The SmarK Retro Repost – Fully Loaded 1998

– Yet another “No one ordered it the first time” special as I strive to find ANYTHING to watch besides Thunder. For some reason the Rock-HHH match in this one has achieved almost mythical proportions…to people who haven’t seen it before. So what the hey, let’s do it…

– Live from Fresno, CA

– Your hosts are JR & The King

– Opening match: Val Venis v. Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett has the whole loser entourage with him, in the form of Tennessee Lee (Col. Robert Parker), and Southern Justice (The Godwinns repackaged as badasses). That’s right — the GODWINNS repackaged as BADASSES. And people wonder why this stuff didn’t get over. Wally Yamaguchi sits in on commentary to further the “choppy-choppy your pee-pee” angle, one which has to be considered a strong contender in the “Most offensive angle to the widest possible range of people” awards voting. It loses 10 points in that category because Kaientai isn’t as racist as their original name — “Klub Kamikaze” — but gains 20 because Wally is married to an underaged, submissive girl who is supposed to be Taka’s sister, because god knows that if you’ve got 5 Japanese in one promotion, two of them have to be related. God bless Vince & Vince. Bitter sidenotes aside, Val takes down Jarrett and swivels to start. They do some token counter-wrestling, until Val gets a stungun for two. Russian legsweep gets two. Jarrett piledriver is blocked by Val, but a second attempt leads to a powerbomb. JJ dumps Venis and Tennessee Lee gets a cheapshot in, allowing Jarrett a baseball slide. Back in, Val hits some Canadian Violence, but Jarrett counters a sambo suplex with a DDT. They do my #3 least favorite spot of all time, the sleeper reversal, and Venis gets a belly-to-belly for the double-KO. The crowd is INTO IT. Whoa, that’s usually a WCW thing. Slugfest leads to a Val atomic drop and a seaman’s suplex for two. Blind charge misses (twice! — geez, take a hint, Val) and Jarrett gets a flying bodyblock for two. Val powerslam sets up the Money Shot, but Jarrett recovers and decks the ref. Val gets crotched by Lee. Superplex and figure-four for Jarrett, which is then countered by Venis for two. Heel miscommunication leads to a Venis rollup for the pin at 7:48. I could do without the ending, but man Val was feeling it there. ***1/4

– D-Lo Brown v. X-Pac. D-Lo was fresh off winning the Euro title from HHH, but this is non-title because D-Lo is a BAD PERSON. He uses the CHEST PROTECTOR OF DEATH to knock X-Pac down to start. Crowd tells him that he sucks. X-Pac armdrags him and offers some crotch-chops. Spinkick duel goes D-Lo’s way for two. D-Lo catches another X-Pac kick, but X-Pac hits an enzuigiri. Blind charge misses and D-Lo gets two. We HIT THE CHINLOCK! That lasts a while, with D-Lo forgetting to be a good little heel and put his DAMN FEET ON THE ROPES. Note to aspiring wrestlers out there, here’s some free advice when you’re working heel: Uses the ropes for leverage as much as humanly possible. It’s free heat and it never gets old. For those keeping track, consider that Rule #2 (after #1: Never repeat a blown spot.) X-Pac fights out but gets flattened and legdropped for two. Neat old-school psychology as X-Pac kicks at D-Lo’s chest to fight back, but it has no effect, because he’s wearing a chest protector. D-Lo misses a charge, then X-Pac misses a leg lariat. D-Lo gets an elbowdrop for two. Back to that pesky chinlock. Jawbreaker counters, but D-Lo pounds him down again..and misses a moonsault. X-Pac comeback and spinkick puts D-Lo in the corner, leading to the broncobuster, which the camera completely misses due to the retarded “Double Feature”. X-Pac nails the Godfather off the apron, but turns around and walks into the Sky High for the pin at 8:24. You’ve got no one to blame but yourself for that bonehead move, Sean. Match was only so-so, but they had a couple of better ones later in the year. **

– Edge. Brooding. You only THINK you know him.

– Kevin “Gayest Goatee Ever” Kelly reports that Undertaker has not yet arrived.

– Faarooq & Scorpio v. Bradshaw & Terry Funk. See, team #1 are both black guys, so they’re a team, while team #2 are both Texans, so they’re a team. Put them together and you’ve got Harlem Heat, two black guys from Texas! Funk announces before the match that this is his LAST MATCH. Right. This is apparently a surprise to Bradshaw. Can YOU see the big surprise twist at the end? Bradshaw overpowers Scorp as JR notes that both men have qualifed for some tournament called “The Brawl for All”. Scorp tags out to Faarooq and it’s ACOLYTE WARFARE! Bradshaw kicks his ass and hits a flying shoulderblock for two. Funk comes in with a neckbreaker for two, but he walks into a backbreaker. Bradshaw comes in off the top, but gets powerslammed for two and plays stockbroker-in-peril. He manages a superplex on Scorpio for two, then powerbombs him for two. Crowd isn’t into it. Funk & Scorpio brawl for a bit, and Funk blows a quebrada. Well, it’s the thought that counts. Back in, Funk rollup gets two. Scorpio gets a big splash for two as a mass “boring” chant start. Acolytes brawl as Scorpio finishes Funk with the 450. Yawn. 3/4* Bradshaw…and here’s a shock…TURNS ON FUNK, despite this being the first time they’ve teamed. Guess who’s booking this.

– Vader v. Mark Henry. Further down the food chain falls Vader, as he’s reduced to the Fat Guy Sideshow. Henry slams Vader and drops an elbow. Double axe-handle gets two. Big fat legdrop gets two. Sunset flip is blocked with a buttdrop and big fat splash for two. Avalanche softens up Henry for a short clothesline, and he tosses Henry out and into the stairs. Back in, Vader potato punches him and slams him into position for a flying big fat splash, which gets two. Henry powerslam and BIG FAT SPLASH OF DEATH finishes at 5:02, thus killing the crowd, who don’t give a Hogan about Mark Henry at this point. 1/2*

– Kane & Mankind come out for some interview time. The New Age Outlaws interrupt and demand a title shot on RAW, then attack, which would set up their eventual rematch at Summerslam.

– OLD 2000 v. DOA. This was during the Evil Paul Ellering era that drew SO much money for the WWF that they had to build a new Titan Tower just to hold it all. Animal is double-teamed early, but Hawk quickly (well, as quickly as Hawk moves…) comes in with a flying clothesline. LOD hits a Hart Attack for two. Hawk neckbreaker and Animal elbowdrop gets two. Hawk misses a blind charge and Ellering gets in some cheapshots. Hawk plays fossil-in-peril as the DOA goes through their boring offense. Note to Undertaker fans: No matter how cool and over and effective a wrestler may have been, pretty soon you just lose it, and then it’s only a short step to self-parody. Keep that in mind next time Undertaker rides to the ring on a motorcycle and chews tobacco on-screen. Anyway, I feel at this point in the match, I should digress a bit and reminisce on the humble beginnings (and epic story) of your friend and mine, the fast-forward button. It seems apropos here somehow.

The Story of the Fast-Forward Button:

100 Years of Greed, Betrayal, and Al Snow Matches

Not much is known about the initial beginnings of the enigmatic creators of the fast-forward button, but several vague details ARE a matter of public record.

In the late 1800s, Bernard Pfaste, an immigrant of an indeterminate country (the customs records are lost to history) entered the US with $1.50 in his pocket, and a dream. Local bandits took care of the former, but the latter was not so easy to steal. The VCR industry in the 1800s was more primitive than today, largely because VCRs wouldn’t be invented for another 50 years or so. In those days, before TV and 24/7 Hardcore title defenses, men had to rely on the local boxing matches (or “pugilification competitions”, as local youths were known to call them in slang terms) for entertainment, with strapping young men demonstrating their manhood by beating each other to a bloody pulp in vicious bare-knuckles fights, some to the death, most to a reasonable time limit (say, 18 hours or so).

Now, as any boxer (or in slang terms, “fisticuffsmanshipinator”) of the time could tell you, no one wanted to put down their hard-earned 3 cents and get a ridiciously short 8-hour fight! Why, the people of the time demanded *value* for their dollar, and the reactionary sports writers who had ideas like “throwing more than one punch per hour” and the like be damned!

At the same time, however, promoters of the matches (or as they were known in slang terms, “those guys”) were hesitant to allow the fighters to continue having matches that lasted well into the next day, since the spectactors would inevitably be fired for missing too much work and thus wouldn’t have money for the next week’s show. So a way to speed up the proceedings was needed without having to sink to the level of the “wrestling matches”, which were rumored to only last 4-5 hours at the most!

Ever the entrepreneur, Bernard Pfaste caught wind of the plight of the promoters, and designed a system that he felt would both solve the problem and add a fresh twist to the proceedings for spectators. It was called the Pfaste System, and it essentially involved laying a metal plate over the area to be used as the ring, attached to a small generator (usually 15,000 volts or so) and a button to activate it. The theory was that the slight shock given by the Pfaste System would entice the fighters to speed things up a bit. Sadly, much of the research on direct current was in early stages at the time, so the first trials with the device instantly deep-fried both fighters, and raised the hair of the entire front row. Local papers decried the show as “dreadful” the next day, citing the short running time of the match (3 hours, 10 minutes) and the implausibility of local toughman and defending champion Jebediah Callaway even having a match with someone as unskilled as challenger Zeke Parsons. The gruesome death of both men was mentioned in passing later in the article, although the editor felt that the outrage over the bad taste left in the spectator’s mouths would make better press. That bad taste was later revealed to be cooked portions of Zeke’s pancreas, but that’s neither here nor there.

Still, felt boxing promoters, the *idea* was solid, if nothing else. So they turned the voltage involved down a great deal, and tried the Pfaste System again at the next big fight, as grizzled veteran Abraham Lewis (who, at 21, was generally felt to be nearing retirement) took on hated arch-rival Lewis Abraham in a match that sold out the arena it was held in. And so, when the 6 hour mark was nearing with neither man suffering anything more severe than a black eye and no major organs looking to have been ruptured, the Pfaste System (mark II) was activated, and a mild current was passed through the metal plate under their feet. The effect was immediate: Lewis Abraham dropped dead, but Abraham Lewis merely went into convulsions, throwing involuntary punches wildly into the air at a rate that made impressionable people in the stands gasp with shock. Had he lived through the trip to the hospital, he would have been the sensation of the boxing world. But such is life.

The Pfaste System (mark II and counting) was an immediate hit, however, with boxing promoters all over the country suddenly demanding units of their own to add to their rings. A dance craze even started in the less-reputable colored clubs of the south, as young people wildly swung their fists in the air like a madman while twitching, and then dropped dead. Parents all over the country hoped that the dying part was merely a phase they’d all grow out of, but it seemed as though the “Pfaste Dance” was part of culture for good.

Meanwhile, Bernard himself had a problem, in that he was unable to keep up with the demand for his product. Obviously to him he’d have to team up with a manufacturer of some sort, and after several abortive interviews he found the perfect partner: Archibald Murphy, who had caused something of a sensation in the literary world years earlier by attempting to reduce the entirety of the English language to merely four words, through a clever series of contractions and double-meanings. The book was an immediate success, although reviewers roasted it over the coals for having a 503 word introduction, which pretty much killed the whole concept of the book right out of the gates. Still, Murphy had a huge hit on his hands, and he immediately used the money to form “Four Word Industries”, whose mandate was to invest sickening amounts of cash into projects just as loopy as Pfaste’s was. From that point of view, they were made for each other.

And so, after more than a year of rigorous testing and refining (with a workforce that suspiciously lessened by two people a day), the newly formed Pfaste/Four Word Industries unveiled their final product in Chicago Stadium in 1901 for the big title fight before the largest crowd in the history of boxing in the most important fight to that date. I forget who was fighting, but that’s not important. The important thing was the shiny new metal plate under the ring mats, connected to an unassuming red button on the timekeeper’s table: The Pfaste/Four Word Button.

The invention was a smashing success, as audience participation allowed the promoter to judge the necessary speed of the fighting and “hit the Pfaste/Four Word Button” as necessary to speed up the proceedings. Indeed, at a brisk but highly exciting 10 hours and 14 minutes, the fight was judged a huge success as the first guy pounded the second until was declared dead, drawing a roar from the crowd. Soon every promoter in the country had a Pfaste/Four Word button installed and fight lengths became dramatically shortened. Wrestling promoters also began using the device, but then no one cared about them anyway.

Bernard Pfaste was called to serve his country in World War I, and tragically died from a severe paper cut while opening the telegram. Medical science was not as it is now, back then. Archibald Murphy vowed to keep Pfaste’s name and legacy alive, while shutting his family out of any future profits from his inventions. Most accounts tend to leave out the second part for various reasons.

World War II dealt a more cruel blow to the newly renamed Pfaste Fourword Industries, as metal rationing meant that their invention could no longer be manufactured. However, the button was still fine, so professional boxers were left to their own skill again to dictate a fight, and the sport fell out of favor with the public as a result. However, professional wrestlers seemed unusually adept at faking the effects of the device despite there being no way of passing a current through the mats, and the match lengths continued to shorten while boxing remained the same. Some newspapers even went so far as to insinuate some sort of trickery in wrestling, but most laughed this theory off upon reading it. Soon wrestling fans were so conditioned to seeing someone hit the Pfaste Fourword button and the action move quicker that the original design of the device and electrical origins were completely forgotten. This was a financial windfall for the newly renamed “Fast Fourword Industries” (“Pfaste” was changed to “fast” to prevent his family from suing for compensation, which again is forgotten by most accounts of the story), who now only had to make little plastic buttons and hollow tubing that looked like wiring. The imaginations of the wrestlers did the rest. By 1950, it had become so ingrained that the button was forgotten completely and wrestlers did all the fakery themselves. Fast Fourword Industries shifted their production goals to the pornographic magazine business, and changed their name to “Fast Foreplay” in 1951, to be forgotten by the general public soon after their first issue was released: “Ugly Fat Hermaphrodite Monthly”. It lasted only two issues. The second issue was a dramatic and desperate swing to a more mainstream market, but sadly the renamed “Bestiality and Watersports Quarterly” failed to capture the public’s imagination any more than the first issue had, and the company folded after 50 years of existance.

However, sometime in the 60s, a couple of important things happened: The JFK was invented, and VCR was shot. I may have those mixed up, but the general idea is the same. Anyway, in 1962, the first ever wrestling video was released, the aptly-titled “Best of Big Fat Slow Talentless Wrestlers”. With the early VCRs priced up around $15,000 each, there weren’t many wrestling fans who had them, and even fewer who actually bought the tape. But those who did got their money’s worth ($999.99 from RF Video, fair->good VQ) as they got to watch such stars of the 50s as “Man Mountain” Kirk, “Man Mountain” Jones, “Man Mountain” Smith, and “Man Mountain” Mann. The tape ran 6 hours and only had two matches.

The outcry among wrestling fans who bought the tape (both of them) was instant and loud: The tape sucked. It took 20 minutes for “Man Mountain” Kirk to drag his enormous girth to the ring for his match with “Man Mountain” Jones, and then another 15 for both men to catch their breath and lockup. Something had to be done.

Then, in 1965, the retired Archibald Murphy had a stroke of genius. No, sorry, it was just a stroke, my mistake. But on his deathbed, he whispered three words that would change the face of bad wrestling forever.

Sadly, his tongue had been shot off in World War II, so no one heard them.

But in 1966, someone else invented a button to move the tape forward faster, and at a loss for what to call it, he remembered to his days as a young fan of the wrestling matches and watching the timekeeper hit the Fast Fourword button, and so presented his patent for the fast-fourword button in 1966.

Bernard Pfaste’s remaining family members, desperate for money and living in poverty, attempted to sue for copyright infringement, so the name was changed to “fast-forward” to avoid litigation and Pfaste’s family name subsequently died out as his descendants starved to death. And the rest is history.

Why, you might ask, would I bring up such a long, boring, rambling, meandering and utterly pointless pile of tripe during the LOD-DOA match? Simple: NOW YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL WATCHING IT.

Now where was I?

(match continues) Animal gets the hot tag, and does his usual while cleaning house. Doomsday Device looks to finish, but DOA pulls the ol’ switcheroo and a DDT on Animal finishes at 8:49. Right idea, wrong team. DUD

– Mr. McMahon and his stooges come out to gloat about the Austin-Undertaker dissention. If UT no-shows, they declare, Austin’s partner will be…the Brooklyn Brawler.

– Dungeon Match: Ken Shamrock v. Owen Hart. Dan Severn is the special ref, and is this is “live” (ie, pre-taped) from the Hart Dungeon in Calgary (dramatic pause) Alberta Canada. Owen gets a takedown, but Shammy counters with punches and tries a kneebar. Shamrock rams Owen into the wall, but Owen gets a low blow and leg lariat. Shamrock goes to the guard to block Owen’s punches, and Owen rams him to the wall and hits a german suplex. I wish someone would do that to the next Gracie who goes to the guard. They brawl on the mat, then Shamrock rams Owen into the wall again, but Owen grabs a pipe running along the ceiling, and ranas Shamrock off it! Shamrock comes back, ramming Owen into the weight bench, then into the wall again. Shamrock tries that pipe trick, but Owen counters with a powerbomb and then hiptosses him into the pipe. Damn, this is brutal. Owen alley-oops Shamrock right through the ceiling, and drops him to the mat again, applying a Sharpshooter. Shamrock escapes and comes back. Severn takes an errant superkick from Shamrock in the mouth and stops to recover, allowing Owen the chance to bop Shamrock with a dumbbell and apply a crossface, getting a bogus tap-out at 5:26 by moving Shamrock’s arm for him. Only the WWF could have screwjobbed this match. It was still a funky and stiff slice of something different and cool, though. ***

– Intercontinental title match, 2/3 falls: The Rock v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Both the Nation and D-X are banned from ringside, so that should tip you off to something right away. Rock beatdown to start, and a lariat gets two. Rock gets some shaky-leg kicks, but walks into a lariat. Chyna nails him. Rock counters the Pedigree, but gets tossed. We brawl. Nothing of note, just wasting time. Cf. the Iron Man match at Judgment Day where no out-of-ring brawling was necessary. Back in, Rock lays the smackdown and gets a lariat for two. HHH gets a desperation neckbreaker to come back. Suplex sets up the regal kneedrop, which gets two. HHH dishes some Conneticutt Violence, but gets tossed out. Back out, more brawling. Mark Henry joins us for Run-In #1 and splashes HHH on the floor, before Billy Gunn (Run-In #2) saves. Rock adds a shot with the belt, and gets two. Swinging neckbreaker gets two. Punches get two, and Rock hits the chinlock to stall. This first fall is a total write-off. Crowd agrees with me, losing patience. HHH fights out, but Rock lariat gets two. Does he think he’s Stan Hansen tonight or something? Back out, AGAIN. Some quick choking results and back in for a Hurricane DDT for two. Back to the chinlock. Sure, it’s only a 30-minute match, why not? Rock rams HHH facefirst to the mat for two. HHH comes back and USES THE KNEE. Now Godfather joins us (Run-In #3), but gets cut off by the Outlaws (Run-In #4). Why bother with that? Rock chokes HHH out. He does some posing to waste more time, and now D-Lo does Run-In #5, but HHH blasts him. HHH turns around and walks into a Rock Bottom to lose the first fall at 20:19. Hunter gets 1:00 to rest (and use up another minute) and we’re off again. Rock tosses HHH out and it’s more brawling. Rock slingshots him into the Spanish table, but IT DOESN’T BREAK. Quick, fire the producer. Back in, People’s Elbow (now named as such at this point) gets two. Double KO follows as Chyna kills D-Lo. Now X-Pac (Run-In #6), comes in, hits the X-Factor on Rock, and HHH gets two. Chairs get involved and the ref is bumped. Chyna (Run-In #7) DDTs Rock on the chair and HHH gets the fall at 26:33 to even it up. One-minute rest and we’re rolling. HHH covers the unconscious Rock for two. More brawling outside. Back in, facebuster and lariat get two. Rock samoan drops HHH for two. Slugfest leads to the Pedigree…as time expires at 30:00. Crowd is upset at that one. With 5 brawling segments, 3 stalling periods, and 7 run-ins, it becomes apparent the booking was more protected than Charlie Sheen before a night with Heidi Fleiss. ** HHH’s 2000 run just totally blows this away, despite the praise this initially got from some, including Herb Kunze, who must have been feeling REALLY generous (at ***1/4) because I’m pretty sure if Rock and HHH had this match today he’d rip it apart, assuming he ever updates again.

– Bikini Contest: Sable v. Jackie. Dustin Runnels, into the preacher phase of his desperate attempt to get over as anything but Goldust, offers a prayer for our souls for watching this. That’s so eerily prescient of the PTC controversies to come later that Vince should be ashamed for not expecting it sooner. Jackie has a nearly-invisible string bikini with slightly thicker strings covering her naughty bits, and it slips off at one point, revealing the nipular region. Sable counters that with the famous painted-on bikini, which is LITERALLY painted-on. Eh, after the Playboy spreads the thrill is gone.

– WWF Tag title match: Kane & Mankind v. Undertaker & Steve Austin. This started as a straight tag match before the WWF bookers had the bright idea of taking the tag titles off the hottest team in the sport — the Outlaws — and putting it on Kane & Mankind to be contended as a meaningless prize on a meaningless PPV (the Summerslam main had been announced a couple of weeks previous to this). Austin pounds Mick to start, but gets caught in the corner and worked by Kane. Quick stunner is blocked and we head outside. Back in, UT gets a russian legsweep (as if UT was ever rushin’ anywhere in his life…) and offers Austin a middle finger. Mick tags in and plays ragdoll for Undertaker. Poor guy goes 15 feet off the top of a cage, through a table, nearly dies, and he’s out there the next month bumping around again. I fear for his mental state in 10 years. Not much going on, at any rate. Kane comes in and chokeslams UT. A sort of face-claw type thing follows. UT plays face-in-peril as Mick gets the double-arm DDT for two. Cactus clothesline puts Taker on the floor, but Austin hipchecks Foley off the apron and into the Spanish table…and IT STILL DOESN’T BREAK! It’s the Toshiaki Kawada of tables! Hot tag Austin, who cleans house on Kane and blasts him with a chair for two. Ross way over-sells the chairshot, probably because everyone is moving so slow that there’s nothing else to talk about. Kane gets a big boot and tosses Austin into the clutches of Mankind. Back in, Austin plays cripple-in-peril. Yawn. Everyone in this is so limited by injuries (Foley, Austin) or just being themselves (UT, Kane) that it would have taken a miracle on a Shawn Michaels scale to get something watchable out of it. Austin and Foley go to the double-KO. God, this is boring. This is mid-card tag team booking in a main event match, and even the crowd knows it. Kane chokeslams Austin, but the tombstone is reversed to the stunner, and another one for Mankind. Undertaker doesn’t try terribly hard for the tag, pissing off the crowd. Finally, he reaches for and gets the hot tag, and finishes Kane with the usual at 17:59 to win the tag titles. *1/2 But can Austin trust Undertaker? SHADES OF GREY, BABEE!

The Bottom Line: Despite the Rick’s protestations against it at the time due to puppy exposure, I gave the show a “Recommendation to Avoid” in my Guide to Every WWF PPV Ever, Part II a couple of years ago, and I gotta stand by it here, as it still sucks. If you want to see Sable’s fake hooters, there’s plenty of places to do so for free, without bothering to waste your money on this tape. Even the WWF promoted it as a buildup show to Summerslam, which shows how much they cared about it.

Recommendation to avoid.

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