The SmarK DVD Rant for The History of the Intercontinental Championship

The SmarK DVD Rant for The History of the Intercontinental Championship

This is a pretty straightforward “talk and then show” format DVD, which suits the subject matter well.  Since all the matches are for the Intercontinental title, I’m gonna refrain from typing that before each match, thus saving a tree.  You’re welcome. 

Hosted by Todd Grisham and a bad-looking replica of the classic IC title.

Disc One: The 80s

Pat Patterson v. Ted Dibiase

Dammit, I was hoping for footage of that tournament Patterson won, where he unified the North American and South American titles. Since Dibiase was the North American champion and dropped it to Pat, this is close enough, I guess. Patterson actually stalls for THREE MINUTES after the bell rings, causing the ref to ring it again in frustration. Dibiase attacks and stomps Patterson down, and that’s Pat’s cue to leave the ring again. Back in, Ted starts working on the arm and drops knees on it before going to an armbar. He adds a slam for two and drops a knee for two. Patterson whips him into the corner, but misses a charge and further hurts his arm. Abdominal stretch, but Pat makes the ropes. Patterson pounds away in the corner, but Dibiase fires back with a dropkick. A second one misses and Patterson pins him in the corner at 10:39 to retain. Pretty dull stuff. **

Ken Patera v. Pedro Morales

From MSG, October 20 1980. Patera notes beforehand that the “fat Puerto Rican” will never get the title, thus earning him the love and respect of the crowd. Pedro is all fired up and slugs Patera down to start, then chokes him out on the apron. Patera finally goes low to escape and then chucks him over the top rope. Well, Pedro is no Danny Bonnaduce, but it was a pretty good bump. Pedro hangs out on the floor for a bit to draw sympathy, and Patera drags him in and runs his shoulder into the post. Patera goes to a LOOOOOONG facelock on the mat, but Pedro gets all fired up again and slugs Patera down. Patera comes back with a suplex (which could be the “death knell” according to Vince) which gets two, then goes to a bearhug. Morales punches out of that and falls on top for two. Patera retains the hold, however, and continues squeezing away as they lay on the mat. Pedro fights out again and they slug it out in the corner until the referee gets beat up in the process, and that’s a DQ at 15:55. Dull match with a lame ending. Does footage of the title change not exist? Because I’m pretty sure this was on the original Coliseum video as well. **

Pedro Morales v. Magnificent Muraco

From MSG, December 28 1982. We’re skipping over some stuff as Pedro has already beaten Patera to win the title, then lost and regained it from Muraco. They start slow with a headlock in the corner, but Muraco cheats to take over and necksnaps him under the ropes. Nice neckbreaker gets two. Muraco goes to the facelock on the mat and then turns that into a suplex for two. And again Pedro goes over the top, as Muraco adds a slam on the floor before Pedro fights his way back in. Muraco dropkicks him out again. Pedro is, I’m sure, a great guy and well deserving of his legend status, but there’s not much to him as a worker, as his whole shtick is getting the crap kicked out of him and then making the fired up comeback. It’s interesting that the more 24/7 I watch, the more I appreciate the work of someone like Don Muraco, who had such great charisma and presence out there. And indeed Pedro gets all fired up and hammers away on Muraco, then runs him into the post from the apron. Muraco tries to go up to escape the beating, but Pedro brings him down and adds a backdrop. Pedro fires away in the corner and the ref gets beat up AGAIN, as they basically repeat the same stupid finish as the last match, at 14:19. This is supposed to be a history of the title, SHOW ME THE TITLE CHANGE. Good brawl, but seriously, we’re three matches in and not one title change yet. Decent brawl, regardless. **1/2

Cage match: Magnificent Muraco v. Jimmy Snuka

They slug it out to start, won by Snuka, and Muraco backs off. Snuka pounds him with chops and Muraco bumps right over to the door, but Snuka cuts him off and sends him into the turnbuckles before chopping him down again. Muraco knees him in the midsection (although color man Pat Patterson thinks it was low, and certainly he’s the expert) to take over, and catapults him into the cage. Snuka does an impressive bladejob, but blocks a charge with a foot to the face, and tries to climb. Muraco cuts him off and they fight on the top rope, as Muraco boosts him onto the top of the cage, and gets crotched on the top rope for his troubles. Muraco quickly comes back and slams him off the top, and then gives him a much more blatant low-blow out of the corner. Snuka whips him into the corner to come back and introduces him to the cage, which draws blood. Snuka goes up and drops a fist from the middle rope, and chops him down again. Headbutt and a flying one sends Muraco crashing out of the cage at 6:40 to retain. **1/4 Snuka then of course brings him back in and delivers the flying splash from the top of the cage. Really, this one is more famous for the post-match and for giving the world Mick Foley than for anything that happened between the bells.

Lumberjack match: Greg Valentine v. Tito Santana

From March 17 1985. This is also featured on the “Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80s” DVD. Valentine attacks to start, but Tito sends the fists a’flyin and Hammer retreats to the floor. The heels are none too quick to help him back in, but luckily Ricky Steamboat is there to set things right. Back in, Tito catches a boot and hits him with an atomic drop into a kneelift, and Greg runs away again, where JYD sends him right back in. Tito hammers away in the corner, but Valentine takes him down with his own atomic drop, but Tito just keeps on firing away. Tito rings the ears (which Mean Gene calls all AWA old school as a “skullcracker”), and knees him down with some surprisingly vicious stuff, into an elbow off the second rope for two. Valentine makes a run for it, right into the face side, and they carry him back in the hard way. Tito slugs away again, but gets too fired up and runs into a knee for two. Valentine takes over in his usual methodical style, dropping the Hammer for two. He starts working on the leg and tries rolling him into a half-crab, but Tito slugs out of it. And now it’s Titos’ turn to get tossed to the floor and back in by the heels. Back in, Valentine hits him with a forearm off the middle rope and sets up for the figure-four, but Tito reverses for two. Valentine levels him with a forearm to win a slugfest, then drops an elbow for two. Greg slugs away in the corner, but takes a step back and that allows Tito to drop down to his back and monkey-lift him into the turnbuckle to come back. They slug it out and Valentine goes down, but Tito won’t let him run away. Suplex gets two and he drops a knee on Valentine’s head and tries his own figure-four, but Hammer flips out of it and then runs away. The faces chase him back in, and he runs right into a forearm from Tito, and THAT sets up the figure-four for real. Sadly, Jimmy Hart distract the ref, allowing John Studd to drag Valentine to the ropes, and Tito gets all distracted. Valentine attacks him and they slug it out, but Tito collapses and Valentine falls on top for the pin to retain at 15:07. Not the upper echelon for them or anything, but it’s always a good combination. ***1/4 Five matches, no title change.

Tito Santana v. Randy Savage

From Boston, February 8 1986. Big star reaction for the Macho Man here. They fight over the lockup to start and Savage hides in the ropes and bails. Back in, Macho grabs a headlock and Tito reverses out of it. Savage hits him with a cheapshot and then runs away again when Tito gets fired up, so Tito chases him to the floor and they brawl. Savage wins that and brings him in for the double axehandle, but Tito catches him coming down and slugs away. He goes for the flying forearm, but Savage rolls out to escape, and catches Tito on the way back in. Tito gets an atomic drop for two. Savage goes to the eyes again and apologizes to the ref, then pounds Tito down with a running axehandle for two. Clothesline gets two. To the top for a double axehandle from WAY across the ring, and that gets two. Tito slugs back, but Savage goes to the eyes and again begs for forgiveness from the ref. Then he turns around and dumps Tito, following with the double axehandle to the floor. Tito fights back on the apron and beats on Savage in the ring, then adds an elbow off the middle rope for two. Tito makes the blind run at Savage in the corner and runs into a knee, and Savage gets two off that. Danny Davis gets bumped off that, but recovers as Tito gets a small package for two. Savage uses another cheapshot, but misses a kneedrop and he’s limping. Tito is all over it and it’s the figure-four as the crowd goes crazy. Savage quickly makes the ropes and goes to the apron, but Tito suplexes him back in. Another figure-four, but Savage kicks him off and goes to the apron again. He finds the historic object in his tights, nails Santana to block a suplex, and wins the title at 10:28, drawing a HUGE face pop. These guys had crazy chemistry together. ***1/2

As great as the Savage-Steamboat match at Wrestlemania III was, I kind of wish they would have shown the Superstars match that set it up instead, because this one has kind of been done to death.

Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. Ricky Steamboat

No shock here as “Sirius” is edited out of Steamboat’s entrance, since it’s a commercial piece from the Alan Parsons Project and thus would cost a TON of money. You know the story here by now, but if you don’t, Savage was defending against Steamboat on TV and decided to crush his throat with the ringbell,and Steamboat was “injured” for a few months and returned PISSED. They decided to have the greatest match ever and spent three months planning out every spot to the smallest detail. Steamer uses his speed and armdrags Savage, then chokes him out and Savage bails. Back in, Savage suckers him in and chokes him out on the ropes, dropping an elbow for two. Blind charge misses and Steamboat goes to work with a wristlock and works the arm. Ricky Steamboat pops up on a video clip as well, listed as being “Ricky Steamboat,” so I guess they must have settled with Bonnie. Also of note: He says “buyrate” for the first time I can remember on a WWE release. Savage backdrops him out of the ring to take over while George Steele pops up and comments in a totally normal voice, which is just totally weird to hear. Steamboat goes to the apron and Savage stomps the crap out of him, then snapmares him in over the top. Elbow to the head gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Steamboat comes back with a chop and Savage gets tied up in the ropes, but escapes, only to walk into a bodypress from Steamboat that gets two. He shoulderblocks Savage down for a pair of two-counts, but Savage lays into him with a high knee to the back and tosses him. Steamboat skins the cat back in, however, so Savage (right on the same level with Steamboat in a nice touch) clotheslines him right back out again. Savage knees him in the back again while he’s regrouping, sending him crashing into the front row, and the Animal rescues him and brings him back in. And Savage tosses him right back out again, and follows with the double axehandle. Back in, another axehandle and he elbows him down for two. Necksnap gets two. Atomic drop gets two. Suplex gets two. They slug it out as Steamboat starts with the chops, but Savage pulls out at gut wrench suplex for two. Backdrop suplex is reversed by Steamboat and he keeps chopping, but puts his head down. Savage charges and Steamboat dumps him, showing that he’s also thinking a few steps ahead, and the flying chop from the top gets two. Running chop gets two. Chops to the head and Savage bails to the apron, so Steamboat hammers him to the floor and chases him. Savage tries to sucker him in again, but Steamboat sunset flips in for two to counter. Rollup gets two. Jackknife pin gets two. Small package gets two. Catapult into the post gets two. Rollup gets two, and Savage reverses for two. It’s so great to see guys just trying to PIN each other and trying a whole variation of moves to do so. Steamboat charges again and hits the post, and the ref gets bumped when Savage sends him into the corner again. Clothesline sets up the big elbow, but there’s no ref. Savage grabs the ringbell in a nod to continuity, but Steele steals it from him in another nod to continuity, then shoves him off the top rope. Savage is dazed and tries to slam Steamboat, but he reverses for the historic pin and the title at 14:34. ***** Many have dubbed this the greatest match in history, and although you can pick nits and offer alternatives, I wouldn’t argue terribly much against any strong case made for it being so. It was pretty much the perfect match in every facet, from the storyline buildup to the execution (with nothing even resembling a missed or blown spot) to the crowd reaction to the historic nature and long-term influence it had on the sport in general. Every fan should see this match at least once in their lives.

Ricky Steamboat v. Honky Tonk Man

From June 2, 1987, on WWF Superstars. So Ricky asks for a couple of weeks off and gets fired, so he had to drop the title to someone. And why not comedy wrestler Honky Tonk Man, who was as good a choice as anyone? There are of course various urban legends associated with this one, which I’ve been as guilty of spreading as anyone else, with various wrestlers claiming they were the ones who Vince chose to be the champion before they no-showed. They actually find an even worse piece of music to dub onto Steamboat’s entrance here, if that’s possible. Honky attacks to start and tosses Steamboat, but of course that trick never works and Steamboat pulls him out with a headscissors. Back with a backdrop suplex and Steamboat chops him, then follows with a Hennig necksnap. Honky tries to slug away, but Steamboat slides underneath and rolls him up for two. Honky kicks out and sends him into the corner to take over, then necksnaps him on the top rope. Steamboat fights back, but puts his head down and Honky sets up for Shake Rattle N Roll. Steamboat backdrops out to escape and comes back with chops and the flying chop, but Jimmy Hart distracts the ref. Steamboat goes after him and then cradles Honky, but Honky grabs the ropes and gets the pin at 3:53 in a weird finish. I’ve always wondered if that was a flub. Decent little TV match. **

Honky Tonk Man v. Ultimate Warrior

From Summerslam ’88, of course, as Warrior bursts through the glass ceiling and into history. Honky’s “gimme someone to fight!” would prove to be the dumbest thing said by pretty much anyone ever, as Warrior storms out and destroys him in 30 seconds to win the title. The most perfect and fitting end to Honky’s endless title reign possible.

Ravishing Rick Rude v. Ultimate Warrior.

From Summerslam ’89. So of course Rude screwed Warrior out of the belt at Wrestlemania V, in what was Warrior’s first good match, well, ever, so they had a lot to live up to here. Warrior was already starting to feud with Andre and Rude was programmed with Roddy Piper, so it was obvious that this feud was over one way or another after tonight. This matchup was kind of like the Batista-Undertaker of its time, as they just had freakish chemistry against each other for whatever reason. Rude tries slugging away to start, and gets nowhere. Warrior clotheslines him to the floor, but Rude comes back in with a sunset flip, which Warrior blocks by punching him. Gorilla press follows, and Warrior opts to dump Rude on the floor for a nice bump. They brawl outside and Warrior hits him with the belt, triggering a classic rant by Jesse Ventura about whether it’s legal to shoot someone outside the ring and how Tony is even stupider than Gorilla Monsoon. But tell us what how you really feel, Jesse. Warrior brings him in, then changes his mind and tosses him again. Back in, Warrior goes up with a double axehandle for two. He whips Rude into opposite turnbuckles and slams him for two. Suplex gets two. Warrior gets an inverted atomic drop, giving Rude a chance to do his tailbone sell, and Warrior drops him on his ass for good measure. Back to the top for LUCHA WARRIOR~!, but Rude brings him down the hard way to take over. Rude starts working on the back and a suplex gets two, then he goes to the rear chinlock. He stomps the back and goes for the Rude Awakening, but Warrior powers out of it, so Rude goes with a rare sleeper instead. Criss-cross and the ref is bumped, but Heenan manages to shake Rude out of it first. Warrior hulks up and powerslams Rude after the three clotheslines, and of course there’s no ref. Piledriver, and that gets two. Running powerslam sets up the big splash, but Rude gets the knees up to block. Rude gets his own piledriver, almost a powerbomb, for two. To the top for the fistdrop, and that gets two, but now Roddy Piper joins us. Another piledriver gets two and Rude gets all distracted by Piper, who moons him in response. And that was six years before Braveheart! Warrior suplexes the distracted Rude, and it’s shoulderblock, gorilla press, big splash and we have a new champion at 16:03. The reaction for this was GIGANTIC and anyone who wouldn’t have taken a shot with Warrior as World champion after seeing this is nuts. Even more than Warrior! And this one of the few times, I might add, where Rude got what was coming to him and did a clean job. Definitely one of the best matches of Warrior’s career. ***1/2

Disc Two: The 90s

Grisham now has Warrior’s banana yellow title belt from Wrestlemania VI.

OK, let’s be honest here, I’ve seen (and reviewed) Hart v. Perfect (****1/4), Hart v. Bulldog (*****) and Michaels v. Ramon (*****) enough times for one lifetime, and they’ve been done to death on DVD, so we’re gonna blow past those and get to the stuff I haven’t done a million times.

Razor Ramon v. Jeff Jarrett

From Royal Rumble ’95. So midcarder Jeff Jarrett gets the Roadie and suddenly a few people are booing him, so it’s time to put a major title on him. It’s kind of amazing how both major promotions sunk tons of time and money into JJ hoping to get ANYTHING out of him. Hell, even Jeff didn’t really know how to book himself in TNA without alienating the fans. Razor slugs him down to start, then catches him with the blockbuster slam and a chokeslam. Jarrett bails for some advice from the Roadie (“Have your dad buy a promotion so you can be World champion whenever you want”) and he heads back in for some strutting. Razor tries to work the arm, but Jarrett takes him down and MESSES UP THE HAIR. Don’t mess with the mullet, chico. Razor is so upset that he clotheslines Jarrett to the floor. Back in, Ramon gives him the hair abuse right back. Jarrett misses an enzuigiri, but Ramon misses an elbow, and we hit the chinlock. Ramon escapes with a backslide, and Jarrett puts him down with a clothesline for two. Jarrett tries a sunset flip, blocked for two, and reversed for two again by Jarrett. Dropkick gets two. Neckbreaker gets two with the help of the ropes. Razor comes back and posts him, then follows with the bulldog off the middle rope (which Jarrett botches by turning around), and that gets two. Razor charges and gets sent to the floor as a result, and a clip from the Roadie has him selling the knee like a seasoned graduate of Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling. And he’s counted out at 11:45. However, Jarrett berates his manhood until he limps back in, and THE MATCH MUST CONTINUE. Razor gets a sloppy rollup for two, and reverses a slam into a small package for two, but Jarrett kicks the leg again and follows with a kneecrusher. Jarrett goes to work on the leg and gets the figure-four, but Ramon fights out and slugs Jarrett down. Weird spot with the backdrop superplex getting reversed by Jarrett, but Ramon rolls through for two. He tries to finish with the Edge, but the knee injury reappears and gives way, allowing Jarrett to cradle for the pin and title at 20:50. Meh, I liked Jarrett better as a worker after the haircut. Decent and the crowd was kind of into it at times, but they messed up a lot of big spots and there was too many dead spots. **1/2

– And then we skip a WHOLE lot of stuff via the power of the montage, and head to the end of 1997 for a match that has quietly become one of the most influential in wrestling history…

Steve Austin v. Rocky Maivia

Grisham notes that this was the runaway winner of the online poll to determine the matchlist for this DVD. Interesting how times change, since this show didn’t draw a dime back in 1997. From the D-Generation X PPV in December 1997, as both guys were on the cusp of exploding into superstars. Austin was limited by injuries since coming back from surgery on his neck, so they needed some shortcuts. Rock has the belt after stealing it from Austin, but Austin is still the champion here. The Nation all attacks Austin (who drives down in a pickup truck, setting the stage for his glory years) and beats him down in the corner, but Austin backdrops D-Lo onto the windshield and gives him the Stunner on the roof! The match starts proper with Rock slugging away, but Austin comes back with the Thesz Press, which Rock counters for two. Austin counters that for two, so Rock tosses him. The Nation continues their assault, but Kama hits Faarooq with a chair by mistake and Austin heads back in. Rock attacks again and elbows him down, then goes low behind the ref’s back. People’s Elbow, unnamed and with no crowd reaction, gets two, and Rock hits the chinlock. Austin fights up, so Rock knees him in the gut and tries another Elbow. That one misses and Austin stomps a mudhole in the corner, but goes after Kama and thus accidentally stunners the ref. Rocky takes the opportunity to load up with BRASS KNUX~!, but it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER and another ref counts the pin at 6:30. This was real, real interesting, because they were doing all the goofy brawling spots that would turn the company around just a few months later, but it was too early for fans to “get it” and you had a match that closely resembled a 1999 RAW TV main event as a result, but without the crowd reaction you’d expect. Too short and too sloppy to be “good”, but it’s absolutely a must-see piece of business from a historic standpoint. **

The Rock v. HHH

This is 2/3 falls, from the horrid Fully Loaded 98 PPV. Weird that they’d go with this one instead of the far superior ladder match from Summerslam, but I guess that one was just on the ladder match DVD. This was originally booked as title v. title with IC v. European title, but then they changed their minds for some reason and put the Euro title on D-Lo Brown a couple of weeks before this. Trashtalk to start and Rock slugs HHH down, so they throw down and Rock wins with a clothesline. He runs HHH into the turnbuckle and stops to crotch-chop at Chyna, which allows HHH the chance to fire back with an elbow out of the corner. He sets up for the Pedigree, but Rock backdrops out and HHH tosses him. Slam on the floor and they head back to ringside, where HHH meets the steps. Back in, Rock with a clothesline out of the corner for two and he chokes away in the corner, but HHH fires back with a neckbreaker. Suplex and kneedrop get two. Hunter throws chops in the corner, but Rock simply tosses him to stop that, and it’s back to the floor. Rock with a suplex and a slam out there, and Mark Henry lumbers down and adds a splash. Billy Gunn chases him away, but Rock still gets a shot with the belt and gets two. Neckbreaker gets two. And we go to the chinlock. Hunter fights out and we go to the floor again, before heading back in for Rock’s Hurricane DDT for two. And back to the chinlock. Hunter fights up again and Rock clotheslines him down again, but Hunter USES THE KNEE. Rock fires right back with a stun gun and both guys are down. And we get more run-ins, as Godfather and D-Lo head out, but get chased off the Outlaws, allowing Rock to hit HHH with the belt and finish with Rock Bottom at 20:24.

Second fall sees them brawling on the floor again after the rest period, and back in for the People’s Elbow (which is now drawing a star reaction). Both guys are out, so Chyna beats up poor D-Lo some more, and now X-Pac comes in with an X-Factor on Rock that gets two. A chair gets involved and the ref gets wiped out, allowing Chyna to DDT Rock on the chair. That evens it up at 26:37. Third fall begins with HHH getting another pinfall attempt, for two, but there’s only 2:00 left in the time limit. Who books a 2/3 fall match with a 30 minute time limit? HHH with a facecrusher into a clothesline for two, but Rock hits the samoan drop for two. Rock fires away in the corner and they slug it out until it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE…and the time expires at 30:00. Finish was botched as Hebner didn’t even try to count, despite the bell ringing more than 3 seconds after the pin attempt. Long, dull, and slow, although the last 10 minutes were closer to the Rock v. HHH we know and love. The “two minutes left” out of nowhere really killed any drama in the third fall, though. **1/2

– And we skip over the Russo logjam of meaningless champions and head to October 1999…

Good Housekeeping match: Jeff Jarrett v. Chyna

Sadly they don’t relay the WHOLE story behind this match, with Jarrett’s contract expiring before the show and his demands of the PPV payoff before he dropped the title and left (a totally reasonable demand) which led to him getting blackballed from the WWF as a result. Brawl on the floor to start and back in for a clothesline from Chyna, and she follows with an atomic drop and a suplex. A garbage can puts Jarrett on the floor again and she beats him with a salami and a frying pan. Now here’s dedication from the legal team: There’s a catering cart on the floor with “WWF” spraypainted on it, and they even blur THAT out. Jeff gets a banana and some cream to the face as I wonder if they were trying to say something here. Chyna tries an elbowdrop through a table, but misses by a mile and Jarrett gets two. I hate spots like that, because the way she was flying she wouldn’t have hit him even if he hadn’t moved. Jarrett hits her with a piece of fish, and they head back in just in time for Jarrett to whip Chyna out of the ring again. Then another ridiculous spot in a series of them, as Jarrett and Miss Kitty stop to make a pot full of cake mix, only to see Jarrett getting a handful of flour back in his face. FLOUR. Oh no, his gravy will be too thick now! Chyna goes after Kitty and dumps the eggs on her, but that allows Jarrett to get the figure-four. Chyna makes the ropes and uses a pair of salad tongs on his cherry tomatoes, and then he hit another level of slapstick as she hits him with pies. And then of course the kitchen sink (which should have been the finish according to the rules of comedy) for two. Pedigree onto the cake is reversed and the ref is bumped, allowing Jeff to hit her with the belt. That finishes at 8:26, but the ref changes his mind because the belt isn’t an approved weapon. This is just fucking awful. So Chyna then hits him with the guitar (also not approved) but that gets the pin at 9:26, giving Chyna the belt and setting a new low point for the title. Just bad on so many levels. In fact, let’s list them: The selling from Jarrett was cartoonish and awful (but can you blame him?), the weapons were so stupid as to destroy any suspension of disbelief possible, Chyna was barely willing to sell anything, and the finish contradicted the already-retarded internal logic of the match! -**

Disc 3: The 2000s

Chris Jericho v. Kurt Angle

The Angle era truly dawns at No Way Out 2000, as Angle was already European champion. The vignettes that surrounded this match were far better than anything they could have produced in the ring, sadly. Angle was good but not superstar-good yet, although he improved at an amazing pace after this. Jericho was being kinda-sorta managed by Chyna at this point in a half-hearted attempt to give him the rub from her “stardom”. Jericho gets a clothesline and chops away to start, but Angle takes him down with a drop toehold. Angle charges, but Jericho sends him out with a nice bump and follows with the springboard dropkick. They brawl on the floor, with Jericho hitting a moonsault press off the apron, but Angle catches him with a superplex on the way in. That gets two. Kurt slugs away in the corner and follows with a suplex for two, but Jericho comes back with an underhook backbreaker for two. Angle fires back with a release german suplex for two and then goes to a chinlock, which would be unheard of for him later on. They’re really struggling to find the groove out there. Angle with an armbar takedown for two and he slugs away in the corner, but Jericho catches him with the leg lariat and follows with the bulldog. Flying forearm gets two. Angle tries a rana, but Jericho blocks him with the double powerbomb, for two. Angle holds his arm, however, and turns it into a cross-armbreaker, forcing Jericho to make the ropes. Angle Slam out of the corner gets two. Angle gets frustrated and grabs the IC title, but Jericho takes him down into the Walls of Jericho. Angle makes the ropes and now grabs the Euro title, but Chyna butts in and gets sent into the stairs as a result. Well too damn bad for her. Jericho suplexes Angle back in and Lionsaults him, but Angle holds up the IC title to block and pins him at 10:10. Watching now it seems like an inevitable finish, but at the time I would have bet good money on a DQ finish to protect Jericho. This one got cut off just as they were meshing. **3/4

Eddie Guerrero v. Chris Jericho v. X-Pac

From an episode of Smackdown in October 2000. Eddie was champion by this point, and hell if I know why this was even on the ballot, let alone got voted in. The sound is all kinds of screwed up here, as Cole & Lawler are nearly muted out on commentary. On second thought, never mind. Jericho clears the ring with dropkicks to start, but Eddie and X-Pac stomp him down in the corner. Broncobuster from X-Pac, but Jericho comes back with an attempt at the Walls on Eddie, which is broken up by X-Pac. The heels again team up with a clothesline, but Eddie turns on X-Pac, allowing Jericho to recover and slug the heels down. Flying forearm for X-Pac and a bulldog for Eddie follows, which sets up the Lionsault, but X-Pac saves with the X-Factor and Eddie pins Jericho at 3:47. And this was here why? **

HHH v. Jeff Hardy

This is from Smackdown, April 2001, when HHH was slumming with the IC title as part of the team with Austin. HHH beats him like a red-headed stepchild to start (literally, as Hardy is sporting bright red hair here) and tosses him. Back in, Hardy gets a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and blocks a Pedigree attempt with a low dropkick, for two. Jeff slugs away in the corner until HHH shoves him away, but Hardy gets the Whisper in the Wind for two. HHH dumps him as Jeff is bumping like a character in a ragdoll physics game, but he fights back with the rail run and whips HHH into the railing. He comes off the apron with a bodypress, but HHH catches him with a powerslam. Back in, HHH hammers away in the corner and sends Jeff in for the MAIN EVENT SLEEPER. Jeff escapes and goes up, but HHH sends the ref into the ropes to bring Jeff down, then takes out the ref as well. Matt chooses this point to run in and hit HHH with a chair, and the swanton gives Jeff his first major title at 8:07. Fear not, HHH fans, he would regain the belt by squashing the ever-loving fuck out of Jeff at the very next RAW. This was also mostly a HHH squash with a fluke finish. **

Ladder match: Rob Van Dam v. Jeff Hardy

From RAW in July 2002, as RVD is the IC champion and Jeff is the Euro champion, and the winner is the unified champion to thankfully kill off the Euro belt once and for all. This was part of RVD’s mega-push in 2002 to build him up as a foil for HHH before they changed their mind and then had HHH just beat him and move on with his life. Hardy is dressed like the Joker here for some reason, missing only the white facepaint. They do the acrobatic stuff to start and Hardy gets sent out, and Rob follows with a dive and brings the ladder in. Hardy quickly pulls him off, and then dropkicks the ladder out of his hands in a neat spot. So they both grab ladders and have a duel (although Dwight would totally cut their hands off with his sword) which results in Hardy going down first and Rob following with Rolling Thunder onto a ladder. Rob climbs for the belt, but Jeff brings him down with a suplex and then goes up with the swanton, also with a ladder involved. Both head up the ladder next and Rob snaps him down with a powerbomb, narrowly avoiding breaking Jeff’s neck on the ladder ala Million Dollar Baby. RVD climbs again and Jeff follows on his own ladder, but a spinkick puts Jeff down and the frog splash from the ladder follows. And indeed, that’s enough to claim the belt at 6:53. This was more of a highlight reel of spots than an actual match, but it was fine for what it was. **1/2

And then we blow through a million title changes as well as the death and resurrection of the title itself (not even mentioned in passing here) and come to the Legend Killer…

Randy Orton v. Edge

RATED RKO EXPLODES! From Vengeance 2004. Orton looks positively bloated here compared to his post-steroid skinny state these days. Although I’ve always felt this match was pretty overrated in general, it was huge in the bigger picture, as it was the match where some fans cheered for the cool heel (Orton) and they decided to run with him as their #1 babyface as a result, inadvertently giving them an even bigger babyface in Batista out of the backlash that followed. Meanwhile Edge was supposed to be the guy to go through Evolution on behalf of the fans, but then they changed their mind with HIM as well and turned him heel at the same time Orton was turning face. They fight for the lockup and Edge puts him down, but Orton fires back with some clubbing forearms and goes to a headlock. They actually do an old-school criss-cross off that (although it needs a good ref like Mark Curtis to coordinate his dodging at the right time) and Edge takes Orton down with his own headlock. Orton escapes and regroups on the floor, then catches Edge with a cheapshot coming in and follows with a suplex. Orton chokes away on the ropes and then goes to a top wristlock, but Edge slugs out of it. A series of clotheslines follow, with another one putting Orton on the floor, and Edge follows with a baseball slide. Back in, Edge gets a missile dropkick for two and sets up for the spear, but Orton punts him to block it and hits a neckbreaker for two. He stomps Edge down and goes to a neck vice and the fans actually cheer Orton on, which I guess is why they turned both guys. Legdrop gets two for Orton. He grinds a knee into Edge’s throat and then hits the sweet standing dropkick, for two. Orton goes to the headlock again and then drops a leg for two, then cinches in the CHINLOCK OF DOOM again. Fans start up the “boring” chant as a result, until Edge fights out and gets a rollup for two. Orton puts him down again with a clothesline and goes up, but Edge catches him with a dropkick and both guys are dazed. Edge fights for a standing neckbreaker and we get the double count. Edge recovers first with a suplex and gets two. Orton whiffs on another dropkick attempt and Edge follows with a catapult into the corner, and the Edge-O-Matic gets two. Edge goes up and Orton blocks him, but Edge manages to get a high cross, which Orton rolls through for two. Randy goes to the eyes and undoes a turnbuckle, distracting the ref long enough for Edge’s small package to only get two. Orton rolls him up for two. Again with the dropkick from Orton, which gets two. Edge comes back with the Impaler for two and slugs away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the exposed steel and puts his feet on the ropes…for two. EVERYONE thought that was the finish. The viper sets up for the RKO, but Edge shoves him off for the spear, which Orton dodges like a viper, but Edge blocks the RKO with a backslide for two. Orton gets whipped into the steel, and the spear finishes at 26:33 to give him the title. Great finish, but the body of the match is just so BORING, I don’t see where all the love for this was coming from at the time. I stand by my original *** rating.

Steel cage: Ric Flair v. HHH

This was just on the Flair DVD! Enough with this one already. Flair gets the first chop and dares HHH to bring it on, and they slug it out in the corner. Flair actually wins that one pretty handily before HHH uses the knee and takes him down. Choking in the corner, but Flair is all about the chops, so HHH hits him with a spinebuster. Flair is already bleeding, so HHH introduces him to the cold, hard, unforgiving, yada yada, and makes it official. Very few people go into the cage face-first with the gusto that Flair has over the years. And of course we get the cheese grater action on Flair, because it just wouldn’t be Flair in a cage match without it. Nice, simple move from HHH, too, as he splashes Flair into the cage while he’s recovering. Flair’s bladejob is just gory. HHH adds a little insult to injury, dropping a Flair-like knee on him before sending him back into the cage again. HHH casually climbs up and over, but Flair stops him and they slug it out on the top rope. No surprise what happens next, as Flair takes his patented crotch-first bump, but so does HHH. However, HHH finds a piece of chain left untied at top, only to jump onto Flair’s boot. See, that’s one time where the spot at least makes some sense — HHH was specifically trying a fistdrop off the top rather than some indeterminate move. Flair goes for the figure-four to capitalize, but HHH still has the chain on his fist, and he makes use of it to block. Good timing there.

HHH keeps slugging away and Flair keeps bleeding, setting up a Flair Flop and another kneedrop from HHH. Just for fun, HHH puts him in a figure-four, and Flair yelling “I’ll kill you!” while he fights it is tremendous stuff. Not quite Kurt Angle yelling “Tap or I’ll break your fucking ankle!” at the Rock in 2001, but up there nonetheless. Flair reverses it, but HHH makes the ropes. HHH makes another attempt at the figure-four, really rubbing it into the fans’ faces, but Flair shoves him into the cage and it’s double juice. Flair biting the cut like a maniac is great, and he pounds away on the cut, finally back in his element as a cheating bastard. HHH gets treated to payback for all the cage spots, and Flair even fish-hooks him, which is even illegal in the UFC! Now that’s cheating! Flair gets a vertical suplex and his own kneedrops, as this is all setup and payoff, and Flair chops him to set up the chop block. Flair goes to work on the leg, literally smelling blood (I should write this stuff for these announcers…) and pounds the crap out of the leg. Figure-four follows, with a good visual of a bloody HHH screaming in pain. It doesn’t take much to entertain me sometimes. HHH finally nails the ref to break the move, but Flair goes right back to the leg again. Flair climbs, but suckers HHH into an axehandle off the top for two. Low blow follows. I always consider adding an extra star for every time HHH gets nailed in the junk. It just doesn’t get old. Flair tries to walk out, but gets pulled in by HHH, bringing a chair in with him. HHH takes a swing with it, but Flair goes back to the babymaker again, thus adding another star. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed to a backdrop and Flair keeps it simple, clobbering him with the chair. THREE TIMES. It’s like my dream HHH match. And that’s enough to walk out at 23:45. ***3/4 This was some tremendous old-school stuff, with HHH doing all sorts of nasty stuff to Flair and then having it all done back to him again, and Flair the old dog using every cheap trick in the book to hold off the challenger. The ending was a bit weak, with a pinfall or submission really being needed here, but any match that has HHH getting abused to this degree earns my respect.

Winner takes all: Shelton Benjamin v. Rob Van Dam

This is for Shelton’s IC title and Rob’s Money in the Bank. From Backlash 2006, a show I’ve never actually seen. They fight over a wristlock to start and then trade armdrags before Shelton hides in the ropes to slow it down. Rob puts him on the floor with a spinkick and Shelton stalls, then comes back with a knee to the head and slugs away. Rob comes back with a dropkick and sets up for Rolling Thunder, but Shelton rolls out to escape, so Rob hits a pescado instead. He tries to follow up by tossing Shelton back in the ring, but Benjamin recovers with a sunset flip bomb onto the floor instead. Nice. Back in, we hit the chinlock. He chokes RVD out on the ropes and adds a kneelift on the apron, which gets two. And we’re back to the chinlock again. He adds a pair of slams and goes back to the chinlock again. Rob fights out and tries Rolling Thunder again, but rolls right into a samoan drop and Shelton gets two. That’s a good spot. They head to the top and Shelton wins that battle, getting a superplex for two. Shelton goes to a bodyscissors and RVD fights up, then dodges a dropkick attempt and delivers a nasty kick to the face. The replay makes it look even better. Rob makes the comeback with clotheslines and a superkick, and a springboard dropkick sets up a spinkick and FINALLY Rolling Thunder. That gets two. Split-legged moonsault gets two. Monkey flip leaves Shelton on his feet, but Rob hits the spinkick and goes up for the frog splash…which misses. Shelton follows with the DDT and gets two. RVD bails and Shelton makes a half-hearted charge at him and hits the railing as a result, then recovers and grabs Rob’s briefcase. That suckers Rob into following, and Shelton superkicks him on the floor and sends him back in. Shelton to the top with a flying bodypress, but RVD rolls through for two. Rob ducks the spinkick and hits a rana, but Shelton gets the case again. Rob kicks it back in his face and finishes with the frog splash at 18:37 to add the Intercontinental title to his mega-push. I actually had no idea who was winning here, and I enjoyed that feeling a lot. I guess Shelton must have gotten it back because Rob didn’t have it at One Night Stand. ***1/2

Shelton Benjamin v. Carlito v. Johnny Nitro

From Vengeance 2006, as indeed Shelton has the belt back. Shelton shoves Carlito into Nitro and rolls Carlito up for two to start, but Carlito rolls him up right back and gets two. They trade pinning combos while Nitro confers with Melina on the floor. Nitro’s another one who looks HUGE compared to his current state (John Morrison, in case you’re a really new reader). Nitro dodges a charging Benjamin and slugs away in the corner, but Carlito dumps Shelton and then catapults Nitro out as well. He tries to follow with a pescado, but Nitro trips him up on the apron and sends him into the post. Nitro pounds on Benjamin, but now Carlito gets his highspot with a springboard plancha. Back in, Carlito gets two off that. Nitro takes him down with a Russian legsweep for two, but Carlito snaps off a hell of a rana, landing on his feet without missing a beat, but walks into a faceplant from Shelton. That gets two. Shelton hits Carlito with a samoan drop for two and then drops Nitro in the corner with a powerbomb into Snake Eyes for two, but Carlito dives in with a victory roll for two. How come Carlito can’t be motivated like this all the time? Wicked awesome spot sees Nitro monkey-flipping Benjamin into a Carlito dropkick, and that gets two. Carlito and Nitro fight up top, but Shelton brings Nitro down on his crotch and then pops up to finish the job on Carlito, but Nitro recovers and hits them both with a stacked superplex. Awesome. That gets two on Carlito. Nitro goes after Shelton, but Carlito makes his comeback and cradles Shelton for two. Nitro breaks things up, but charges and gets put on the floor, allowing Shelton to hit Carlito with a high kick for two. Carlito recovers with the backstabber, but Nitro pulls him out and pins Benjamin to win the title at 12:04. This was a bit of a bizarre decision at the time, but obviously Nitro is the guy with the long-term star potential given what he’s become today. Not a great match as such, but there was enough tremendous spots to carry it off. ***1/4

Umaga v. Jeff Hardy

From Great American Bash 2007, as we jump ahead a whole year. Umaga slugs him down to start and they head to the floor, as it occurs to me that seeing the arena so brightly lit like this is a strange sight these days. Back in, Umaga with the samoan drop and a legdrop, and he puts Jeff down again with a back elbow. Umaga whips him into the corner and goes to a nerve hold, while yelling a lot. That goes on for a while. Jeff fights up, but Umaga falls on top for two and then adds a buttdrop on the ropes. Another one draws a warning from the ref, but a third one lands on Jeff’s knee. Jeff goes up to capitalize, but lands in the spinning uranage and Umaga gets two. Umaga goes up with a flying headbutt, but it misses and both guys are out. Jeff makes the comeback with a mule kick and DDT, then dodges a charging Umaga to put him on the floor. Hardy follows with a pescado, and they head back in. Umaga tries another buttdrop and misses, and Hardy gets a seated dropkick for two. Umaga slugs back and puts Hardy in the corner, but misses the butt splash and Jeff gets Whisper in the Wind for two. Umaga charges again and hits the ringpost this time, and now the swanton gets two. Twist of Fate is blocked by Umaga, and he superkicks Jeff into the butt splash, then finishes with the Asiatic spike at 11:21. They sucked me in there and had me thinking Jeff might win, I’ll give them that. Basic Sting-Vader formula, that always works, here. ***1/4

And finally, we move to 2008 to finish…

Jeff Hardy v. Chris Jericho

From RAW, March 2008. As a technical note, this is full-screen despite being from the HD era. I still don’t get the point of this one, as they were flailing around with Jericho at this point trying to find something to do with him. They trade slaps to start and brawl to the floor right away, then back in for Hardy’s legdrop. That gets two. Jericho clotheslines him to the floor and we take a break, and return with Jericho holding some sort of nerve hold. He charges and puts himself on the floor as a result, and Jeff follows with a baseball slide, but runs the rails and lands on the table as a result. Jericho slingshots back in for two, and then goes to a backbreaker submission hold. Hardy rakes the eyes to break, so Jericho chokes him out on the ropes, then walks into a clothesline. Jeff follows with the Whisper for two, but Jericho catches him with a northern lights suplex for two. They turn that into a pinfall reversal sequence and Hardy gets two from a backslide, but misses the mule kick in the corner. Jericho comes off the top with a crossbody and Hardy rolls through for two, but Jericho gets the Lionsault for two. They fight for a suplex and Jericho takes him down with the Walls, but Hardy reverses to a small package for two. Twist of Fate and Hardy goes up, but the swanton misses and the Codebreaker hits to give Jericho his eighth title at 8:08. Good chemistry here, actually. ***1/2

Gotta say, for a nine hour DVD, there wasn’t much “History” in the “History of the Intercontinental Championship” here. Entire year’s worth of title changes were skipped over (unlike the “History of the WWE Championship” DVD, which at least had the fabulous timeline video), many of the matches included were head-scratchers, and despite their almost-draconian policy about no repeats, there’s several matches here that are readily available on other, better DVD sets. Is it worth your $20? Sure, if you need Savage v. Steamboat, Michaels v. Ramon and Hart v. Bulldog on one set and haven’t seen them 50 million times each like I have, maybe. The main appeal to me was seeing newer matches that I missed the first time, or classic era stuff from the Muraco-Santana reigns, and it doesn’t really deliver here on those. Yeah, there’s some decent stuff wrapped around the classic 90s matches, but I was hoping for something a bit meatier and all I got was what felt like a random collection of IC title matches, many of which weren’t even title changes. I will say this: The DVD case for these “History” collections is among the best I’ve ever seen from them. Too bad the content can’t match up to it.

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