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Handheld reviews part 1

Reviews of non-televised matches

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 Hart- 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- 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- 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.


 Another 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.


Ricky Steamboat vs The Barbarian

Short Description- Lethargic big man little man match.

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. 


Hogan/Duggan vs Slaughter/Mustafa

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.


King of the Ring 91 Providence

Footage Quality- Good but distant


Ricky 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.


Bret Hart wins the KOTR 91

Short description- A disappointing series of matches.

Review-  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 to mediocrity.


Philadelphia 10/19/91

Footage quality- angle is a bit close, camara wanders to much, do miss significant action.


Ric Flair vs Roddy Piper

Short description- from what we see, lots of charisma not a lot of work.

Review-  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.


Philadelphia 11/30/91


Footage quality- some obstructions but action seems to be easy to follow


Bret Hart vs The Mountie

Short description- Solid Hart formula match

Review-  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.


Nasty Boys vs The Rockers

Short description- mediocre late Rockers match.

Review-  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.


Hulk Hogan 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.


Philadelphia 1/11/92


Footage quality- solid angle and  average stability, occasional obstruction, can follow the action pretty well.


Bret Hart/Road Warriors vs Natural Disasters/The Mountie

Short description- poorly constructed match not utilizing the talents of those involved

Review-  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.


Ted Dibiase 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). 


Ric Flair vs Hulk Hogan

Short description- Strong and well done Hogan match.

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. 


Providence 1-30-92


Footage quality- quite nice, clear and can follow everything with ease


Shawn Michaels vs Jimmy Snuka

Short description-  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. 


Bret Hart vs the Mountie

Short Description-promising start goes nowhere.

Review-  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.


Sid vs Undertaker

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. 


Randy 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.

Worcester, Ma  2/24/92


Footage quality-  Very nice good angle no obstructions. 


British 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.


Ric Flair 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.


Wimbley Arena 4/13/92


Footage Quality- a bit distant and some camera wandering but action is easy to follow


Ric Flair vs British Bulldog

Short Description- solid but to me disappointing match.

Review-  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.


Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart

Short description-solid and hot match.

Review-  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.


Randy Savage vs the Mountie

Short Description- early hope fades into a mediocre match

Review-  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 numbers comeback. 


Providence RI 6-22-92

Footage quality- Seems pretty strong with a nice angle and no obstructions, some camara wandering but not too problematic.


Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels.

Short description- Disappointing match from the two best workers in the company.

Review-  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. 


The Ultimate Warrior vs Papa Shango

Short description- Suprisingly average match.

Review-  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.


Randy 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,.


Randy 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.


Bret Hart 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.


Ric Flair vs The Undertaker

Short description- Slightly uncomfortable Flair vs Big Man match

Review-  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. 

Indianapolis 9/19/92


Footage- Quite nice all around good angle and very stable almost no obstructions. 


Ultimate Warrior vs Ric Flair

Short Description- 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 figure four.

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 wasn't effective.

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.


Bret Hart vs Kamala

Short description- One of those wanderful Hart Smoke and Mirrors matches.

Review-  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 carry.


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 strength segment. 


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.


Dortmouth Germany 9/92


Footage Quality- Very good


Ric Martel 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. 


Ric Flair 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 a bit.


 Once 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 small package.


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


Shawn Michaels vs Marty Jannetty

Short Description- Signs of what would later come are their but the match doesn’t quite click enough.

Review-  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.


Bob Backlund 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. 


Indianapolis 11/29/92


Footage quality- good only slight wander and a good angle.


Ric Flair 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.

Match Review-  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

Short Description- 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 from HBK.


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 then Flair.


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 + effort.

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 match.


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 good quality.


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 yet seen.

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

Short description- 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.

This 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 special 


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.


San Francisco 8/20/93


Footage Quality- good angle and no obstruction, slight camara wandering don’t miss any action though really.


Shawn Michaels/Diesel/Bam 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. 


New 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 missed nothing.


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.


Indianapolis 11/5/93


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 (cage)

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. 


New 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 match

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.


San Jose 1/14/94


Footage Quality- Slightly close but seem to be able to catch all the action.


Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon (Ladder Match)

Short Description- Several notches beneath Mania 10 but an interesting trial run.

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.


New 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 this.

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.

Nassau  7/9/94


Footage Quality- good but there is at times more camera movement then I like


Bret Hart vs Owen Hart (Ironman match)

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 for that. 


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 fall.


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.


New 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. 


Seattle 11-5-04


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 well. 


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. 


New 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 all.


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 Lawler/Owen Hart

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 (Cage)

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.


New 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 Bulldog

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. 


New 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 Hearst Helmsley

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 insubstantial

Review- 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 Bret Hart/Undertaker

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. 


Anaheim 1/11/97


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 Helmsley

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.


Philadelphia 1/28/01

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 segment.  Jericho 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 that.


The Dudleys 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.


The Dudley 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 Flair

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.



Meadowlands 1984


Footage quality- I believe its from a hard camera.  I’m including because I don’t often see it listed or talked about.


Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat

Short Description- Not as good as their 89 series but good. 

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


Eddie Gilbert vs Jimmy Jackson

Short description- Very basic and slow heel squash.

Review-  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.


Kevin 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.


Arn Anderson vs Robert Gibson. 

Short Description-Very basic match that never really gains momentum.

Review-  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.


Tully 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.


Road Warriors 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.


Philadelphia 9/10/88


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. .


Dusty 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.


Sting 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.


Tully 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. 


Ric Flair vs Lex Luger

Short Description- Flair does his standard Luger match, this time for 17 minutes.

Review-   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.

Philadelphia 10/15/88


Footage Quality- Distant, but can follow


Road Warriors vs Rick Steiner/Mike Rotundo

Short description- reasonably entertaining Warriors match.

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.


Midnight Express vs The Fantastics

Short Description- While not a definitive match for the teams, still good to very good.

Review-  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.


Philadelphia 1/6/89


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.


The Original 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. 


Ric Flair vs Rick Steiner

Short Description- Flair gets a good one out of Steiner.

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.


Kendall 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


Kevin 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. 


Lex Luger vs Barry Windham w/ Hiro Matsuda

Short Description- Not at the level it should have been.

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 of nowhere. 


The Road 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 rest.  


Ric Flair 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 these two. 


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. 


Ashbury Park NJ. 10/20/90


Footage Quality- not very well lit but very watchable.


The Steiner Brothers vs the Midnight Express

Short descriptions- fun Midnight express version of the Flair big book of stuff.

Review-  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.

Meadowlands 12/27/91


Footage Quality- Slightly distant but easy to tell everything that is going on.


Jimmy Garvin vs Dallas Page

Short Review- Solid match with DDP working hard.

Review-  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 busy! 


Sting vs Rick Rude

Short Review- a Solid match that drags during the heat segment.

Review-  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.

Review-  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. 


Jushin 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.


Ricky 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.


Oakland 3/7/92


Footage Quality- Everything is good, camera follows even wild action well.


Abdullah 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.

Review-  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.


Larry 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. 


Steiners/Rhodes vs Anderson/Eaton/Austin elimination

Short Description- good match despite the typical cheap booking

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.


Sting vs Rick Rude (cage)

Short Description- Very entertaining and very creative cage match.

Review-  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.


Philadelphia 12/29/92


Footage quality- after the first match basically good occasional people obstructions  


Barry Windham vs Dustin Rhodes

Short Description- An solid underdog/favorite match

Review-  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.


Sting/Great 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.


Ricky Steamboat/Shane Douglas vs Jushin Liger/Kensuke Sasaki

Short description- a good finishing sequence distinguishes this strong tag match

Review-  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.

Dublin Ireland 3/93


Footage Quality- Close but action is easy to follow, unfortunately frequent crowd shots and cuts make the action disjointed.


Cactus Jack vs Rick Rude

Short Description- Two bumpers struggle against each other. 

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. 


Sting vs Vader

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

Short description- 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

Short description- 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

Short descriptions- 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

Short description-okay 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

Short description- 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

Short description- 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. 

Tulsa 8/25/94


Footage Quality- good for the first two match then obstructed a good deal from there on.


Steve Regal vs Brad Armstrong

Short Description- Solid opener.

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

Short Description- 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 

Short description- 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 the 1950's.

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.

All Japan


October 1981 (seems to be a set off of a tour.)


Footage Quality- Varies, at  times being too distant, but stays watchable.


Bruno Sammartino vs Bruiser Brody

Short Description- Very short brawl.

Review- 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

Short Description- Average tag match.

Review- 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

Short Description- Not really something that adds to either man’s legacy, but certainly entertaining.

Review- 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

Short Description- Basically what one would expect. 

Review- 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

Short Description- Another very short match for Brody

Review- 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

Short Description- Dory does Dory things and Terry gets beat up.

Review- 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

Short Description- Decent tag match

Review- This 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.


(according to the hand held) 9/23/88 according to the tape listing. Looks like Korakuen but not sure. 9/15/88


Footage Quality- 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

Short description- Mismatched match does okay.

Review- This 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


Footage Quality- 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

Short description- probably slightly below average

Review- You 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

Short description-basically 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

Short description- 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

Short description- 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.


Obihiro 11/30/90


Footage Quality- good save for some people obstructions, espiecally in the first match.


Masanobu Fuichi/Yoshinari Ogawa vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi/Isamu Teranishi

Short description- An okay opener

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

Short Description- No one but Doc has much to do here.

Review- This 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

Short Description- 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

Short description- An injury to Baba cuts short what had been a not good but not atrocious match.

Review- Terry 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

Short Description- 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. 

Kagawa 4/5/91


Footage Quality- good


Masanobu Fuchi vs Doug Furnas

Short Description- Blah match.

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

Short Description- 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

Short Description- way to long

Review- I’ve 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

Short Description- 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

Short Description- Not necessary viewing except for completists

Review- This 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. 


Early Kobashi 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.


Nagoya 4/16/91

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.


Footage Quality- Quite good


Kenta Kobashi vs Cactus Jack

Short description- 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.

Short Description- 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.


Tokyo  4/18/93


Footage Quality Very good


Toshiaki Kawada vs Davey Boy Smith

Short Description- 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

Short Description- 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

Short Description- A classic

Review- You 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.


Stan controls 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. 


The finishing 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. 

Tamamatsu 11/25/93


Footage Quality- 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

Short Description- Decent match, but not enough is contributed by the stars

Review- At 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

Short Description- Very good match

Review- Its 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! 


Kawada’s 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.  


Chiba 6/3/96


Footage Quality- 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

Shortage Discription- 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

Short Description- 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

Short Description- Another solid 6 man is distinguished by Misawa getting owned.

Review- This 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.


Mito 2/22/97


footage quality- seems excellent all around.


Shawn Morley vs Manukea Mossman

Short description- uninspiring formula match

Review- Again 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

Short description- Stan’s total lack of agility cause major problems.

Review- It 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

Short description- Cold crowd hurts, but nothing done to push this past solid.

Review- The 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 sluggish.


Misawa/Asako/Honda vs Kawada/Taue/Ogawa

Short Description- Another solid All Japan tag match

Review- Again 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. 

Nagareyama 3/29/97


Footage Quality- very good


Kentaro Shiga/Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Yoshinari Ogawa/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

Short 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. 


Johnny Ace vs Takao Omori

Short Description- exactly the type of mediocre match one would expect

Review- 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? 


Toshiaki Kawada vs Kimala II

Short Description- Bad match

Review- 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. 


Akira Taue vs Jun Akiyama

Short Description- Solid but not as good as you might hope

Review- 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. 


Of course 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.   


One 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. 


Misawa/Kobashi/Honda vs Hansen/Allbright/The Tornado

Short 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. 

Other International


10/22/84 UWF

Footage 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 Assassin/Phil Lafon 

Short Description: Solid early shoot style/strong style hybrid match

Review:  Watching 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 decisively jobs.

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 (and more).


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. 


Tijuana 11/16/01


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.

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