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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Wrestlemania IX Retro Review

Yeah, it's Wrestlemania time, baby! The pomp, the pagentry......the togas, the bad matches - it's all here. Wrestlemania IX, Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas Nevada. April 4, 1993. Let's go......

(I'd like to point out that I'm watching my DVD version of the show which came with Wrestlemania anthology box set I bought about five years ago. It may feature some differences to the actual broadcast and to DVDs released more recently.)

We start with some cheesy 80s graphics (it was the nineties) and a screeching Vince, who off screen welcomes us, and hands to our host, Gorilla Monsoon. Gorilla, it epic Roman gear, welcomes us. And hands us on to - making his debut - Jim Ross. It's like the pass the parcel-style announcing. Ross mentions that he is from Oklahoma within seconds, notes that it is his first time in a toga too, mocks a centurion, and hands over to "Finkus Maximus".

Remember that Impact where Bischoff opened the show with mood lighting playing a guitar. Feels like Y2J/Rock compared to this. The Fink announces Caesar and Cleopatra, and out come the same pair - same guy anyone - that we saw at the Rumble. Their entourage includes and elephant, which draws a cheer when is (deliberately) stands on two feet. JR says 'isn't that great' or something to that effect. Well, not really Jim, it's more like animal cruelty, really, but we'll let you off since it's 17 years ago.

Fink announces Macho Man Randy Savage, who last year was in the WWF title match, and this year is announcing. Quite the fall from grace. His part is led by a couple of guys with feathers on poles, a llama, some women (who JR calls Vestal Virgins - sounds like a Russo name for a female tag team. There s still time) spreading rose petals, and then Savage on a Sedan chair. He enters the ring to an ovation. (The time on my DVD player says 5 minutes now. In your own time, guys.)

JR says he thought Heenan was going to be on the chair. He welcomes Savage to the broadcast position, and Savage's first pearl of wisdom is that "we have a lock and load type situation." Thanks Randy, ever to the point.

Back to the entrance aisle, and we get an Ostrich (which may or may not have been led by Bill Alfonso - looked a little like him) some belly dancers, a guy with a falcon, then some fellas leading a camel. Heenan enters on the camel, seated backwards. Amidst all this stupidity, I can't help but laugh at Heenan shouting "stop this camel" then basically falling off it. Heenan could read the telephone directory and still be funny.

Savage shouts "Wrestlemania 9! Do the thing! Lock and load if you've got the guts. Less the Macho Man, more the Non Sequitur man today. Mind you if Heenan was pissed off at this, he'd soon be working with Steve McMichael, so he'd look on this as halcyon days. Heenan ha a go at Oklahoma (get used it).

Common sense and awesomeness finally prevails, nearly nine minutes into the show (no national anthem or America the Beautiful by the way) as Shawn Michaels' music hits. JR asks 'what' is behind Shawn, and Heenan very eloquently explains that it is Luna Vachon, and puts over her family credentials. Tatanka is Shawn's opponent, and Sensational Sherri follows close behind. This is the third year in succession that Shawn was in the opener. He's end that run at WM10 with a man that legitimately may have changed wrestling history.

The match starts, and Michaels soon works into an extended headlock. Tatanka counters with a back suplex (That's HBK's finisher at this point, remember.) and then botches an irish whip and follow up. Eventually Shawn does his piƱata on acid routine and flops to the outside, where Sherri and Luna have a little face-off. Michaels tries to re-enter the ring several times to no avail. Eventually he comes off the top rope with a sunset flip, but this goes pretty wrong too. Two botches already. Tatanka, when you watch him back, had a really lack of natural athleticism. Or maybe compared the Michaels that's unfair.

Tatanka takes charge with an armbar. For a long time. Eventually Shawn turns the tide, and the match settles in to the expected pattern of the heel building up the heat. Michaels hits what was either a lousy victory roll or a partially disguised rolling armbreaker, then Tatanka hits an Electric Chair drop leading to both men being down. A series of double axe handles by Shawn leads to the Native American "Tanking up", and he comes back with poor looking offence. Sorry, but that's how it is. An admittedly solid flying bodypress gets two.

A brief Shawn flurry leads to a top rope dive into a powerslam, which looked great. The match spills outside, and the crowd start to chat for Sherri. Michaels misses a dive from the apron, and kayfabe hits the steel steps. He then pulls the ref (Joey Marella) to the outside, ostensibly drawing a DQ. Shawn rolls back in, Tatanka hits End of the Trail, but the ref doesn't count. He signals for the bell. Finkel actually calls the finish as a count out. There has been suggestions over the years that Shawn was supposed to be counted out, probably fuelled by by Finkel's call, but unless they improvised really well, I thought it looked like all parties knew what they were doing.

Luna attacks Sherri post match. JR says that Sherri needs help. Heenan says she always did. Nice one. Tatanka carries Sherri out as Luna runs away.

Gene Mean backstage with the Steiners, who do a generic promo on the Headshrinkers. Rock says they are going to make Julius Caesar proud. Yes, the guy with the headgear and the big moustache is a Ancient Roman sympathiser. Who knew?

A sign says that New York City loves The Steiners. Interesting, given they are from Detroit and the show is in Nevada. JR says that in Oklahoma they call this a slobberknocker. WWE debut for that term.

The match begins, and it's very general stuff to begin with. Scott Steiner hits a clothesline on Fatu, who does a very impressive twisting bump. Well, impressive if you only ever see it once, but he did it every match, which rendered it pretty stupid. Scott hits a modified butterfly suplex, but then gets hit with a terrifying looking bump.With the ref distracted the headshrinker that isn't legal pulls down the top rope, while the other basically throws him over head first. I don't think it went exactly as planned. Afa then smacks Scott with a cane he brought with, completing a pretty unpleasant twenty seconds or so for the man who would become Big Poppa Pump someday.

Headshrinkers dominate for several minutes after this. It's ok but nothing more. Eventually, Samu misses a flying headbutt, and Scott makes the hot tag to Rick. Rick nails a couple of moves, but idiotically tries to bang the Samoan heads together, and the Shrinkers take over. Things build to the Samoans going for a version of the Doomsday device, which Rick sort of reverses into a belly to belly suplex. Wow. I don't recall seeing that before or since. It wasn't clean, but it was sure innovative.

Scott eventually gets a tag in, and wins with a Frankensteiner. He didn't get all of it, but it was a 3-count nonetheless. That wasn't a bad match, especially given some of the limitations involved with some participants, but it never gripped you. Both matches so far fall right in the average range.

Backstage to Doink, who has defaced the Julius Caesar statue. He talks with Gene Mean, they show a clip of the fake arm attack from a couple of weeks previous, and leave us with a promise that by the end of Wrestlemania 9, Crush will be seeing double. Hmm.

Crush hits the ring to face Doink, and right away the big guy takes charge. I'm not sure how long Bryan Adams had been wrestling at this point, but he looks green as grass here. Doink has a brief flurry, but coming off the top rope he meets a foot in the face. The clown is soon clotheslined to the outside, and tries to climb under the ring. Crush stops him. That's important, remember that. Crush press slams Doink in the ring, and goes for his head vice finisher. Doink gets to the ropes, swings an elbow, and down goes the referee.

The clown once again tries to go under the ring, and is stopped again. I like that attention to detail, even if the payoff to follow was lousy. Crush locks in the vice grip, but with the ref still down, another guy in a Doink outfit (I think it was Steve Keirn (Skinner) on this occasion) rolls in the ring and smacks Crush with the fake arm. The two Doinks do a little pantomime mirror routine, as Heenan says this is an illusion. The original Doink covers, and the ref recovers enough to count three.

Fonzie emerges to tell ref in charge Joey Marella what happened, but a look under the ring elicits nothing. Good lord. Can you imagine them doing that these days? Actually, yes, I probably can. Maybe there will be two Abyss's at Lockdown.

To the stands, where Todd Pettengill has attempted to mix a toga with shades and a baseball cap, and predictably he looks a complete berk. He wonders aloud about the two Doinks, then decides (and what a decision this turns out to be) to talk to a Japanese photographer. He speaks Japanese, and the words we anglophones can recognise are 'Doink' and 'Yokozuna'. He then asks another photographer, who laughs like an idiot. Going well this. He goes back to Snapper A, asking him if he is enjoying his stay. "Caesar's Palace number one" he says. That's more like it. Todd, learning nothing, goes back to the laughing photo guy, who says "Yokozuna number one". Uh oh, I sense a rumble between the camera guys about what exactly is 'number one'. Yoko, or the Palace. (Cue Harry Hill - only one way to find out......) Todd says 'unbelievable. Two Doinks, or an illusion. We'll leave it up to you.' Get Savage up there, see if we can make this any more random.

Not content, Todd explains that seats go way back. Uh, thanks. He says "I've been drenched with beer, I've been drenched with soda. But I've never had a better time in my life." (He actually says "why life" but you know what he means.) All this begs the question of what Todd is usually drenched with which makes Beer and Soda preferably. Actually, you know what, I don't want to know.

Back to the ring, and it's Razor Ramon time. He enters while the announcers still talk about Doink. Bob Backlund is his opponent - still no music -and it's his first Wrestlemania. It's Razor's too, but they don't mention that for some reason. Ramon is still a heel at this point, but there is a big Razor chant.

This doesn't last long. Think an average match on Raw. Or a feature match between two upper midcarders on Impact. i.e. about three minutes. Razor wins with an inside cradle.

To Gene Mean, with Money Inc. Clips are shown of Brutus getting battered by the briefcase, and Irwin says that if we thought Brutus' face is bad, wait until we see Hogan's. He insinuated that they paid for Hogan to get beat up outside of the gym. What really happened was.......actually, it's disputed. The official reason was a jet-ski accident. Some will have you believe that Savage did it, believing that Hogan was having an affair with Elizabeth.

Anyway, Hogan and Beefcake largely dominate the match for much of the opening exchanges, and Money Inc decide to walk out (they did this the year previously, though that isn't mentioned). Somehow, Earl Hebner has authority to make the call that if they walk out, they'll forfeit the titles, so DiBiase and IRS run back. They soon get the advantage, and beat Hogan down. With the ref distracted, Beefcake enters to put sleeper on Ted, and the count is on. Hogan plays the moron card, and goes to two wrong corners to make the tag. Beefcake makes a hot tag, and hit a high knee on IRS (that was his finisher in WCW at one point). DiBiase stops this short-lived resurgence with a briefcase to the back.

DiBiase pulls off Beefcake's mask, and Money start punching him. Beefcake hits a double clothesline, and puts the sleeper on Irwin. DiBiase interrupting knocks the ref down, and Hogan takes a hot tag. He smacks both Money Inc members with Brutus's mask, but Hebner is still down. Jimmy Hart turns his jacket inside out, and it's striped. He makes a count, and gives Beefcake and Hogan the belts. Another ref runs in, and raises the hands of Money Inc. Finkel (without being told anything) announces Money Inc as winners by DQ. So re we to assume the ref who ran down influenced the decision? In that case why didn't that happen with Doink and Crush? Is it wrong for me to get so annoyed about something over a decade and a half after it happened?

Post match, Hogan and Beefcake chase Money Inc off, and Jimmy Hart throws the ref (Danny Davis) over the top rope. You know what I never got? I never understood why Hogan did so many heelish things in his career. Obviously they worked, as he's the biggest babyface of all time, but he was always at it. Hogan and Beefcake cheated way more than Money Inc in that match. There is no injustice at the result - they deserved to be DQed.

Hogan poses for an age, then the trio find Money Inc's briefcase. They find a brick inside, as well as a bunch of money. How symbolic. Hogan finds money. He gives a bunch away to fans at ringside. Don't do that - if they can afford ringside seats at Mania they don't need a handout.

Todd Pettingill has Natalie Cole at ringside, and briefly chat to her "Good luck with your net project" before the CEO of Caesars puts over their venue and WWF. Todd asks for a deal on his room, which the CEO no-sells, and puts everyone over one more time. Todd hugs him. CEO looks appalled - and we're off to Gene Mean.

Okerlund is with Mr Perfect. Nothing much to the interview, except to note that Okerlund botches the word 'athleticism' straight away, and Hennig eventually botches Lex Luger's name - "The Lexercist".

Out comes Lex, with some staggeringly skimpily dresses ladies. I'm not complaining, but we're talking full on thongs here, years before the attitude era kicked in. The girls lift some mirrors up for Lex to pose in, and they produce the worst firework effect ever (It's outdoor and windy.) The girls leave, and pass Curt Henning in the aisleway. He has a has a cheeky peek, while the audience gives Perfect their biggest reaction of the show so far, with the exception of Hogan. And I know I say it often, but Mr Perfect's theme music was awesome.

I forgot to mention earlier, but the announcers are playing up that Luger took out Bret Hart at an earlier Wrestlemania function.

Perfect gets most of the early exchanges of the match, before Luger switches the momentum and works on Hennig's lower back.

Perfect fights back, and I'm reminded of how ridiculous Luger's selling is. Bizarre facial expressions and over-the-top shouting. Hennig performs the big babyface comeback, but this match has never got going - and it's not Curt's fault.

Hennig goes for a cover off a missile dropkick, but Luger gets a foot on the ropes. Lex reverses a backslide attempt, Perfect's feet roll onto the ropes, but the ref counts anyway. If you are keeping count, that's two clean finishes in six matches, and one of them was in a match which went three minutes.

Luger hits his loaded forearm post match, knocking Perfect silly, and leaves. Perfect eventually comes round, as announcers speculate about why Luger is able to knock people out like this. I suspect the big reveal will happen on Raw very soon. Perfect chases Luger to the back, where the Narcissist is chatting to Shawn Michaels. Perfect jumps Lex, but Luger escapes and Michaels attacks Perfect.

All twenty-six feet of Jorge Gonzalez lumbers to the ring, with the useless Harvey Wippleman, and an even more ridiculous bodysuit. Out comes Taker next, with a vulture for company. The vulture is a better manager than Wippleman. (Bearer is there too, but I wanted to get the chep shot in at Harvey!)

I won't walk you through the match, but suffice to say, with an eight foot man and a bloke portraying a zombie, it isn't quick. Just assume combinations of punch, kick, choke, Irish whip, resthold and Old School (although it was new school then).

Gonzales dominates for a while, before Taker starts to come back with.....well, punches. Wippleman throws the Giant a cloth,and Gonzales presses it into Taker's face. JR, Heenan and Savage sell that they smell something, and identify it as chloroform. Well, JR and Heenan do. Savage can't say it.

The match is thrown out, and officials come to tend to Taker, wheeling him out on a stretcher. It's funny to watch many dressed in ref's gear and suits, and then Rene Goulet and Jack Doan in togas. Gonzales chokeslams Fonzie, and the announcers sell shock and claim he'll get fined/suspended. Remember when that used to matter, and commentators used to do that properly?

Gonzales parades in the ring, and the fans actually start chanting for Hogan. Heenan acknowledges this, too. The gong sounds, and Taker returns to clean house. The announcement is finally given that Taker has won by DQ. Another non-clean finish.

Back to Gene Mean, who talks us through the rise of Yokozuna, and plays clips of the big guy attacking Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Bret Hart. He brings in Hogan, who says all his Hulkamaniacs are behind Bret. He's very supportive of Bret. Hmm, not an accurate portrayal of true feelings there, since Hogan was supposed to put Bret over and never did.

Hogan displays the rampant Xenophobia many Americans display, mistakingly thinking it is patriotism, by referring to Yokozuna as "The Jap" and then saying the title is staying "right here in the US of A". Uh, Bret's Canadian, Terry. Have you not met him before?

Off to ringside, where Todd Pettengill makes fun of a small child's ears. He asks the kid where he is from - and the kid totally no sells him. Not a single word in response. He pushes another small child out the way, then talks to two morons who have (admittedly quite creatively) made togas from curtains or bedding. They talk nonsense and pretend to fight. Mind you that's what wrestling was in 1993.

Cue up the pipes of the Orient, and the almost spherical Yokozuna. Bret follows, and the match starts at a reasonable pace. Bret hits and runs, and Yoko is a much underrated seller. He sells what he needs to do look imposing but also give his opponent something.

Yoko dominates, with Bret coming through with the odd flurry to get the crowd going and keep them interested. It's not a classic, but it's probably as good you could expect given the obvious limitations of a man with the girth of Yokozuna.

Bret rallies late on, and hit the big man into an exposed turnbuckle. Yoko falls, and Bret engineers a Sharpshooter. Fuji throws dust into Hart's eyes, and Bret relinquishes the hold. And then starts the run of ridiculous occurrences. Firstly, Yoko just hooks the leg and gets the three-count - so apparently it is dust renders your whole body immobile. He could at least have hit a move.

Then out comes Hogan, ranting about an injustice. Fuji grabs the mic, and here are his words, verbatim.

"Hogan. Hogan, you big man. My Hogan, my Yokozuma issue a challenge. If you have intestinal fortitude you'll accept my Yokozuma's challenge. Come on! Come on you yellow belly."

He then says something about putting up the Heavyweight belt, and something else I don't quite catch. The upshot is that Fuji instantly becomes the dumbest heel manager of all time by challenging the biggest star in wrestling to a match seconds after winning the title. Moron.

Hogan sells concern for Bret for while, and eventually Bret waves him to the ring. Yoko holds Hogan for the dust, The Hulkster moves, and the dust hits Yoko. A punch to Fuji, a clothesline to Yoko, a legdrop, and we have a new champion. Posing, fireworks, and a celebration close what in my opinion is definitely the worst Wrestlemania of all time.

Heenan has the last word, as the shows end with him selling misunderstanding about who is the champion. Thank goodness Bobby never got confused at the end of a PPV involving Hulk Hogan. That would have been embarrassing.........

Thursday, 9 December 2010

TNA - Teens Need Alcohol

Have you ever sat in a bar, and watched a group of 16 year olds come in and try to score a round? It’s hilarious.

In they come, eyes as wide as the gulf between Raw and Impact, into a realm that they aspire to be part of, but know they don’t really have it. They scuttle to a free table – they never come straight to the bar – and discuss who the unlucky one who will try their hand at getting a round in this time will be.

To the bar comes the unlucky one, grasping a ten pound note tightly, as if otherwise it would snatched from him by ravenous wolves, mistakenly thinking he can get four pints for under a tenner these days. He waits impatiently, shuffling from foot to foot whilst waiting for the barman to get to him.

Then the moment comes – the barman, without initially thinking, enquires as to what the patron would like. Our 16-year-old hero panics and attempts to drop his voice several octaves. “Four p-pints please mate.” He is desperately trying to fit in, trying to appear as if he has been doing this all his life. “Pints of what, son?” asks the increasingly suspicious barman. “Err, whatever.” says the young pretender. “Narrow it down,” says the barman, “Bitter, lager, cider?”

“Whatever is the cheapest.” And now he’s done for. The barman asks for ID, none can be provided, and the four slink out the door.

As is always the case, they eventually find somewhere that will overlook their age-related shortcomings, and score their four pints of cheap, hostile cider. However, at this point they try too hard, necking the cider at an alarming rate, ordering a couple of shots and downing them. Half an hour into their visit, they are drunk, making fools of themselves. Throwing up, falling over and slurring are the resulting effects, and the onlookers and fellow customers in that bar start to look at them as young morons. The staff there won’t serve them again.

But it’s back to school on Monday, and recount their tale to their astounded mates. They tell everyone else in the first year common room of the Sixth Form just how “wasted” they got, and what big men they are for gulping cheap, strong, nasty cider and puking on the parquet floor of the “Ferret and Mongoose” or whatever stupid name this particular establishment has. They become school heroes, at least to a select group of upstarts who have no idea of the real world.

I’m not having a go at them. This is pretty typical behaviour, and something that many young men (not being sexist, but this is prototypical male behaviour) go through. I’ve had moments like it, albeit not as extreme as the example. The point is you are a young adolescent who is desperate to be seen as one of the big boys, a proper adult, but the only people you impress as those with the same mindset, that think that getting blasted is the only way to entertain yourself of a Friday, a display of manliness.

In actuality, most ‘real’ men do a job of work, earn their money, and occasionally spend some of it drinking with their mates or their spouse. They might shift a lot of alcohol, but they do it slowly, sensibly and with an air of dignity. If they have a couple too many and get out of hand their friendship network will either frown on their behaviour and tell them to cut it out, or if they are simply a little tipsy and saying silly things, their pals will gently roll them into a taxi and text them in the morning to see if they are ok.

You know who that little group of adolescents who don’t know how to behave are? That’s TNA. They have the frame of adults. They have grown to over six foot, they can grow a beard in three days, they’ve even got hairs sprouting in places it wasn’t a year earlier. Physically, they are a man. But mentally, they have some way to go.

I cannot stand the way that TNA makes sure that the word “bitch” is on every show. Typical culprits are Velvet Sky, Madison Rayne and Abyss, though Matt Morgan let one slip through this week on Impact. It’s not the use of the word, it’s the intonation. They say “bitch” like they are pushing the word forcibly out of their mouth. It’s almost two syllables: “Bi-itch”.

If it was just one individual, I’d criticise them, but it comes from more that one source. That suggests to me that it’s being fed to them, that someone somewhere thinks they can attract a certain demographic by being more adult.

On one level, that’s really smart. WWE make no secret of the fact that they are PG. Many wrestling fans don’t like the antics of cheesy John Cena and little Hornswoggle. It’s so over-the-top and kid-friendly. There is an audience out there fed up of this, and seek an alternative. They want a grown up’s alternative.

But saying “Bitch” won’t cut it. And neither, forthat matter, will bleeding and wacky violence. These crutches are things that TNA think the grown up fans want. I’m not denying there is an audience for them, and I’m not saying they should never be used. But TNA use them all the time, ad nauseam. They have no impact anymore.

There is a passage in one of Mick Foley’s book where he says something along the lines of “Undertaker gets a bigger reaction jumping over the ropes once a year than Taka Michinoku does doing a Twisting springboard plancha every night” and he is right.

Like I said, there is an audience for constant violence, bad language and so forth. But they are the fawning mates in the above analogy, to TNA’s four kids who got drunk and made a fool of themselves. You keep on doing that, keep on abusing the alcohol and acting the fool, those obsequious mates will eventually tire of your antics, and you’ll be quite the state. I don’t want to sound dark – but there is a chance you will cease to exist.

To prove this is not too extreme a comparison, one of the inspirations for this blog is that I saw recently that TNA did a bigger number in the 12-17 demographic than is typical, and than they get in any other demo. TNA and Spike TV want the 18-34 group to be watching their show. That is their intention. But it strikes me that there are 13-, 14-, 15-year-olds all over America (maybe the world) getting all excited because Ken Anderson says ‘Asshole’ quite a lot, or they can try to look big by chanting ‘make him bleed’, or get their first erection watching Angelina Love straddle the middle rope.

Look, I won’t lie to you. I was in my mid-teens when Miss Kitty’s top came off at Armageddon. I watched my Royal Rumble 2000 video loads because it had a bikini contest with Terri Runnells wearing a barely there swimsuit. If I saw those things now I’m not saying it wouldn’t amuse me for ten seconds, but I don’t find Velvet Sky’s stately backside a reason to watch TNA, comely as it is. There is a real world out there. I was a virgin when I saw Stacy Carter reveal herself, and it was the most exciting thing in my life. Now, while I appreciate the aesthetic qualities of maybe Divas or Knockouts, I’m more likely to watch their show because they are a good wrestler or an entertaining personality.

I’m not saying there is no-one over the age of 16 watching TNA, but what I am saying is that there is an audience out there that has abandoned wrestling altogether for the grown-up world of MMA, or simply other pursuits which gratify them personally. And I find they tend to be (not exclusively, but plenty often) the more rounded individuals with a settled life and a higher IQ. And it isn’t that wrestling is beneath them, but the presentation of wrestling at the moment is.

The pair of companies are actually quite mixed up. WWE might be the company that targets kids – won’t swear, no blood etc – but they, by far, present the more intelligent, nuances, well thought out booking. Nexus/Cena has it’s flaws here and there, but it mostly makes sense. Taker/HBK was a masterpiece for two Mania build ups. The Miz is an engaging character who everyone can unite in booing.

TNA aspires to be an alternative to WWE, but all they are is simply a mixed up collection of ideals, none of which work in the real world. They are the prototypical teenager – they think they no better than their elders, try too hard to prove they should be treated as an equal, but in doing so make a fool of themselves.

The madcap X-division matches are like the one-off night out with some old mates that you have maybe once a year. Fun, a little wild, and perhaps a little drunken. Great fun, no doubt. But do it every week and you risk your health.

The language used is like when a teacher is off sick, and they get replaced by a supply teacher who lets you get away with murder. Anything goes with them. You get a big laugh out of your mates, but your captive audience will laugh at anything like that. “Huh-huh, Chris said ‘Bitch’. He’s really cool.”

TNA is one long underage party. Have you ever watched American Pie 1 and 2 (I haven’t seen 3)? By the end of it, the guys have tired of the manic partying, and are ready to settle down. They realise that trying to relive the wild party doesn’t satisfy them, whereas Mena Suvari does (you know what I mean). TNA is Stifler. He might be still be having a good time, and looks pretty cool to a bunch of people, but you sort of wouldn’t want to be him, would you? That lifestyle can only last so long.

Settling down isn’t saying ‘bitch’ or carving yourself open every week. It’s having a sensible relationship between the viewer and the product. Intelligent, well thought out storylines with exciting, longer matches with sensible conclusions.

It’s time for TNA to stop deluding itself about trying to be cool, about trying to look real, raising the bar or any other banal platitudes Hulk Hogan is so prone to spewing.

It’s time for TNA to grow up.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Raw Number Ten

So it's getting near that time. Are you excited? Are you nervous? Are you thinking about purchasing Wrestlemania IX? If the answers to any of the previous three questions is 'yes', then you are a Gonzalez-size berk, but I applaud your honesty.

We are back in Manhattan Center for the tenth edition Monday Night Raw, taking place approximately two weeks before Wrestlemania. It will be the last proper Raw before Mania, since the next week's edition was essentially a countdown show.

We are welcome by Vince McMahon (the real one this time), who along with Savage and Bartlett (as himself) greet us with the usual "Uncut, uncensored and uncooked" greeting that I've actually been sparing you from. Anyway, the butcher it, and off we go to a World Title match. No we don't, it's a special tag team match. No, sorry, it's a Wrestlemania showcase. No, wrong again.

It's the Michael Landon awards. Yup, the Michael Landon awards, which narrator Sean Mooney (hey they got off the street and into an edit suite) tells us took place last Monday in New York (this'll be why Vince wasn't there last week, then). We see Debbie Gibson, Cindy Crawford and others from the event and WOW, it's the Hulkster, with his wife, who is smiling. Collectors item.

Then we see Randy Savage shaking hands with Ric Flair. That's odd, didn't Flair leave and those two are mortal enemies? Wait, no, it's Leslie Neilson from Naked Gun, I got confused. Sure looks like Flair.

Right, I'm having a laugh, but it is a serious thing. It's a do for the National Children's Leukemia Foundation, and they are honouring WWF for charitable efforts. Fair enough. Good on them.

However, we get a speech/promo from the Hulkster, complete with tux and red badanna, where he actually says "my biggest body has got to be my heart." Oh my.....

a) that's not something you should about yourself, it's for other to judge and b) that's obviously why Linda left him. Searching for a bigger "body part"

In fairness, I think he was trying to say Vince taught him to be kind. Not that this is much less nauseating. I'm not knocking WWF for working hard for charity, I'm not knocking the cause at all, but WWF's "aren't we awesome" presentation is a little too much.

Hilariously (when you consider the context today) Hogan calls McMahon his hero. He also calls him the "True Champion of Children" which make me wonder who scripted this. Finally, he botches the name of the award McMahon is getting. The band Rocky's theme (not particularly well) as Vince walks to the stage. WWF didn't often acknowledge Vince as the boss at this time, so that's pretty interesting.

Vince starts to give a speech (by the way, we are eight minutes into Raw at this point) and puts over the superstars as worthy of the award. Fair enough, too. It's quite a nice speech, and pretty heartfelt too, I think.

The Raw theme hits and ten and a half minutes into the programme. I don't they would have run this head-to-head with Nitro back in the day. Finally, it's the dreaded three shot of Bartlett, McMahon and Savage. The Macho Man looks like a zebra on acid.

Bushwhackers v Damien Demento and Repo Man, says Randy, is to come tonight. Kamala v Doink, too, plus Money Inc and Tatanka.

Bushwhackers music hits, and here come the wacky Kiwi duo, to face the rather odd duo of Repo and Demento. Let's give them a name. Erm, let me think.........oh, I know, we'll mix up their names, and somehow get Redemption. Sort of works. Think about it.

Hang on, where are the Bushwhackers? The music plays for ages, with even Howard Finkel doing the 'where are they?' look. Turns out Luke and Butch are in the balcony. They come down during the break. Now, I'd like make a lot of fun of this nonsense, but I loved it when I was a kid.

I haven't seen a Bushwhackers match in years. I can't believe what I'm watching. Some of the least convincing offense of all time, including the old Greco-roman bite to the arse. But somehow, it's funny.

Demento and Repo turn the tide, and get on top, and now it's some of the ludicrous bumping of all time from Bushwhacker Luke. It's like he is on a time delay. Bushwhacker win in, workrate-wise, may honestly be a contender for worst Raw match ever. And I mean that.

Reno Riggins, who is mulleted up good, in next in the ring, asking as proverbial lamb to a proverbial slaughter, facing the undefeated Tatanka. The Native American wasn't the most agile of guys, and this is a bit of a bumpy affair. Not too much clicking between the pair. That's probably why they didn't have a lengthy, nine-month feud, right?

Riggins actually gets a lot of offense in, but that's most probably so that Tatanka can do his warpath thing (Tanking up). He hits what I have in my head is called the End of the Trail, but Vince calls it the Papoose To Go. Damn, that's what my mate Paul called it. I've always told him he was full of it. No-one tell him, ok?

Nice little package in memory of Andre, and then it's Money Inc time. Scott Rich and Jeff Armstrong, are their jobbers in question. Nice rattail on of them, not sure which is which. Shock horror, Irwin says something dry about taxes.

The match starts, and Ted immediately takes control. For some reason, the camera goes behind Bartlett, to show he has a TV. He is flicking through the channels. Vince asks what he is doing - he says checking the competition. Vince says "There is no competition." Hmm, give it just a couple of years, Vinny, then we'll see. Interestingly, just to the left, you can see Bruce Pritchard with a headset. If you're interested. Randy then curiously says that he reckons he can "put that TV inside Bartlett with him knowing what it is." That's a scary visual. Please don't elaborate, uh, 'Randy'.

Money Inc dominate, and win with an IRS clothesline. Nothing to see here.

Gene Mean is here for another Mania rundown. He only mentioned three matches. Hogan/Beefcake v Money Inc, Bret v Yoko, Taker v Giant. He spends more time talking about the toga party. He does, though, mention that Bret v Yoko contract signing is going to be on Superstars and Challenge. Remember when important stuff DIDN'T happen on Raw, but elsewhere?

Kamala v eeeeeevil Doink, next, according to Vinny. Should be fun. If anyone ever tries to deny to you that WWF in the early/mid 90s was cartoony, show them a video of this show. Man alive.

Doink offer Kamala a present, but pulls it away when the big guy goes to grab it, and takes him down. Good stuff. Doink works the arm for a week or so, before Kamala makes a small comeback. As soon as he does we go to a break, and when we come back, Doink is back on top. Kamala gets the momentum back, throwing Doink to the outside. Kamala gives chase, and Doink runs to get the present. He gives it to Kamala, who stares at it, and promptly gets counted out.

Kamala chases Doink again, who runs under the ring. Vince says Kamala will be running after Bam Bam Bigelow at Wrestlemania. I don't remember that match - did that get pulled from the line up? Kamala chases under the ring, but Doink emerges the other side and grabs a (non-folding) chair. He slams in against the side of the ring a couple of times, as Kamala appears to coming out, but the big guy emerges on another side of the ring, and sneaks up on Doink. (as much as a 400-lbs guy with a painted face and stomach can sneak) He chops him, then chase Doink with the chair. Kamala is virtually Eugene at this point.

As Doink runs up the aisle, full of fans swinging arms, someone knocks his wig off, but the camera cuts away quickly. As this is pre-war, we don't get to follow backstage to see what is happening. Instead, it's a plug for WWF Mania, and then Vince informs us that the Bret Hart respect video will have a World Premiere on that show. If I recall that was just an Aretha Franklin song with Bret Hart clips played over it. Or the other way around if you like.

Final break, and Vince promises us "The Rob Bartlett fan club" after the break. And when we have it.....oh joy, it's more fat jokes, as the oversized ladies who are cruelly made to carry the Raw signs are grinning behind our beloved third commentator. McMahon congrats Bartlett on being the "1993 Spam Eating Contest winner". (Is that a euphemism?) I'll spare you too many details, but basically Bartlett makes out with one of them. You happy?

Vince plugs The March to Wrestlemania with Bam Bam v Taker and Macho v Yoko. Savage guarantees victory. (Spoiler: he loses) and Vince promises midgets. Seriously. Unfortunately, I don't have this show, so we'll sadly to have to miss Savage not making good on his promise and midget wrestling. Oh well.

Next time: Wrestlemania IX. Maybe the worst Mania of all time. I can't wait........

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Raw Thoughts - November 22

  • Wow. That's a hot crowd. Great heat for Barrett. Serious, old school, genuine heat.
  • Proper heel reasoning too. He has a point - Cena cost him the match.
  • More genuine heat......this time for Cole. The trouble is there is no money in Cole.
  • General point..........but good lord Barrett is good. His mannerisms, his timing, his character. Just spot on. He is actually way more British than any of the British stereotypes wrestling has had over the years - and it works.
  • Great decision to have Punk on comms. He is great.
  • Is KotR a three hour show?
  • Get Crunk got binned. Good. Cole says he likes "What's Up?". He said he hated it before, didn't he?
  • Cole and Punk actually have similar voices.
  • Pleased Sheamus got a good win to get back on track.
  • I'm happy with the Santino and Laycool skits. That exactly the way to light-hearted, fun stuff to break up the two hours. Background stuff that puts a smile on your face, but doesn't take away from the serious business of matches and championships.
  • By the way, the Orlando crowd is really hot, but it's important to note that not only did Barrett get huge heat at the start, but there was a frisson of noise to recognise Sheamus' high cross, Natalya got a pop for appearing on screen, and so did Santino. There are gradually more and more people who are over.
  • Is Ezekiel Jackson the new Rob Terry?
  • Topofthesecondhour Cena time
  • Erm.........why is Cena smiling?
  • Good list by Rock, though.
  • "Lets go Cena" "Cena Sucks". I really, really liked that. You know what, there were guys in the audience saying "Cena sucks" with a huge smile on their face. That's the whole of point of wrestling. Smile.
  • I understand that they'll be worried about ratings, but they could do with Cena being gone for a while to let it sink in, not bring him back in two weeks
  • Great, great promo from Cena. Perfectly pitched, in my eyes. There will be some that didn't like it, because it was worked, and they'll think it waters down real retirement speeches like HBKs, but I thought it was spot on.
  • Barrett's "You can't see me" was priceless as Cena left.
  • Cena didn't pound Barrett's face to mush, though, did he?
  • Did Punk call Maryse "Maurice", like Steve Miller in the The Joker?
  • Punk is actually getting annoying already, because he is another heel presence.
  • I'm disappointed that two of the three KotR matches I've seen so far have been ultra-short. Perhaps Cena really did go long on his promo.
  • Decent outing for Nattie. It made sense to give her a bit of a showpiece win. If they have enough Divas, they ought to do that for another couple of weeks.
  • Did Tyson Kidd just do the Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenza?
  • Add Morrison to the list of really nice pops.
  • I'm assuming there will be four Smackdown guys in KotR but they haven't done a great job of explaining that.
  • This show is full of little nuances that I love this week. I love Barrett talking to the ref about the match. He is obviously saying if Orton can't wrestle it's a forfeit, and Chioda was saying no to that.
  • This is proper, old school, clever, subtle sensible booking. THIS is how you book a wrestling show, people.
  • Cena run-in. Brilliant.
  • MIZ! Awesome! Sorry, I've just realised this has ceased to become a thoughtful set of points about the show, and simply me reacting to stuff, but that's a good thing. I like it when shows make become a fan again. I absolutely loved that show. Best Raw in ages. Possibly the best of the year. Do you think they decided that they thought they'd get a big rating coming off Survivor Series and tried to hook them? Great strategy. It remains to be seen if it holds people, but it's great thinking.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Raw #9

It's been ages since I did one of these - Time to get back to it. In my series of reviews (potentially never ending series) of old Raws, this is number 9. You can find all the other reviews in the archive. This Raw took place on March 8th, 1993.


Wahey, what do you know, it's Gorilla Monsoon, along with the Brain, as Raw has a very different look to it. In fact, it's taking place in the Mid Hudson Civic Center, in Poughkeepsie, in New York State. Gorilla and Heenan have someone with them, though. The graphic states "Not Vince McMahon" which is rather humourous. Heenan says it is Vince. Gorilla says he smells like him. That's a little creepy. I've a horrible feeling it's Bartlett, but he hasn't spoken yet.

Gorilla tells us that a blizzard has caused chaos to Monday Night Raw, but all the superstars that can be there, will be there. Please don't tell me that the advertised Typhoon v Bam Bam match is off? Whatever shall we do if that happens.

Brain says he'll be doing an interview with Giant Gonzalez. That ought to be interesting. We've got Shango v Backlund and Headshrinkers v Nasty Boys, too. "Vince" does a vaguely ok Vince impression (mind you, I shouldn't high and mighty about impressions. Anyone who has heard my podcast recently knows I am firmly in a glass house as far as that goes) to introduce the show.

Razor Ramon is here to open proceedings, against a jobber with a spectacular rat-tail (ah, 1993!) called Russ Greenberg. Big reaction for Razor from the crowd, despite him being a heel. Razor tells a ring attendant taking his gold that if something happens to the gold, something will happen to the attendant. Nice.

"Vince" is already annoying me. This is another one-note joke which is going to last an hour, isn't it?

Razor runs through his repertoire, in classic squash match formula. Razor will face Backlund at Mania. Monsoon says "this youngster, Russ Greenberg, is no Bob Backlund." Heenan: "No, he's much younger." Gorilla: "That's not what I meant." Heenan: "It's what I meant." Classic. I could listen to those two all day. So sad what happened to both. Hang on in there, Brain.

Ramon wins with his Razor's Edge. Brilliant, consistent mannerisms throughout. You can see why people are cheering him. There is a certain coolness to him. His babyface character wasn't much different to his heel one, really. He's still a heel at this point, but I know this changes at some point during 1993. I'm just looking forward to seeing exactly when. We go to a break with Gorilla promising us Typhoon next. I was hoping one natural disaster (Blizzard) might have stopped another one. Oh well.....

An insert for Headlock on Hunger with Randy Savage with Rev. Jesse Jackson, who would be a Guest host some 16 years later.

Typhoon emerges through the mid-90s psychedelic entrance, just after we see the ref tell the ring girl to get out of the way. Big Typh's opponent is L.A. Gore, whose name appears to be something to do with La Parka and Rhyno, and his look is a little bit Magnum PA. If Mag had slept rough for a couple of weeks, then fell in a puddle of baby oil.

The first 30 seconds of the match consists of Typhoon bumping into Gore, and knocking him over. Gore, after a lock up, scores some punches and shoulders, but Typhoon sound reverses it and squashes him. He continues some standard big man offence while Gorilla says that the blizzard has "literally crippled the east coast." No, it figuratively crippled it. I know I am a grammar pedant, but I hate misuse of "literally".

Typh hits a nice looking powerslam, as "Vince" talks about yellow snow. I'm trying to tune him out, but it isn't working. Avalanche, splash, game over. "Vince" hasn't one said "1....2....HE GOT HIM, no he didn't!" yet. Mind you, there hasn't be a pin attempt that hasn't ended a match, so that's a bit harsh of me.

It's hard to believe that a quarter of the way into this show - which is less than a month from Wrestlemania - that there has been precious little hype for the biggest show of the year. How times change.

We cut in to the ring, from a break, to see Bobby Heenan complaining about not being given a cue. I genuinely have no idea if he was working there, or whether there really was a timing issue with the floor manager. It soon cuts into the usual cavalcade of IcoPro, action figures etc. (Interestingly, the British Bulldog is included in that advert. I'm pretty sure he had been released by then. He certainly isn't on the wrestling show itself)

Bobby finally gets the call that he is on the air, and with his shiny, red, AAW (All American Wrestling) jacket, he introduces to us "the biggest athlete today" Giant Gonzalez. I think athlete is a stretch.

Wrestling managers were a strange breed. Although people often talk about there being nowhere near enough managers (they are right) in today's wrestling, there were way too many years ago. Guys like Jimmy Hart and Bobby Heenan were great, but Gonzalez's manager Harvey Wippleman was a nightmare. He drones on about Gonzalez being terrifying, and Heenan attempts to save him here and there. The big fella ends with telling Taker he has a giant surprise for him. Heenan goes back to asking if he is on the air after the interview. We'll go with the whole thing being a work, I think.

Video package for Hogan next, and a voiceover says he "filled more arenas that Ali, Foreman and Sugar Ray Leonard combined." Wow, that's quite a statement. I wonder if they'd concur right now? The gist is that Hogan returns at Wrestlemania.

Voodoo time next, as Papa Shango arrives. Bartlett does Vince saying "Monday Night Rawwwwww" and it's actually pretty good. Then he does another sentence and it sounds like Elvis again. Shango's opponent, Bob Backlund, is out next. No music. Did Backlund ever have music?

Backlund gets the best of it early on, basically avoiding Shango and tripping him up. Shango initiates, and wins, a test of strength, until Backlund wrestles out of it. Shango manages to hit a backbreaker, and from there this match slows to a crawl, mostly filled with Shango choking Backlund. Eventually, out of nowhere, Backlund hits a small package and gets a surprise three count. Shango storms around looking upset afterwards.

Now I think about it, Backlund had music when he had the presidential gimmick, and had Hail to the Chief.

There is a brilliant TV show here in England called "Outnumbered". One episode sees a small child talking to a vicar about Jesus, and he asks the clergyman, referring to Jesus dying on the cross, "Why didn't Jesus just zap him?" I think similar every time I watch Papa Shango. If he can do all that voodoo shit, why didn't he do it more often?

Gene Mean offers us another Wrestlemania report. Gene says that the announcing team of Gorilla, Brain and Savage will wear togas. They didn't know about JR at this point, or they are keeping it quiet? Gene says that people are talking about Undertaker v Gonzalez "everywhere I go, coast to coast". Yep, they are all saying "Taker v the Giant. That's going to be shit, isn't it?"

Gene hands back to Gorilla, saying he still can't shake off The Brain. Then I'm sure he says "what about that other clown, Bob Barker" (Obviously he means Bartlett) It's Raw guest hosts galore tonight, after earlier seeing Rev Jackson.

We see a three shot of our announcers, as Heenan says he won't wear a toga. Bartlett as Vince actually looks like the guy playing Nixon in Frost/Nixon. Nastys v Shrinkers next. Shrinkers w/o Afa.

It's a fairly standard brawl, as you would expect with these two teams. Notable is that the Nastys have a really nice reaction from the crowd throughout the match. Gorilla draws attention to Afa being missing, and Heenan says he saw him. They come back to this again shortly after. I'd suggest Afa could appear to influence the result at the end.

Knobbs get a hot tag after a period of Shrinker dominance, but does the old "double noggin knocker" to no avail. You see these Samoans have hard heads, or so the age old (racist) gimmick suggests. Strangely, the very next double move is Knobbs DDTing both of them. And yet this works. Hmmm.

Knobbs drags Fatu down the aisle, to a bizarrely positioned table covered in food. Gorilla calls it a concession area, but it is on the wrong side of the guardrail, surely. Carnage ensues, with the old Greco-Roman hot dog to the much and the catch-as-catch-can stylings of squirting a mustard bottle at someone. Sags and Samu join them, and basically, it's a foodfight.

The last few seconds are hilarious. Gorilla has to throw to the setup package on WWF's charity work, but it sounds so funny with the backdrop of an over-the-top hokey foodfight. Meanwhile, Pat Patterson emerges. I don't know if that is to break things up, because he is hungry, or he likes watching four men roll around on the floor.

There is then a video highlighting WWF's work for charity. Fair enough, no jokes here. Move on.

There is a plug for next week - matches announced include Kamala v Doink, a Money Inc appearance, Tatanka v Repo Man, and what i think will be the first raw appearance of The Bushwhackers. They actually end on a slow motion clip of a chairshot to the head, from the foodfight, which is a shame, but this was another era, I guess.

Just time for me to tell you the little known story that after this match one of the Nasty boys was going to form a tag team with one of the team they faced on this show.

The team name? Knobbshrinkers. G'night!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Raw Thoughts - October 4.

  • Good decision to begin the show with Nexus
  • Interesting that Wade addressed Husky & Hennig - will that just be forgotten about, like the Legacy issue with the other DiBiase son? Or will they appear again, and be worked in somehow.
  • I'm really into this opening. I like that Barrett addressed the 'plan' of his cohorts. I like Cena coming out to no music. This is nicely done.
  • Take notes, everyone. Cena got a crowd to react when he took an armband off. Think about that. Think about that when you are suggesting he turn heel, or when you think everything has to be over-the-top and 100 miles an hour.
  • I'm typing this as things go on, so they might twist it by the end, but I might have left this tag match for the main event. Give the audience a couple of hours to ponder what Cena might do.
  • I didn't care for the conclusion to the opening segment/match. If Cena can lose matches and beat Tarver up, then what difference does it make if he is in Nexus or not? And why didn't Nexus come and help Tarver?
  • Ooh, the GM has chimed in. Will he help sort this out.....?
  • Hmmm. How in the hell can a GM tell Cena what to do? It's very flimsy, and the over-explanation exposes the holes in the angle rather than cover them up. I'm happy that they have addressed it, I guess, but it still looks weak.
  • The Nattie v Alicia segment was an embarrassment. Not having a go at the two girls. Not their fault. But no entrance music, three moves and then no focus post-match? What was the point?
  • Oh good, they made Bryan look like a complete idiot again. Because they couldn't have had some other babyface do that, could they?
  • I'm guessing Sheamus gets angry and takes people out for a few weeks, then Triple H comes back to stop him.
  • Hey, another JR line. That's a couple in the last few weeks.
  • 20 man Battle Royal? Cool. Fans love Battle Royals. We don't see them that often. So build to it. Announce it this week and then have it happen the week after.
  • I like the sense in Edge to SD, then the face off with Miz. I take it these two will lead their teams. Clever booking in that.
  • Actually there is a lot of clever booking on Raw. It's just the presentation and afterthoughts that are hugely dragging down the whole enterprise.
  • I like the seeds being planted of Otunga (and perhaps the other Nexus members) one day rising up and creating Mutiny.
  • Oh. My. God. I get what they are trying to do with LayCool, but that's "I'm-going-turn-my-television-off-and-watch-American-Football" sort of heat. So, so annoying.
  • You know what, I'm happy with Goldust and the Million Dollar belt. It's a little undercard thing and fills some time with a feud. Plus, I think Dustin Runnells deserves it.
  • Hey, Flair and Hogan in the Make-a-Wish video. More TNA references, however indirect. Hmm. Rock, Austin and Batista also on the video.
  • Suddenly David Otunga seems like a interesting character.
  • Why would you bury Bourne from the Battle Royal so quickly?
  • Why is Miz in a number one contenders match? He has the briefcase?
  • Hang on, I've been thinking. If Edge has been traded to Smackdown, does that mean someone is going to Raw? Who do you reckon? Maybe Punk?
  • I guess I'm ok with the result of the Battle Royal. I don't care for the idea that if Barrett hadn't won Cena would get fired. If he had helped in an ultimately losing affair, surely that would have been ok?
  • By the way, Sheamus, who wrestled in allegedly the most punishing match in WWE, wrestled twice tonight and sold not injuries.
  • An ok Raw. I had some small issues with it, as I talked about, but it wasn't terrible. I am broadly fine with the Cena/Nexus programme. Not my kind of thing, but as I've said before I'm not their target demo for this kind of thing.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Falling in Love again

There are two great loves of my life. Football (the UK version) and wrestling. I don't ever see that changing. However, the levels of the love do fluctuate somewhat. And I don't think they have ever ebbed and flowed as much as they have in 2010.

If you are here solely for the wrestling please stick with me here, all will become clear.......

For those not "soccer" savvy, my team, Plymouth Argyle, after 6-8 really good years, got relegated to football's third tier in May after a dismal season. And we didn't start the current one very well either. When you get relegated it is in your mind that you might bounce straight back up, but one win in our first six games (and that was the first one) didn't point to this being likely.

You can all this to my other footballing love, The England national team, bombing in spectacular circumstances at the World Cup. A World Cup in which great football was at a premium.

It wasn't just Argyle struggling - I felt football was struggling.

Eleven days ago, things started to change. An absolutely scintillating game with Sheffield Wednesday which we won 3-2 was one of the best games I've seen in years. Perhaps not for quality as compared to Championship or Premier League football, obviously, but in terms of action it was phenomenal. Admittedly we lost against Brighton four days later, but we then got a creditable draw at Rochdale.

I think football in general is in a great place again. The first six weeks or so of the season have seen, in all four leagues, incredible scorelines, great games, great goals, major shocks, loads of talking points. You feel anyone could beat anyone. Seriously.

Last night, as I type this, I traveled 140 miles or so to Swindon. I saw my team score in the fifth minute of injury time to record another thrilling 3-2 victory. We scored twice in the first eight minutes. We slipped back to 2-2. There were two red cards, one for either team. I shouted myself hoarse. Went from elation to panic to despair and right back up again. I celebrated like a mad thing when we got the winner. I can't stop thinking about the game. I'm finding myself smiling like an idiot periodically. Could this be the start of something? Could we win on Saturday? Could we go up?

Of course, it's highly likely we'll get stuffed on Saturday against Hartlepool, and it'll all be for nought. But for now, I'll enjoy the high.

I don't get that from wrestling anymore. I've had these lows before and bounced back, so I'm sure I will again, but there is nothing that excites me right now.

I was so high at the start of the year. Hogan and Bischoff joining TNA, the live Monday head-to-head on Jan 4, Bret Hart returning.........what a start. I loved the unpredictability of the new Monday War (The Monday Night Skirmish?), I thought the build to Mania was terrific - Taker and Shawn.....just wow.

That match was the one which made me feel like I did during that game at Swindon. Now I don't expect every wrestling match to do that, nor every football game. But it is nice to be taken on a story, to have some hope, to feel some emotion. Wrestling now is so stale. So predictable. So bland.

Of course I am talking about the "big two" companies. (ROH is doing a reasonable job, but has it;s limitations) I've been down on TNA for some time, as you know. Their booking in 2010 has been largely abysmal. A staggering run of illogical decisions and pushes has turned me off of their product entirely. I watch it now because it's my job. No more.

For a long while I felt WWE was massive superior. Right now they are still in front in my mind - but only marginally. At least TNA take chances. It seems WWE would rather have a paint by numbers show with minimal athleticism and a couple of zany jokes which keeps Vince McMahon occupied. They rallied for a few weeks with the introduction of the Nexus angle, but that had it's flaws.

When the Nexus debuted it was a brilliant moment - but don't forget it was a three hour show which sucked until that point. There was a terrific show where Cena introduced his team to face Nexus, culminating in the Bret Hart announcement. But after they were booked to lose in the big showdown, Raw fizzled out again.

Now Plymouth Argyle are MY team. I don't expect to feel like a wrestler like that. I don't expect to follow MY guy to the title. I'm beyond that now. I'm a reporter. An analyst. It's my job. But this means that I always know when a match or a show hits the heights, because it makes me FEEL something. This happens so rarely now it's sad.

To be fair, Hardy and Angle did it, despite the criticism it received. So did Daniel Bryan beating Miz in a way. Some parts of Nexus made me react. But mostly I feel nothing. It washes over me. Doesn't mean anything. This might just be me, but the dwindling ratings for both TNA and WWE suggests it isn't just me. There are a lot of people fed up right now.

There isn't a major star in either company people want to get behind and see their rise to the top. There is a Jeff Hardy circa 2008 when he was the hottest thing in wrestling by a long way. The fans were dying to cheer for Jericho but didn't get their wish. No-one cares about the babyfaces in TNA because there are no major heels. Not one. At least in WWE they have had, in the last two years, Edge, Orton, Jericho, Sheamus, Miz and CM Punk feel convincing as heels you want to see beaten. TNA have a cartoon monster who is a derivation of Kane and a heel stable full of talented young fellas and led by a legend. People won't boo AJ. They won't boo Flair. They won't boo Fortune.

So no-one gets over. They have murdered the Kurt Angle retirement issue. That's a joke. RVD's injury is bizarre. Hardy looks half the man (or twice the man, I guess) that he was. Anderson's act is a lot of fun, but he's the fun second or third babyface figure, not a franchise guy you can build around. They've made Joe (who I think might be most talented wrestler in the world - at least the most fun to watch) look like a moron.

The most worrying thing is that apart from The Miz I can't think of a single wrestler who hasn't won a world title that I think either company could get behind and make something of. At risk of going all Joe McElderberry, it isn't just the winning of the belt, it's The Climb. That was why Hardy's push worked. It's why it was emotional when Benoit and Guerrero won gold. It's why they made a big thing out of HBK beating Bret and "the boyhood dream" coming true. It's people loved Mick Foley in the late 90s. Crikey, even Austin was the most popular wrestler in the world for about a year before he won the World Title at Wrestlemania.

I can't foresee a brand new concept executed well. I can't envisage a change in vision on either side. I can't pick out a wrestler to break out.

Mind you, three weeks ago I thought Argyle would be struggling to even stay in the league. Now I believe again. I think we can go up. Not only that, but I think I'll be entertained along the road.

I'm sure wrestling will recapture my heart at some point. But for some it will be too late.

I'm holding out hope for something major to be just around the corner. You'll know when it happens, because the pop will be heard for miles.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Raw #8

It's the eighth ever episode of Monday Night Raw, and its with......hmm, a little message to inform us all that the show has been pre-recorded. Ok. Straight after that, it's Hogan time. In a studio along with Brutus and Jimmy, on full hype mode for a match against Money Inc. Hogan calls his partner "Brutus the Barber Bionic" at one point.

Brutus says something irrelevant about putting title belts on their Harleys, then Hogan sings a song from The King and I. No, I'm not kidding, he sang a song from The King and I. Admittedly his singing was a two on the Jillian Hall scale, but he sang nonetheless. "Getting to know you". He tells Money Inc they have a surprise for them (I genuinely can't think what that is) before all three do the "From New York, it's Monday Night Raw" bit, although they can't say 'Live'. Because it isn't. They do, however, add "Whatcha Gonna do?"

The annoying Raw titles play. The even more annoying siren sounds afterwards. Then Vince introduces us to the ludicrously annoying Rob Bartlett. Good start, then.

Vince references the abysmal Elvis stuff from last week for some reason, before Macho Man launches into a run-on sentence which I think ended with him saying that Money INc are wrestling Virgil and Tito Santana, but don't quote me on it. Bartlett shouts, albeit with no emotion at all, that he's looking forward to Rick Martel v Mr Perfect.

After a very obvious cut (not live, you see) Virgil and Tito emerge. Tito is, of course, El Matador at this point, in full bullfighting gear. I wonder how well that would go down these days? They may well have PETA onto them. Perhaps Tito is coming to mop up the bull coming out of Bartlett's mouth.

Good heat for Ted DiBiase and IRS, the tag champs, who of course have a history with Virgil. IRS says to the audience that tax cheats with have to pay thanks to Bill Clinton. Err, ok, thanks for that. Tito gets the better of Ted and tags in Virgil, so DiBiase quickly tags out to IRS. Crowd are really hot for chanting "Irwin" at Shyster.

The faces are well on top early on here, and for some reason they are cheating behind the ref's back with fake tags. Makes no sense. Vince says that the Nasty Boys stepped aside to let the Mega Maniacs have their title shots. And Hogan is still finding them work seventeen years later.

We come back after a break and Money Inc are on top. Eventually Tito tags out, and Virgil fires off some.......very unconvincing offense. He is soon tripped by Ted, allowing IRS to hit a back suplex. And, wow, that's it. Do you know what, when I think about it, I don't remember IRS having a finisher. Anyone?

Clips are aired of Tatanka getting the better of Shawn Michaels a lot recently, before The Model wanders down to ringside. He isn't here to wrestle yet, apparently, but to criticise the dress sense of one of the Raw girls. Obviously he does this whilst wearing a sailor's hat, red white and blue smoking jacket and pink boots. Yikes. The lady takes the criticism in good part, and Martel does her job briefly, to a chorus of boos. Cute little segment.

Tatanka is in action next. I never really understood the popularity of Tatanka, and lets be certain, he was pretty hot at this stage. He'd been booked well - he is undefeated at this stage, and had been for over a year. His opponent here is Bill Apollo, I believe. No, I don't know either.

Tatanka, after a very slow opening exchange, hip-tosses his opponent to the outside, before indulging in about 40 minutes worth of Irish Whips and chops. Vince gets Michaels on the phone, who says Tatanka rolled the dice and got lucky twice, but it'll come up Snake Eyes in Las Vegas. Nice analogy. I see a future in this boy.

Tatanka misses an elbow, allowing Apollo to land a couple of right hands and kicks. When he slams Tatanka's head into the buckle, he does his Hulking Up thing. (What do we call this, Tanking up?) He then hits a bunch of chops before The End of the Trail. No name-check for the move yet. He must have named it later down the line.

Gene Mean does another Mania report. He leads with Mega Maniacs v Money Inc. He says it's a double main event, and goes to comments from Bret, and then some from Mr Fuji on behalf of Yokozuma. (He still says it with an 'M') Next is Paul Bearer and Undertaker threatening Giant Gonzalez. Gene Mean says it's going to be best Wrestlemania ever, then gives a wooden statement towards McMahon, saying that the Model isn't 'perfect' at being a Raw ring girl, or something. That was the thing I hated about the Mr Perfect gimmick. Every promo was just a pun on Perfect all the time. That wasn't so bad when he was a heel, because it was supposed to be annoying. I don't think it worked when he was a babyface.

Martel gives another lesson to a ring girl, while Vince sends us to a break promising Papa Shango coming next. I was terrified of Shango as a kid. Seriously. I was petrified. I'm probably over the worst now.

When Shango does appear, I can't help but notice the difference between then and now in terms of presentation. There is no tron at this stage. The music Shango has is bland. He gets to the ring quickly. There is no dimming of lights. If he as a character came along now, they'd play this up, bbig style. I suppose the nearest example is probably The Boogeyman, and look what they did with him.

Mike Edwards is the sorcerers apprentice for this one. I'm not I can recall seeing a Shango match where he doesn't use his magical voodoo powers. Let's see what we get here.

Well, it's an easy squash. About a minute, and four moves, in Shango goes for a pin and then does the heel thing of raising the opponent up to prevent the three count. Don't see that much any more.

The commentators talking about the Model v Perfect. Savage says he wants the Model to lose because of what he is doing to the Raw girls. Bartlett - and I am not making this up - says to Vince "I thought you told me Mr Perfect was going to win". Seriously. I think he was trying to a bit post-modern with the irony, but his delivery sucks, and he ended up sounding like he got a bit lost in kayfabe.

Shango wins with an inverted shoulderbreaker which Vince calls thus: "Shoulderbreaker........that might have broken the back." Sometimes I feel bad for my (endless) criticism of Michael Cole. It probably isn't his fault he sounds like such a tool.

Hey, it's Bobby Backlund, out to wrestle a fella name Tony Demoro. Backlund lasted over an hour in the Rumble, so it's a bit of a surprise not to have seen him sooner on Raw, really. This is his first showing, I do believe. Lots of Raw debuts tonight.

The crowd are very vocal in their support for Backlund. He really got himself over in that Rumble. When he came out he had no reaction, but by the end the people were really behind him. In this case, Demoro heels up well to the crowd, including a guy, front and centre, wearing a "Bob Backlund WWF World Champion" yellow t-shirt. Well done that man.

Backlund makes it a sort of amateur-style grapple early on, while Vince says that if Backlund goes to Mania it'll be his first one, because when he was champ there were no Wrestlemanias. Backlund with a couple of hip tosses, and Demoro slides to the outside, leaving Bob to soak up the crowd chanting his name. Meanwhile, Vince sends Bartlett on an errand to go interview The Model.

Backlund allows himself to be elbowed in the corner, but soon reverses an Irish whip, and hits a double underhook suplex. A three-quarter nelson pin, and it's over.

Bartlett with The Model, and he makes me laugh for the first time. The Model says "no class" about seven times in thirty seconds, to which Bartlett responds "So you're saying he has no class?" I'll give him that, that was pretty funny.

Break time, and The Model is out for real this time, music and all. Sadly Bartlett made it back too. Mr Perfect's awesome music hits, and it's s genuinely big pop. I can only guess that Curt Hennig's head wasn't necessarily on straight, or his accumulation of injuries held him back, because Perfect really ought to have been a main eventer at this point onwards, but he never really got there.

Martel gets some mini-victories early on here, before Perfect makes him look a fool when avoiding a monkey flip variant. Pantomime stuff here in the early going. Model gets the upper hand again as Savage and Vince discuss Lex Luger hitting people with a dodgy forearm. So can the WWF physicians not check him out? How long is the waiting list for ensuring the wellness of....oh wait, I forgot. Best leave that.

Perfect does a sort of low bridge on Martel, who goes to the outside. And we go to an advert. Now there is something that is exactly like today. Back from a break and Martel is back on top. Pretty slow this one, though, it has to be said. After one of the weakest backbreakers you'll ever see (no word from Vince about whether it might have hurt the shoulder) Hennig blocks a splash attempt, and starts to turn the tide. The Model's bumping is a touch on the ludicrous side, though. He was another character that I couldn't stand. I used to think (still do, really) that he had go-away heat. Switch-the-TV-off-heat. I'd-watch-anything-but-him heat.

Anyway, Perfect gets on top, but it's another advert. Low rating in the last quarter hour, I suspect. We come back to the match's finished! Perfect's music is playing. That's idiotic. They missed the end. I know they are perhaps trying to make it feel live and spontaneous and frenetic. The old "anything can happen" feel. But this is post produced, isn't it? They told us at the start it wasn't live. So why edit out the finish? Don't get that one.

They do show us a replay, with Hennig hitting the Perfectplex, but that misses the point, really. McMahon says Perfect has "all kinds of momentum" heading into Wrestlemania. How many different types are there, Vince?

Shockingly, more ads ensue, leaving just enough time for Perfect to re-emerge in the arena, complete with Raw girls on each arm. I'll give them points for a little mini-story during the show, I guess.

Next week - Kamala! Wow, what a hook (note sarcasm). Razor Ramon is also in action. That's a little better. The feature match? Typhoon v Bam Bam Bigelow. There's some catch-as-catch-can action for you, right there. I wonder if we'll be able to keep up with that..........

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Raw Thoughts - September 20

- Jericho still in the opening video, then.

- Orton just looks the part right now. Oozing with confidence and absolutely the right man for title right now.
- Orton saying "I am not an honourable man" was hilarious. His description of RKOing grandmother was pretty funny too.
- The start of this tag team section is brutal. DH Smith sat there like a lemon, and TJ looking caught in the headlights. Rhodes and Drew just have nothing going for them personality-wise.
- "Dashing" Cody Rhodes, as a moniker, is so mid-card it's untrue.
- Morrison v Jericho? Really? This could be fun...........
- Zack and Edge should team up and go after the tag titles. That would be great. Ryder's attempt at a high-five which was rejected was very funny.
- So Jericho is here. So much for him being out of the company. Not yet anyway. And this Raw was part of a double taping, so he is likely to be on next week too.
- No pre-match promo from Jericho to explain the situation.
- There was something a little off about Jericho v Morrison. They didn't really hit a stride. It was a shade slow. Still a decent match, but they can do (and have done) better.
- Cena gives you more effective emotion from a flick the eyebrows than he does from his rushed, garbled promos these days.
- Bryan Danielson's music is not Stormtrooper music, or Star Trek. For the record, it's Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner. I'm not saying it fits, but that's what it is.
- Does that put paid to the suggestion that Cole is the GM, given that he reversed a decision in Bryan's favour?
- The two on one on Bryan was a perfect opportunity for someone to come and help Daniel Bryan, and give him a bit of a rub. I think he needs an ally, because he isn't really over yet. I was expecting a bigger reaction for him on Raw, after the great match the evening previous. Suggests not many of the live crowd bought the PPV.
- Ring announcer says "self-proclaimed" unified divas champion. What is self-proclaimed about it? Michelle wrestled the match at the PPV.
- It appears to be new music night. R-Truth out to the music we first heard last week, Bryan earlier on, and now DiBiase with new music.
- Why do I sense a "DiBiase is broke" angle in the future?
- I hated the gauntlet booking of Cena, but I have to say the crowd went wild for it.
- I got the Cena v Barrett booking right. I said it was Cena to join Nexus or to disband it. One satisfying point, anyway.
- functional Raw without being very entertaining. They had to set up some matches, and they did. I've no problem with that. It's having two PPVs within two weeks that is so idiotic. I hope their buyrate for HiaC is terrible, to teach them a bit of a lesson.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Raw Number Seven

We kick off the seventh ever installment of Monday Night Raw with the music of the World Wrestling Federation champion, Bret "The Hitman" Hart who is out for his title defence of the Headshrinkers. Hmm, big time. This is only the second time, I think, that we have seen Bret in the flesh on Raw. They talk about him a bit, but it's interesting that the focus on the champion, or at least the top babyface, is much less in this era than now. If Cena missed a week, Sheamus only got seen once a month, there'd be uproar.

Bret is out to a strong reaction, despite wearing a highly suspect Sgt Pepper style black and pink coat. Great wrestler, bad wrestler, was ole Bretty. The opponent is actually Headshrinker Fatu, who in years to come would morph steadily into Rikishi - the size of his success corresponding with that of his arse.

The camera switches quickly to the announcers. Vince in the centre with a little red bow tie, Macho Man to his right, bedecked in red and white ..........and a man I assume to be Rob Bartlett, dressed as Elvis. Or a future vision of Scott Hall. I don't know why. Maybe he'll explain. Anyway, there is nothing like a bad comedian doing an Elvis impression to lend itself to the serious, big fight feel of a World Title match, right?

Fatu is taking an age to take off all his ring adornments. Meanwhile flicks back to Bret, who appears to have a massive scar on his nose. Vince asks "Elvis" if he still lives in Las Vegas, and then segues (not very) neatly into talking about Wrestlemania, which of course was in Vegas that year. Was that why they made him dress as Elvis? Meanwhile, two guys run along the second tier of seats at the back of shot, and hold up a poster, very quickly and very childishly. The director cuts away, and the two pre-pubescent's boasts to their buddies that they were on TV will be largely unwarranted. Poor souls.

The irony of this match, if you can call it that, is that Bret is wrestling the cousin of Yokozuna, whom he was scheduled to face at Wrestlemania. Bret takes earlier control working on the arm. There is strange moment where Bret seems to trip over Fatu, who has sunk to the floor with Bret running the ropes. Vince says Afa (Fatu's manager/trainer/keeper/feeder) tripped him, but Afa is on the other side of the ring. Hmm. Bret starts to sell a leg injury, but quickly hops up and rolls Fatu up for a two count. I guess the story was that Bret was playing possum.

Fatu starts to take charge with a nice thrust kick and series of clotheslines. Vince and Savage sell the importance of the match, how Bret can counter, whether a Headshrinker could win the title. Bartlett, meanwhile, still chunters on about Elvis. Seriously, someone tell me he is removed after Mania. He is a pox on this show.

Samu, Fatu's partner, wanders to the ringside area, and while Afa distracts, he attacks Bret on the outside. You know what, when I was kid, I always thought the big guy who is the Headshrinkers manager here was called Arthur. I just thought the diction of the commentators was poor.

Fatu hits a piledriver and gets two. Seems weird seeing piledrivers now. A bit like watching football (soccer) and seeing them pass the ball back to the goalkeeper and him picking it up. Something of another era. Headbutt from the second rope. Also two. Goes to the top and Bret hits a superplex. Bret hits a bulldog - how did that hurt him, I thought their heads were impervious to pain? Backbreaker, Forearm, Sharpshooter. Afa with another distraction, Samu into the ring to club Bret, and the headshrinkers do the old switcheroo. Twice. Bret somehow bumps the two together, gets Samu caught in the ropes. He dropkicks Afa off the apron and then Sharpshooters Fatu. Game over.

Not the greatest match in the world - it was very slow when Fatu was on top, but a well-booked conclusion to get Bret over as a clever, fighting champion. A bloody looking Bret celebrates. He got a bump on the nose, says Vince. McMahon rebukes Elvis for eating on camera, and we go to Gene Mean for a Mania report.

We learn that "The Mega Maniacs" of Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake have been challenged by Money Inc. Gene Mean runs down Taker v Gonzales, Tatanka v Shawn, Luger v Mr Perfect, Bret v Yoko.

Next, it's Coco the Clown. No wait, it's Koko VERSUS the Clown. Well it will be in a minute, because first we head to a slightly portly looking Crush, on a beach in Hawaii. Yeah, that's all very well, but shouldn't you be at work? Crush says "Brudda" about fifteen times, then crushes (get it?) a coconut to show what he'll do to Doink at Wrestlemania.

Speaking of said clown, he's out next, to one of my favourite reactions. When a crowd cheers because they are seeing someone, then boos because they recognise he is a good heel. That used to happen to Santino before his (in my opinion ill-advised) babyface turn. As the weeks go by on these old Raws, I remember more and more what a splendid character Heel Doink was.

Doink has a small present with him, which he teases giving to fans, then changes his mind. He squirts some with his flower. Brilliant.

Koko B Ware......correction, "Hall of Famer" Koko B Ware is out next, with his old "Bird Bird Bird" music I think, rather Owen's, which he entered the ring to previously. Vince says "here is a young man who will thrill youngsters." Yeah, moving on.....

Doink makes fun of "The Birdman's" signature flapping movement, and then attacks him from behind, as any evil clown should. Vince talks about a guy in a clown suit being an accomplished wrestler, and he's right. Doink goes straight for Koko's leg, slapping in a single leg Boston Crab in the first minute of the contest, transitioning it into an STF. He attempts a Figure four, Koko blocks it, and Doink goes for his finisher, the Stump-puller, successfully. It's all over, Koko submits.

Really good outing for Doink. Nice booking again, making him look menacing and legit.

Of course, the serious tone is soon shattered because Bartlett, sorry, I mean "Elvis" decides he wants to meet Doink. As you would expect, 'Elvis' asking for food results in a custard pie to the face, and therefore a big cheer from the crowd. What was the point of that? You just started to get a guy over as a heel, then he pie-faces this idiot, drawing cheers. Nonsense.

After a break, Savage again appeals for Donations towards the "Headlock on Hunger" appeal. I wonder if Money Inc have donated. And whether IRS ticked the Gift Aid box. Speaking of the Tag Team champs, it's interview time for them, in the ring with Vinny Mac.

They talk about some guy who was Chief Exec of American Express. I guess he got a massive, scandalous payoff, and DiBiase makes it sound like a million plus in severance pay and $700,000 a year is a pittance. I get it, Ted has loads of money, feels sorry for someone who is earning a fortune, ergo is a dickhead. Fair enough.

(Vince's haircut is out of control, by the way. A massive quiff. And he has the temerity to be taking the piss out of Elvis on this show.)

Ted has a go at Hogan, belittling him, and says they were happy to get rid of Jimmy Hart. IRS says they gave Beefcake a wake-up call. Irwin has a very sweaty brow. Mike Rotunda was a good wrestler, but a relatively poor promo. DiBiase asked the fans if they should put their titles on the line. IRS says the odds are against Hogan and Beefcake. OK promo, nothing special.

Luger is next, and poses in a mirror outside the ring. The damn Elvis thing is still going, incidentally. Luger's opponent is a fresh faced youngster called PJ Walker, who went on to be The Portuguese Man O War Aldo Montoya, and more famously Justin Credible.

Bobby Heenan is on the line, while Luger is in the ring. Heenan says he is going to Philadelphia soon, but fears he will get killed. Things get ever more bizarre as Heenan denies to Vince that it's really Elvis. He says it's George Steinbrenner (Wiki-ed for your ease of reference if you don't know who he is - To prove it, he says, here's Priscilla. What sounds like an old lady mumbles something about this not being Elvis.

What the hell is going on here? This is a wrestling show, with a (supposedly) hot talent in the ring, and they are talking about Baseball owners and Elvis, with potentially cameo from Bobby Heenan's mother. Insane.

Finally Bobby gets round to talking about Luger, and starts putting him over, but is interrupted by 'Elvis' asking Bobby to make Lex 'do that booby dance'. (Before Chris Masters, Lex used to flick his muscles too.) Bobby, in all this insanity, hits the line of the night, saying "You're a strange man, George." Trust me, in context - this strange, strange context - it was funny.

Luger basically just hits an odd shoulderblock on Walker, who drops like a ton of bricks. Luger pins him with one finger. Vince says speculation is building about the use of the forearm, but goes no further. Luger throws his victim outside, and put his face to the mirror. He shouts that the guy is an "atypical American Male". Either he meant to say Typical, or he is second confused about who Scotty Riggs is again.

He basically runs down 'Aldo' for being skinny, and says he is the envy of all man. Vince says coming up next are the Steiner Brothers, "Rob and Scott". Don't have a go at me, that's what he said. He called Rick Steiner "Rob". I know it is a highly desirable name, but in this case it isn't correct.

When eventually The Steiners emerge, they are wrestling premier jobbers Duane Gill and Barry Hardy. Savage calls Vince on getting the name wrong, and Vince says he hopes they take it out on the opponents and not him. He then says that the Steiners will wrestle The Headshrinkers at Mania.

This is another rather effective squash for the Steiners, because they looked like everything they did hurts. That probably is because it did. Especially the Frankensteiner that ends this match.

Plug for WWF Mania, and we are pretty much done here. Vince advertises Perfect v Martel for next week - first Raw appearance for Martel I think. And we're out!