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

Thursday, 20 June 2019

WCW Slam Jam Vol. 1 (1992) - A Track By Track Review

WCW - Slam Jam Vol. 1 - Album Review - Album cover

In 1992, WCW and the WWF both realised that the words "Slam" and "Jam" rhyme, and rushed into their nearest music studio to take advantage of this fact.

The result was that the World Wrestling Federation gave us a catchy little single called Slam Jam which would be released later that year before featuring on the poptastic curiosity that was 1993's Wrestlemania: The Album.

Not to be outdone, World Championship Wrestling decided to go one bigger and lend the Slam Jam name to an entire album of theme music for their biggest stars, some of whom would continue using those themes for years afterwards.

While WCW's Slam Jam: Volume 1 album may not quite be as well known as Wrestlemania: The Album, I'd like to assure you that it is at least every bit as cheesy and is exactly what you'd expect from a pro wrestling album released in the early 1990s.

But don't just take my word for it.

Today, for your listening pleasure, we'll dive into a track-by-track review of this oft-forgotten album, containing gems such as Mr. Bang Bang and a song about how much Ricky Steamboat loves his family.

Slam Jam - The Game-Changing Music of Jimmy Papa

All eleven songs on this album were produced and arranged by a guy called Jimmy Papa, a man of whom little is known outside of his work with WCW and Michael P.S Hayes.

Papa is credited as a writer on all but one of the songs featured here and also played a key role in creating The Fabulous Freebirds' famous track Bad Street USA.

Back in 2013, Papa took WWE to court in a dispute as to the ownership of both Bad Street and the songs featured here on this album. Yet while that may be what the man is best known for, we here at Retro Pro Wrestling would like to argue the case for Mr. Papa being recognised for being way ahead of his time, at least in terms of pro wrestling theme music.

These days, almost all wrestlers' original entrance themes are "proper songs" that combine music with lyrics, yet back in the early 1990s, this simply wasn't the case. Most themes were instrumental tracks that somehow represented the wrestlers' character.

With Slam Jam, Papa basically ignored the norm and did his own thing, creating an album of eleven original songs with lyrics and vocals which were very different from what was around back in the day and which - though they may sound dated today- are still pretty catchy.

Very little may be known about Jimmy Papa, but at least you can say this - the dude was ahead of his time.

With all that out of the way, let's get into the music itself.

1: Ron Simmons - Don't Step to Ron 

"When I'm in the ring I'm a wrestling nightmare // Straight from Georgia // And if you don't think I'm hard // Ya oughta // Put on your trunks // Let's go to war // Straight up knuckle, Imma slam your hea against the turnbuckle."

Straight from Georgia, Slam Jam 1 gets underway with a catchy little number that tells us how much of a badass Ron Simmons is.

Combining catchy guitar hooks with hip hop vocals, the track sounds pretty much like how a lot of credible hip hop sounded at the time, and is actually pretty enjoyable.

The lyrics sound like the sort of thing Jim Ross might come up with if he decided to ditch BBQ sauce for beats and rhymes, focussing mostly on Simmons' football career and how that made him a dominant force inside the ring.

Though a little bland compared to some of the tracks on here, Don't Step to Ron is at least a credible song which, unlike others on this album, is by no means embarrassing to listen to.

2: Sting - Man Called Sting

"He does this, he does that // He big as bull and quick as a cat // He looks fine, he looks cool // He's own man and he's nobody's fool"

WCW got some good mileage out of this track. Sting was still using this track throughout 1996 and only stopped using it after he disappeared into the rafters to become Crow Sting.

On the one hand, you can understand why WCW played this one every time their franchise player made his way to the ring. With its scorching riff, driving beat and scintillating solo, this upbeat rock song perfectly encapsulates the kind of vibrant energy The Stinger was known for.

So far, so good, but did you ever stop and listen to the lyrics of this one? I mean, really listen to them.

I mean, the song  starts off by telling us that "he does this, he does that." 

I don't know about you, but I'm always intimidated by a guy who does such vague and unspecified things as "this and that"

Other lyrics highlights here include:

"Alll the kids, they go wild // And all the old people start to act like a child"

And my personal favourite:

"He's not like, anybody else // If his friends ever need him, he's there to help"

Because, you know, Sting is literally the only person in the world who helps out his friends.

All in all, this makes for very conflicting listening. The riff is actually pretty cool, at least for 1992, but the lyrics are so cringeworthily terrible it sounds as though a pre-school child wrote them.

Or may be it was an old person who turned into a pre-school child as soon as he saw Steve Borden?

3: Cactus Jack - Mr Bang Bang 

"He's not on a team or a member of a gang, he's Cactus Jack, or better known as Mr Bang Bang!"

At the start of this review, I talked about what a pioneer Jimmy Papa was for giving wrestlers' entrance themes some actual lyrics.

The more we dive into it, however, I'm starting to wonder whether we might all be better off if he'd left the lyrics in his notebook.

I mean, Mr Bang Bang is a seriously bad ass piece of music. Like Cactus Jack himself, like the character himself, the guitar riff is a little rough around the edges and comes with a certain bluesy-swagger that does a great job in making Mick Foley's alter ego seem like a total outlaw renegade - exactly the kind of image you'd want to create, right?

Yet the lyrics...oh man, the lyrics.

"A long career is not expected // but he really doesn't care, when he's in the circled square // he knows he'll eventually be ejected."


Ejected from what? The ring? Booted out of the arena? I almost imagine some spring mechanism in the "circled square" sending Jack flying from the ring and crashing through the roof.

Seriously, what does that even mean?

4: Jake 'The Snake' Roberts - Master of the DDT

"Jake the Snake, well he slithers and sldies // Jake the Snake, he's one of a kind!"

I mean, yeah...

While the story goes that his heat with Bill Watts was the reason why Jake 'The Snake' Roberts didn't last long in WCW, I prefer to pose my own theory:

He took one listen to this theme song and hightailed it out of the company before he was forced to use it.

In its own right, the song actually isn't that terrible. It sounds like something you might get if members of various Van Halen and Motley Crue tribute bands came together to write a song about a pro wrestler.

That would be great if Roberts were a brash, flamboyant superstar, but he wasn't.

He was, or at least was supposed to be, a dark, brooding, twisted and slightly sinister wrestler, something which really isn't reflected at all in this catchy, upbeat hair metal track.

Had they tweaked the lyrics and given this to Van Hammer or, you know, just about anybody else, it might have worked, but well,  I mean, just listen to it.

I swear the people who came up with the song had never actually seen Jake, they just heard his nickname and assumed that a rocking hair metal track about how "slithers and slides" would do just the trick.

5: Michael Hayes - Freebird Forever 

"I'm a Freebird forever, you can't change me, no not ever."

Michael P.S Hayes and The Fabulous Freebirds already a hit with Bad Street USA, but rather than include that here, Hayes teamed up with Papa to create Freebird Forever, which basically takes the Lynyrd Skynyrd song which gave the group its name and reimagines it as heartwarming ballad about how Hayes came to team with Terry Gordy and Jimmy Jam Garvin. 

It's a competently written song, but it seriously is just a Freebird rip-off, right down to the way it starts off all slow and mellow before finally cranking it up into some high-octane solo'ing down the final stretch.

The whole thing seems a little self-indulgent on the part of Michael Hayes yet at the same time its also incredibly bland and forgettable.

6: 'Ravishing' Rick Rude - Simply Ravishing

"He's simply ravishing he's happening, he knows that he's cool // All the girls go crazy, they don't know what to do. // He'll steal your girl and break her heart and leave you a fool. // He's simply ravishing, dazzling ravishing Rude."

I won't lie, this is hands-down my favourite track from Slam Jam Vol 1.

The ultimate ear-worm, I'll occasionally find myself just wandering around singing the chorus and jamming out to that catchy guitar hook.

OK, so it is absolutely a song of its time and wouldn't be well received if it came out today, but this ode to Ravishing Rick Rude and his adonis-like good looks is actually a pretty fun listen.

Rude's WWF 'Stripper' theme may be more famous, but Simply Ravishing is by far the best theme Rude ever had.

7: Johnny B. Badd - Johnny B. Badd

"Here comes Johnny B. Badd, and you don't wanna make him mad. He's as pretty as a picture, he looks just like Little Richard."

The lyrics above pretty much tell you everything you need to know about this Chuck Berry rip off: It tries so hard to remind us that Marc Mero's WCW character was not only tough but also pretty.

It makes sense, sure, but I can't think of the last time I was out somewhere and thought "Man, I better not make that guy mad, he looks just like Little Richard!"

Still, credit where it's due, this one of the album's more memorable tracks, even if it does sound way too much like the theme from Saved by the Bell.

8: Dustin Rhodes - The Natural

"He's the son of a son, and a son of a gun." 

Years ago, there used to be this guy who would write his own songs on what basically sounded like a MIDI keyboard, then bring them into our local bar and sing them on karaoke night.

They were terrible.

The Natural, a song about how Dustin Rhodes -a son of a son- was as natural as can be reminds me very much of that guy and his terrible songs.

Both were bland. Both had terrible lyrics. Neither should ever be listened to again.

It's almost hard to believe that the guy who had this boring steel-guitar filled slice of tedium would go on to become the ultra-charasmatic Goldust.

9: Ricky Steamboat - The Dragon

"I'm not saying that women don't fall all over him // but he don't give in // he's a family man."

I want you to remember that the name of Ricky Steamboat's theme is The Dragon. 

That makes you think of a kick ass, fire-breathing beast, right? Perhaps some mythical, magical creature that inspires shock and awe in all who see him?

Yeah, me too.

Not the makers of Slam Jam, though.

When they think of a dragon, they think of a guy who doesn't cheat on his wife.

I'm serious, The Dragon is basically four minutes of singing about how Ricky Steamboat loves his wife and son and "does the best he can."

There's nothing about what an awesome wrestler he is. Not even a single line about why they call him a dragon, just terrible lyric after terrible about what a nice guy he is.

It's supposed to make you root for Steamboat as a heroic, loyal babyface.

Instead, it makes you want to punch him in his stupid face.

The worst part is that it's all set to some horrible music that sounds like it got rejected as the theme song for some mid-80s sitcom...a really bad sitcom that got cancelled after one season because nobody cared about a guy who's only redeeming quality is his fidelity.

Honestly, this isn't just the worst track on the album, it's one of the worst wrestling themes of all time.

10: Barry Windham - He's Smoking

"He likes to beat people up // he likes to have fun // you know who I'm talking about // It's Barry Wind-um!"

OK, the lyrics are terrible, I'll give you that, but would you really expect anything less by now?

Besides, if you imagine the vocalists aren't singing terrible lyrics, this groovy boogie-rock track is actually a lot of fun.

If it sounds familiar to you, you're probably a fan of Boston and their song Smokin'. 

Windham's song is basically a straight rip-off of that song but hey, if you're gonna rip something off, at least rip off an absolute banger, right?

It's funny how He's Smoking is the least memorable track on the album yet is also one of the most enjoyable.

11: The Steiner Brothers - Steinerized

"Here's the story of two brothers, Rick and Scott // They don't use drugs and they're always on top"

The best part about Steinerized is that, for a brief period in the year 2000, Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner returned to using it as his theme song, sauntering down to ringside with his, erm, enhanced physique while the lyrics praised him for being drug free.

The theme was totally ill-suited to the Big Bad Booty Daddy at the turn of the millennium, but it was at least kind of fitting for the All American good boys that Rick and Scott were supposed to be for the majority of their babyface career.

I mean, sure you could argue that it was outdated when the brothers were using it at the same time that the edge New World Order was running wild, but then Shawn Michaels used Sexy Boy for years past that song's best-by date.

That's the kind of theme this is. It might not be perfect, but in its own way, Steinerized is kind of iconic. It's up there with Harlem Heat and DDP's Nirvana rip-off and the nWo theme as being one of WCW 's most recognisable themes.

Yet alas, like everything else on this album, it is entirely cheesy.

And so, that was that, a track-by-track look at Jimmy Papa's biggest contribution to the world of professional wrestling; eleven tracks of pure cheese, terrible lyrics, and the occasional catchy guitar riff.

Sure, I'd still rather have this than Wrestlemania: The Album, but I must admit, I'm really glad there wasn't a Slam Jam Volume 2. 

Thanks for reading. If you're looking for more pro wrestling album reviews, you might enjoy: 

Don't miss our other Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following @Retropwrestling on Twitter or liking the Facebook page

Thursday, 13 June 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Great American Bash 1999

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Event poster
June 13th, 1999
Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland.

There's no doubting the legendary status of Macho Man Randy Savage. Undoubtedly one of the greatest of all time, Macho's intensity, ring-work, charisma and flamboyance helped make him a household name who was every bit deserving of any main event spot he happened to find himself in.

Unfortunately, this was World Championship Wrestling in 1999, so when Savage did find himself in a main event spot (possibly the last real one of his career), it involved terrible booking, horrible angles and a whole lot of literal crap.

Since returning to the company as the referee of the main event at Spring Stampede 1999, Savage and his new harem of women (Madusa, Gorgeous George and future Molly Holly, Miss Madness) had transitioned from a bizarre feud with referee Charles 'Little Naitch' Robinson and Ric Flair into a main event title match that was set to go down tonight.

Yet while a Randy Savage main event may have still been a draw at the tail end of the millennium, the build-up to it left it feeling like little more than a mid-card comedy bout.

No idea what I'm talking about?

Let me take you back to Baltimore, Maryland in the summer of 1999 where everything will be explained.

Curt Hennig is Bowdy Bowdy

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Curt Hennig confronts Master P and the No Limit Soldiers
Our show began with Master P arriving at the arena in a limousine, flanked by his No Limit Soldiers.

Before the rap artist could make it very far into the building, he was welcomed by Curt Hennig, who claimed that he was not only the biggest Master P fan in the world but that he was also bowdy bowdy.

20 years later and I still never learned what that means.

Bowled over by Hennig's fandom, Master P signed a copy of his album for him which Curt, being the dastardly heel that he was, proceeded to destroy.

This heinous act prompted the No Limit Soldiers to chase after Hennig, squawking like birds as they did so.

Hennig was, as ever, an absolute riot here.

Savage and Nash Will Fight Tonight

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Bobby Heenan
Remember me saying that the build-up to tonight's main event was terrible?

It was basically weeks of Savage and Kevin Nash pouring sludge on each other and destroying each other's cars.

While I'm sure there were some people who were into it, the video package that we got next made it look like a bad comedy job that was only missing a cameo from Henry Godwin.

After that, we got our usual intro from Tony Schiavone, Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

The trio led us into a second video package, this one detailing the rest of tonight's card.

To be honest with you, just watching this video, I can't help but feel like I'm in for a long and terrible time in writing this review.

Still, I'll try not to judge anything before I see it, so let's get on to our first match, shall we?

Kendo Stick Match
Brian Knobs (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Hardcore Hak (w/ Chastity)

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Brian Knobs (w/ Jimmy Hart) faced Hardcore Hak
Prior to the bell, we were shown a quick video package which told us that Brian Knobs had joined Jimmy Hart's reformed First Family of Wrestling and was feuding with Hak over who was more hardcore.

Making his way to the ring Nasty Knobs then took to the mic to tell us that, since it was Mrs Nasty's birthday, he was dedicating the match to her and wanted to duke it out with Hak using only fists and no "sissie" weapons.

This, of course, was a rouse.

As Hak asked the crowd whether or not he should surrender his kendo stick, Knobbs picked up a trash can and wallopped the former ECW star with it.

From that point on, we got your typical late-90s hardcore match which basically meant a succession of weapon shots leading to the finish.

Speaking of the finish, it came when Hak levied Knobs with a kendo stick, which was literally the one and only the weapon was used in what was dubbed a 'kendo stick match.'

Not that I'm complaining.

Though WCW hardcore matches were pretty formulaic, they were at least entertaining. Indeed, it was pretty fun to see Knobbs and Hak just smash each other with garbage cans and ladders for a few minutes.
Your Winner: Hardcore Hak

Post-match, Knobs' First Family teammate Hugh Morrus came down and helped the Nasty one to avenge his loss. The two hit a spiked piledriver on Hak before dumping a ladder onto him which Morrus' then moonsaulted onto.

Buff Thanks Roddy

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Buff Bagwell and Roddy Piper catch up backstage
Out in the back, Buff Bagwell caught up with Rowdy Roddy Piper, thanking the WCW Commissioner for giving him a match against Disco Inferno later on tonight.

To repay the kindness, Buff volunteered to watch Piper's back in his match against Flair later but Hot Rod, naturally, said he didn't need any help.

Though short, this goofy little segment was actually pretty fun to watch.

Mikey Whipwreck vs. Van Hammer

When you think about all the star power and all the talented workers that WCW had on its roster at the time, you have to wonder why this is the match they decided to go with on a major PPV.

Still, it could have been worse.

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Van Hammer takes on Mikey Whipwreck
Van Hammer had ditched the tye-dye-wearing hippy gimmick and was now embarking on something of a push, clocking up wins left and right as WCW tried to replicate their 'push the big guy with an undefeated streak' system that had worked so well with Goldberg.

They'd already tried it with Wrath, but then that got derailed by Kevin Nash, so it looked like Hammer was next in line.

He even wore the same kind of singlet as Wrath as he went toe-to-toe with jobber Mikey Whipreck in a match which, while not terrible, had no place on a Pay Per View.

The sole highlight came when Hammer delivered a delayed vertical suplex from the second rope. That was also just about the only time that the crowd didn't chant about how boring the match was.

After a whole bunch of tedium, Van Hammer predictably picked up the win, marching onwards with a push that would ultimately go nowhere.
Your Winner: Van Hammer

Moving on

Disco Inferno vs. Buff Bagwell

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Buff Bagwell faced Disco InfernoThough hardly a catch-as-catch-can classic, you've got to give Disco Inferno and Buff credit for playing to their strengths in order to deliver a pretty entertaining match.

Disco was flawless in his role as the cowardly heel and served as the perfect foil for the super popular Bagwell.

Buff himself was no slouch and played his part of the beloved fan favourite all the way to the inevitable victory.

Watching this, you could easily envision Bagwell getting a solid main event run if things had turned out differently for World Championship Wrestling.

All in all, a fun match and a good effort from both men.
Your Winner: Disco Inferno

Up next, we took a look back at the rivalry between the West Texas Rednecks and the Filthy Animals, even though I'm not entirely sure either group were actually using those names at the time.

If you recall, this came about because Curt Hennig and Bobby Duncam Jr. thought that rap was crap but Konnan and Rey Mysterio Jr. didn't.

Curt Hennig & Bobby Duncam Jr. vs. Konnan & Rey Mysterio Jr.

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Konnan and Rey Mystery Jr of the Filthy Animals
For reasons that were never explained, Konnan and Rey Mysterio Jr. came out wearing gas masks. It was an odd sight that this out-of-touch old-timer can only assume had something to do with hip-hop.

The two then shook hands with Master P and his posse (who were sat in the front row) before locking up with Hennig and Duncum Jr. in what was the best match on the card so far.

There are times in plenty of tag team matches when the whole 'babyface in peril' routine gets really tiresome. Thankfully, Hennig and Duncum were entertaining enough and Mysterio (the face in peril) talented enough to ensure that never happened here.

That whole section of the match was marvellous fun to watch, while everything before and after it had the crowd fully fired up.

After a very enjoyable contest, Barry Windham came out from the crowd to help the West Texas Rednecks. That prompted Master P's bodyguard SWOL to jump the rail and blast Duncam Jr., allowing the good guys to get the win.
Your Winners: Konnan and Rey Mysterio Jr.

Afterwards, security escorted SWOL, Master P. and his whole entourage backstage while Curt, Barry, and Bobby beat up on the victors.

Ernest 'The Cat' Miller (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Horace Hogan

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Ernest 'The Cat' Miller w/ Sonny Onoo
Up next, we got more PPV-calibre wrestling as Ernest 'The Cat' Miller strutted to ringside with Sonny Onoo by his side.

If you only do yourself one favour today, make it this one:

Go to the WWE Network and check out the ridiculous music they replaced The Cat's original theme with. Honestly, it sounds like a bad demo of a kid's song about happy clowns and birthday cake.

With that theme making his whole entrance look really silly, Miller came out expecting to fight Scott Norton.

Instead, Horace Hogan turned up and announced that he was going to fight Miller instead, giving us no explanation as to why.

The match itself is better than you probably expected, but only if you expected it to be the worst thing ever.

In other words, some parts of it were actually pretty entertaining but, you know, it was still The Cat vs. Horace Hogan so nobody really cared.

Eventually, Sonny Onoo helped The Cat put on a loaded slipper which he used to kick Hogan in the face with and win the match.
Your Winner: Ernest Miller

Post-match, The Cat bust a move until Hogan chased him off.

This was followed by a look back at the ongoing battle between Ric Flair and Roddy Piper for control of WCW.

That match was next.

Match to Determine the Presidency of WCW
Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair (w/ Arn Anderson & Aysa)

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Ric Flair
Back at Slamboree 1999, Rowdy Roddy Piper had defeated Ric Flair, taking Flair's WCW presidency from him in the process.

Immediately after the match, Piper fired Flair.

Just one month later, not only was Flair still competing, but he was also still the WCW President, with Piper now in a Commissioner role.

Tonight, the two would go head-to-head to hopefully settle the matter of WCW presidency once and for all.

There's no doubt this match will have its critics. It was basically two ageing grapplers working a bunch of safe spots, but for this old-school fan, that's precisely why it was so good.

In full-on heel mode Flair was true to form as The Dirtiest Player in the Game, using all manner of underhand tactics (and interference from Arn Anderson) to counter babyface Piper's no-nonsense brawling style.

It was a very effective approach, one that produced as good a match as you were going to get from two skilled veterans at this stage of their career.

Towards the finish, Anderson got involved but Buff Bagwell -true to his word- ran in to help Piper.

Bagwell's interference caused the referee to ring for the bell. Frustrated at the DQ, Hot Rod promptly decked his rescuer then ran to get a leather belt while Flair and Anderson held Bagwell in place.

From there, Piper teamed up with the two men he'd been battling for the last fifteen minutes in order to beat the hell out of Bagwell.

Yet there was to be no real alliance. At least not yet.

Flair was declared the winner, then simply walked off with Anderson and Aysa, leaving Piper in the ring.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Ric Flair

Up next, we were shown a video package for the upcoming bout between Rick Steiner and Sting.

Falls Count Anywhere Match
WCW World Television Champion Rick Steiner vs. Sting

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Rick Steiner vs. Sting
As far as I know, Steiner's TV championship wasn't on the line here. Not that it would have made much of a difference.

This whole thing started off fairly well as a decent, albeit mostly uneventful match. The two battled back and forth in the ring for so long that you started to wonder if they'd forgotten the whole 'Falls Count Anywhere' thing.

Alas, they hadn't.

Though to be honest, it might have been better if they had.

Eventually, Steiner and Sting left the ring and brawled up the ilse to the back, where Tank Abbott was waiting to choke Sting out. At this point, the camera shook a little and the whole show very clearly cut to a pre-recorded segment in which The Steiners set some angry dogs on Sting.

The camera shook some more, mostly to hide the fact that the dogs weren't doing much more than jumping up at Sting for cuddles in the same way that my dog does after I return home from a long day.

It looked stupid.

Like really, really stupid.

The continuity was terrible. The thousand and one camera cuts both made you dizzy and made no sense, while at one point Sting, who had been wrestling for ten minutes, had a fresh coat of face paint despite the fact that half of it had just been sweated off in the match.

If there were was ever an award for the most ridiculous finish to a match ever, this one would probably take it because, yes, that was the finish.

Rick and Scott Steiner walked back out to the ring where Scotty announced that Rick had won by pinfall but that the whole thing was too graphic for WCW to show on TV.

Referee Scott Dickinson reluctantly raised Steiner's arm, and that was that.
Your Winner: Rick Steiner

Expect it wasn't, because The Steiners then spent several minutes bragging about how good they were and calling Baltimore 'the shittiest town in the US.'

To be fair, the actual promo was far better than anything that happened in the actual match.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Champions
WCW World Tag Team Champion Chris Benoit & Perry Saturn vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Chris Kanyon (w/ Bam Bam Bigelow)

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Chris Kanyon celebrates a WCW tag team title victory for the Jersey Triad
Prior to this one kicking off, we were shown a video package which outlined the somewhat complicated story of how the match came together.

It was too longwinded to go into here, but basically involved Chris Benoit and Perry Saturn forming a makeshift team that Thursday on WCW Thunder and beating Bam Bam Bigelow and Diamond Dallas Page for the titles, after which Kanyon turned on Saturn to form The Jersey Triad with Bigelow and DDP.

The story wasn't the only thing that was long.

This was by far the longest match on the card, but all four men used their time well to create a solid, dramatic contest that was just about the best thing on the show.

After a very good effort, Dean Malenko came down to help a fallen Perry Saturn but honestly looked like he was holding him back, preventing him from getting in the ring. Meanwhile, Page hit Benoit with the Diamond Cutter, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winners and New Tag Team Champions: DDP and Kanyon

Post-match, The Jersey Triad beat up on Malenko and celebrated with their new titles.

Finally, after one last video package recapping the Savage/Nash rivalry, it was back to our main event.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Kevin Nash vs. Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Madusa, Miss Madness and Gorgeous George)

WCW Great American Bash 1999 - Sid Vicious returned to WCW and laid out Kevin NashThis main event was complete trash.

The legendary Macho Man Randy Savage was a shell of his former self, and champion Kevin Nash could barely move.

For the duration of this seven-minute abomination, the only real signs of life came from Madusa, Miss Madness and Gorgeous George who continually ran interference.

Finally, this whole terrible thing came to an end when Sid Vicious made his return to WCW and attacked Kevin Nash, probably looking to get revenge for his loss to Diesel back at In Your House 2 four years earlier.
Your Winner via Disqualification and Still WCW Champion: Kevin Nash

Afterwards, Sid powerbombed Nash then helped Savage to the back as the show came to an end.

On the whole, I feel bad for Savage. Though I know he had appearances in TNA, this was basically his last big run and it sucked. Thankfully, when we think about the man himself, we tend to overlook this time in his career and focus on all the top quality performances he did give us.

As for The Great American Bash 1999? Well, some of the matches were better than I expected, but between the awful main event, the sheer ridiculousness of the Steiner/Sting debacle and a whole bunch of what was essentially filler, the show mostly failed to deliver.

Maybe track down the tag team title match if you have a spare twenty minutes to kill, but otherwise avoid this one.

1999 events reviewed so far
Other WCW Great American Bash reviews: 

Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

GAME REVIEW: WWE Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain - Game Cover
October/November 2003 

I can't deny it. WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain for the PlayStation 2 is the most fun I've ever had playing a game.

I say that as someone who approaches these game reviews more as a wrestling fan than as a gamer, but that still doesn't take away from the fact that Here Comes the Pain (HCTP) is an incredibly enjoyable outing from Yuke's and THQ that this fan, in particular, found he could get lost in for hours and hours and never get bored.

Indeed, most of the time when I do these pro wrestling video game reviews, I tend to play the game for just long enough to get familiar with it, write up my thoughts, and never play it again.

With HTCP, that simply hasn't been the case.

I originally intended to write this review like six months ago, but I've been so engrossed in playing it that I've never actually found the time to just sit down and write about it.

Until now.

With that said, let's dive into WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, released in North America in October 2003 and here in Europe in November of that year.

First impressions

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain - Start Screen
This is the first pro wrestling game to feature Vince McMahon's sports entertainment empire branded as a WWE game. The last PlayStation 2 outing, WWF Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth was released when the company was still known as the World Wrestling Federation.

Here, we find them in the wake of a crushing defeat in the law courts at the hands of the panda people at a time when they were still known as World Wrestling Entertainment, and not just WWE.

It's ironic, I suppose, that in the early days of their rebranding, the company emphasised the entertainment aspect of their product despite featuring some of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers and some of the best technical pro wrestling matches in their entire history.

I was thinking of this as the impressive intro video played featuring stars like Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Brock Lesnar, stars who would later prove to be as much fun to play as in the game as they are/were fun to watch on the screen. The video mixes the black and white motif that would play a big part in the season mode of this game (more of which later) with some impressive visuals that really gets you excited for what's ahead.


WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain - Tag team match
Along with the aforementioned Superstars, HCTP is notable for being the first WWE game appearance of headliners John Cena, Bill Goldberg, and Batista, as well as Shelton Benjamin and Chavo Guerrero Jr. Sable makes her debut in a Smackdown game here, though she had previously appeared in WWF Attitude.

It's also worth mentioning that The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin make their final appearances as regular characters. After this, the two would only appear as legends and unlockable characters.

Elsewhere, there's a huge selection of wrestlers to choose from main eventers like Triple H, American Bad Ass Undertaker and Scott Steiner (making his only Smackdown series appearance) to undercarders like Ultimo Dragon (his only WWE game appearance), The World's Greatest Tag Team, Sean O Haire and many more.

If you're so inclined, you can also play as legends such as George The Animal Steele and Hillbilly Jim, though others (Ted Dibiase, Jimmy Snuka, The Road Warriors and Sgt. Slaughter) have to be unlocked using cash you acquire via playing the season mode.

Create a Wrestler (CAW)

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain - Create a Wrestler
For the most part, the CAW mode seems relatively unchanged from the one we saw in Shut Your Mouth, though with some minor tweaks that make it even easier to really create an impressive looking character.

Once again, I dove into creating 'The Ragin' Angel CJ Scholes' and though he doesn't look *too* different from the version I created in Shut Your Mouth, I'm sure you'll notice a marked improvement.

As with other versions, there are some treats in store in the CAW mode, though they're not quite as easy to find as in previous versions.

Look far enough, however, and you'll find attire for a whole host of past stars like X-Pac, The Acolytes, Owen Hart, Bad Ass Billy Gunn, The Hurricane and even Jushin 'Thunder' Lyger. Interestingly, you'll also find the attire for 'Slapnuts' era Jeff Jarrett, even though he was out running TNA wrestling around this time.

A lot of the generic designs are pretty cool too, though again you have to really dig down to find the very good ones.

Season mode

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain - Stephanie McMahon
Having created your own wrestler, you can take them (or any Superstar on the game roster) through season mode, which is so far the best one to be featured in a wrestling game up to this point.

You choose whether you want to be on Smackdown or Raw, and can even juggle the rosters about. So, for example, you might decide that you want to be on Smackdown but also want the opportunity to mix it up with Raw Superstar Bill Goldberg, so you bring him across and then head on into the game.

Things start after Wrestlemania with a really cool black and white video in which your character is seen pacing about an empty ring in an empty arena, talking about how their passion for pro wrestling keeps them coming back to fight, night after night. It really adds a sense of drama to things and sets the scene nicely for what's to come.

After this, you find yourself on your chosen show with either Stephanie McMahon (Smackdown) or Eric Bischoff (Raw) welcoming you to your show.

From there, you go off throughout a full year of game-play, competing on both your brand's TV show and monthly PPVs, getting involved in multiple storylines along the way.

At one point, you get to hire a manager. The game doesn't let you pick who it is but selects one for you. In my case, it was Sable. Despite the opportunity to make some crude jokes about your female manager's 'pie' the two of you take your professional relationship into a personal one, though after that particular storyline, she's neither seen nor heard from again until right at the very end, when she pops up to congratulate you after competing at Wrestlemania.

That's the one bad point about this whole thing. Though season mode is a lot of fun, there's no consistency between storylines and certain things don't make much sense.

Despite having Sable as a manager/girlfriend, you later find yourself in a storyline where you get to build your own stable, known in the game as a faction. Your number two guy in said stable not only becomes the group's mouthpiece but also decides that the group should have a manager and brings in somebody else, in this case, 2019 Hall of Famer, Torrie Wilson.

That's all well and good, but what happened to Sable?

Evolution Express

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain - Evolution Express
I will say, however, that the 'faction war' storyline is just about my favourite in the whole game. The group is basically you, your number two and your manager, with a younger rookie asking to join the fold. You can then pick a name for your storyline from a pre-selected list which includes actual pro wrestling names like D-Generation-X, the nWo, The New Age Outlaws and Evolution, along with a group of made-up names which, quite frankly, aren't as good.

I picked Evolution, then watched on as my group arrived at the arena in a huge bus known as the Evolution Express.

For unknown reasons, Vince McMahon decides that he doesn't like your new group and sics a bunch of his top stars on you. In the latest version I played, McMahon rounded up Undertaker, Guerrero, Angle and Lita and declared them to be The Corporation. This evil group not only face you in matches and not only gang-attack you afterwards but also carry out the heinous act of blowing up the Evolution Express!

Sure, that meant my own group's bus had blown up but man, it looked so cool that I couldn't help but enjoy it.

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain - Faction Action
Every now and again, you won't have any storylines going on, so you can go into the General Manager's office and either ask for a title shot or ask to be transferred to the opposite brand. Brand transfers won't work if you have any titles.

This makes sense but is still frustrating. At one point, all I had was the Cruiserweight title and I had to go out and purposefully lose a match so that I could jump to Raw.

With regards to titles, I'd like future versions of the game to either drop this or at least create a scenario where you can forfeit your title in order to brand hop.

I'd also like to see the titles that you hold feature in current storylines to create a better sense of realism.

In the Evolution storyline, for example, I was the world champion and also held the tag titles with Lesnar. Yet whenever I teamed with Lesnar as part of the storyline, we never defended the titles, nor did I ever put the world title on the line when I battled The Corporation's main man, The Undertaker at No Mercy.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter, but it would make the game more realistic if you were a champion in a storyline with The Undertaker and you put the title on the line.

Still, that's a small complaint and, despite that, there's actually a lot to like about Here Comes the Pain's lengthy season mode.

In particular, I like that whenever you reach a PPV, you get another black and white video that emulates the kind of cool pre-match video packages you see on real PPVs.


As you go through season mode and win more matches, you not only gain points which can be used to improve your stats, but you get Smackdown dollars which can be used to buy a bunch of cool, unlockable stuff.

As I mentioned earlier, characters like The Million Dollar Man and The Legion of Doom can be purchased, as can old-school, Dead Man Undertaker. You can also unlock some cool, alternative attire and other goodies which don't necessarily make a huge difference to the game but look pretty good all the same.


WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain - Stone Cold Steve Austin
As I've already said, playing HCTP is the most fun I've ever had playing a video game, and the in-ring action is a big part of the reason why.

The controls are more or less the same as they have been throughout the Smackdown series with a few minor tweaks. One tweak is that there are now different ways to block and reverse moves. One should button reverses grapples and the other reverses strike.

Though I get the logic behind this, the novice gamer in me often forgot which button did which and would simply end up mashing both, hoping for the best.

Meanwhile, the grapple system has been upgraded so that you can grab your opponent in a multitude of different ways depending on which direction you press along with the O button. Once you've got hold of him, you can then choose from a number of different moves, again depending on which buttons you press.

It does add a greater depth and variety to the game, and once you figure out which combo pulls off which move you can make your matches look pretty impressive.

Not that they don't already. The gameplay is so smooth and the moves all so well designed that it's like watching a quality PPV match, albeit one that you have some control over. In fact, there were times when I'd be getting my ass kicked but be so impressed with how good it looked that I didn't even care.

I also like the added realism that comes when you pit wrestlers of different sizes against one another. If you're a smaller wrestler, then you can't pick up bigger guys like 'Taker, Big Show or Brock, and will hurt your back trying to do so. Though that's a little frustrating when you forget and try to powerbomb Big Show, it does make the game much more realistic compared to other games where you'll have Rey Mysterio hitting all kinds of power moves on a super heavyweight.

That feature isn't necessarily perfect. For example, my CAW wrestler can't pick up Undertaker from a grapple, but if I knock him on his ass first, then I can pick him up from the mat and drill him with some rolling belly-to-bellies.

Still, it's a nice touch and one I greatly appreciate.

Sound and music

The most notable thing here is that there's no commentary whatsoever. On the whole, that's a good thing.

Not all games feature commentary that is quite as terrible as the job Michael Cole and Tazz did on WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It, but it's rare to find a game that really gets the commentary stuff spot on, so it's often best just to leave it out altogether.

Instead of soundbites from Cole and Tazz (or King and Lawler), we instead get a decent soundtrack playing over the matches and all the usual selection of wrestler entrance themes.

Much of the custom themes for your CAWs are the same as in Shut Your Mouth, meaning I once again got to pick that Slipknot-like track for my own Ragin' Angel character.

Other notable points

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain - Backstage Chaos
By now, I've told you most of the things I love about HCTP, as well as the few, relatively minor criticisms I have about the game.

Still, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention some of the other notable features that distinguish this game from others in the series.

First of all, there's the addition of the Elimination Chamber match which, though mostly fun to play, can get a little cluttered up when you have all six men in the ring at the same time. This is the main reasons why I don't like playing Royal Rumbles and other multi-man matches in games like this. It just gets too hard -for this amateur gamer at least- to keep track of things.

I should also mention the backstage brawls which are a fun little diversion to the main season mode.

At each show, you can use a menu to navigate through certain backstage areas. Most of the time, this only allows you to pop into the GM's office to request a title shot or show transfer, but every now and again you can walk into the locker room or parking lot and talk to various wrestlers. Sometimes all that happens is that you exchange words. Other times, you end up challenging the other wrestler to a fight.

These fights typically end up taking place in the backstage area, where along with the usual assortment of weapons that you'd expect to find in a game like this, you can also run each other with motorbikes and forklift trucks.

It is, like almost everything in this game, an awful lot of fun.

Last Impressions

I don't know enough about games to say that this is the best wrestling game ever, but I will say that it's the best wrestling game I've ever played up to this point. It's so good that I find it completely engrossing and, even though I've finally written this review, I'm not quite ready to finish playing it yet.

I'll be posting this, switching the PS2 back on and looking for revenge against The Undertaker for blowing up my damn Evolution Express.

Thanks for reading. For more reviews of retro pro wrestling games, shows, and more, follow RPW on Twitter or like the Facebook page here.

More WWE Wrestling games from Retro Pro Wrestling. 

Thursday, 30 May 2019

PPV REVIEW: WWF King of the Ring 1999

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 - Event poster
June 27, 1999,
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

For most of its 30-year career, the WWF/WWE King of the Ring tournament was often little more than another storyline played out on TV and/or live events that would help the likes of Harley Race and Bad News Barrett evolve into a new gimmick. 

However, those of us who lived through the 1990s will remember that for a decade-spanning 1993 to 2002, the tournament gave its name to one of the original 'Big Five' PPVs, sitting right alongside Wrestlemania, The Royal Rumble, Survivor Series and Summerslam in terms of prestige and importance.

By the late 1990s, however, that level of importance was already starting to wane.

Whereas earlier events such as the inaugural King of the Ring PPV in 1993 and Owen Hart's career-changing win at the 1994 King of the Ring focused almost exclusively on the tournament itself, recent events had begun to downplay the tournament altogether.

In fact, after winning the 1998 competition, Ken Shamrock didn't even receive the ceremonial robe and crown, or much fanfare at all. Shamrock's win was treated, if anything, like it was just another victory.

A year later, would the pride and prestige be restored to the King of the Ring tournament? Or would it become just another storyline, lost in the lightning-speed chaos of the Attitude Era?

Let's head to Greensboro to find out.

Stone Cold is the New CEO

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler & Jim Ross
The King of the Ring tournament didn't feature at all in tonight's opening video, which instead focussed on the main event ladder match pitting Stone Cold Steve Austin against Vince and Shane McMahon for control of the company.

After this, we went to Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, who told us that Ken Shamrock had injured Shane in a match earlier on Heat. Following that match, Steve Blackman had run out and destroyed Shamrock with a kendo stick.

Backstage, Shamrock was shown on his knees, in agony, refusing medical attention.

Elsewhere in the backstage area, Michael Cole stood outside Mr McMahon's locker room and promised us an update later on in the show.

King of the Ring Quarter Final 1
Hardcore Holly vs. X-Pac

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 - Hardcore Holly faced X-Pac in the first round
Short and sweet, tonight's opening contest was turning into a fine match until the finish.

X-Pac came flying right out of the gate, using his speed and "educated feet" against Hardcore Holly's brute strength.

At one point, Hardcore Holly powerbombed his lighter opponent into the mat with such force it was almost sickening.

This was tremendous stuff from these two, or at least as good as you were going to get from them.

Then, it all came crashing to a halt when Holly got frustrated, threw Howard Finkle out of his chair and blasted Pac around the head with said chair in full view of the referee.
Your Winner via disqualification: X-Pac

Post-match, Holly continued his beat down until Road Dogg ran to ringside to save his DX teammate from further punishment.

There was still a chance that X-Pac and Road Dogg would end up facing each other if the D-O-Double-G could get past Chyna in another quarterfinal match.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 - Hardcore Holly yells at Terry TaylorBackstage, Terry Taylor caught up with Holly for a quick interview.

"Who the hell are you?" asked Bob Holly.
"I'm Terry Taylor," replied Terry Taylor.

To be fair to Bob, he probably didn't recognise Taylor without a red streak running through his hair.

Anyway, Holly told Taylor that he was playing by his own rules and everyone would just have to like it.

"Oh, by the way, I haven't forgotten about you, Big Show," he said as he left, furthering a rivalry that to this day nobody remembers.

King of the Ring Quarter Final 2
The Big Show vs. Kane

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Kane faced Big Show in the Quarter Final
By now, Paul Wight had dropped his real name from his official ring name and was just going by The Big Show.

Here, he locked up with Kane to see who would advance in the King of the Ring tournament.

This was a surprisingly enjoyable battle of the giants, with both men moving quicker and looking far more motivated than they naturally would decades into their career.

After a good big-man match, the referee took a tumble and Bob Holly -predictably- came out to attack Big Show. Instead, Kane stopped him and chokeslammed him, then put Show in a chokehold for what felt like an eternity.

Just when the crowd were starting to get restless, Show broke the hold, but then took a wicked chair shot to the head from Kane.

The referee revived himself just long enough to make the three count, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Kane

Out in the back, Michael Cole interviewed an irate Mr McMahon. McMahon insisted that Shane was too injured to compete and needed medical attention while Shane -off camera- insisted that he'd be fine to wrestle.

King of the Ring Quarter Final 3
Mr Ass vs. Ken Shamrock

So, let's catch up here.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Billy 'Mr. Ass' Gunn faced Ken Shamrock in the quarter final
Billy Gunn had left DX, turned heel, and changed his name. He was no longer Bad Ass Billy Gunn, but simply as Mr Ass.

As dumb ring names go, that was up there with the time Justin Credible was named after a jellyfish.

Dumb or not, Billy Gunn  Mr Ass took to the mic, calling out Ken Shamrock for faking his injuries and urging The World's Most Dangerous Man to grow some balls and face him in the ring.

He then called Shamrock a horse's ass, which was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back for Shamrock.

Backstage, he was shown screaming "HORSES ASS!" and beating up EMTs who were trying to help him before storming out to the ring.

It was almost as embarrassing as Billy Gunn's new ring name.

Referee Teddy Long tried to convince Shamrock that he was in no fit state to compete, but Mr Ass attacked him anyway, and what followed was several minutes of really boring action, culminating in Long finally calling the match off, telling us that Shamrock -who was now coughing up blood- couldn't continue.

This whole thing was bad, even worse than the last time these two met back at the 1999 Royal Rumble.
Your Winner: Ken Shamrock

Afterwards, Shamrock had one of his trademark temper tantrums and threw Long out of the ring, but was then too hurt to do much more than that.

All Hail Queen Chyna

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Kevin Kelly interviews Chyna and Triple H
Out in the back, Kevin Kelly asked Chyna how it felt to be the first woman to compete in a King of the Ring tournament.

The Ninth Wonder of the World cut a fairly decent promo in which she said that she used to want to be a princess as a child, but now she was all grown up and about to be queen.

Kelly then turned his attention to 1997 King of the Ring winner Triple H, who had issued a challenge for the WWF championship and was upset that people were trying to tell him what to do.

King of the Ring Quarter Final 4
Road Dogg vs. Chyna (w/ Triple H)

The longest match on the show so far, this one also just happened to be the best.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Road Dogg kicks that shiznit doggy style
The first two-thirds of the match were all designed to get Chyna over and showcase her as a solid wrestler every bit as capable of competing with the men.

She dominated Road Dogg at a slow, deliberate pace, slamming him about and beating the life out of him so much you became sure that victory was only moments away.

Then Road Dogg got a sleeper hold on Chyna, and that's when the tide of the match turned.

To break the hold Triple H put Chyna's foot on the ropes behind Earl Hebner's back, which prompted Commissioner Shawn Michaels to come out and send his former DX mate packing.

All the while, Road Dogg got a second wind and hit Chyna with all his trademark offence as the crowd absolutely lost their minds.

It was awesome.

Towards the finish, D-O-Double-G looked to be playing the dumb ass babyface, turning his back on Chyna to watch Michaels eject Hunter.

Yet it turned out he was actually playing it smart.

Chyna attempted a low blow from behind but hurt her hand, leading Road Dogg to reveal he'd been wearing a metal protective cup the whole time.

One pump handle slam later and this enormously enjoyable match was over.
Your Winner: Road Dogg

"Now we can all say we saw Chyna get it doggy style!" yelled Jim Ross as Road Dogg celebrated.

Years later, those words would become truer than JR could have ever imagined.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Michael Cole interviews The RockThat don't impress me much

Out in the back, Michael Cole interviewed The Rock.

The Great One channelled his inner Shania Twain by talking about how little he was impressed with being set on fire by The Undertaker.

The two would meet later for the WWF championship.

Match to determine the number one contenders to the tag team titles
The Brood (Edge & Christian w/ Gangrel) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy w/ Michael P.S Hayes)

So, here's a thing:

Matt and Jeff Hardy made their WWF PPV against Edge and Christian on a PPV headlined by a ladder match and featuring ladders predominantly in the set dressing.

Later, The Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian would go on to stardom thanks to their legendary ladder matches.

As for tonight, this was just a glimpse of what was to come between the two teams; a fast-paced, hard-hitting contest with lots to enjoy.

At one point, Edge caught Jeff Hardy with a spear in mid-air that was every bit as impressive as anything you'd later see them do in their famous TLC matches.

Alas, it wasn't enough to put the young stars away.

Towards the finish, Edge whipped Jeff into the ropes and Gangrel went to spit blood in Hardy's face.

Jeff ducked, and Edge got the blood soaking. This allowed The Hardy's to steal a win on their debut PPV outing.
Your Winners: The Hardy Boyz

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Michael Cole interviews The UndertakerOut in the back, WWF Champion The Undertaker asked Michael Cole what happens when you rip the balls off a Brahma Bull.

If Cole had an answer, he didn't have time to give it as The Dead Man simply walked off, ending this quick and pointless segment.

The show must go on...

Up next, Vince McMahon sauntered to ringside to tell us that Shane McMahon was so injured that he would be unable to compete.

Therefore, said Vince, the Vince & Shane vs. Austin handicap match would no longer be taking place.

This brought out Commissioner Michaels, who informed Mr McMahon that he was the one who made the matches, and thus, there was no getting out of it.

"This guy's making me lose my smile," said Jerry Lawler, an off-the-cuff quip that had this writer laughing hard.

Speaking of laughing, it as Mr McMahon who had the last laugh, as he said that there'd still be a match tonight, but that he'd have a "suitable replacement" for Shane.

King of the Ring Semi Final 1
Mr Ass vs. Kane

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Michael Cole interviews The Undertaker
There was a certain lack of atmosphere about this semifinal match that made you feel as though it had been put on to deliberately cool down the crowd before something more exciting came along.

Not that this was a total dud or anything. Both men put in some decent effort to entertain and, for the most part, it paid off.

It wasn't amazing, but it was a perfectly acceptable way to advance the tournament and keep things moving.

Towards the finish, Mr Ass looked to drill Kane with a chair but Big Show came out and stopped him. Kane then grabbed Gunn, Show levelled Kane with the chair in retribution for their earlier match, and three seconds later, Mr Ass was a King of the Ring finalist.
Your Winner: Mr Ass

Out in the back, X-Pac was still selling the vicious chair shot from Bob Holly earlier in the show.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Kevin Kelly interviews X-Pac
Dazed and confused, he told "Road Dogg Brian James Jesse James" (his words, not mine) that although they were best friends, tonight was an opportunity for them both to reach the next level.

"It might sound corny," said Pac. "But may the best man win."

Road Dogg also cut a promo with Kelly, saying pretty much the same thing, saying the upcoming match might be the hardest of his career.

King of the Ring Semi Final 2
X-Pac vs. Road Dogg

Though better than the previous semi-final match, this one still had a sense of being more to progress the story than to actually give us a quality wrestling match.

Still, this short and snappy little encounter was fun for what it was. It ended with an X-Factor to Road Dogg for the three count.
Your Winner: X-Pac

Before our next match, we got a look back at The Rock's rivalry with The Corporate Ministry and, to be specific, with WWF Champion The Undertaker.

The two would meet next.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs.  The Rock

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  The Rock defended the WWF title against The Undertaker
For all intents and purposes, this was your typical Attitude Era world title match, eschewing traditional wrestling for a couple of wild brawls through the crowds and up the entrance way and featuring ref bumps aplenty.

Towards the finish, Mike Chioda could blatantly see that he was in the way and literally stood still, waiting for Rock and Undertaker to run into him. It really took you out of the moment.

That was the catalyst for a low-blow from the Undertaker. It seemed pretty pointless doing it only once the referee was down, after all, he'd let them brawl all around the arena with nary a ten-count insight.

Following the low-blow, Paul Bearer soaked a rag in ether and handed it to the champion, only for Rock to get hold of it and put Undertaker to sleep. Triple H then ran in and planted the challenger with a pedigree. Shortly after, a tombstone ensured that for the second time in three years, The Undertaker would chalk up a successful title defence at King of The Ring.

Overall, this wasn't a bad match. It contained all the right components for an Attitude Era main event, but sadly, it just wasn't quite as good as it could have been.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: The Undertaker

Post-match, Jim Ross noted that Triple H had been wearing his wrestling attire during his run in and speculated as to whether Hunter could be Mr McMahon's 'suitable replacement' for the main event.

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Mr McMahon confronts Commissioner Shawn Michaels
Almost as if pro wrestling were scripted or something, this led us naturally to the backstage area, where Shawn Michaels was having Triple H removed from the building as an angry Vince McMahon looked on.

"HE'S MY TAG TEAM PARTNER!" yelled Vince.
"No shit, Sherlock!" replied Michaels. "You think I didn't know that?"

After HBK left, Vince got on his cell phone, presumedly to try and find another partner.

Kiss My Royal Ass

Prior to the next match, Mr Ass was interviewed by Michael Cole. In a decent little promo, the former Smoking Gunn told X-Pac that he'd be going straight for 'Pac's neck en route to becoming our 1999 King of The Ring, and when he did, he'd have four words for his opponent:

"Kiss my royal ass."

1999 King of the Ring Final
X-Pac vs. Mr Ass

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Billy Gunn wishes he was in the Four Horsemen
It was only when I got half-way through this review that I learned X-Pac was legitimately injured going in to tonight's show, which makes the decision to book him all the final a baffling one, especially when you consider that Road Dogg was super over all night long and a Battle of The Outlaws in the final would have made for compelling viewing.

This was less than compelling, but you couldn't help but feel for X-Pac and admire him for doing the best he could to put on a decent match with Billy Gunn.

Though short, this was probably the best match the two were capable of having under the circumstances.

After some reasonable action and plenty of audible swearing (Gunn yelled "bullshit!" twice at Tim White and X-Pac loudly called his opponent a "motherf*cker") It ended when Bad Ass hit 'Pac with a top rope fameasser.
Your Winner and 1999 King of the Ring: Mr Ass

Ladies and gentlemen, King Ass was born. As in 1998, however, there was no robe, no crown, or even much of a fanfare for the new king. He just celebrated like he'd won any normal match.

The Company is On The Line

Prior to our main event, we got a look back at how it came about.

Because the Attitude Era was full of convoluted stories, let's recap:

Austin won the WWF title at Wrestlemania 15 despite Mr McMahon's best efforts to stop him. This meant that McMahon needed a new plan to defeat Stone Cold, so he hatched a plot with The Undertaker that would involve 'Taker and his Ministry of Darkness abducting Stephanie McMahon and subjecting her to a black wedding with The Dead Man.

Vince begged his rival, Austin for help and Austin, being the babyface, came to the rescue.

Next, Stone Cold was beaten up and tied in the ropes while Vince revealed himself to be The Higher Power that Undertaker had been alluding for weeks ("It's Me, Austin!"). McMahon then revealed that the whole thing had been a set-up, that he had orchestrated the whole thing and The Corporation and The Ministry of Darkness were now one.

Angry at how Vince had used their daughter and subjected her to torture just to further his own ends, Linda McMahon had stepped down as CEO and installed Austin as her replacement.

Meanwhile, Shane had screwed Stone Cold out of the title, allowing Undertaker to win it.

Tonight, Austin would put his control of the company on the line in a ladder match and there was to be no interference for the heels by order of Commissioner Michaels.

With all that out of the way, let's get on with it.

2 vs. 1 Handicap Match for Control of the World Wrestling Federation
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mr McMahon and Shane McMahon

WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1999 -  Stone Cold Steve AustinPrior to the bell, Mr McMahon announced that The Lethal Weapon Steve Blackman would be his replacement.

Just as you were about to groan in disappointment, however, that pesky GTV thing (remember that?) popped up on the titantron to reveal Shane laughing and joking with the Mean Street Posse about how he'd faked the injury to get one over on everybody.

When Pete Gass alerted Shane to the fact that that they were live on GTV, he and his boys attempted to do a runner, only for Commissioner Michaels to arrive on the scene and order Shane to compete.

Once the match started, it was just about the most fun you can have watching pro wrestling.

Saying that, there was probably not a single, actual wrestling move in sight.

Instead, there was Austin beating the living daylights out of the McMahons, destroying them with ladders, and even destroying the intricate arrangement of ladders that had been set up around the entrance way so that about 20 ladders all fell on top of Vince and Shane at once.

They brawled back to ringside, where those poor old fellows at the Spanish Announce Table were once again subjected to furniture breakage, and where Vince shoved Austin off a ladder through the American announce table.

Moving deliberately from one wild spot to another, this tremendously entertaining contest eventually moved to the ring where it was revealed that somebody was manipulating the mechanism that hung the briefcase from the rafters.

When Austin went for it, it was raised up, out of reach, but when Shane reached for it, it was lowered so that he could easily get hold of it and win the match.
Your Winners and once again owners of the WWF: The McMahons

Post-match, Austin merely looked on, pissed off and cursing at his rivals as the show came to a close.

Unlike previous years, we finally got the closest thing to a full King of the Ring tournament on tonight's show, though for the most part it often felt like filler, a way to kill time before the disappointing title match and the excellent main event ladder match. 

Again, the decision to have a legitimately injured X-Pac work all the way through to the final was questionable, especially when the ever popular Road Dogg was every bit as capable of putting together an entertaining match with his former New Age Outlaws teammate, if not more so given the circumstances. 

Speaking of Road Dogg, his match with Chyna was one of the best things on the card, second only to the main event itself which, as I may have mentioned, was tremendous. 

Elsewhere, the Hardyz/E&C match is worth checking out to see the start of an epic rivalry, though you can probably skip most everything else.                                  ¬

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.