Thankfully, the onslaught of news stories has slowed down just long enough for me to get another Pulse Wrestling Answers done. Not that there is any time for introductions. Besides, you all know the drill. Send questions and read on…
“Rick Rude, John Morrison, Val Venis, or Viscera: The World’s Largest Love Machine – Whose hip gyration did you enjoy most?”
– Danny Cox
What, you couldn’t have given me something easier, like “What is the meaning of life?” Viscera’s hip gyrations do nothing for me due to the total absence of bright, shiny, baggy and oh-so-purple trousers. If we don’t get to see those things swirling around like a drunken beetroot extra from the imaginary film Attack of the Killer Beetroots then there’s no chance of catching my interest. Val’s gyrating could perhaps be enjoyed in a tongue-in-cheek manner, though not in the dark and nutty way that he has no doubt enjoyed tongues in cheeks. Still, they never addressed the issue of where he got all of those towels from and who was charged with cleaning them all. That’s a plot hole through the fabric of life itself. Morrison has no chance of earning acclaim for his hips on account of not actually being a dead rock star from the 1970s. Honestly, it’s the wrestling equivalent of when they replaced Becky on Roseanne with Future Elliot from Scrubs, except they at least had the decency to take the piss out of themselves for it. And to think that they missed a golden opportunity to show a series of feebly entertaining vignettes in which Johnny Nitro and C.M. Punk were riding to the next show together only to get run off the road by Kurt Russell, leaving them stranded in the desert until an enigmatic and wise nutbar of an old man beckoned them to come forth and sample his peyote. Punk refuses, so the old man lets him leave but not before taking a sample of his blood. Nitro is up for it and he winds up being taken on a tour of his very soul by his spirit guide, which appears in the form of Mrs Kamala (it’s long overdue) and he becomes convinced that the mortal realm is beneath him. He seeks to enlighten us via the art of his unconfined mojo and morphs into John Morrison. His chosen foreign objects are the bunch of doors he keeps under the ring. Punk realises it is too late but he tries to get in touch with Lance Storm anyway, just in case he can talk some sense into Nitro before unwellness overwhelms him. He manages to fix the car and almost makes it to a mobile phone reception area when Kurt Russell returns… but, wait! SWERVE! SWERVE THAT CAR, C.M.!! It’s not Kurt Russell after all, it’s Kevin Thorn! The old man? Ariel’s father! Thorn has now tasted your blood, the cleanest, purest, least tainted blood in all of WWE, and he must have more, more, more!! You see the sort of thing that we’re missing out on due to them playing WWE.com far too straight? Oh, and it has to be Rick Rude. Sod the hips, the truly asexual intrigue came from being mesmerised by the swirly actions of his moustache. Really, what the hell was that thing? It was far too dominant to just be mere facial hair. Was it a batch of jilted, rejected, bitter and evil pubes discarded by Tom Selleck? The ones that told him not to bother with Raiders of the Lost Ark, since Magnum, P.I. had a much better chance at coming back in 2008? Was it some kind of space-time conduit, the sort that could allow Rude to appear on both Raw and Nitro simultaneously? Was it a way of shrinking down Mexicans and Dennis Quaid so that they could be smuggled around in miniature? Perhaps it was a prototype form of on-screen censorship, covering Rude’s upper-lip ‘GAY4NAZIS’ tattoo in a not-too-dissimilar way from how WWE would blur the F out in years to come? Whatever it was, it was clearly too much of a burden for one man to bear. So now he’s dead. Are you happy now, Danny? Are you??
Quick and dirty.
Was there a dark match at TNA Hard Justice 2007?
If so, what was it?”
– Nick Howells
They were all dark matches at TNA Hard Justice 2007. Dark, dreary, deadly lumps of anti-light condensed into the new face of viewing displeasure, wrapped in an enigma, in a conundrum, in a taco shell, in the belly of an overweight elephant, shat out all over our lives with the furious power of jet-fuelled incontinence. But even the smelliest cloud can let a thin breeze of hope through every now and then. In this case, it was that TNA did not attempt to force an even less meaningful match upon the world than the ones that made it onto pay-per-view. Just think how low they would have had to stoop to arrange a contest of lesser value than Emo Kazarian vs Marlon Brando Raven, or a Rhino match built around his acting and drinking skills rather than running very fast into stuff, or Kurt Angle taking over the world like a balder and less fashion-savvy version of a maniacal Santa Claus gone wrong, or the Steiners and the Dudleys doing things that don’t involving consuming drugs or cheese and are thus clearly beyond them. What manner of a nightmare could this be?? I shall not yield to such misery!! Fear me, Pandaboys!! Fear me!!
Uh, I mean ‘no’. No there wasn’t.
“A few months ago you were asked a question which stated “Is Triple H the master?” to which you replied Steve Lombardi was the master. I was sorta confused with the question but the answer also puzzles me. Care to explain?”
– Cody Fett
Certainly – I was taking the piss.
This was all the way back in #021 in April, at a time when us Doctor Who fans were rather impatiently looking forward to seeing the latest incarnation of uber-villain The Master introduced to the series. Speculation as to his potential identity had been accumulating ever since the BBC brought the show back, reaching fever point as the third season crossed the halfway mark and more definitive evidence began to appear. At first he appeared to be a doddery old git in a fluffy shirt and tatty waistcoat but then – !SWERVE! ALERT! – it turned out to be John Simm from Life on Mars, whose chosen style of villany was behaving like Tony Blair on a sugar high whilst prancing around to the Scissor Sisters. Oh, well.
But as anybody who has sat through a WWE Home Video documentary filled with talking heads knows, there is more often than not no way of stopping Steve Lombardi from popping up on TV shows he does not belong in.
Back to the topic of matches that surpassed expectations, as raised in #038:
” Hey Iain,
Love the topic.
There is sort of a subset of these, which are matches where we look back and
realize they had great people in them, but didn’t know it at the time.
For instance, the Belfast Bruiser vs Steven Regal. (I can’t remember when this
was – early in Finlay’s WCW run)
Sure, now we all love Regal and Finlay, but did anyone expect that hellacious
stiff match of doom to come out of it going in?”
True, I can’t imagine that many WCW viewers were all that knowledgeable about Regal or Finlay back in 1996. Well, Finlay at least, since Regal had been there since 1993 and held the Television Title a bunch of times. They had an especially memorable Parking Lot Brawl on the 23rd April ’96 episode of Nitro, in which Finlay wound up kicking in a car window. Some of the glass got into his eye and he was left wearing a patch for months afterwards. In fact, since we’re about due a video, here is that match:
Weird seeing Finlay with a mullet and Regal without his new, nancyboy hairdo.
“I saw in your column your comments about matches that were far better than they had a right to be given the participants. Let me also bring up a couple, not necessarily because the participants were bad workers, but because the match far exceeded expectations given the build and the status of the participants at the time.
Fit Finley v. Steven Regal–Uncensored 96: Today we know these guys as two very good workers, but in 96, Finley was pretty much an unknown, while Regal was playing the aristocrat snob to the hilt. Who knew that those two could bring one of the stiffest matches WCW had seen in quite a long time. I had to wince at many of the shots those two were taking at each other. Unfortunately, this suffered from a lack of a clear ending.
Bret Hart v. Pierre Oulette–IYH, September 95: Of course, we all know how good Bret was, but these two put together what had to be one of the greatest throwaway matches I’ve ever seen. The buildup was pretty standard (Pierre steals Bret’s jacket), but the match itself was awesome, with Pierre taking some incredibly sick bumps. IMO, this was the match that should have made the Bret Hart DVD set, not the Hakushi one.
Bret Hart v. Diesel–KOTR 94: Speaking of Bret, he can also be credited with giving Kevin Nash some main event credibility. Before then, Diesl had pretty much floated through the upper midcard, with the highlight being a very good Rumble performance. However, in this match, Bret carried Diesel to his best match at the time (although their rematches and Nash’s matches with HBK would exceed this).
Shane v. Vince McMahon–WM17: ALthough WM17 will be noted for TLC2, Benoit v. Angle’s 1st round and the awesome main, this was also a solid attraction match, with Foley as the special ref and some fine hardcore action mixed with the usual McMahon family drama. HOwever, the high point was Shane breaking out the Van Terminator to finish off his father.
Austin v. McMahon–St. Valentine’s Day Massacre 99: Nobody knew what to expect from Vince to this point, as his only major in-ring experience had been winning the Rumble a month prior thanks to a major screwjob–having not really participated in the match to begin with. However, McMahon showed just how far he was willing to go to entertain the fans, as he took a serious ass-kicking for most of the match. It was essentially an extended squash, but a glorious one at that.
Shane v. Test-Summerslam 99: Neither of these participants were much of anything at this point. Yes, Shane had a better than expected WM match for the Euro title, but it wasn’t blowaway good and was dominated by HHH’s heel turn. Furthermore, Test hadn’t shown much of anything. Yet when you bring those two together, throw in a no DQ stip along with Shane’s Mean Street Posse, you had a golden match. Of course, the high point was Shane’s elbow to the announcer’s table. Unfortunately, this would be pretty much the high water mark of Test’s career, as they failed to do anything remotely logical with the angles that emerged in late 99, such as having Test fued with HHH.
Rock v. Hogan–WM 18: There was no way this match should have worked. Yes, the WWF was pushing it as a battle of icons, but Hogan was at least 10 years removed from producing anything remotely watchable, while Rock was rapidly becoming a part time wrestler at best. Throw in the inclusion of the NWO, which comes across today as forced more than anything else and you have a recipe for disaster. However, it worked, thanks largely due to the insane crowd and the ability of the two performers to adapt to the notion of Rock being the heel and Hogan being the face. Thus, you have a match that was pretty weak in terms of workrate, and yet it was still immensely entertaining.
Cena v. HHH–WM22: I had the virtue of seing this one live, and my expectations going into it were pretty weak. Although HHH was an awesome wrestler, Cena had yet to show me that he really belonged on the main event level, despite having the title since the previous WM (aside from a few weeks when Edge had it). Furthermore, the fans were actively rebelling against Cena as champion. The cheesey entrances of the two (Conan the Barbarian v. Al Capone) didn’t help matters. However, when they got in the ring and the fans got into the match (cheering 70/30 for HHH, who was the ostensible heel), all of that didn’t matter. IMO, this was the night that Cena proved that he was not just someone who was shoehorned into the main event level because of Vince’s beliefs about what a champion be. He proved that he deserved to be champion and has been going uphill ever since.”
Thanks for those.
Finlay/Regal – well, see up above for some more of their glorious violence. Given all that’s happened in wrestling recently and all the respect I have for both of these men, all I can say is thank goodness Regal got himself (relatively) cleaned up and Finlay was able to take a few years off to rest himself.
Bret/Ouellete – wait, that’s Jean-Pierre Lafitte to you. Bret has of course had many matches that could fit in here. He made Razor Ramon look great when Razor inexplicably got a world title shot at Royal Rumble ’93, long before most people gave a crap about the guy. He can take credit for the greatest match of Yokozuna’s career at WrestleMania IX. That’s a bit like saying you just gave your arse the greatest wipe of your life but, hey, an accolade is an accolade. And then of course there was this one, which just so happens to be on the best bad PPV the WWE has ever had. December to Dismember was bad in a painful way, In Your House 3 was bad like a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 film clip. Just try to find one person whose eyes do not bulge with the chemical swelling of Dok Hendrix Happy Pills.
Bret/Diesel – and again, Bret brings the goods. Perhaps if he had not been quite so charitable and professional in his tasks with Nash then we could have been spared one of the worst world title reigns of all time. Thanks a f*cking bunch, Bret.
Shane/Vince – I don’t know, this one pretty much met my expectations. The Van Terminator was a nice surprise. I suppose in this age of wellness and oppression we must refer to the move as Coast to Coast now. I’ll also knock points off it for Vince turning up later on that evening in the Rock/Austin match, for the Heel Turn From Hell, when he should have still been out cold from this match. Oh, and for rather randomly taking the time to bury the WCW guys before it even started. Still, they had to be doing something right to get over 60,000 people to scream for joy at the sight of Linda McMahon busting out one of her patented high-risk maneouvres – Standing Up.
Austin/McMahon – never seen this one but I can imagine it did it’s job rather well. It was prime WWE Main Event Brawl, as perfected by Steve Austin, mixed with now-vintage Overbooked McMahon Garbage Match, before either type of match grew stale. Plus it has the Big Show making his big debut by pulling off one of his patented high-risk maneouvres – Fucking Things Up. I seem to have taken to adding a lot of capital letters to unnecessary places. Kinda fun, really.
Shane/Test – just imagine, there is a parallel universe out there in which in 2007 we have just witnessed the triumphant return to action of Andrew Martin at a major WWE show, while Paul Levesque has only just made his debut in TNA as yet another miscellaneous WWE cast-off in an overcrowded locker room. Terrifying. Yet after this match happened, such a stellar push for Test did not seem at all out of the question. Triple H seems to have been smart enough to gently nudge all the right people away from booking the obvious feud between him and Test at the tail end of 1999, which in truth probably saved us all from a title run of Diesel-esque atrocity. Unlike Bret. Fucking concussed git.
Rock/Hogan – again, it did very well but not any better than what I was expecting. These two men have made millions and millions of dollars from being experts at riding the momentum of the little things and deploying them at exactly the right time. Also, by 2002, The Rock, though far from a ring general by any stretch of the imagination, certainly knew enough to elevate an inferior opponent during their match. The real shock here was just how popular Mr Real American was in Toronto, Canada. Perhaps if the show had been booked in, say, Calgary then we could have avoided his diabolical and mercifully short-lived final title reign. You see? Fucking Canadians, f*cking everything up.
Cena/HHH – much the same as the Rock/Hogan match, really. In between all the political power plays and the obvious jokes, it’s easy to forget just how good a worker Triple H can be when he’s not too fat and his leprosy isn’t acting up. Furthermore, Cena does have a decent grasp of the intangibles. Not up to Hogan levels yet, but still. And in saying that, the guy has yet to have an underwhelming PPV main event so far this year – yes, even the ones involving Gary. Throw in the crazy heat for the match and, bingo, it’s a winner. To me, the real start of Cena’s journey as a main event player remains his match with JBL at Judgement Day ’05, as listed previously.
“About Hogan jobbing cleanly… what about Wrestlemania 18 where he jobbed in the middle of the ring to The Rock?”
Well, yes, the thing to remember about that is that I completely forgot it. In truth, none of us ought to remember it, not when we had that truly magnificent Chris Jericho vs Triple H main event to worship instead.
Screw it, let’s just indulge in some classic Stephanie-baiting by Jericho and The Rock:
Heyman on commentary… Jericho with long hair… Stephanie with a thin figure… Booker without a crown… the crowd being emphatically behind the top babyface on the roster… so many things have changed and yet Rhino looks exactly the same. C’mon man, is a new pair of trousers too much to ask for?
“With all the recent controversy surrounding the WWE at the moment, due to the wellness violations, I have a question that I’ve been trying to get answered for the past few weeks…
Does Hornswoggle have to take the Wellness tests??”
– Scott Sumner
I didn’t get your e-mail until just after the last installment, honest. To the rest of you waiting on an answer, I can assure you they are all on file and will all make it into the column.
And yes, Hornwoggle has to take the tests too. The Wellness Policy stated that “WWE Talent may be tested on a random and/or reasonable suspicion basis…” and that “all WWE Talent will undergo an extensive cardiovascular stress test.” They’ve updated the policy in recent times but the basic premise remains the same – all on-air performers get tested. This will include midgets too. Remember, it’s not only bodybuilding chemicals they’re looking for, it’s any drugs being taken without legitimate prescriptions, even marijuana. Just because the guy is small doesn’t mean he won’t party himself into stupidity. Just look at Verne Troyer getting beside himself in a Montreal club:
And yet of all the celebrities they could bring in, he’s not one of them. I blame Bret. Wanker.
If you have a question you’d like to pester us with, send it here. Another update is already on the way!
Tags: TNA, WCW, WWE