Introduction and PAQ
Having written over 40,000 words so far I felt
I should add a few more to give an overall summation of the purpose of it all and what I felt I learned for this experience.
The first thing is this is not complete. Its most noticeable how little New Japan is covered.
I have a series of matches from the 80’s and a couple of juniors matches from the 90’s I have but did not
review. The reason is I didn’t feel I could give much perspective on New
Japan through this post with the HUGE gaps in my collection of handhelds. Getting
New Japan handhelds has not been a priority because I have so many gaps in my collection of major shows I always felt I should
come back to the handhelds after I have watched the promotion more carefully. I
reviewed the g-1 climax Vader vs Mutoh show because that is one of the most famous handhelds available and I felt a review
of it might be of some use to somebody at this time.
Even outside of New Japan there are plenty of
gaps that I could fill. Simply put I had to stop somewhere and this seemed as
good a place as any as I don’t think I’m going to be getting in many new tapes in the near future. Clearly I need more All Japan (a rule of thumb for me) to get
a fuller picture, and I’m still looking for a source for WWF/WCW footage from 1996 to today. I know much was filmed,
but I have had a very difficult time finding a person who would trade it with me. I’ll
probably update this later as I get more stuff in.
The goal of this was to give an impression of
two things. The first was what matches were available and might be worth pursuing. I tried to fulfill this by adding the short descriptions of the matches and the footage
quality. They allow quick reference to what is available and what I liked without
having to get bogged down in my reviews.
The second goal was to give some impression of
how various workers worked at house shows. The full reviews are to give that.
I am the first to state I am not a reviewer, and if I were, I would not be a good one. The
reviews though I hope will allow people to look at certain workers and matches in as objective a manner as I could possibly
provide to get past the myths of houseshow work. While these are not first class
reviews, I believe they will give a far better picture of what happened then the “said to be a great match” quote
we so often see in the observer which somehow becomes gospel.
I watched every match and then typed the review
up right after it so it would be as fresh as possible in my mind. This meant
many of the matches had been watched multiple times while some were being watched for the first time. Also it means these reviews were written over a long period of time during which time my views might have
changed from one review to the next. This might be even more telling by the older
reviews I included which I wrote prior to starting this project. My rule on this
was if I had already written a review of the matches I used that review to save time and because they are likely to be more
detailed. I don’t mind that the reviews may not be totally consistent and
will reflect what I was thinking about at the time. It should give more variety
and a broader total picture because I looked at different things at different times over the last year. However I feel it should be noted because it is a possible flaw and I want to acknowledge my failures upfront.
I only watched and reviewed matches that were
of some interest to me. I may have missed something by using this method and
apologize if I did, it was to save time.
Doing this did change my opinion of several North
American workers somewhat because I watched so many matches from so many people I think I got a better perspective of what
the general quality of work was. So I want to do a quick summation of some of
the more prominent workers included here mainly focusing on how my views changed.
Ric Flair- As a whole I think doing this improved Flair’s standing in my mind. Because most matches were pretty mindless as a whole Flair’s psychology seemed better in context. I was impressed by how naturally and fun Flair was able to get across the central
storyline of a match. Many workers when telling a story take all the fun out
of it and seem heavy-handed, Flair was able to get across roles while bringing the action and the fun which made his matches
seem very alive.
However even by the late 80’s Flair’s
offense seemed very limited and out of date and as I progressed the itch of Flair’s lack of offense became a sore. Flair was not the worker in late 1991
he was in the 88/89 matches, but he was still clearly a very good worker. In
his WWF run he probably from his entry to around September 92 would have been in close contest with Bret for the best worker
in the federation. Bret’s best efforts were more impressive, but Flair
was more consistent and far stronger in the handhelds overall. He never adjusted
fully to the restraints of the WWF, but as long as he was working with charismatic babyfaces who would set him up for stooges
he could have good to very good matches. When Flair’s opponents changed he never recovered to be anywhere close to great
again in his career. Against Bret and Perfect, Flair felt like an anchor unable
to find a theme to work on when they were not willing to wrestle him like Sting or Luger.
Without being able to stooge most of the match Flair’s decline as a worker was often brutally revealed as his
lethargic offense and boring matwork combined with his panicky desire to use a stooge whenever the crowd wasn’t strong
to make his matches scatterbrained, slow, and sometimes plain bad.
By 2003 Flair was still having the same struggles
but by then he couldn’t even be considered a great bumper and his flaws were even larger. Still the early handhelds do show Flair to be one of the great US workers of the time period covered. He
had enough offense then to get by and he was one of the great feeders in wrestling history. Its often a joy to watch how Flair
can not only carry people, but feed them spots so well at times they actually look to have become good wrestlers. Flair had a unique ability to work a scheming veteran heel vs athletic (or super) babyface match and in
his prime those matches were almost always a super fun to watch. Some of Flair’s
flaws (such as using weak transitions) often fit in perfectly to that type of story.
However, when he was using the same stuff against technical babyfaces like Bret it just looked weak.
Ricky Steamboat- I
was a bit disappointed with Ricky. While certainly he has his share of good matches
I often got the sense he wasn’t going anywhere with his work. I often felt
like he was doing decent stuff but none of it was adding up to tell an interesting story.
He had one great match with Flair in this set, but I don’t think that really added to my understanding of either
man’s ability, but nothing outside of that really argued for Ricky being a truly great worker. Ricky was rock solid, but with the exception of the Flair match he was to willing to waste time and become
generic to put out great matches. Ricky’s argument as a top notch worker
will I think continue largely rely on his major matches where he seemed to likely put more thought into the matches.
Bret is probably Mr. Inconsistent in the handhelds. At his best, he arguably
is the best U.S. worker in the period
of 1987-1997 these reviews covered. He has the most impressive carry jobs easily
and seems to be able to have a good match with anybody when he felt like it. However,
to be honest, he didn’t seem to always feel like it and many of these matches are disappointments for Bret. At times you could tell Bret was really trying to prove he could work well certain people and deliver something
special, at other times he just seemed to be going through the motions. Bret
was easily the best storyteller covered in the period in the US
as he had an unfailing idea of what the match dynamics were and how to get that across.
However, sometimes to criticize him on this count I think he would get over focused on one thing and miss opportunities
to better engage the crowd. It felt at times for instance that Bret were
trying to play the good guy technician he wouldn’t take possible opportunities the heel would give him to pop the crowd. Bret’s not an intransigent worker, but he’s also not really that flexible. He’ll adjust the match structure for his opponent, but once he does that he
really won’t change course if a good opportunity presents itself.
Shawn Michaels- My
opinion of Shawn did change quiet a bit from watching these. For one I realized
he was much better suited to be a face then a heel. This was because most of
his natural offense was babyface flyer and when he lost this, he often had trouble filling in time during his matches. Also, his excellent bumping skills and ability to get over a spot worked better I
think at getting sympathy then on comeback. Shawn during his peak was good focusing
his matches and developing a simple storyline. The key for him was impactful
transitions setting up the next segment (especially the heat segment). Shawn’s
best work general were from 15 or so minute matches featuring a hot opening, a focused heat segment, a strong comeback, and
then a logical finish. He generally got across the roles of the wrestlers well
in that context. Even at his best though Shawn was only an average offensive
wrestler and I don’t think he ever became effective at killing time. If Shawn had to slow down and kill time for any
reason it seemed things ground to a halt pretty badly in his matches. I think
Shawn was excellent at the 15 minute structure I mentioned above, but when he was forced into a position that required something
different such as a slower build he could struggle and would need to be carried (ala Series 92).
Vader impresses me with his work ethic in all his matches. He seems to always
show up. The only problem I have with his efforts are he to often would be happy
working a spotfest instead of laying out any psychology in these handhelds. To
often Vader would just be using his bumping ability and his great offense to pop the crowd instead of taking time to tell
a story. Even when Vader does establish something he takes shortcuts on his storyline
as soon as it is beneficial.
Undertaker was never a great worker, but he did seem to generally show up at house shows and he also seemed to understand
the psychological options his character gave. No matches of his really stand
out as must see, but I also cannot think of a match that he phoned it in on.
I do not know if my opinion really changed on
to many other workers though some, like Barry Windham, did not seem to add very much at all to their arguments as top workers.
point in general is U.S. matches were
really repetitive with almost every match following a 3 or 4 segment face/heel
structure. The structure works and I don’t mind, but I do think wrestlers
should tell a more complex story with it then just good guy vs bad guy. When
wrestlers just did a basic heel/face match, unless the work was excellent it felt overly formula to me.
As far as All Japan goes I don’t feel I
have enough to make broad statements from it. Eventually I think through combining
their minor commercial tapes with more handhelds we will get a more complete picture of all the workers. So far from what I have from those two sources it seems up until sometime in 94 unless injured all big
3 would regularly deliver special matches on minor shows. The 5/94 Korakuen comm
is so far the last one where all 3 of them seem to be on and delivering top flight work.
On 1/95 Korakuen comm only Kobashi seems determined to deliver something special and I think that may hold for a few
years. But I don’t know if I can say that definitively yet or not. I need to see more from before and after 5/94 especially from handhelds.
Providence RI 6/30/91
Footage Quality- solid with a good angle.
Steamboat vs The Barbarian
Short Description- Lethargic big man little man
Review- Match is clipped a bit but I don’t
think much is missed. What we see is mainly the Barbarian methodically beating
up Steamboat. He does some nice stuff in there but nothing to high end and the pace is very slow. Steamboat does his typical fine
and expressive selling. His comeback is okay but Barbarian can’t exactly stooge that well.
Short Description-Below average formula match
Review- Savage is the referee and so this match
basically lays itself out. The structure is fine its just that none of the men
have anything interesting to do during the body of the match. But they do know
enough to know how to handle the hot tag to Hogan and Hogan’s run, though Mustafa doesn’t seem to know he’s
supposed to run in and bump as well. Then of course they do the piss off Savage
spot, Savage gets revenge, heels lose. All very much by the book.
the Ring 91 Providence
Footage Quality- Good but distant
Steamboat vs Ted Dibiase
Short Description- Nothing really wrong here,
but it feels incomplete.
Review- Sometimes with both of these two I think
they were better performers then they were storytellers in the ring. I’m
sure they thought from what I’ve heard they were telling a story here and taking the crowd on a roller coaster ride
as they get the reactions they want when they want them. The problem is while
Ricky knew how to get a reaction as a face and Ted knew how to as a heel they didn’t really go anywhere to build to
a deeper reaction.
Within 30 second of the match you could tell who
was the good guy and the bad guy as Dibiase stalls and Ricky postures for fan support.
Ted gets heat by stalling for a bit and again both men know heel/face well enough to know where that must go. Eventually Ricky goes after Ted and makes him pay for his stalling and also brings
Ted back in the ring the hard way a couple of times. This is the type of element
you should see in a great match as it’s a little storyline that they start and payoff.
However there is nothing more there. Ted only stalls because he’s
the bad guy not because of anything presented to us in the match and Ricky making him pay for stalling doesn’t actually
move us anywhere but to a headlock. The match doesn’t really establish
a dominate story thread to incorporate a decent segment like that into.
Ricky can be argued as a master of an opening
face control segment. He has plenty of crowd popping sequences and good fire
so he never fails to get a decent reaction, but his control segments also seem sort of circular. Generally it seems Ricky works hot sequence then a rest hold until he’s ready to turn the match over
to the heel. He never seems to be working towards something that will eventually
lead to his victory instead he seems to be generally entertainingly killing time. The
crowd stays with him and he gets the reaction he wants, but I can’t help thinking he might have been able to get more
of a reaction if he had been going somewhere, or at least appearing to go somewhere.
Ted has the same problem really. He has some nice stuff to do in his heat segment. He can roughhouse,
then take it up to a couple of nice suplexes, but in the end again there is no theme to any of it and it really isn’t
going anyplace but to a comeback spot. Dibiase does know there should be a cutoff
before the comeback so fakes the crowd out by pulling out the chinlock spot with the babyface elbowing out before cutting
off and then going to the real transition, a missed back elbow.
The finishing sequence is good as both men have
good timing and the execution seems slick and Steamboat rolling out his big book of rollups seems appropriate as they near
the time limit. These two are far to good of performers to have anything less
then an above average match against each other, but I think both men would have been noticeably better if they had incorporated
the roller coaster ride they both were so proud of into a storyline. Certainly
a young worker could learn from these two about how to be a heel or a face effectively, but at least here, they could not
learn much more.
wins the KOTR 91
Short description- A disappointing series of matches.
This tournament certainly doesn’t add to Bret’s stature as a worker as the KOTR 93 did. Instead it serves as sort of exemplar of Bret taking it a bit easy at a house show that largely depended
on his wrestling ability to succeed. The first match is worrisome as Bret wins
in a under minute squash match as if to signal he’s saving his stuff. That
continues in his second match with Skinner where Bret coast through every segment bringing very little extra to the table past what is needed to get by. The final
match vs IRS is clearly the best of the night for Bret but that says little. The
opening and the heat segment don’t connect and only them working a bit harder for the run to the finish lifts this effort
Footage quality- angle is a bit close, camara
wanders to much, do miss significant action.
vs Roddy Piper
Short description- from what we see, lots of charisma
not a lot of work.
In fairness to this match a significant part (or a minor part) is missing. During
Piper’s big comeback as he is about to toss poor Ric off the top rope we cut off and then go to the finish. What does exist is another Ric Flair house show match that is missing a lot. We don’t see Flair play the human pinball as we are so used to, he takes only two flashy bumps we
see, a standard Flair flip and the top rope bump. Neither man brings hardly
any offense, we only see 3 neck snaps on the top rope by Flair and a neckbreaker by Piper.
This does suggest we are missing a large part of the match as Flair doesn’t even hit the figure four. However unless Ric was totally changing his match construction likely Flair was bumping far less then normal
because he takes few bumps during Piper’s hot opening a section where normally Ric bounces around like a pinball. Still it is in a way fun to watch these two ultra charismatic workers keep the crowd
with them as they do so little and also see them build the match up so it feels like a hotter match then it actually was. I wish it was complete.
Footage quality- some obstructions but action
seems to be easy to follow
vs The Mountie
Short description- Solid Hart formula match
The match is a bit short but does stay pretty entertaining throughout. Bret
has nice fire throughout and uses some really nice babyface outsmarting spots which he uses throughout the match. Jacques offense is totally indescript and the match needed a better heat section to be a good match. Bret’s
comeback is nicely done with an outsmarting spot to start and then well executed offense.
Bret actually wins with the second rope elbow drop, which is very rare.
Boys vs The Rockers
Short description- mediocre late Rockers match.
Pretty non descript match. Neither team seems really all that motivated
to do much more then the standard tag team fare. Jennetty has nice fire as usual
in the big comeback but outside of that their really isn’t much to note here.
vs Ric Flair
Short description- fun heat up match
Review- It is interesting in this match that it
really doesn’t follow the standard formula for either man. The early portion
for both men really isn’t that different usually. Flair likes to have the
hero overpower and outsmart him, Hogan likes to overpower and outsmart the heel. The
way they do it is more of a Hogan method mainly with strikes, lots of posing, lots of slamming the head into place, no press
slams, no hiptosses. Its fun to see Flair do so well in this segment as he does, more so then it would have been to see Flair work his match with Hogan. We know Flair could do that, it shows us more about Flair’s totality as a worker that he was so at
ease here doing Hogan’s thing. Flair is excellent stooging, selling, and
being in position for Hogan’s next move. His over the top mannerisms fit
well with Hogan’s and his begging off fits in great with Hogan’s firing up.
Really as you watch these two they seem more natural together in then Flair and say Bret Hart. However Hogan actually goes all the way to the legdrop in his opening segment something rare for him, Flair
gets his foot on the rope, and then clips Hogan from behind and we get Flair’s working over the leg. We get cheapshots, Hennig interference leading up to Hogan overselling the figure four. Hogan breaks of course but never actually Hulks up instead getting knocked out and pinned with knucks a
decision that is overturned to a DQ and then Hogan clears the ring. So the match
misses Hogan’s big comeback and so leaves something for next time. A lack of good offense keeps this match from really
reaching a higher level.
Footage quality- solid angle and average stability, occasional obstruction, can follow the action pretty well.
Warriors vs Natural Disasters/The Mountie
Short description- poorly constructed match not
utilizing the talents of those involved
Jacques partly gets part of his role in this match-to play the annoying guy who eventually gets killed. He doesn’t seem to understand he should also bump for the Warriors big moves and so the Warriors
bring almost none of their big moves. Bret does do okay playing face in peril
okay and in the big face comeback but doesn’t try to go past formula. About
what you’d expect from these guys if you knew going in Bret wasn’t going to try to make it something special.
w/Sherri vs Tito Santana
Short description- solid heel/face formula match.
Review- One thing that stands out here is that
Ted really didn’t seem to know how to make the best use of Sherri. Savage and Sherri seemed to have an encyclopedia
of stooges and bumps they did together that really added to Randy’s matches during the period Sherri managed him (though
the psychology is questionable). Ted doesn’t do much of anything with Sherri
save for distraction spots and a double noggin knocker on the outside. Ted waste
the first few minutes as per usual but once we are past that this develops into a pretty well done 4 part heel/face match
sans the 4th part (the finishing section).
vs Hulk Hogan
Short description- Strong and well done Hogan
Review- A month and a half later we get the rematch
in Philly of Hogan vs Flair and this time the match is much stronger. Hogan is
on the warpath here and this has to be described as again more a Hogan match then a Flair match. Still Hulk lets Flair get in some of his favorite spots working in the Flair flip and flop. On the flop Hogan plays it particularly well given a great got him look at the crowd and then rubbing his
face in the mat. Hogan is quite viscous for him and even gets some revenge on
Flair for the Series/Tuesday in Texas debacles with a chair
shot. Flair is again quite at home here.
With Hogan seriously pissed Flair’s over the top selling, begging off, and stooging fit perfectly. Once we’ve moved on Flair starts attacking Hogan’s leg.
He even does a move by kneedropping Hogan’s leg. Hennig brings in
a chairshot and they keep things moving and keep teasing a comeback to keep the crowd in.
Flair takes nice bumps off Hogan’s figure four blocks and they do a long comeback tease with Hogan getting payback
for Ric’s leg attacks building to a figure four. Hennig distraction leads
to Flair KOing Hogan with the knucks but this time he Hulks up and again Flair’s reactions feel right. Again Hogan isn’t able to get full satisfaction as Flair is able to avoid the legdrop and ends up
lossing on countout. Not a classic but a very tight and well structured mega heel vs mega face match, I probably prefer it
to their longer and more wandering WCW matches. Flair seems just a little bit beneath Hennig as far as good opponents for
Hogan’s formula match both being beneath Savage. Again while some wish
they had gotten to see Flair do his match with Hogan during this run this does add more to defending Flair as a top level
worker then Flair working his formula match with Hulk. I’m sure Hulk would
have done quite well in that formula and contributed quite a bit, but it is nice to see that Flair could fit into someone
else’s match and seem at home in it. I’ve seen Flair vs generic big
men enough to know exactly how it would have looked and I’d rather see something different.
Footage quality- quite nice, clear and can follow
everything with ease
Michaels vs Jimmy Snuka
Michaels fails early heel test.
Review- Shawn clearly at this point, unless he
was phoning in, hadn’t really figured out how to carry from the heel side. He
wrestles a suprisingly game Snuka. To understand what is wrong with this match
I only need say one phrase- Snuka takes more and bigger bumps then Shawn. Snuka takes the only two decent bumps of the night
a very nice bump over the top and a bump off a vertical suplex. Shawn only really
takes a bump off a clothesline. Snuka in a LATER match with Christopher would
show he had a few moves in his arsenal still, but Shawn worked none of that in, nor did he seem to have any stooge bumps which
this match desperately needed. Once on offense Shawn didn’t have much and
stayed with a chinlock way to long. Shawn does have some fun with Snuka’s
hard head gimmick. I think on a PPV a heel Bret Hart could have had a *** match
with this Snuka.
vs the Mountie
Short Description-promising start goes nowhere.
This match early has some potential to be a good match. Early on Bret works in a nice outsmarting spot, an okay payback
spot, and some nice I got him now stuff. They transition to the heat segment
with Bret taking his turnbuckle bump quite well. From this point on though the
match goes nowhere. The Mountie doesn’t bring anything of interest or seem
to find a focus for this segment.
Short Description- Considering the participants
this is surprisingly watchable.
Review- These two do understand enough about wrestling
to know what fans wanted from them. Sid early has to try to find something Undertaker
will sell, and finally does with a couple of chair shots which Taker kind of sells.
But not for long. Taker takes over and does better then usual in control. They tease the comeback for awhile with Sid struggling to find something that will
give him momentum. He does with a lowblow, then a chokeslam. Taker sits up but
you can see the effect growing. Sid turns the tables on the urn spot but gets
Dqed for earlier shoving the ref. The psychology of Sid over the course of the
match getting to Taker worked as did the monster vs monster element. Not good
or anything but it is Sid vs Taker and you take what you can get sometimes.
Savage vs Jake Roberts
Short description- weak main event.
Review- This is another match that has some time
missing. It cuts off when Savage blocks a DDT and comes back on with Savage getting
the pin. What is there is far from impressive as neither man does really anything
of note to try to really elevate the match.
Very nice good angle no obstructions.
Bulldog vs Undertaker
Short description- well done 5 minute power match.
Review- This is not a match to go out of your
way to find unless you happen to be a Bulldog or Taker completist. That being
said if you want to check out Flair vs Piper in a cage someday don’t fast forward through this one. Its only five minutes but Davey does a really nice job here. After
Undertaker absorbs some early bulldog offense and takes over they actually do a nice job teasing the bulldog comeback. Espiecally nice are the teases of Bulldogs two biggest moves the hanging vertical
and the powerslam. Once Davey does fire up and get his comeback he is able to
execute those moves but Bearer destraction and Taker no selling is just to much.
vs Roddy Piper (Cage)
Short description- very low end cage match.
Review- Again Flair manages to work a reasonably
long match without actually using a single offensive move the entire match. Flair
can’t even be bothered to work on Piper’s leg for a bit or use the figure four.
If you assume they make up for it with Ric taking a lot of Flair show bumps, you’d be wrong as outside of the
backdrop and his top rope crotching spot Flair doesn’t work any of that in. These
two do know how to build in intensity and get good return for what little they do, but the match needs more then slapping
and mediocre near escapes. Strange finish with Piper winning the match clean
and walking away with both belts.
Footage Quality- a bit distant and some camera
wandering but action is easy to follow
vs British Bulldog
Short Description- solid but to me disappointing
This was one of the handheld matches I was most interested in as I figured that in England with a no doubt hot crowd,
against a very carriable Bulldog, and with 15 minutes at his disposal Flair really had no excuse not to get this match to
at least ***1/2 stars. The crowd is hot and reacts to everything they do, and
for most part what they do is fun. Flair does set up a basic psychology of Bulldog
being stronger/tougher while he’s the slimey bastard who cheats at every opportunity to compensate for it. Flair can’t
get in even most of his stooges in a 4 minute opening but he does work in some nice ones.
Such as a well sold test of strength loss that gets a good reaction, Flair’s
falling down and shaking his hands and rolling out the ring puts over Davey’s power nicely. Flair works in the old press slam/bearhug spot before eventually
taking over with a low blow. During Flair’s 6-7 minute heat segment though
sandwiched in between the kneedrop that starts it and the backdrop suplex/figure four combo that end it is nothing but heel
tactics. What Flair does would be fine if he needed to control for 15 minutes,
but you just feel he needs more substance to truly put Davey in trouble, and you’d like to see him actually build to
the figure four. Flair does a couple of low blows, throws Davey over the top
a few times, and irish whips him into a turnbuckle a few times. It’s active
and all around solid, but could have been so much better. Flair ends his segment
by doing something silly trying to verticle suplex the more powerful man to the floor, of course it gets reversed, but Davey
handles it well not being able to get all of it due to the figure four hurting his leg.
AT this point we’re off to the races with near falls in the old Flair style.
Ric is smart enough to take advantage of the hot crowd by even almost beating Davey with a couple of pinning predicaments
in between stuff like the backslide spot. The powerslam that finishes does come
out of nowhere and could have been set up better.
This match is probably good, but with a more focused
heat segment it probably would have been a bit better then that, but in 1992 on offense Flair if he focused he didn’t
do much, and if he did much he didn’t focus. Here he did stuff. In longer
matches Flair would usually do almost two separate segments broken up by a couple minute mini comeback. Usually the first part he’d do all his non leg/non finish tease stuff, and in the second phase he’d do all his leg stuff. In the WWF he kind
of needed to mix those two segments together and tighten it up. But instead he
gave almost mini versions of them. He never just did all his leg stuff he would
do some of his legs stuff. And when he was doing his other stuff he didn’t
bring anywhere near all his moves he would have in 1982. So when I watch this
match I note that the problem was as well as just not doing even most of the moves he would in the past in either of his Ric
Flair heat segments, but fundamental failure to successfully adjust to the WWF’s style.
Instead of forming a heat segment formula that would really work in the WWF, Flair just usually used an abbreviated
version of one part of the old Flair heat segment. So when you kind of get it both ways Flair doesn’t do nearly as much
offense as he would in the past in either segment, and you’d only one of the segments leading to lack of offense. Most frustratingly of all when Ric would get the chance to go longer with Bret
Hart and do all his old stuff, he’d still be doing the paired down versions of both heat segments and often forget to
do the mini babyface comeback in between them. Of course if you want proof Flair
didn’t “get” the WWF style, a match against Tito Santana in England prior to his series with Hogan
shows it . How were fans supposed to believe he was a threat to Hogan when Tito
Santana could not only break the move that was supposed to put Hogan in trouble, but make an immediate comeback? Why should we worry about Hogan vs this guy when this guy begs off from Tito and has to hold the tights
to beat him? I mean really guys who were about to face Hogan had a license to
squash guys like Tito, but Flair just didn’t understand that he was in a different situation. He was no longer the franchise heel, but the heel being built up for the franchise face. Anyway the match just got me thinking.
Michaels vs Bret Hart
Short description-solid and hot match.
The crowd is molton for this one and with a better midpart and a finish this could have been a real gem. The match starts well with them doing a good Hart technical opening with Shawn adding in some nice bumps
to it and the crowd heat making it feel more important. Once we get into the
heat segment though Shawn doesn’t have much to do outside of a sleeper and the superkick. They do tease Bret’s comeback a few times and get great reactions for each tease. When Bret finally makes the full comeback the place is berzerk and they take advantage of it with several
good near falls, lot of energy from Bret, and Shawn selling the asskicking like a pro.
The non finish does damage the match which could have used a bit of back and forth to really elevate itself.
Savage vs the Mountie
Short Description- early hope fades into a mediocre
When early in the match Savage starts up with some of his signature offense and some real energy I had hope this match
might be worth watching. Unfortunately Savage quickly went on defense and the
match quickly went down the toilet with your typical moutie boredom. Savage does
a take a nice bump to the outside and for him this is actually a pretty decent house show performance, but he isn’t
actually trying to do anything special. That is confirmed by the quick by the
Providence RI 6-22-92
Footage quality- Seems pretty strong with a nice
angle and no obstructions, some camara wandering but not too problematic.
vs Shawn Michaels.
Short description- Disappointing match from the
two best workers in the company.
There is a good 9 minute match in here unfortunately this match goes 18 minutes. Shawn for instance spends the first
few minutes stalling and getting heel heat posing at the crowd. This is fine
to do, but once the match is ready to start in earnest Shawn needs to really get the tar beat out of him so the crowd gets
retribution for Shawn’s stalling. Instead Bret kind of works through his
usual technical opening. There is good stuff in here as Shawn does a good job
stooging for Bret’s holds, counters, and outsmarting. Once Shawn takes
over though the match again gets hung up as Shawn really doesn’t seem to have much on his mind to do other then a chinlock. Bret’s comeback is well done and the finish is well executed but these two really
should have been able to get far more out of each other.
Warrior vs Papa Shango
Short description- Suprisingly average match.
This is a quick crowd pleasing match. It only goes about 8 minutes, but
that’s about right for these two. Shango tries pretty hard here and actually
brings some credible offense Warrior is game to take. The best move is a nice
gut wrench shoulderbreaker. It is a formula match but a decent one as they keep
the action coming the entire match and don’t mess up anything. This is
one of those matches that suggest Warrior was more carriable during this time period then he is usually given credit for.
Warwick RI 7/22/92
Footage Quality- Solid angle good stability, a
head does obstruct for most of the match.
Savage vs Shawn Michaels w/Sherri
Short description- Very slow match that goes way
longer then you feel either man wanted it to.
Review- You can see that these two do know what
they are doing but just aren’t that interested in exerting the energy necessary to have a really strong match this night. For instance early to get heat instead of working hard they have Shawn stall. When they get to Shawn getting one uped with Savage putting Shawn in an armbar numerous
ways it feels like the armbars are held to long and when in the hold nothing is done.
When Shawn is on offense again some nice things happen but it just takes so long.
They finally speed up for the last 2 minutes but without having established much psychology in the match they are unable
to really get anything going. Frequent cuts in the footage.
Providence RI 9/10/92
Footage Quality- very nice good angle and some
camara wandering and no obstructions,.
Savage vs Razor Ramon
Short description- Solid but basic match
Review- Who knows what makes Randy Savage show
up some nights and not others. He showed up this night for a solid performance. Savage isn’t trying to repeat Mania 7 with Razor as the broomstick of choice,
but he is at least trying to deliver. Its nice to see him try to bring some offense
early, and then try to sell his knee. Its also fun to see Razor attack the leg
with a sense of urgency. Strange finish with Flair’s interference leading
to Razor getting the win and then cutting a bragging promo. If Savage gets revenge
we don’t see it on tape which is an anomaly for house shows. One clipping.
vs Papa Shango
Short Description- Bret phones one in.
Review- One of my favorite IWC arguing fallacies
is the one match over generalization. ______ had a better match with _____ then
_____ so is a better wrestler. Well for those folks I point out that in 1992
the Ultimate Warrior had a better match with Papa Shango then Bret Hart. Bret
for instance can’t be bothered to do the hot opening instead going right into the heat segment which drags on forever. Most of Shango’s nice offense he showed against Warrior is missing and instead
we are treated to Shango’s variaty of strikes, mid level offense, and wear down holds.
Some of this stuff might be nice if the match moved faster and Shango was mixing in big moves but Bret does not seem
interested in bumping. That kills the big man/little man psychology Bret was
working at, as Shango really doesn’t do anything physically impressive. Bret’s comeback is abbreviated as well.
vs The Undertaker
Short description- Slightly uncomfortable Flair
vs Big Man match
Flair defensively is quite game here. While many pages of the Flair stooge
fest formula are still absent here Flair does take nice bumps for Taker and does make him look good. The problem is Flair’s reactions don’t work here. Flair’s
reactions always fit perfectly with the fired up babyface on the rampage, but here with the slow zombie the same just seem
out of place. Flair does establish a power advantage for Taker and he takes over
in a smart way, dodging a flying clothesline then distracting while Hennig gets some licks in.
But then Flair kind of throws the Flair as smarter psychology by doing something stupid- attempting an easily reversible
vertical suplex while standing on the apron.
Obviously Taker reverses. Flair as per usual brings almost no offense
this match you get eye pokes, rakes, a backdrop suplex, and a figure four.
Footage- Quite nice all around good angle and
very stable almost no obstructions.
Warrior vs Ric Flair
Tight quick energetic Match.
Review: Its listed
in the tape as 10/19/92 but according to the WWF history page it should have occured 9/19/92. This is not quite as good as
the Bret vs Kamala match on the same show which is delightfully smart work. This match is especially interesting because of
the tidbit in the Observer about how bad these matches were, added with Mitchell's point to JDW about how Brody worked the
perfectly for his character etc.
I can see a Flair mark
sitting in the arena's cussing up a storm during this match because Ric isn't being treated with the proper respect. And its
kind of bullshit that the same people didn't mind Warrior treating WWF legend Randy Savage the exact same way, or Rick Rude,
but Flair who stooges for EVERYBODY shouldn't be no sold. This match is designed for Warriors fans and they eat it up.
There is actually a storyline
early, basically Flair/Hennig throw pages from their big book of heel cheats at Warrior, Warrior no sells it, Flair/Hennig
panic, Warrior beats up Flair, and Flair runs. Then they move on to the next cheat. Flair's oh shit expressions are excellent
and his selling is spot on for this type of match. Expressive and over the top. And all the little Warriors are eating this
one up. They do fun spots with Flair being chased, Hennig coming up to help, Warrior turning, and Hennig runs. This leads
to Flair getting a chair which through some referee distraction etc ends up with Hennig hitting Warrior with the chair.
Back in Flair distracts
while Hennig comes in and hits the Hennig legbreaker and Warrior sells hard. Flair gets to do whatever he wants at this point,
HE just by 1992 had become a terrible offensive wrestler. We are missing the kneebreaker, all Flair does is stomp, pull the
leg, and hit a couple of cannonballs on the leg. When choosing a leg wear down hold Flair seems more interested in doing something
that will allow him to hold the rope then a hold that looks painful. If I was feeling generous I might call it a toe hold,
but I'm not sure. Anyway there is at least a focus and Flair stays active.
They build to Flair trying
to get the figure four on and Warrior blocking by kicking him off. Finally Warrior kicks him off into the turnbuckle and Flair
gets in his Flair flop. Warrior schizo's up, no sells the strikes, hits the lariats, the shoulderblock, and the body press.
The crowd is going bonkers through out this. Hennig runs in for the DQ. Post match Flair/Hennig beat up Warrior and get the
I'm not saying this match
was great, it probably doesn't actually hit *** on my scale. However the match is fun, the crowd is popping like nuts, the
match is never boring, and actually includes some memorable stuff. If I had paid to see Ultimate Warrior I would have left
quite satisfied and I believe the crowd did. I can say it was predicable, not at all highend etc, but I really can't say it
So the question is, why
is Warrior not given the benifit of the "right match for his character" slam. Why isn't this match ***1/2 stars because the
crowd really liked it and both men played their character's well? Just because Flair wasn't treated any differently then Warrior
treated other wrestlers? Just because Warrior wasn't liked and say Brody was? If your going to use effectiveness to their
audience as the only means of judging work I can respect that, and I do think its something everybody should keep in mind,
but it has to applied equally.
Short description- One of those wanderful Hart
Smoke and Mirrors matches.
Probably no one in the 80’s or 90’s could carry quite like Bret Hart.
The Liger’s, Kawada’s, and Kobashi’s of the world could do it just as well or better their individual
ways but Hart was almost like an illusionist. He was able to so smartly structure
a match and weave little stories when he wanted to that he could have a fun match almost whenever he felt like it and without
having to be a workrate freak for a night. It’s a frustrating thing with Hart’s poor house show matches for instance
since we can see in cases through the years that when Hart was motivated their really weren’t to many people he couldn’t
The first 4 minutes or so of the match is a lesson
in big/heel vs little/face psychology. Hart is cautious early ducking out of
rushes before grabbing a waistlock after a duck, but Kamala’s power comes into play and he rushes Bret back crushing
him into the turnbuckle. After a couple of strikes Kamala tries to splash Bret
in the corner but Bret quickly moves out and grabs an armbar. Already Bret has
established the roles clearly with this simple segment. Bret works the Kamala
powers out, Bret dodges something, Bret reapplies the armbar a few more times to ice it before working into a fun test of
Bret plays it exceptionally smart being reluctant
to do it knowing Kamala is stronger, but Bret also knows he’ll try to cheap shot which is what makes the segment fun. When Bret locks up, Kamala tries to cheap shot, Bret ducks, reapplies the armbar and
then stomps Kamala’s foot to teach him a lesson . Kamala does a big oversell, the Bret does it to the other foot which Kamala oversells even more.
Kamala’s heat segment is limited as you
would expect. They build a couple of holds and his back kick. Fortunately it
doesn’t take to long. Bret digs back to the kick Kamala had floored him
with earlier, this time having learned he catches it, turns Kamala, and grabs a russian leg sweep. Bret even works in a simple
but nice crowd popping spot by monkey flipping the suprisingly agile big man. Heel
miscommunication ends the match. Overall probably falls just short of the ***
level but a fun tight under 10 minute match is always welcomed from me.
Footage Quality- Very good
vs Tito Santana
Short Description- About as solid but unspectacular
as a heel vs face match can get.
Review- There is nothing wrong with this match
at all that I caught. It does have some strengths, mainly Martel being a good
stooge and them having some fun with Martel stooging for Tito’s speed. The
problem is outside of basic heel/face structure there is nothing mentally going on to separate this match out. Maybe Tito’s reflexes as a bullfighter are helping him early but they don’t really go anywhere
with it, much less who Martel is supposed to be in the ring. This is the kind
of match that needed good offense to help it reach a good to very good level. Unfortunately that isn’t here especially
not from the Model.
vs Randy Savage
Short Description- Flair works through his stooges
to have a good match.
Review- I haven’t seen the WWF title change
where Flair wins the title, so I can’t speak on that one, but in this match Flair is far more generous to Savage then
he was at Mania, likely because Ric is going over clean. That means Savage
only has to work up to the level of Nikita and at this point offensively he needed the help. Savage’s
offense is broke up into two parts.
The first 9 minutes or so of the match is spent
working through all of Flair’s favorite stooges and Savage saves the little offense he still had at this point for the
second part at the finish. They start out with Flair’s favorite mat stooges-
damn that hammerlock never works, the armdrag countered by holding on, and the body slam into the headlock take over etc. Once Flair is ready they kick it up to his bigger bumps working in the press slam,
and the backbody drop. Flair fills the 9 minutes of Savage’s early control
well with nothing but feeds and when I think about it he still had some left in his arsenel as he doesn’t work in the
beg off spot, or the 10 count/atomic drop blocked/clothesline spot etc. Flair
just didn’t run out of ways to get his ass kicked.
They fight over control for awhile with Randy
evening coming back after injuring his left arm on a splash. In his last tease
of remaining in control an interesting spot happens where Ric tries to feed Randy the clothesline over the top rope to the
floor spot and Randy clotheslines him with his injured left arm. Savage comes
in to quickly before Flair has backed into the ropes fully and Flair actually
improvises selling his jaw as if Randy had really caught him and rolling out of the ring to buy time. Its nice to see even when Flair’s signature stooges aren’t executed right he can improvise
Flair is in charge things don’t go anywhere. Flair works in his verticle
suplex and backdrop suplex, but he really doesn’t have much to do with an injured arm other then let the ref catch him
holding the ropes. But it only last a few minutes and so it doesn’t kill
the forward momentum of the match, but still as I said elsewhere Flair needed to find a good 6 minute WWF control segment
desperately, because again in this match it feels like he was saving stuff for the second part of his control segment, which
he didn’t have time to fit in. Once Savage takes over things go very
well for the run to the finish as they mix in Savages offense (falling lariat, double axe, over the top rope neck snap) with
some of Flair’s favorite ending stooges (the figure four kick off, the throw off the top, the backslide, the inside
cradle off an attempt for a Flair comeback). Flair wins out of nowhere with a
This is good Flair work and so far the best Savage
handheld I’ve stumbled across. Savage by 1992 needed a ton of help offensively
and he didn’t have to work all that hard as great as Flair was at feeding moves.
With the crowd hot from watching a good instead of terrible match it seems like Randy gets motivated to really make
a push at the end, instead of just going with the bodyslam tease the elbow comeback he’d often make. This is a good WWF Flair match (probably second to the second Hogan in Philly as far as my preference goes),
but he really could have taken these 18 minute matches to a higher level if he had adjusted his offense to the time constraints!
Providence RI 11/27/92
Footage quality- very good angle and very little
wander no obstructions
Michaels vs Marty Jannetty
Short Description- Signs of what would later come
are their but the match doesn’t quite click enough.
Spots and parts that made the San Francisco version so good appear in this match but they don’t quite put it
all together like they do there. Jennetty’s opening doesn’t last as long or go nearly as well. They still do the excellent toss into the post on the outside spot to transition but don’t use it
to establish a focus. On offense Shawn does seem to be finding more of a rhythm
but he still runs runs out of ideas and holds onto chinlocks way to long. The
comeback teases and actually comeback are where this match really clicks and are exceptionally strong as they always seemed
to be with these two. If not for later matches this might hold up better, but
having seen other ones so much better this one is hardly must see.
vs Rick Martel
Short description- an anachronistic match as Backlund actually works his old style.
Review- Martel being an old school worker is pretty
much at ease working with Backlund in contrast to some limited workers in the federation.
This is the only time I’ve truly seen Backlund work a match in his second run that is from his first runs formula. We get one of Backlund’s favorite openings for instance: the old heel gets some
minor advantages taunts and then babyface fires up opening. Martel doesn’t
really know what to do in the simple holds Backlund puts him in (mainly a wristlock) but as far as getting in them and getting
outsmarted Martel is quite competent. On offense Martel does reasonably well
also. Backlund’s comeback teases and actual comeback strike me as a bit
flat though the finish of Backlund goldbricking Martel is well done. The crowd
is very into the early stooging by Martel but when things settled down for Backlund controlling with a wristlock you could
tell the crowd grew impatient and they the transitions simply weren’t impactful enough to bring them back in for the
next segments. Overall a solid match and interesting.
Footage quality- good only slight wander and a
vs Bret Hart
Short description- Might be the best Flair vs
Hart match from this time frame that exist, but that really isn’t saying much.
This 17 minute match is actually probably stronger then most Hart vs Flair matches. The opening part Flair for once
actually lets Bret do his thing and it goes pretty well. Bret outwrestles Flair
despite Flair’s attempts to cheat for an advantage. The Bret figure four spot seems a bit out of place considering the
match they seem to be building but it does lead to some decent stuff such as flair doing a nice sell when he kicks Bret with
the injured leg. Once Flair goes on offense the usual problems crop up. Flair seems more interested in putting his feet on the rope to get a few near falls
then he is in actually putting Bret in trouble. Flair does literally nothing
of substance until they start teasing Bret’s comebacks a few minutes later and Flair hits one of his two offensive maneuvers
for the match, the backdrop suplex (the other being a kneebreaker). Bret’s
comeback tease is very well done and the comeback works as well though Bret doing the no selling spot for the transition is
a bit weird, but what can you say Flair had to work that in every match.
San Francisco 12/11/92
Footage Quality- Very good, though I don’t particularly like the angle
Bob Backlund vs Papa Shango
Short Description- Quick and painless
Review- This is the type of match I don’t mind early on a something
for everybody card. It’s a short and simple face/heel match with some opportunities
for the crowd to participate behind the face. Much longer and it would have been
boring as Backlund was terrible out of date at this point, but in its place this worked fine.
Shawn Michaels vs Marty Jennetty
High quality, fast paced, smart, and tight match, probably a weak WWF match of the year candidate for 1992.
If you the time to
track this down I think you'll be very very happy with what you find espiecally if your a Shawn Michaels fan. To put
it simply this is some of the smartest work I've ever seen from Shawn.
The match starts with
Shawn bumping like crazy for a 2 minutes for Marty. Its the type of things you would expect, Shawn taking a big backdrop,
eating punches, going over the top etc. The point where I become shocked at what I'm watching starts on the outside.
Marty grabs Shawn to ram him into the ringpost and Shawn simply pushes him forward so Marty flies hard into the post. Its
an effective and believable transition (a strength of Shawn's work.) Now for all the fellow critics of Shawn's work
comes a big suprise: Shawn sells the beating after this. As Marty lays selling his rib Shawn slowly rolls inside acting
exhausted. When Marty tries to roll in Shawn stomps him to keep him out and allow Shawn more time to sell.
Shawn then adds another
nice touch by first diverting the ref inside the ring (I think getting the time), then very quickly setting up a chair outside,
and then slamming Marty's ribs into the chair to further the injury, and then getting back before the ref focus' again to
see Shawn has cheated. Again really smart work.
Shawn heels it up quite
nicely and beats up Marty for a period the main thing being a well worked abdominal streatch. The crowd is very hot
and Shawn taunts them as he has the streatch. He plays grab the rope and hide it from the ref very well, but how he
plays the crowd is even better. Shawn starts to go for it slowly, given the crowd time to scream at the ref to catch
him and then Shawn retreats his hand. Shawn then looks pissed at the crowd. This encourages them to scream more
and Shawn keeps playing with both them and the ref. Shawn keeps the abdominal streatch on probably to long but I found
it entertaining to watch him play with the ref and encourage the crowd to scream even louder. Again very smart work
Marty then joins the
fun by trying to suplex out of it to a loud pop- the crowd really wants Shawn to get his- but collapses due to the rib injury
allowing Shawn to control for a bit longer. When they finally transition back to Marty's control again they do it the
RIGHT way (and get huge heat for it). Instead of Marty doing a move and suddenly being healed he has to do a string
of moves, spaced with him selling in between, before he can firmly start beating the tar out of Shawn. Even when Marty
is firmly in control he still grabs his ribs. The highlight of the Marty comeback has to be when he goes to the top
Shawn sees it, moves, acts like he is smart, only to turn around, find Marty adjusted to land on his feet, and get popped.
Again the crowd is eating all of this up.
The finishing sequence
isn't drawn out but I found it very well done. Shawn counters a Marty charge into an atomic drop. He waits for Marty
and goes for a superkick which Marty ducks and immediatly hits his own. The crowd (knowing the history of the superkick
in the feud and tag team) reacts like they believe they are seeing a title change. I mean they buy the nearfall.
Its the emotional peak of the match. Marty then whips Shawn into the corner and goes for a splash, but HBK dodges and
Marty takes the turnbuckle hard to the ribs. Shawn covers him for the 3. Making all that rib work totally relevant
for the finish, I found it very credible though abrupt.
This match is important
to look at for a couple of reasons. The first is it is an example showing Shawn at a house show. It has often
been said Shawn worked harder then anybody else at house shows (till 1996) and this is a match we can point to and say look
here is Shawn putting on a WWF Match of the year candidate at a house show. Second it shows that Shawn did not always
do all the stupid brainfarts that people rightly critize him for. Shawn's offense is not what it would be later, and
he does lack some of his later polish, but I can't help but think if he had always worked this smart he would have been better
Razor Ramon vs The Undertaker
Short Description- Well done Taker formula match.
Review- I don’t really mind the Undertaker character in the ring because
I think their were possibilities to explore in matches with him. It also tended
to give his matches form and psychology. Here as you would expect Razor attacks
Taker with little success early as Taker just keeps coming, and attacking on his own.
Razor knows to bump huge for Taker’s big moves and gives a few this shouldn’t be happening looks through
the course of the match. When Razor gets in charge he throws everything at Taker
before it effects him and then when he gives him a second Taker comes back. The
match is basically brisk and nothing seems missed. I would have liked more at
the end but really I can’t complain here.
Bret Hart vs Ric Flair
Short Description- Interminable heat segment drags down this 25 minute +
Review- Outside of the ironman match this is the longest Bret vs Flair match
I’ve seen. It is also possible one of the worst. The match starts out average with their typical mat segment for Bret’s early offense leading to Bret
going after Ric’s knee for just a bit. The heat segment seems to go on
forever. Flair spends seemingly an eternity going for pins and putting his foot
on the ropes and jawing with the ref/crowd. This is truly on of those matches
where you could cut out the first 17 minutes I think and probably not miss hardly anything.
Flair does finally towards the end of his run start doing somethings like teasing Bret’s comeback and the figure
four. Almost all the real offense gets concentrated into one run of Bret offense. Flair bumps like crazy for this barrage using a few of his signature bumps and even
taking a superplex. However once this is done they don’t really work a
finish instead just going to a simple counter and roll up finish. Very average
Hartford Ct, 12/26/92
Footage quality- everything is good but people do pass back and forth in
front of the camara.
Shawn Michaels vs Marty Jennetty
Short description- their San Francisco
match with a slightly less hot crowd.
Match Review- Read the San francisco review as there is hardly any difference between the two
matches. The San Fran one works better as during Marty’s comeback a person
obstructs camara view for a bit, and the San Fran crowd seems slightly hotter.
Worcester Ma 12/27/92
Footage Quality- all around
Shawn Michaels vs Randy Savage
Short description-Another slow and boring Savage vs Shawn match.
Match Review- After a month
of working *** to ***3/4 matches Jennetty Shawn seems to know that job is over and goes back into the Savage mode. Like their match 5 months earlier they do handle certain things well and give you glimpses of the fact
they have talent but it takes so long to get there and then again the match focuses so much on Shawn’s weakness (offense)
that its just impossible to get above bad for these two. If you must see a Savage
vs Shawn match they did a couple in England
that exist I’ve seen one on a commercial release that was solid from 1992. The
handhelds are pretty bad with the one from 5 months earlier seemingly being the best of the bunch.
Ric Flair vs Bret Hart
Short description-A five minute longer version of their Indianapolis match
Review- They expand the Indianapolis match from 17 minutes to 22 minutes without doing much
extra. Basically Flair kills more time going for pins, as well as after Bret’s
leg in injured stomping Bret’s back. They vary Bret’s comeback a
little to adjust for the leg injury by hitting a inside cradle instead of a verticle suplex. The Indianapolis match is recommended over this as it’s a tigher match, they literally
add nothing with the 5 minutes extra.
Boston Ma 1/9/93
Footage Quality- slightly distant with some camera wander.
Ric Flair vs Bret Hart Ironman
Short description- famous, but not really special match
Review- I’ve watched this
match many times now for many different reasons and it will probably be a long time before I come back to it. Its easy to fall into the trap because you are in there for so long with two great wrestlers to believe
you are watching a great match, but if you actually analyze the match, it is clear this is only above average. The match just has no soul if I were to try to sum it up briefly.
Flair is here a generic heel and he’s facing off against Bret a generic face.
They both are so busy killing time especially Flair that they never stop to think of how to give the match a personality. As you can see outlined elsewhere in this series of post I think at his best Flair
was a fantastic over matched stooge heel, but he’s to busy here filling in time to establish that here. At his best Bret was wonderful at playing the better technician and a thinking man’s wrestler, but
they never build that dynamic into the match, instead they kill time. Flair cheats
over Bret’s arm for about 13 minutes for instance. It can be fascinating
to see how many different minor moves Flair could use to do this without doing anything impactful, there is more little moves
in this segment then you’ll sometimes see in an entire WWE show. But at
some point if we are going to sit there for 13 minutes Flair needs to go somewhere with all this stuff, and he doesn’t,
once he’s put enough appendages on the ropes he moves to a Bret comeback where he can stooge for a bit.
Bret himself doesn’t seem comfortable in the role of Lex Luger here. He doesn’t react like Flair probably wanted him to many different times for
instance Bret sells the atomic drop like he’s been shot instead of no selling it like Flair usually did. Bret just doesn’t think like a superman and the two men are both to stubborn to meet halfway so the
Flair stooging segment doesn’t work nearly as well as it did a few months earlier for Randy Savage. Instead after Bret ends the Flair show prematurely Bret fixates on the knee, its probably misplaced as
Flair hadn’t yet gotten to his knee work and Bret’s knee work would have worked better if it had been payback
ala Flair vs Steamboat at Landover.
The match just doesn’t really progress in anyway other then Flair and
Bret start moving faster save for Bret keeps selling the leg after Flair’s extended attack on it leads to two submissions. The final 10 minutes of the match are exciting with them working in some nice near
falls, but they hadn’t given it the context to truly reach the next level. Bret
and Flair seem like two wrestlers who know what they are doing while being totally unaware of where they are going.
Providence RI 1/30/93
Footage Quality- very Good
Steiners vs Double Trouble
Short description-Basic but decent match
Review- I have a hard time disliking these types of matches because I believe
at its core wrestling should be about simple and clear storylines mixed with impressive athletics. This match would be a good example of that. Double Trouble
are really fat, the Steiners are really really strong and we have a story. Scott
isn’t quite as smart at playing that story as Rick is. Scott goes in quick
for a takedown and messes around on the mat for a bit before getting a very impressive suplex for a big pop. When Rick tags in he builds to his spot better. Failing to
get a bodyslam, then not even being able to wrap his arms on a german suplex, Rick is able to then get a pop just for a single
leg takedown and then a very big pop for his belly to belly suplex. Scott follows
up with an impressive overhead belly to belly suplex and then leads us into a simple heat segment where the fat asses splash
them a couple of different ways for a minute or two before the big finishing spot. The
finishing spot is pretty wowing as Rick lifts the fat guy up in an electric chair and Scott then DDTs him from that position. Certainly the Steiners spots are impressive, but the match works as something decent
only because there was a clear dynamic to make those spots impressive
Ric Flair vs Mr. Perfect
Short Description- Maybe the most disappointing house show match I’ve
Review- As I rewatched the match
I got the feeling these two were at cross purposes here. Now obviously when I
say that its pure conjucture and I can’t know that one member of the match wanted things to go differently its just
a feeling. My feeling is that Hennig might have wanted this match to build tension
likely for an explosion of face anger, while Flair wanted to get moving. An example
is it seems early that Flair has his body poised to feed Hennig for a bump and instead of doing the headlock takeover I was
expecting Hennig just slaps Flair. Flair’s reaction is natural, but he
then goes totally counter to the slow build they were going to by awkwardly feeding Hennig the top rope bump off a snapmare
and then going to the figure four, throwing the tension out the window. From
that point on any pretension of form outside of heel/face is thrown out the window as Flair pretty mindlessly goes through
his stooges mixing in a very slow, aimless, and boring heat segment. A perfect example of Flair’s desire to move things over building the match comes late. In the match their had been literally no moves done outside of bumps for the two, when Hennig finally does
the necksnap Flair doesn’t put over this signature move but instead immediately gets up to beg off and feed the next
spot, a dropkick. It just looks wrong here.
When I first watched this I thought Flair phoned it in and mentally its clear he did, but it would be unfair to say
he was being lazy physically because he takes more bumps then most wrestlers do at a house show.
Bret Hart vs Bam Bam Bigelow
Good and well structured big man little man match
Review-This is a very
good example of Bret working a smart tight match. It only goes 9 minutes and that is a bit short for a main event, however
its clearly the best match on the card. Easily topping Savage totally phoning in his match against Shawn, and Flair vs Hennig
which would be the best place to start to show Flair doing very little non filler stuff at a house show. Bret plays the obvious
storyline and plays it well. Bam Bam is much more powerful, Bret is quicker. Bret works a several sequences where Bam Bam
seems to have him with power and Bret turns it to his advantage. A nice example is a press slam attempt where Bret wiggles
free and unbalances Bam Bam for a quick 2.
Bam Bam finally catches him on the outside and slams him into the ring
post and then works over Bret's back with some power moves. After a bit he goes for the diving headbutt and Bret dodges. Bret
hits a quick string of moves he can hit well on Bam Bam including a nice 2nd rope clothesline before going for the sharpshooter,
unfortunatly Bam Bam is to big. Bret tries for a side suplex, but Bam Bam is to big and squashes him with a nice splat. The
finish is Bret takes an irish whip to the corner raises his foot and then catches Bam Bam with a victory roll.
is the kind of tight good 9 minute match that the WWE could really use right now on smackdown or raw. They keep to a simple
but effective storyline, work it well, and keep the action coming. Their is nothing in this match that couldn't be done by
almost any wrestler they have right now, but I really have a hard time thinking of a recent 9 minute WWE match as effective
and complete as this.
Providence RI 5/2/93
Footage Quality- Good nice angle and solid distance, no camera wander.
Shawn Michaels vs Mr Perfect
Short Description- A good ending caps a mediocre match.
Review- For the most part there
is very little worth seeing here. They don’t really take the time to set
the foundational psychology and with the wrong man the face and the wrong man the heel (for work at least) they have a tough time filling time. For what seems like most
of the match Shawn basically gets beat up. They tease Shawn cutting off Perfect
but things keep moving along not at all interestingly till Perfect starts working over Shawn’s leg and we get the wink
wink nudge nudge moment of Shawn doing Perfect’s old leg bumps. Shawn takes
a hike and we get the old if… doesn’t… loses the title spot. They
work in a belt shot/pin restart to start way over booking the thing. Shawn then
starts to pick things up nicely moving into some nice nearfalls for the finishing segment.
Perfect joins in on his comeback and things move along well for a bit. We
get another false 3 count this time on Shawn and then some more decent near falls before the time runs out just as Perfect
is about to finish off Shawn with the Perfectplex. Not bad but its clear looking back these two needed to have their face/heel
roles switched at this point to have had a good match.
Bret Hart vs Lex Luger
Short Description- Bret doesn’t add his name to the list of people
to have good matches with Luger
Review- With Bret I think the difference between a disappointing house show
match, and a really neat special match was always wither or not he felt like applying his mastery of basic psychology or not. Here we get some, but not nearly enough. Bret
does out wrestle Luger a bit, and on his comeback it’s his technical skill that allows him to counter a vertical suplex
into his own vertical suplex. Past that thought Bret doesn’t bother to
get across much. Luger’s power and athleticism would seem like obvious
choices to play off, but Bret really doesn’t do that. So most of the match is a Luger heat segment which goes no where
and has no context to work out of. Bret’s comeback is the usual and works like usual.
Hartfort Ct 5/3/93
Footage Quality- low angle but basically no wander or obstructions, action
easy to follow.
Razor Ramon vs Bret Hart
Short description- Quick but solid match.
Review- Bret and Razor having
worked a much longer match at Royal Rumble seem to have a bit of struggle compressing things down to the 8 minutes allotted
here. Bret doesn’t seem to feel he has time to add the basic psychology
and structure that separate him from the pack, and Razor doesn’t seem interested in bringing any offense. Bret when in control does keep things moving, but without using his brains Bret doesn’t seem that
Bob Backlund vs Shawn Michaels
Short description- at times interesting but far to slow to be good.
Review- There are snippets of interesting things in this match but the first
4 minutes are stalling, the next 10 matwork, before 45 seconds of big moves from Backlund (one of which is blown), and then
we get a cheap countout finish. The 10 minutes of matwork is interesting to see
as Backlund shows he could still do the old school stuff here. They work the
psychology that Backlund can counter all of Shawn’s holds, but Shawn has to either cheat or run to the ropes to get
out of Backlund’s. They do the headlock/hairpull into headscissors sequence
with Backlund countering differently both times. They do a nice sequence where
after whipping Shawn into the rope Backlund tries to monkey flip him, Shawn does a cartwheel to avoid then does a nice headlock
takeover which Backlund counters into a headscissors for payback. In the headscissors
they actually do something I’ve never seen when Backlund traps Shawn’s leg when
Shawn is trying to kick himself out of it trapping Shawn for a near pinfall.
Its actually quite a neat looking little spot. They do another neat sequence off a full nelson where after Backlund
counters into his own full nelson, Shawn tries to roll out of it which Backlund responds to by throwing him up and catching
him back in the full nelson. Fun stuff if it were part of a match that went somewhere
instead of the totality of the match.
Footage Quality- good angle and no obstruction, slight camara wandering don’t
miss any action though really.
Bam Bigalow vs Mr Perfect/Tatanka/Marty Jennetty elimination
Short description- Relatively action packed and solid 6 man
Review- This match probably
only served as a way from them to put Mr. Perfect over Shawn clean without changing the title.
The reason is except for Shawn all the eliminations are either flukish, DQ’s, or countouts. Nobody tries to really establish any psychology but basically everybody seems to have their working boots
on so the match is solid. Bam Bam espiecally early seems to want to make sure
he gets everything in, taken some nice bumps and bringing the best offense in the match. With gutsier booking and a bit of
thought into establishing a storyline for the match (outside of the faces trailing) this had the makings of a good match.
Bret Hart vs Yokozuna (cage)
Short description- Bret carries a game Yoko to the best match of Yoko’s
career I’ve yet seen.
Review- the cage does present some problems in working a match especially
the WWF’s escape rule matches. It forces wrestlers out of the 4 part
Face/heel structure for the most part because both parties have to try to make escapes, and those often demand transitions. This match really lacks “leave the cage moments” Bret sells for most of the match even when he has the edge. Bret
selling like this allows him to time the escapes better and not force Yoko to no sell to stop him. Yoko’s girth also helps Bret out as Yoko could believable have trouble getting out of a small cage
door and that gives Bret a little extra time.
Bret always seems to be thinking from the opening Bell when he kind of suckers
Yoko to the end. They take time to develop little themes like Bret trying to
outsmart Yoko, Yoko’s power advantage being the problem for Bret, Fuji
buying Yoko just enough time etc. One of the neatest little storylines is Bret
trying to knock Yoko out which builds progressively through the match. At first,
Bret kind of gets him slightly off balance. Later he knocks him back into the
rope. Then he gets a delayed knock down but hurts himself just as bad on a headbutt. Then he gets the knockdown and advantage
on a clothesline. Then he almost wins the match with Yoko’s basket. The storyline is fun to watch unfold and does logically build to the climax.
The match also includes a series of the among the smartest near escapes you’ll
ever see. The timing and set ups
are done so well that the crowd literally shrieks in excitement as they bite on the 3 straight false finishes. No outwrestling here just brains vs brawn for those who say Bret could only work one match this match argues
quite strongly the opposite. Likely one of this series was Yoko’s best career match.
York Ny MSG 9/25/93
Jimmy Snuka vs Brian Christopher
Short Description- Nice short crowd pleaser
Review- Christopher gets suprisingly
good heel heat for his MSG debut with a very bland formula heel promo. With that
he has pretty nice MSG debut as he does far better with Snuka then he had any right to. The match is just meant to be a crowd
pleaser and it does that well by being active. Early Snuka beats up Christopher
with strikes before they do the Snuka has a hard head spot of the match. Snuka
almost blows a second rope cross body spot and it’s clearly miss timed. Snuka dodges Christopher’s attempt to
hit a payback crossbody- silly Christopher payback spots are for babyfaces. Snuka even brings out a pretty decent looking
slingshot suplex and a not so good looking backbreaker. Christopher supplements
that offense somewhat with the bulldog countered into the turnbuckle spot after hitting a few bulldogs of his own. Superfly splash finishes. Not good, but kind of suprisingly
decent and no doubt served its purpose and shows that Jimmy still had a little left in his tank if that right wrestler had
tried to take advantage of it.
Los Angeles 10/2/93
Footage quality-good, nice distance, angle, during what I watched viewer
Mr Perfect vs Diesel
Short description- decent enough big man match.
Review- This match works pretty much despite the clear fact Diesel is very
green. They both stay active and energetic.
Perfect walks Diesel through the basics early establishing Diesel’s power advantage and using speed and fire
to overcome. The match stays well within those basic confines thoughout, but
its kind of nice to see Perfect working hard here and actually kind of showing Diesel a structure and the basics. Diesel of course needed more stuff especially a couple of credible non finishing power moves to put Perfect
in trouble. Certainly not Bret vs Diesel but nothing wrong with the match and
its satisfying to watch Perfect have his working boots on at a house show.
Footage Quality- good angle and distance and focus. My copy has low VQ, no idea how common that is to this handheld
Razor Ramon vs IRS
Short description- sluggish match
Review- Razor doesn’t seem to be very sharp this day. His clotheslines are amazingly bad, he botches a roll up and really does nothing else of note. IRS is his typical boring self. In the ring he was probably
a slightly smarter, slightly lazier version of 2003 Randy Orton as his mediocrity is really impressive. There is just nothing about IRS at all that really has ever impressed me save a spot here or there. This match does have an original finish as Razor wins by count out, by tieing IRS’
tie to the ring post.
Bret Hart vs Jerry Lawler
Short description- basically entertaining but not actually good.
Review- There is fun in watching two wrestlers who totally know what they
are doing, pop the crowd so effortlessly as these two do. Lawler for instance
understands that it’s the feet that must hit the ground so he goes out feet first creating more drama on the near escapes. They both know how to time the near escapes to get good impact from them. But there is also a lot missing here. They don’t seem
to set up any storyline threads outside of Lawler cheating and Bret overcoming. For
a match with the strong heel face dynamics it lacks the types of payback spots
it needs. For instance they both get crotched on the top rope, but it is Lawler
who gets crotched first. Bret does a piledriver to set up the win, but Lawler
hasn’t done a piledriver yet. Lawler’s lack of offense stalls things
majorly. Still Lawler has enough charisma, and Bret works hard enough that the
match doesn’t feel like a waste. The run by Owen and one of Lawler’s
knights works basically well, and many of the escapes are good, as is the finish.
York New York MSG 11/27/93
Footage quality- everything is sound but occasionally people walk by and
obstruct the view.
Diesel vs Razor Ramon
Short Description- Both men
try really hard but don’t seem to know what they are doing.
Review- This is the type of match if you went and saw it live you’d
be pretty happy with as nothing about it is blown and both men are working very hard.
Both men for instance bring what offense they can topping out with a super backdrop suplex, and their is even a run
in/multiple referee finish. Still its tough for two not good wrestlers to have
a good match and these two can’t. Its just clear outside of trying hard
they really don’t know what to do save moves. They do kind of get Diesel
over as stronger, but not very effectively, they never open up how Razor can win really, nor have either man seem to have
a strategy. Its all relatively well done but with thought into the body of the
match instead of the finish they might have actually had a decent match.
Undertaker vs Yokozuna casket
Short description- okay big men match.
Review- It does seem like so far at least that Undertaker generally showed
up and tried to have decent matches at house show. The pop for Taker’s entrance is pretty huge and impressive. The match
itself is basically what is should be. Yoko throws out some nice big moves for Taker to eventually no sell, and Taker does
the offense he has that requires him not to lift Yoko. The match drags in the
middle as one would expect. But for the most part they keep things moving and
do okay with each other as both men get what their roles are and try.
Footage Quality- Slightly close but seem to be able to catch all the action.
Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon
Short Description- Several notches beneath Mania 10 but an interesting trial
Match Review- Its interesting
what they had already figured out, and what they were figuring out, and what they hadn’t quite gotten right. For instance the opening segment leading up to the introduction of the ladder doesn’t feel as natural
instead it feels more like they are trying to get it out of the way. We miss the baseball slide spot I believe due to the
lights going out in the building. Once the ladder is introduced Shawn does stuff
with it but he had much better flow with it at Mania and also did far more. We
see a decent jettisoned spot as on an Irish whip into the ladder Shawn does kind of a Flair flop off the ladder which is a
cute spot. Shawn also brings out the excellent double ax handle ladder climb
break up. While there are signs of the extended near falls they used climbs to
get in Mania 10 it doesn’t seem to be as much of a theme. They hit upon
a pretty decent ending with Razor tipping the ladder over and Shawn taking a sweet bump to the outside, but instead of ending
it there they experiment with double climbing spots. First you get the punch
off spot they used in Summerslam though it may actually be done better. Then
they seem to maybe blow the next spot, before doing the bodyslam off spot that worked so well at Mania. Shawn having to no sell his outside bump and then being punched off the ladder make the ending seem weird,
but I kind of understand the utility of experimenting in this way.
York New York MSG 5/20/94
Footage Quality- Very good same as usual for MSG.
Doink vs Jeff Jarrett
Short Description- Solid match with shocking heat.
Review- I couldn’t believe
the amount of heat this match was getting. They play to the crowd relatively
well. Using good nearfalls and some early Dink spots to get more heat. Nothing
happens that is really impressive, but nothing happens that is bad and they work basically well for the crowd they have. Jarrett’s heat segment goes a bit slowly but they tease the comeback pretty
well. The finish climaxes with Doink saving Dink from certain doom but then Jarrett cheating to win.
Diesel vs Razor Ramon
Short Description- Unfocused and poorly laid out match that goes to long.
Review- This is a step down from their previously reviewed MSG match in basically
everyway. It seems longer for instance but really doesn’t seem to bring
more offense. The structural problems are still there, maybe even more so as
they cut to quickly into the heel heat segment and then don’t go long enough on the comeback. They don’t really establish any basic psychology ever. Diesel
does focus around Razor’s back, but no real reason for it. Yes I know the
powerbomb hurts the back, but it had been well established that with no build at all the powerbomb would still get the job
done so there is no reason for Diesel to need to set it up with anything (one of the many nuances of body part psychology
people often neglect to mention.) Razor also isn’t that good at selling
it and certainly pays no heed to it on the comeback. Diesel just doesn’t
have much to do either past a few big moves and a long heat segment just drives that problem home hard.
Bret Hart vs Owen Hart
Short Description- If you’ve seen Mania you don’t need to see
Review- The same building as Mania 10.
Not that in that case it really matters. Mania of course was on PPV so
most paying WWF fans likely saw it. Still this match happening in MSG makes it
sit worse. Nothing good is added to this match from the Mania match. The structure is similar, but inferior.
The basic psychology of Mania, in case you need it explained, was that Bret
came in to show definitively that he was in fact the better wrestler of the two brothers and that Owen had not been held down. He was going to give Owen a fair match and totally show him up. He does just that totally and decisively demonstrating his superior skills despite Owen’s attempts
to cheat, but a freak accident happens and suddenly everything changes and Bret is put at a disadvantage. He then shows his heart by battling through the injury to still almost win the match before he gets caught
in a lucky hold and Owen is able to escape with the win. In this match we get
a similar opening with Bret outwrestling Owen but it doesn’t have the same bite to it, because he doesn’t really
have to overcome Owen’s cheating or early attempts for Owen on offense. In
Mania Bret’s ability to cut off and take back control after Owen’s cheating or after big Owen moves early is what
drove home how thoroughly he had an edge.
Its kind of like Kobashi vs
Misawa 1-20-97 where Misawa controls first, then Kobashi tries his own gameplan to attack Misawa ribs, Misawa is able to take
control back relatively well and then beats the hell out of him and hence establishes just how completely dominate he is….until
something changes things. Mania has that kind of structure and it’s a good
structure. In this match though Owen is able to take over relatively cleanly on a knee to the gut. He cheats a little but
there is really no purpose in it for the most part, it feels like he’s cheating for the sake of cheating usually as
opposed to cheating to keep control as it feels for instance in their Ironman match. A couple of times Owen does cheat as
Bret is about to comeback but its not enough. Owen sort of focuses on the ribs
but also moves back and forth with a headlock that serves no purpose other then to allow Owen to pull hair and distracts focus
from the ribs.
Owen builds it up to a missle
dropkick and then fails to understand how to work a long Flair style control segment.
What I call a Flair style control segment is a control segment with basically two unrelated parts, first Flair would
work through some non leg offense, then the face would make an extended comeback tease, and either Flair would purposely or
by luck end up injuring the leg to take back control. It allowed Flair to get
more stuff in and the extended comeback tease would either create by luck or by design (oh shit I did all that stuff and he’s
still coming I better start working the leg) a logical way to totally change the focus of the match. Its much more effective
then say HHH using the sleeper to basically chuck all the previous psychology of the match, hoping by the time the face comes
back the fans won’t remember what they were doing before.
Owen in this match is firmly in control and has no real reason to change
strategies, nor does he get lucky. After Bret kicks out of the missile dropkick
(as he had done at Mania) Owen just decides its time to start working the leg. His
leg work is the same legwork that didn’t really get the job done at Mania building up to a figure four. Owen really doesn’t do much to escalate it to give us some belief that this time the legwork might
make Bret submit. Bret injuring his leg at Mania did give Owen the opportunity
to extend the match and survive, but remember Bret clearly overcomes the leg injury and ends up losing on a sudden hold not
related at all to his leg injury. Once we’ve build up to the figure four
Bret again makes the comeback and with the usual good stuff. Bret has nice stuff
for this segment but save for a superplex does not really build in any good false finishes which really was a strength of
some of their other matches. The finish does work as Owen goes for a Backlund
roll to get the quick victory ala Mania and this time Bret is able to counter for the revenge pin.
I know this review has a negative tenor, and I want to make clear this is
a good match. I just feel when you break it down what happens is really a lot
like Mania, just without the excellent basic psychology and structure that made Mania so special. That this match happens after Mania and in the same building only compounds it to make the match have a
very stale feeling to it. And I feel that they owed it to the fans who paid to see this match to deliver something different.
Footage Quality- good but there is at times more camera movement then I like
Bret Hart vs Owen Hart (Ironman
Short Description- Maybe the best WWF ironman match, but still not great
in its own right
Review-Bret and Owen are far closer to being able to entertainingly fill
60 + (overtime) then Flair and Bret were. Part of the reason is you get the feeling
these two were on the same page in this match at all times. However they don’t
have quiet enough good stuff to do to fill the whole match, and the match isn’t laid out quiet good enough to make up
The main flaw most will find with the match is it is very slow for 30 minutes. I don’t really personally mind that as much as some when its advancing a storyline,
but I only think it does for portion of that. For instance they do a lot on the
theme of hair pulling, first Owen accuses Bret of pulling hair, and then later he pulls a lot of hair. While this gets over heel/face dynamics I think you need the third step where Owen pays for what he did. The strength of the early portion is pretty decent period where Bret controls Owen
on the mat. Early it doesn’t really register that well as Bret just works
over Owen’s left arm competently, the segment takes off when Owen starts trying counters and Bret outwrestles him. This allows Bret to logically get to non left arm holds due to the necessity of counters,
before taking us back to the left arm. While Owen’s escapes are a bit pedestrian
on for instance the headscissors, and the work doesn’t have nearly the snap of Bret vs Hennig matches, this portion
does work well and better then in the vast majority of Bret matches.
When Owen takes over they have some fun with Owen using Bret’s hair
to maintain a headlock, but as I said they don’t really pay this off. Almost
half way through the match things finally start to click as they start teasing the first finish. The strength of this match
in comparison to other WWF ironman matches is that it understands you can have more believable near falls in an ironman match
then you can in other matches because there will be more then one fall. They
use a strong collection of roll ups with a few big moves from Owen mixed in to build a nice finishing sequence for the first
From that point a large portion of the match is built around Owen attacking
Bret’s leg and getting submissions. This segment works well though I don’t
find the leg work to be top of the line in this era. Its very good for the WWF
though. Bret’s comeback is well handled as he adjusts for his injury and
builds to the sharpshooter. They give themselves a few minutes before the time
limit to go back and forth trying to get the decisive fall. Again this is helped by the stipulations and the segment works
very well. Overtime is a continuation of this with Owen bringing some really
nice offense while Bret tries hard to win with quick counters.
As a whole this to me a very good match.
I think had they structured it a bit tighter it could have been great, but its understandable that its tough to make
everything payoff in a match this long where one of the main goals is to kill time.
The devotion to time killing does drag this down, but unlike in Bret vs Flair you do get the sense that they are going
someplace more often then not.
York New York MSG 10/29/94
Footage Quality- Very good,
your usual MSG handheld quality.
Bret Hart vs Jim Neidhart
Short description- Average quick match
Review- You get so used to seeing Bret inject basic psychology into his matches,
that when he really doesn’t it seems really weird. Here he doesn’t
really take the time to establish any basic psychology and uses no structure save for heel/face. The match isn’t boring nor does Bret seem to be refusing to work, he just doesn’t seem to be
thinking early. Things like Anvil punching the ring post don’t really go
anywhere. Bret’s early control is very short and doesn’t really establish much of anything. Bret
does put over Anvil’s offense strong, but Anvil has little to do. When
its time for the comeback Bret doesn’t seem interested in selling through instead just starts beating up Anvil. They do improve the match by doing some slight back and forth at the end, though they
could have brought quite a bit more even to that if they had felt like it.
Yokozuna vs Undertaker (casket)
Short Description- Yoko works hard and it yields an okay match
Review-Early on Yoko makes this match pretty entertaining by working hard,
running around, selling big, and setting up some spots well. Yoko sells everything
Taker does big which is hugely important as Taker has so little offense he can do against Yoko. He also uses all his big spots to set up casket spots which is nice for him. Of course once things settle down these two don’t have that much to do with each other. We get pointless interference and Yoko giving us a boring heat segment.
Taker as a face really struggled in these parts because his gimmick really made it hard to sympathize with him. The casket also limits as it gives the participants basically all the disadvantages
of the cage match without any of the advantages.
Footage quality- good but with people obstructing occasionally walking by
and Camara is a bit slow to respond to wrestlers moving around.
Bret Hart vs Jim Neidhart
Short description- Basically their MSG match
Review- I got this show basically
to see if Bret would put out effort in MSG and maybe wouldn’t at Seattle. Bret basically seems to work the same match.
We miss sometime during Bret’s opening segment, but what we see is basically the same with Bret maybe taking
a few seconds to establish the power vs speed dynamic slightly. Bret takes basically everything Anvil wants to do here as
Undertaker vs Yokozuna (casket)
Short Description- they don’t do as much as in their MSG match.
Review- Here we get a little
different effect at the different show as these two work a shorter and probably not as good match. You don’t see Yoko working nearly as hard here as his moving and bumping is much more limited then
it had been at MSG. A couple of their offensive spots are missing here that were
there at MSG and they are missed.
York New York MSG 3/19/95
Footage Quality- standard MSG very good.
Heavenly Bodies vs Chad Fortune/Erik Watts
Short Description- Solid tag formula match.
Review- The bodies are good enough stooges and Watts/Fortune are athletic
enough big men that this match basically works and on pure work rate standards would actually be pretty high for WWF at this
time. There is a sloppy spot by Del Ray, but other then that everything is paced well and goes smoothly. Watts and Fortune have some nice moves for men of their sizes and if you don’t pay attention you
would almost wonder why they never got a push, but if you do you’ll see that their charisma is really lacking and their
attempts to fire up the crowd look very forced. Still not a bad opener at all
mainly due to the bodies knowing how to stooge and tease comebacks.
Bob Backlund vs Adam Bomb
Short description- Just a bad match.
Review- Considering what lay
in store for Backlund in 1995 this match for him wasn’t that bad. You do
get the wasting of time and the total lack of anything high end, as well as poor strikes from Bomb but the match does go someplace. After Backlund’s stalls for a bit Bomb over powers him on lock ups, frustrating
Backlund and then injuring him enough to allow him to kick Backlund’s leg a few times.
Backlund is able to take over a bit with his skill even if Bomb’s
size and power give him trouble until the opportunity for the chickenwing presents itself.
There is a logical progression of ideas here but the match still is bad because the work isn’t entertaining at
Jeff Jarrett/Shawn Michaels
w/ Roadie vs Diesel/Razor Ramon
Short Description- Good, but overbooked match.
Review- The heels in this match
including a hard working Roadie on the outside are good enough that with two over faces with some hot moves this match is
basically guaranteed to be good. But, that’s all it is and when you watch it you see that they didn’t utilize
all the parts they had access to. For instance obviously the early portion where
Jarrett and Shawn stooge for the faces is going to work, Jarrett and especially Shawn can bump and stooge quiet well and the
segment does work and is a lot of fun, while it lasts, which isn’t as long as it should before they go to the transition. Once Razor becomes the face in peril the match starts going just as one would expect. Jarrett and Shawn keep things moving and do nice job working in distraction spots
to allow Roadie to cheat to save control and Shawn takes some decent bumps on teases. The hot tag is well done and Diesel
bring energy and the heels play pinball. Then we go to where the overbooking
kicks in. When Razor goes for the edge Roadie clips him from behind and injures
Razor’s leg and Razor gets counted out, Diesel request the match continues as a handicap match, this is all very predictable
as you watch the match. Once they do the handicap segment they again don’t really take advantage of the segment. They could work a while on Diesel, do extended Diesel offensive sequences before going
to the predictable Jarrett count out, but they rush to that spot. Once its Shawn
vs Diesel instead of doing a little match to pay off the booking they rush to the Sid run in.
The match is always entertaining, but the fact that they don’t pay off the overbooking or exploit their opportunities
holds it back from being the very good or excellent match it could have been.
1-2-3 Kid vs Hakushi
Short Description- avg spotfest
Review- There really isn’t
any thought going on in this match. Outside of you’re basic heel/face structure
they aren’t adding anything to the match outside of spots. As far as the
spots go for the time and place it is well done and things flow pretty well and the execution save for a kick that whiffs
(but is sold) is good. The Kid is better in the match pretty easily bringing
better flying moves and nice energy, but really the WWF wasn’t the place to go to see spotfest at this time really.
Bret Hart/Bulldog vs Jerry
Short Description- Solid formula tag match
Review- Owen and Lawler at times
seem pretty natural as a tag team. Lawler has the charisma and heat drawing ability,
both can stooge, and Owen has real offense. Early they have a nice one two punch
of stooging with Owen taking the big bumps, while Lawler contributes some of his time warn heat drawing stooges. Once we move into the heat segment though Owen really doesn’t keep his end of the bargin about offense,
he does a couple of nice things early, before moving into a chinlock. Lawler
and Owen also don’t really open up the book of cheats which is sort of suprising nor do they set up payback spots (other
then sort of one on a false tag). The finish goes well with Lawler bumping and
then running off and Bret dragging him back for more of a beating.
New York New York MSG 6/10/95
Footage Quality- quite nice maybe slightly close
Bob Backlund vs Man Mountain Rock
Short Description- A negative star match.
Match review- Everyone involved in this from the wrestlers to the bookers
should apologize to anyone who ever sees this. They take 6 or so minutes to do
all the following: some heel taunts, tease a handshake, tease a lockup, do a sloppy lockup and takedown, do a sloppy roll
up for the pin. After the match Backlund comes back to put the chickenwing on
Rock. Just a horrible match.
Owen Hart vs Savio Vega
Short description- Solid but sloppy 7 minute match.
Match review- There is potential
here for a nice match for these two. The match has good energy and some nice
stuff fit in. The main problem is occasionally throughout the match some sloppiness
gets distracting most notably Owen air balling a backdrop counter kick. The best part of the match is the beginning with Owen
doing quite well stooging for Savio. When Owen goes on his heat segment he’s
active but not very interesting save for a very nice enzugiri. Basic face/heel
structure is used.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs Tatanka
Short Description- Quick spotfest.
Match Review- Its really strange
Bam Bam didn’t have a better career with better matches. While the match
only goes about 6 minutes in that time Bam Bam manages to take 2 very nice bumps and bring more good offense then was expected
in the standard WWF fare. This match itself is basically non stop action but
they never settle down enough to establish a psychology. Bret vs Bam Bam might not have been this action packed for instance
but Bret would calm things down long enough to really develop a some roles, this match does not. Still both men work hard and the match does not waste our time.
Jeff Jarrett vs Adam Bomb
Short Description- decent formula match.
Review- Its not surprising that people like Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit
were able to do something with Jarrett as he does bring a decent amount to the table.
Jarrett oes know d how to play the basic psychological games. He puts
over Bomb’s power in the basic way early, gets heel heat by stalling but not going to far on it, and then fails to outsmart
the face before playing pinball. Once Jarrett takes over decent stuff follows
as he stays active and does a few decent things. The finish is basic but effective
with Jarrett constructing some decent near falls before the cheap finish.
Sid Vicious vs Shawn Michaels
Short Description- Very promising match that underachieves
Review- Contrasting this with Bret vs Yoko from San Fran in many ways can
summarize the working style’s of Bret vs Shawn. Sid is quicker then Yoko
so can in the cage do more, but probably isn’t as smart a worker as Yoko. Shawn
does a match where takes far more and far bigger bumps then Bret would, but just can’t come up with the endless nice
touches, little story’s, and satisfying payoffs of Bret’s match. Its
very fun to watch Shawn here as he is a ball of energy early on and throughout takes more bumps then just about anyone else
would. These include multiple bumps off the top rope, some very nice turnbuckle
bumps, and an excellent bump off the top of the cage. Shawn is also quite good
at selling all the bumps and Sid’s big moves as deadly and playing it like he has to use his last bit of energy to stop
the big man from climbing out. The best moment of the match also is where the
match breaks down unfortunatly. After a DDT Shawn slowly climbs out of the cage
but as he’s out Sid pulls him back up by the hair. Once Sid gets him up
to the top the cage he throws him off the top of the cage back in, in an impressive bump.
AT this point Sid could win the match by just climbing out of the cage, but despite having attempted to do so earlier
he chooses not to this time. Sid could have fell off with the throw to buy some
time but instead plays the sadistic role and chokeslams and powerbombs Shawn between lots of walking around. At this point he decides to leave but Dibiase stops him so we go back and Sid walks around before Shawn
throws him into the cage. Shawn then just slowly crawls out of the cage for the
win. A very unsatisfying pay off for the match, after the silliness where Sid
upon having the match won, decides he no longer wants to win. Had they figured
out a way to logically incorporate the huge bumps at the end without the psychology breaking down, and added a more satisfying
finish for Shawn’s win this might have challenged Bret vs Yoko, as is it’s a solid match.
York New York MSG 10/6/95
Footage Quality- Very good
Bob Backlund vs 1-2-3 Kid
Short description- Backlund improves to a dud match.
Review- For 5 minutes Backlund
stalls. He gets good heat, but how can you not with that much stalling? Then they go into a very basic hold segment interlocking stalls from Backlund. The execution is okay. Finally 1-2-3
Kid gets some moves on Backlund and the crowd cheers, but again when you stall this much how can you not get a reaction when
something finally happens? The finish is the Martel finish but with Backlund
on the receiving end. That’s the most interesting thing about this match.
Bret Hart vs Isaac Yankem
Short description- not nearly as good as their Summerslam match.
Review- If this were the only Bret vs Yankem match it might be slightly impressive
as its far beyond what Yankem should have been getting at this point. Yankem
brings next to nothing to the table at this point except being game. Yet Summerslam 1995 did happen and is far better and
smarter then this one mainly due to longer Bret offensive segments. Bret/Lawler/George
Steele do all combine to help make the match basically entertaining Lawler knows when to insert himself and usually gets pops
or heat when he does and Steele in his limited way plays his role. Bret shows
up bringing some decent offense as well as laying out the structure as usual. But
once Yankem is on offense he’s got nothing and that’s too large a portion of this match to be made up for.
Shawn Michaels vs The British
Short Description- Strong match for two natural opponents.
Review- It’s quite a statement that The British Bulldog was probably
over the course of his career Shawn’s most consistent and maybe best opponent.
They wrestled in all stages and roles of their careers from 1992-1997 and basically each time had at least a good match
save for one unprofessional match at Beware of Dog. This match is no different
and ranks among the best they did. Everything just seems to click this time save
for one timing problem. Bulldog was one of the few people who could both keep
up with Shawn’s speed and take advantage of his unique bumping ability and that is on display here as Bulldog early
is always in position for the next quick move Shawn is going to bring and stooges well.
The transition is quite eye popping as Bulldog gets Shawn in Gorilla press position and then just literally drops him
to the outside of the ring for a huge bump. Bulldog has some nice offense and combined with Shawn’s bumping and some
nice comeback teases it makes for a nice heat segment for this period with Davey Boy focusing on Shawn’s back. The transition is handled very smartly. With
Shawn first flipping out of a powerslam and trying a backslide but being unable to get it and Bulldog powering him over, but
Shawn flipping back to hit a clothesline. They both sell with Davey Boy getting
up first, missing a clothesline and Shawn hitting a backdrop quickly, and selling some more.
Davey gets up first again and covers as Shawn is about to nip up (which looked like the timing problem as I don’t
think Shawn expected him to go right for the pin) then gets up Shawn nips up a couple of times to be clotheslined down before
Shawn hits a dropkick on the third nip up/clothesline sequence. The comeback
goes well as they work in some nice nearfalls and Cornette/Bulldog miscommunication spots as well as Shawn bringing lots of
energy. A non finish does hurt this match which seemed to have some steam left
in it. They don’t spend the few minutes necessary to really establish the
strength vs speed psychology very strongly, but they do play off that theme consistently throughout the match enough for us
to give them credit for the psychology. Davey does get a bit clothesline happy
at times for a flaw, but for the most part both men are at home and work hard and deliver a strong house show match.
York, New York MSG 1/20/96
Footage Quality- Good, but occasional obstructions and regular loss of focus.
Steve Austin vs Henry Godwin
Short Description- Decent
Review- I’ve gotten more interested in paying attention to how wrestlers
move recently. Its just little things like how much snap they get on bumps, how
smooth their suplexes look, how natural they get up and down on their feet, how comfortable they look bouncing off the ropes,
how fast they can get up to speed on a run.
I think those types of things are important to the illusion of pro wrestling as I believe wrestlers should look like
professional athletes do- or like athletes in total control of their body in their professional domain. Occasionally just like with real athletes this fades a bit as they pass their physical prime, but they
are still able to compensate with their skills, but I like to know that at some point a wrestler moved well. Austin after numerous injuries somewhat
lost this grace but it was interesting for me to watch this match and see it there.
Austin just seemed natural as moved around the ring,
took bumps, and got up and down, climbed things etc. It made everything he did
seem more credible and more exciting. The match outside of that is a solid
effort, but nothing lifting it above solid. Austin
works extremely hard here and keeps the action moving nicely, but neither man puts much thought into things.
Yokozuna vs Undertaker
Short Description- Only four minutes but entertaining.
Review- Probably due to Yoko’s
increasing girth this is a shortened version of their previous affairs. However
in its abbreviated form it works well as they get in most of their stuff with no stalling.
Yoko takes a couple of bumps for Taker including on a flying clothesline, a DDT,
and on a chokeslam. Owen cheats after a ref bump to allow Yoko to hit
some of his signature moves leading up to a couple of bonsai drops. Taker comes
back and wins quickly. Certainly nothing special but probably about as good as
they could do with each other at this point considering how Yoko was going down hill physically.
Savio Vega vs Goldust
Short Description- Good, fun match
Review- Vega and Dustin work
very naturally together. They are smooth and Vega is quite willing to play
up the homophobic nature of Dust’s character and have some fun with it. They
seem to fit together very well when its time to start kicking things up and the finish is, as it would be at the next MSG
show, well done and fun. The match is held back by a similar lack of thought
or story. We have fun during the match, but don’t really have story told
to us. Still for a house show this is the type of match I would be well satisfied
with, probably more then satisfied with, if I had attended.
Shawn Michaels vs Hunter
Short Description- Probably
Hunter’s earliest good effort
Review- These two did a match
on RAW a few month’s later during Shawn’s title run. The two matches are notably different. The main weakness of this one compared to that one is Shawn’s opening control segment was more entertaining
with good stooging from HHH in the next match. This matches opening segment is
kind of standard stuff for Shawn. The main strength of this match in comparison
to the later one is that here Shawn and Hunter work a strong finishing segment with nice teases a couple of switches and false
finishes with a bit of booking. In the later match Shawn basically does the jobber
finish on Hunter. Hunter as a worker at this point could at best be described
as solid, at worst boring. He does throw himself into his big bumps well and
at times shows intensity in his control. But in his control segment he has very
little to do, but things don’t go horribly between a couple of spots and Shawn taking some nice bumps. Hunter was too limited at this point to have a good match here unless Shawn was putting in a huge effort,
still they get close and this is a nice house show match for the two.
Bret Hart vs Diesel (Cage)
Short Description- not bad but insubstantialReview- Bret was from
my viewing without question the master of the escape rules cage match. And while
Bret shows the basics that allowed him to achieve good results in this type of match Bret doesn’t quite bring enough
extra to this match. The creative false finishes that distinguished his better
efforts for instance are lacking here. The offense used by both men is a bit
poor in this match even though both do seem to have their working boots on. What
keeps it decent is they do play the obvious psychology and do the logical things. Diesel does overpower Bret and control most
of the match, and Bret shows his heart by making repeated comeback attempts and his brains by chopping the big man down. While the Diesel vs Bret psychology is there I still felt they needed just a
bit more action and creativity to make this match (and their PPV cage match as well) worth a look.
New York New York MSG 3/17/96
Footage Quality- typical MSG
Shawn Michaels/Diesel vs
Short Description- Bret plays around with a heat segment in a Shawn vs Bret
match with occasional run ins.
Review- Its funny how big things
change history in an even bigger way then expected. Watching how hot all 4 men
were in this match and noting Austin finding his rhythm, Mankind coming in, Vader starting out, Mero starting out, and Davey
Boy, Owen, and Sid all good for upper midcard support, the WWF was really primed for a major continuation of the hot streak
they were on. Diesel leaving and Bret taking a long vacation really hurt and
had those two things not happened, the WWF might exploded a year earlier then they did which would have meant Vince Russo
not getting the credit etc. Anyway the match itself due to Taker and Diesel brawling
to the back basically works as a Bret vs Shawn singles match with two Taker run ins and a final Diesel run in. Bret isn’t really all that interested in having the best match with Shawn as he gives him almost no
offense, and Shawn’s comeback when it occurs is when Undertaker is in the ring the second time. Bret instead wants to see how a heat segment will work, and for the most part it works well. The crowd does get behind Shawn, and pop for the teases and finally the comeback. Bret doesn’t overtly turn heel, but changes his body language in subtle ways
noticeably on a Russian Legsweep. Bret’s heat segment is good, but I’d
like to seen him give Shawn at least a nice opening run to kind of keep things a bit more even looking. The finish is Diesel nailing everybody with a chair. When
he finally nails Shawn the reaction is interesting as Diesel gets largely a pop mixed with noticeable boos. Had things stayed the same would Diesel have beat Stone Cold to the anti hero punch? Who knows, though its likely or basically certain he wouldn’t have drawn as well as Austin if he had. However, it makes an interesting
what might have been match for this one. And you have to love Kevin Nash anyway as at MSG he takes no bumps, does no moves,
and ends up laying out the three other top men in the company as a reward.
Savio Vega vs Goldust
Short description- hot finish lifts
a solid match
Review- I can’t help but wandering how close this is to the Savio vs
Goldust match a couple of the DVDVR players thought was a **** match. This isn’t
close to a **** but it is a nice match with a strong finish. What holds it back is a basic lack of psychology outside of the
Goldust is gay and Savio is not type, a mediocre opening segment, and a mediocre heat segment.
The only things that stand out about these segments is Goldust homophobic spots as Savio brings nothing interesting
save reacting to those spots. The crowd starts reacting strongly after Goldust
threatens to kiss every Puerto Rican in the audience if they don’t shut up. At
that point as if energized by the crowd the match does start clicking with some decent plays off Goldust gimmick. They do the old countout/title change threat to really strong heat and then gives Savio mainly but Goldust
as well some nice nearfalls for really strong reactions. But the last 2 minutes
are the only part that hits great and the rest isn’t. It might be enough
to lift this one to a good match with the well done homophobic spots, but no this one is not the **** Savio vs Goldust match.
Stockdale California 1/4/97
Footage quality- very good.
Undertaker vs Sid
Short description- not as good as the 1992 version
Review- Sid seems at times to be under performing, even by Sid standards. His execution of even simple things like a clothesline in this match can be comically
bad. Early on both men do pretty well save for Sid’s execution problems as they get the big man vs big man stuff reasonably
well and stay reasonably active. In Sid’s heat segment things break down
as he has nothing to do. When they go to the finish they do it in a really poor
way. They have sold everything basically done so far, so when Undertaker seems
to start his comeback with a chokeslam it seems strange that he follows it up with a nerve hold. Sid no sells it. Sid hits his own chokeslam, as Sid goes for
his next sequence Undertaker no sells that. And we go to the cheap finish.
Bret Hart vs Vader
Short description- disappointing match as Bret has his brain in autopilot.
Review- Vader works very hard, but much like the handheld from 1993 against
Sting, he doesn’t work very smart and Bret doesn’t take up the slack. Amazingly
with the roles so clear they really don’t spend anytime establishing, or taking advantage of them. Early Vader heels and then Bret overwelms him with punches shockingly
easily. Vader’s size never really in the match comes into play save for
hurting Bret execution. Save for one of Vader’s favorite bumps (the powerslam
bump) in this match Bret doesn’t adjust his moveset for Vader’s size, instead he just does far less. They even blow a spot early and then do it a slightly different way that looks just wrong (Vader being
unable to bodyslam Hart). Once Vader takes over things get far better as he brings
really nice offense for the heat segment which Hart puts over well, and they do a decent job teasing the big comeback. The comeback, though, adds to my frustration as Bret totally no sells the beating
he has just received courtesy of Vader. The finish is also cheap as a run in.
Not really a bad match but just so disappointing consider two of the best US
workers of the decade still close to their prime were wrestling each other.
Shawn Michaels vs Steve Austin
Short description- Shawn half asses his way to a disappointing match.
Review- Phoning it in sometimes is in the little things. Shawn isn’t totally taking the night off. He’s
somewhat game as is Austin, but when you see Shawn take an average bump off a good Austin clothesline you know Shawn’s
heart isn’t in this one as Shawn usually had such awesome snap on his bumps for moves like that. Shawn doesn’t feel the need early to bring us fast paced offense, that in say his match against Bulldog
from MSG 1995 was a strength, for his early face control. Instead he jaws with
Austin, grabs a headlock, maybe punches a few times, and then
moves on to the heat segment. There he isn’t that interested in bumping,
though he isn’t refusing to bump at all. Its just he’s only doing
what Austin ask of him and nothing more, which for a guy who could feed as well as Shawn, and had so many bumps of his own
he could work in to make a heat segment go is disappointing. Austin though is willing to stale as well. He
holds onto a headlock far to long for instance and does not bring much offense to ask Shawn to bump for. After a poor first 10 minutes things do start to pickup with a series of nearfalls out of nowhere. Austin throws Shawn
outside on a good bump and then after some more stalling does his version of Flair going up to the top- the piledriver on
the floor into the backdrop counter. When Shawn makes his full comeback the shortcuts
continue as he just immediately kips up after the forearm instead of taking sometime to sell.
Then again instead of working out some sequences, using some stooges, giving some nearfalls Shawn gives us a very abbreviated
comeback. He hits a backdrop, a bodyslam, the flying forearm, and then the sweet
chin music as a bunch of over booking kicks in. While Shawn was the one who was
half assing it, viewing the match I think Shawn at half speed was still a competent wrestler in this match and had Austin worked harder and smarter himself he could have probably pulled
a good match out of Shawn. Shawn didn’t seem to be refusing to cooperate,
just not inspired.
Footage Quality- good except the top third of the screen is black and camara
moves around (at least during the Bret vs Hunter match).
Bret Hart vs Hunter Hearst
Short description- Completely mediocre match.
Review- The main thing that we can tell here is that Hunter needed a lot
more guidance and assistance to really have a good match at this point then Bret was willing to give him. Hunter seems game, and they work the right match, Bret just isn’t trying to carry. Early they do
the Bret outwrestles Hunter while Hunter tries to cheat motif and it basically goes okay.
Hunter can’t vary the cheats enough, and while Bret is wrestling competently enough he hardly seems to really
be trying to put on a clinic. When they move into Hunter’s heat segment his offense sucks to put it bluntly and Bret
desperatly needed to try to carry from the bottom (something he was exceptional at for a face). AS they go for the finish Hunter’s hard work at many little things does pay off and things go okay,
but nothing happens to lift the match past the mediocre level.
Footage Quality- Very good save for an occasional person obstruction and
the camera is slightly less responsive then one would like.
Kurt Angle vs Chris Jericho
Short description- Almost good but Angle’s limitations at this point
hold it back
Review- The strongest part of this match is the first 5 minute face control
and Angle put together the sequences very smoothly and manage to constantly engage the crowd.
They start out with a minor payback sequences to engage the crowd, then some Jericho
flying gets nice pops. Jericho
works in a kiss Trish (who at this time was managing Kurt) for another big pop. Jericho sets Angle up nicely by taking a beautiful stun gun. Angle though has no idea how to control at this point. Jericho sells the throat big but Angle really doesn’t go after
it. He too often moves from big suplex to poor looking strike or chinlock. Angle doesn’t seem to have any sequences at this point and his heat segment
totally lacks focus. They do work in a nice learning spot off of a knee to the
gut (Jericho does a roll for 2 on the second one), but outside
of this they totally lose the crowd. Its pretty sad when you can’t hold
the crowd for a 5 minute control. Once Jericho
makes his comeback things click basically okay though they are a bit rushed and overbooked. They do two ref bumps for visual
finishes (Kurt getting the first one rendering it pointless) all leading to a
low blow Angle slam finish. There is a lot to like here with the learning sequence,
the payback spots, Jericho’s offense, some big moves
from Kurt etc. The total lack of midlevel moves is a major problem for these
two though moreso for Angle at this point. The focus on poor looking strikes
is also a problem especially in the handheld format. Its probably a strong **3/4
match though had it happened on PPV it would have generally been rated much higher.
Jericho needed more skill at carrying from the bottom
for this to get to the next level and Kurt having more variety in his offense would have helped it get to the next level after
vs The Hardy’s vs Too Cool vs RTC
Short Description- mindless but crowd pleasing.
Review- This match has no substance
but it serves its purpose. They put 8 over people in the same match (Debra was the guest announcer and Lita was with the Hardy’s)
and they let them do their crowd popping stuff. The RTC are basically there for
the faces to beat up after a short heat segment. Too cool do some comedy spots
to start that get a good reaction. The finishing sequence is basically one RTC
member after another in sequence (Steven Richards also gets involved) taking a signature face move. You get the worm, the poetry in motion, twist of fate/Swanton, the 3d.
After the matches the 8 faces and Howard Finkle dance and basically everyone is happy.
I have no problem with this kind of match in this setting at all.
Rock/Steve Austin vs HHH/Chris Benoit
Short Description- Good match
Review- Obviously this is an appealing match given who is in it and when
it happened. Benoit is clearly the best worker here. He understands that his role is to make the mega draws look great while letting Hunter try to keep himself
strong. Benoit gives and gives in this match and Hunter gives some and takes some. Benoit’s
execution and selling and moveset are clearly stronger then the other men in the ring.
Again the opening is probably the strongest part of the match. Austin and Rock ooze charisma bring great energy and have enough offense
that with Benoit and HHH’s bumping things get very hot. They don’t
really find a nice transition for the heel control though as HHH and Austin just work a sloppy sequence leading to a neckbreaker
and we move into the heat segment. When Benoit is in things flow well even if
there really isn’t a whole lot of focus, he has the moves and pacing. With
HHH things drag a bit because he only has the high knee really and he stomps and punches so much during the match it starts
to get annoying. They work in some teases but they don’t execute the hot
tag well as Benoit seems to have cut Austin off just for HHH
to lay there until Rock tags in for a weird looking spot. The finish is Benoit
taking Rock’s signature spots with a pedigree tease. Not bad or anything
but the 4 men each had plenty left to contribute to the match and the finish kind of left me wanting more. Everything is done well enough for this to be good, but the potential was there for more if they had extended
things a bit more.
New York New York MSG 12/12/03
Footage quality- Very good
Test vs Hurricane
Short description- active and basically entertaining opener
Review- This in many ways is like the Test vs Steven Richards match I saw
at a house show in 2004, basically okay and solid and more entertaining then most of the rest of the card. Test was pretty decent at putting together nearfalls and in short matches generally spent a good portion
of the match on them. Prior to that they rely on basic big man vs little man
and heel spots to try to get heat. Test had so little charisma that he always
seemed more goofy then annoying when he tried to heel it up and that holds true here.
They do understand WWE psychology well enough to know how to get pops for nearfalls.
For instance any kind of cheating is more likely to lead to the finish then any move other then a finisher, and odds
of a pinfall increase exponentially after any sort of interference. So they do
some cheating, have a couple of spots for Stacey to pop the crowd. They also
work on the theme of hurricane being able to counter most of Test’s offense, and they do those counters well and again
get a decent reaction for it. We don’t see the finish as the cameraman
was more interested in getting a close up of Stacey then it. It looks like Test
does the old bounce chair off top rope to hit self in face spot and Hurricane follows up with something either a roll up likely
a shining wizard not sure. Either way not anything special but good enough for
an opener in this era.
Mark Jendrack/Garrison Cade
vs Val Venus/Lance Storm
Short Description- average tag formula match
Review- Its interesting that the worst worker in this match, Jendrack, is
the only one who has gotten a push at all in the year since. Cade still looks
green but does move pretty well and does a couple of things that look nice. Venus
and Storm also basically do nothing but decent stuff, Venus bringing in a couple of neat little moves and sequences that keep
things from getting boring. Nothing goes wrong the match can be summed up as
exactly as one would expect it to be.
Boys vs Chris Jericho/Christian Tables match
Short description- pretty pointless and forgettable match.
Review- As I watch this match I get the feeling, like with the Casket match,
that the table match has had its day. There was a memorable, I believe, Rock/Dudleys
vs Team ECK tables match in 2000 on Smackdown as I recall that at the time expanded the match greatly almost like Shawn vs
Razor but on a much smaller scale. It added near falls and teases to the formula
and has been the basis for every tables match since. But their have been to many
and we haven’t had a Hardys vs Edge/Christain match to freshen it up further and allow the match to take another form
(I personally don’t like the format ladder matches took in the wake of No Mercy 1999, but I would be a fool not to see
that match totally changed the ladder match and expanded its popularity). And
it is tough to think of anything new to do with the tables match. We get the
3d tease, the vertical suplex and table remove spot, and the distraction and walk into the 3d spot to end this match. One
possible way to expand the match as I set here and think is instead of just removing the table vary things by interrupting
the move, but that would be a pretty minor tweak.
Christian has become a wrestler only remarkable for his mediocrity. He used to be somewhat noteworthy as a bumper, but he really doesn’t strike
me that way anymore. One minor quibble I have with him is that he doesn’t
sell with his eyes. Often after big moves where he’s doing a big oversell
routine his eyes seem calm as if he’s thinking of how he is selling the big move.
Jericho seems to have slipped in the past maybe even two years as well only really having a match with Edge on RAW
that I recall being of any note. They don’t change my opinion of them here.
The match consist of nothing of note for any of the four men until we do a Trish/Lita run in double Wazzup drop, and 4 way
get the tables spot. That pops the crowd.
Another minor quibble is how there are no dq’s but both teams abide by tag rules until the very end when they
totally stop abiding by them. Why not just go under tornado rules the whole time? Maybe they could put a rule in that says you have to abide by the rules until someone
is able to get a table, I don’t know that may be silly, but the way its done now just seems stupid.
Ric Flair vs Shawn Michaels
Short Description- A painful match for a fan of these two men.
Review- This match must be something like watching Joe Nameth after he left
the Jets. It just doesn’t look right, it doesn’t feel right, and
it sure is in its way sad. Ric Flair has his place still in this industry, but
its not working a 24 minute match at MSG, not anymore. Even in his heyday this
match might have posed a problem for Flair as stooging for a speedy face like Shawn wasn’t something Flair was as consistently
excellent at, like he stooging for a big power guy. Flair doesn’t seem
sure what this match is about. This match is not a blood feud match but kind of in nature an old school technical whose the
better man type thing early. Flair at times understands that, at others he doesn’t,
and he always doesn’t know what to do with it.
The first problems come immediately.
Flair and Shawn, both of whom at least in the past knew how, don’t seem to be establishing anything. They are
going slow and doing mat stuff and the cameraman comments that the match is going over the fans heads. I can’t believe I have to say this, but slow is not smart, slow is slow. It has no relationship to
being smart. Fast can be smart, and slow can be smart. Matwork can be just as pointless as RVD flips sequences, just because they are trading headlocks instead
of topes and planchas doesn’t mean they are putting any more psychology into it.
Bret vs Hennig at KOTR 93 is a classic example of using headlocks intelligently to kick off a wonderful story. Hennig and Bret are both convinced they are the better technicians, they through down
on the mat, Bret clearly gets the better, Hennig gets pissed until he starts to revert to his old heel tactics to try escape
with the win. Here they are basically just doing headlocks. Flair could have done the comparing dick sizes on the mat storyline but he doesn’t seem to be actually
trying to wrestle ever himself or do anything except some lowgrade heel tactics. Shawn
holds his head, Flair cheats. Nor does Flair seem to be overly concerned about
this and eventually one of his cheats works enough to allow him to take over. And
we’ve only wasted time.
When Flair takes control he continues to depress by showing how old he is. You really can’t help but think that as you watch this. Flair moves slow, sucks gas, and executes with no snap. Even
something as simple as tossing Shawn over the top rope Flair does slow and with no force. Flair wonders around completely
aimlessly for awhile doing nothing of interest until he finally seems to have a thought, he seems to realize the crowd is
not reacting at all to old school legends stuff and so starts to roll out comedy spots that are totally out of place for the
type of match they seemed to be going for. He pulls Shawn’s pants down
on a atomic drop for instance. He then rolls into some of his other crowd popping
spots such as Shawn hitting the figure four to start his comeback and of course without Flair having went for it first so
the spot doesn’t work as a payback spot. Flair even juices for no real
reason. Blood works either as comeuppance to an evil heel or to underdog a valiant
face. Flair is neither here and nothing he is really makes blood add to the match.
They continue down the comedy road with a payback Flair mooning among other
spots. The match at this point is starting to feel like a team Rusher and Baba mid 90’s style legends match with the
comedy spots mixed with nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake style. Shawn’s
late offensive run does though basically works okay though he too gets lost for instance not being sure when to drop his elbow
and having an uncomfortable moment due to it. They hit the Flair figure four spot and time runs out at 19:10 by my counter.
In the overtime the scatterbrained work continues even as Flair focuses and drops
the comedy. Flair for instance switches legs he’s working on forcing Shawn
to try to make an effort for a second to sell both. The finishing sequences lacks impact as they don’t seem to know
how to build to a superkick and instead stumble through a few weak basic Shawn moves before he just hits the superkick.
In and of itself there is really nothing wrong with this match in the same
way their was nothing wrong with Baba/Rusher comedy matches in All Japan. There is nothing wrong with going to see legends
in the flesh and having a few smiles and letting your memories run wild a bit as the approximate what made you love them. The sad thing about this match is that the men involved, and many of the fans evidently,
didn’t realize what this match became. I worry that Flair and Shawn genuinely
thought they did something special instead of knowingly smiling on the corner like Baba or Jumbo as the spit spot is executed
knowing its all in good fun and their day is done. Dave Meltzer says those matches
were considered draws, and likely Flair matches could draw in the same way. Shawn
though, much like Masanobu Fuchi, is capable of much more then this, but once in a while it doesn’t hurt. This match
is frustrating unlike those due to effort being put into it making the match frustrating instead of purely fun which is all
they should have aimed for judging by how poorly the serious part went and how they had to chuck the whole design of the match
to try to pop the crowd. They aimed for a special legends match, and ended up
with nostalgic comedy, which is bad. Nothing wrong with nostalgia or comedy,
but lets not confuse them with greatness and lets remember that when you aim for greatness and get nostalgia and comedy you
have only embarrassed yourself.
Randy Orton/Batista vs Rob
Van Dam/Booker T
Short description- Outside of RVD’s spots nothing of note.
Review- RVD is a wrestlers I
think who enjoys doing his thing for the crowd. Everytime I’ve seen him
live he’s done what his fans want him to do, hit his signature moves. Its
nice that he’s willing to go through all his big moves and do them energetically and basically at the right times. Outside
of taking, or watching, RVD’s spots no one else seems to have much of interest to do.
Orton brings almost nothing to this match save a nice dropkick, Booker is almost on the same level. Batista does bring a few nice power moves, but mainly this match remains the RVD show. The other three were capable of much more if they had wanted to please their fans like evidently RVD does. Good for him, to bad for them. 2 months later they were still doing this match at
a house show I went to and it was almost identical save for I recall Booker bringing slightly more to the table.
Kane vs Goldberg
Short Description- Sluggish and
poorly laid out match.
Review- An agent should be ashamed of this match as, like almost all Goldberg
in the WWE matches, its just all wrong. Both men basically are willing to work here.
The problem is like all of Goldberg’s run he spent most of the match selling.
Kane has some big moves and things don’t go that badly, but really all over 6 minute Goldberg matches should
have been laid out like a Hogan formula match. Lots of early energy and offense,
the heel somehow takes control, uses all his big moves, Goldberg survives, makes superman comeback, spear and Jackhammer see
you later. Instead Goldberg saves most of his offense for his big comeback which
goes pretty well. They even try to get a bit ornate on the finish going through
a nice big boot counter to the spear, which they probably should have used it as a nearfall.
The finish is botched as Kane jumps for the clothesline when Goldberg is out of position to spear him to counter. It’s a nice idea for a finish but Kane just needed to be a bit more patient
on it. Of course it’s a match also where both men had been so thoroughly undercut it didn’t have the heat this
kind of battle of monsters needs to really click.
New York, New York MSG 6/26/2004
Footage Quality- Very good except the camera could be more responsive
Batista vs Chris Jericho
Short Description- Uninteresting match
Review- I’m picky on my monsters.
Batista is a wrestler I think most people misunderstand. Batista’s
flaw is not being a stiff. He has good ring charisma, is a capable seller, he
moves well in the ring, bumps well for a man his size, and executes his big moves convincingly. His most obvious flaw, and the only real one people ever harp on, is his propensity for blowing up. Batista to me though does not seem to work well on the lower registers. I think its important for a monster to seem physically dominant in everything he does. Batista’s strikes except for his clothesline don’t seem credible; they seem to just glaze Jericho if that. He also falls into the WWE’s seeming need to have
a long resthold in the match, as if that adds psychology. A monster like Batista
using a chinlock just does not seem to work to me. Because Jericho is winning he doesn’t get much offense in.
Jericho deserves criticism for being so predictable
on his comeback teases. He rehashes a chop fire up far too many times in a row
with no cumulative effect to make us believe this time may be different then the last.
The best part of the match is the finish where Jericho
gets what he is getting in; in and where Batista uses the big moves he can execute well.
Still it’s not nearly enough to lift this match.
Randy Orton vs Edge
Short Description- Average match, very much their Vengence match lite.
Review- It’s almost a Kawada like touch. Orton on an Irish whip sequence turns back into the charging Edge a bit later then most would so that it
looks like Edge caught him off balance on a shoulderblock. Instead of getting
up to start a sequence of moves, Orton takes a few moments to sell the move as if it actually did damage. Then the next moment we go back down to a low level as Orton does not go anywhere with that, instead he
immediately takes over on a low level transition and then kills any forward momentum with a pointless headlock. That was Randy
Orton before his Mania injury: a few flashes of potential masking a basically mediocre worker.
The match rushes Edge’s control and once we get to Orton’s heat
segment all roads lead to his facelock. Orton’s control seems almost to
be a paradox, it manages to feel to long and to short at the same time. To long
because Orton spends probably half of it holding Edge’s face which is usually a sign a segment has lasted to long, and
to short because Orton does nothing memorable in the segment to put Edge in peril.
Once Edge is in control after some difficulty (they execute a slingshot spot poorly) things go better. The finish is like their Vengeance match, but less drawn out. Just
like there, it is a bit to my turn your turn for my personal taste, but like there, they get a good reaction because of their
willingness to dig deep into the big book of overused finishes to pop the crowd on nearfalls. They don’t dig nearly
as deeply as they did at Vengeance so I doubt anyone who saw that one needs to see this one.
Trish Stratus vs Victoria
Short Description- Solid woman’s match
Review- I really do not recall the definitive match of this overdone match
up. I think its somewhat revealing of where both of them are as workers that
they have never really done a match that would be that memorable to me despite their many opportunities. This is certainly not that match, but it does look like a legitimate wrestling match which also revealing
of these two. They do what the men do at a competent level basically here, even
following the basic 3 part face/heel formula. Just like the previous two matches,
this felt like it could have used a better opening face control. You almost wonder
if it was company policy at this time to not do anything interesting at the beginning so you would have more stuff left over
for big comeback.
Chris Benoit vs HHH w/ Ric
Short Description- Good, craftsman like, mainevent.
Review- I saw the first match of this houseshow series prior to Wrestlemania
20. I thought it was a strong WWE match that showed the potential for a truly
excellent match down the line between the two when they could use more bells and whistles, and could have a true finish. They never really got to realize the potential of that match, and in fact none of
their televised matches in 2004 did I believe were as good as the simple and strong 20 minute match I saw live. Their Vengeance match took to long for what was essentially a set up for a run in by Eugene, and their Ironman match stretched them to long.
While in 2005, despite the intrusion of commercials, these two did have a television match prior to Mania 21 that was
likely better then what I saw live, I still wanted to see what these two did without angles and with a clean finish. I also wanted to see if they were as good together as I remembered.
The match I saw I rated at ***1/4 and this would likely get about the same
rating or 1/4* higher. It does only
slightly more with 5 minutes extra, but is helped by a few nice touches, and a decisive finish. As with all the matches this night I wanted a better opening face control, with Benoit unloading
more on HHH. However, like with the rest of the match, these two do get quiet
a bit out of what they do by constructing all the sequences well. They work the
entire match on what could almost be seen as a point counterpoint structure. The
heel gets the point and then the face gets the counterpoint. While all the stuff
early is simple it basically works. The structure is basically HHH gets a small
advantage, gets cocky, eats a fast move, Benoit goes for the crossface, and then HHH bails.
For instance HHH runs over Benoit on a shouldertackles and really hams it up, he does it again and rubs it in bigger,
when he tries a third Benoit steps aside and hiptosses him and then goes for the crossface. While Benoit does nothing big
the fact that the fans buy the crossface and that they set up the spots make it work.
When HHH takes control they work about as strong a heat segment as one can
expect from the WWE. They do a strong set up with Benoit getting rammed hard
into the apron to injure his lower back. Benoit tries to comeback on reentry
with two shoulderblocks, but HHH lifts his knee on the third and then gives him a very nice vertical suplex. It’s a very nice and convincing start to the heat segment.
Once they begin the heat segment they stay with the point counterpoint format with HHH doing something once or twice,
Benoit adjusting to almost take control back, but not being able to due to being injured.
Especially nice is HHH’s tossing him front first into the ropes so Benoit comes back to him in a way that allows
Hunter to give him a forearm to the back. On the third one Benoit turns off the
rope and lands his own forearm. I have a hard time not liking those type of mini
story lines in a match. The fact that the execution and selling of these two
is on a different level then everybody else on the card adds greatly to make the segment work.
I have never liked HHH’s use of the sleeper though. Just like at the match I saw, HHH uses the sleeper essentially to wipe the slate clean on the prior body
work he has done. However, I have to give them credit for how they play out of
it with Benoit again adjusting to get a revenge sleeper, but this time avoiding multiple, quick, HHH attempts to retake control
to force him into the sharpshooter. The run to the finish continues their good
string of setting up and paying off what they do. HHH is able to avoid the first
german attempt, but on the second Benoit gets him. Flair, who had been interjecting
himself throughout, pays a couple of times for it. Batista, after almost getting
HHH the win, is eliminated with a chair. HHH after avoiding the crossface several
time, finally gets caught in it after Benoit wrestles out of the pedigree.
As I said in the short description, this match has a very craftsman like
feel to it. Both because what their execution is clearly better then their peers on the card, and because they set up and
pay off what they do so much better then what their peers do. While this match
is certainly not a psychological classic, the crowd heat it gets does validate the tried and true heat garnering method they
use. And in many way, its hard to imagine a more effective way to construct a
match for a non televised match. However, I do believe with a more clear overall
theme, not feeling the need to drop the body focus, and a more high impact work early, these two could have done a far better
match. Who knows, maybe someday they will.
Footage quality- I believe its from a hard camera. I’m including because I don’t often see it listed or talked about.
vs Ricky Steamboat
Short Description- Not as good as their 89 series
Review- This is one of those matches where Flair
goes way out of his way to make his opponent look good and I think the match suffers somewhat for that. For one thing I don’t think Ricky had yet come into his own.
It’s the repetitive nature of the match ala Sting at the clash that makes me think that. Flair seems to be having to go to the well more often then he would later against Ricky and dig deeper. Flair pulls out the ref spot for instance and they use the press slam a few times
to often, Flair uses the verticle suplex to set up Ricky once to often, Ricky
no sells the toss to the floor twice to continue offense, they go to the cradles (including reusing the same ones) to often. It feels like Flair is having to go into his book instead of Ricky really carrying
his end like he did later. Flair is also not assertive enough on offense I do
not think though he does have more of it then he would use later rolling out a backbreaker for instance, but he never builds
heat on Ricky. Still there is a lot to like here.
While they use basic headlock work probably to long for my taste, after about 6 minutes they do start to do some nice
stuff out of it. Flair is good about trying to take control from Ricky only to
let Ricky fight back and take control back which really engages the crowd. They
hit on some nice themes such as a sleeper segment for Ricky in the middle, a learning spot here, and some payback there. It is Flair in his prime with a good opponent so its good, but I didn’t get
the feeling I was watching a special match.
Johnstown, PA 11/22/87
Footage quality- a little low and close, but the
camara work seems solid
Gilbert vs Jimmy Jackson
Short description- Very basic and slow heel squash.
For most of the match, this match, reminded me of New Japan young lion match with very basic heel/ face structure on
it. Everything both men do is very basic up until Gilbert bodyslams Jackson on the floor. Even
that is not exactly high end. Jackson
doesn’t seem to be good at all as his movement is slightly slow. Gilbert
never gives him a comeback so the match basically becomes a squash.
Sullivan vs Rick Steiner
Short Description- A match far to long.
Review- Kevin Sullivan was truly uniquely immobile
and unathletic for a man his size. Its really fascinating to watch a wrestler
basically waddle around the ring and seem to not be able to even rapidly move his arms.
You watch this and you know Steiner should just snap him in two in no time. But
Rick doesn’t at this point have anything interesting to do. The match goes
on and on without much of note happening till Sullivan’s comeback. Sullivan’s
comeback is interesting for its heelish nature even though the fans are cheering. He low blows, pulls hair, and uses a chair. Of course once he’s done with that we go to a headlock and as we near the time
limit Sullivan just can’t kick it up into gear enough to really give us a hot finish.
vs Robert Gibson.
Short Description-Very basic match that never
really gains momentum.
There are signs these two could do something, but the match doesn’t go long and they never truly pick it up. Arn works basic holds basically well and uses the counters to set up quick burst for
Gibson. An enzugiri taken well by Arn is about the nicest thing that happens
and its seems Gibson doesn’t have much to bring offensively outside of good fire.
We clip out during Gibson’s comeback when he’s been throw out of the ring and comeback with him using a
sunset flip to get back in so no way to know if we miss anything or not.
Blanchard vs Ricky Morton
Short Description- Slightly better then their
partner’s efforts but not by much.
Review- With only 10 minutes to go you can’t
waste much time and you need to make good use of role establishing spots, if you do that you can play off of that the rest
of the match and build a very good short match without going crazy on spots. Tully
and Ricky unfortunately don’t really do that past establishing face/heel. They
stall some which is totally unnecessary in a match like this. After a few minutes things do kind of pick up nicely with Tully
doing some neat things to Ricky’s leg leading to the figure four spot. With
the time though Tully can’t really take it apart though. Ricky makes his
quick comeback shortly afterwords and does sell the leg, but nothing happens here either to lift this match up a level.
vs Midnight Express
Short description- Good and solid match with both
teams working to their strengths.
Review- The recorder clipped off about 1:30 of
likely stalling after Warriors power spots which may or may not have helped the match.
These two teams seem to know what is expected of both. They establish
the Warrior’s power advantage and the Express’ desire to avoid that and try to find a way to double/triple team
for an advantage. Some neat spots commence especially a spot where Eaton ducks
out to avoid a big spot by Hawk, runs into Animal, gets pressed slammed back in, clotheslined back out, and then clotheslined
down. When they finally can nail Animal with the tennis racket you start to get
the distraction/double team spots run out with chairs and of course the tennis racket coming into play. It doesn’t seem to be down quite to the science it would be when they rolled it out against the Steiners,
though the match being shorter may have something to do with that. When Animal
finally tags out Hawk brings some very nice and credible offense for the period out.
The match last about 12 minutes but keeps it entertaining throughout. The
Express must be said to be the master of the 10-15 minute tag match.
Footage quality- distant and slightly blurry,
action can be slightly hard to follow and the action is shot through a guardrail so it obstructs a little. .
Rhodes vs Kevin Sullivan (dog collar)
Short description- bad match, but Dusty does connect.
Match Review- Nothing of interest rally happens
in this match, but it is interesting to watch Dusty from a distance to see how he would connect with the back row. Dusty just seems to have this ability to just kind of tense up and move his body in a way even if you can’t
see his face you know exactly what he’s thinking. He’s also very
expressive in his comebacks which does kind of play better from a distance. The
crowd goes crazy for Dusty and as you watch him you can kind of see why he connects.
vs Barry Windham
Short description- Action packed 10 minute match
with some structural problems.
Review- Barry for the first segment of the match
does his best Ric Flair impersonation. He takes some of Flair’s favorite
bumps, does his own version of the Flair flop, and even moves himself always into position for the next signature babyface
spot. Barry only really makes one mistake, on the 10 punches in the corner countered
into an atomic drop spot, the atomic drop works. Flair aficionados should know
that an atomic drop after 10 punches in the corner should always be blocked and followed with a clothesline for the babyface. I’m sure Ric was shaking his head in disappointment in the back. This segment
works well as one would expect. At this point while the match stays action packed
the structure kind of just falls apart. For the next half of the match there
really are no control segments, and really no psychology. Sting’s athleticism
gets established in the Flair segment, but then kind of just coast threw. Both men bring offense and so things stay entertaining,
but the match could have been more had Barry took the time to keep laying things out.
Blanchard/Arn Anderson vs The Midnight Express
Short Description- Big pop ends this title change,
but the work, while good, may disappoint
Review- The Express are big faces here, but as
faces so much of their routine is missing, and it is missed. The early
segment is solid as Tully and Arn are good heels and they stooge well, but things just don’t get as hot and fun as I
would hope. They break the match into two heat segments with a short comeback
in between. Tully and Arn bring basically good stuff to the heat segments but
usually start with their best and kind of build down. Such as on the second heat
segment it starts with the spinebuster. The match breaks down somewhat and becomes
wild but hard to follow with handcam and all four men start doing big stuff. Eaton
does some nice stuff on his comebacks to seem to distinguish himself. In the end Eaton pins Arn at the same time Tully pins
Stan and the Express win.
vs Lex Luger
Short Description- Flair does his standard Luger
match, this time for 17 minutes.
There is a special referee who the fans seem to like, I don’t know who he is. Ric Flair being Ric Flair, does
exactly what I would expect and works in some of his referee crowd popping spots. Outside
of that this basically just a slightly abbreviated version of Lex vs Flair Great American Bash with a run in DQ finish instead
of the blood stoppage. Flair gets in a ton of stuff into 17 minutes so this match
is non stop action. You get big bumps from Flair, lots of crowd popping spots,
lots of charisma, lots of begging off, lots of no selling, the basic psychology etc.
Only really the clothesline out of the ring, Flair flip and Flair flop are missing from the usual, but given 9 less
minutes to work with we can’t expect Ric to fit in all his spots. As you
would expect then, this is a good match. Flair always puts over the basics to
make his matches slightly more psychologically sound then say a Kurt Angle match. Luger
as always is stronger/faster/tougher/and the face. Flair as always is a chickenshit
veteran heel trying to capitalize on all mistakes and cheat his way victory. On
nothing else can you count on Flair psychologically, but he usually creates the roles and used them to give his matches a
structure. Flair is also pretty effective here when it comes to offense. Flair does his standard formula heat segment.
The first segment he does some basic heel stuff to get heat, he creates a spot for a quick extended comeback tease, capitalizes on another mistake (the old hiptoss, dropkick dodge spot) and starts
working over the leg. He does his standard stuff to build to the figure four, this time the figure four is not reversed because
we have a special referee and Flair would never deny a specal referee the chance to catch him cheating and make him break
the hold for a big pop. Flair of course makes Luger basically no sell the leg
work to catch him on top, but its Flair and the spot gets a big pop. Then they do another big popping spot with Luger getting
payback for a lowblow by crotching Flair into the steel post. Luger gets some
of his usual stuff in as we go to the finish. If you’ve seen the GAB 88
you really don’t need this one, unless you want to see Ric Flair bring his A game at a house show.
Footage Quality- Distant, but can follow
vs Rick Steiner/Mike Rotundo
Short description- reasonably entertaining Warriors
Review- This match is nothing really out of the
ordinary for the Warriors as they bring some power moves, energy, and a good deal of crowd heat. The match is basically entertaining if not substantial. There
were a couple of things that were noteworthy to me in this match though and I’ll outline these minor points. One is that they were teasing Steiner’s face turn and that the fans seemed quite eager to accept
that turn. Tension is played up at the beginning and at the end (costing the
team the match in fact) and the fans bark for Steiner. The second is Hawk is
pretty giving in this match. With Steiner you never can be sure if he had any
choice, but either way Hawk does bump and sell for the heels here more then I was expecting and it does help the match out. The final point is these workers were not really smooth. It was notably that at a couple of different points in the match one guy was just standing in the ring
with his thumb in his ass waiting for somebody else to finish what they were doing.
This just looks silly when it happens and it would be better to just interrupt what was going on against plan then
to stand there waiting, while you’re partner is pummeled, for everybody else to be ready for whatever it is you are
planning on doing.
Express vs The Fantastics
Short Description- While not a definitive match
for the teams, still good to very good.
These teams almost make having a good match look easy here. This isn’t
the intense war their Clash match was for instance, nor a marathon, just a nice little 11 or so minute house show match. Still compared to most other house show tag matches this is one of the stronger efforts. Everything is so smooth and natural here. They
do intricate sequences with excellent timing and fluidity allowing them to have their full effect. The only real weakness is the Express don’t have one of their better heat segments, but still it’s
a solid one. With just slightly more effort and time this probably could have
easily been converted into a great match as the hallmarks of that are present, but while not an essential match to view it
is a pleasing one.
Footage Quality-good nice angle and right distance
but camara at times is unresponsive and the footage clips out likely toward the end of the Gilbert vs Windham match and into the middle of the 6 man tag.
Midnight Express vs The Fantastics
Short Description- Its not the Eaton/Lane vs Fantastics
version but its still solid.
Review- The best part of this match is the first
7 or so minutes when the Fantastics control. They show pretty clearly why they
always made such great opponents for Eaton and Lane as they bring good spots, good fire, and react well to stooging. The Original ME and Dangerously though are not in the league of the ME and Cornette
at this point. They just don’t have the number of stooges. Even more importantly when its their turn to control they just can’t do the three man circus routine
that made Eaton/Lane and Cornette so special. Still the match stays okay and
we get the standard stuff to finish.
vs Rick Steiner
Short Description- Flair gets a good one out of
Review- Flair seemed to be on his way to developing
a Steiner match already. It actually looks like it would have been a good one
as Flair does work in some different things for Rick. Flair as always sets the
basics up and they are the basics you would expect. Steiner gets to react slightly
differently to many of Flair’s signature stooges which gives the match a nice quality.
For instance where we would expect the Flair backdrop spot, Steiner powerslams him, and then later Flair works in backdrop. Outside of Ric’s bumps and the powerslam, Steiner doesn’t have a whole
lot to do during his early control segment, but with Flair things stay active.
When Flair is in control he works in some different
things then he would in his Luger or Sting matches. For instance he works in
a double foot stomp for Steiner to no sell, and he works in a Japanese armbar for Steiner to power him over and rest him on
the turnbuckle. Flair works in a sleeper spot for Steiner to wrestle out of,
then the brief comeback before we move into the leg stuff, which goes basically as normal.
Back on defense Flair works in some big suplexes of Steiners as well as setting up a nice Steinerline for some good nearfalls. Instead of using the hiptoss block
into the backslide spot Flair takes advantage of Rick’s wrestling skills to do a chain wrestling sequence to the backslide
spot. Steiner gets a very nice nearfall off the 10 punches in corner/atomic drop
block spot by belly to belly suplexing Flair instead of doing the old clothesline spot.
Steiner’s big moves and Flair’s bumps and signature nearfalls, along with Flair’s selling work very
well together in this segment to create a series of hot near falls.
Flair finally wins with the old shoulder to the
gut/jump on him for the rope assisted pinfall. This seemed more fresh to me then
the Luger match from a few months earlier though it didn’t have as hot an opening. While again Flair doesn’t bring
everything in his arsenal in this 21 minute match he actually brings some different things and its fun to see. Good hard work
from both men.
Landover Md, 3/89
Footage quality- pro shot, I include it because
it fits the purpose of the post, its rare, it’s a single camera, its not commentated, and it was never officially released
to my knowledge.
Windham vs Sting
Short Description- forgettable match
Review- Sting was athletic and had good energy
and those qualities with a good work ethic can lead to many good to even great matches with the right opponents. Sting always seemed to need the right opponent though and Kendall is not
the right opponent. There is really nothing of interest in this match. It is often boring and never smart. Sting was over at this
point and so probably could get away with an occasional stinker like this
Sullivan vs Rick Steiner
Short Description- Sullivan doesn’t take
advantage of what Steiner brings to the table
Review- If you put this match next to the Flair
match in January you really can see just how good Ric Flair could be. Sullivan
has his strengths, but he just isn’t capable of really bringing the most out of a powerhouse like Steiner in a one on
one match. They do some cute spots early which get crowd pops but they can’t do anything with it because Sullivan doesn’t
seem willing to take any of Steiner’s big moves save the clothesline. Sullivan
does play the role of the smarter wrestler suckering Rick a couple of times but his heat segment is boring because he has
no offense. The workrate is amazingly low here.
vs Barry Windham w/ Hiro Matsuda
Short Description- Not at the level it should
Review- Considering the level basically every
other strong wrestler Luger worked during this period was able to get him to, and Windham’s
reputation as a worker this match should be at least very good, but it doesn’t get nearly to that level. Luger had gotten
quiet used to being the unstoppable babyface in early portions of a match and Windham
certainly is good enough at bumping to be in the right places and make sure everything goes smoothly. Once we get through the superman stuff though and move to what should be the meat of the match nothing
is there. Outside of Luger being tossed to the outside for Matsuda to get shots
in no theme develops and nothing of interest happens. Windham doesn’t even give us a real comeback instead going for a sudden roll up out
Warriors vs Steve Williams/Mike Rotunda
Short Description- Decent enough Warriors match
Review- I wonder if the NWA ever thought that
having Luger, Sting, and the Warriors all wrestle basically the same way might be a bit redundant? Williams being in this match makes it more interesting then your normal Warrior match, as you can’t
really just no sell Steve Williams. Doc is totally willing to make the Warriors
look good as he takes several nice bumps for there power moves. He doesn’t
really throw them around in return which is disappointing and that means the heat segment of this match is weaker then the
w/ Hiro Matsuda vs Ricky Steamboat
Short Description- Great match
Review- This match is kind of just Flair vs Steamboat
as opposed to the sprint that Chi-town was, or the marathon that Clash was, or the one with the big bumps and moves trying
to be the best match ever that Wrestlewar was. And without all the other stuff
the match still works. Its not flawless because you have two workers who had
many habits good and bad, but the match is a joy to watch.
The early portion is very interesting to watch
how they pace it. They mix Flair heeling quiet effectively with explosions of
Steamboat offense and Flair bumps. It gets a great reaction as first Flair does
stuff to earn an asskicking, then he takes an asskicking. Steamboat has his typical
great fire and energy, and Flair is Flair as well, and the execution is very crisp and smooth as you would expect between
They move immediately into a focused heat segment
off the Flair dodges dropkick after hiptoss and then goes right to the figure four transition.
Flair is more focused then normal during this first portion of his heat segment as he works over the leg with the usual
for over 6 minutes before they start building to a Steamboat comeback.
Steamboat’s mini comeback goes into a payback
segment working over Flair’s leg. First you have the very well worked payback
figure-four, then the elbow drop on the knee marathon Steamboat later pulled out at clash, then another figure-four. Surprisingly Flair brings us back around to the earlier leg work at this point by
punching Ricky’s bad leg repeatedly to get out of the hold.
From this point Ricky isn’t really interested
in selling the leg much more, Flair limps for a while longer, but also has things to get in so the leg portion is for the
most part done though they do get some more mileage out of it before we are done. They fight for control for a bit before
Flair moves into the second portion of his control using his suplexes, which is a bit of a reversal to how Flair normally
worked his two part control segment. Towards the end the sound goes to Washington
Bullet’s highlights for a few minutes so please note that. When it
is time for Steamboat’s full comeback things go as well as expected as Ricky has plenty of big moves left and Flair
always has bumps left to take and the action kicks into high gear nicely. Ricky
brings out the double-armed chickenwing in this match and again collapses into a pin due to the earlier leg work. They toss
nearfall after nearfall as you would expect until the flash pin ending.
The workrate is exceptional as when you outline
it for the time and country they actually did a shitload of stuff and Flair even was pulling out a good portion of his moveset. The match never drags and is smooth, crisp, and credible throughout and feels shorter
then the 31 minutes it goes. While they do for the most part drop the leg work
that is the foundation of the body of the match for the run to the finish they get quite a bit of mileage out of that legwork
while they are at it and do reference it at least once in the finish. Its somewhat
like a more effective example of typical NJ jr. bodywork as they get far more out of it while they are working on it then
NJ jrs typically did, but like with the Jrs once they moved on they basically moved on.
The match builds well throughout, and the Flair basic psychology is as usual there.
I don’t know if your wrestling life is incomplete without this match though as Flair and Steamboat did so many
matches of high quality little here will be new to you. This match is probably
unique in the 89 series simply in being the most archtypical Flair vs Steamboat match they did as it didn’t really have
any special booking attached to it, the two of them just did their match. Still
as a stand alone very few wrestlers ever reach this level of quality.
Park NJ. 10/20/90
Footage Quality- not very well lit but very watchable.
Brothers vs the Midnight Express
Short descriptions- fun Midnight express version
of the Flair big book of stuff.
Had this been on PPV it would have been interesting to know how it would have held up over the years. Its very fun
and a ton of stuff happens, but not a whole of solid psychology is included. Here are some of the things that happen. The express on getting outwrestled early complain Scott is holding their trunks, boots,
and finally hair. They ask the crowd who say no, but Cornette enthusiastic says
yes. When the ref doesn’t buy it Stan shoves him and the ref then shoves
Stan down. Cornette gets pissed and he and the ref do an impromptu match where
the ref knocks him out. Stan and Bobby get beaten up some more till Bobby gets
frustrated and losses a shoving match with Stan. They tease a break up when Cornette
tries to slap some sense into Bobby, before eventually hugging and making up. Some
more beating insue till after a Steiner Bulldog a distraction allows Stan to use the racket on Scott. At this point we start going threw an amazing portion of Midnight express double teams/distraction spots/cheating
spots. Its amazing to watch how cohesive the threesome had gotten by this point
at doing this 6 man circus with the ref always being in the wrong place, Rick coming in at the wrong moments while the threesome
work over Scott. Finally Rick tags in and briefly fires up before the distraction
and double teams nearly beat him, but finally a Midnight express distraction backfires allowing the Steiner’s to do
a quick double team which of course ends the match. I have no idea how to rate
this match as the circus like working of it was entertaining but past setting up the payback finish not much psychology happened. Still this is a match recommended to see, just to see how much the midnight express
actually had in their dog in pony show, and possibly you’ll love it as it is quite a bit of fun.
Footage Quality- Slightly distant but easy to
tell everything that is going on.
Garvin vs Dallas Page
Short Review- Solid match with DDP working hard.
Page was trying very hard here to have a solid match and he basically does. All
the spots are executed fine, and the match never slows. For its position in the
card this is the type of nice quick 6 minute match that is always good. The camara
man is quite excited about getting to see Liger and his friend is looking forward to bragging about it to John McAdam. John if you read this how could miss Liger live?;) You couldn’t have been THAT
vs Rick Rude
Short Review- a Solid match that drags during
the heat segment.
This match really hits its stride when Rude is on defense and Sting on offense.
Sting has some nice stuff he works though, Rude bumps hard, the crowd is hot etc.
Rude’s selling is as always a bit over the top, but solid enough for the situation. When Rude takes control thought things do drag a bit as Rude works through a series of wear down holds. When Sting fires up for the big comeback things go wild again with lots of overbooking
and Paul E. interference. Again that is when this match is in its element. This match past heel/face didn’t have any psychology to speak of but works pretty
much as a heel/face spotfest.
Steve Austin vs Scott Steiner
Short description-Neither man looked experienced
enough to be wrestling each other alone.
This was just one of those matches where two men with talent wrestled each other but you could tell the mental parts
weren’t there. Scotty has some really impressive moves but no depth to
his moveset and no ability to focus it. Austin
has some charisma and can bump but when its his turn at this point to control he just had nothing to do. They seem to be close to establishing Scotty as technically stronger and just stronger but don’t
quite know how to do it. Scotty was in desperate need of mid level moves as he
went from basic amateur moves to huge moves and none of the huge moves ended up meaning anything.
Liger vs Brian Pillman
Short description- lack of a natural structure
impedes this (for the time and place) eye popping match.
Review- The challenge of this match for Liger
is probably more then may be obvious. Pillman and he were both booked as faces
so they can’t really use the face/heel structure. Both he and Pillman were
being pushed as flyers so he really couldn’t use Flier vs power wrestler structure either. Liger kind of hits on playing the favorite as he always did in Japan, but he’s not really established enough for it to really connect. Both men at times seem to slightly play heel, but never enough to give the match much
of a structure. What Liger does, and the way he does it is physically beyond
what anybody else in the company was capable of and so the match does become fun just to watch the crowd react to all these
big moves. They do pace it pretty well and the finishing work is pretty impressive
for the time, but a bit my turn your turn ish for my personal taste. I don’t
know how this compares to their other matches but certainly not one of the better Liger matches I’ve ever seen.
Steamboat/Dustin Rhodes vs Arn Anderson/Bobby Eaton
Short description- Okay formula tag match.
Review- Its interesting that Eaton and Arn who
were two of the great heel tag team workers of the 80’s did not prosper more as a team.
They almost feel like two single wrestlers teaming together. They don’t
have those kind of signature double teams, and style that are so important for a tag team to feel like a tag team. This match is solid enough, but you just get the feeling if you replaced Madusa with Jim Cornette, and
Arn with Stan Lane, you’d get a match on a totally
different level. Nothing really happens all match to distinguish this until Steamboats hot tag which yields some very nice
stuff between he and Bobby especially the finish.
Footage Quality- Everything is good, camera follows
even wild action well.
the Butcher vs Cactus Jack
Short Description- Foley obviously wants to have
a solid match here and works hard to make it at least okay.
Some action gets clipped here, I’m not sure how much, my feeling was not much. There are matches that aren’t
good, but do what they need to do. This is kind of in that category. As with Cactus vs Abdullah if you saw it advertised is not a match you would want anything more then some
reasonably entertain brawling. It being WCW they both can’t blade which
of course does hurt this match being what it should be. Foley does try to bring
some nice stuff to the match most notably an ugly monkey flip of Abdullah. They
set up their weapon shots well enough and of course undersell all them in true Brody vs Abdullah form. And also in true Brody
vs Abdullah form they do a double count out non finish. Of course Cactus never
could get the kind of aura about him that Brody had, nor is he nearly as athletic. Still
works a hell of a lot harder then Brody and that does mean this match at least he tries to do more and its appreciated.
Zbyzsko vs Barry Windham
Short description- Fun under 5 minute match.
Review- They get quite a bit in, in the under
5 minutes they have. Of course they really can’t play much psychology in
the sprint, but a some really nice offense especially from Windham,
but a couple of nice things from Larry do make this far more entertaining then most matches of its length. They even add a
post match brawl where Larry get beat up some more and Madusa gets beat up some as well.
vs Anderson/Eaton/Austin elimination
Short Description- good match despite the typical
Review- Its striking how much further ahead as
far as work WCW was in comparison to the WWF at this time. Had you done the best possible 6 man in the WWF it would probably
be Hogan/Bret/Savage vs Flair/Shawn and on the sixth person you’d almost need Sid just to give the heels a chance. That match would have had a ton more charisma, may or may not have been smarter, but
certainly none of the offense would be anywhere near some of the stuff these guys were pulling out. It gives this match a nice feeling to see so much nice stuff being thrown out. The Steiners by this time knew how to unload and certainly all the heels in this match could bump and sell
for them. Dustin even gets involved bring good stuff like top rope clothesline. The cheap booking does hurt the match. Dustin
and Austin get eliminated by countout. Then Scotty after some okay basic tag stuff gets Dqed for backdropping Eaton over the top rope. The match starts feeling a bit rushed at this point
though what they do is still good. The Steiner victory comes quick and probably
not as satisfying as it could have been with more patience.
vs Rick Rude (cage)
Short Description- Very entertaining and very
creative cage match.
Rude and Sting put a lot of effort into this match and as far as coming up with cool stuff do they put a lot of thought. Unfortunately they don’t really establish any roles or conversely any strategy
that would be needed to lift this match up to a 10 minute classic. Still its
well worth seeing. Rude particularly seems to be having a ton of fun here. He takes a wonderful bump between the ropes and the cage that looks truly impressive. Later he does a nice flying chop off the top of the cage. In one of the best cage spots I have ever seen in my life, Sting suplexes Rude into the cage, Rude gets
hung up by his leg, Sting gives him a splash, and then Rude falls off just as Sting is about to give him another splash causing
Sting to splash the cage. The timing and execution of the spot are excellent. When they get to Sting’s comeback he does totally no sell within 10 seconds,
but that actually is typical. Nice spots continue as Sting and Rude do a really
nice Stinger splash countered by lifting the knees spot that looks really credible.
This is a good match due to the hard work and creativity in it. It could
have been a very good or maybe even great match had they focused the match and established the psychology.
Footage quality- after the first match basically
good occasional people obstructions
Windham vs Dustin Rhodes
Short Description- An solid underdog/favorite
This match seems sort of unique as instead of using the basic face/heel structure Windham
uses a 3 part underdog/favorite structure instead. Windham control most of the match and seems to have answers for all Dustin does to establish
himself thoroughly as the favorite. The problem is outside of not being the favorite they don’t really establish much
with Dustin and so its tough to see how he can win, when he’s being out-wrestled, out-brawled, and out-thought. Barry on offense thought is quite good working through a nice series of moves. He does have the Ric Flair knack for starting on one thing then moving to another
for seemingly no reason in this match, most notably attack Dustin hand for a bit before dropping it for no effect on the match. Dustin’s comeback isn’t set up as well as I’d like in a match with
nothing but a heel/heat segment prior to it. Its very standard stuff and not
very long. We get a referee bump and face 3 count, followed by the heel belt shot which gets the real 3 count. Barry’s good offense and the different structure make this interesting, with a bit more thought it
could have been good.
Muta vs Vader/Masahiro Chono
Short Description- Nice tag formula match with
a few “goofy” moments.
Review-When you watch this match it would not
occur to you that within a few weeks time their would be two singles matches involving team members in the **** range, but
with the exception of Muta being, as Steve Yohe would say, goofy, its basically a good match.
Early all men seem to know the easiest thing to establish is Vader as a monster so they all do react to Vader in a
way to put him over as a dominate force in the match. Chono takes his time really getting into his role. I think honestly the 1997 version of Chono would have done better in this match by playing the sleazy heel,
trying to pick up the scraps left by his monster partner. Still once we move
to the heat segment Chono gets into things setting up for Race interference spots. He
and Vader combine to bring far better offense then was normal for tag heat segments for this era. Muta hurts the match somewhat
with his selling on comeback teases which looks like some ghost is giving him electrical shocks to revive him. When we get to the hot tag things go well again as Chono sells really well for the superplex that allows
Muta to tag out and then for stings big moves. Had Muta worked harder and smarter
this might have really clicked as is it was still almost good.
Steamboat/Shane Douglas vs Jushin Liger/Kensuke Sasaki
Short description- a good finishing sequence distinguishes
this strong tag match
You can’t help but ask what are Douglas and Kensuke doing in a potential Liger vs Steamboat match. The New Japan wrestlers toe the line pretty well. They play
the heel role basically, but they don’t’ do anything overtly heel. Early on Steamboat and Douglas
do some nice stuff to both of their left arms and as per usual have all the answers early.
The New Japan team doesn’t need to cheat to take over but once they do they move into a control segment. Liger’s offense adds so much to this match throughout as he has so much more
to do here then most wrestlers during this period. Kensuke doesn’t bring
all that much but does grind on them in between Liger doing things. On the hot
Steamboat brings his usual good fire and bumps the foreigners all over the ring. Then
we get something strange for this time period, a finishing sequence. Liger and
Kensuke get a series of decent near falls and then decent double teams on the non legal man which makes it seem the title
is in far more imminent danger. Of course double teaming the wrong man leads
to the roll up finish by the legal man. Good match all around.
Footage Quality- Close but action is easy to follow,
unfortunately frequent crowd shots and cuts make the action disjointed.
Jack vs Rick Rude
Short Description- Two bumpers struggle against
Review- What we see of this match is totally nondescript. Both Rude and Cactus were better bumping and selling for an opponent, against each
other neither man brings enough offense for the other guy to show off against. Rude for instance spends far to long in a camel
clutch in his mid match rest spot that seems to be a signature of his house show work.
They don’t try really on transitions but when Cactus makes his comeback Rude is in his element, using some of
his signature stooge spots which Cactus gamely feeds him. The finish comes out
of nowhere. This is a match that’s really let down as it would have really
been nice to see these two pull out a gem against each other.
Short description- very good title change.
Review- The shadow of better matches does lord
over this match ever so slightly and does make this non-essential viewing. This isn’t going to add to your appreciation
of either worker past seeing them both work hard at a major house show. They
do establish the powerhouse vs athletic underdog storyline here. Vader is less of a Brick wall here then he could be so the
underdogging isn’t really as effect as it could be. How well Sting vs Vader matches hold up though is not rally a tribute
to their admittedly good but not remarkable psychology its more a tribute to how great a worker Vader was athletically at
this time. Vader’s offense and bumping skill are so advanced for the US
at this time and Sting is so game for him it really allows these matches to feel so much more highend then most of their counterparts. Watching it after the Rude vs Cactus match it felt like it could be from another decade. The match never drags because Vader will not allow it to with his massive array of
moves and is ability to pop the crowd with a big bump. Vader and Sting do add
a few nice touches like a learning spot on a splash to help it get over the hump. One
thing about Vader when you watch him is because sometimes he wrestled so weak defensively, his offense became the pivotal
component for his success. After bumping and stooging like he often did, he absolutely had to come off like a major league
asskicker on offense to have a monster aura. Sting’s comeback does seem
a bit shortish before they move into the cheap finish. That’s another thing
that really kept this match from getting to the great level of some of their others- lack of near finishes at the end.
Kingsport Tn 8/29/93
Footage Quality- Good
angle and action is easy to follow but the picture shakes a bit much due to zooming in because of distance.
Ricky Steamboat vs Steve Regal
Good match needing more offense to move up a notch.
Review- These two seem
to basically mesh pretty smoothly in styles. During the slow opening part Ricky
lets Regal use his mat skills to make things slightly more interesting. Instead
of just having Ricky control on the mat Regal takes a hold for a bit and then punctuates that with a decisive Ricky counter. Most interestingly is one that they work to basically make Regal low blow himself. They also have fun with a Japanese armbar doing the basic counter attempts and counters
to counters on it, they really should bring that move back. Ricky steps it up
slightly but just as he’s building momentum they transition, the transition is nice with Fuji hitting Ricky with the
cane as he is about to skin the cat. On offense Regal doesn’t bring any
big moves (basically the entire match) but has enough interesting holds and credible enough strikes to make the segment basically
okay. We get Ricky’s standard big babyface comeback with his standard bit
of no selling after a brief rest which he for some reason does not take it on the chin for with smarts/smarks like some other
athletic babyfaces. As they move toward the time limit first Ricky then Regal have fun going for fast pins, but the time keeper
makes a mistake and gives them an extra minute which makes Regal continue to use pinning combinations off of basic moves longer
then he should have. Its very smooth work, but overall the lack of high impact
offense does dim the effects of things like the frantic pin attempts at the end.
Sting vs Vader
entertaining 7 minute spotfest.
Review- They don’t have much time so they don’t take the time to establish any psychology whatsoever.
Instead they rely on the holyshit factor of Sting throwing around Vader as well as Vader’s nice offense to get a good
reaction. The crowd does react strongly, but how could they not with Vader playing
a 400 pound Ric Flair? Had they maybe slowed up a little bit and played a speed
vs strength psychology and built to Sting’s huge moves they might have been able to do a really special seven minute
match. As is this match won’t feel like a waste of time at all due to all
the great action.
Sid Vicious vs Ric Flair
Flair vs Broomstick with the twist of Flair being the face bringing mixed results.
Review- For all the
criticisms of Flair’s psychology including those by myself, watching all these handhelds has shown me that while he
was no Bret Hart, Flair did get basic psychology better then most of his peers in the United States. Where as most matches during this period are usually just spotfest, Flair at least always takes the time
to establish roles and establish them basically well. Here again Flair does get the basics across. Sid is stronger, Flair is faster, Sid is the heel, and Flair is the face.
Flair doesn’t add anything to that, but its nice to see the basics there, and really its better to have the basics
and none of the second tier psychology, then to have the second tier psychology and none of the basics as we see so often
these days. Flair also brings some fun spots such as chopping Sid into the ropes,
doing the bobo doll spot in the ropes, and then Sid adds to the fun by doing a Flair flop on the outside over the guard rail. Flair as per usual brings little offense in this segment. While Flair does show his strengths here his core weakness, his reliance on formulas, is also exposed. Flair on defense doesn’t bring nearly as much to the table as he usually did
as a heel. Without his signature stooges, Flair really doesn’t help Sid
along much save feeding him a clothesline over the top rope bump. That means
Sid basically is on his own and that isn’t going to lead to anything good. Flair
also shows his typical weak transitions skills on the comeback, using an eyepoke. Once
on offense Flair does okay, hitting his top rope chop, having good fire, and doing a decent nearfall or two. The ending is strange as in the main event title match of a house show the challenging heel doesn’t
do the job clean and instead we get the cheap DQ finish. Silly as Sid needed
to use some of his offense and let Flair kick out. Flair surviving to get the flash win might have raised the level of this
match. As is its in the average range.
Jacksonville Fl 11/28/93
Footage Quality- Good,
occasionally part of the screen is blocked but action easy to follow
Steve Austin vs Brian Pillman
formula match with non finish.
Review- Its interesting to watch these two put so little thought into this match.
Outside of a basic three part heel/face structure there really is nothing but action here. No story really. The action for the most part is pretty good
and in Pillman’s case some of the stuff he does seems excellent for the time and place.
Its also interesting to watch Pillman tease comeback’s as he seems to be playing off Steamboat, which is a solid
choice for a person to pattern comeback teases off of. Both men work hard though
outside of a couple of nice kneedrops Austin isn’t bringing
anything that special here. As the match is picking up for the finish they do
a silly no contest.
Steven Regal/Dick Slater vs British Bulldog/Sting
seems like a good Regal vs Bulldog match surrounded by mediocrity.
Review- Early on as Sting and Slater go through the old formula of big move then stall this match seems to have
no potential. Then Davey and Regal get in and all the sudden we start on some
nifty mat exchanges with Bulldog using his athleticism and speed to thoroughly flummox Regal during Regal’s chain sequences
its quite fun to watch. When they tag out we go back to the usual until they
both are in again and we get more fun wrestling sequences ending with a delightful spot where Regal finals uses his athleticism
to avoid something of Davey’s and just as he’s feeling proud of himself Davey hits him with a clothesline. Regal brawls a bit to bring us to the heat segment which is blah work surrounded by
decent heel work as they do a nice job getting the crowd on their case and teasing the tag.
Once we are in a nice 1 minute run to the clean finish is all we get which is a shame.
With a better finish and a more active heat segment on top of the neat Davey vs Regal stuff might have made this match
worth seeing throughout. As is its probably worth a view just for those sequences.
Rick Rude vs Ricky Steamboat
8 wasted minutes in a 15 minute match lead to a disappointing match.
Review- These two do
know how to play all the little things well and in a way that’s fun to watch.
Rude’s body language for instance on a handshake spot is great as it seems he’s saying “who gives
a shit what these morons think shake my hand like a real man” Rude does
shake his hand twice. They don’t really do anything with that as Rude takes
test of strength cleaning as he should and so we don’t see the reason for Rude proving honorable on two handshakes. Outside of that, Steamboat wrestling out of the test of strength and then playing
with a wristlock they waste the first segment of the match. Rude’s heat
segment starts promising enough with Rude waiting till Steamboat is distracted on the outside to drop him on the apron then
catching him with a flying chop when they go back in. After that, however, Rude
is in basic hold mode till they start teasing Steamboat’s comeback. Here
they do some nice stuff with a Ricky winning a fight for a Tombstone,
but then eating the knees on a Splash. When Rude follows that with another attempt
for a flying chop Ricky ducks and hits a DDT to take over. Ricky starts playing
around with the crowd on atomic drops which is cute but a bit distracting before moving
it up for a nearfall off a crossbody. Rude’s finishing sequence is quite
nice but this match could have used a bit more back and forth with both men doing
more of their signature stuff before going right to the finish.
Footage Quality- good
for the first two match then obstructed a good deal from there on.
Steve Regal vs Brad Armstrong
Review- This is kind
of the Steve Regal show as far as a match. Armstrong is competent enough to follow
along, but I always feel he’s a step slow and not quite flexible enough to really click perfectly with a guy like Regal. During Regal’s chain sequences for instance Armstrong seems to take two steps
to do moves other people do in one and occasionally has to take an ugly looking physical shortcut to complete a sequence. Regal was probably the best worker in the US at this time at having a solid heat segment without requiring hardly any bumps. His strikes, occasional chain sequences, heel tactics, and creative holds allow him
to get far more out of his heat segments then anybody else could have while using only strikes, heel tactics, and holds. Still
I wished Regal would have added a little more personal variety to his offense during this era.
The finish is rushed it feels like after what had not been a fast paced match.
Vader vs The Guardian Angel
Quick and solid big man match
Review- As far as under 8 minute Vader matches at house shows go this is probably not as good as his effort with
Sting from the prior year. This one never gets to a frantic pace, but does maintain
a nice sense of forward momentum and action. They do a bit more then just spots
though as they work in some payback sequences including one involving Race to give the match a little bit of texture.
Steve Austin vs Ricky Steamboat
Interesting as its post back injury Ricky, unfortunately you can clearly tell.
Review: I believe this
was the night after Ricky injured his back. It would make sense because despite moving quite well Ricky takes very few bumps
here and what he does take is not in anyway big.
That being taken in mind this would be a good match to use to argue
against Austin as one of the smartest wrestlers ever and as a top 2 or 3 US wrestler in 1994. Austin
just doesn't seem to have any idea how to work with someone who can't bump. The obvious way is to work the leg and build around
a submission like the figure four, you can work the leg without the opponent taking a bump, Steamboat was always great at
selling the leg, and the fans will buy where you take it. What he does is work a match that would feel more comfortable in
Instead of finding a focus Austin just
wanders around aimlessly on offense. The match mainly focuses around Austin doing a very simple armbar, wristlock, or hammerlock,
putting his foot on the rope, steamboat making a brief comeback, Austin cheating to take control, and holding the arm some
more. This is the first 15 minutes of a 21 minute match. Austin
just takes the match nowhere and that can't be blamed on Ricky's back.
There are times you can tell you are watching
two talented wrestlers. Steamboat for instance does a great job putting over Austin's
chops, shows really good fire on his comebacks. Austin puts
over what offense Ricky does well especially his turnbuckle rams, and adds some nice bumps at the end. Ricky when he makes
his big comeback at the end brings some nice offense such as a backdrop suplex, his top rope chop, and his cross body to even
up the match. That's the first time the match really got past what you might expect Carpantier vs Kowalski to do except without
the obvious psychology.
Ricky at times seems to be offering Austin
different things to do. Such as when he does a headscissors. Austin
puts the move over strong as they tend to do here, and a headscissors offers many ways to work. You can escape many different
ways, and the face can put you back in it, and the crowd will react. Watch some Destroyer or Billy Robinson to see. Austin though doesn't bite on this effective time killing opportunity
and after selling for a bit puts his foot on the rope and goes outside to be done with that segment. No attempts to escape
or actual escapes.
Austin also only thinks of two
offensive moves he can deliver without Ricky bumping, a kneedrop, and a second rope elbow drop, there are so many more he
could have throw out with just a bit more thought.
While obviously Austin was better then he looks here, Ricky actually
was the better smarter worker here (noting that Austin was more limited in what he could ask from his opponent offensively)
and Austin just didn't seem to grasp the opportunities Ricky gave him to kill time better, or find a non bumping way to kill
time. Very disappointing work for him in a challenging situation that was a real test of his ability at the time.
October 1981 (seems to be a set off of a tour.)
Quality- Varies, at times being too distant, but stays watchable.
Bruno Sammartino vs Bruiser Brody
Description- Very short brawl.
It’s only interesting that this match exists, but nothing else here is really worth noting. Being that these are two big stars in a singles match, I almost wonder if advertising this match and then
only going 2 minutes to a cheap finish is a rip off. As far as what they do they
brawl, not poorly, but not memorably. They do a chair duel leading to the DQ
with Bruno even getting a chair neckless. The ending might have worked if they
had given us a more satisfying build up to the obvious cheap finish.
Dory Funk Jr./Jumbo Tsuruta vs Harley Race/Jimmy Snuka
Description- Average tag match.
This match certainly has its moments, but never really builds enough momentum to be much more then average. It is enjoyable to watch Dory and Jumbo work the fast tag sequence and see it get a nice crowd pop as always
(it is strange that this spot seems to have vanished from wrestling). Jumbo and
Race trading suplexes is nice as well. The problem is they do two heat segments
in a 13 minute match so neither really can develop any self contained story or build to a satisfying conclusion. Neither hot tag works. The first fails because Dory comes
in and stares and then goes to a headlock, the second because Jimmy cuts off Jumbo before he can do much. While things like Race and Dory trading excellent shots are fun to watch, I’m sure all these men
had many better combinations of matches with each other then this one.
Ric Flair vs Terry Funk
Description- Not really something that adds to either man’s legacy, but certainly entertaining.
This match early builds around matwork punctuated by quicker action. While certainly working heel, Flair is not as over the
top as normal and that works for the type of match they have, which builds around intensity instead of heeling and comedy
spots. It is interesting how they slowly tease an explosion of action with near
responses to heeling and a couple of big moves. When they finally do kick it
into high gear its nice to see Flair bringing the intensity. He seems very vicious
attacking Funk at the end of the first fall, making Funk submit, and then attacking at the beginning of the second fall. Flair’s attack rallies the fans behind Funk well. Funk’s comeback, while solid, probably does not really take advantage of the type of things Flair
had set up for him. Funk uses some of his own heel tactics, but they are different
tactics then those used by Flair so they do not work quiet as well for revenge. The
final fall is quick with brawling outside for the DCOR, after they build to a nice nearfall for Funk. While these two do not truly bring everything they have to the table, and actually, given the 2 out of
3 fall stipulation, would have been better served working a longer match, it is fun to watch these two for any amount of time. They both are really good at getting a good amount of return for key moments, they
especially both sell the big holds, and big moments of the match with the intensity that is required to really make them click
with the crowd. It is good to see both men reacting to the big moments
of the match with intensity instead of just one side, as we so often see these days.
Ric Flair vs Ashura Hara
Description- Basically what one would expect.
Given the time the match last, the participants, and the situation this match went pretty much like I would have imagined
it. Hara is no where near world champion level and in Japan that gives Flair somewhat a license to squash him, but this being Flair he
does not. He also does not play it like Hara is his equal, instead he shows his
superiority, but gives Hara almost equal time. The match breaks into two halves. The first half Hara usually controls with most basic stuff. They don’t really establish any real themes with this segment, Flair does set up Hara for some shoulder
tackle spots, but other then that its basic matwork and throws. They work in
a big chop for Hara before Ric takes over on a nice backdrop suplex, a move bigger then anything Hara had gotten in. Once Flair is in control he works confidently and credibly, and Hara’s selling
seems solid if unspectacular. They build in a quick hope segment for Hara before
Flair counters a suplex attempt with one of his own and makes Hara submit with the figure four. Very basic, but not bad or anything like that.
Bruiser Brody vs Jumbo Tsuruta
Description- Another very short match for Brody
I do not know if this was televised or not, but I could not find it listed so I’ll discuss it briefly. Basically this is a nothing match. They both do a couple of
moves in the ring, they go outside and brawl, Brody chokes Jumbo and gets disqualified, and Dory runs out and brawls with
Brody. Similar to the Bruno match except Jumbo does a high knee and there are
no chair swinging contest.
The Funks vs Alexis Smirnoff/Jimmy Snuka
Description- Dory does Dory things and Terry gets beat up.
As I watched this match I wondered why Terry was playing such a bitch. He seemed
to be totally dominated throughout the match with very little offense. The match
has two heat segments and both times Terry is beaten. The match even immediately
starts with Terry getting beat up. What is done to Terry is not very interesting,
nor does it ever feel like Terry is ever in imminent danger of lossing. When
Dory is in he does his usual things. Dory is interesting because he has a suprising amount of spots in his repertoire to pop
a crowd, but he sprinkles them around basic matwork instead of stringing them together like most wrestlers do. All the match builds to the Brody run in.
Bruno Sammartino/Giant Baba vs Harley Race/Buck Robley
Description- Decent tag match
another match that pretty much goes exactly like one would expect. Robley does
not impress at all. I was surprised by how much I liked Bruno at times here though. He was explosive in his movements and that added an intensity to him that I kind of
enjoyed. He was also willing to do some nifty little spots like throwing Robley
around on an armbar. Of course his selling is suspect, in fact he has that attitude
of blowing off everything whenever he feels like it.
to the hand held) 9/23/88 according to the tape listing. Looks like Korakuen but not sure. 9/15/88
everything is fine and very watchable but the camera does move more then I would like.
Goro Tsurumi/Rusher Kimura vs Kenta Kobashi/Giant Baba
Mismatched match does okay.
match is lucky that basically everyone knows what they are doing here. Rusher
knows he’s the stronger heel. Baba knows he’s the dominant man in
the match. Kobashi knows he’s the fiery upstart who must eventually get punked.
Goro is there to give Kobashi runs and set up Kimura. When Kobashi is
in the match is at its best. For a true rookie he’s really good, very smooth,
and has nice fire. Kobashi’s moveset is you basic flying moves and they
work well. When Kobashi is not in the match REALLY slows down and can get quite
boring, but Baba lets Kobashi work most of the match and generally accomplishes something with all his segments. The heels don’t have much to do but Rusher is able to eliminate Kobashi relatively well. This may
be the earliest Kobashi match that exist, if that is so that is only reason to track this down.
Niigata 11/19 or 29/90 (there is a conflict between the tape listing and the time stamp on the video, so I’m not sure which is right
excellent from matches 2-4 but other then that far to close with to many obstructions and blurring.
Dynamite Kid/Johnny Smith vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi Mitsuo Momota
probably slightly below average
almost feel sorry for Smith at this time. By this time he was the worker of the team but he basically gets put in the role
of doing the dirty work while Dynamite plays Brody. When its time to sell for
the faces its Johnny’s job. Carry the early work is Johnny’s job.
Working the majority of the heat segment is Johnny’s job. Dynamite meanwhile comes in briefly to hit the big moves and get the eventual pin. Momota doesn’t bring much to speak of here and Kikuchi is Kikuchi as ever laying into the moves and
making everything look he takes look good. The match has good heat and picks
up a bit at the end but with Momota and Dynamite both limited there is just no way this match is going to really click.
Stan Hansen/Dan Spivey vs Rusher Kimura/Might Inoue
a fun sprint.
Review- Its good these two teams didn’t go out there and try to put on anything more
then they did, because it likely would have been a disaster. But they don’t
go long and work the whole match. Stan brings good intensity and constantly moves
forward it seems. They build to a couple of spots by Inoue which get a huge pop
before cutting him off for the finishing. Not bad which is about all I was hoping
for coming in.
Kenta Kobashi/Johnny Ace vs Steve Williams/Terry Gordy
hot finish with ??? everything else
Review- during this match the camera man goes back to the front seats and we miss the first
segment probably while he is switching seats. Then its impossible to follow the
middle because the view is obstructed. Finally he finds an angle were we can
basically follow the action and we have been dropped into a very hot match with
Kobashi taking some big moves and teasing comebacks. We get a decent Ace hot
tag and then some nice work between Kobashi and Gordy to run to the finish before finally Gordy finishes him off. Kobashi is already super over at this time.
The Funks vs Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada
potential seemed to be there but impossible to truly judge given the camera issues.
Review- This is a match of some historical interest as you had 2 legends at the tail end of
their career and 2 legends just starting to really make a name for themselves. The
match goes to a 30 minute draw and here is what I can tell you for sure. The crowd stays with them early and through the middle
and is reacting strongly at the end. The
match seems to have some decent sequences. Outside of that its impossible
to really get a handle on how good the match is because there are large portions where the action is either cut or out of
view. The Funks seem basically game from what I can tell. The strikes seem good on both sides. They seem to be working
on rotating peril segments and each hot tag gets a good reaction though Dory’s doesn’t really satisfy as he goes
right into an abdominal streatch. Terry takes some decent bumps off some of Misawa
and Kawada’s offense. Misawa and Kawada are competent enough working through
Dory’s early matwork from what I can tell. The Funks bring a couple of
double teams and suplexes to the match and Kawada gives them one or two feeds to help their offense. It certainly seemed to
have the potential to be a good match, but as is its just impossible to really get a grasp on it. If anyone could find a different handheld version of it complete it might be worth a look…or it might
not can’t be sure.
good save for some people obstructions, espiecally in the first match.
Masanobu Fuichi/Yoshinari Ogawa vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi/Isamu Teranishi
Short description- An okay
Review- In old All Japan
cards Fuchi vs Kikuchi tag matches are one of the things I typically look forward to.
This is sort of cross generational 3rd wheel in classic 6 man feuds.
Teranishi doesn’t bring much to speak of but the three who were currently part of the promotions top feud do
basically okay. Ogawa is as Ogawa as ever selling well, but bringing little offense. Fuchi and Kikuchi’s segments are as would be expected the best in the match. Nothing happens to really make this match get past average.
Kenta Kobashi/Johnny Ace vs Giant Warrior/Nitron
Short Description- The all
gaijen team is basically useless.
Review- Ace and Kobashi look
like a team already that is capable of good matches but not with these opponents. The
match does get the obvious basic psychology of power vs speed and brains but the Gaijens when its time to display their power
aren’t impressive at all and have very little to do. When its time to bump
for the big face comeback they try but just are to stiff to really make it go.
Steve Williams/Terry Gordy vs Rusher Kimura/Mighty Inoue
No one but Doc has much to do here.
match goes much as one would expect. Rusher and Inoue seem to be trying but are
so slow and not good by this point that they hardly appear to be truly credible. Gordy
doesn’t seem to really want to be here and really doesn’t much of anything of note the entire match. Doc does
try to make things more interesting though. He does show off his power and athleticism
well and also is the one who takes most of the bumps for Rusher and Inoue’s very limited offense. He also does most of the work during the heat segment on Inoue. They
do one of my least favorite match styles. Beat up one guy, other guy tags in,
gets 1 minute of non stop offense, tags guy who has just gotten his ass kicked back in, that guy gets a few moves in then
quickly jobs. IF you need me to tell you who beat who and with what then you
need to watch more All Japan;).
Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada vs Dick Slater/Joel Deaton
Predictable and average tag match.
Review- The match struggles early to find any sort of rhythm or story. They do stuff but its nothing solid and doesn’t really establish anything. Finally they go to the
heat segment and start to focus on Kawada’s back. Kawada sells it well
and the heels work on it is okay. When we get the hot tag and start moving towards
the run to the finish they go back and forth for a pretty good while and Kawada and Misawa finally start to unleash some of
their heavier offense, but the gaijens aren’t really capable of matching at this point though Slater has a few nice
things to do. This is just one of those matches where the two teams can’t
meet half way. Slater/Deaton really needed to step up their offense to go with
the younger natives while the natives needed to dumb down slightly to not be working clearly over their head. Instead the natives just dumb it down a lot and that’s always slightly frustrating to see.
Giant Baba/Andre the Giant vs The Funks
An injury to Baba cuts short what had been a not good but not atrocious match.
is by this point easily the best worker of this bunch and all the good stuff comes from Terry who is it should be remembered
only a year off his big comeback year of 1989. Dory does Dory stuff with Baba
and then Andre and it doesn’t look very good as Baba’s execution of holds had gotten almost embarrassing by this
point. Terry comes in with Andre and actually gets heat with a series of punches
knocking Andre into the ropes and then tieing him up then running into a boot. Then setting up for Andre corner spots. Dory and Baba get involved so they stack Terry and Dory and Baba rams Andre’s
shoulder into them a few times getting more heat. Terry and Baba trade a couple
of moves getting a big pop for the rolling cradle and Dory comes in and does a couple of his bigger spots before the injury
happens. It happens on a spot where Dory is on the ropes and has Baba in sort
of a bodyscissors then flips over carrying Baba over the top. We can’t
see how Baba lands but it doesn’t look like a brutal bumps so likely he caught himself with his leg or got his leg caught
underneath him. Andre and Dory improvise a double count out for Baba and Dory
ending the match. Baba is stretchered out.
Jumbo Tsuruta/Akira Taue vs Stan Hansen/Dan Spivey
Stan’s energy is the highpoint of a decent tag match
Review- Lazy Jumbo as usual fails to show up, but Stan is the most fun to watch. Stan brings lots of intensity and some very neat reactions. Jumbo plays off it at times and both do some
nice corner spots. They have some fun with Spivey’s strength and building
around Taue getting beat up. Jumbo brings some nice offense whenever he is in
and sometimes on double teams in the corner. Taue is sloppy still but Spivey and Stan are good enough and keep it simple enough
that the action keeps flowing well. The match isn’t very long but is basically
constantly moving with lots of action throughout from all the guys involved.
Masanobu Fuchi vs Doug Furnas
Review- Fuchi increasingly strikes me as a very limited singles worker far more adept in tags. He just doesn’t seem to have enough things in his arsenal to really fill a match
up, and he doesn’t seem to be particularly good at focusing a match or killing time.
Here I really can’t think of a memorable thing he did in the match and I just finished watching it. Furnas as could be expected brought some power moves to the table, but that’s really the only thing
about this match that stood out at all.
Dan Kroffat vs Dan Spivey
good match that keeps the action coming
Review- The strength of this match is that both men work very hard and have good stuff to
use. They escalate the action well and logically.
Their roles are played competently though I wish they had been better defined in Kroffat’s case. Spivey plays the powerhouse well and was a good big man by this point.
Kroffat at times seems torn at who he is playing, early he seems to be playing the technician, but after the early
segment he scraps that to become the speed guy. Kroffat plays both well and both
make sense even together, but I wish he hadn’t just dropped the technical part to go full undersized underdog. The finish is also a bit abrupt for Japan but I wouldn’t complain
to much as they both do enough to make this satisfying as a whole.
The Funks vs Dynamite Kid/Johnny Smith
way to long
noticed that even in their hayday the Funks often had a problem gaining momentum in their matches. They seemed to fond doing restarts repeatedly deep into the match without the segments inside those restarts
going anywhere. This is an example of that problem as the match seems to constantly
be going back to the beginning without really going anywhere before then. The
Funks had the added problem in their later years of not really being able to get moving once they decided to and this match
suffers from a short and ineffectual heat segment. Once the comeback begins things
go pretty well but its to little to late to save this effort.
Jumbo Tsuruta/Akira Taue vs Toshiaki Kawada/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
About what I expect from these 4
Review- Many of the pieces that made team Jumbo vs team Misawa such a great series of matches
are here. You have Kawada and Taue’s hatred of each other, Kikuchi’s
spunk, Kawada trying to take it to Jumbo, Jumbo and Taue dicking the hell out of Kikuchi, and Jumbo asserting himself. This is not the best match-up of the group as we do miss say the fireworks that came
when Jumbo and Misawa squared, but it is a good match up. The men all know how
what their part is and they play them well and bring a healthy dosage of action to the ring as well. Jumbo is the rudder of the match in many ways. Its impressive
to me how intuitive of worker he could be. For instance during the heat segment
he seems to turn Kikuchi over for a Boston crab, but seemingly realizing the crab had been used 3 times in the match previously
he then goes into a great looking STF instead which gets a big pop and rallies the crowd behind Kikuchi. He then starts setting up Kikuchi for his comeback and hot tag. Everything
done here is good looking and logical. They don’t go for one of those mind
bending runs to the finish that often would happen in All Japan. So this is not
one of the must have matches of the series, but it is a reminder of how much depth the series had.
Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi
Not necessary viewing except for completists
match fills a gap in the two men’s series as its, to my knowledge, the only match that captures Misawa as the number
2 in the promotion taking on the rising young star Kobashi. Their previous existing
match had a very inexperienced Kobashi vs a still Tiger Mask Misawa and their next existing match I believe was the carny
95 one with a seasoned ace Misawa wrestling the triple crown contender Kobashi. This
is kind of a let down though. The biggest problem is Misawa isn’t really
guiding the match anywhere as one would expect him to. He lets Kobashi control
most of the match, which feels weird.
is able to take over pretty easily, but then after a few big moves Misawa kind of just takes over and then works Kobashi’s
left arm. It is illogical why Misawa would work Kobashi’s left arm at all
and it really goes nowhere. Kobashi after a few minutes of that takes over and
works the underdog headlock sequences with Misawa which as expected they work well. I’m not sure it really works that
well in this situation as Misawa hadn’t really been overpowering Kobashi nor was he ever presented as a powerhouse who
needed to be worn down. The bigger stronger Kobashi controlling with a headlock
I don’t think has the resonance that it has when its Kawada trying to ride the bigger stronger Jumbo. The match briefly
seems to hit on an interesting note when Misawa hits some elbows on a break out of the headlock. Kobashi slaps him and gets some offense real quick as Misawa is stunned at that. When Kobashi goes back to the headlock Misawa launches him with a nice backdrop suplex. When he weakly goes to it again Misawa drops him almost on his head with a side slam. It feels almost for a second that Kobashi may have pissed Misawa off, but they do not go anywhere further
with that idea. Still the sequence works as Misawa briefly putting Kobashi sternly
in his place. After you get the nice offense and energy you expect from these
two but you feel its missing a lot. Kobashi does almost all the work as Misawa
seems content to do a spot here and there to break up him taking a beating. Kobashi’s
offense is strong as always, but I think Misawa needed to have a control segment at some point as it feels like Misawa weathers
everything and then beats Kobashi relatively simply. They do protect the moonsault
using a rope break, but Misawa doesn’t seem that phased by the big move. Really
seemed like Misawa may have been taking it a bit easy here and that caused a match that really didn’t seem logical given
the context of the two men.
note- 3 matches
off this show- Kikuchi vs Fuchi, Kawada/Misawa vs Taue/Ogawa, and Jumbo vs Stan were televised by All Japan. I will not review those matches since they really don’t apply to the purpose of this venture. But if you don’t have the 91 CC carny final and want it this might be a good
way to get it as the quality of the handheld is very nice.
Kenta Kobashi vs Cactus Jack
average 7 minute match.
Review- Its really hard sometimes to do a really good 7 minute match. You can do a spotfest or your can do a little psychology and risk not doing much. The key in a short match moves more to pacing, build, and even selling then because you don’t have
time to establish much more then the simplest of roles and storylines. This match
it could be argued does establish Mick as the brawler but its really hard to find what Kobashi is supposed to be in this match
other then just clearly better both kayfabe and shoot sense. Mick’s offense really sucks as does his execution. His backdrop suplex is really bad and his Russian legsweep has very little snap. The cactus clothesline and elbow are about the only things he does credibly and in
both cases they look like they would hurt him to. Kobashi tries to put it over
but when it comes time to end it he doesn’t bother to sell the “beating” he had taken. They do work in some Mick goes splat stuff and Kobashi certainly has no trouble filling in his time with
offense, but his stuff is so much better done and he’s so much more athletic it really underlines just how mediocre
Mick was at this point. He ends with a nasty double arm ddt to send Mick home
with a massively expanded moveset.
Doug Furnas/Dan Kroffat vs Johnny Smith/Richard Slinger.
Kind of like a NOAH midcard tag match but of that type it would be good.
Review- The problem with NOAH is that usually until KENTA or Kenta Kobashi walk out you get
nothing but matches like this. Tag matches with no real structure that are basically
well executed and build well. Of that type of match this is a pretty good one. Its not as boring early as your typical NOAH tag match, and by this time Furnas and
Kroffat had gotten so good at executing near falls that the ending is better then your standard midcard tag match. It’s a shame outside of maybe Furnas’ athleticism they don’t really establish much. Its tough to know if they are establishing that, but Furnas is just so athletic its
very tough not to notice. The execution is very smooth and the Can Ams know exactly
how to kill time early in a reasonably entertaining way and then how to kick the match into gear etc. The finish is fun to watch as they had so many ways to pop the crowd on nearfalls its tough for the crowd
not to become engaged in the work.
Toshiaki Kawada vs Davey Boy Smith
Boring middle holds down the match
Review- I get
the feeling here Kawada wasn’t thinking through the match past a couple of solid sequences. It seemed like they had a couple of decent things to pull out in the first couple of minutes and then were
able to put together a reasonably good finish but what to do in between they were lost on.
Part of it is Davey controls the middle for the most part and outside of some basic submission holds he really doesn’t
bring much to fill in the time. Kawada’s not really helping him any, but
its not really fair to say he’s not trying as he does take some really strong bumps.
I again get the feeling this match was a failure to meet half way. As
I think about it, there were many pages left out of the Kawada playbook especially on offense.
And without all the trademarks stuff to fill in the time this match gets boring.
Mitsuharu Misawa vs Doug Furnas
Similar to the previous but probably slightly better
Review- This match has pretty much the identical feel and structure as the previous match. The only thing that stood out to me in this match as I was watching was that during
Furnas’ control segment Misawa did not resist the holds at all. Its something
I noticed Kawada did at times, while Misawa is pretty content to let Furnas put whatever he feels like on him and then lay
there till he’s ready to go to the rope. What makes this match better is
Furnas is more adapt at working with Misawa then Smith was with Kawada. Furnas’
control is not good, but it is better and while their finishing segment is slightly repetitive it at least does seem to be
playing off a logical motif of Furnas overpowering for counters while Misawa uses quick counters. Still as far as this carny show went I think the onus for delivering rested on the main event.
Stan Hansen vs Kenta Kobashi
can describe this match in one word, chemistry, there is just something special between the way these two men relate in the
ring that leads to a special outcome. This match strikes me as two men both working
hard, but basically working the way they generally worked in matches of some importance, but the way it comes together is
special. Stan was a great honery cuss and Kobashi had that boundless fire and
energy and willingness to take stiff shots. This match has one of Kobashi’s
favorite motifs, one he uses occasionally even to this day only on the other side, where the underdog’s tenacity and
determination is able to gain them early control over the favorite. The key is
the favorite has to fight back and try to assert the normal pattern of early
control. Stan is fantastic setting this up and making it tough on Kobashi to
take over. Stan slaps Kobashi a few times and Kobashi fires up with drop kicks
and slaps, get tossed, but comes right back in with more of a blitz. Early there
is a sense of a real battle being fought to take control first as Stan keeps trying to assert himself using his brawling tactics
while Kobashi is putting his whole heart into maintaining the advantage. Kobashi
just wants it more early and Stan knows that Kobashi’s using up valuable energy early to gain the edge.
Once in control
firmly, Kobashi is tenacious not giving Stan hardly anytime early to gather himself.
Kobashi mainly uses holds to break down the left arm. Of course this being
Kobashi he does a lot more then just use holds, he brings a healthy helping of crowd pleasing sequences such as playing up
stomping on Stan’s left arm. While Kobashi doesn’t need much help
to work an entertaining control segment Stan helps lift the match a notch higher throughout by fighting back and resisting
the holds. They manage to get quite a bit of mileage out of the cross arm-breaker
for instance by fighting for and out of it. Two examples stand out. The first is Stan does a takedown on Kobashi and grapevines the leg, he and Kobashi exchange strikes on
the ground with Kobashi using his free leg to kick Stan’s head, when Stan lets go of the leg Kobashi quickly moves it
to join the other leg and grab the cross arm breaker back. Another example is
Stan kicking his way out of the hold leading to Kobashi angrily retaliating by stomping him down after relinquishing the hold. After working the arm enough Kobashi builds up to some bigger moves to climax the
segment before moving on to a beautifully staged transition.
the match quite a bit less then Kobashi. This doesn’t matter all that much
I don’t think because Stan does make Kobashi pay with some tough offense to gain the control early, Stan only really
needs the lariat, and while Stan may get in less licks, he makes them count. Stan’s
offense is simple but smart, brutal, and believable. Of course during every step
Kobashi is there taking everything hard and bumping hard. Stan is also smart
in that he immediately evens the score somewhat with some very impact moves such as a few chair shots.
segment is excellent. Kobashi shows his fire and Stan outsmarts him a few times. Kobashi plays the risk vs reward game well in this match as he brings the battle to
Stan repeatedly. Usually it works but for instance it sets up a beautiful spot
where Stan catches him on a charge and drives him into the ring post and then gives a big backdrop suplex. Of course the finishing spot itself is very famous for good reason.
This is probably
the best match I’ve yet seen that exist only in handheld format. The match
is great for many reasons including things as simple as both men work their asses off the whole match even while in holds. Both men also show creativity in using some very neat spots and sequences while making
each of them seem totally organic and natural. Its also just a joy to watch two
wrestlers who have a total understanding of what their in ring character is and know exactly how to play that character so
well it seems like its just who they are. Their naturalness and intensity almost
makes the match feels real, which is something special.
About as good as it gets as far as distance and angle, but the camera moves too much.
Williams/Bossman/Slinger vs Hansen/Patriot/Eagle
Decent match, but not enough is contributed by the stars
times this feels like Patriot and Eagle vs Bossman and Slinger with special guest appearances by Doc and Stan. While they are present and do stay active when in they never assert themselves or do anything particularly
memorable. What they contribute with the other men’s hard work does keep
this moving. Hansen is espiecally needed as while Patriot and Eagle are competent,
that seems to be about all they are here. On the other side Bossman works well
as you would expect and Slinger takes a nice beating during a long but basically solid heat segment. They step things up predictably for the finish. Nothing wrong
or espiecally right about this match.
Kawada/Taue/Ogawa vs Misawa/Kobashi/Akiyama
Very good match
weird watching this match in the mass of handhelds. Before this show I watched
the WWF’s 12/11/92 show (Bret vs Flair). The speed, execution, and variety
of what is done here is on just totally different level then anything on that show.
I almost don’t know if I underrate a match like this because I’m spoiled by these men’s ***** and
near ***** efforts in other matches, including these 6 men having maybe the best 6 man match ever. It’s strange that if in a WWF show 14 minutes into a strong match they had kicked things into overdrive
for a run to the finish that last 5 minutes I’d be totally satisfied while here I’m wanting more. Its just that I know they all had so much more to give from prior experience. Here I am almost making a match that is action packed for 20 minutes sound like the workers were taking
the night off!
limitations probably do limit this match more then anything else. He’s
not involved that much and really doesn’t do anything of particular note though when he is in what he does is good. They don’t attack the leg and Kawada doesn’t really play it up, but it
gives out on him a couple of times and he is content to let Ogawa and Taue carry the load which they do basically well. On the other side the team is stronger here as one would expect. Misawa and Kobashi were really having an amazing tour and while this wouldn’t be one of the top matches
for them they both work hard and extremely well. I just felt that with Kawada
hurt and the it being a shorter match then normal things didn’t really get to the next level. Everything is well done, but I didn’t get the feeling they were laying more then a simple story. This match shows Taue, Kobashi, and Misawa all working hard to deliver a strong house
show main event, but it doesn’t add anything to the essential viewing for any of the workers involved, even Ogawa who
is his usual solid self.
Very good, but part of the view of the ring is obstructed by one of the tag partners often.
Akira Taue/Kintaro Shiga vs Dan Kroffat/Doug Furnas
solid tag formula match
Review- Its obvious where this match has to go. Shiga
has to take a shit kicking, Taue has to play big brother and occasionally clean house, the Can/Ams have to be heelish. At times they do get it but not enough to lift this match up. The best parts of the match are generally when Kroffat is in with Shiga.
They play some basic psychology of Kroffat’s experience/strength/technical skills matching up with Shiga’s
heart and speed. Taue early also plays the stronger partner and as always brings
the action. When its time to start dicking over Shiga the match fails in what
should have been a strong point. Shiga was good at playing face in peril and
the Can/Ams were good at dicking over the little guy. Taue isn’t really
comfortable in the role of face on the corner it seems as he is to quick to interject himself in the heat segment and because
he does that its hard to feel Shiga is in peril because Taue is going to bail him out quickly.
The heat segment doesn’t last long and we go to the hot tag. The
match at this point picks up well with some nice back and forth action, Taue and Furnas work a nice exchange of big moves
capped with Taue powerbombing Furnas off his hurricanerana. It settles down to
Kroffat vs Shiga basically and again it works quite well. These two looked to
have had a good singles match in them had it ever been booked.
Kenta Kobashi/Kimala II vs Toshiaki Kawada/Gary Allbright
Two of the greatest workers ever have a solid tag formula match with weak partners.
Review- I love
the All Japan heirarchy and structure. But sometimes I want Kenta Kobashi to
be the face peril not the lower ranked fat wrestler. Kobashi and Kawada start
off with some decent matwork, this was never really their strong suit, but both men do know how to get along down there. Kawada does pretty decently with Kimala II throughout the match. He knows how to sell big for his few moves, and realizes that throwing the fat ass around will get a pop
so he and Allbright team up for some big Suplexes. When Kobashi is in with Allbright,
the limitations of Allbrights moveset hurts as to save moves for the end he doesn’t have much to beat up Kenta. They do well together though as Kobashi has stuff for everybody and they can always
go to the quick hold by Gary to pop the crowd. When Allbright is in with Kimala II though, unless he’s throwing him around sloppily the match grinds
to a halt. During the heat segment its more interesting to watch Kobashi work
the corner more so then Kimala sell and lay there. Kobashi has done this before
and knows how to looks concerned, shout encouragement, move to the corner nearest to his partner, and let the heat build before
he starts interjecting himself. After the heat segment has climaxed with a dragon
suplex tease Kobashi stops, Kobashi tags in and we get a few minutes of really nice stuff. Kobashi has great fire. When he and Kawada start going back and forth their stuff is so credible and smooth looking it serves as
stark contrast to the their partners. Even when not involved they seem to be
doing more interesting things such as Kobashi taking a big bump over the top rope to the floor right before his partner eats
a belly to belly. The way they did this match made sense, but, obviously the
way to the best match would have been to have Kawada and Kobashi work 60-70% (about
2/3rds of that with each other) of the match and keep Gary and Kimala II limited to a few runs. Still by suplexing the fat ass, and working a few crowd popping spots with Gary as well as being themselves they did have a solid tag formula match. No miracle working here but solid.
Misawa/Akiyama/Honda vs Williams/Ace/Patriot
Another solid 6 man is distinguished by Misawa getting owned.
is very much a subtraction by addition match. Honda during this period was just
not a very good face in peril. He probably was better then in January of 1995
when he started no selling Stan Hansen all the sudden, firing up on Stan, then tagging out.
Still he’s not nearly as good as Akiyama. The best portions of this
match are whenever Doc is in as he brings a ton of power of physical energy that really helps the match. The most fascinating thing about this match is on making the hot tag against the Patriot of all people
Misawa quickly gets dominated. Then Doc tags in and he dominates Misawa some
more. After watching Honda its fun to see someone who knows how to get his ass
kicked, get his ass kicked, but it just feels strange even if it is entertaining. With
the ace getting his butt kicked, it leaves little doubt what the finish will be but they still have fun getting there. They do a couple of decent hope spots, keep the action flowing, and the gaijens bring
good offense and Akiyama is quite good at taking it. Maybe by a slighty margin
the best match of the show, with a little more thought that margin could have been quite a bit larger, though the same could
be said about the other two matches.
seems excellent all around.
Shawn Morley vs Manukea Mossman
uninspiring formula match
two wrestlers fall victim to not putting any thought into the match. Morley at
times seems to work on Mossman’s back but they don’t establish any dynamics to guide the match. So we basically get a spotfest and Morley espiecally and Mossman somewhat, just don’t have much to
do. Morley really misses the offense he’d borrow from maineventers of the
promotion. Kea has some good kicks and a couple of hot moves but just lacks the
mid level offense and no how to really make things click.
Stan Hansen vs Rex King
Stan’s total lack of agility cause major problems.
strikes me that Stan was actually trying here to have a solid match. He works
pretty hard to try to make King look good and King works hard in return. The
problem is Stan just can’t hardly move and so everything comes off as slow and forced. Physical intensity had always
been such a part of Stan’s appeal that being slow and immobile just is something he can’t really overcome. Its not really his nature either to stay in one spot while the other moves.
Kenta Kobashi/Masao Inoue vs Steve Williams/Johnny Ace
Cold crowd hurts, but nothing done to push this past solid.
lack of heat throughout the show hurts matches like this. There is nice stuff
done here. Kobashi is really good taking it to and then getting over powered
by Doc. Ace works hard throughout and brings good offense. Some fans are into Masao and Doc plays to them pretty hard, but can’t get that much heel heat. He and ace dick the hell out of Masao and do a good job keeping the action coming,
but no life comes. When Kobashi finally gets tagged in he brings his usual good
fire and nice offense but nothing is happening in the crowd. He and Doc do one more solid exchange with Doc overpowering him. They build to Inoue taking it to Doc briefly with a bit of help from Kobashi and things
actually go pretty well and this FINALLY gets some heat. Of course it can’t
last and Doc overwelms him. In the finishing run everyone knows what they are
doing as Kobashi interjects himself just enough to get some more nearfalls, Masao gets killed, Doc tries to take out Kobashi,
and Ace does the killing. Maybe with a Korakuen crowd this might have worked
really well, as it’s a pretty well laid out tag match and the action keeps coming, the dead heat though makes it seem
Misawa/Asako/Honda vs Kawada/Taue/Ogawa
Another solid All Japan tag match
the crowd does hurt. These guys though aren’t really trying to think their
way through the match and that hurts as well. They do all basically work hard
and bump and bring offense so the match stays moving and basically entertaining. Its
just hard to tell who everyone is. Misawa seems slightly above his two partners
but not really like he’s the ace of the promotion. Kawada does somewhat
define himself as the grumpy heel of the match. Its interesting how Kawada always
sets the table for the hot tag for instance and then bumps for that. He does
it so well and naturally it really always adds something to his matches. Still without really knowing the personal dynamics
of this match its just a relatively action packed tag formula spot fest. Honda
brings nothing to the table save headbutts which seemed to be the norm for him during this period.
Quality- very good
Shiga/Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Yoshinari Ogawa/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
description- Slow All Japan Jrs match
Review- This is the type of match that should be special as you have two top jrs from different
generations going against each other. Shiga and Kanemaru teaming is also somewhat
interesting as this is right off of them being on opposite sides with Kobashi and Akiyama in likely the best match of that
particular Budokan. However, with the exception of a brief period this match never is actually interesting. Espiecally for a Jrs match its far to slow. It has the common
problem of many late All Japan and NOAH undercard tag matches in that it is very slow the entire match until they try to kick
it up for a hot finish. This match is better structured somewhat then you’re
standard NOAH fair as they do build around logical peril segments for Kanemaru instead of building around a feeling out segment. All of the best points in the match feature Shiga including a couple of solid mat
exchanges with Ogawa and then later a hot sequence of big moves and near falls with Kikuchi.
Ace vs Takao Omori
Description- exactly the type of mediocre match one would expect
Its amazing to look back at Johnny Ace and think people actually thought he was a very good worker. Its clear now that he was the product of working in tag matches with better workers where he didn’t
have to fill in time and where he could follow the lead of stronger workers. Its
remarkable that someone could work around the Big 3 as much as Ace did and be so totally inept at filling in time. This match is emblematic of Ace. In an 18 minute match they
waste half of it. The rest of the match has a couple of quick burst from Omori
but nothing to interesting or anything to put Ace in danger. The rest is Ace
running through his moves without any context other then Omori is no threat to him.
With Omori not being a threat the match takes way to long to end, as Ace is not being methodical and his opponent clearly
isn’t special so why doesn’t he get finished off sooner?
Kawada vs Kimala II
Description- Bad match
I have to admit I had low expectations for this match. As big a Kawada mark as
I am, I didn’t think that at this show with this opponent I was going to see his A game.
And certainly I did not. Kimala II is pretty bad here, the execution of
some of his moves is very bad. Kawada doesn’t really try to get the best
match possible out of him. Kawada is content to kind of sell his weak moveset
until he polishes him off with a couple of low end moves. Its impossible to know
what kind of 7 minute match Kawada could have had with Kimala II, who was pretty bad, but I’m sure if he had wanted
to he could have done far better then this.
Taue vs Jun Akiyama
Description- Solid but not as good as you might hope
Its fine that this match is not what I wanted to see. I’ll confess I was
hoping that this 11 minute match would see a Taue, pissed off from the embarrassing 1/20 result, trying to destroy a gutty but overmatched Akiyama. That would
have been probably the most route, but there are many other ways to work a satisfying match.
Certainly these two should have been able to put on something special with each other.
In fact in many ways I think the lack of a great singles match against each other is a major hole in their resumes
because they seem like almost perfect opponents for each other. Akiyama during
this period was really good at playing an explosive young face and Taue was of course excellent as the asinine heel.
that may not be the whole story. At times this match does demonstrate some problems
for these two against each other. The clearest example of that is that at a key
moment in the match they have major timing issues with each other seemingly because Akiyama is trying to go faster then Taue
can go. Akiyama may not have had the experience/sense to know he might need to
slow down at times to better connect with Taue.
sloppy sequence really isn’t the biggest thing that holds this match back. If
you tallied up what happens this would seem to be an action packed 11 minute match.
However, the match lacks intensity. Part of this may come from the subdued
crowd. Of course I hope intense work can draw in a crowd and clearly that’s
not happening. Both men are trying very hard but they don’t make the audience
feel this result is important to them. Even when Taue teases the apron nodowa the tease is done on both sides without passion. This type of match is a microcosm of why Akiyama failed as the ace of NOAH, but I
was somewhat surprised to see it at this time, and to see Taue doing the same type of thing.
With the exception of the aforementioned sloppy sequence all the work is good, they do a
lot, and they do both define their characters clearly in this match, but the match just doesn’t seem important. In fairness Taue does manage to ratchet things up a bit for the last minute as he
convincingly finishes Akiyama with a sequence including a headdrop german, a
nice sitting powerbomb, and a couple of Nodowas. Perhaps if this match had been
done at a bigger show with a better crowd Akiyama and Taue would have been more fired up as it was they just didn’t
seem to be.
vs Hansen/Allbright/The Tornado
Description- Generic 6 man
Review- There really is little to say here. To
sum up, Honda works the vast majority of the match. I shouldn’t have to
say much more, but I’ll add a bit. Misawa and Kobashi only do a couple
of sequences, they are solid but nothing special. The rest of the match is pretty
much boring, nobody at this point outside of Misawa and Kobashi had much to do and it shows.
Quality- The VQ was low on the copy I saw and the arena was very dark, but the angle and distance were good
Super Tiger/Osamu Kido vs Cuban
Short Description: Solid early shoot style/strong style hybrid match
this match, these guys were a long way from shoot style, but they were moving there. You could still do anything you could
do in New Japan basically leading up to a clean finish, but you couldn't do as much of it basically. Tigerrolls out many
flying moves including a moonsault and a flying headbutt, but the rope running and flips are left out. Assassin works solidly
though he certainly leaves most of the match to Lafon, who already looks to have been quite a worker by this point as his
stuff with Tiger is the best of the match. Past heel and face and Tiger being the most over and the best striker there doesn't
seem to be much point to the match and at points the mixture of shoot style and strong style don't work perfectly (such as
a hot tag turning lukewarm due to slowing things up). Tiger is very over and his stuff looks excellent, especially since
without the need to go so fast you don't get nearly the sloppyness.
Kazuo Yamazaki vs Akira Maeda
Short Description: Good match that
is nearly true shoot style
Review: One thing I've always liked about Maeda is that he wrestles with confidence. In this match
he always seems slightly more sure of himself then Yamazaki, slightly more willing to take his time showing himself to be
the favorite, while Yamazaki shows himself as the underdog with his desperation when things are going his way. Everything
these two do looks great though the matwork is a bit simplistic compared to where shootstyle would go. Very little that happens
here would be unthinkable in UWF 2 except for a missle dropkick. Their are a couple of problems, one is that things do get
repetitive, I always thought the point system eliminated this problem to some degree, and second the crowd isn't nearly as
educated to them as they would be later so key moments don't have the buzz you expect. Still this is a good example of an
evolving style between two masters.
Nobuhiko Takada vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Description: Earliest arguably great match I've seen from UWF, even if I think
it falls just short.
Review: There is really nothing not to like here. Everything is crisp here and very believable
for this period. While still there are flying moves that would be taboo later this is a very realistic match. What sets
it apart from prior UWF matches to me is the way Fujiwara and Takada were able to impose a clear structure while staying believable.
They set roles early vet vs riser and play them throughout. Takada works more energetically and more explosively while Fujiwara
is able to outsmart him and be as effective with simpler moves. A favorite sequence for me was early when Takada gains control
with a series of flips and twist, Fujiwara just stands there lets him finish, and immidiately counters with a very simple
move to take back control. They fight throughout but Fujiwara basically controls the begining by outsmarting Takada and
grinding him, Takada controls the middle with more explosive moves and even heels it up a bit, and then they fight for the
finish with Fujiwara outwrestling Takada to win after making him pay when he overextends himself. The drama doesn't nearly
as intense as it would in later matches, but this match holds up well for its good structure, strong characterization, and
some nice touches.
Tokyo 8/10/91 New Japan
Footage Quality- Good,
very easy to follow and clear.
Bam Bam Bigalow vs Masahiro Chono
Short Description- Good
match that somewhat varies the standard New Japan formula
Review- I think my biggest
criticism of New Japan’s style, including some of their most famous bouts, is the predictably frustrating way they are
laid out. To often I feel that they roll a long and mostly pointless mat segment at
the start that accomplishes little other then inflating the time of the match before they suddenly kick it into a high gear
for the “real” match. While I sometimes like those matches I think this
match is probably longer then it needed to be, they spread the fluff out instead of tossing it all into the opening. When they go into holds they don’t seem to add anything and seem to last to long,
but because they are surrounded by good action I took it well here.
What the two men do is
very good. Bam Bam was a very agile and productive big man and he has no trouble connecting
with Chono. Chono adjusts to the fact Bam Bam is playing the big man by flying more
then he normally would along with his submissions. I wish they had given more of a
sense of accumulating damage on both sides which I think really lifts a big man match. They
never really go that direction until the very end when Chono works a very effective finishing segment off the idea Bam Bam
is strong enough to get out of his holds for a while, but eventually he wears out.
Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto
Short Description- Choshu
Review- This match goes just over 7 minutes and is very repetitive, but in its way it works. Choshu comes out quick and tries to overwelm Hash, Hash weathers, makes a nice transition to offense and from
there beats Choshu up. I don’t know if there was an angle here where Riki was
hurt, but I wouldn’t be surprised considering how dominate Hashimoto is. Most
of the match is spent with Hashimoto kicking Choshu down, Choshu struggling to get upn and Hash putting him back down. They mix in a comeback tease (one move) and slight variation in Hashimoto’s attack
but basically the majority of this match is Hash kicking Choshu, the ref checking Choshu to see if he has had enough, Choshu
struggling up, and Hash then repeating. In its way it is sort of dramatic. Choshu shows heart and makes you rout for him, while Hashimoto is confident and determined, but not blood thirsty. The finish is very decisive as the corner tosses in the towel but Choshu tosses it back
and gets up for Hash to give the coup de grace, which he does. Not really good, but
sort of interesting. I do wonder if this type of match is the most effective way of
putting someone over though. While Hash seems strong it feels like he must be catching
Riki one a very bad day as opposed to beating Riki at his best.
Keiji Mutoh vs Vader
Short Description- A strange
finish is almost the only problem with this tight and famous match.
Review- They go only about
14 minutes and arguably put on one of the better under 15 minute matches as there is almost no wasted time. The success of the match I think went to how well Vader played the unstoppable monster and Mutoh showing good
fire in his comebacks. Vader dominates most of the match and especially dominates
early with Mutoh only getting a short comeback attempt with Vader’s power overwelming him. Vader probably doesn’t
have as much to do as he would later, but it works very well already as his offense is simple and brutal. Mutoh on his comebacks uses his speed with aerial moves. What I like
about the way Mutoh comes at Vader offensively is he comes at him full speed ahead when he has an advantage, staying on the
monster while he can. The crowd really starts getting into the match about 10 minutes
in with a moonsault nearfall. Shortly thereafter they find a really strong transition
to Vader taking back over. Once Vader has weathered Mutoh’s big moves, Mutoh
switches to trying to catch him on roll ups and nearly gets him a couple of times. Vader
meanwhile sticks with the power game. This all leads very well to the finish, but
the finish is weird. Vader gives Mutoh a full speed splash in the corner and Mutoh
after briefly selling climbs up to the top while Vader clears his head, Mutoh tries a top rope crossbody, Vader catches but
as he goes for a powerslam is cradled for 3. Now I like the concept of this as Mutoh
sticks with his speed advantage and roll ups to catch Vader as he predictably tries to over power him. The selling of the splash in the corner though is silly as Mutoh gets crushed by a very good looking splash
and then immediately bounds up to the top. I can kind of understand Vader staggering
as its possible he catches Mutoh’s head under the chin (it’s tough to tell), but Mutoh’s no selling is just
silly. There were so many good ways to do that finish.
Still that’s really the only problem I have with this match and I guess I can get over one error.
The match of course is
famous for the reaction to the finish by the crowd. It is a very impressive and spontaneous
reaction that comes off as a great moment for Mutoh 14 years later. I won’t
spoil it for those who don’t know what happens except to say the handheld does capture the great pop he gets for winning
Tijuana 2/21/97 Promo Azteca
Footage Quality- Distant
but very stable and responsive camera work.
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs El Hijo Del Santo
Short Description- Takes
some time getting going but once it does it becomes really strong.
Review- The only problem with this match is they take some time doing much of anything early. They feel out, circle, and play around with Santo’s second for probably longer then they should. They still get away it though because the crowd is into both of them. Once the match actually starts moving its basically non stop good stuff. Rey
is such a fast and graceful wrestler its always fun to see him in there with someone who can work off of that. They work the mat segment around the idea that Santo can get the advantage with his skill but Rey’s agility
and flexiblity keeps allowing him to get free or counter. They build off that theme
into the finish of the first fall where Rey is able to outmaneuver Santo on the top rope to get the fall with a rana. The second fall starts out with much of the same with Rey being a step ahead of Santo in
kayfabe sense (from a shoot sense Santo is always in the right place which is one thing that impressed me is that though he
can’t exactly go as fast as Rey like Juvi, Rey doesn’t have to slow down to much for him). To end the fall they build in Santo’s hope of winning, his ability to anticipate and counter Rey’s
big moves with impact. When Rey goes for another Rana (this time a springboard) Santo
gives him a nice powerbomb for 3. This is logical way for a veteran to be able to
beat quick wrestler like Rey. In the 3rd fall Santo gets heat off Rey with
a nice control segment. He sets up a learning spot well in this segment that eventually
pays off to allow Rey to get his run of moves in. Santo gives Rey some nice stuff before again making a nice counter of one
of his big flying moves to take back over. They bring the match back to the beginning
with Rey being able to use his speed to avoid the camel clutch for awhile. Eventually
though Santo is too much. I always love Santo’s understanding of ring psychology
and this match is a good example of Santo’s ability in that regard. First they
set up Rey’s way of winning with the first fall, then in the second fall Santo adjusts and shows us how he can win. In the third fall they work in little mini stories between getting nice near falls, before
bringing us back home with the central storylines they had set up in the first two falls.
The mixture of match wide themes with smaller and quicker themes (such as Rey avoiding the camel clutch, or learning
to counter a bulldog) is an example of what I think is the best way to tell a wrestling story.
To often what I would call mini stories become blown up to become the totality of the story which I think leads to
either a match that has large segments that are pointless, or a match that becomes repetitive. Santo is a guy I seem to always
be able to count on to tell me a complete story as opposed to a partial one.
Footage Quality- Top notch
save for it being time stamped
El Hijo Del Santo vs La Parka (Cage)
Short Description- Not
the great match they had in Monterey, but a strong match nonetheless
Review- The cage rules do truncate the structure of this match as one would expect.
It makes it difficult to do a control segment especially between two men who are basically evenly matched. They compensate for this weakness well though by bringing a strong sense of battle and competition to this match. They both go at each other hard and pretty continuously, piling on moves when they do it
fast, and they constantly are trying to escape to win the match by escaping. The tearing
of mask adds to the sense of battle but so do the desperation of their escape counters. Being
two top workers helps so much here as they don’t run out of ways to make their opponent pay for the failed escape attempts,
and are able to escalate the counters well. That the match does not feel boring and
repetitive despite how many failed escape attempts they do is a tribute to their ability to vary the counters and build the
match. The finish is overbooked but in a fun way.
The story is simply two guys who dislike each other trying to get out of the cage while doing as much damage to the
other guy as possible. This is a very simple story, but the two men are good enough
workers to give it resonance.