightforward singles match. Instead, we’ve got Jeff Jarrett as your Special Guest Referee and Mick Foley assuming his usual Special Guest Enforcer role (which means he’ll basically hang around until the ref’ gets taken out then make the final three count).

All the same, this transpires into a decent, if not superb, match with the usual shenanigans in the finish leading to Sting retaining.
Your Winner and Still TNA World Heavyweight Champion: Sting






No! No! No! Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling’s 2009 Destination X pay per view was bad. It was wrong, it was rubbish and, if I dare say it, it was crap.

The bulk of the undercard was littered with subpar performances made all the more unwatchable thanks to illogical booking and nonsensical gimmicks. When you’ve got a guy running around with a knife and expect people to cheer for him, you know you’ve got problems.

And trust me, TNA have got a lot of problems.


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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.