DVD Review: The Greatest Stars of the 90s

Hello, I’m Charlie Reneke, the new kid on the block here at Pulse.  Those of you that have read Scott Keith’s work will be familiar with me as the guy who does the documentary portions of his DVD reviews these days.  Well after getting some good feedback (along with “oh you didn’t go there” comments when I crack a Chris Benoit joke) I figured I would throw my hat into the ring and try for a gig at the bestest, coolest, most awesome wrestling website in the world.

But, after getting rejected by the Observer, I was hired here instead.

Before we start, I wanted to mention the format to this set is unlike the DVDs featuring the Greatest Superstars of the 80s.  Instead of having the biographies spread over the course of the three discs, the first disc contains one giant feature-length documentary that covers everything.  It runs two hours and fifteen minutes.  This is one of those sets that came at us with little warning, kind of like the last Ric Flair set that didn’t exactly set the world on fire.  Let’s see how things go here.

Your host is Tazz, making this DVD outdated before it was even released.

-Up first, it’s Shawn Michaels.  We ignore the Rockers phase and start off with him tossing Marty Janetty through a window.  We get chopped up clips from his own DVD Feature, Heartbreak & Triumph.  Mr. Perfect comes up with “The Heartbreak Kid” on commentary.  Brief clips of him taking the IC title from Davey Boy Smith.  That quickly leads to clips of the Wrestlemania X ladder match.  Chris Jericho reminds us that a moonsault was a big move back then, so seeing guys fly off a ladder was unlike anything else.  From a personal stand point, I think the Summerslam ’95 rematch is the one that aged more gracefully.  Funny enough, that was the match where they were forced to tone down the violence, which actually led to them being more creative.  This leads to the Iron Man match, which Shawn calls the highlight of his career.  Vince McMahon says he held the company together during a rough time.  Mick Foley agrees, saying Shawn was an excellent champion.  Jim Cornette and Pat Patterson call him the best performer of the 90s.  Jim Ross talks about how he was the best guy to introduce stuff like the ladder match and Hell in a Cell to the masses.  Next up, DX.  We get clips of them being obnoxious.  Shawn actually was quite obnoxious at this stage of his life, so I guess that makes him a method actor.

We see the spot that put him on the shelf, clipping the casket ever so slightly on the lower back.  It didn’t look so bad, and even Shawn didn’t think it was that bad.  Then he woke up two days ladder and couldn’t move.  He herniated three discs.  He actually gutted it out and had a match with Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 14 that really speaks volumes on how much Shawn Michaels NEEDED to put on good matches.  Despite being crippled, more or less, he took superman bumps and managed to even do a nip up.  Various people put over how he made it through it.  CM Punk calls him the best star of the 90s.  Chris Jericho takes it a step further and calls him the best wrestler ever.  Jim Ross and Vince McMahon agree with that.  I agree with that.

-We go from the smallest champion of the decade to the largest.  Or if you want to be mean, like me, the best champion to the crappiest.  Yokozuna is up and we start out by talking about growing up in the Samoan wrestling family.  Boy, did he grow.  Jim Ross says he’s the best super heavyweight ever.  As opposed to… who?  Haystack Calhoun?  Heck, I think Mabel was a better worker during his Big Daddy V phase.  Jim Ross follows this up by putting over Yoko’s legdrop, the only move he did that didn’t look like shit.  We get clips of his Royal Rumble win, which featured an ending so embarrassing that my cable feed of the pay per view cut out as soon as it happened in 1993.  Randy Savage dropped the flying elbow on Yoko, then… covered him… for the pin… in the Royal Rumble.  For real.  At which point, Yoko did a power kick out so devastating it sent Randy Savage onto his feet and somehow made them take a life of their own, jumping over the top rope and to the floor.  At least that’s what it looked like.  Onto the Wrestlemania 9, where Yokozuna wins the championship, more or less fair and square from Bret Hart, only to lose the belt less then three minutes later to Hulk Hogan in a move people still bitch about today.  Allegedly Yoko and Hulk was supposed to go five minutes or so, but the WWE thought the clock was running out on their satellite feed and they wanted to make sure Hogan had an ample amount of posing time, so they went 10 seconds instead, with Hogan winning after Mr. Fuji threw salt in Yoko’s eyes.  This served to make Bret look like a chump, Hogan look like a pussy, and Yoko look like an idiot.  Bravo, WWE.  A triple bank shot!  Three total burials in one match.  Back to Wrestlemania 9, where Gerald Brisco puts over how well Yoko moved.  He wins the WWE Title back from Hogan at the first King of the Ring pay per view, then goes on to ‘dominate’ the WWE.  If by dominate they mean look like a pussy in every subsequent pay per view that followed.  Let’s count.  At Summerslam ’93, he lost to Lex Luger via count out.  At the Survivor Series in 1993, he was counted out while brawling with the Undertaker.  At the 1994 Royal Rumble, he beat the Undertaker in a casket match only after ten guys came down to help him.  He beat Lex Luger by DQ after crooked referee Mr. Perfect screwed Lex over, then jobbed the title to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 10 after knocking himself out.  Oh yeah, total domination.

We move to Yoko’s morbid obesity.  It was hardly noticable.  Jim Ross talks about how he couldn’t get licensed in some states because he was too big.  Ross sent him to Duke University’s weight loss center.  It was an impatient program, but they weren’t guarded and he wasn’t in there for a felony, so he could come and go at night and presumably go to fast food places.  The WWE gave up on treating him and just brought him back to be Owen Hart’s tag partner.  Although he was fatter then ever, as a tag wrestler the WWE could avoid using Yoko in states like Maryland, Ohio, and Washington that don’t allow obese diabetics to wrestle.  They win the tag belts at Wrestlemania 11.  Jerry Lawler calls him ‘great in the ring, but only in short spurts.’  Yoko gained too much weight and the WWE had to let him go.  I remember in 1997, every week Dave Scherer of 1wrestling.com insisted Yoko would be back any time and join the Hart Foundation.  But he never returned and sadly he died on October 23, 2000.  May he not fall from heaven and crush us all.  I’m not trying to poop on this or come across like an ass, but I just never got Yokozuna.  He was the only WWE Champion in my lifetime that bored me to tears.  If he could have just shed a little weight, I think he would have been something special.  But let’s face it: any Yokozuna match that went ten minutes featured at least five minutes worth of nerve pinches.  Discounting guys like Stan Stasiak, who held the title for a week in the 70s, I would call Yokozuna the worst worker to hold the WWE Championship, easily.

-From one Samoan to another.  Yokozuna’s cousin, the Rock.  Actually if I read their family tree correctly they’re not biologically cousins, but it’s the thought that counts.  Rock talks about how he knew his football career was over, but his father didn’t want him to become a wrestler.  Rock strong-arms him into training him, and then he cons Pat Patterson into coming down to have a look at him.  He has his first match with Steve Lombardi, making his ‘at least one appearance per a DVD’ requirement.  Lombardi says that he did everything well.  Rocky makes his debut at the 1996 Survivor Series as Rocky Maivia.  Rock hated the name, and hated the character in general.  Not as much as the fans did.  They completely turned on him after having them shoved down their throats.  CM Punk notes that society had changed and they just wouldn’t put up with the baby-kissing glad hander heroes.  Funny enough, Punk currently plays the same character, more or less.  The fans break out the “Rocky Sucks” chant at Wrestlemania 13, causing Vince McMahon to turn to Pat Patterson and say “Where did we go wrong?”  Rocky gets injured and comes back to join the Nation of Domination.  Jim Ross comes up with just changing his name to “The Rock.”  It didn’t work at all and he faded into obscurity.  Actually, he did pretty well for himself.  Mr. Kennedy puts over his hilarious promo from Over the Edge 1998, which is still hilarious.  Rocky makes fun of how people in Milwaukee drink beer and eat bratwurst, only to concede that it’s a better option then dating their fuggly women.  Sadly, we don’t get Jerry Lawyer’s hilarious line to go with the promo.   After the Rock finishes destroying the crowd and the ugly women of Wisconsin, the camera shows a… how do you say it… mature woman in the crowd, and Lawler quips “Oooh, there’s one!” causing Jim Ross to legitimately get pissed off.  Back to the feature, where William Regal says Rock’s delivery is so good he could have gotten heat by reading the phone book.  CM Punk says when he was able to act so over the top, the fans went back to him.  Rocky wins his first world title at the 1998 Survivor Series.  This segs to his feud with Steve Austin.  Jeff Hardy calls him phenom on the microphone.  At Wrestlemania 15, they match up.  Jeff Hardy says he misses that era.  Not as much as Vince McMahon does, I’m sure.  Rocky says he was lucky to accomplish everything he did in the WWE, and he kind of misses all those crazy things he did in the WWE.  But I’m sure those $10 million a film deals ease his pain on that front.  Jerry Lawler calls him the biggest star of the 90s.  That’s it for his segment.

-Onto the Women of the 90s, as they grow from being valets and side-show wrestling acts to skimpy-dressed sex symbols… and uh, side-show acts.  Clips of all the Divas from that era.  Even Alundra Blayze and Chyna.  Well hell, if Randy Savage is allowed on DVD, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be.  I guess Chris Benoit is all alone in DVD-ban land.  We get clips of Chyna’s somewhat remarkable run of 1999 as she earns a spot in the Royal Rumble, is briefly the #1 contender to the WWE Championship (in reality an excuse to get Mick Foley into the Summerslam ’99 main event so Austin wouldn’t have to job to Triple H), and her IC Title win over Jeff Jarrett in a match that no doubt had some people rolling in their graves.  And that’s it for the chicks.  Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of women’s wrestling and especially of Rena “Sable” Mero, but to deny that she was one of the biggest stars of the 90s… at least 1998… is outrageous.  She was, in my opinion, the only female wrestler ever who could lay claim to being a legitimate main-stream draw in professional wrestling, even if her run at the top lasted only a few months.  She likely deserved her own segment.

-Onto Kevin Nash.  We start with clips of him as Oz.  William Regal talks about how none of the gimmicks they stuck him with worked, but it was a learning process for him.  Jim Ross says WCW miscast him.  Shawn Michaels actually liked the Vinnie Vegas gimmick and arranged for Nash to scam his way out of his WCW contract and end up in the WWE as Michaels’ bodyguard.  CM Punk notes that Shawn Michaels was cool, and anyone associated with him was cool by association.  Jim Ross notes that Shane McMahon came up with the name Diesel.  Never was a big fan of the name.  I was talking to the Honky Tonk Man one time when he started ranting about how single-name wrestlers never get as over as guys with full names, and used Nash as an example.  Although he was popular in WWE, the name “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel wasn’t very catchy to casual fans and thus he never became a house-hold name.  Where as in WCW he was “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash and part of the hottest angle going, and many casual fans or non-fans knew of him.  He went on to point out that even guys who were not super big stars, like Jake “The Snake” Roberts or Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat were house-hold names while guys who were the focus of the company like “Yokozuna”, “Kane”, or “Batista” are not.  Interesting logic, can’t really argue with the point.  The only exception I can think of is the Undertaker.

Back to the show, where we skip the moment where he truly became a star, the 1994 Royal Rumble where he tossed out seven guys in a row.  We skip basically everything leading to his house-show WWE Championship win, where he pinned Bob Backlund in six seconds.  Jim Ross credits Diesel’s rise to Shawn Michaels, who got his mind into the wrestling game.  We get brief shots of the Madison Square Garden Curtain Call, which leads to the nWo.  We get shots of him power bombing Eric Bischoff through a table and tossing Rey Mysterio into a trailer like a lawn dart.  Everyone puts over how cool the nWo angle was.  CM Punk says that the WWE was too cartoonish and fans got sick of it and sought out the cool wrestling that was on Nitro.  Well, that was the most refreshingly candid anti-WWE statement I’ve seen on one of these WWE DVDs.  Expect Punk to lose his money in the bank title shot and start jobbing to Funaki on Superstars if Vince McMahon ever pops this disc in.  We seg from the nWo to the Wolfpac crap that never made any sense to me.  I mean, why would Sting or Lex Luger be in the Wolfpac when they were supposed to be company loyalists?  Or why would Bret Hart be the official recruiter for nWo Hollywood if he wasn’t a member?  Anyway, Nash kills Goldberg’s winning streak, along with the entire promotion, at Starrcade 1998.  Jim Ross puts over how huge it was for Nash to beat Goldberg, while Mean Gene Okerlund notes how big a star Nash was to have the WWE and WCW put their full force behind him.  You know, I’m actually not as big a hater as most smart marks of Kevin Nash, but seriously, he booked himself to win the championship.  You can’t really credit him for doing anything to earn the title.  Speaking of Goldberg, he is NOT one of the stars on this disc.  Whether you’re a fan or not, to deny his status as one of the top stars of the decade of the 90s is preposterous.  The man was the only reason WCW had a fighting chance by the summer of 1998.  Beth Phoenix and Jim Ross put over how popular he was.  Jim Ross says he’s towards the top of the list of top 90s stars.

-Up next, Owen Hart.  I’ll try to avoid tasteless jokes, but no promises.  Tazz calls him the smallest man on this list despite the fact that he was bigger then Shawn Michaels.  We get clips of his tag team with Jim Neidhart, wearing the fuggliest tights in the history of the business.  He turns on Bret Hart at the 1994 Royal Rumble, then pins him cleanly at Wrestlemania X.  Jim Ross says the expectations were high for that match, and that Owen proved he was something speical.  Best opening match to a pay per view ever, hands down.  They turn that into the best cage match the WWE ever did at the 1994 Summerslam.  Bret points out that cage matches are usually bloody affairs, but instead they put on a technical exhibition and the cage just happened to be a prop for that.  He wins the 1994 King of Ring and becomes, in my opinion, the king of obnoxious celebrations.  He wins two Slammy Awards (one that he wasn’t even nominated for, Best Bow Tie if I’m not mistaken).  He cuts hilarious promos at both ceremonies.  He wins the IC title and the Tag titles.  CM Punk says he was vastly underrated.  We get clips of Owen teaming with Davey Boy Smith and Jeff Jarrett, with people calling him a tag team specialist.  Bret reforms the Hart Foundation, but they glance over that period (and his feud with Steve Austin) faster then you can say “quick release mechanism.”  NO BAD CHARLIE!  My apologies.  Owen joins the Nation of Domination, trying to out-do his crappy New Foundation tights by dressing like a road sign.  He came up short.  Quite frankly, the New Foundation tights deserve their own Wrestlecrap induction.  Of course, Owen died during a stunt at Over the Edge 1999.  Everyone talks about how underrated he was, with Triple H saying he never reached his full potential.  In my opinion, there’s a difference between never reaching full potential and being used to his full potential.  One day they’ll admit the difference.  Bret says he thinks Owen Hart was satisfied with his wrestling career.  Jim Ross talks about how Owen was always playing jokes on people.  We get a clip of one he played on Vader, live at the Slammy Awards, where he dumped a drink on Vader, causing him to give chase but trip and fall, Shockmaster style.  Funny stuff.  I heard about the after effects and they were equally as funny.  To avoid getting his ass kicked the next night at Wrestlemania, Owen offered to pick up Vader’s tab on his rental car later that week.  When he did, they met up on the way to a show to stop and eat.  At some point, Owen excused himself to syphon out all the gas in Vader’s tank, then leave stranded at a diner.  I’m guessing there was never a dull moment when he was around.  Jerry Lawler says he’s not just one of the best wrestlers of the 90s, but rather one of the best wrestlers ever.

-Ric Flair’s turn, as he joins Hulk Hogan as the only wrestlers to be profiled in both the 80s and 90s sets.  Naturally, they start off with clips of him from the 80s.  Come on WWE DVD guys, is it really that hard to keep up continuity?  Flair talks about how he made his deal with the WWE on a handshake and a promise he’ll make at least as much as he would in WCW.  They actually focus on his non-feud with Hulk Hogan and his run as the “Real World Champion”.  This disc has the Hogan/Flair match from Madison Square Garden.  Triple H talks about how the feud was so hot that when they matched up at house shows, it was standing room only.  Actually, according to WWE canon, their expected Wrestlemania 8 match was killed because they didn’t sell out Madison Square Garden.  Onto Flair winning the WWE Championship in the 1992 Royal Rumble.  The DVD botches the date and lists him winning the 1993 Royal Rumble instead.  Ugh.  Flair says he wants to be clear, he felt like he was on his game when he came back to WCW.  He beats Vader at Starrcade in 1993 for yet another world championship in his home down.  Loved the match expect the ending was total crap, making Vader look like a pussy.  Jim Ross says you can’t pick out Flair’s best match from the 90s.  Of course, he already did that, naming his match with Ricky Steamboat from Wrestlewar as the best match ever.  They actually show clips of his shitty feud with Roddy Piper from 1999.  Jim Ross says comparing Flair of the 90s to the Flair of the 80s is like comparing Brett Farve of the Jets to the Brett Farve of the Packers.  Was he as good?  Of course not, but he was still the best in the game.  OK, that comparison was downright embarrassing.  He could have thought of a better one.  Maybe Fat Elvis vs. Young Elvis or something.  John Cena puts over Flair’s staying ability, along with every other top level star they could dig up.

-Mick Foley is next.  He debuts in WCW early in the 90s as Cactus Jack.  We get clips of all the insane bumps he would take on a regular basis.  People who knew him only from his WWE run never really got a taste of how high-impact a wrestler he was in his early career.  His potential goes unnoticed in WCW and thus we skip his entire second run there and cut straight to ECW.  Joey Styles points out that Mick was so good at psychology that he figured out the best way to get heat was to do the exact opposite of his normal style, intentionally having boring matches with long headlocks.  Then we cut quickly to his WWE run where we get his debut as Mankind.  Gerald Brisco calls it the darkest character the WWE had done to that point.  It was truly unnerving stuff.  Foley says that whether he likes it or not, his name is forever tied to Hell in a Cell.  Joey Styles says he thinks Mick knew that he would immortalize himself in that match, but didn’t consider the toll it would take on his body.  According to Foley himself (in his books, not on this disc), he thought the match would stink, and only started on top of the cage and allowed himself to be thrown off of it because Terry Funk suggested it.  They talk about his different gimmicks, but the underdog Mankind was the one that brought him the most success.  He pulls off what he was told would never happen, winning the WWE Championship.  Joey Styles says he got over because he looks like everyone else and is out-matched physically but can overcome the odds and find a way to win.  John Cena says despite all his big bumps, he’s most famous for the guy who pulled a sock out of his pants.  Socko clips follow, complete with Vince McMahon’s finest moment, where he says in disgust “Mr. Socko” and inadvertently unleashed a phenom.  Onto the Rock & Sock Connection, with the go-nowhere “This Is Your Life” segment with the Rock that was NOT funny, had NO ending, and led to NOTHING! And to this day it’s still the highest rated quarter-hour segment in the history of Raw.  Ugh.  Foley finishes his full-time career with Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match, officially making Triple H the man.  Trips calls it a huge honor.  Jim Ross says that Foley was named after Mickey Mantle, Jim Ross’ personal hero, and that the two were exactly alike.  I wasn’t aware Foley was an alcoholic wife-beater.  You learn something new everyday.  Actually, he meant that they were both team players, worked hurt, loved the fans, and was a genuine, good human being.  I know that Jim Ross is a big Mantle fan, but the words ‘genuine, good human being’ and ‘Mickey Mantle’ are only appropriate to say together if used in the following sentence: “I would have to be a fucking nut job to say that Mickey Mantle was a genuine, good human being.”

-Up next: Shitty gimmicks.  The Goon, Mantar, Oz, Yeti (which was actually a Mummy), Shockmaster, and more.  Baston Booger gets about 20 seconds, and we see him doing his gimmick, basically an uncouth slob.  T.L. Hopper: Evil Plumber gets twenty and we get clips of him using his plunger on some jobber’s face.  Man Mountain Rock, The Berzker, the Oddities, and REPO MAN~! get some clips.  So does Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, one of the only ‘occupational gimmicks’ the WWE did at the time that I actually thought worked.  Max Moon, also known as Konnan, gets just enough time to have his outfit made fun of.  Upon quitting the WWE, Konnan threw such an epic temper-tantrum that he was blacked-listed from the company.  WCW gets some love to with Glacier.  He was actually part of a hair-brained idea to rip off Mortal Kombat, using Glacier as Sub-Zero, Chris Kanyon’s Mortis character as Scorpion, Ernest Miller as Johnny Cage, Yugi Nagata as Liu Kang, and Wraith as Shao Kahn I guess.  They would fight in some kind of tournament to claim a mystical cup that would grant them the ability to never be beaten or some such nonsense.  It was called “Blood Runs Cold” and was going to include Goldberg (pre-overness) at a later point but it bombed worse then a North Korean missile test and was shelved.  Shockmaster is seen falling through a wall.  The Oddities gets some some more love, despite the fact that as bad as it was it got all parties involved fairly over.  And that’s it.  The Legends of Wrestling series on WWE 24/7 (now WWE Classics) did an episode devoted to crappy gimmicks and all you sadists out there who hate my guts can cross your fingers that the WWE does a second run of LoW DVDs and includes it among them, forcing me to review it.

-Hulk Hogan’s 90s run is featured next.  We actually do start with his 90s run, unlike we did with Flair.  Hogan jobs the title in 1990 to the Ultimate Warrior in what was supposed to be the wind-down of his run on top.  Warrior bombed as champion (not entirely his fault, in my opinion, as the WWE didn’t book him with opponents that catered to his strengths), so they brought him back again and again.  Hogan said he still had eye-of-the-tiger, but was not the king of the fight and he admits that fans were getting sick of him.  Hogan says he faded away from the WWE before the fans got totally sick of him.  I would say WRONG to that but what’s the point?  Nobody does revisionist history better then Hulk.  So Hogan leaves the WWE and starts doing a show called Thunder in Paradise.  I’m about to lose whatever pathetic credibility I have left with the internet wrestling community because that show honestly wasn’t that bad.  It was poorly acted and had ridiculous plots, but damnit, it was a decent and at times pretty entertaining action show.  I also think Suburban Commando was a good flick.  Easily the best film he did.  Anyway, Thunder in Paradise is located close to the set WCW used to film it’s TV show, so Eric Bischoff, with an assist from Ric Flair, lands Hulk Hogan.  They get a slight bump in the ratings but draw a MASSIVE buy rate for Bash at the Beach 1994.  That was the last entertaining pay per view they did for a few years, as 1994 and most of 1995 was filled with Hogan’s past-their-prime cronies from the 80s, something they don’t admit here (hopefully to be covered in the upcoming Rise and Fall of WCW set), and the fans turn on Hogan.  The truth is, the fans turned on Hogan right out of the gate.  The only reason the fans didn’t tar and feather him at Bash at the Beach is because they held it in Orlando, comfortably outside of WCW’s normal stomping grounds.  But the fans never got behind Hogan, and Jimmy Hart notes you have to give the fans what they want.  So they turn Hogan heel, and he totally reinvents himself as a character.  Sadly, he still was washed up as a wrestler, but it didn’t really matter.  He was over like Evil Jesus.  Fans pelted him with garbage at every show.  Hell, they pelted him with garbage even when he was about to lose matches.  The addition of Hogan leads to WCW winning the rating war for over two years.  Jimmy Hart says it became too cliquish, because everything became about the nWo.  Couldn’t agree more.  The mistake was watering it down as bad as they did, adding too many no-named losers.  To the best of my knowledge, the only wrestler who outright told the bookers he didn’t want to join the nWo was Chris Jericho, who in his book talked about how he would instantly get lost in the mix and would never get any alone-time in the ring to cut promos, where as he was a featured attraction when he was by himself.  Every person but Hogan, Hall, and Nash (maybe Scott Steiner to a lesser degree) just clustered up and never had any individuality about them.  Back to Hogan, Jimmy Hart says that it’s proof that you have to reinvent yourself.  We get the end-of-segment blow jobs, with Jimmy Hart claiming Hulk doesn’t know how big he was.  Hilarious hyperbole there.  Hogan knew he held all the cards and when he didn’t those in charge assumed he did.

-Triple H’s segment is up, even though he’s more a 2000s star.  Actually, the only point he was truly over in the 90s in his desired role as a heel was around November of 1999 when he married Stephanie McMahon during Test’s wedding and finally managed to catch people’s imaginations.  As a worker, he didn’t really get top-level good until 2000, when Mick Foley gave him two straight five-star matches on pay per view and good wrestling stuck with him, more or less, from that point forward.  But I’ll play along and pretend he was something big in the 90s.  We get one of his pre-debut vignettes as the blue-blooded aristocrat.  He wins the IC title on Raw, then wins the King of the Ring, then forms Degeneration X.  That’s about as fast as they glance over his early career.  Trips says that DX got white hot, with the ridiculous stuff they did.  Then Shawn retires and Triple H needs to carry it on.  Everyone wanted Trips to drop DX, but he talked them into bringing in Sean Waltman instead and merging with the New Age Outlaws.  What do you know, they get over as babyfaces.  He had fun with it, but couldn’t get to a main event level, so he broke it off, pissing off the other three members of the group in real life, but he had a goal and he stuck to it.  Mick Foley gives him credit for stepping out of his comfort zone, noting that a lot of guys don’t do that.  Hey, Triple H has fucked Chyna.  I don’t think comfort was ever a big deal to him.  Everyone talks about how he lives and breathes wrestling.  Steve Austin says he studies tapes and took the best parts of those who came before him.  Jim Ross says he took parts from Harley Race, Ric Flair, Jack Brisco, Ray Stevens, and Pat Patterson, among other people.  I’m the guessing the parts he took from Pat Patterson explains how he could sleep with Chyna without throwing up bloody vomit.  Everyone puts over what a professional he is.  Edge says his stuff with the Rock worked because they were polar opposites in style and delivery.  Foley takes credit for getting him over as a tough guy, because his original snobbish gimmick didn’t lend itself well to that.  His hardcore match with Cactus Jack on Raw featured him giving as well as he took.  Don’t necessarily agree with that assessment.  The first time I, along with most fans, bought Triple H as the dangerous bad ass was his match with Mick Foley at the Royal Rumble in 2000.  His run from March of 1999 until the Rumble I looked at as a miscasting.  I honestly didn’t think he could play the part.  Glad he proved me wrong.  We get clips of his first WWE Championship win on Raw the night after Summerslam 1999.  Not mentioned here The backstory on it was Steve Austin didn’t want to put over Triple H, not out of spite but because he wanted to save any one-on-one match with him until Wrestlemania.  Austin also felt he owed Mick for all the jobs Foley did for him, so he put him over clean, the first person to beat Austin in such a manner since May of 1997.  Shortly afterwards, Austin figured out that his neck wasn’t going to allow him to make it to Wrestlemania and so he took a match with Trips at No Mercy in 1999 so he could have one final, potentially high main-event payday.  Back to the feature, Trips notes that it was their way of saying “we trust you to be the man” and it was a big honor, but concedes that he had a long way to go towards being good.  Not mentioned is he jobbed the title to Vince McMahon a couple weeks later.

-Bret Hart is featured next.  We start with him beating Mr. Perfect at Summerslam, then his match with Davey Boy Smith at Summerslam the next year that some people call the best match ever.  I feel it’s a tad overrated.  Still a great match, but I wouldn’t actually go five-stars on it.  You have to tip your hat to Bret though for getting a great match out of a guy who hit the wall less then a minute into the action.  The amount of talent Bret had was unreal and there’s no better proof then that.  Then, with little warning Bret wins the WWE Championship in a taped-for-video match against Ric Flair.  Flair to this day talks about how the match sucked due to an inner-ear problem he had that had his balance out of whack.  It doesn’t show at all.  Onto the King of the Ring, where Bret had three completely different matches with three different guys.  Jim Ross brings up how Bret’s international popularity rivaled any champion they ever had, even Hogan.  This segs into the iron man match again.  Bret says he’ll never take anything away Shawn Michaels, but he was most proud of how hard he worked to keep up with the little bastard.  I can’t believe the hype this match gets.  I hated it then, I still hate it now.  Shave off the first forty minutes and it’s actually pretty good, but taken as a whole, it’s a sleeping pill.  Onto his feud with Steve Austin, which turned Bret heel because the fans grew sick of Bret’s goody-two shoes persona.  Vince McMahon says that any wrestler who had a match with Bret came out better because of it.  Clips of the submission match from Wrestlemania 13, and his heel turn.  Jim Ross talks about the uniqueness of Bret being a heel in the United States but a babyface pretty much everywhere else.  Bret loved the reactions he got in Canada at that time.  Onto the Survivor Series in 1997 where nothing of significance happened.  Bret put over Shawn cleanly and left in a classy fashion befitting of a true hero.  Okay, so he got screwed and threw a temper tantrum on the way out.  He arrives in WCW and they somehow manage to fuck up what should have been a no-brainer run on top.

In his book, Eric Bischoff blames their inability to give Bret one single decent storyline on Bret, saying, quote, “Eric Bischoff, Vince McMahon, Steven Spielberg, an independent film maker nobody has ever heard of – we can only do so much when creating a role for someone.  It’s really up to the performer.  He or she brings life to the role.  I’m not suggesting that we had the best ideas for Bret Hart.  But regardless of our shortcomings, Bret came to WCW with baggage because of Montreal.”

Bull.  Shit.  Look, I am FAR from being a fan of Bret Hart’s real life persona.  Quite frankly, I think he’s a total twatwaffle. Regardless of that, he’s on my list as one of the top five wrestlers I’ve ever witnessed.  After Montreal, he was a hot property.  The WWE was able to take advantage of Montreal and turn Vince McMahon into the biggest heel of the decade.  Logically this means WCW could have turned Bret Hart into the biggest babyface of the decade, at least in WCW.  Was Bret down in the dumps mentally because of Montreal?  Sure.  Whether or not you find it absurd for someone to get that worked up over losing a fake wrestling match, to say Bret was incapable of being motivated is total horse shit.  They gave him NOTHING to get motivated over.  Right off the bat they made him look like a moron by having him restart the Hogan/Sting abortion from Starrcade after Sting lost cleanly to Hogan on a botched finish.  Then they put him in go-nowhere matches with Curt Hennig and Ric Flair, guys who were at the bottom of the card from a storyline perspective.  He should have instantly been put into a position to chase for the title.  Instead, someone decides Bret is damaged goods and gives up on him.  It took almost a full year before they stuck him in a match that didn’t rehash some crusty old feud he had in the WWE, putting him with Sting.  What should have been a dream match was instead a total after-thought against Goldberg vs. DDP and especially the abomination that was Warrior vs. Hogan II.  Can anyone honestly blame Bret Hart for being unmotivated during this period?  He was totally booked into oblivion.

Back to the feature, we get the one good angle WCW did with Bret… or at least started… getting speared by Goldberg on a Nitro being held in Canada.  Only Bret reveals that he had a metal plate under his hockey jersey.  This was the type of simple, straight forward stuff that leads to big cash matches on pay per view.  Naturally, they dropped it immediately by having Bret ‘retire’ on the spot.  It’s not covered on the DVD, but somehow this led to him being booked to wrestle Kevin Nash on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but the day before the scheduled encounter was the day of Over the Edge 1999.  No explanations needed.  When he came back, he got to wrestle Chris Benoit on Nitro, which isn’t covered here obviously, then wins the WCW title against the same guy in the finals of a title tournament.  Sounds good, except if you consider the tournament itself was a joke.  It even featured female wrestler Madusa.  Twice.  And in the finals, Bret and Benoit could NEVER hope to capture the magic they had during the Owen Hart tribute and the match was considered a let down.  The next month, Goldberg superkicked Bret right into strokesville, ending his career.  There’s a happy ending of sorts, as Bret got over his bitterness enough to accept an invite to the WWE Hall of Fame.  I really wish Bret would take a more active role in the WWE, if not on camera then backstage.  Regardless of my dislike for him, the guy is unquestionably one of the most creative minds in the business and he could likely contribute greatly to the wrestlers.  Nobody should feel unwelcome in the WWE lockerroom.  For some reason, it actually breaks my heart that guys like Bruno Sammartino, the Ultimate Warrior, or Bret Hart can’t put aside bad feelings and show up at events to mingle with the new generations.

-We move onto the owners/presidents/rubber check signers.  A segment dedicated to Eric Bischoff, Paul Heyman, and Vince McMahon.  Or as some would call them, “See no evil, Hear no evil, and Evil.”  We get clips of the evil Mr. McMahon persona, only with many of the risque stuff censored.  Welcome to the watered down WWE of 2009, where even the word ‘ass’ is censored.  Then onto Bischoff’s evil persona.  Internet marks tended to rage on Bischoff for making himself a character, but I always thought he made an effect heel and mouth piece and he did get many of the angles over.  Paul Heyman’s turn features him doing a voice over putting over ECW and putting over the loyalty of the wrestlers he was paying with McDonalds coupons.  And that’s it for the segment.

-Lex Luger gets a spot on the list, much to my surprise.  They put over his football background and his physical presence.  Jim Ross says he went further on look then anyone he can think of.  I’m sure some will say Sid Vicious, but I always thought Sid’s wild charisma is what got him over more then his look.  We get clips of Luger winning the WCW Championship after Flair was dumped from the company.  They try to make it out like it was a great moment, when it fact it bombed horribly due to some moron deciding to turn him heel to win the title.  Couple that with the fact that the 1991 edition of the Great American Bash was, at that time, the worst pay per view any major promotion had put on and that should give you an idea how well Luger’s title run was received.  We move on to the… HOLY SHIT~!! The World Bodybuilding Federation shows up on a DVD!  I would have sooner bet they would release the Chris Benoit tribute from Raw then that.  They actually show Vince McMahon, in a WBF shirt, with Luger.  Luger was to be the face of the company, but the WBF turned out to be the worst miscarriage carried out this side of Ctrl+Alt+Del.  I’m sure that joke will go over the heads of many.  Luger never actually had a chance to participate in the WBF anyway due to a motorcycle accident.  By time he was healed, the WBF was dead and buried.  Vince McMahon talked Luger into making a run in the WWE, and he debuted as the Narcissist.  Some feel the gimmick bombed.  I actually think it had legs, maybe the last chance the vanity gimmick had at working in this day and age.  They pretty much used the same gimmick with Chris Masters over a decade later, and it got him no heat.  Jerry Lawler says nobody fit their character as closely as Lex did as a guy in love with himself.  Harsh.  It lasted less then seven months before Lex Luger was turned into a completely generic patriotic character to replace Hulk Hogan.  Scott Keith once said that Vince McMahon did with Hulk Hogan what every jilted ex-lover does: try to recreate the magic with someone else.  Couldn’t put it better myself.  I will give the WWE credit for at least kicking off the feud in perfect fashion.  On July 4th, 1993, n the U.S.S. Intrepid, a wrestling ring was set up and Yokozuna was issuing a challenge: anyone who could body slam him would face him at Summerslam.  After every WWE star failed, Lex Luger arrived via helicopter and pulled it off to a huge ovation.

As a curious side-note, before Lex was chosen for this role, the original person booked to slam Yoko and then take the championship at Summerslam was… you won’t believe this… Brian “Crush” Adams.  He had entered 1993 on a bit of a hot streak and had a unique look, so they figured, why not?  But a combination of sub-standard wrestling ability and the fact that he was mishandled from a booking stand point (even jobbing to Doink at Wrestlemania 9) ended whatever chance he had at getting the main event push.  At least, as Scott Keith would point out, his hair was in EXCELLENT shape.

Lex slams Yoko and thus began what was and still is the biggest hard-sell push in wrestling history.  The WWE bought a bus, christened it the ‘Lex Express’ and had him tour the country to kiss babies and glad hand the fans.  John Morrison puts it over, and even Jerry Lawler says how much work Luger put into it, but the fact is it didn’t work as much as the WWE needed to trust Lex with the title.  So at Summerslam 1993, instead of winning the belt, he beat Yokozuna by count out.  This was a trend for Luger’s wrestling career, always blowing the big title matches.  The decision to not put the title on Lex was made the day of the show.  For some reason, the WWE decided to play a music video of Lex in the same manner you would if he had actually won the title, despite the fact that he had just blown yet another big one.  CM Punk points out that Lex looked like what a wrestler was supposed to look like.  He was big, muscular, had a mullet, smiled, kissed babies… and as a kid, he saw through it and felt that Lex was a total fraud.  “Sorry Lex.”  The rest of his WWE run is skipped and we go onto him double crossing Vince McMahon by agreeing to re-sign with the company who would take another kick at the can with Lex as a main eventer.  Unbeknownst to McMahon, Lex had been negotiating, through his best friend Sting, to return to WCW.  Eric Bischoff was not a big fan of Lex’s attitude or ability and tried to appease Sting by offering Lex a deal while at the same time completely low-balling him.  Lex’s WWE offer was $500,000 a year.  When he left WCW in 1992, he was making $750,000 a year.  Bischoff’s offer: $150,000 for one year.  If Lex behaved himself, he could earn more.  Lex took the offer, and Bischoff used him as a template for the anything goes feel of Nitro.  On it’s first episode, Lex showed up out of nowhere and helped Nitro be instantly competitive with Raw.  Jim Ross says it left a bad taste in some people’s mouth, while William Regal puts it over as a good move.  The rest of his career is ignored and we go to the final words on Lex.  Jerry Lawler says despite being a guy who’s not well liked by his peers, Lex was one of the biggest stars of the era.  Jim Ross says that he was a big muscular guy in an era where everyone was a big musclar guy.  He’ll only be remembered as a guy who never reached his full potential, despite some moments of greatness.  Mean Gene calls him one of the top stars of the 90s.  My personally feeling on Lex is that prior to his motorcycle accident, he was a fairly underrated worker.  He had great matches with great workers and even dragged some good matches out of guys that were not so good.  And despite the venom most in the industry direct towards him these days, nobody can deny that during his run in WCW in the late 80s and early 90s, he was pretty much booked into oblivion and made to look like a guy who could not win when it really counted.  I think he’s underrated.

-Sting is next.  Magnum T.A. calls Sting the first guy in many years he saw in the industry who had natural charisma.  Jim Ross says he got over because he actually put in effort.  Sting wins his first championship at the Great American Bash in 1990, with Flair saying he never had a bad match against Sting.  Flair actually got fired from the booking committee for putting over Sting, as the company’s choice was Lex Luger but Flair made a promise to Sting and refused to break it.  John Cena says that he was thrilled with the title change because Sting was his guy as a kid.  I personally was never a fan of him and feel he’s overrated as a worker, but there’s no denying he was over like Jesus.  William Regal says Sting was magic, plain and simple.  We cut out everything after his title win and go to the Crow look, but I’ll fill in the gaps.  Sting’s entire first run as champion was handled about as poorly as possible, with the ultimate insult being the Black Scorpion angle, a first ballot candidate for worst idea ever.  Look it up on Wrestlecrap.  After that, he kind of drifted around with no direction until feuds with Cactus Jack and Vader lit a fire under him and he suddenly was stealing shows with good matches.  He was set to reclaim his spot as the featured star of the company in 1994 until Eric Bischoff secured Hulk Hogan, at which point Sting was completely cut out of the main event picture and pretty much buried doing midcard, sometimes even undercard matches.  Then the nWo angle hit.  Sting was teaming up team WCW to face the nWo in a War Games match.  Hogan and the nWo teased that Sting would join them, then hired a fake Sting to fool his teammates.  Because they didn’t trust him, he attacked them after he attacked the nWo and retreated to the rafters.  Scott Hall came up with the idea to turn him into “Scary Sting” after seeing the movie the Crow in a hotel room.  He dyed his hair jet black, wore black and white face paint, a black trench coat, and carried around a baseball bat.  Instead of the spunky, energetic Sting fans had grown to love, he became a dark, brooding character who never talked and would pop down from the rafters for random assaults from time to time.  He didn’t have a single match for over a year.  WCW stars begged him to stop it and help them fight the nWo, but they could never count on him.

And then it all goes to hell in one match.  Starrcade 1997.  A day which will live in infamy.  They actually ignore the botched finish, which is fine.  I’m sure they’ll have a field day with it in the upcoming WCW Sucks DVD they’re working on.  But here are all the wacky theories as to why the match was so horribly fucked up.

(1) Why was the match a squash for Hogan?  Well, according to Hogan, Kevin Nash, and even guys not connected to the abomination like Scott Norton, Hogan practically begged Bischoff to let the match be a three minute long squash where Hogan would quickly hit the big boot and the legdrop, only for Sting to no-sell it, Stinger splash him a dozen times and slap on the scorpion deathlock for a quick submission.  Eric Bischoff was against it because he wanted to borrow from the Montreal Screwjob that had helped the WWE start to get a buzz about it.  Some also speculate that Hogan changed his mind on letting Sting have the squash because he showed up out completely out of shape, with a pouch and devoid of a tan.  It’s true that Hogan was pissed at Sting being unkempt, but I doubt it made him change his mind about putting Sting over in a huge fashion.  Besides, I never got the tan thing myself.  He was supposed to be a guy who was brooding in the shadows, not hanging out at the beach.

(2) What was up with the “non-fast fast count” finish?  Some say Nick Patrick made a mistake.  Some say it was the result of a series of three simultaneous brainfarts.  In this scenario, the finish was Hogan hitting a legdrop and covering Sting, only to get a two count.  He would argue at the ref and cover again, and this time referee Nick Patrick would do a quick three count, with Sting kicking out shortly after the three.  After a few seconds of celebrating, Bret Hart would come out and restart the match.  How Bret had the power or authority to do this was never explained, but I’ll roll with it.  What actually happened Sting forgot to kick out of the legdrop, the referee forgot not to count to three, and Bret Hart jumped his cue (not his fault, Terry Taylor sent him out too early) and had already started to enter the arena before Hogan did the legdrop.  This is actually the theory I buy.  The only thing that’s known 100% for sure is Bret jumped the gun and came out too soon.  I believe when Sting and Nick Patrick saw Bret jump his cue it threw their timing off.  Quiet frankly the planned finish sucked no matter which you look at it.  A bad finish beget bad timing.

(3) Because the internet wrestling community loves to make Hogan out to be a cross between Dr. Claw and Hitler, the fringe morons swear to this day that Hogan paid Nick Patrick off to slow count intentionally when he was supposed to do a fast count.  Why on earth would Hogan, a guy with creative control, need to do something that had no apparently benefit for him?  Hogan could be at times an asshole and an egomaniac, but he was also a very smart business man and wouldn’t do something that offered so little benefits.  Some said it was done so he would have an excuse to have a rematch.  Folks, that rematch was set in stone long before this match went down.  Hogan was taking the championship back by hook or crook. And also, Nick Patrick was a total professional and wouldn’t do something like this. He was a company loyalist.

Anyway, the whole thing was an abortion.  In many ways it led to the downfall of WCW more then any brainfart booking decision in 1998 did.  As bad as Jay Leno wrestling, the return of the Ultimate Warrior, or the Finger Poke of Doom was, paying off an angle that ran for fifteen months by having the hero get totally squashed and beaten fair and square only to win the match on a flimsy reset… I don’t think Uwe Boll could have done any worse directing this travesty.  Back to the feature, Jim Ross puts over Sting as the only big star WCW had that was home grown.  Lawler says he was a good wrestler and a good showman.

-Hey yo, it’s Scott Hall’s turn.  We get clips of his early run, looking like a Magnum T.A. ripoff, then a brief shot as the Diamond Studd.  He shows up in the WWE and asks for a gimmick similar to Al Pacino’s character in Scarface.  Thus, he becomes Razor Ramon.  Jerry Lawler notes what I’ve heard everyone say, that he was Razor Ramon 24 hours a day, complete with toothpick, mannerisms, and cheesy Cuban accent.  Beth Phoenix notes that he was the first guy to not change his persona at all and have the fans turn him babyface.  Same actions, but he was received as good instead of evil by the fans.  He wins the vacant Intercontinental Championship against Rick Martel, then defends it against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X.  We’ve already seen these highlights on this disc.  Ugh.  Razor goes on to have three more reigns as IC champ, but then jumps ship to WCW to kick off the nWo angle.  He shows up on Nitro using the Razor Ramon mannerisms, and the fans suddenly think the WWE is invading WCW.  Brilliant storyline that was followed by some epic lawsuits.  CM Punk points out that it was the first time the two companies crossed over.  *COUGHrealworldschampionCOUGH*  Scott would win a couple US Championships and take a few tag titles with Kevin Nash as well.  Jim Ross puts over his mic skills and wrestling ability… and that’s it.  Wow.  They completely ignored his personal problems, which is understandable as around the time this DVD was being put together Hall had a complete mental breakdown and attempted suicide.  It’s a real shame because by all accounts when he was clean, he was one of the most creative minds in the business.  Among his ideas: the Razor Ramon gimmick itself, Sting’s crow gimmick, Goldberg’s winning streak, and the Hummer angle.  Okay, well… 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

-The Undertaker’s turn.  He makes his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, legitimately scaring the crap out of the children in the audience.  Lawler puts over how well he played the gimmick, combined with all the visual effects and the mystique.  A year after his debut, he takes the WWE Championship at the Survivor Series.  Mean Gene says he was shocked that someone could rise to the top as fast as he could.  CM Punk says he looked like a corpse, and that you didn’t really want to look at him because it was scary and disturbing, but you had to, like a horror movie.  I just had a sudden thought: if they ever turn Undertaker heel again, they should bring back the urn, and claim it now contains the ashes of Chris Benoit.  That’s instant heel heat there.  Of course, I’m likely getting a one way ticket to hell just for thinking of such a thing.  CM Punk puts over his athleticism, and so does John Morrison.  They talk about his ability to move like a cruiserweight but still maintain that larger then life persona.  I miss that old, zombie looking Undertaker.  It was the tattoos that killed it for me.  Jim Ross puts over Taker’s gimmick matches, the Buried Alive and Casket matches, plus the Hell in the Cell.  Jim Ross says he raised the bar for every super-heavyweight from here to infinity.  Jim Ross says he will be the yard stick that all superstars are measured by.  Morrison puts over his entrance while Ross says he’s never met anyone who better represents the professionalism and integrity of the business.  Just as long as you don’t have the misfortune to be brought into the company as the result of a buy-out, in which case you have to job to whoever is his wife at the time.  Ross says there will likely not be another person as long as Ross is around with his level of influence and respect. Another brief segment.

-We finally wrap up the feature with Steve Austin.  Vince McMahon says most of the success of the company falls on Austin because he grabbed the company by the throat.  Austin grew up a wrestling fan and signed up for Chris Adams’ wrestling academy.  He quickly ended up in WCW.  We go to the Hollywood Blonds, which of course gets more over then it was supposed and they get split up.  Onto his run in ECW where he cuts some seriously awesome promos.  That’s it for that, as we move onto the WWE and his promo at the King of the Ring.  The day after the promo, there were hundreds of Austin 3:16 signs all over the arena.  Jim Cornette says they knew then they had something.  Mick Foley says the match that cemented him as the guy in WWE was the submission match with Bret Hart.  He quickly became the most popular wrestler in the company.  Onto Summerslam 1997, when Owen Hart breaks Austin’s neck on a botched tombstone piledriver.  He was paralyzed for a short period of time, but became more popular because he spent his recovery time cutting promos and raising hell.  He gives Vince McMahon his first stunner of what I would guess is around 1,000 stunners in September of 1997.  Austin spends the next couple years making Vince McMahon’s life a living hell.  Austin couldn’t wait to go to work to see what stuff they would come up with for him next.  We get to see all the crazy stuff he did with beer trucks and cement trucks, etc etc.  Vince McMahon calls him the biggest star in the history of the business, eclipsing Hulk Hogan by far in terms of total sales, buy rates, ratings, revenue, etc.  We cut backwards to Wrestlemania 14, where Austin talks about winning his first WWE Championship.  He loved the business growing up, loved being part of the business, and it was a total honor to be the top star.  And… that’s it for Austin’s part, and the entire feature.  Okay.  I’m guessing they ran out of time or something.

My thoughts?  It was fun at times, but really this felt like a sampler.  Most of the interviews and segments were rips from other DVDs.  I thought the biographies were better made then the ones from the 80s sets, which were quite dry and boring.  A few guys got screwed, including Vader, Warrior, Sid, Goldberg, and Sable.  They might not be the best workers, but neither was Kevin Nash or Lex Luger and they got their spots.

We do get some bonus features on the first disc.

Razor Ramon Restaurant Vignette (1:45): A promo early into Razor’s run where he eats like a slob and refuses to pay the bill.  “What do you want from me next, to mop the floor?  Clear the table?”  He does clear the table, slinging all the food off.

Undertaker Builds a Coffin for Yokozuna (2:45): Paul Bearer talks about the double wide double deep casket Undertaker is making for him.  A really creepy spot shows Undertaker wishing him a Merry Christmas with frost coming out of his mouth with every “ho ho ho”.  I miss THAT Undertaker.

Bret Hart New Generation Vignette (0:50): The commercial where the kid screams out Bret’s name and tells him to go get ’em, champ.  Bret gives him his glasses and proceeds to tell him about that time he was screwed at the Survivor Series.  Not really.  You know, this whole piece is ripe for parody for Charlie Haas.

Owen Hart Inside a Steel Cage (3:50): Owen cuts a promo to build to his Summerslam 1994 cage match with Bret.  I’m a big Owen fan but I never liked him when he did these kind of promos.  I thought he was better at doing improvisational stuff.

Shawn Michaels Press Conference Before Wrestlemania XI (3:50): As boring as the title suggests.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley – “Riff Raff” (1:10): A pre-debut promo by Helmsley, smoking a pipe and talking in a horrible upper-crest accent.  Who would have ever guessed this guy would go on to be one of the biggest and most powerful stars in the business?

Mankind – “And God Created Mankind” (1:10): A pre-debut promo by Mankind, who at this point was supposed to be a cast-away childhood piano prodigy who’s mother grew disgusted by him and slammed the piano lid onto his fingers, crippling them, then sending him to live in the sewers and be raised by rats.  Yeah.

Kevin Nash & Scott Hall – Modern Gladiators (2:30): One of those edgy nWo informercials they used to run on Nitro, this one from the night after Hog Wild 1996.  Surreal stuff that actually worked.

The Hart Foundation Reunites (6:15): From Raw, March of 1997.  Bad editing makes it out like Bret is attacking Davey Boy Smith.  In fact, Bret was breaking up a match with Davey and Owen, telling them that they’re doing what the fans want.  He says the fans have kept fighting for years, when they don’t know the first thing about family values.  He turns this into an anti-American speech.  Epic stuff that led to some amazing matches and incredible heel heat.

D-Generation X Reenacts the Montreal Incident (4:25): From Raw in November 1997.  Shawn Michaels brings out Bret Hart.  Only it’s a midget wearing a Bret Hart mask.  Triple H absolutely buries Bret on the stick.  “We all knew Bret was short on charisma, short on talent, but this is ridiculous.”  Shawn holds the midget at bay, then puts him in the sharpshooter for the submission.  Fans are totally cold to this.  After they’re done, they slap a WCW tag on the midget’s ass and give him a gentle kick to send him on his way.  Big time controversial back in the day.

The Rock Reads Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Eulogy (7:35): I’m of the opinion that Rocky’s babyface promos have aged horribly, while his heel stuff is timeless.  This is no exception as he cuts a scathing promo on Austin that is hilarious.  Austin returns and kicks his ass.

Stone Cold Remembers the Shockmaster (0:55): We see the Shockmaster fall on his ass again, while Steve Austin laughs.

Time for the matches.  For those of you not familiar with my philosphy on star ratings, I think of one star as two points.  In school, a passing grade is at least 60% (D), so in my line of thinking, a three-star match would be a passing grade.  Four-stars would be a B, Five-Stars an A.  I don’t think a match needs to be absolutely perfect to earn five-stars, just entertaining from start to finish, with a uniqueness about it that makes it something special.  I also rarely score against matches ending on a DQ or some other screwjob.  Seems wrong to fault the workers when they can’t help the booking.

Disc Two

Match #1
Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair
11/30/91 Madison Square Garden

The WWE should have likely held it’s wad until Wrestlemania, but instead they started going for the quick bucks by having this main event house shows.  After selling out a few venues, they come up a few thousand fans short of a sell-out here and the whole feud is cancelled as a result.  Grumble.  Flair’s the “Real World Champion” here, but even with the censorship you can see he’s actually holding a tag team belt.  Hogan had just lost the WWE Championship to the Undertaker at the Survivor Series and was given this as a tune up to his rematch at a special one-time only pay pre view called Tuesday in Texas.

Long stall to start.  Hogan grows impatient and chases Flair around the outside.  Flair stomps Hogan as he enters the ring and chops away.  Hogan thumbs the eye and slugs it out, then fires off his own shitty chops.  Clothesline in the corner sends Flair down to the canvas with a flop.  Hogan bites Flair in the face, then tries a ten punch but the referee pulls him off while Flair flops again.  Shoulderblock by Hogan, then he blocks a hiptoss and hits a clothesline, then another clothesline to dump Flair to the outside.  Hogan slams Flair around on the outside, taking him to every side of the guardrail. Chop against the rail by Hogan and then a suplex on the floor.  I’m actually marking out for this.  Hogan punches him into the seating area, then tosses Flair back into the ring.  Flair begs off, then kicks Hogan and hits a back suplex.  Hogan no-sells it and clotheslines him, then sends him up and down in the corner.  Thumb to the eye by Flair and another chop, but that only pisses Hogan off.  He tries to slug it out but Hogan kicks him in the corner a few times, then sends him up and over to the apron, where Flair gets knocked down to the floor.  Flair tries to bail on the match, but Hogan catches him and tosses him back in the ring.  Flair tries to hang up Hogan on the top rope, but Hogan no-sells that as well.  Flair thumbs the eye again but runs into a shoulderblock.  Another thumb by Flair but he gets caught climbing and tossed off the top.  Clothesline by Hogan, then the three big punches, the big boot, and the legdrop… for two?  Yep, Flair gets his foot on the rope.  Hogan thinks he’s won and celebrates, allowing Flair to sneak up on him and kick away at the legs.  BUT WAIT~!!  Here’s Mr. Perfect to distract the ref while Flair wraps Hogan’s leg around the ring post.  Perfect takes a turn doing it as well.  Flair goes to work on the left.  He ties it up in the ropes to knot it up, then chops a few more times.  Perfect slams his leg on the apron, then Flair drops a knee, then kicks at the knee.  He slaps on the figure-four, and Mr. Perfect offers a helping hand to give him leverage.  Hogan calls to his fans for help and manages to reverse the hold, and Flair breaks.  Perfect loads up Flair’s hand with a knuckle duster, which he uses to KO Hogan.  He covers… and gets the pinfall!?  Holy poop!  BUT WAIT~!!  Some officials from the back come out and find the brass knucks in Flair’s trunks.  Hogan comes to life and takes out the trash, while the refs reverse the decision and give the match to Hogan by DQ.  Those bastards.
***1/4 Pretty entertaining for what it was.  This was wrestled more along the lines of the type of match Flair would have in Mid-Atlantic, giving the babyface 90% of the offense and using dastardly tactics to steal the win.  What was here was total non-conformist in comparison to your average Hogan match against anyone and it was a welcome and refreshing change of pace.  Makes you wish they had gone all the way with the feud, while it still might have meant something.

Match #2: WWE Championship
(c) Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
11/25/92 Survivor Series

This is a pre-hatred match between the two.  This signaled the changing of the guard, and the first the WWE Championship was contested on pay per view without either Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, or the Ultimate Warrior in the title match.  Bret is fairly over with those fans in attendance.  Shawn is the Intercontinental Champion here but his title is not on the line.  I haven’t watched this in years but I recall this being the only Bret/Shawn match I actually liked.  Here we go.  Lockup to start.  They end up in the corner, with Bret refusing a clean break.  Shawn bitches about it.  Lockup and Shawn gets a shot in and a waistlock takedown, but Bret reverses it and Shawn bails to the ropes.  Shawn shoves Bret, then Bret shoves back harder and the fans love it.  They trade arm-ringing, with Shawn yanking the hair for advantage.  Bret nips up and takes it to Shawn, grabbing a top wristlock, then turning it into an armbar.  Shawn tries to yank at the hair.  Bobby Heenan says it’s not physically possible with 65lbs of oil in it.  Shoot off and Shawn gets a drop toehold, but Bret reverses him into a hammerlock.  He drops some knees into him.  Shawn gets to his feet and reverses for his own hammerlock, but Bret shifts his balance and sends Shawn flying to the outside.  Shawn to the apron, where Bret slings him back in and grabs the armbar again.  Shawn shoots off, then Bret counters, and we end up with Bret getting a crossbody for two, with Bret flying out of the apron on the kickoff.  Bret comes back in with a sunset flip for two, then fires off an armdrag into an armbar.  Pretty good match thus far, but unlike anything the fans were used to in a world championship match in the WWE.  Shawn clips Bret with a stiff punch to the jaw, then another, with Shawn selling his own hand on it.  Pretty cool.  Shawn counters an armdrag but gets hit with a clothesline for two, and Bret goes back to the arm.  Shawn to his feet and he reaches for the ropes, but Bret yanks him to the center of the ring.  They’re making a big deal of an armbar, and I love it.  Shoot off and Bret gets a shoulderblock, but ends up getting hotshotted onto the ropes in a vicious spot.  Bret sells it like death, and believe me when I say nobody sold a move like death quite like Bret Hart.  The best ever at it.  Bret tries to fight back but the hotshot took something out of him.  He manages to reverse a shoot to the corner but he misses a charge and rams his own shoulder into the ring post.  He’s really selling it now, while Shawn continues to sell the arm injury.  These guys were such studs at this point.  Totally thumbing their noses at the feeble roid-heads that previously main evented shows.  Shawn shakes off his arm injury and gives Bret a single-arm takedown, then blatant punches to the face.  Stomp to the face, then a hardwhip to the turnbuckle, with Bret bounces like a pinball for two.  Heenan puts it over perfectly on commentary.  Rear chinlock by Shawn that is among the sickest versions of the hold I’ve seen.  Shawn torques up on it and the look of agony on Bret’s face is flawless.  Bret tries to fight out but Shawn grabs the hair to take him back down.  He continues to work the chinlock while Bret grimaces in pain.  God I love this match.  Shawn gets to his feet while holding the limp Bret by his chin.  Bret finally fights back and bounces off the ropes only run into a dropkick in the face for two.  Backbreaker for two, then back to the chinlock, with extra torque.  This is totally making everyone who uses lazy chinlocks look like wanks.  It just takes a little effort.  Bret fights back again and ducks a clothesline, then catches Shawn lowering his head and gives him a swinging neckbreaker for a short double KO spot.  Both guys get up quickly only for Shawn to punch Bret in the throat and stomp away.  Shawn with a front chancery now, but Bret’s arm only drops twice.  Bret gets to his feet and rams Shawn to the corner, firing off a few shoulder blocks.  Shawn reverses a whip to the corner, but misses a charge and Bret fires off a bulldog.  Elbowdrop off the second rope misses for Bret and Shawn covers for two.  Shoot off by Shawn and a flying reverse elbow for a close two.  Back to the front chancery, which Shawn works instead of just lying there like a lump.  Again, the contrast between these two young, smaller, athletic wrestlers and the meatheads that had populated the main event scene couldn’t be more clear.  A new era had begun here.  Bret’s arm drops twice, but he’s still alive and gets to his feet and small packages Shawn for two.  Michaels brawls Bret to the corner but misses a charge and gets back suplexed for a double KO spot.  Shawn bounces like a rubber ball for the suplex.  Shawn goes for a Thesz Press but gets caught and catapulted into the turnbuckle and we have another double KO spot.  Fans are going NUTS for this.  Bret to his feet, causing Shawn to beg off to the corner.  Bret slugs it out and sends Shawn to the corner.  Bret kicks him, causing Shawn to get crotched on the ropes.  Bret takes Shawn on the ball-killing rodeo, then fires off a backdrop for two.  Russian legsweep for two.  Backbreaker and elbow off the second rope for two.  Superplex knocks out both guys, while Bobby Heenan freaks out on commentary.  Bret recovers and drapes an arm over for two.  Shawn misses a clothesline and Bret grabs a sleeper, only for Shawn to back Bret into the corner, wiping out the referee in the process.  Only the ref recovers quickly.  A series of reversals leads to Shawn using momentum to take Bret to the outside and into the guardrail.  Shawn can’t win the belt on a count out so he bails to break the count, then sends Bret into the time keepers table.  He breaks the count again and scoopslams Bret on the outside.  He breaks the count again, then sends Bret into the ring.  Hard whip to the corner gets two.  Backdrop gets two.  Shawn bitches at the ref and gets rolled up by Bret for two.  Superkick by Shawn but it’s years before it was established as his finishing move.  He picks up Bret and sets up for his finisher, the tear-drop suplex (in reality little more then a back suplex).  Bret flips out of it, but Shawn does end up hitting it for two.  Weak move.  Years later Scott Hall and Kevin Nash said he should just use the superkick because it was the most explosive and visually awesome move in his arsenal.  Shawn’s overness instantly climbed.  Shoot off and Bret gets a forearm, causing Shawn to be tied up in the ropes.  Bret tries for a head of steam but Shawn escapes the ropes and Bret wipes out huge.  Shawn climbs and goes for a dropkick, but Bret catches him and slaps on the sharpshooter in the center of the ring for the submission.
***** I challenge anyone to tell me why this isn’t a five-star match.  Perfect pacing, awesome near falls, and it established both guys as top-level wrestlers.  This was a defining moment for both men, their way of announcing to the world that ‘we’re here.’  Sadly, fans were conditioned to believe that bigger equals better and thus Bret bombed as champion and they moved the title to the completely talentless freakshow Yokozuna.  Speaking of which…

Match #3: WWE Championship
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna
6/13/93 King of the Ring

Hogan’s last appearance in the WWE for nearly ten years.  Of course, the legend (mostly fueled by Dave Meltzer and Bret Hart) is that Hogan had refused to put over Bret Hart at Summerslam.  In reality, by all accounts outside of Bret’s, the WWE had given up on Hart and was going to try and create a new Hulk Hogan.  Wrestlemania 9 was to end with Yokozuna walking out as the champion, but Hulk Hogan convinced Vince McMahon that a babyface should walk out of the big show with the belt.  Namely him.  He promised to put over Yokozuna in huge fashion at the King of the Ring, then leave the company.  Bret has since kind of conceded that this story is true, although Vince McMahon never outright told him that he was cut out the plan.  The late Bad News Brown insists that Bret was crazy to the point that his brain wouldn’t process any news related to him not getting a push.  Regardless, we have this match.  Most internet fans in the early days of Rec.Sports.Pro.Wrestling and anyone who had access to the Wrestling Observer knew this was it for Hogan, but that left 99.9% of the fans who figured this would just be another routine title defense for Hogan.  Boy were they ever wrong.  In fact, Hogan never once defended the championship after winning it at Wrestlemania 9.  Things were pretty bitter between Hogan and McMahon, with the pressure of a federal drug trial looming on Vince and Hogan not wanting to be dragged into it and forced to admit that he was a steroid user.  Hogan was actually off the gas by the King of the Ring, and as a result he had suffered an amount of shrinkage not seen since my grandmother walked in on me jerking off when I was 14.  He looked to weigh about 240lbs or less at the time.  Because of the weight loss, he did seem more spry, but he certainly didn’t look that tough anymore.  Anyway, Vince and Hogan weren’t even talking by time the show came around and Jimmy Hart was basically acting as a liaison between Hogan, who walled himself up in his dressing room, and the bookers and Yokozuna as to how the match would go.  Randy Savage on commentary brings up how some people felt it should have been Bret Hart vs. Hulk Hogan here, which likely contributed to the rumors that Bret was screwed out of a spot here that was never in the cards to begin with.  As nutty as it sounds, they really were committed at this point to putting Crush over as the next Hogan by Summerslam.

To the match.  Stall and circle leads to a lockup.  Neither guy can muscle out of it.  Long lockup leads to Yokozuna muscling Hogan out of it.  Yoko smacks away at Hogan and fires some chops and back rakes.  Headbutt and some karate stuff by Yoko, then a clubbing blow to send Hogan to the ground.  Scoopslam with ease for Yoko, then more brawling.  Despite clearly being more limber, Hogan still bumps like a pussy as Yoko whips him to the corner.  Yoko goes for the big ass splash in the corner but Hogan moves out of the way and slugs it out.  Ten punch by Hogan and some biting, then Hogan threatens to knock out the referee.  What a sport.  Big clothesline in the corner, and through the use of clever camera effects it looks like it moves the ring.  He goes for a slam but his back gives out and Yoko slugs it out some more.  Hogan fights back and goes for a slam again, but only manages to get one leg up before Yoko takes him out.  Match kind of sucks but it did set up the hot angle with Luger slamming him on the 4th of July.  Yoko brawls him some more but misses a couple clothesline and Hogan gets one of his own.  Another clothesline by Yoko doesn’t fall.  A third one misses and Yoko takes him down.  Yoko goes for a big splash but that misses.  Big shoulder block but Hogan bounces off of Yoko, who slings Hogan off the turnbuckle and slaps on a bearhug.  Bobby Heenan puts over how Hogan’s weight loss means Yoko can apply the move even tighter then he ever would have.  Heenan was the best ever at putting over the psychology of a match.  The bearhug goes on forever.  Better then a nerve pinch, I guess.  Hogan finally fights back and slugs it out, but his back is screwed up and Yoko nails him with a back elbow.  Belly to Belly suplex by Yoko, which Hogan oversells, but it’s HULK UP TIME~!!  No-sell, no-sell, no-sell, shaking, finger point, punch, punch, punch, but big boot only staggers Yoko.  Another big boot still fails to knock down Yoko.  A third one does take him down, and Hogan drops the leg… for two.  Hogan can’t believe it.  Mr. Fuji gets up on the apron but gets taken out by Hogan.  Then a camera man gets up on the apron.  Hogan gets close to him, and his camera shoots a fireball in Hogan’s face.  Yoko hits a throat-chop to take Hogan down and drops a huge leg for the pin and the championship.  Areba dircha, Senor Hogan.  Just to make a point that Hogan is finished, Yoko clotheslines him once more and then hits the Banzai Drop.  When Bobby Heenan declares Hulkamania dead, it’s not hyperbole.
*3/4 Yoko looked incredible in victory here, and that was kind of the point.  After the match, the announcers put over how Hogan could not slam Yokozuna, that Yoko kicked out of the legdrop, and that he beat Hogan with his own move.  Of course, it would have been better for Yoko to win cleanly, but otherwise they couldn’t have done a better job of making a case for Yokozuna to be the next big thing.  Not a great match or anything, but it’s a must view.  Yoko was only meant to be a transitional champion for Crush, and after that was aborted, Lex Luger.  But the best laid schemes of mice and men most often go astray.  In this case, nobody got over enough to take the belt off of Yoko (except Bret Hart, who had failed to draw in his brief run as champion) and he went on to stink up the main event scene for the next nine months and kill ratings and buyrates way worse then would have ever happened under WWE Champion Bret Hart.  But that’s just my opinion.

Match #4
Bret Hart vs. Owen hart
3/20/94 Wrestlemania X

Lockup, they draw nothing, so Owen celebrates.  Fireman’s Carry by Owen, into a head scissors by Bret, but Owen nips up and celebrates some more.  Waistlock takeover by Bret, but Owen gets a break.  Waistlock takeover by Owen, but Bret sandbags him out of the ring.  Owen gets back in and bitch slaps Bret, then begs away into the corner.  Owen Hart was always a brilliant cowardly heel.  They trade hammerlocks, Owen works in a drop toehold into a headlock, but Bret turns it into a mounted hammerlock.  Flippy wristlock sequence, Owen pulls the hair for advantage, but Bret nips up.  Rollup by Bret for two, then armdrag into an armbar.  Into a hammerlock, but Owen elbows out.  Leapfrogs and Bret ends up hitting a monkey flip, then dumps Owen with a clothesline to the outside.  Owen tries to bail on the match, Bret throws him back in the ring, then tells him to get to his feet.  Push-off, Bret returns the bitch slap from earlier then schoolboys Owen for two.  Back to the armbar, Owen shoots him off but Bret hits a crucifix for two, then back to the armbar.  Owen shoots off and gets a spinning heel kick for two.  Owen stomps away.  To the outside, Owen picks up Bret and rams him into the post.  Headbutt, whip into the buckle, stomping, backbreaker, and camel clutch by Owen.  Bret elbows out of it, but Owen catches a belly-to-belly suplex for two.  Crossbody by Owen is rolled through by Bret for two.  Back to the chinlock by Owen, but he gives that up and tries for a slam, but Bret falls on top for two, then bails.  German suplex, legdrop for two by Owen.  Small package by Bret gets two.  Tombstone piledriver by Owen, then he climbs, but misses a big splash off the top.  FIVE MOVES OF DOOM time!  Atomic drop, clothesline for two by Bret.  Russian legsweep gets two.  Backbreaker, elbow for two.  Owen catches an enziguri, then goes for the Sharpshooter.  Bret fights out and goes for one of his own, but Owen rolls through.  Rollup by Owen gets two.  Plancha by Bret, but he hurts his knee.  Owen starts to work the leg with some dragon whips, and then he posts the knee a few times.  Legdrops and a sort of figure-four.  More leg whips, then a true figure-four.  Bret reverses, so Owen rolls to the ropes.  Owen goes back to the knee, kicking Bret on the ropes, but Bret fights back with an enziguri of his own.  Hard whip to the turnbuckle by Bret, legdrop gets two.  Bulldog gets two.  Vicious looking piledriver gets two.  Superplex off the very top gets two.  Sleeper by Bret, but Owen gets a low blow to fight out of it.  Sharpshooter by Owen, reversed into a Sharpshooter by Bret, but Owen catches the ropes.  Bret goes for a victory roll, but Owen lays down on it for the clean pin.
***** The best opening match to any pay per view ever, and one of the best matches of all time.  Nothing more I can say about it, really.

Match #5: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Razor Ramon vs. Diesel
4/13/94 Superstars

Brawl to start.  Fans are super duper hot for this one.  Razor wins the slugout and sets up for the Razor’s Edge right off the bat, but Diesel backdrops him.  Big boot misses and Ramon punches him around some more, knocking him out of the ring.  Razor catches him on the apron, but Diesel hits a hangman, then returns to the ring with a clothesline.  Big elbows in the corner, then whips to the corners and a sidewalk slam for two.  Snake eyes by Diesel and the head of steam as we cut to a commercial.  We’re back with Diesel hitting an elbow for two.  Head vise now.  This goes on for a while, but Razor fights out by actually giving the huge Diesel an electric chair for a long double KO spot.  Ramon recovers first and covers for two.  Slug out.  Ramon gets a foot up in the corner and hits a face buster off the ropes for two.  Scoopslam gets two.  Shawn to the apron, only to get knocked off by Ramon.  Diesel takes advantage now but gets slung into the corner, into Shawn Micahels again, who flies off the corner but takes the top turnbuckle pad off with him.  Diesel reverses a whip to the corner, causing Ramon’s back to eat the exposed turnbuckle pad.  KICK WHAM POWERBOMB~!! finishes for Diesel to give him the IC title.
3/4* Diesel was not ready for prime time at this point, but the WWE almost always strikes while the iron is hot and Diesel was getting seriously over.

Match #6: WCW International World Heavyweight Champion (aka the Big Gold Belt)
Big Van Vader vs. Sting
5/22/94 Slamboree

Although both Sting and Vader were really hot going into this match, this was basically their last hurrah on top of WCW as Hulk Hogan was set to come in a couple months later and there was only room on top for him.  Title is vacant here as Rick Rude was bounced from the company again.  Lockup and Vader takes Sting to the corner but breaks clean and does a Japanese bow.  Weird.  Long circle with a small section of fans turning Sting a bit, chanting “Sting must die!”  Vader starts to beat the crap out of Sting in the corner with lots of stiff shots, causing Sting to bail.  More punching by Vader and Sting falls to the canvas again.  Nasty clothesline, then a long stall, allowing Sting to come back with some punches and a low-looking kick that causes him to fall down to the apron.  Vader pulls off his mask and HOLY SHIT, LEON WHITE IS VADER!  This is a major revelation.  What a treat.  All that’s left for me to do is find out Mr. America is and my life will be complete.  Stall session, and then back in Sting teases a suplex… and actually hits it.  You know, they really should have saved that spot for later in the match and built to it a little more.  Vader ducks a clothesline and smashes Sting in the face with his body boxer.  Vader stands on Sting’s face, then hits the pump splash off the rope for two.  Another pump splash gets two as Sting grabs the rope.  Shoot off the ropes and a body boxer into an variation of a deathlock.  He turns it into a modified STF and then mounts some punches.  Vader kicks away at the leg, then ties up Sting’s leg in grapevine leglock.  It gets a couple near falls.  More punching by Vader but Sting goes nuts and drops him with some solid punches.  Big elbowdrop leads to a double KO.  Vader recovers first.  This match is like an old woman: no flow left in it.  Vader drops an elbow on Sting then shoots a cover, only he doesn’t hold it on and drops a big elbow in the gut for two.  This is such a strange match in how lethargic these guys are moving.  Sting pokes him the eye but misses a flying clothesline and wipes out the referee.  HUGE one-handed chokeslam by Vader gets nothing as the ref is out.  Harley Race to the apron with a chair.  He swings and Sting but misses and feebly hits Vader.  Looked like poop.  Sting hits a DDT and covers for two.  Sting dumps Vader to the floor with a clothesline, then suplexes him over the ropes and back in the ring.  Then he clotheslines him out the other side.  Vader climbs back in the corner, allowing Sting to go for the Stinger Splash.  Vader catches him and powerslams him, but Harley Race demands something more evil for the finish.  Vader climbs for the MOONSAULT THAT SHALL NEVER HIT~!! which of course misses.  Sting covers while Harley Race climbs the ropes.  He dives for a headbutt but Sting moves out of the way and he hits Vader with it.  Sting climbs and hits a big splash off the top for the pin and the title.
** Very strange match with weird pacing, no flow, no psychology… this was a total phone in effort, but both guys were so good together that even when they half ass it they pull off something better then three quarters of the shit WCW would replace them with later in the year.

Match #7: WWE Championship
(c) Diesel vs. Bret Hart
1/22/95 Royal Rumble

Bret tries to out wrestle Diesel and manages to do it, so Diesel decides to turn it into a slugoff, which he wins out on.  Bret goes for a crossbody but gets caught and slammed.  Elbow misses for Diesel but he fights Bret off and dumps him to the floor.  Bret to the apron and they slug it out there, which Bret loses.  Bret can’t win a slugout with Diesel, so he grabs his leg and rings it around the post.  Bret pounces on the leg, dropping elbows and slamming it on the mat.  Diesel to his feet but Bret stays on him like a pitbull.  Figure-four in the center of the ring.  Sadly, Diesel’s “moans of pain” look more like yawns.  He manages a rope break, but Bret doesn’t let go right away, then goes straight back to the legs.  Another figure four, but Nash isn’t exactly selling it like Razor Ramon did earlier.  Plus, half the fans want Bret to win and half want Diesel to win.  Another rope break, and Bret holds it for a little extra time.  Suicida through the ropes, huge pop for that, and Bret slugs away.  Bret slams him into the ringpost, but Diesel sends Bret into the ring stairs.  Diesel whips Bret into the corner, and he’s being pretty spotty in his selling of the injured leg.  SICK sideslam for two.  Huge pop for that.  I mean damn, it’s usually a pretty mellow move.  That time, it was with gusto.  Backbreaker into a hold.  Bret slips out of it so Diesel covers for two.  That was weird.  Diesel isn’t even bothering to sell the leg now, and Vince McMahon points it out on commentary.  Bret gets whipped hard into the turnbuckle again and Diesel goes for the powerbomb but it’s not the powerbomb, it’s a standard backbreaker hold.  Bret slips out and grabs a sleeper, but Diesel shoots him off and plasters him with a big boot and a legdrop for two.  Bret fights back with a kick to Diesel’s face and a diving clothesline for two.  Diesel catches Bret climbing and goes for a press slam but Bret falls on top for two.  Bret pulls Nash’s legs out of the ring and ties them together using his wrist tape.  Sort of a silly gimmick, but the fans loved it. The ref unties Diesel after Bret gets some free stomps in.  FIVE MOVES OF DOOM~!! Bulldog for two.  Russian Legsweep for two.  Backbreaker and an elbow off the second rope for two.  Diesel up and Bret dumps him to the outside.  Plancha by Bret is caught by Diesel and Bret gets smacked into the ringpost.  Bret’s out of it, so Diesel calls for the powerbomb.  Fans *boo* Diesel.  Powerbomb to Bret… for two as Shawn Michaels breaks up the pin.  The official decides the match will continue, with both guys knocked out.  So Diesel should have won by DQ.  Bret goes after the leg which was injured and no-sold fifteen minutes ago.  Bret looks like a total chump now, for no decent reason other then they didn’t want Diesel to win clean.  Figure four again by Bret and now the fans are clearly bored.  Hilarious bit on commentary… Vince McMahon accidentally calls Diesel “Big Daddy Tool.”  I’m still laughing.  Nash slugs out of the move but Bret ties his leg up in the ropes, then doesn’t let go of it, which should be another DQ finish.  It’s strange booking to say the least, as it looks like everything is being fixed for Bret.  What’s the point of this?  Sure, it would pay off later in the year the Survivor Series, but at this point it seems like they’re trying to turn Bret heel.  But the fans are clearly in favor of Bret.  Strange.  Diesel slugs out of it and gives Bret a gutwrench suplex.  Running big boot in the corner misses for Diesel and Bret rings Diesel’s leg into the post.  Bret grabs A CHAIR AND HITS DIESEL’S LEG WITH IT, and now the fans are booing Bret.  The referee doesn’t DQ Bret on the spot, so he slaps on the Sharpshooter, but Owen Hart runs in and attacks Bret.  Owen removes the turnbuckle pad and whips Bret into it.  However, the referee rules the match MUST CONTINUE!  This is beyond stupid booking.  Both guys look like huge chumps now.  Diesel limps his way into a cover for two.  Diesel tries to smash Bret into the exposed turnbuckle but Bret manages to smash him instead.  Bret actually slugs down Diesel, and the fans behind Bret again.  Diesel slugs it out and Bret’s foot gets caught on the ropes.  Diesel jumps off the ring apron, which should be painful, what with his injured leg.  Diesel grabs a chair but Bret gets out of the ropes.  Bret fakes an injured leg, then rolls up Diesel for two.  Another move that would payoff at the Survivor Series.  The ref gets wiped out by accident and suddenly Michaels, Backlund, Owen, Jeff Jarrett, and the Roadie run in and the match ends in a huge clusterfuck double DQ.
*** The wrestling honestly wasn’t that bad.  The booking on the other hand, was total garbage. It did more to hurt the WWE then any single match did, pretty much ever, making the hot upstart champion Diesel look like a scrub who couldn’t beat a guy half his size.

Match #8: Women’s Championship
(c) Bull Nakano vs. Alundra Blayze
4/3/95 Raw

Given Madusa’s status on the WWE black list, the fact that any match featuring her would make it’s way to a compilation DVD shocks the shit out of me.  Nakano had beaten Blayze in Japan the previous November for the belt and wasn’t expected to keep the title for long.  Five months later, she would finally drop the belt back.  Bull jumps her to start and takes her down.  She climbs to the second rope but Alundra catches her with a hand-stand head scissors.  Nakano slings Alundra by the hair a few times, which Alundra sells pretty good.  Legdrop gets two.  Bull grabs a half-crab, so Alundra grabs the ropes.  Bull rides Alundra face first on the canvas, but Blayze becomes a house of fire with multiple clotheslines and a kick to the face.  Dropkicks off the ropes by Alundra gets two.  Sunset flip attempt but Bull sits down on it for two.  Bull ties up Alundra like she’s going to put on a sharpshooter, but then lifts her up off the ground with her arms in a human muffler.  She lets go of it and hits a piledriver for two.  Bull climbs but Alundra dropkicks off the corner and to the floor.  Blayze hits a crossbody off the top and to the floor, but in the ring she gets caught in a rana with a powerbomb by Nakano for two.  Scoopslam and a legdrop off the top rope gets two.  Waistlock by Bull is turned into a rollup by Alundra for two.  Another waistlock by Bull is turned into a german suplex… for two.  I figured that was the finish.  Another gets two.  Alundra climbs but gets pushed off the top, hitting her arm on the stairs on the way down in a move that really had to hurt.  Alundra fights back on the floor and hits a german suplex out there.  She gets reversed on a whip and sent into the stairs.  Back in, Scoopslam by Nakano but her moonsault misses and Alundra Blayze hits another german suplex for the pin and the title.
**1/4 Not bad actually, even if it made Blayze’s finisher look weak.  The way they did it I’m guessing was meant to make Bull Nakano look strong, but it failed.  Still, an entertaining and fast paced match.

Disc Three

Match #9: WWE Championship, Tag Team Championship, & Intercontinental Championship
(WWE Champion) Diesel & (Intercontinental Champion) Shawn Michaels vs. (Tag Team Champion) Yokozuna & (Not actually a tag champ) Davey Boy Smith
9/24/95 In Your House
Stipulation: Whoever gets pinned loses their title.  Can you see the screwjob coming?

Death Percentage: 50% by May of 2002.  Throw in Owen Hart and it’s 60%.  Horrible.  Owen Hart is ‘injured’ here and thus Davey Boy Smith takes his place.  Apparently Diesel and Shawn are collectively known as the “Dudes with Attitude” here, which is also the name of a fairly infamous Nintendo Entertainment System game made by American Video.  Most know it as one of the ‘worst games for the system.’  Actually, despite it’s extremely basic and crude graphics and horrible sound effects, it’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  I would call it ***1/2.  Everyone has a few crappy games  they like.  It’s one of mine.  Anyway, Michaels starts with Davey Boy.  Lockup and Davey grabs a headlock into a hammerlock.  They trade it around, with Shawn flipping out of a suplex attempt.  Shawn counters a few takedowns, then backdrops Davey and dumps him to the floor with a clothesline.  Yokozuna comes in but Shawn manages to punch him out too, then Diesel helps him and dumps him to the floor as well.  Yokozuna is seriously fat here, likely weighing close to 600lbs.  Yoko tags in, and Diesel says “yo little dude with attitude, you ought to tag me.”  But Shawn is like “big dude with attitude, I’ve got this guy.”  Shawn challenges Yoko to a sumo match, but slides under his legs and slugs it out, only to be killed with a backelbow.  Long stall by Yokozuna, followed by a scoopslam.  Yoko misses an elbow and Shawn tags Diesel, who gets killed with a clothesline.  Shoot off and Diesel misses a clothesline and hits a flying one of his own.  Big boot sends Yoko to the floor.  Diesel reaches down to pull Yoko in, but Davey Boy comes in without a tag and slugs it out.  Welcome to amateur hour as Davey goes for his delayed suplex but starts to lose his grip so he lays Diesel down ever so gently on the canvas, then does it properly.  Davey slugs it out in the corner and throws some shoulderblocks.  Snapmare into a chinlock.  Davey cuts off a comeback and slams him in the corner, then goes for his running powerslam but Diesel fights out and brawls him from corner to corner.  Tag to Michaels who climbs, then hits a flying splash on Davey Boy for two.  Davey picks up Shawn in a press slam and then crotches him on the ropes.  Tag to Yoko who elbows Shawn off the ropes and to the floor.  Davey slams Shawn into the stairs then tosses him back into the ring, where Yoko chokes him with his foot.  Punching in the corner, then a whip to send Shawn up and over to the apron.  Yoko stomps Shawn off the apron and to the floor, where Davey slams him.  Davey with the tag.  He brawls Shawn around then hits a high backdrop for two.  Jim Ross points out how Shawn and Diesel never actually lost the tag titles the first time they held them.  Davey with a chinlock but Shawn fights out and gets a sunset flip for two.  Crossbody for two but Davey gets up quick and clotheslines Shawn down.  He jaws with Diesel to draw him in the ring, allowing Yoko to come in without a tag and get smashed around.  Snapmare by Yoko into the dreaded (for the fans) nerve pinch while Davey waves the Japanese flag.  Shawn tries to fight back but Yoko takes him down with a headbutt.  Yoko goes for the Banzai Drop but misses.  Jim Ross claims he has a sixth sense.  A sixth sense?  I’d venture a guess that if you could read Yokozuna’s mind, the only thing you would hear is “FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD” and in that case what’s mind reading going to do for you?  Besides, if Shawn had a sixth sense he would have known better then to go bar hoping with Davey Boy and Sean Waltman.  Anyway, tags around.  Diesel brawls Davey Boy around and backdrops him.  Snake eyes in the corner and a head of steam. Sidewalk slam, then Yokozuna comes in the ring.  The Dudes use their attitude to whip the heels into each other.  Yoko falls on top of Davey Boy and starts to suffocate.  Shawn wipes out Jim Cornette while Yokozuna gets a Samoan Drop on Diesel but Shawn hits him with sweet chin music to send him out of the ring.  Bulldog with the powerslam to Diesel but Shawn saves him with that with an elbowdrop off the top rope.  BUT WAIT~!!  Owen Hart is alive and well… well at least he was back then… and he comes out to make the save by going for a sledge on Diesel, but gets caught and it’s KICK WHAM POWERBOMB~!!  to Owen Hart… not actually in the match mind you… for the pin and the tag titles.  Ohhhhh kay.
** Very weird tag match that was devoid of a good heat segment for the babyfaces and some really weird pacing issues.

The next night on Raw, the titles were given back to the heels because Owen, although a tag champion, was not actually in the match.  So the WWE, which claims the golden rule is ALWAYS give the fans the matches as advertised, screwed the fans over twice.  Once by giving them the significantly less good Davey Boy instead of Owen, then chumping out on actually changing a title, which was GUARNTEED going into the show.  Following Raw, a very large amount of fans who ordered the show were calling their cable companies demanding their money back.  It was a mess.  And man, what a horrible finish to the actual match.  I always pictured a bunch of WWE executives watching WCW Uncensored from that year where Hulk Hogan won a strap match against Vader by beating Ric Flair and someone saying “What an ingenious way to screw over the paying fans and bury one of their best workers in the process.  Gentleman, we have to steal it.”  They then went back to twirling their curly mustaches and drowning kittens while laughing in maniacal ‘muwahahaha’ fashion.

Match #10
Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart
2/18/96 In Your House

Winner faces the champion at Wrestlemania 12.  This is the match to payoff the ENZIGURI OF DEATH storyline where the WWE followed the real life Syracuse beatdown of Shawn Michaels by having Owen Hart kick him in the head and short circuit his brain.  This was actually a brilliant storyline and the one that put Shawn in a position to be the champion as his reactions following it were insane.  To the match, where Owen starts by saying he’s going to kick Shawn in the head again.  Shawn is all like “don’t think so, bro!” and they have a showing match.  Shoot off and Shawn slides under Owen’s feet and bails to high five all the ringside fans, including kissing some fuggly chicks.  “Last time I saw a face like that it was on an iodine bottle… and he kissed it!” says Lawler in disgust.  Back in, Owen grabs a headlock but Shawn shoots it off and Owen bails this time.  He reaches for high fives from the fans, who are cool enough to play along with the idea and leave Owen hanging.  Hilarious stuff.  Owen doesn’t really get a chance to ham it up too much because Shawn climbs and hits a crossbody off the top and to the floor.  More high fives from the fans to Shawn.  Back in, Shawn climbs and hits sledge off the top for two.  Shawn takes down Owen and prances around on his back.  Owen up only to get grabbed in a headlock, and man, Shawn kind of looks like a dick here.  Headlock goes on forever, until Owen tries to shoot off.  Shawn cuts it off by grabbing Owen by the hair and yanking him back into the headlock.  Ref tells him he has to break it, so Shawn lets go for a half a second then reapplies it.  Jim Cornette is aghast at ringside and bitches at the ref.  While the ref isn’t looking, Shawn starts shaking Owen by his hair, then slaps on the head like while nobody is looking.  Fun spot, big smiles from all the fans.  They do it again and the fans are laughing.  Cornette bitches on the apron while Owen shoots off.  Shawn gets a shoulderblock only to walk into a head lock.   Both guys nip up, then Shawn hits a frankensteiner and some mounted punches.  Shoot off by Shawn but he lowers his head, leading to Owen shooting him off and hitting a belly to belly overhead throw.  Stomping by Owen and a backbreaker, then more stomping.  Shoot to the corner and a neckbreaker for two.  Owen tries for the sharpshooter but Shawn fights him off.  Owen keeps the stomping up and then pulls back on his arm and head.  Camel clutch by Owen.  Jerry claims he invented it.  The sharpshooter too.  I miss Jerry Lawler pimping Owen Hart.  He always came up with outrageous stuff to say about him.  Shawn fights back but Owen hits a kitchen sink kneelift and a jackknife cover for two.  Chinlock now.  Shawn elbows to escape but Owen connects with a spin heel kick to the head that looked sick but miserable fuckwit Kevin Dunn had the wrong camera angle for it.  They fight for a suplex on the apron, with Shawn winning out but Owen landing on his feet.  Shawn dives for a crossbody but Owen catches him with a powerslam on the floor.  Owen rolls him back in and climbs.  Missile dropkick hits for two.  Uppercuts in the corner, then Owen shoots him across the ring but Shawn rolls him up for two.  Owen tosses Shawn to the corner, sending him up and down, where Owen meets him with a sick clothesline.  Owen lightly kicks at his head like he’s checking for signs of life, then slaps on the sharpshooter.  Shawn reaches for the ropes but Owen pulls him to the center of the ring.  Shawn crawls again and makes the ropes.  Scoopslam and some snot rockets by Owen, but Shawn rolls him up for two.  This leads to Owen hitting the enziguri, and the announcers start to use their sad voices.  Shawn falls out of the ring and the referee starts to count, but Owen is feeling cocky and tosses him back in the ring.  He wants to win by pinfall and covers for two.  Fans didn’t buy it as the finish at all and what should have been a big dramatic moment goes over like a fart in church.  Owen tosses Shawn in the corner but misses a charge.  Atomic drop gets two.  Flying forearm and a nip up.  Punches and a flying back elbow.  Scoopslam and the flying elbow off the top, causing Jim Cornette to get on the apron.  Shawn knocks him off and goes for Sweet Chin Music.  Owen catches his foot and goes for the enziguri again, but Shawn ducks this time and hits the superkick for the pin.
**** Excellent match, good way to put over Shawn being fully recovered from the original injury, even if I think it was a mistake to do so.  I think it would have made the iron man match better if Bret Hart was given the option to work Shawn’s injured head, but the WWE felt that would make Bret look too heelish and decided he needed to be fully recovered from the head injury angle by Wrestlemania.  Not the way I would have gone, but if they must end the angle, this was the best way to do it.  This set is really quality so far.

Match #11: WWE Championship
(c) Shawn Michaels vs. Vader
8/18/96 Summerslam

So as the legend goes, Shawn refused to put over Vader here.  It’s not actually true, but who has time for facts when smart marks need fuel for their blind hatred?  The truth is Shawn had bombed as champion and the WWE was just waiting for someone, anyone, to get over enough to take the title off of him.  They thought it would be Vader but he didn’t work.  Then they tried Mankind, and although they had what was, for my money, the match of the year in 1996, Mankind wasn’t over enough to take the title.  Then Sycho Sid caught fire and they could actually justify moving the title off of Shawn, if only for a bit.  Anyway, I haven’t watched this match in over ten years, but I remember it being awesome.

Vader enters and shows what a tough guy he is by picking of the stairs and slamming them.  Well, the stairs likely weigh only a little less then Shawn, so I guess he made a point.  Six minutes after clicking the match on the DVD, we get to the first lockup.  It goes nowhere.  Second lockup but Vader unloads with his nasty ass punches and a short arm clothesline. Shoot off but Shawn catches a big boot and sweeps his legs out.  Dropkick to the face by Shawn and then some kicks Vader’s head while he’s on the canvas.  More punches by Michaels and this match is already totally non-conformist to Shawn’s normal style.  Shawn gets out of a backdrop then uses momentum to swing Vader to the outside.  Shawn then baseball slides Vader and hits a no-hands plancha on the floor.  Shawn comes out of the ring to spook Jim Cornette away, then tosses Vader back in to drop a sledge off the top.  Frankensteiner by Shawn and he gets up on Vader’s shoulders and ranas him to the floor, skinning the cat to get back in.  Not a bad match by any means but man is Vader looking like a pussy here.  That ends when Shawn ends up on Vader’s shoulders on the outside but this time he can’t get the rana and Vader powerbombs him in the floor.  Vader takes some time to recover, then scoops Shawn up and walks him up the stairs, dumping him like a sack of shit over the top rope and back in the ring.  No real point to that other then to show that Vader has Shawn physically.  Vader punches Shawn in the corner, then kicks him in the gut to knock him out.  Suplex by Vader but he doesn’t cover.  He takes Shawn to the corner and clubs away at him.  Vader whips Shawn from pillar to post, sending Shawn up and over to the floor.  Shawn to the apron where Vader headbutts him down, then shoots him off and backdrops him.  Vader feels good but Shawn tries to fight back.  Vader yanks the hair, but Shawn flips out of a backsuplex and slugs it out some more.  Vader gouges the eye to stop him and shoots him to the corner, but he misses the body boxer.  Clothesline doesn’t miss, and the crowd groans.  Another suplex attempt but Shawn flips out of it and slugs it out with him.  Pretty obvious that’s not the best strategy here.  Vader side-steps a charge and sends Shawn over the ropes, but Shawn grabs on and skins the cat, trying to grab Vader in a rana, but Vader overpowers him and simply launches Shawn face first onto the canvas for two.  Clutch neck vise by Vader that looks like poop.  Shawn fights back and hits a running knee to the gut.  Clothesline doesn’t effect Vader at all.  Shawn tries to slide under him but Vader catches him with his feet.  He goes for an ass splash but Shawn gets a knee up to hit him in the balls.  Clothesline again and this time it takes Vader down and calls for the flying elbow.  This part was discussed in Shawn’s book.  He wanted to do something he hadn’t done before, so the plan called for him to go for the flying elbow, have Vader roll out of the way, yet have Shawn land on his feet and then hit him with an elbowdrop.  Only Vader forgot to move out of the way.  Shawn lands on his feet, nothing from Vader, so Shawn gets pissed and legitimately stomps Vader in the face and screams at him to move.  Goddamn, that looked vicious.  Vader is audibly and visibly pissed, but the match continues.  Should be interesting from here on out.  By the way, Shawn noted in his book, “I shouldn’t have yelled at Leon.  I liked him and he was good.”  Take that for what you will.  Shawn shoots Vader off but gets reversed, only to hit a flying crossbody that sends both guys over the top and to the floor in a pair of sick bumps.  Shawn’s in a foul mood now so he smacks at the camera when it gets too close to him.  Vader picks up Shawn then and press slams him onto the guardrail, then returns to the ring… and wins via countout.

BUT WAIT~!!  Jim Cornette is pissed that Shawn keeps the title, calls him a pussy and demands he returns to the ring.  Shawn agrees to and the match is restarted.  Vader doesn’t wait for Shawn to get away from the aisle and takes him out there.  Jim Cornette smacks Shawn in the back with the loaded tennis racket while he’s at it.  Back in the ring, Vader hits the body-boxer splash in the corner and hits a belly to belly for two.  Fans seem to have bought that as the finish.  Vader calls for the powerbomb but Shawn punches him down on it.  Flying forearm, nip up, and Shawn tunes up the band.  Jim Cornette grabs at Shawn’s feet and tosses the racket to Vader, but Shawn gets it first and beats on Vader and Cornette with the racket.  Vader grabs a chair, but the referee has already disqualified Shawn Michaels.

BUT WAIT~!!  Jim Cornette claims that Shawn intentionally got himself DQed so that he wouldn’t lose the title and wants the match to continue.  Shawn agrees and Gorilla Monsoon orders the match to continue.  Vader misses a butt splash and Shawn hits a flying elbow, then drops the elbow off the top.  He tunes up the band and hits Vader with Sweet Chin Music… for two?  Holy poop.  Fans are stunned.  Shawn tries for a bulldog, but Vader shoves off and the referee gets wiped out.  Vader hits the powerbomb and covers, but there’s no ref.  Another ref is close by and comes in to counts for two.  Vader drags Shawn to the corner and goes for the pump splash off the ropes, but Cornette tells him to go to the top for the MOONSAULT THAT SHALL NEVER HIT~!!, which misses.  Shawn climbs and hits a diving moonsault onto the standing Vader for the pin.  Lots of officials enter the ring as they saw things break down between them early and given Vader’s reputation from WCW, wanted to make sure things didn’t go bad after the match.
****1/4 This was a period when Shawn I believe was physically incapable of getting less then four stars on pay per view.  Big man vs. little man matches are my favorite type and this was no exception.  Hard hitting, unique ending that doesn’t piss me off as much as some, and even some shooting.  This is the set that keeps on giving.

Match #12: Steel Cage Match
Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
8/3/97 Summerslam

These two had been feuding since the 1997 King of the Ring, and this was going to be the blow off.  However, it was decided that Mick should wrestle Triple H as Cactus Jack at Madison Square Garden a month later.  Again, this is an escape-only match, using the big blue cage.  Triple H starts by diving for the cage door, but Mick saves.  Mick brawls him.  Trips tries to escape, but Mick pulls him down.  It’s so weird to watch Triple H circa 1997… he’s so much smaller then he is now.  Mankind brawls him in the corner, and hits the Cactus knee smash.  Stump puller piledriver by Mick.  He  goes for the door, but Chyna is there to stop him, so he decides to go back to Trips.  Mick gets the claw on, but Chyna climbs the cage and chokes Mankind with her… uh… choker.  Foley fights off and climbs the cage, but Chyna climbs up and punches him in the butt, which was meant to be his balls I guess.  Triple H gets a super-Superplex off the top of the cage, nearly missing it and killing himself.  Trips goes for the door, but decides to punish Mick, and rams him full force into the cage, which doesn’t give.  He repeats into a different side, and this time the cage almost gives out.  A third cage ram, and Mick is just going high impact here, and the blue cage sucks ass for getting your head rammed in it.  Ouch.  Trips pounds Mick into the cage.  This looks brutal.  Triple H tries to escape, but Mankind grabs his foot.  Trips fights off, but Mankind saves again.  Mick whips him into the corner, and hits a knee.  Chyna again interferes, and punches Mick.  Trips hits an atomic drop, but Mick hits one of his own and gets a clothesline.  Triple H works in his facebuster, and goes for a suplex, but Mick reverses and hangs Trips upside down on the cage, then splashes him.  Neat.  Trips gets rammed into the cage a couple time.  He goes for a clothesline, but gets backdropped into the cage.  NASTY looking.  Trips climbs the cage, but Mick saves and crotches Trips on the ropes.  Trips gets his foot tied up in the ropes, and Mick goes for the cage.  However, Chyna absolutely slams the door into Mick’s head, severely injuring him legit.  Mick called it the second most painful injury of his career.  It wasn’t Chyna’s fault.  Mick told her that he likes to do things full force, and his wife verified it.  Not in those words.  Chyna throws a chair in the ring, and Trips goes for the pedigree, but Mick reverses and slingshots Triple H into the cage, knocking Chyna out.  Double-Arm DDT on the chair for Mick, and he starts to climb, but the crowd is chanting Superfly.  Mick almost escapes the cage, but the crowd gets to him, and he takes off the mask.  He pulls off his shirt, to reveal… nothing.  It was supposed to be a heart, representing Dude Love, but instead of using paint, they used magic marker, which had run off due to sweat.  Smart people.  He drops the big elbow on Triple H, then escapes the cage to win.
**** Good match, pretty dang high-impact.  It wasn’t a technical masterpiece, but Triple H and Mick Foley were always good together, and this match showed it.

Match #13: WCW Championship
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Lex Luger
8/4/97 Nitro

Luger was set to face Hogan for the championship six days later at Road Wild, but had somehow earned a title shot here as well to celebrate the 100th episode of Nitro.  Pretty much everyone figured this was going to be your average Nitro main event, turning into a giant clusterfuck with Tony Schivoani screaming to “BUY THE PAY PER VIEW!” while they faded to black.  Instead… lockup to start.  Luger counters a hammerlock with one of his own and they break on the ropes.  Lockup and Luger shoves off.  Stall, circle, and lockup that goes nowhere.  Hogan starts to brawl and takes Luger down in the corner.  Choke with the foot, elbow to the throat, then a clothesline and a few elbow drops.  Hogan rakes his foot across Luger’s face, then clotheslines him in the corner.  Scoopslam and a blatant choke.  Slam into the corner, then another, but Luger blocks a third and does a ten-slam on Hogan. Luger kicks and punches away from Hogan in the corner, but gets his eyes poked as we go to a commercial while Hogan grabs a chinlock.

We’re back as Hogan has Lex in a bearhug.  Luger escapes, but Hogan keeps stomping away.  Suplex gets two.  Back suplex gets two.  Punches and a chop and Hogan covers for two.  More chops from Hogan that are about 100 times better then the ones he did against Flair in the first match of this set.  Hogan keeps pounding away at Lex and hits the big boot for two.  He whines to the referee, then scoopslams Lex.  Legdrop hits and he covers… for two.  Hogan doesn’t really sell it as much as he should, and instead pretty much goes instantly for a second legdrop.  It misses and Lex is alive.  He clotheslines Hogan, BUT WAIT~! because here comes Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and Randy Savage .  Luger clotheslines him and tosses him into Nash.  He catches Savage coming off the top rope and dumps him, then throws on the torture rack to Hogan… for the submission!!  Fans go completely ape shit.  I can say that in over twenty years of watching wrestling and being a ‘smart fan’ more or less since I was very young, I have seldom been floored by any outcome of a match.  But this one really shocked me.  All the WCW wrestlers run out to celebrate with Lex in what was a truly great moment, likely the highlight of Lex Luger’s career and the first time the nWo really was made to look bad.  He would drop the title six days later on the pay per view.
***1/4 Not a masterpiece or anything, but one of the better matches Hogan had during his run as a heel, and likely the last good match Luger ever had.  The commercial break actually helped in this case, cutting out a couple rest holds and making it look like they were keeping up a fast (for Hogan and Lex) pace through-out.  I enjoyed it, though I’m sure some out there will bitch at me for it.

Match #14: WWE Championship
(c) Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker
8/30/98 Summerslam

I’m of the opinion that Austin and Undertaker had no chemistry together, which sucks because then were matched together about five million times on pay per view and another dozen or so times on Raw.  Even worse, Austin was knocked out cold on his feet at one point in this match, so I’m fearing the worst.  Brawl to start, with Austin taking it to the corner so the Undertaker can reverse it like he does every single match.  Taker shoots off Austin into the corner and covers for two.  Austin is pissed and flips off Taker.  They lockup up and Austin grabs an arm ringer.  They trade reversals on it and Austin schoolboys Taker for two.  Drop toehold by Austin and a grounded wristlock.  Austin holds onto the arm for a while, then Taker shoots him off.  In the spot that knocked Austin out goofy, Taker lowers his head, Austin kicks him in the face, Taker swings his head up and catches Austin right in the chin with it.  Austin falls back, and according to him the referee leaned over and asked if he was okay.  “Where am I?”  Austin said.  “At the Garden.” said referee Earl Hebner.  “Really?” said Austin.  Taker picks up Austin, who is all rubber-legged and woozy.  He would continue to be so for the remainder of the match.  Austin kicks away and fumbles his way through a suplex, but Taker quickly reverses it.  He drops some elbows while Austin gets his wits about him.  Austin slugs it out with some weak looking punches.  Austin goes for the Thesz Press but Taker turns it into a hotshot for two.  Austin is still seeing stars from the botch earlier, while Taker smacks him around.  His timing is all off as Taker brawls him around.  Shot to the throat by Taker and some kicks.  Shoot to the corner causes Austin to collapse.  According to him, he was trying to buy himself some time but Taker kept coming at him.  Austin says “fuck it” and rolls to the outside, then catches Taker’s leg and starts to whack it around and ring it on the post.  Back in, Austin brawls him around but eats the flying clothesline and a blatant choke.  Taker rings Austin’s arm and goes for the rope walk, but Austin yanks him off and starts to stomp away.   BUT WAIT~!!  Here comes Kane.  But Undertaker doesn’t want his help and sends him to the back.  So Austin brawls him around some more, then chases Kane off, then starts to whack Taker’s leg again on the apron.  Taker catches Austin and chokeslams him over the apron and into the ring.  Taker gets up, then Austin clotheslines him to the floor.  On the outside, Austin brawls him around and they take it into the stands.  Never could stand these spots as the fans always have to reach out and slap them, never giving them room to work.  The camera can’t catch any of it either, and they get completely lost in the mob.  Automatic loss of at least one star in my final rating.  Austin loads up a piledriver, which Taker reverses with a backdrop on the concrete, but we can’t see it because the miserable fans have to hold up their fucking signs instead of watching the goddamn match.  I’m in favor of banning signs for everyone with floor seats.  Tell your congressman today.  Back to the ringside area, where Austin blocks getting rammed into he ringpost, so Taker just tosses him back in.  Austin slugs it out and it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER~!! but Taker escapes and bails out of the ring.  He catches Austin coming at him and rams him into the post.  Back in, Taker brawls away in the corner, then side-steps an Austin charge and sends him to the floor.  Taker preps the Spanish announce table, then tosses Austin onto it.  Blatant choke on the table, while Undertaker gets in the ring and climbs.  He drops a leg off the top and onto the table, which does not give and both guys slide off.  Austin had to be fucked up after this match.  Taker recovers and tosses Austin back in the ring and covers him for two.  Austin is spitting up blood as Taker tosses him into the corner, but misses a splash.  Austin is out and can’t fight back, so Taker brawls him around some more and tosses him into a corner.  Austin gets a foot up this time but still can’t follow it up and Taker brawls him some more.  Shoot off and a double clothesline leads to a double KO.  Taker recovers at seven and covers for two.  Slugout in the middle of the ring with Austin winning out and smacking him into the ropes.  Thesz press and FU elbow.  Shoot to the corner is reversed by Taker and Austin bounces off the turnbuckle, backing up into Taker.  He tries to apply the Stunner but Taker falls back on it, taking Austin with him in a spot that looked like shit.  Austin covers anyway for two.  This match sucks.  Undertaker loads up a chokeslam and calls for the end.  He sets up for the Tombstone, but Austin wiggles out so we can get more horribly executed spots.  In this case, he goes for the stunner but Taker catches him, then seems to draw a blank on what to do.  He ends up crotching Austin on the ropes and hitting a Russian leg-sweep… for a double KO?  Oh, so he could do the zombie sit-up.  I see.  He winds up Austin for the rope walk, but Austin punches him in the balls on the way down and hits the KICK WHAM STUNNER~!! for the pin.  Taker grabs the belt after the match and hands it to Austin out of respect.  Considering which direction the storyline would take, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but whatever.  Kane comes out to watch with his brother as Austin celebrates.
* Sloppy match, though after Austin got his bell rung a minute or so in that was to be expected.  After that, every spot was messy looking and their timing was way off.  Not a good choice at all for the DVD.  Only redeeming value for me is now I don’t have to write a recap of it ever again.  Of course, the sad news is there are twenty or more Austin/Taker matches I haven’t had to sit through yet.  I live in constant fear and break out into a cold sweat every time I check a new DVD’s match listing.  Even sets that have nothing to do with these guys.  I’m always afraid the WWE will throw in a Taker/Austin match just to fuck with me.

Match #15: United States Championship
(c) Bret Hart vs. Sting
10/25/98 Halloween Havoc

A dream match that should have been treated with reverence and an ungodly amount of hype, right?  WRONG! This was third, maybe forth, on the hype priority list for this pay per view.  Well, at least their match was aired for the pay per view feed was cut off in most of the markets.  Always a silver lining.  Sting is part of Wolfpac here, and looking like a total douche with the red face paint.  I never thought it was becoming of him.  Bret bails up the aisle way before the match even starts.  Bell finally rings and Bret bails again to huge hate hooing.  He then jaws with a fat chick at ringside.  Bret stalls forever on the outside, and Sting grows as impatient as the fans do.  He catches Bret on the aisle at the exact moment a soda hits Bret right in head.  Sting tosses Bret in the ring and stomps away.  Ten punch follows and a clothesline.  Sting tosses Bret into the turnbuckle, then again, and Bret is moving kind of slow here.  Atomic drop gets two.  Punch to the face by Sting but Bret fights back with some punches and a rake across the ropes.  DDT gets two.  Atomic drop and a clothesline by Bret as the fans chant “Bret Hart Sucks!”  Headbutt between the legs by Bret and a legdrop gets two.  Headbutts to the lower back, then some weak choking against the ropes.  Elbowdrop gets two and Bret grabs a chinlock.  Sting charges but catches an elbow to the gut and another choke on the ropes.  Bulldog by Bret and a stomp off the ropes into a choke with the foot.  Small package by Sting gets two.  Russian-legsweep by Bret and he goes for a dropkick or something off the second rope, but Sting catches him and hooks in the scorpion deathlock, but Bret is right next to the ropes.  Sting stomps away and slings Bret to the center of the ring for two.  Mounted punches while some moron at ringside is holding his sign upside-down.  Shoot off seems to knock Bret out as he claims he blew his knee out.  The ref breaks Sting away from him, giving him a chance to load up his hand with some brass knucks.  Sting clotheslines him to get the Knucks, but the referee catches him and takes the knuckledusters, allowing Bret to get a low blow.  Stomp between the legs by Bret and a backbreaker sets up the elbow off the second rope.  He hits it for two.  This match is so lifeless.  Bret dumps Sting to the floor and brawls him up the aisle.  He drops Sting on the guardrail and celebrates in the ring.  Bret’s hair was seriously out of control at this point.  Throw some brown paint on him and he would have looked like Haku.  Sting to the apron where Bret clubs him.  The ref taps Sting on the shoulder to see if he’s okay, leading to Sting elbowing him.  Oops.  Bret follows that up with a legdrop on the official that made me laugh, along with the crowd.  It was just so random.  Sting comes back and starts to kick at Bret.  Shoot off and a clothesline that looked vicious.  Sting goes for a ten punch but stops at one.  Sting charges but Bret gets a foot up.  The referee is wiped out in the center of the ring and giving these guys no room to move.  What a train wreck.  Sting catches Bret climbing and superplexes him off the top, with the referee’s foot going up Bret’s ass upon impact.  Big groans from Mike Tenay, seeing what happened.  That’s gotta hoyt.  Wouldn’t be shocked if the ref’s foot was broken on that either.  Stinger splash by Sting hits… only he gets too high on the jump and knocks himself out in the process.  Oh my god, this is comedy gold.  Anal penetration and Sting knocking himself out.  What next?  Bret grabs Sting’s baseball bat and beats on Sting like he was wearing Vince McMahon face paint or something.  Bret drops the bat on Sting from the second rope, then revives the referee, still knocked out cold from the legdrop.  If it’s that powerful Bret should just use the legdrop as his finisher.  Bret shakes the referee to life and then slaps on the sharpshooter for the knockout victory.
*1/2 Total garbage.  Poorly paced, fairly heatless, slow, and some really poorly conceived spots.  A dream match that turned into a nightmare.

Match #16: Strap Match
Triple H vs. The Rock
7/25/99 Fully Loaded
Special Stipulation: Winner gets to face the champion at Summerslam in a one-on-one match assuming the champion is willing to do the job.  Well that’s an oddly specific stipulation for a match.

Rocky runs down Triple H on the stick before the match starts, asserting that he was held back from 1996 to 1999 because he sucked, not because of the MSG incident.  This isn’t a traditional strap match, as the winner is by pinfall instead of by corner touching.  Rock slugs it out to start without hooking in the strap.  Trips rolls out of the ring, so Rocky grabs the strap and slings him into the post.  Rocky puts the strap on and grabs some fan’s camera to take a picture of the situation.  Trips comes back and slugs it out, but misses a whip with the strap and Rocky smacks him on the table.  More brawling, with both guys giving and taking.  Trips drops Rocky on the announce table and then smacks him on the back of the head.  We finally get into the ring, where Trips slugs it out.  Rocky fights back with a punch and a clothesline.  Clothesline by Trips and more punching.  Borrrrrrinnnnnnngggggg.  Trips keeps smacking Rocky around, then takes it to the outside for more punching.  Rocky fights back by whipping Trips into the steel stairs in a pretty good bump.  Rocky slams his head into the stairs, then tosses Trips over the guardrail and into the seating area.  Thankfully the fans don’t swarm them.  Trips fights back and drops a punch to the back of Rocky’s head.  Mounted punches and then more crowd brawling, but Rocky fights back and uses the strap to sling Trips over the guardrail and to the aisle.  More punching, but Trips uses the strap to ram Rocky into the guardrail.  Rocky fights back with that with more punches and stuff.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz Trips whips Rocky into the entrance structure and clotheslines him on the concrete.  Trips starts to whip Rocky across the back and face, then stomps him.  Christ, this match reminds me why I was so terrified of Triple H winning the championship.  Rocky reverses a suplex with one of his own on the floor and covers for two.  Triple H throws Rocky into the guardrail for two.  Back to the ringside area, finally, where Trips whips Rocky onto the stairs and mounts some punches on it.  Back into the ring, where they slug it out only to have Triple H catch the flying knee.  BUT WAIT~!!  Chyna finally comes to the ring to help.  Chyna up on the apron, which pisses Triple H off in an angle I don’t remember at all.  Trips jaws with her and then turns around right into the Rock Bottom for… nothing as the referee is jawing with Chyna now.  Trips fights back with a low blow and we have a double KO.  More punching from Trips, then he takes forever to set up a lynching of Rocky in the corner.  He spends the next couple minutes murdering him, but Rocky apparently doesn’t need air and is able to recover and sling Trips off the top.  Rocky fights back with a clothesline and a Samoan drop for two.  Trips tosses Rocky to the outside, then takes the strap off.  They’re not really using it too much anyway so who cares at this point?  He brawls Rocky up the aisle and grabs a chair, but Rocky fights back with the strap and whips away at him.  He takes him back in the ring, where they slug it out.  Roundhouse DDT by Rocky gets two.  BUT WAIT~!!  Billy Gunn runs in and hits Rocky in the head with a club… for two.  Trips brawls him around, KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! but Rocky counters and hits the people’s elbow for two as Billy Gunn pulls Rocky off.  Rock Bottom to Billy only for Trips to hit the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! for the pin.
1/2* Boring match.  Way too much punching, hardly any use of the strap, and just as far from entertaining as possible.  And thus what was one of the best WWE DVDs in years goes out on a trio of low notes.

BOTTOM LINE: Discounting the horrible final three matches, this is still a pretty good set.  You get five matches that are **** or better, two of which are five-star perfection.  Nothing gets totally offensive to the senses until the Austin/Undertaker Summerslam disaster.  You get a few lost gems like Shawn/Bret from the Survivor Series and Hogan/Flair from MSG.  It’s not perfect, but at $20 it’s an easy thumbs up.

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