– I covered a couple of the details of this show in the King Lear Rant (still available on finer websites everywhere!) but really the level of stupidity involved and the bad taste the World title match left warrants a separate rant for the show anyway.
– Live from Providence, Rhode Island. Is that the state or Dusty while he’s swimming?
– Your hosts are Ted Dibiase (the Million Dollar Man) and Vince McMahon (The Billion Dollar Man). Triviata: Ted Dibiase is the only color man to have done a PPV with both Vince McMahon AND Eric Bischoff (this show and Souled Out 97 respectively), although I don’t know if the same applies to TV broadcasts. If you add TV broadcasts, you can add Bobby Heenan to that list.
– Opening match: Tatanka v. Bam Bam Bigelow. This was supposed to be Tatanka v. Ludvig Borga, but ol’ Tony had an ankle injury that ended up changing the course of the WWF. Ludvig was supposed to win this match, using it as a stepping stone to the World title a couple of weeks after, then losing it to Lex Luger at Wrestlemania X. Of course, things turned out much differently. Tatanka is painted like Peter Criss tonight. You know what’s sad? I made that joke in 1994 and no one got it. Now suddenly KISS makes a comeback and the reference isn’t half as witty as it was. I wonder if Dennis Miller has these kinds of problems. Slugfest to start, and Tatanka blows a bunch of stuff. Well, really he just blows, but I figured I might as well finish the sentence. The announcers talk about both men competing in the Rumble later on, which marked the first year that depletion of the roster due to the you-know-what trials forced multiple appearances for the talent on the Rumble card. Now it’s standard practice. It was a pretty big thing at the time, however. Bearhuggery abounds here. Tatanka tries the Pissed Off Racial Stereotype Comeback, but takes an enzuigiri. Bigelow mocks him, but misses his goofy moonsault, and Tatanka finishes with a flying bodypress at 8:10. This was there. *
– WWF tag team title match: The Quebecers v. Bret & Owen Hart. I really need a high quality MP3 of that theme song. RSPW was creaming themselves once the 123 X-Pac and Marty Jannetty won the tag titles on RAW, because we thought we’d get a ***** match out of the deal. Sadly, the match was never changed to that combo (it would have been a standard Harts-Quebecers tag match) and besides which, the Quebecers regained the belts in MSG a week later. Oh, by the way, the WWF Sledgehammer of Plot Committee would just like to remind everyone that EVERYTHING IS ABSOLUTELY FINE between the Harts, thank you very much. Harts double-team the champs to start. Odd moment: Vince McMahon accuses Dibiase of being a limelight hog for most of his career. I won’t even start on that one, because I’ll go on for 5 paragraphs. Champs stall for a bit after Bret gets about 10 two-counts to frustrate Jacques. Pierre cheapshots Bret and a brawl erupts. Cool spot: We do the “double whip, dosey-do” bit that sends Owen & Bret crashing into each other, but Bret immediately whips Owen into Pierre, which allows Owen to switch to a spear move in mid-air, then upon impact roll up Pierre for a two count. That is seriously damn cool. Note to Edge & Christian: Start doing shit like that more often. Leg lariat gets two for Owen. Side suplex gets two. Bret comes in but gets powerslammed into face-in-peril mode to begin the first heat segment of the match. Owen eventually gets a hot tag and suplexes everything in sight. Sharpshooter on Jacques, but another cheapshot breaks it, and we get heat segment #2, this time on Owen. Bret comes back in quickly, hitting the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM on Pierre. Johnny Polo (Raven) pulls down the ropes and Bret falls to the floor, hurting his knee. This begins heats segment #3, as the Quebecers work his knee and generally cheat like rabid weasels. We work the countout tease for a bit, then Owen tosses Bret back in. The champs hurt the knee for a while and go for the cannonball finisher, but Bret moves and won’t tag Owen. Instead, he tries the Sharpshooter on Pierre, but his own knee gives way, and the ref stops the match at 16:44. What a jerk. If I was Owen, I’d turn on him, too. Owen is rightfully pissed, and verbally abuses his poor brother while he rolls around on the mat clutching his knee. Bret fights his way to his feet (to applause), so Owen KICKS HIS LEG OUT OF HIS LEG! Don’t worry, I’ll explain the reference next paragraph. Big heel heat for Owen there. Great match, great angle that makes Bret an even bigger babyface and Owen a huge heel with one kick. ****
– Toad Pedophile finds Owen in the locker room, allowing Owen to deliver his semi-famous “YOU’RE TOO DAMN SELFISH” interview, where he berates Bret for only thinking of himself, then stumbles over his big line: He was supposed to say ” and that’s why I kicked your leg out from under you!” but instead he ended up saying ” and that’s why I kicked your leg out of your uh leg.”, which sounded much lamer. For comparison, compare the tone of voice in Austin Powers when he says “Allow myself to uh introduce myself”. Same thing.
– Intercontinental title match: Razor Ramon v. IRS. Jim Ross & Gorilla Monsoon take over for this match. Typical Mad-libbed “you stole my [item of value], so I’m gonna [violent verb] you” angle here, although the one the fans were really digging was the Shawn v. Razor one over the I-C title claim. It should be noted that Ramon is wearing his very macho powder blue tights tonight. Razor takes his trademark over-the-top bump to give control to IRS. Weird spot as IRS comes off the top and Ramon sticks his foot in the air, but IRS changes direction in mid-air and avoids it. Miscue there, I think. Ramon comes back with the usual. Ref is bumped, and heeeeeeeeeere’s Shawn. Lovetap with the bogus I-C title puts Ramon out, and IRS covers for the pin and the title at 10:44. And whereas that would be enough for a semi-clean win in most circumstances, Dave Hebner must have realized how lame IRS as a singles champion of any kind would be, because he rushes out to inform Joey Marella of the chicanery perpetrated by Shawn Michaels, and the match is restarted. Ramon gets the Edge and the pin (the real one) at 11:44. This was whatever, but on the upside it led to the ladder match at Wrestlemania X. Ã‚Â¾*
– WWF title casket match: Yokozuna v. The Undertaker. And yes, this is THAT match. And if you’re reading this and wondering “What does he mean by Ã¢â‚¬ËœTHAT match’?”, well, obviously you’ve led a very sheltered life and have never heard of this match before, and are thus much more mentally stable than the rest of us poor bastards who had to watch it in 1994. I’d just like to point out, for the record, that all the free tapes from WCW, exposure from Wrestleline, money from Sean Shannon, and ass-kissing from fans STILL isn’t enough to justify the mental anguish that this match has caused millions of people and the suffering I have to go through in order to review it for you, the reader. But I guess a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. So please, before we begin, bear in mind that I am making NONE of this up, and everything I am about to describe actually happened, live on a PPV. This is not, just to clarify, an LSD hallucination gone wrong, or a dream sequence that ended with Pat Patterson waking up in the shower in the next morning. And please, for the love of god, put the kids to bed before you read this match review, or skip to the Royal Rumble match. I wouldn’t want any of them to read it and later become a booker with these kinds of ideas lodged in their heads. God knows there’s enough bad influences on TV these days without the added mental problems caused by watching Undertaker matches from 1994. Presenting the all-time champion of overbooking and general stupidity Undertaker v. Yokozuna, part one. Onto the match..
– Undertaker gets a quick start, chasing Yoko to the floor. The brawl a bit. Then a bit more. Yoko gains the upper hand with the CEREMONIAL SALT OF DOOM and some weak chairshots. First casketing attempt goes to Yoko, but UT blocks and comes back. Belly-to-bellies ends that, but Taker does the zombie situp. Chokeslam follows, and a HUGE swinging DDT. Undertaker tries to finish, and you might want to skip ahead now, because it REALLY starts to suck. Crush blocks UT’s win attempt, and Taker fights him off. Now the Great Kabuki (as an agent of Mr. Fuji) tries his luck, along with Genichiro Tenryu. Taker fights them all off. Now Bam Bam comes down and it’s 4-on-1. Yoko awakes from his nap in the casket, so now it’s 5-on-1. Is the point hammered home yet? Of course not, so here’s Adam Bomb to make it 6-on-1. Throw in Jeff Jarrett for 7-on-1, then the Headshrinkers make it NINE-on-1, which is getting excessive even by ECW standards. Diesel joins us last (lazy bastard) for an even 10-on-1, and they STILL, ten guys mind you, can’t get him into the damn coffin. So what would YOU do? Steal the urn of course, and dump the ashes out. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get sillier, it does: Green smoke pours out of the urn and everyone acts all shocked. LET’S KICK IT UP A NOTCH Vince deadpans, as the entire match (and indeed his promotion) falls apart in the ring: “It appears that the power of the urn is escaping, and with it the Undertaker’s powers”. I swear to god he actually said that without a trace of irony. That’s why I couldn’t be a wrestling announcer I’d get fired for ripping stuff apart as soon as I saw how dumb an idea it was. Finally, after all that, they put the Undertaker down for good and shut the lid to give Yokozuna the win at 14:19, although the actual 1-on-1 match lasted all of 5 minutes. The crowd is left completely numbed and in shock by the ending. -****
– Suck it in, because we’re not done yet. The heels then lock the casket and wheel it to the dressing room, but it starts to smoke on the way down the aisle. A video of UT appears on the video wall (which the announcers naturally assume is a live feed of Undertaker inside his casket, thus indicating that Ocham’s Razor is a foreign concept to Vince McMahon, Jr.). Undertaker, who is now “dying”, stops his decomposition long enough to give a speech. I was so touched that I transcribed it, because you all deserve to share my pain. I was gonna split it into individual haikus to really be a smart-ass, but it’s late, so here’s the Undertaker’s last words:
– ” Be not proud, because the spirit of the Undertaker live within the souls of mankind, the eternal flame of life which cannot be extinguished, the origin of which cannot be explained. The answer lies in the everlasting spirit. Soon all mankind will witness the rebirth of the Undertaker. I will not rest in peace.”
– Is that f*cking deep or what? I feel like humming “Personal Jesus” right now. I wonder if Sid was watching this show and took interviewing notes or something? By the way, Mark Callaway wanted time off to spend with his wife, so Vince thought up this whole wonderful “sports entertainment” moment to explain his absense. Whatever happened to “he hurt his leg” or “he’s in jail” like in the good old days?
– Oh, wait, sorry, I bet you thought this segment couldn’t get anymore stupid and offensive FOOLISH MORTAL! I’ll break your spirit yet! The video wall image of the Undertaker goes to a reverse-color scheme, then starts to “rise” out of the video wall, to be replaced by Marty Jannetty dressed in an Undertaker costume, “levitating” to the ceiling (with wires clearly visible) while Vince earnestly sells the whole experience as a deep and meaningful spiritual experience.
Dear Federal Investigators:
Obviously whoever conducted the investigation of Mr. Vincent K. McMahon on suspicion of drug distribution in 1994 and failed to get a conviction was either retarded or coked out of their mind, because if the above 30 minutes doesn’t conclusively prove that the entire booking team was on mind-altering substances of some form then the American legal system might as well pack it in now, because justice is not only blind, it’s stupid.
P.S. If you do indeed fire your lead investigator, consider forwarding his resume to WCW, because even retarded and on mind-altering substances, he’s still one up on Russo & Ferrera at this point.
– Royal Rumble: For those of you who haven’t sworn off wrestling entirely after the above, welcome back. Scott Steiner gets #1, Samu #2. Scott has his hair permed like my ex-girlfriend Karen, which is kind of creepy. Due to time constraints we’re going with 90 seconds instead of 2 minutes here. Rick Steiner gets #3, and the Steiners get rid of Samu quickly. Kwang (what’s the sound of 300 pounds of crap hitting the fan? KWANG!) is #4 and he sprays green mist at the Steiners and does some lethal martial arts. To put it in perspective, Kwang is of course that renowned martial artist Savio Vega. Owen Hart (and his big heel pop) are #5. The heels dominate. Owen does an innocuous tussle with Rick in the corner, and ends up fighting hard enough to knock Steiner out. Bart Gunn is #6. He peppers Owen with left hands, but Owen does his Butterbean impersonation and ignores them. Diesel is #7, triggering a pretty famous sequence. Bart! Steiner! Owen! Kwang! Everyone takes a seat on the floor, and the crowd eats it up. Bob Backlund is #8, and there he goes out the other side. Fans chant “Diesel” as he waits for the next victim. It’s Billy Gunn at #9, and he’s out on his ass, man, about that many seconds later. Virgil is #10, but not for long. The “Diesel” chants grow louder, and would keep growing louder until he got the WWF title in November of that year. Here’s your weird thought for the day: Kevin Nash was on the verge of being fired at that point, since he was getting no reaction and couldn’t work, and if the Rumble run hadn’t worked, he likely would have gone back to WCW and ended his career around 1995 doing the Vinnie Vegas gimmick for $500 a night, then retired. But it DID work, and he went on to three World titles, numerous tag titles, and a position as head booker of WCW. So if you were one of the fans who were chanting for him that night GO TO HELL! It’s all YOUR fault that Kevin Nash booked all that crap last year. Randy Savage is #11, thus ending Diesel’s stream of jobbers. He holds his own until Jarrett comes in at #12. Vince’s summary of Jarrett’s motivation nearly makes me tear my hair out: “He wants to use the WWF as a stepping stone to stardom in Nashville”. How the hell is that supposed to draw heel heat for him? An evil COUNTRY SINGER? No wonder the WWF lost so much money. Crush is #13, and he’s on Savage like attractive women on anyone but Mark Madden. Crush and Savage brawl while Diesel rests. Lazy bastard. Heels double-team Savage. Doink is #14. That’d be Steve Lombardi here, I think. Crush presses Savage out of the match. Crush and Diesel fight for a minute, then realize Doink is an easier target. Bigleow is #15, so the heels kindly step out of the way and Bigelow javelins the clown out of the ring halfway down the aisle. That’s pretty decisive right there. Sick bump, too. Mabel is #16. Nothing like a big fat black man to liven up the match. Diesel gets flattened. “Sparky” Thurman Plugg makes his inauspicious WWF debut at #17, beginning an amazing 5 years of non-stop jobbing and humiliation, which would drive most sane people to quitting or suicide, but ol’ Sparky actually hung on and ended up becoming internet darling Hardcore Holly in 1999. So maybe there’s hope for Prince Iaukea yet. HBK is #18. Diesel goes after him, just because he can. Shawn ducks out of the way, and the rest of the pack attacks and dumps Diesel. He gets a standing ovation on the way out. Mo is #19. Greg Valentine is #20, subbing for someone. Talent pool is getting pretty weak here. Tatanka is #21, with freshly repainted face. More stuff going on than I can follow easily. This match needs an enema. The Great Kabuki is #22 and casts fear into everyone’s heart. Everyone gangs up on Mabel and dumps him. Lex Luger is #23 and I’m hoping for a big babyface run to clear the deadwood, but Kabuki is his only victim. Tenryu is #24. Out-of-context quote du jour from Dibiase: “He’s there to do a job, he’s not there to win”. Shawn does a bunch of teases on the ropes. Bastion Booger is #25, but doesn’t show up. Rick Martel is #26. More stuff going on. Bret Hart is #27, STILL selling that knee injury. Crowd pops HUGE for him. Fatu (Rikishi) is #28. About half the total population of the match is still in this thing, and that’s way too many. Crush is dumped by three guys. Marty Jannetty is #29, and he and Shawn go flying at each other like Artemis Gordon and James West with those collars on, and the crowd goes nuts because of it. Last man at #30: Adam Bomb. So our field looks like wait a sec, there goes Sparky. So our field looks like Bomb, Michaels, Jannetty, Luger, Hart, Tenryu, Tatanka, Valentine, Martel, Mo, Fatu & Bigelow. Lots of aimless wandering for a few minutes, then I guess someone signals to go home, because we go fast and furious. Martel wrestles with Valentine in the corner, and Valentine accidentally slips off the ropes and is out. Martel gets backdropped out by Tatanka right after. Everyone dogpiles Adam Bomb and he’s gone. Bigelow tosses Tatanka. Bigelow charges the corner and Flair Flips down to the floor. Jannetty meets him down there. Luger sends Tenryu back to Japan, and we’re left with the Final Four.
– Final Four: Luger, Hart, Michaels, Fatu. Gee, I wonder who goes first? Bret and Shawn do a cool sequence and almost knock each other out. Fatu & Shawn get Luger to the apron, but he fights back in and kills everyone. Double-whip allows Luger and Bret to simultaneously eliminate both heels. Luger and Bret fight to the ropes and over, where both hit the floor at 55:25 to end the match. After a lengthy discussion and a little experimention on the crowd by WWF bookers (announcing one guy as winner, then the other, to gauge reaction), both men are announced as “co-winners”. Later footage on WWF TV, and testimony from people in the front rows, would clearly reveal Luger to have hit the floor first. C’est la vie, it was still a decent Rumble. ***1/2
The Bottom Line: Steroid trials do funny things to a man, and causing him to book shows like this one is one such thing. The Undertaker angle led to the wonderful “fake Undertaker” saga later that year, while the Hart Family dispute led to a ***** match at WM10 and a renewal of Bret Hart’s career, one of many to come. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide which was more worth it in the long run.
I’m torn on the recommendation there’s a couple of great matches, but the Undertaker thing is like a cancer on the rest of the tape. And since the whole Owen-Bret thing was recapped numerous times before Wrestlemania that year, I’ll have to go recommendation to avoid on this show.