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, 8 August 2019

PPV REVIEW: WWF Summerslam 1999

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Event poster
August 22, 1999,
Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It is often said that, despite making many a rival over the years, Vince McMahon is willing to build bridges with just about anybody if it made for good business.

If there was ever one show that was proof of that, it was Summerslam 1999.

At one time, Vince can't have been too happy with Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, the former colour commentator who had publically sued Titan Sports in a dispute over royalties.

Aggrieved, McMahon famously had much of Ventura's work overdubbed on home video releases but now, taking advantage of The Body's status as Governor of Minnesota, he had welcomed The Body back into the fold in order to referee tonight's main event.

Speaking of that main event, it would be -as far as this writer can remember- the first time Triple H had headlined a Pay Per View as a singles competitor.

He had been in the main event of No Way Out of Texas: In Your House 20, back in early 1998, but that was part of a multi-man tag team match, rather than a world title fight such as the one he'd be in tonight.

With that interesting little tidbit out of the way, let's head to Minneapolis for Summerslam 1999.

I Have the Power

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the event
Our opening video tonight began by reminding us of Stone Cold Steve Austin's history with special guest referees and enforcers, including the time Iron Mike Tyson took out Shawn Michaels in the main event of Wrestlemania 14, the time Vince McMahon refereed the Austin vs. Dude Love main event back at In Your House: 22 - Over the Edge 1998, and the time Vince's son Shane donned the stripes at Survivor Series 1998.

Tonight, the video package told us Austin would now defend his title with Jesse 'The Body' Ventura as the special guest referee. Ventura had repeatedly claimed that he would be bringing law and order to Summerslam, but both Austin and one of his challengers, Triple H, had both vowed to beat him up if they have to.

Finally, the video ended with Ventura telling us "I have the power," because he was, obviously, He-Man.

Out in the arena, Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler welcomed us to the show before we went backstage where Ventura was busy confronting Triple H and Chyna.

The Body Lays Down the Law

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Special referee Jesse Ventura lays down the law to HHH and Chyna
Jesse repeated his claim to be the law and order and reminded Chyna that she'd better not interfere in tonight's main event.

"Listen," said Triple H. "You make all the rules you want. I'll break them if I feel like it."

"You do that and you won't become champ," replied Ventura, stating a very obvious part of pro wrestling which was often overlooked in this era.

Y2J is Here

Elsewhere, Chris Jericho made his WWF PPV debut by standing in the parking lot waiting for his lackey, Howard Finkle, to catch up.

Last seen on PPV back at WCW Superbrawl IX, Jericho lambasted "Harold" for not being on time then headed out into the arena.

Everyone in both of those past two segments played their parts really well. It's fair to say Summerslam 1999 was off to a fun start, and that's before we'd even had our first match.

World Wrestling Federation European and Intercontinental Championship
WWF European and Intercontinental Champion D'Lo Brown (w/ Debra) vs. Jeff Jarrett

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Debra and her puppies
Jeff Jarrett had been doing a bit where he was sick of Debra flaunting her puppies everywhere and would yell at her. Tonight, he yelled at her to go backstage and leave him alone rather than accompany him to the ring. The former Queen of WCW did as she was told, only to come back out in D'Lo Brown's corner instead.

Once the bell rung, both champ and challenger put on a very solid opening contest with lots of high-impact offence.

To be honest, I was never a huge fan of Jarrett's at the time, but the more I watch matches like this one, where he really impressed, the more I start to like him.

Towards the finish, Debra got up on the apron where Jeff pretended like he was going to hit her with his guitar, only for referee Tim White to get in the way. With White distracted, Mark Henry ran out and turned heel on long-time friend D'Lo Brown by waffling him with Jarret's guitar.

Double J made the cover, White turned around, and three seconds later we had a new dual champion.
Your Winner and NEw European and Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Jarrett

Post-match, Debra lept into the ring and into Jarrett's arms, revealing the whole thing to be a rouse.

Edge and Christian Want the Tag Team Titles

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Michael Cole interviews Edge & Christian
Out in the back, Edge and Christian spoke to Michael Cole about leaving The Brood and how one of the teams they'd be facing in a few moments -The Hardyz- had aligned themselves with Gangrel.

The duo also spoke about how they were coming after the tag team titles in a promo that felt a little bit disjointed. On the one hand, Edge was already coming into his own as a character. On the other, Christian didn't seem to have much of a character at all and was a long way off being the Captain Charisma we'd all later get to know.

Tag Team Turmoil Match
Featuring: Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy), Viscera & Mideon, Droz & Prince Albert, The Acolytes (Farooq & Bradshaw) and The Hollys (Hardcore and Crash Holly)

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Christian and his face
The winner earns a tag team title shot
The idea here was that two teams would start, and every time a team got pinned, they would be replaced by another until all six teams had been involved.

Edge, Christian, and The Hardyz started things off and absolutely tore it up. With a white-hot crowd cheering for their every move, the two teams displayed flashes of the brilliance that would make their rivalry so epic. That included Edge and Jeff Hardy running along opposite sides of the security barrier then leaping towards each other and Edge spearing Jeff in mid-air.

The whole thing was awesome and led to a well-earned win for Edge and Christian.

Mideon and Viscera were the next team up, quickly followed by Droz and Prince Albert, but despite taking their already tired opponents, both teams were disposed of by Edge and Christian in dramatic fashion.

The two eventually got the better of the valiant youngsters, but not before Edge and Christian gave it everything they had.

Honestly, if there's one match that you could argue was the making of E&C as tag team stars, it was probably this one.

Alas, it wasn't to be their day, and The Acolytes were left to duke it out with Hardcore Holly and his recently debuted cousin, Crash Holly.

The two looked to be a good match for a weakened Farooq and Bradshaw, but alas, they couldn't get on the same page. The two cousins argued so much that they were easy pickings for the Acolytes, who battered their way into an upcoming title shot.
Your Winners: Farooq and Bradshaw

Post-match, Hardcore and Crash Holly argued some more.

Backstage Shenanigans

Out in the back, we saw The Undertaker and The Big Show arriving at the arena in preparation for their WWF tag team title match against Kane and X-Pac. Man, I can't tell you how much I hated that team back in the day.

Elsewhere in the arena, Al Snow was seen talking to Pepper the Chiuaua, telling his little dog not to be afraid of The Big Boss Man.

Chris Jericho Interrupts The Road Dogg

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Chris Jericho interupts Road Dogg
Up next, Road Dogg came out to lament his fate at being left out of the upcoming Hardcore Title match and challenge the winner to a title match the following night on Raw.

Before he could wrap up, the D-Generation-X mainstay was interrupted by 'The Saviour of the WWF' Chris Jericho.

Taking to the mic, Y2J complained that 'Raw is Snore' was boring and that 'Summersham' wasn't much better, adding that all of the WWF's performers were crap, especially Road Dogg.

Though Jericho had always been wildly entertaining in his WCW run, there was something off about his performance here. It was stilted and forced, almost as if he were reading directly from a script.

That wasn't even the worst part though. The worst part was that none of this had any point. Jericho insulted Road Dogg for a bit, Road Dogg called Jericho a bitch and invited him to suck it before joining the announce table for the next match, and that was it.

Though I get that it was a good way to get both men on the show, it just kind of ended without anything actually happening.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion The Big Boss Man vs. Al Snow

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Al Snow beats up Big Boss Man in a bar
Man, was this fun. With Road Dogg following them around as a kind of roving-reporter, Al Snow and Big Boss Man didn't even make it into the ring.

Instead, they brawled through the backstage area to the outside and into a bar across the street. There, they engaged in all the usual hardcore brawling, albeit with the added fun and games that a unique location provided.

After several minutes of entertaining action, Boss Man pissed off Road Dogg, prompting the D-O-Double-G to hit him with his (Boss Man's) own nightstick. Al Snow then picked up two pool balls and smacked Boss Man in his actual balls with them before pinning him on top of the pool table to become your new Hardcore Champion.
Your Winner and NEW Hardcore Champion: Al Snow

Post-match, Al ran back into the arena, only to find Blue Meanie and Stevie Richards having after his dog, Pepper. Naturally, the new hardcore champion beat them up.

Hilariously, there was a spot earlier in the match in which Boss Man saw a guy with crutches, stole one of them and hit Snow with it. Now that they were back in the arena, Snow took the other guy's crutch and hit Stevie and Meanie with it, causing the poor, crutchless guy to fall over.

It was hysterical.

The Body Warns Mankind

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Jesse Ventura lays down the law to Mankind
Elsewhere in the arena, Jesse Ventura told Mankind that he wasn't going to disqualify him if he used a steel chair in the main event, but that Mankind would at least have to pin either Austin or Triple H inside the ring.

Foley basically ignored Ventura's warning and wanted to talk about politics instead.

After a quick look at the Lion's Den setting for Ken Shamrock's upcoming match against Steve Blackman, it was onto our next contest.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship
WWF Women's Champion Ivory vs. Tori

The best thing you can say about this one is that it is a thing that happened.

Both girls did the best that they could but the crowd just didn't care at all and it was a hard match to get into which is a shame because I really rather liked Ivory.

Speaking of the future WWF Hall of Famer, she picked up the three count here to retain her title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Women's Champion: Ivory

Afterwards, the champion tried to take off Tori's pants and top, but Luna Vachon ran in and saw her off. Honestly, I had no idea Luna was even still with the company at this stage.

The Rock is Ready to Lay the Smackdown

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - The Rock lays the Smackdown on Michael Cole
Out in the back, The Rock questioned Michael Cole's sexuality before claiming that he didn't care about Billy Gunn's so-called surprises. A generic Rock promo followed, and when I say generic, I don't mean that as a bad thing.

The Great One was as charismatic and electric as ever here and, even from backstage, had the Minnesota faithful eating out of the palm of his hand.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the arena, Billy Gunn was seen ushering an unknown mystery person through the backstage area under a black sheet.

Lion's Den Match
Ken Shamrock vs. Steve Blackman

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Ken Shamrock vs. Steve Blackman in a Lion's Den match
The last time we saw Shamrock face Steve Blackman, it was the previous month at Fully Loaded 1999.

Tonight, the two would lock up in a Lion's Den Match, a concept not seen since Shamrock faced Owen Hart in one the previous year at Summerslam 1998.

Though Blackman was no Owen Hart, he did work well with Shamrock in what was essentially a cross between a no-rope cage match and a worked version of an MMA fight with weapons.

Yes, the two had hidden nun-chucks, kendo sticks and other assorted martial arts weapons around the top of the cage and used them to beat each other senseless in between brawling, suplexing, and generally trying to destroy each other.

The result was a very entertaining, unique match which Shamrock run by knocking Blackman out with a kendo stick.
Your Winner: Ken Shamrock

Out in the back, Kevin Kelly told us that Shane McMahon had attacked his opponent and potential future brother-in-law Test on the Sunday Night Heat show that preceded Summerslam.

Almost as if wrestling were scripted or something, Test himself just so happened to walk past Kelly at that exact moment, but was in no mood for an interview.

"Talking time's over!" he snapped as he marched to the ring.

Love Her or Leave Her Match
Test vs. Shane McMahon

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Test faced Shane McMahon
So yeah, McMahon was mad because he didn't want Stephanie McMahon in a relationship with Test. As such, this 'Greenwich Street Fight' was set up with the stipulation that, if Shane won, Test would have to leave Steph, but if Test won, Shane would have to leave the couple alone.

Before things got underway, The Mean Street Posse came out sporting various casts and other 'LOOK HOW INJURED WE ARE' paraphernalia after Test had beaten them all up in the run-up to tonight's match.

Then, the bell finally rang, and this quickly built into one of the most entertaining matches on the card.

The street fight rules, plenty of Posse interference and general overbooking (including a run in by Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe on Test's behalf) all helped the two put on a brilliant contest without having to do much actual wrestling.

Not that the wrestling they did do wasn't noteworthy.

I know Shane O' Mac gets a bad wrap for his sloppy punches these days, but back in 1999, he was busting out corkscrew moonsaults which didn't look half bad given his limited in-ring experience. OK, so said moonsault missed, but his later elbow from the top rope to the outside onto Test and through the Spanish announce table landed and was truly impressive.

After one hell of a fun ride, Test hit Shane with a pumphandle powerslam and a top rope elbow of his own then made the cover and got the fall.
Your Winner: Test

Afterwards, Stephanie ran down to congratulate her boyfriend in what was genuinely a nice moment.

Man, did I ever enjoy that one.

You hurt Sean, You Hurt Me...

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - X-Pac and Kane
Before our upcoming tag team title match, we got a look at how The Undertaker and Big Show came together, and how their rivalry with Kane and X-Pac developed. This was mainly through Show and 'Taker beating up the faces and Kane telling them 'you hurt Sean, you hurt me, now I'll hurt you.'

Later, 'Taker would tell them that Summerslam would now be known as Armageddon. He was wrong of course, but you have to imagine that someone in the WWF's PPV-Naming Committee was paying attention to this one.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Kane & X-Pac vs. The Undertaker & The Big Show (w/ Paul Bearer)

As I've probably told you before, I absolutely hated The Undertaker and Big Show back in 1999. This wasn't me hating them because they were heels and I was supposed to, but because they were slow, boring and as dull as the proverbial dishwater.

I'll give it to you though, this match was actually pretty fun.

The hot crowd, the whole story of X-Pac having a heart as big as any of the other three men despite being the smallest guy in there, everybody actually trying, it all added up to a create a bout which, while by no means the best thing on the card, at least held its own.

After a very decent contest, Undertaker Tombstoned 'Pac to win the titles for his team.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: The Undertaker and The Big Show

Afterwards, 'Taker and 'Show had a little tiff because Show believed he already had Pac beat.

Meanwhile, backstage, Jesse Ventura tried laying down the law to Stone Cold Steve Austin, but Austin merely walked off.

Kiss My Ass Match
Bad Ass Billy Gunn vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Bad Bum Billy Gunn and a Big Fat Woman
Prior to the bell, Mr Ass finally revealed his mystery surprise - a big, fat woman with a big, fat ass.

The stipulation here was that the winner would have to kiss the loser's ass (welcome to the Attitude Era), but according to the King of the Ring 1999 winner, when he beat The Rock, he would make The People's Champion kiss the big, fat woman's big, fat ass instead.

Finally, the match got underway and, you know, what? It wasn't half as bad as people make it out to be.

I've seen people dump on this match and Gunn's singles push as a whole, but I honestly don't think it was all that terrible. Ok, so it won't go down as one of the greatest of all time, but this was a perfectly serviceable contest in which both men at least worked hard to entertain.

Towards the finish, Gunn was in control and had his big, fat woman stand in the corner and show her big, fat ass (she was wearing pantyhose with a hole cut out). He went to ram Rock's face into the big, fat woman's big, fat ass, but Rock reversed it and Billy got a face full of booty.

Considering his whole gimmick was that he was an Ass Man, I can't really see how that was a bad thing for him.

What were bad things were the Rock Bottom and People's elbow which followed, giving Rock a somewhat predictable three count.
Your Winner: The Rock

Finally, we got a look back at the build-up to our world title match and with that, it was show time.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Triple Threat
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mankind vs. Triple H (w/ Chyna)

Special guest referee: Jesse 'The Body' Ventura
WWE / WWF - Summerslam 1999 - Jesse Ventura, HHH, Chyna and Mankind
Pre-bell, Ventura took to the mic and claimed that, despite the media calling him a disgrace for associating with the World Wrestling Federation, he was proud to be a wrestler and proud to be there tonight.

Once things got underway, this turned into one of the better Triple Threat matches Austin would have for the WWF title. Indeed, while the likes of his three-way with Undertaker and Kane at Breakdown: In Your House 24 left a lot to be desired, this was pretty good from bell to bell.

With all three wrestlers busting ass, Ventura played his role as the strict but fair referee to perfection, even refusing to make a three count when Triple H slammed Mankind with a chair and tried to get the pinfall.

After that, Shane McMahon came down to insist that The Body make the pin. Austin got up, stunned him, then had Jesse throw him out of the ring. At that point, Austin stood on the ropes to yell at Shane, but then Ventura did too and Austin ended up falling and getting himself all tangled up in the ropes until Triple H came to get him out again.

It was pretty funny.

Not that Hunter would have much to laugh about.

After nailing Stone Cold with a Pedigree, Mankind blasted The Game, hit the champion with a double-arm DDT and got the one, the two, and the three.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Mankind

Post-match, Mrs Foley's baby boy walked backstage with Ventura as Triple H reached for another chair and destroyed Austin's knee with it, effectively writing Stone Cold out of the show to go and deal with some legitimate injuries.

And so one of the better Summerslams in the company's history was finally over, and what a night it was. Although not every match sparkled, there was far more good here than bad. The opening Jarrett/D'Lo match was solid, the tag team gauntlet match was the making of Edge & Christian as stars and that Shane/Test match was far, far better than anyone could have ever expected.

I feel like I haven't said this in any of these reviews for a long time, Summerslam 1999 is a definite must-watch show. Go check it out, you won't be disappointed.

1999 events reviewed so far

Thursday, 1 August 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Road Wild 1999

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Event poster
August 14, 1999
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

To be fair to World Championship Wrestling, the company had managed to get quite a lot of mileage (literally and figuratively) out of what had started as an excuse for Eric Bischoff to ride his motorbike for a bit.

From the inaugural Hog Wild event in 1996 which saw a newly-heel Hollywood Hogan defeat The Giant and bring the World Championship into the nWo, to the highly criticised in-ring debut of TV host Jay Leno at the 1998 event (via a forced name change to Road Wild courtesy of Harley Davidson's lawyers), the company's annual visit to Sturgis may not have delivered many five-star classics, but certainly created many a memorable moment.

Now, however, Bischoff's Road Wild creation was soon to be put to bed for good.

With his time at the top reaching an end, the mastermind of World Championship Wrestling's most successful period in history once again saddled up and rode into South Dakota for what proved to be the final Road Wild PPV in history.

Let's head to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to see what went down.

Hulk Hogan is Back!

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Tony Schiavone, Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
We started our show tonight with a confusing video which basically told us that tonight we would see Kevin Nash challenging Hulk Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship.

In the few short weeks since Bash at the Beach 1999, Hogan had not only returned to the company after a lengthy absence, not only beat Nash for the title but also ditched the Hollywood gimmick and returned back to the traditional red and yellow.

This video glossed over all of that and focused primarily on Nash and Hogan hitting each other with chairs.

None of it made any sense. Then again, this was 1999 WCW, so you could probably say that about anything.

Heading live to Sturgis, cameras panned the sea of fans before got to the annual embarrassment of seeing Tony Schiavone doing his best impression of a biker he once saw on an early-90s sitcom.

Joined, as ever, by Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Schiavone put over tonight's main event. Again, all three announcers totally overlooked the fact that Hogan was back to being a babyface, which was a pretty big deal at the time.

They also sent us to a second video package, this one even more confusing than the first one.

You sort of got the idea that The Filthy Animals didn't like Vampiro (and that the feeling was mutual), but the whole thing looked as though it had been edited by a 12-year-old with ADHD, so you really couldn't tell why, or what Eddie Guerrero, Raven and the Insane Clown Posse had to do with it.

Hopefully, we'd get some answers in our next match, as it looked to be the culmination of whatever bewildering story WCW had just tried to tell us.

Six Man Tag
The Dead Pool (Vampiro, Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J w/ Raven) vs. Eddie Guerrero, Kidman, and WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr.

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Tony Schiavone, Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
You know, this is the first WCW PPV featuring an Eddie Guerrero match since Bash at the Beach 1998 and man, what a comeback it was for the former leader of the Latino World Order.

If you're anything like me, your first instinct may have been to let out an audible groan at the mere mention of the Insane Clown Posse. Thankfully, the contributions of Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J were kept to a minimum here and, when they did get involved, they -surprisingly- didn't suck.

OK, so those contributions were really only suplexes, punches and kicks, but the rappers played their parts well and left Vampiro to do the bulk of the work.

That work saw him mostly interact with Eddie and Rey Mysterio Jr., both of whom took turns at playing the face-in-peril and who, along with Kidman, shone brightly throughout the match.

All of this combined to make a really enjoyable opening contest with nary a dull moment in sight.

The end came when Vampiro accidentally kicked Violent J, then was pulled into a brawl on the outside. That gave Kidman the chance to hit the Shooting Star Press and pick up the win for his team.
Your Winners: Eddie Guerrero, Kidman and Rey Mysterio Jr.

Up next, a recap from recent Nitros told us that Harlem Heat had reformed and were now feuding with The Jersey Triad for the tag team titles. The two teams would face off next.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions The Jersey Triad (Bam Bam Bigelow & Kanyon) vs. Harlem Heat (Stevie Ray and Booker T)

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Chris Kanyon and Bam Bam Bigelow of The Jersey Triad
Funny lols to start with as Bam Bam Bigelow's tag team title fell off his waist and dropped to the floor. Kanyon then took to the mic and vowed that he wasn't going to do his usual 'Who's better than Kanyon?' routine because the Sturgis crowd couldn't possibly be as dumb as they looked. I wasn't sure as to the logic on that one, but there you go.

Pre-match shenanigans aside, once Booker T and Stevie Ray got in the ring, they ended up having a good, solid match with the champions.

Somewhat surprisingly, given that he was the biggest man in the match, Stevie Ray played the face-in-peril as Kanyon and Bigelow proved themselves to be a capable team which this fan would have liked to have seen enjoy a longer run.

Naturally, Booker popped the crowd huge when he finally got the hot tag and cleaned house, a moment which proved to be the highlight of a pretty entertaining contest.

Towards the finish, Diamond Dallas Page ran out to help his teammates but Harlem Heat sent Bam Bam crashing into him. Booker then hit Bigelow with a top rope dropkick, Stevie made the three count, and we had new, eight-time tag team champions.
Your Winners and NEW tag team champions: Harlem Heat

Between the matches, we got a recap of the rivalry between Saturn and Curt Hennig which, on a larger scale, extended to a feud between The West Texas Rednecks and The Revolution.

We weren't actually told why the two sides disliked each other, jus that they did and would face off next.

Six Man Tag
The West Texas Rednecks (Curt Hennig, Barry Windham, and Bobby Duncum Jr. w/ Kendal Windham) vs. The Revolution (Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, and Shane Douglas)

WCW Road Wild 1999 - West Texas Rednecks
This was an interesting one to watch because it actually started out pretty good, but then got sloppier, and increasingly more tedious the longer it went on.

Although not the longest match on the card, you got the idea that if they'd shaved a few minutes off it, they could have tightened things up and kept it as fun to watch as it was in the opening moments.

Instead, things gradually disintegrated into a clusterf**k finish in the midst of which Saturn was able to hit a Death Valley Driver and pick up the three count.
Your Winners: The Revolution

Post-match, The West Texas Rednecks tried to beat up their opponents some more, but Shane Douglas, Dean Malenko and Saturn saw them off.

Ernest 'The Cat' Miller (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Buff Bagwell

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Ernest 'The Cat' Miller and Sonny Onoo
The only thing more ridiculous than the sight of Ernest Miller and Sonny Onoo dressed in biker gear is The Cat's WWE Network theme which, as I never fail to mention, sounds terrible.

Once he got in the ring, Miller attempted to goad the crowd but was quickly and loudly drowned out by the sound of that same crowd revving the engines of their motorcycles.

Buff Bagwell eventually made his way out and spent the first minute or so of this match going back and forth on the microphone with his opponent to really get the fans fired up.

When Bagwell took the mic, the crowd cheered then hushed to let him speak. Whenever Miller took it, the crowd turned up the noise to drown him out, prompting the karate champion to take a walk around ringside and yell at them.

That was the best thing about this match. The actual wrestling may not have been much to write home about, but both men proved themselves to be experts in getting a strong reaction from the live audience. That in itself, more than any of the actual moves that they did, made this one worth watching.

After a passable contest, they pretty much repeated the ending from the earlier tag team title match. Sonny Onoo got up on the apron, Buff reversed an Irish whip and sent Miller crashing into him, then rolled up his opponent and got the pin.
Your Winner: Buff Bagwell

Afterwards, Onoo and The Cat beat up -and then mocked- Buff.

We then got a recap of the rivalry between Chris Benoit and Diamond Dallas Page

World Championship Wrestling United States Heavyweight Championship No Disqualification Match
WCW United States Champion Chris Benoit vs. Diamond Dallas Page

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Diamond Dallas Page faced Chris Benoit for the US title
Prior to the bell, two-time, two-time, two-time world champion DDP promised to become a three-time, three-time, three-time US champion. He then apologised to Chris Benoit for talking trash about Benoit's mother before doing it again anyway, implying that Mrs Benoit was a phone sex worker.

Page was compelling on the mic, but you got the distinct feeling that the crowd were paying no attention to him whatsoever.

What they were paying attention to was the match itself, which was almost as good as you could expect from Page and Benoit. I say almost because the two had put on a superior match -which also involved Raven- back at Uncensored 1998. Yet while this failed to match the quality of that one, it was still the best match on the card so far.

As the final minutes began ticking down, Kanyon and Bigelow ran in to help DDP, but since they were the good guys, Benoit's teammates in The Revolution hung back, watching the match on a monitor and letting Chris deal with things himself.

Deal with them he did, somehow managing to take out all three men before retaining his title thanks to his top rope headbutt.
Your Winner and Still United States Champion: Chris Benoit

Post-match, The Revolution ran down to congratulate the champ. Benoit, Douglas, and Saturn all tried talking to the camera at the same time which was awkward and messy.

Let's Give Away a Bike

Speaking of awkward...

The show's sponsor, American Iron Horse were giving away a custom WCW motorcycle in a prize draw. Some guy who apparently worked for WCW but who nobody had ever heard of tried to host the segment but did a terrible job of it, at one point asking for "the envelope, please" after it had already been given to him.

Some guy called Darnell from Cleveland, Ohio won it, which Bobby Heenan thought was the funniest thing in the world. You could clearly hear The Brain laughing his arse off most of the way through the segment and afterwards.

Though I'm not sure what was so funny about it, I'd love to find out what happened to that bike.

Sid Vicious vs. Sting

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Sid Vicious faced Sting
Before this match, we got another one of WCW's strange video packages that gave no context whatsoever. Sure, we learned that Sting and Sid Vicious had beef, but we never really understood why.

The match itself wasn't the worst thing ever, but it was certainly the worst thing on the card up to this point. Some people were able to get a really good match out of Sid but, as talented as he might have been, Sting was sadly not one of those people.

As such, we got a match that seemed clumsy and half-arsed.

At one point, Sting went to throw Sid into the crowd, but because there was barely any room and the bikers were trying to keep Sid's big legs from kicking their bikes, it just looked terrible.

Later, Sid was down and Sting went to run the ropes, only for Sid to trip him up. It was a simple move that didn't even look like it was entirely on purpose, but the announcers sold it like Vicious had just busted out a Canadian Destroyer.

It was dumb.

After a bunch of minutes of lacklustre action, 'Millenium Man' Sid Vicious struck a chokeslam to keep his recent undefeated streak alive.
Your Winner: Sid Vicious

As the sun set over Sturgis, we were taken back to Nitro to learn that Rick Steiner and Goldberg hated each other and would be competing next.

Rick Steiner vs. Goldberg

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Rick Steiner vs. Bill Goldberg
There's no way of getting around it:

This was horrible.

If you ever wanted to see five minutes of Rick Steiner lazily hitting Goldberg with Goldberg's own knee brace, followed by Goldberg himself making a miracle comeback, hitting a spear and a jackhammer then getting the fall, then this is the match for you.

Otherwise, just trust me that this was absolutely awful and let's move on with our lives, shall we?
Your Winner: Goldberg.

Ah, Goldberg. Remember when you were the hottest thing in wrestling?

Dennis Rodman vs. Macho Man Randy Savage

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Macho Man Randy Savage faced Dennis Rodman
It's been a good five minutes since I finished watching this match and I've still no idea how to adequately describe the absolute nonsensical mess that I've just seen.

Prior to the match, we were shown a clip from Nitro in which Dennis Rodman basically kidnapped Savage's valet, Gorgeous George. In an in-ring promo, Savage then said he was bringing someone to Sturgis to protect her, insisting that not only was this protector the baddest man on the planet but that he was also the mystery man who drove the hummer in Savage's recent feud with Kevin Nash.

If you were expecting a surprise appearance from someone here, forget about it. This mystery man was never mentioned again for the whole match.

Instead, Rodman staggered to ringside looking stoned out of his mind and wanted to know where "his bitch" (Gorgeous George) was at.

"You're MY bitch tonight," replied Savage, inviting the Sturgis crowd to take 'sloppy seconds' afterwards.

Rodman then demanded that Savage meet him outside the ring because "I DO ALL MY SHIT OUTSIDE", but immediately contradicted himself by rolling into the ring.

After about a minute of sloppy action, Rodman beat up the referee. In any other match, that would be a DQ, but this was WCW, so another referee came out and acted as nothing had happened. Savage beat that guy up, putting us on referee number three, before going outside and beating up a cameraman. He then took the camera and waffled Rodman with it.

"This is horrible," said Schiavone. He was absolutely right.

The match then went outside and into the backstage area despite not being a Falls Count Anywhere match. The referee decided to ignore the count-out rule that had been a part of pro wrestling since time immemorial and simply followed the two combatants.

Out in the back, Savage dumped Rodman into a porta potty then tipped it over. All kinds of crap leaked out, which was probably a perfect metaphor for this match.

Eventually, they made it back into the ring for another ref bump and a short nap for Savage and Rodman. At this point, Gorgeous George ran out, handed Savage a chain to wrap around his fist and then hit Dennis with a low blow. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Savage pummelled Rodman with a chain-wrapped fist and won this utter abomination.
Your Winner: Randy Savage

Macho Man is one of my favourite wrestlers of all time but, my God, that was embarrassing. I almost want to recommend you watch that match just to see how truly atrocious it really was.

Finally, it was time for our main event.

Retirement Match for the World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Kevin Nash

Winner becomes champion, loser retires from pro wrestling.

WCW Road Wild 1999 - Hulk Hogan defended the WCW title against Kevin Nash
I get that there will be people who hate this match, but personally, I thought it was a lot of fun to see old-school '80s Hogan doing his stuff at the turn of the millennium.

Though it was very slow in parts, you got the feeling that Hogan was trying at times to replicate his classic Wrestlemania 3 battle with Andre and, for the most part, it worked.

Towards the finish, Nash was in control and hit Hogan with his jackknife. Hogan kicked out, hulked up, and one big leg later, ended Kevin Nash's career...kinda.
Your Winner and Still WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan

Nash would take the rest of summer off and return in October of that year, but for now, he simply lay around while the red and yellow rode high in Sturgis and Hogan celebrated his big victory.

And so, the Road Wild chapter of WCW's turbulent history ended on a bit of a whimper. As I said at the beginning, this show never had a history of producing really good matches, so at least you can say that it lived up to its reputation here, but that's not necessarily a good thing.

Save for the novelty factor of seeing old-school Hogan in the main event, this show really did get worse as it went on.

Honestly, you won't be missing much if you give this one a miss, though I am still tempted to suggest that you check out Savage/Rodman because I don't believe that I've been able to do justice to just what a farcical mess that whole thing was.

1999 events reviewed so far
Other WCW Road Wild events

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

Thursday, 25 July 2019

PPV REVIEW: WWF Fully Loaded 1999

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Event poster
July 25, 1999
Marine Midland Arena, Buffalo, New York

This is the point in our retro pro wrestling reviews that I try to set the scene for you, placing the show we're about to review within the context of the wider pro wrestling landscape as it was at the time or, at the very least, give you a little background about the event at hand.

Today, I'm not going to do that.

Today, I'm just going to tell you this:

I'm really really glad to be reviewing a World Wrestling Federation show again.

After sitting through some of World Championship Wrestling's efforts from the summer of 1999, I was all but ready to give up on this blog and never watch any wrestling ever again.

That's how bad those shows were.

Not just bad, but frustrating, confusing, and nonsensical.

It's no wonder that, by this point in the legendary saga of the Monday Night Wars, Vince McMahon's WWF were firmly back in charge.

Would Fully Loaded 1999 prove once and for all why the WWF were bound to win the war? Or would they suffer an epic fail of WCW proportions?

Let's head to Buffalo, New York to find out.

I Miss You...Or Something

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the action
We began tonight with our usual video package. This one juxtaposed scenes of returning World War II soldiers kissing their loved ones with clips of Steve Austin flipping off Vince McMahon, all while a crackly old song played with a woman singing about how much she missed her sweetheart.

This then cut to a more vivid account of tonight's main event, in which Steve Austin would face The Undertaker in a last blood match. If Austin won tonight, McMahon would no longer be allowed to appear on WWF TV.

Meanwhile, out in the arena, Jim Ross welcomed us to the show before taking us back to the episode of Sunday Night Heat which aired before tonight's PPV. On that show, Ross attempted to interview Stone Cold, only for The Rattlesnake to be beaten up by The Undertaker and busted wide open.

McMahon Makes a Guarantee

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Michael Cole confronts Vince & Shane McMahon about tonight's show
Live in the arena, Austin received stitches from medical personnel. Elsewhere in the arena, Michael Cole interviewed Vince and Shane McMahon.

Cole accused the McMahons of being behind The Undertaker's attack. Shane refuted such allegations before his dad guaranteed that Austin would never be the WWF Champion ever again.

If you were ever going to open a PPV with a strong, suspenseful story, this was the way to do it.

Austin being busted open once made him much more vulnerable for tonight's First Blood match.

Could he avoid letting The Undertaker reopen that wound to win their main event match?

We'd have to find out later because, for now, it was time for our opening contest.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra)

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Edge lost the Intercontinental Championship to Jeff Jarrett
24 hours earlier, the WWF had been in Toronto where, in front of his hometown crowd, Edge had beaten defending champion Jeff Jarrett to win the title.

The move had obviously been done to create a feel-good moment for the Toronto show, but now they needed the Intercontinental Championship back on Jarrett.

To get it there, both Double J and Edge locked up in what was a tremendous opening match, combining great wrestling with typical Attitude Era fun and games.

At one point, Jim Ross told us that Gangrel had left The Brood due to a falling out with Edge. Anyone would think Ross knew what was about to happen or something because, a few moments later, the lights went out and Gangrel attempted to give Edge a bloodbath. Yet the future Rated-R Superstar beat up his former stablemate instead.

The champion returned to the ring and looked to have the thing won, but Gangrel recovered and attacked Edge. That gave Jarrett the opening he needed to win the title for what was, I think, the fourth time.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Jarrett

Post-match, Jarrett celebrated with his new title for an unusually long time before Austin stormed from the back and planted him with a stunner.

Austin then took to the mic to promise Undertaker that he would bust his 'big dead ass' wide open.

It was kind of a pointless segment, but at least the crowd loved it.

The Hardyz No Longer Jerk Curtains

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Michael Hayes w/ The Hardy Boys
Out in the back, Michael Cole interviewed tag team champions, Matt and Jeff Hardy, with their manager, Michael Hayes.

Hayes took credit for taking The Hardyz from 'curtain jerkers' (his words, not mine) to the titles and promised to lead by example when he teamed up with them to face The Acolytes in a three-versus-two tag team title match.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship No Disqualification Handicap Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) and Michael Hayes vs. The Acolytes (Farooq & Bradshaw)

The Hardy Boyz had indeed benefitted greatly from their association with former Freebird Hayes and were currently riding high as an increasingly popular team.

So, you'd think it would make little sense to have Matt and Jeff temporarily resume their jobber role and look like a couple of chumps in a match where they actually had a third man to help them.

Still, that's exactly what the WWF brain trust did here, and it wasn't pretty.

An unnecessary mess of a match, this one saw Matt, Jeff, and a ridiculous-looking Michael Hayes take a pounding from Farooq and Bradshaw before Hayes finally succumbed to a double powerbomb to cost his team the gold.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: The Acolytes

Out in the back, Steve Austin walked around in search of The Undertaker.

Show Some Respect for the European Title

Elsewhere in the arena, D'Lo Brown told Kevin Kelly that it had been nine long months since he'd last been the Europen Champion. Tonight, said D'Lo, he was going to take the title back from Mideon and show his opponent that the title deserved more respect than to be held by a man who 'won' it simply by finding it in a bag and claiming himself the champion.

D'Lo was very convincing in his role as the babyface here, though you couldn't help but miss the brash, cocky swagger of heel D'Lo.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion Mideon vs. D'Lo Brown

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Mideon defended the European Championship against D'Lo Brown
If you've forgotten what D'Lo was talking about, Mideon had become our European Champion not by winning a match but simply by finding the title in Shane McMahon's bag.

McMahon had been the last European Champion but had retired the title so that he could claim to have retired as an undefeated champion. Despite this, McMahon apparently still carried the belt around with him for two months, and when Mideon found it, he simply anointed the former Godwin as our new champion.

Tonight, Mideon defended his ill-gotten gold in an underwhelming match against D'Lo Brown. It was disappointing that the match failed to hit the mark because you could tell that both men were trying to do the best they could with what they had.

Despite this, the crowd were just not interested, and it made the whole thing seem rather dull and uninspired.

After a few minutes of rather lacklustre action, D'Lo got the pin to give us our third title change of the evening.
Your Winner and NEW European Champion: D'Lo Brown

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Al Snow was crazier than usual
Out in the back, Austin kept up his search for The Undertaker while Michael Cole interviewed Hardcore Champion Al Snow.

Snow was apparently even more deranged than normal because all that he could hear was Head permanently screaming. Head, you see, was in pain because somebody -Cole never told us who- had driven a spike through him.

Rather than just pull the spike out, Snow wanted the Big Boss Man to beat him up just to make the screaming stop.

As a thank you, I suppose, Snow was putting the title on the line against Boss Man in our next match.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Al Snow vs. Big Boss Man

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Big Boss Man tries to run down Al Snow
Though you will have undoubtedly seen better hardcore matches, this one was still pretty entertaining.

The two combatants never made it to the ring, instead meeting in the entrance way before brawling through the backstage area, to the outside and across the street from the arena, where Boss Man handcuffed snow to some railings and pinned him with a simple foot across the chest.

It was typical of the over-the-top, cartoonish violence that made hardcore matches such a fun part of the Attitude Era, and though nobody would ever vote this the best match on the card, it was enjoyable for what it was.
Your Winner and New Hardcore Champion: The Big Boss Man

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Kevin Kelly interviews special referee Hardcore Holly
Up next, we were reminded of how much Big Show and Kane hated each other, and how much they'd beaten each other up back at King of the Ring 1999.

The two would meet in our next match with Hardcore Holly as our special referee. Why Holly? Because apparently he had some kind of loose association and/or issue with The Big Show which nobody explained and even fewer people cared about.

Prior to the match, Kevin Kelly interviewed Holly who, in a sure case of gimmick infringement, declared himself to be the law and order. He probably stopped himself from saying "and justice in the World Wrestling Federation" just so Boss Man wouldn't beat him up.

The Big Show vs. Kane

Special Guest Referee: Hardcore Holly

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Big Show vs. Kane w/  referee Hardcore Holly
This was a long and tedious match with only one redeeming quality:

The fact that it was eventually over.

It came to a head when Kane looked to have Big Show beat, only for Holly to give his buddy Big Show the assist and help him win the match.

All the while, Ross and Lawler and spent the majority of the match trying to get over Holly's new nickname 'The Big Shot.'

They must have said it a hundred times, and every single time they tried to differentiate between The Big Shot and The Big Show, it just sounded awkward.
Your Winner: The Big Show

Afterwards, Kane's tag team partner X-Pac ran in to help him even the score, taking out Holly with a roundhouse kick.

The Undertaker -who had also had issues with Kane and X-Pac- then stormed to the ring and teamed up with Big Show to help him destroy both men. This would be the start of that Undertaker/Big Show tag team which stunk up arenas throughout the summer of 1999.

Having done all the damage he wanted to do, 'Taker made his way backstage, where Austin was waiting to catch up with him. Stone Cold beat up on The Dead Man and busted him wide open, evening the score in the run-up to tonight's main event.

This whole segment was way more fun than anything that had happened in the match itself.

Iron Circle Match
Ken Shamrock vs. Steve Blackman

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Steve Blackman got laid out by Ken Shamrock
At Bash at the Beach 1999, WCW held a 'Junkyard Hardcore Invitational' match, which sounded good on paper but was terribly executed because it was too dark to see anything that was going on.

But hey, that was WCW. Surely the WWF would never do anything so stupid, right?


Because that's exactly what they did here with this 'Iron Circle' match.

Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman duked it out in a dimly lit parking garage, surrounded by an 'iron circle' of cars as random wrestlers like Viscera, The Godfather and Droz cheered them on.

Though they get 10/10 for creativity, the poor lighting really took the edge off this one.

After a bunch of brawling, Shamrock took a chain, choked Blackman out with it, then simply walked away.

For undisclosed reasons, that was apparently enough to win the match.
Your Winner: Ken Shamrock

Out in the back, The Undertaker beat up Terry Taylor for daring to try and interview him. Michael Cole fared a little better at his interview when he asked Chyna and Mr Ass about their upcoming tag match against X-Pac and Road Dogg.

The two said nothing of interest, but at least they didn't beat up Cole.

D-Generation-X (X-Pac and Road Dogg) vs. Chyna & Mr Ass

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - Michael Cole interviews Chyna and Billy Gunn
This one, as they say, was for all the marbles, or at least for all the DX-branded marbles.

JR told us that the winners of this match would get exclusive ownership of all the D-Generation-X trademarks. So, with everything at stake, both teams went at it in a fun, by-the-numbers tag match which saw babyfaces Road Dogg and X-Pac absorb most of the punishment.

Not that they were going to roll over and just hand their former stablemates the match.

After a really enjoyable outing, Road Dogg made an epic comeback, hit Mr Ass with a pump-handle slam and picked up the three count.
Your Winners: Road Dogg and X-Pac

Prior to our next match, we were shown a recap of the intense rivalry between Triple H and The Rock, including clips of their incredible ladder match back at Summerslam 1998.

Triple H then made his way to the ring to once again go one-on-one with his old adversary before The Great One himself was interviewed by Michael Cole.

"Triple H, you weren't held at the bottom of the barrel because you wanted to say goodbye to your roody poo friends in Madison Square Garden," said Rock, referencing a recent Triple H promo in which he'd made such claims. "You were held at the bottom of the barrel because you absolutely suck!"

Fully Loaded Strap Match
Triple H vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - The Rock confronts Triple H before their match
(Winner receives a WWF title shot at Summerslam)
At Fully Loaded 1998, Rock and Hunter had practically stolen the show in a terrific two-out-of-three falls match. One year later, their Fully Loaded Strap Match wasn't quite on a par with that one -or with a few of their other high-profile contests- but it was still very good indeed.

Unlike most strap matches in which the idea is to touch all four corners of the ring before your opponent does, this one was a No DQ, falls-count-anywhere match which could only be won by pinfall.

The whole reason for the strap being there was..well, your guess is probably as good as mine.

So, though the match was solid, the strap was rather unnecessary. Triple H even took it off towards the end of the match, by which time Chyna and Billy Gunn had made their way to ringside.

At the end, The Rock hit Gunn with a Rock Bottom, but that allowed Triple H to kick him and pedigree his way into a Summerslam title shot.
Your Winner: Triple H

Before our main event, we got another look back at the rivalry between Stone Cold Steve Austin and his rivals The Undertaker and Vince McMahon.

Cleverly, this included a clip of Austin telling The Undertaker that he was out for revenge. If you recall, the last time Austin had competed in a First Blood match -at King of the Ring 1998- 'Taker had cost him the title.

It also included a reminder that if Austin won, we'd never see Vince McMahon again, but if The Dead Man won, Austin would never be allowed to compete for the WWF title ever again.

After the video package, McMahon came out to join JR and King on commentary. It's a shame this was a First Blood match, I was rather looking forward to hearing "One, two he got him! No, he didn't!" and "what a manoeuvre!" again.

First Blood Match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker

WWE / WWF Fully Loaded 1999 - The Undertaker faced Steve Austin in a first blood match
To be honest, your writer has never really been a big fan of Austin and The Undertaker working together, but even I have to admit this one was much better than some of their previous outings.

That's not to say it was a masterpiece, because it wasn't. The two still had better matches against other people than they did against each other, but at least they put on a solid effort here.

Towards the finish, X-Pac ran out to get revenge for The Undertaker's earlier attack, kicking The Dead Man square in the face. That gave Stone Cold the chance to recover from a beat down, pick up a TV camera and smash it into his opponent's skull.

Eventually, Earl Hebner got up from the predictable ref bump he took, saw the blood, and called for the bell.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin 

Afterwards, Triple H ran in to attack Austin but was seen off by The Rock, leaving the champ to engage in a wild and bloody post-match brawl with The Undertaker before finally nailing Vince McMahon with a farewell stunner.

So, was Fully Loaded 1999 proof that the company were doing far better than WCW?

Despite emulating one of their worst ideas in the dark, dim-lit Iron Circle match, yes, yes it was.

OK, so that Shamrock/Blackman contest was weird, and the Big Show/Kane match was the dirt worst, but for the most part, this was a pretty fun show.

Was it must-see, essential stuff?

No, and I don't think anyone match on its own was either. Still, if you're working your way through 1999 pro wrestling PPVs like I am, you'll be grateful for a show like this just to break up the sheer chore of going through all the crap that was put out that year.

1999 events reviewed so far
Other WWF Fully Loaded event reviews:
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

WCW Christmas Brawl (1996) Album - A Track by Track Review

WCW Christmas Brawl 1996 CD album review - track by track

In 1996, the superstars of WCW went to Germany for their Christmas Brawl 1996 tour. The four-date jaunt was almost entirely devoid of star power, featuring matches like Public Enemy vs. American Males (more of whom later) and Glacier vs. Mortis.

From an in-ring standpoint, the sole highlight looks to have been an Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit match, though for fans of Germany's own Alex Wright, perhaps the real highlight was seeing their fellow countryman in the main event, tagging with Lex Luger to face Harlem Heat.

Make no mistake about it, Das Wunderkind was sold as the star attraction of this tour, which explains why he not only headlined but also took pride of place on the cover of Christmas Brawl Theme Songs.

For the unfamiliar, Christmas Brawl was a collection of ten WCW themes penned by Jimmy Hart and JJ McGuire, the same virtuosos responsible for Hulk Hogan's Wrestling Boot Band.

The CD was only available on the tour itself or via mail order from Germany's World of Wrestling fan club, making it a pretty rare item back in the day.

Today, however, we have YouTube, which means copyright laws be damned, we get to go on a track-by-track treck through this forgotten treasure.

1: American Males 

"American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, "

If there's one theme on this album which really needs no introduction, it's this one.

The theme music for Scotty Riggs & Marcus Bagwell is as famous in the pro wrestling community as the It's Still Real to Me guy or El Dandy being a jam up guy.

And so it deserves to be.

OK, so American Males isn't exactly Stairway to Heaven, but it's a damn catchy song by all accounts and one of the most fun things to come out of the Hart/McGuire hit factory.

Sing it with me now!

American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males, American Males....

2: Disco Inferno - Disco Fever 

"Disco Fever, Disco Fever, Disco Fever, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah"

Hart & McGuire really didn't hold back when it came to showing off their lyrical prowess, did they?

Not unlike American Males, this one may not have been a masterpiece but was still a fun little number and did at least add a major component to the character of Disco Inferno.

Sure, the dancing fool was never positioned as a major star in World Championship Wrestling, but he was vastly underrated in the ring and even more underrated as an entertaining character.

His matches against Juventud Guerrera and Billy Kidman back at Halloween Havoc 1998 were some of his finest moments, and there were few people better at playing the deluded coward.

As for this track, it's every bit as enjoyable as Disco himself.

3: The Public Enemy - We Like to Party

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, rock it like hell make it sound like heaven. // Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, come on everybody, let's have some fun!"

We Like to Party can't decide whether it wants to be Ini Kamoze's Here Comes the Hotstepper or Tag Team's Whoomp There it Is. It ends up being a hot mess of both, which might have worked if this were 1992 but otherwise just sounds dated and kind of cheesy.

This is especially true when you consider that The Public Enemy famously came from ECW. We Like to Party basically strips them of anything that might have been cool about TPE and turns them into the white version of Men on a Mission.

4: Jimmy Hart - We're Still Rocking

"We love those oldies but goodies"

To be honest, I'm not sure if The Mouth of the South ever actually used this as a theme song or if he just included it here as an exercise in self-indulgence.

This is basically an old-school rock 'n' roll song in which Hart pays tribute to the stars of the 1960s, including his own group, The Gentrys.

As songs go this one is fairly inoffensive, but it has that patented Jimmy Hart cheese about it that means you just know you're never going to hear it anywhere outside of the world of professional wrestling.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of The Colonel, but this rockin' little ode to the past does nothing for me.

5: Alex Wright - A Heartbeat Away 

Pull yourself together, girl // it's time to step up in the world, I'll help you get on your feet / and something something feel the heat!

American Males may be the most famous WCW theme to appear on this album, but it's arguable that Heartbeat Away is the one thing the album itself is best known for.

An effort to make Alex Wright a mainstream star, this bizarre track sees him rapping -badly- over the kind of Europop that had been popular in the region about five years earlier.

Honestly, it sounds a lot like Ace of Base, which would be fine in itself if the terrible production values didn't make it sound less like an Ace of Base hit single and more like something they left on their demo tape.

That's the weirdest thing about Heartbeat Away. Though some of the writing may be questionable, the production quality of Christmas Brawl has so far been incredibly high. Most of these songs sound very well produced, but this one sounds like Wright recorded his vocals on a Dictaphone and simply played them over the top of the music.

6: Nasty Boys - We're The Boys 

"Everybody talks but we know talk is cheap // If you mess with the boys we'll rearrange your teeth!"

OK, so it's a corny, mid-90s pro wrestling theme that you'd never admit to having on your Spotify playlist in a million years, but despite that, We're the Boys is a very fun song and actually one of the best things on the album.

Much like they did with almost every track on Hulk Rules, Hart & McGuire rework the basic structure they had for Owen Hart's WWF theme, adding a simple guitar riff while Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags rant and rave about how nasty they are.

 It's a joy to listen to... in private...without telling anybody ever.

7: Chris Jericho / Brian Pillman - California sun

"I like 'em hot, I like 'em cold // I like 'em young, I like 'em old // Blondes have more fun"

Speaking of recycled ideas from Hulk Rules. This song appeared on that album as Bad to the Bone, albeit with different lyrics.

Here, it crops up as a song called California Sun attributed to Chris Jericho, even though we all know it better as Blondes Have More Fun, Brian Pillman's song.

Pillman had already left WCW by this stage, so either there were plans for Jericho to use it, or Hart just wanted to get this song on the album and had to give it to a then-current WCW wrestler.

The song itself is, you know, OK, but it kind of sounds like the sort of thing that should be used for an early 90s sitcom about high school students, like if they did a Zach Morris spin-off, you could imagine this being the theme to it.

8: Diamond Dallas Page - Self High-Five 

"Load up on guns, bring your friends, it's fun to lose and to pretend "  "DDP, Tooo cool, etc, etc" 

Whether it was Rick Steiner's Welcome to the Jungle or Raven's Come As You Are, WCW were never shy about ever-so-slightly tweaking famous rock songs and passing them off as their own themes.

The most popular example of this, of course, is Diamond Dallas Page's version of the Nirvana classic, Smells Like Teen Spirit. 

In the age of the WWE Network, when Self High-Five has been dubbed over with something far more generic, there's a danger that this track will one day be forgotten about altogether.

Yet for those of us who lived through The Monday Night Wars this remains one of the most memorable themes of that era.

Hard, edgy and full of energy, there was nothing better for getting you absolutely fired up and ready to see DDP in action.

9: Konan - Konan's Theme 

"Aw yeah, and ya don't stop!"

Poor Konan. Whereas everyone else got a cool title for their theme song, he just got plain old Konan's Theme.

Still, there's nothing plain or old about this, it's actually a pretty good track and a surprise highlight of the album, featuring K-Dogg spitting his self-penned lyrics over a fairly solid hip hop number.

Like Heartbeat Away, the production values leave a lot to be desired here, but if you can overlook that, Konan's theme is good stuff.

10: Taskmaster - Taskmaster 

"haha! haha! mwahahaha! mwahahahahahahah!"

And so it finally comes down to this - two and a half minutes of maniacal laughter and creepy sounds that comes across like something you'd find playing in the background at a haunted house attraction.

It's an odd choice of track to include on this album since most of the others are actual songs whereas this is more atmospheric noise.

It's not bad, and it's perfectly suited for Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan and his Dungeon of Doom stable, but it's no American Males, that's for sure.

For a promotional merchandise item tied into a four-day tour headlined by Alex Wright, Christmas Brawl 1996 is a surprisingly good little release. OK, so a lot of the songs are kind of cheesy by today's standards, but this is an album that is was definitely of its time, and though it may not have aged well, it's still a lot of fun to listen to. 

I'm sorry, what I mean to say is...American Males, American Males, American...ah, you get it.

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

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.