The SmarK DVD Rant for The Greatest Stars of the 90s
– Hosted by Tazz. This is similar to the 80s DVD in that it’s broken down into a series of mini-biographies on the stars of the decade, but it’s one big documentary disc first, followed by a pair of bonus match discs.
– We begin with the famous Barbershop turn on Marty, the pairing with Sherri, and winning the IC title for the first time. He wrestles a ladder at Wrestlemania X and becomes a huge star as a result.
– Pat Patterson proposes an Iron Man match for Wrestlemania XII, and now Shawn has the big belt. Everyone gives the opinion that Shawn held the company together in 1996. Probably because Vince told them to say that.
– Shawn and Undertaker have a match in a cage that you may have heard about before (complete with black & white bloodâ€¦what is this bullshit?) and then we meet D-Generation X. And just as quickly, Shawn gets backdropped onto a coffin and it’s all over. Boy, these really are the abbreviated versions of the stories, aren’t they?
– JR calls him the best super-heavyweight ever, although he doesn’t sound too enthused about it. Yoko wins the Royal Rumble in 1993, then beats Bret Hart to win the title before the whole stupid deal with Hulk Hogan. Everyone talks about how fast he could move, but really he couldn’t. I’m not gonna sit here and speak ill of the dead, but he was a big fat guy first and any consideration as a worker came second.
– Next stage in career comes as he gets too fat to be licensed, and he sneaks out of fat camp, but they STILL hire him back and push him as a main eventer again. Because that’s what they do. By 2000, he was dead.
– Rock discovered early that football wasn’t his destiny, but Rocky Johnson didn’t want him to be a part of the business initially. First appearance for professional DVD commenter Steve Lombardi here, for those keeping track. Rock hated the "Rocky Maivia" idea and wanted to be known as his own man. So he turned heel and dropped the Maivia, and now we’ve got something.
– So then of course heel Rock is so awesome that he goes all the way around again and becomes a babyface, before running into Steve Austin and drawing crazy amounts of money as the Corporate Champion. We get a quick montage of one-liners to wrap things up.
– Not really any story to this one, just a series of soundbites about Sunny, Sable, Marlena, Debra and Alundra Blayze.
Kevin Nash / Diesel
– We actually start by talking about Oz. JR notes that he was miscast in WCW, but really Vinnie Vegas was the perfect character for him at that point. Shawn quickly rescues from WCW and makes him into his bodyguard, Diesel (a persona which JR credits Shane McMahon with creating).
– We of course talk about The Clique and move onto Nash’s jump back to WCW. Throwing Rey into the trailer is still great. The nWo is credited with swinging the ratings war (although that’s debatable, as Nitro was beating RAW pretty regularly even before then, but still mostly right). They show the Fingerpoke of Doom in a clip but don’t talk about it, oddly enough. No question he had charisma, though.
– So we pick things up with Owen kicking the leg out of Bret’s leg and then beating him at Wrestlemania X. Really weird that one ***** match could overshadow another one to such a degree, but really most people don’t even remember the Bret-Owen match from that show. Luckily they got the main event of Summerslam to shine and did another ***** match, this one in a cage.
– We get the two-time Slammy Award wins. Him going out and ragging on his family after winning the second one is perversely hilarious. Now that’s a heel. They gloss over the Hart Foundation and the silly Nation era, and then finish with his death in 1999 and some nice words from everyone.
Funny that Flair gets a segment on the 80s and 90s DVDs and he’ll probably get one on the inevitable 2000s DVD as well.
– We start with Flair’s introduction to Prime Time Wrestling in 1991 as The Real World’s Champion. HHH doesn’t think that Vince understood what they had at the time. Now there’s an understatement. Flair wins the title at the Royal Rumble (called 1993 by the on-screen graphic — C’mon production monkeys, pay attention!).
– So back to WCW in 1993 and he wins the belt back. They kind of skip over the rest of the decade and just talk about how great he is. That he is.
– Cactus Jack didnâ€™t exactly set WCW on fire in the early 90s (he didn’t cheat enough to get momentum as a bad guy, says JR, whatever that means) so he goes to ECW and then WWE. We get some of the early Mankind promos and then jump to Hell in the Cell, which Mick credits for eventually ending his career.
– Mick wins the World title, but to quote John Cena, ended up being known as the guy who pulls the sock out of his pants. And of course HHH retires him in 2000.
– It’s a compilation of crap in the 90s, like Mantaur, Shockmaster, Damien Demento, Bastion Booger, The Yeti, TL Hopper, The Goon, Man Mountain Rock (now what was wrong with him?), the Berzeker, Aldo Montoya, Repo Man, Duke Droese, Max Moon, Glacier, The Oddities, Arachnaman, and Avatar.
– Hulk gives his version of the end of his WWF career, making it sound like Vince forced him out and drove him to WCW. This was the greatest thing ever, but then Jimmy Hart noticed that people were booing, so Hogan turned heel (which had never been done before in wrestling, according to Hulk). We get a montage of Hollywood Hogan clips and that’s it.
– Amazingly, we start with his first promo as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, doing a William Regal knockoff accent and smoking a pipe. Quickly we move to him winning the IC title and then the King of the Ring. We blow through D-X, as HHH talks about how he wasn’t at the level he wanted to be at and he needed to reinvent himself. And marry the boss’s daughter. But that came later. They make it sound like he dubbed himself The Game and instantly became a main event star who warranted a main event run, but really he won the belt and got bounced up and down the card for a while before they finally had the confidence in him to run with it.
– We start with Bret winning the IC title from Mr Perfect and jump to winning the World title from Ric Flair in Saskatoon. Onto King of the Ring 93, where he had three pretty good matches in one night, before regaining the World title at Wrestlemania X. We jump to the Iron Man match, where Bret loses the belt again.
– He begins a feud with Steve Austin that helps to reignite the business (although not in any way that Bret would have enjoyed), which gives us the Hart Foundation era. And of course, Montreal. Bret completely buries his WCW career, as his wrestling career ends with a superkick.
Eric Bischoff / Vince McMahon / Paul Heyman
– Just a quick series of soundbites here.
– JR gives an awesome backhanded compliment, noting that Luger went farther on look than anyone he could think of. Ouch! We get clips of him winning the WCW title at Bash 91, and then he debuts in the WWF as Narcissist, which Jerry Lawler calls the most appropriate gimmick he can think of. OUCH. So then Lex slams Yokozuna to kick off the Lex Express, which carried the WWF right into the red. This was literally the biggest push in the history of wrestling, as they invested millions of dollars to make him into the next Hulk Hogan. It didn’t work. CM Punk notes that he always thought Luger was a fraud when he was a kid.
– And back to WCW he goes for the first Nitro and everyone goes out of their way to talk about he’s a horrible person who shouldn’t have done that. Given that Vince never forgave him, that’s probably wise.
– Magnum TA gives one of the best summations of Sting I’ve heard: When he started, just had so much talent and charisma that he didn’t know what to do with it. We of course start the 90s with Sting winning the World title from Flair. JR thinks that this is when Sting became a main event guy. Well, DUH.
– The nWo’s emergence turns Sting into a brooding Crow knockoff, which ironically draws more money by having him do nothing than they ever did by having him wrestle.
Scott Hall / Razor Ramon
– After some classic 80s cheeseball footage of Hall, he jumps to the WWF in 1992 and steals from Tony Montana to reinvent himself and become a star. Jerry Lawler notes that he lived the gimmick 24 hours a day, and was a rarity because there was never really a formal face turn but more of an organic shift from bad to good.
– And of course that brings us to the ladder match, although the clips again make Shawn look like the star. And we skip two years, as Hall and Nash debut on Nitro and make it seem like they’re representing the WWF in a war. Vince was upset, although probably moreso that he didn’t think of it himself. The closing comments make it sound like he’s dead now or something.
– Naturally we start with his debut at Survivor Series 90 and then jump to winning the belt from Hogan a year later. They don’t really go with a history of his career, rather going with various people talking about his WM streak, high-flying and longevity.
And of courseâ€¦
– We get the usual Austin story with his WCW days, getting fired, moving to ECW and then coming to the WWF and changing the sport. More clips of the submission match against Bret where he turned face and became a star. Austin talks about the neck injury at Summerslam 97 (his injury was called an axial load, apparently) and we get the first of many stunners to Vince McMahon. From there Vince talks about how he became the biggest star in wrestling history, and we’re done.
I actually like this shortened format, because they couldn’t really do justice to everyone and you can buy the individual biography DVDs anyway. For newer fans this is an excellent little overview that isn’t biased too badly or way or the other and gives you a good idea of who everyone was.
– From WWF Superstars in 1992: Razor Ramon eats dinner at a restaurant and abuses a waiter after (gasp) getting a BILL. His disgusted rant ("Maybe I could pick your teeth for you, mang?") immediately told you everything you need to know about the character and instantly created a star.
– From 1993: Undertaker makes the famous double-wide, double-deep casket for Yokozuna in preparation for the Royal Rumble match that sucked so badly.
– From 1993: BREEEEEET! Go get ’em champ! Yeah, I hated that commercial too.
– From 1994: Owen and Neidhart cut a promo on Bret from inside the cage. This was actually an easter egg on the steel cage DVD.
– From 1995: The Wrestlemania XI "press conference". I’m sure the press was thrilled to be covering this one.
– From 1995: Hunter Hearst Helmsley speaks out against riff-raff and hooligans in the WWF.
– From 1996: Mankind wonders why God was having such a bad day when he created Mankind.
– From 1996: Hall & Nash do an nWo paid announcement from "Rome", despite The Denver Post being in the background. Nash’s "Lex Luger reminds me of Mr. Ed" line is pretty funny.
– From 1997: Owen Hart and British Bulldog fight on RAW over the European title, but Bret Hart stops the match and reunites the Hart Foundation. Still awesome.
– From 1997: (A RAW I just reviewed recently in fact) D-X does the infamous midget reenacting of the Montreal finish.
– From 1999: Rock reads a eulogy for Steve Austin in a bit that’s been on a million DVDs already.
– From 1993: SHOCKMASTER! Steve Austin comments on it.
And now the matchesâ€¦
Hulk Hogan v. Ric Flair
From MSG, November 1991. Flair was using the tag belt at this point because of WCW’s lawsuit, which prevented them using the Big Gold Belt on TV. Super-hot crowd for this one. Flair goads Hulk into a chase to start and then hammers away in the corner before firing the chops, but Hulk slugs back. Clothesline out of the corner gives us a Flair Flop. Flair can’t overpower him, and Hulk puts him on the floor as a result with a clothesline. Hulk wallops Flair on the floor and rams him into each railing, then adds a suplex. Back in, Flair begs off before getting a cheapshot and backdrop suplex, but Hulk no-sells it and whips Flair into the corner. Flair throws chops to no effect and we get a Flair Flip, but Hogan brings him back in. Finally he goes to the eyes and goes up, but Hulk slams him off and follows with a clothesline. Big boot and legdrop get the pin, but Flair’s foot is on the ropes and the ref waves it off. Hulk stops to argue and Flair goes after the leg and quickly hooks the figure-four. Hulk reverses it, but Flair makes the ropes and gets a pair of brass knuckles from Perfect for the pin at 9:28. The pop for that is insane. Unfortunately, Flair forgets to take them out of his tights, and the agents find them and reverse the decision. LAME. A little short, but your basic Lex Luger formula match with Flair. ***
WWF World title: Bret Hart v. Shawn Michaels
From Survivor Series 92. I forget the original configuration of the card but I think this was somehow derived from Bulldog defending the IC title against the Mountie and somehow morphed into this. It’s been a long time and my power of trivial memory only go so far. They fight for the lockup to start and Shawn takes Bret down, but they go to the ropes for the break. Bret starts on the armbar and Shawn tries various ways to pull the hair while hiding it from the ref, and finally just takes him down. Bret reverses back to the hammerlock and they exchange off that. Bret takes him out of the ring and then slingshots him back in before going back to the arm again. He holds onto the armbar pretty tenaciously while Vince shills ICOPRO, and Shawn does a nice acrobatic escape before Bret hammers him down again and goes back to the arm. Finally Shawn drops him on the top rope with a stungun and takes over. Bret misses a blind charge and hits the post for good measure. So now Shawn goes after the arm, taking him down with a single-arm DDT and then whipping him into the corner for two. We hit the chinlock, but Bret fights out of it until Shawn puts him down for two. Backbreaker gets two. Bret fights up with a neckbreaker, but Shawn recovers first and stomps him down again before going to a facelock on the mat. They reverse each other into the corner, and Bret wins that battle with a bulldog. Second rope elbow misses and Shawn gets two. Reverse elbow gets two. He clamps the facelock on again, but Bret reverses to a small package for two. Shawn misses a blind charge and Bret hits him with a backdrop suplex out of the corner, then blocks a Thesz Press attempt with a catapult into the corner. Bret comes back and fires Shawn into the turnbuckles for the crotch bump that Shawn used to do, and follows with a backdrop for two. Legsweep gets two. Middle rope elbow gets two. They go up for the superplex (which was Bret’s setup for the Sharpshooter at that point) and it gets two. Bret tries a sleeper and the ref gets bumped as a result, but doesn’t go down. They trade atomic drop attempts and Bret gets tossed as a result, and Shawn sends him into the post. Back in, Bret goes into the corner again and Shawn gets two. He follows with a backdrop for two, but argues the count and allows Bret to roll him up for two. Superkick out of nowhere (which would of course finish the match 1996 and later) puts Bret down, but Shawn can’t hit the teardrop suplex. Another try does hit, and gets two. Think of the Angle Slam, basically. Bret fights back with a flying forearm and Shawn gets tied in the ropes, but Bret charges and crotches himself. Bret is in big trouble, but Shawn goes up and Bret miraculously recovers and catches him with the Sharpshooter to finish at 26:36. RING THE BELL, RING THEâ€¦well, you know. Started slow, but they hit EVERYTHING with pinpoint accuracy and by the end, if Shawn had a finisher that was in any way believable to end it, this would have been off the charts. As it is, it’s just friggin’ great and not an all-time classic. And anytime Bret pulls out the "Ha ha, I was just faking" ending I mark out. I actually wish that it wouldn’t have been a World title match, because you knew Shawn wasn’t going over here and it kind of hurt the suspense a teenie bit, but the work was just so crisp and real (well, pro wrestling real) that it overcame its own limitations. ****1/2
WWF World title: Hulk Hogan v. Yokozuna
This is the infamous match from King of the Ring 93 where Hogan met what everyone presumed to be the end of his WWF run forever and ever. It should be noted that Hogan is announced at "302 pounds" here despite obviously being off the juice and looking almost skinny. Seriously, if he came into WWE offices today looking for a job with that physique, they’d probably future endeavor him after a couple of tryout matches. A nice bit from the crack production crew here, as Hogan holds up the belt and they cut to a kid in the audience holding up his replica belt at the same time. That’s a cool little shot. They fight for the lockup to start and Yoko wins that one, then pounds on Hulk with the clubbing chops. And that goes on for a while. Avalanche misses and Hogan fires back in the corner and follows with a corner clothesline, but tries a slam and gets clubbed down. Another try and Yoko blocks it again and clubs him down again. Hulk comes back with clotheslines, but walks into one from Yoko. Yoko misses the big fat splash, but comes back with a big fat bearhug instead. Hogan slugs out, but walks into an elbow. Belly to belly suplex gets two, but it’s hulk up time. The pop for that is not what you’d expect. Like, there’s some big reaction from some people, but mostly it’s polite applause. Hulk with the big boot, which gets nothing, and the punches get nothing, as Yoko won’t go down. Yoko finally goes down after three big boots and the legdrop, but he kicks out at two and the crowd is STUNNED. That’s the most awesome crowd reaction ever. And then a photographer jumps up on the apron, blinds Hogan with the FLASHBULB OF DEATH, and the HULKBUSTING LEGDROP ends Hulkamania at 13:10. The Hogan fan’s jaw dropping at ringside is the best thing EVER. Screwjob finish aside, Yoko kicked out of the legdrop and then pinned Hulk with the same thing, which was a pretty huge "fuck you" from Vince to Hogan on the way out. Yoko gives him the butt-drop as one last kiss goodbye to kick off his title reign. Did we ever find out the identity of the photographer, by the way? Pretty terrible match, but a GLORIOUS finish. **
Owen Hart v. Bret Hart
From Wrestlemania X. I’m extremely glad that this match is getting some DVD love instead of the endlessly archived Shawn v. Razor match from the same show. They trade takedowns to start and Owen whines about it while making the ropes. Owen gets his takedown and Bret puts him out of the ring, so Owen comes back with a bitchslap and hides in the corner. Bret had a good point about this match in an interview, where he talked about walking a fine line between a heel getting his comeuppance from his brother and big brother outright beating up on his own little brother. They trade wristlocks and Owen takes him down, but Bret reverses and works the arm, then rolls Owen up for two. Back to the arm, but Owen escapes with a cheapshot and they criss-cross into a monkey-flip from Bret before a clothesline puts Owen on the floor again. Back in, they shove it out and Bret rolls him up for two and goes back to the armbar. I like the little undertone here of Bret fighting the temptation to revert to teenaged squabbling while Owen does everything to push big brother’s buttons and piss him off. Bret goes to the arm again and they criss-cross again, and this time Owen hits the leg lariat to put him down. He tosses Bret and they head back in, where Owen gets a backbreaker and goes to a camel clutch to work on the back. He gets two, but Bret whips him into the corner and Owen comes out with a bodypress, reversed by Bret for two. Owen takes him down with a chinlock, but tries a slam and Bret reverses for two. Owen dumps him and Bret tries to sneak in with a rollup, but Owen reverses to a bridged german suplex for two. NICE. Legdrop gets two.
Bret reverses a suplex with a small package for two, but Owen reverses a piledriver attempt into his own tombstone. He goes up and misses a flying splash. Bret comes back with a clothesline for two. Legsweep gets two. Owen takes him down for a Sharpshooter, but Bret counters to his own and Owen goes to the eyes to break. Owen with a rollup for two. Another great theme here: Two guys who know each other so well that they can reverse anything the other can throw out. They head out and Bret hurts his knee on the way out, and Owen is all over that. He goes right for it and Vince is shocked that someone wouldn’t exhibit fair play. Yeah, we know Vince McMahon is all about a fair fight. Owen wraps the knee around the post and heads back in for more punishment, taking him down with a legdrag and pounding on the knee. This leads to the figure-four, but Bret reverses and Owen has to make the ropes. Owen goes back to the leg, but Bret hits him with an enzuigiri and pounds away in the corner. Owen gets sent into the turnbuckles and Bret drops a leg for two and even remembers to sell the pain of using the bad leg! Bulldog gets two. Piledriver gets two. Superplex gets two. Bret pounds him with forearms and grabs a sleeper, but Owen goes low to break and gets the Sharpshooter. Bret quickly reverses, but Owen falls into the ropes. Owen charges and hits boot and Bret tries the victory roll, but Owen blocks for the pin at 20:19 and the Garden is in SHOCK. Without a doubt, the best opening match in company history. ***** It’s got a nuanced backstory, amazing work, the perfect finish and solid psychology from both guys, and not just the usual selling of injury type.
WWF Intercontinental title: Razor Ramon v. Diesel
To say this one caught me off guard back in 1994 would be an understatement. This is from WWF Superstars, and Ramon charges in and dodges Diesel’s attack and sends him to the floor. Back in, Diesel catches Ramon with a short clothesline and fires away with elbows in the corner, and we take a break. Back with Diesel holding a neck vice, but Ramon escapes with an electric chair. The sound of the crowd is much more enthusiastic than the video would indicate. Ramon comes back and they slug it out, with Ramon hitting a bulldog for two. Ramon slams him for two. He puts Shawn down, but Diesel catches Ramon with a cheapshot and pounds him in the corner. Shawn undoes the turnbuckle, Ramon goes into it, and the powerbomb finishes at 5:46 to give Nash his first title. Now you’re thinking "No big deal, Nash over Hall" but back then this would be like that guy Ezekiel going over John Cena or something. Not a great match, but it was pretty fast-paced. They’d have a better one at Summerslam which would have been better for quality purposes, but I LOVE having rare stuff like this that wouldn’t make any other DVD set. **
WCW International World Saskatchewan Hardcore European TV Western States Heritage title: Sting v. Vader.
From Slamboree 94. This was originally booked as Vader v. Rude for the title, which was going to set up Rude’s push to the top of the promotion for a presumed run against Hulk Hogan. He was injured against Sting in Japan, however, and never wrestled again. Sting and Vader have a stalemate to start, as Sting ducks and dodges. The always classy Philly fans inform us that "Sting must die". Vader obliges, beating Sting in the corner until he sees Jebus. Sting fires back and Vader leaves to regroup. Back in, Sting gets a rather dramatic delayed vertical suplex and stomps away, and then they do the old "battle of the bulls" collision, which Vader wins 2 falls to 1, and then he goes up for the pump splash. That gets two. Another one gets two. Vader grabs a leglock for some reason and pounds on the back. Back to the leglock as we slow things down a lot. Sting fights out and drops an elbow, and both guys are down. Vader recovers first and drops his own elbow for two. Sting comes back and dives at Vader, but misses and bumps the ref. Vader chokeslams him for the visual pinfall, but Race gives Vader an accidental chairshot (a weak one, too) and Sting DDTS Vader for two. Sting dumps Vader and suplexes him back in, and then clotheslines him right out again. Geez, man, make up your mind. Vader comes in, walks into a Stinger Splash, but out-thinks Sting by catching the move and powerslamming him to counter. This sets up the moonsault, which misses, as Sting was playing possum, and Sting gets two. Race headbutts his own man by mistake, and a flying splash finishes for Sting at 13:51 to give him the title back. Another quality Vader-Sting outing. ***3/4
WWF World title: Diesel v. Bret Hart
From Royal Rumble 95. This is early in Diesel’s title reign and a rare face v. face matchup. They slug it out to start and Diesel slams Bret, but misses an elbow. He recovers and dumps Bret, and they slug it out on the apron before Diesel knocks him off. Bret counters by tripping him up and wrapping the leg around the post and then going to work on it. Figure-four, but Diesel is tall enough to make the ropes easily. Bret goes to the leg again and gets another figure-four in the middle of the ring. And again, Diesel stretches for the ropes to break. Bret pounds on the knee and Diesel bails to escape, so Bret hits him with a tope suicida and sends him into the post. Diesel fires him back into the stairs, however, and pounds him with elbows in the corner when they head back in the ring. Sideslam gets two. They slug it out in the corner and Bret loses that battle again, but Diesel goes into a body vice instead of the powerbomb. The crowd’s freaked-out reaction to that is pretty interesting considering that Diesel was supposed to be the big babyface here. Diesel hits the big boot and drops an elbow for two, but a blind charge hits boot and Bret comes off the middle rope with a clothesline. Bret to the top, but Diesel brings him down for a press-slam attempt, which Bret punches out of. Legsweep gets two for Bret. Backbreaker and he goes up to the middle rope for the elbow, which gets two. Bret tries for the Sharpshooter, but Diesel grabs the ropes to escape, so Bret clotheslines him out of the ring and follows with a pescado. Diesel catches him, however, and drops him on the railing to take over. Back in, he hits the powerbomb, but now Shawn Michaels runs in and attacks Diesel. This would seem to indicate a DQ, but the ref simply throws him out instead and THIS MATCH MUST CONTINUE.
So Bret goes after the leg again and gets another figure-four, but Diesel punches him in the injured ribs to break. Good stuff. Diesel keeps pounding on the ribs in the corner, getting kinda heelish and mean, and he follows with a gut wrench suplex for two. Into the corner for the Nash choke, but a charge misses and Bret wraps the knee around the post again, then pounds it with a chair. And now that’s finally enough to get the fans to boo Bret, as he hooks the Sharpshooter back in the ring. And now Owen Hart runs in and breaks it up, then runs Bret into an exposed turnbuckleâ€¦but again, THIS MATCH MUST CONTINUE. Finally, Diesel gets two. Bret goes to the knee again and rams Diesel into the exposed steel, and they slug it out, but this time Bret wins. Big D won’t stay down, though, and pounds Bret with forearms until he’s hanging upside-down in the ropes, and now it’s Diesel’s turn to grab a chair. Bret escapes before anything can be settled and they head back in, with Bret now selling a crippling knee injury. And indeed, a small package gets two. You’d think Diesel would have learned from that, but no, because that’s how he lost the title to Bret months after this. Ref is bumped and now EVERYONE runs in for the DQ at 27:16. Man, whatever happened to the Nash who gave a shit and improved by the month? ****1/4 I still prefer the Survivor Series rematch because it has an actual finish, but this was a very worthy entry in the "Best Kevin Nash matches ever" canon.
WWF Women’s title: Bull Nakano v. Alundra Blayze
From RAW, April 1995. Bull attacks to start and goes up, but Blayze brings her down with a headscissors in a move that Trish Stratus eventually swiped and made her own. Bull tosses her around by the hair and follows with a clothesline and a legdrop for two. Bull clamps on a leglock, but Alundra makes the ropes. Bull chokes her out in the corner and brings her down with a bulldog, but Blayze comes back with her three faceplants and follows with a missile dropkick. Another one gets two. Bull blocks a sunset flip with a butt splash for two. Bull with a Sharpshooter that turns into a bow-and-arrow, then a piledriver gets two. Nakano goes up again and Blazye dropkicks her to the floor, then follows with a dive. Back in, she tries a rana, but Nakano reverses to a powerbomb for two. Bull to the top again and a flying legdrop gets two. Thought that was the finish. Blayze reverses a rollup for two. They fight for a german suplex and Blayze gets it for two. Another one gets two. Blayze goes up and Nakano kicks her to the floor and follows with her own dive, but it misses and Blayze hits the german suplex on the floor. Bull recovers and whips Alundra into the stairs, and they head back in. Bull goes up for the moonsault, but it misses and this time the german suplex finishes for Blayze at 6:40, as she regains the title. This was CRAZY for 1995, featuring them kicking out of finishers, suicide dives, and an amazing pace. How did this one get by Vince McMahon and onto TV? ***1/2
WWF Tag team titles / WWF title / Intercontinental title: Yokozuna & British Bulldog v. Diesel & Shawn Michaels
From In Your House #3. So the idea is that he who is pinned loses his title, but Owen Hart mysteriously was not there and Bulldog takes his place, which means that you can smell the screwjob coming a mile away. Shawn starts with Bulldog, and they trade hammerlocks. Bulldog tries to take him down, but gets backdropped, and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA as the Dudes With Attitudes clean house. Yokozuna tries against Shawn and they engage in a sumo battle, but Shawn runs into an elbow. Yoko misses his own elbow and Diesel comes in, but gets clobbered. Diesel uses the POWER OF THE BOOT to put Yoko on the floor, but Bulldog comes in and pounds away. Delayed suplex gets two. We hit the chinlock and Bulldog tries the powerslam, but Diesel throws elbows in the corner. Corner clothesline and Shawn comes in with a flying splash for two. Bulldog crotches him, however, and Shawn is face-in-peril. Yoko sends him into the corner and out, and back in Bulldog backdrops him for two. We hit the chinlock, and Shawn gets a sunset flip for two. Bulldog clotheslines him down again, and Yoko comes in with the VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DOOM. The Banzai Drop misses, however, and it’s hot tag Diesel. Backdrop and Snake Eyes for Bulldog, and a sideslam triggers another brawl. They launch Bulldog into Yoko and Diesel walks into a samoan drop, but Shawn superkicks Yoko to the floor. Like a turtle on its back, Yoko is thus removed from the equation. Bulldog powerslams Diesel for two, but now Owen Hart suddenly appears, at which point Diesel immediately powerbombs and pins him at 15:44. **1/2 This match of course eschewed standard practices of thinking, like having someone in the match taking the pinfall, and as a result the title victory was overturning the next night on RAW and the title went to the Smoking Gunns instead. As a punishment for the fans, we had to watch Diesel v. Bulldog in a god-awful main event at the next In Your House, too. So it was lose-lose for everyone.
Owen Hart v. Shawn Michaels
From In Your House #6, as this was Shawn’s revenge match after the ENZUIGIRI OF DOOM angle in November ’95. Winner of this gets the title match at Wrestlemania, although I forget how they dealt with Shawn already winning the Rumble. Shawn was getting pretty roided at this point, although of course he always claims to have never used them. Cutesy spot to start as Shawn baseball slides at Cornette but then deliberately misses and instead runs around ringside kissing women and shaking hands. So we start properly with Owen grabbing a headlock and then sliding out, but no one wants to kiss him. That’s pretty funny. Shawn flattens him with a moonsault press to the floor and back in gets two. Shawn takes him down and walks all over him, then goes to his own headlock and blatantly pulls hair for the comedy spot. They criss-cross and both kip up at the same time, and Shawn takes Owen down with a rana. Owen fires back with the belly to belly and starts stomping the back to take over. Neckbreaker out of the corner gets two. Owen goes for the Sharpshooter, but Shawn kicks out of it, so Owen goes to the camel clutch instead. Shawn fights out, but runs into a knee, and Owen gets a rollup for two. Leg lariat puts Shawn on the floor, and Owen gets two backin the ring. Missile dropkick gets two. Owen fires away with forearms in the corner, but Shawn rolls him up for two. Owen whips him into the corner and KILLS him with a running clothesline (how come he didn’t do that more often?) and Shawn is apparently dead. Owen puts him in the Sharpshooter and people are kinda freaking out, but Shawn makes the ropes. Owen gives him the old snot blow, but Shawn cradles for two, so Owen hits the ENZUIGIRI OF DOOM and Shawn falls to the floor on the sell. Owen stupidly breaks the count, however, and brings him back in for two. Owen tries a charge in frustration and misses and Shawn comes back with an atomic drop and the flying forearm. Shawn kips up and mounts the comeback, then knocks Cornette off after hitting the flying elbow. Superkick misses and Owen tries another enzuigiri, but it misses and Shawn finishes with the superkick at 15:56. Funny how this one gets forgotten on Shawn’s collections, but I guess it’s a little forgettable. Still great though, as they had terrific chemistry together. ****
WWF World title: Shawn Michaels v. Vader
From Summerslam 96. Vader pounds him to start and kills him dead with a short-arm clothesline. Shawn ducks a kick and legsweeps him down, then hits a seated dropkick and ground-pounds him. Hey, Shawn Shamrock! Vader goes to toss him, but Shawn shifts his weight and itâ€™s Vader who hits the floor. Shawn baseball slides him and follows with an awesome tope con hilo. Back in, he goes up and hits a double axehandle, then blocks a powerbomb with a rana. He goes onto Vaderâ€™s shoulders, and when Vader tries to dump him out, he hangs on and Vader goes out again. Shawn jumps him again, but gets powerbombed on the floor. Oops, so much for stick and move. Vader carries him back in and casually dumps him there. He goes to work in the corner and suplexes him. Vader sends him to the floor in dramatic fashion, and back in for some more vicious bodyshots. Shawn blocks a suplex and fights back, but Vader ignores him. Blind charge misses, but Vader ignores hitting the turnbuckles and simply turns around and clotheslines Shawn again. Shawn escapes another suplex, but Vader dumps him. He hangs on and skins the cat back in, but Vader catches him and drops him rudely facefirst to the mat. Vader goes to a bearhuggish looking thing, but Shawn fights out. Vader ignores a comeback attempt, but a buttsplash hits knee. Shawn clotheslines him down and goes up, but Vader is out of position and Shawn loses his cool. Always nice to see main eventers throwing a tantrum like a 5-year old. Boy guys head out, and Vader pounds him into goo and gets the countout at 13:30. BUT WAIT! Jim Cornette wonâ€™t take that victory, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. Vader chases Shawn back in. Belly to belly gets two. Shawn escapes the powerbomb and comes back. Flying elbow hits this time, and Shawn grabs the tennis racket and gets DQâ€™d at 17:36. Do I even need to tell you what Cornette does next? Indeed, the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. Shawn gets another elbow and Sweet Chin Musicâ€¦for two. Uh oh. Ref is bumped, but another 14 are at ringside when Vader powerbombs himâ€¦for two. He drags Shawn to the corner, but gets cocky and tries the moonsault, misses, and Shawn bodypresses him for the pin at 22:15. Not exactly vintage Vader or anything due to his injuries, but Shawn bumped well enough for 10. ****1/4
Cage match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Mankind
From Summerslam 97. Hunter immediately dives for the door, but Mankind tackles him and yanks him back in by the ankles. Mankind pounds away in the corner and gets a piledriver to set up the Mandible Claw, but Chyna reaches through the cage to make the save. Hunter slugs away, but Mankind clotheslines him and goes up. Chyna punches him in the Little Mickster to prevent him from climbing out, and Hunter brings him down with a superplex. Mankind gets to eat some steel and Hunter drops a knee. Back to the cage a few times and Hunter makes another climb for it, but Mankind follows and slugs away on top of the cage, finally pulling him back in. He chokes away on the ropes, but Chyna interferes again and Hunter gets an atomic drop. Mankind fires back with his own, but walks into a facecrusher as they’re looking completely lost out there. Finally they fight over a suplex and Mankind hangs him in the cage, then rams him into it a few times. He charges and Hunter backdrops him into the cage in something of a crazy bump. They both climb up and slug it out on the top rope, which results in Hunter taking the crotch bump and getting his leg tied in the ropes. Mankind crawls for the door, but now Chyna slams the door on his head and takes out the ref as a bonus. She tosses a chair into the ring for good measure, but Mankind blocks a Pedigree and catapults Hunter into the cage to knock Chyna off. Double arm DDT on the chair, and then he climbs up and drops the elbow off the top of the cage for the Snuka tribute, climbing out at 16:27. The finish, with Chyna running in at the wrong time and getting herded out again, was a bit botched, but it was strong enough to overcome the mediocre match and fire up the crowd. ***
WCW World title: Hulk Hogan v. Lex Luger
From Nitro in August ’97, in one of the stranger booking decisions WCW ever made. Not because of the people involved, but just because Hogan had been champion so long and you’d think they would have just waited for the huge blowoff at Starrcade with Sting to change the title. Fun fact: I’ve never seen this match, as I skipped the episode of Nitro when it was on 24/7 and I never saw the original show. Lex overpowers him, so Hulk pounds Luger down and slugs away in the corner. Hulk with the clothesline and elbows, and a corner clothesline follows. Hulk runs him into the corner, but Luger fires back in the corner and we take a break. Back with Hogan slugging Luger down and following with a suplex for two. Backdrop suplex (for "Big Nick in Montreal" apparently) gets two. Hogan slugs away on the ropes and gets two. Hulk throws some pretty nice chops in the corner and chokes away, and the big boot gets two. Legdrop gets two. Another one misses and Luger comes back, but the nWo runs in and Luger fights them off. STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH for Hogan and the Torture Rack gives him the World title at 8:55. This draws an unholy pop from the crowd, as you’d imagine. Of course he’d drop the belt back to Hulk a week later at Road Wild, but that’s WCW. *
WWF World title: Steve Austin v. Undertaker
From Summerslam ’98, the first truly meaningful PPV headlined by this pairing. Slugfest to start and UT wins that one and follows with a clothesline for two. Austin flips him off in response (blurred out now, of course) and goes to work on the arm. Austin cradles with a handful of tights for two, and then takes him down with a drop toehold (!!) and it’s back to the arm again. Weird spot as they appear to crack heads and Austin goes down like a ton of bricks. They continue with Taker getting a suplex and dropping an elbow, but Austin recovers before walking into a stungun. Austin is just messed right up now and Taker keeps beating on him until he can get it together, and Austin finally pulls him down and wraps Taker’s leg around the post. UT comes back with the flying clothesline and chokes him out on the mat and goes old school, but Austin yanks him down to counter and stomps away. And here comes Kane, who may or may not be on the side of his brother. Taker sends him away regardless and slugs it out with Austin, then chokeslams him into the ring from the apron. Austin fights back with a clothesline to put Taker out of the ring, and they brawl at ringside and into the crowd. Back to ringside, where Austin gets a ride into the post, but recovers and tries a stunner in the ring. Taker slips out of the ring to escape and sends him into the post again. Back in the ring, Austin fires back, but gets tossed with MALICE by UT. And they brawl outside again as Austin is just totally unable to get things going because of what I suspect was a concussion earlier in the match. Taker puts him on the table and does an insane legdrop from the top rope to put Austin through it. Back in, that gets two. Taker charges and runs into the turnbuckle, but Austin just looks scary out of it, his legs literally wobbling. They collide for the double KO, but Austin fights up and slugs away. THESZ PRESS! THESZ PRESS! Taker reverses him into the turnbuckle and Austin tries a stunner, but they badly mess up the spot and Austin sort of falls on top for two. Taker comes back with a chokeslam, but Austin escapes the tombstone and again he’s just off in his own world as Taker has to improvise a spot to cover. Taker with a legsweep and he goes old school again, but Austin hits him in the nuts and KICK WHAM STUNNER finishes at 20:45. Austin owes him a beer after Taker almost literally carried Austin on his back for the entire match. ***1/4
WCW US title: Bret Hart v. Sting
From Halloween Havoc 98. Sting was in full lobster mode at this point, which remains one of the most ridiculous looks he ever went with. Bret stalls to start until Sting finally chases him and attacks, then fires away in the corner. Atomic drop gets two. Bret comes back with a DDT for two and drops a leg for two, then he chokes away in the corner and slugs Sting down. Elbow gets two. Bret goes to a chinlock and follows with a bulldog, but Sting cradles for two. Bret goes up and splats and Sting quickly hooks the Scorpion deathlock, but Bret makes the ropes. You’d think they could have built a whole feud around Sharpshooter v. Scorpion, but there’s not even a mention of it during the move. Criss-cross and Bret "hurts his knee", which gives him a chance to pull brass knuckles out of his tights. Sting clotheslines it away from him, but the ref won’t let Sting use it, and Bret goes low to take advantage. Backbreaker and middle rope elbow get two. They head outside and Bret pounds away on the floor, but Sting hits the ref by mistake to bump him. Bret drops a leg on the ref for good measure, but Sting suddenly makes the comeback and they fight to the top, where Sting gets a superplex. Sting with the Stinger splash, but he hits the ringpost in the process to knock himself out, and Bret destroys him with Sting’s own bat on top of that. Bret revives the ref and hooks the Sharpshooter for the win at 15:00. What a god-awful mess this was. They had zero chemistry out there, couldn’t get the crowd into it, and neither guy looked like he gave two shits. We know Sting didn’t at that point and really can you blame him? *
Strap match: HHH v. The Rock
From Fully Loaded ’99. This was during the very weird phase of HHH’s career where he was trying to get past being the wacky leader of D-X and have people accept him as World title material. It didn’t work very well. He still didn’t have the water-spitting thing added to his entrance yet either. Rock lays the smackdown in the corner to start and they fight to the floor, where HHH drops Rock on the Spanish table. Back in, Rock comes back with a clothesline, but HHH gets one out of the corner and chokes away in the ropes. Back to the floor and Rock whips him into the stairs, and they fight into the crowd for a pretty dull brawl. Rock drops him on a railing by the stage and they fight over to the bleachers, but HHH whips Rock into the set and clotheslines him. For reference sake, JR here claims that HHH being punished for the MSG incident was "a creation of the internet and newsletters". So there you go, we’re all just dumb marks. Rock fights back with a suplex on the floor for two as we’re apparently falls count anywhere in addition to being a regular pin/submission match. What exactly is the point of the strap, then? They head back to the ring, FINALLY, and HHH unleashes the fury of being held down for five years by using the strap on Rock. High knee follows as Chyna heads out, but HHH walks into a Rock Bottom. Ref is distracted with Chyna, however, and HHH goes low to take over again. He goes up and hangs Rock from there, but Rock yanks him off the top and comes back with a samoan drop for two. Hunter tosses him and takes the strap off (What a heel!) as they brawl on the floor yet again, but Rock uses the strap to give him a beating. Back in, a DDT gets two. But then Billy Gunn runs in with his Billy Club and puts Rock down for two. Pedigree is blocked with a low blow and Rock gets the People’s Elbow, but now Billy puts Rock out by the strap. Rock yanks him back in and Rock Bottoms him, but KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 19:04 to give HHH the Summerslam title shot. This was pretty terrible for a Rock-HHH match, featuring loads of slow brawling and a dead crowd. **
Pretty awesome set up until it sputtered and died at the end, but given that most of the matches on here weren’t repeats from previous DVDs and in some cases were stuff I hadn’t seen in ages, I’m pretty happy with everything selected. It felt a little WWF-heavy but it’s their promotion so that’s to be expected.
An easy recommendation especially at such a cheap price.
Tags: 1990s, Bret Hart, DVD Reviews, kevin nash, scott hall, shawn michaels, SmarK Rants, Steve Austin, Sting, tazz, undertaker, WWE