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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!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Raw #6

Hoo-flipping-rah, Rob Bartlett opens Raw Number six with a shot at wrestling fans (in)ability to spell. Way to alienate your target audience within the open ten seconds.

And so I must patronisingly congratulate you, gentle reader, for having the dumb luck to punch some keys on your computer in the right order so that you can see this 'ere review. What we'm be doin', innit, is running through all the Raws in order. That's right, from Raw number one, all the way up to........when I get bored of it. We'll see.

After Bartlett's insult (as if him turning up was not insulting enough) he does a SNL rip-off opening and it's time for the only lame theme music in Raw history. Seriously, I can't think of another bad Raw theme off the top of my head. Thorn in Your Eye, that one which told us to groove to the music, Wanna be Loved, the current one - all fine by me.

After this musical interlude, we go to Vince warbling over the top of that damned siren. I tell you what, I don't know how far into Raw history we'll get with this series of reviews, but I want to at least keep going until that bloody siren is gone. Man alive, who thought that was a good idea?

This week, says Vinny, we've got Shawn Michaels teaming with the Beverly Brothers against Tatanka and the Nasty Boys. Savage excitedly tells us that Hulk Hogan is in the house, too. Both Mega Powers being babyfaces means they have to be on the same page, here, I guess. "We love it, dig it, yeah" is his exact words.

Hey, is that Wayne Rooney? Oh wait, no, it's Bam Bam Bigelow, The Beast from the East, here to wrestle the jobber.........Scottie too Hotty? Well, it's Scott Taylor, pre makeover. He was a jobber for quite a while in WWE, before he got the spikes and the big lid. I always liked Bigelow. Genuinely terrifying to look at, his character was a mean bully, and he really could move for a guy his size.

You can actually sense the New York crowd, a few years before Attiude-era, wanting to cheer the bad guy here. Actually, there is no want about it - they are cheering him. Bartlett asks if Bam Bam is wrestling someone off the street. Helpful.

When you look closely, there is a touch of Bam Bam in Samoa Joe. Joe is more athletic and a better wrestler, don't get me wrong, but they both have/had a sort of swaggering, bad-ass nature to them.

As I type this the show is just under four minutes old, and the match about half that. Savage has mentioned Hogan four times. Now Vince mentions him too. They are obviously trying to ensure anyone tuning in late gets to know the yellow and red is in the house. Notice how they don't advertise Beefcake at all.

Bigelow hits a lovely tigerbomb into a backbreaker before his patented flying headbutt. Twice, for some reason. Honestly, these squahes should absolutely come back. Just do two a show. It will take up less than ten minutes of your show, and would get two guys over enormously. Especially new guys or those returning from injury.

Vince McMahon sends to a pre-recorded interview with......Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan (He actually namechecked himself in the third person) Hogan is in back and white t-shirt and bandanna (shirt advertsing IcoPro), jeans and cowboy boots. Not the yellow and red. I assume the live appearance is coming later.

Hogan calls Vince Mr McMahon. Haha, why does that sound so funny? He calls his fans his 'heroes'. The future for Hulkamania is really bright, he says. You know what is hilarious? Vince says to Hulk that they sat in that studio a year earlier discussing whether it was Hogan's last match. 1992, folks. 18 years ago, and we are still having that discussion.

The interview is largely nonsense, by the way, saying that you should be positive in your life and the children are the future and other platitudes. It does end with a good line, though because he says 'wait until the Hulkamaniacs hear what I have to say on Monday Night Raw.' Good booking, because it has you waiting for he has to say later on.

Next it's the Beverly Brothers in the ring, soon joined by Shawn Michaels. And then, on the subject of Hulkamaniacs, it's the Nasty Boys, out to a really nice reaction, actually. They are joined for Tatanka, who rushses the ring and gets straight into it for this six man tag. It's pretty hilarious watching Howard Finkel bail to the outside as the sextet start brawling.

(By the way, during this match, pencil Savage in for a Hogan reference every thirty seconds. Even he sounds bored of saying it at one point. And for every Hogan reference, assume Bartlett makes a sarcastic aside about something. At one point Shawn gets backdropped out of the ring. Bartlett says 'that's the coolest thing I've ever seen', but he is obviously being sarcastic. Why in the blue hell is he announcing a wrestling show?)

Vince asserts that Tatanka (his name is really hard to type for some reason) will be wrestling for Shawn's IC title at Mania. Michaels deliberately escapes wrestling Tatanka. The babyfaces control the match until an ad break. When we come back, the Beverlys low bridge Knobbs to take control. For while.

Finally Tatanka tags in, and gets one on one with Shawn. Now I recognise that Michaels turned into arguably the best in the business, and he's still pretty good here, but some of selling and bumping is ludicrous. It's all over the place. Especially since occasionally it looks like Tatanka's chops are nowhere near him. Tatanka hits "The End of the Trail" but one of the Beverlys ('Beverlys' or 'Beverlies'? I cant decide which) breaks it up. I say 'breaks it up'. He jumps in the air largely hit's Michaels, but it brings everyone else into the ring. The Nasty Boys throw Beau and Blake out of the ring and follow them, but Shawn is back on top.

Michaels set up for his finisher - which is a side suplex, by the way, at this point. Not a Superkick, but our favourite Native American slides out and pins Shawn with a modified sunset flip. The Nastys (Nasties? Oh I don't know.....) celebrate with him after the bell, and seeing them altogether shows that even the guy with the mullet and the died red hair doesn't even have the worst haircut on his team.

They go to a plug for Wrestlemania. They are trying to sell tickets here. About five weeks before the show. I don't think they had a big crowd for that Mania, either, so it shows how far we've come that 70,000 plus sells out quickly these days.

Over to Mooney (he is STILL outside!) who talks to some fans who have paid to say that they.......dah, I mean BIG Hogan fans, who say he will clean house. Hang on, why are they outside? Couldn't they get in? Talk to the people inside, Mooney.

Focus on a larger lady in a bikini being ring girl (still not funny, guys) when we hear Crush's music. And what generic rubbish it is too. His opponent is Triple T - Terrific Terry Taylor. You know, the guy who used to be Double R - Red Rooster.

Crush looks Mullet-tastic in there, and dominates, while the announcers tell us it's Crush v Doink at Mania. They then, for some reason, do an Arnold Schwarzenegger bit with Bartlett doing actually not a bad impression, but it isn't funny. Triple T gets a few shots in, but this a Crush showcase, and he wins easily. No sign of Doink.

Off we got to a retrospective of last week, and way past halfway in the show they finally mention Brutus Beefcake getting attacked, which, after all, is the reason why Hogan is back. The clip of the briefcase to the face is shown, and Vince says Hogan is here after the break.

After ads, Vince is in the ring, and he brings out a much leaner looking Hogan than the last time he was seen on TV. (I wonder why) Hogan bigs up Hulkamania, then says he was watching Brutus last week against "The Multi-Million Dollar Man" (That's what he said) and felt sick watching Brutus getting, well, brutalised.

He thanks "The Big Man Upstairs" (Kevin Dunn?) for helping Brutus. And he thanks Jimmy Hart. Then he says that he back in the WWF, which draws a pop (from the crowd), then he calls Vince "Little Dude" which draws a pop (from me). He brings out, in his words, Brutus "The bionic barber" Beefcake, who has a feathery red and yellow outfit on, and sunglasses, which he takes off to reveal a taped nose.

Brutus also thanks "The Big Man". Hang on, why can't they say God? Has someone trademarked "God". Whose intellectual property is that? He too thanks Jimmy Hart, but then starts rambling about Hogan and Money Inc. Hogan basically cuts him off, and says that they will start to "seize the assets" of Money Inc. He invites Jimmy Hart to the ring, and calls him their brand new manager. I'd love to have had Gorilla Monsoon on comms for this. He'd have still call him a little runt.

Jimmy says that he idolises Hogan, and so do many of the superstars in the WWF (fetch the bucket). Hart says Brutus and Hogan will be the greatest tag team of all time. He says he will take his vitamins, and Money Inc ought to say their prayers. He squeals a little bit, not being used to being a babyface. Hogan calls this trio "The Mega Maniacs". Every team involving Hogan, Savage or Warrior called themselves something like this. There was the Mega Powers, I'm sure the (shortlived) team of Savage and Warrior was "The Ultimate Maniacs", then there was this, and I think when Savage joined Hogan in WCW they were called "The Monster Maniacs." God knows why. I mean, The Big Man knows why.

Interview ends, then another quick plug for Mania, and when we come back Hogan and co are still posing. Not much time left in this show, but Vince says Taker is next. He's against Skinner. Ad break first, and when we come back Skinner clotheslines Taker outside, but the Deadman lands on his feet. Bizarrely, there are more ads straightaway, as Vince says they are running out of time.

Back to the match and it's all Skinner. Weird. We actually go off the air with Taker basically not having hit an offensive move, I think! Vince says we'll get the conclusion of the match next week, plus a WWF Title match. How could we not follow this up? Looks like we'll at least get to Ep7........

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

(Modern Day) Raw Thoughts - September 13 2010

  • Man, I hated that opening segment. Cheesy, goofy Cena. Making a (recent) former Women's champion look like absolutely nothing. And mostly booking a tables match, negating most of my interest in the main event.
  • No new music then, despite "season premiere"? No new logo, either.
  • I don't know who the guest star is, (well, I understand, they've explained, but I've never heard of him) but there is plenty of interest and noise for the opening. Seems like a good booking.
  • I love that music for Ochocinco. I'm sure that means something in the US, but it reminds of a) a show called Superstars (not the WWE one) and b) Lawrence Taylor at Wrestlemania
  • Miz was.....well......awesome in that opening segment. That, my friends, is crowd heat.
  • Great shirt, too.
  • Hang on, isn't this the first week of Monday Night Football in the States? Does it really make sense to have an NFL star on? Won't people see him and go, "oh yeah, I should see what the score is" and flip over?
  • Why haven't they explained why Alex Riley is still around? Didn't he LOSE? What's the point of trying to win NXT if runners up are about the place?
  • King actually used the word "Cole" and not Michael. He never does that. I wonder if he was told to, to play up the differential between the two.
  • There will be some that didn't care for that first match (or matches) but I thought the booking was really good. I might have given Bryan two more minutes dissecting Riley, to show his dominance, but that match made me want to see Bryan v Miz, and that is the point. Well done.
  • Sometimes you can't explain why something is funny. Edge and Jillian made me laugh out loud then. (a true use of the phrase 'lol', I guess. I hate that little thing. And what's worse is that I use it. How often does one use 'lol' and actually mean it. If you were texting in on the train and actually laughed out loud everytime you put 'lol' people would think you were a nutter.)
  • Henry/Edge/Bourne - ludicrous. Break that down, and it helped nobody. That made Bourne look like nothing, then Henry squashed Edge, who wrestles for the world title this week. If that is meant to be ok for Edge because he'd already had one match, then a) tell us and b) if you aren't going to tell us, book it obviously, and give it more than three minutes.
  • I really don't like the divas spinning the wheel. I wouldn't mind if it were Divas who don't wrestle doing it, but it devalues them as athletes. Maybe the Bellas should do it.
  • The 'song and dance' thing was largely complete nonsense and a waste of TV time.......until DiBiase started singing. I won't lie to you, I thought that was hilarious. DiBiase has awesome comic timing, and Maryse's mannerisms were good too. I'd still wipe this segment given the opportunity, but that did get me. I liked King's Patterson quip too.
  • As much as I love William Regal, you know the show is going nowhere when he is on it these days. Miz v Bryan aside, has anything come even close to making me want to see the PPV so far? Not at all.
  • Wow, you know what I'm about to say is a rarity but..........I think WWE could learn something from TNA with that John Morrison segment. I think fans need a reason to relate to their WWE superstars, and want to know more about them. You could have presented a pre-produced, 60-second video package on John Morrison using Parkour to train. But doing with weird camera angles, zoom and a robotic Cole voiceover, it felt soulless and pointless; at odds with the seriousness of the match. TNA's reaction approach would have worked here.
  • We're at the top of the hour. Nexus haven't even been mentioned yet, by the way.
  • Sheamus v Morrison just saved Raw. That was a terrific brawl, showing you can book an arena wide No-DQ match without excessive use of weapons, and with a liberal sprinkling of athleticism. That match could not have been done by anyone else in WWE but Morrison.
  • There is a hint of the Jeff Hardy about Morrison right now. Seriously, if they get hold of him and push in the right manner, continue having him do things like jump off the tron and so forth, he can do what Jeff Hardy did. When Jeff wrestled Randy Orton (I think it was at Rumble 2008) he got over in about three weeks. He was amazing in the build to that match. Morrison needs a build to something at the next PPV, and a big win.
  • LOL (really) @ Jericho having a pop at Cole. (twice)
  • He's a quick typer, the GM, isn't he?
  • I'm not crazy about a handicap match (I'm writing this before it happens) because it can't help anyone, but I did enjoy that exchange between Cole and Jericho.
  • WOW - That was one hell of a finish with Jericho and Tyson Kidd. If you didn't see it, I almost can't describe it. Tyson Kidd went for a Super Huracanrana, but Jericho somehow dropped down, clutching Kidd. It looked like a piledriver, but Kidd stopped short, and it transitioned into a Walls of Jericho.
  • Of course, WWE ruined it by not even showing a replay!
  • Were Pete Rose's (grand)kids wearing Zack Ryder headbands? Cool!
  • Regal as Goldust was funny, but these two could actually have a really decent match if presented with the opportunity.
  • An overbooked main event that realistically suggested that only Cena or Orton would be able to defeat Sheamus, although we probably knew that anyway. Nexus were booked as idiots again, suggesting time may soon be up for them. Barrett hit his finisher on Cena, though - I still think there is money in them wrestling one on one. Perhaps if Cena wins Nexus disbands, or something.
  • I don't think Orton winning means anything really, but I did like the creativity of the finish, turning an Attitude Adjustment into an RKO.
  • This show was on the negative side of OK, just about. There were some bits I liked (I thought the FCA match was excellent) but a lot of it will hurt them long term, and I didn't really think they hyped the PPV well.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

TNA No Surrender "As Live" notes

Just settling down to watch No Surrender. I'll comment as I go along, so you get an as-live, stream of consciousness style commentary from me........

Long opening video. Set the tone for the evening well. Clearly Angle is positioned as the star. It does put into question the booking of Hardy, mind you.

Gen Me replacing London Brawling is a big disappointment for this writer. Nothing against the Bucks, but I wanted to see Nick and Nigel (Dah, I mean Desmond and Magnus) get a chance to shine. I don't know that the problem was. Hopefully nothing too serious.

The match was ok. Some fun high-flying stuff, but for the most part it was stuff we've seen before, and recently too. A couple of times the commentators said that the crowd were so into it, but I thought they seemed particularly quiet for an opener. There was absolutely no heat on the match, so it felt a little empty.

I question the heel turn on Gen Me. It was almost like they wanted to do something different in the opener because of the pullout of London Brawling, and they felt they had to make up for it. Generation Me had a long segment on Impact or Reaction (I forget which) where they talked passionately about their beliefs and style. It was a good segment which gave some them such much needed background. Now they are suddenly heels. It also doesn't help high flying wrestlers to be heels (see AJ Styles) Strange decision.

Doug v Sabu was ok. I'm not crazy about chairs being used like that (if you didn't see it, Sabu basically did a load of his usual springboards from them, but theoretically that wouldn't be allowed) I guess that is the only way of getting Sabu through a passable match, though.

Velvet v Madison - fine, I guess, but nothing special. Just felt like a TV match, in reality. That story is now dead, because Velvet has won cleanly. It has to be time to reintroduce the likes of Daffney and Hamada to offer some variety. I like the BP gimmick, but it isn't new anymore, and they are endangering it's longevity by confusing the issues.

Rhyno v Abyss wasn't my thing, but for what it was it was ok. 10-10-10 is the new May 19th. Abyss had to win, but I wish they hadn't have had Stevie beat him on Impact. Abyss needs to destroy Richards on a TV show soon. Did the announcers say anything about no-one interfering in Rhyno v Abyss? Wouldn't EV2 have had a big run in?

The tag match between Sting/Nash and Jarrett/Joe was terrible. Slow, boring, achieved nothing. I guess the only consolation is that Joe won looking strong, and wasn't booked like an idiot. But it was still very dull. Tenay being made to say that Sting and Nash are protecting their spot is ludicrous. Does the audience know what that even means? And if they do, wouldn't they realise that protecting their spot is a real-life, not a kayfabe, issue.

Once again, with Dreamer v Styles, this is a match not aimed at me. That's not my kind of wrestling, I don't see Dreamer being a semi-main event wrestling in 2010, and I want AJ showing his athleticism, not wrestling in hardcore matches masquerading as submission technique.

To be fair, though, this was probably as good a match as it had a right to be. They tried to tell a story, they didn't overbook, and they had the right finish, which was AJ going over.

I've been pleased that we haven't seen too much in the way of screwy finishes. I was expecting EV2 and Fortune everywhere, but there haven't been those kind of run-ins, and it's only really been Doug using a title belt that has been a finish with shenanigans. Oh, and Jarrett using a bat, I suppose, but I'm blocking that match from my mind.

Onto Jeff v Kurt. I type this some eight minutes in. Good so far, although Jeff maybe half a step off. Good work from the commentators making it seem big time and even Tazz acknowledging Jeff missing a move slightly.

I am getting annoyed with Tazz saying "Fustration", though. IT HAS TWO R's in IT!

Right, I'm at the end of Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle. The very end, after a couple of restarts. You know what - fantastic. Absolutely superb. I had in my head that Kurt Angle had to win because of the retirement stipulation, so didn't really buy any of the Jeff Hardy pin attempts, but I really didn't consider a no-contest in this manner.

There will be plenty that didn't care for that, because it might be considered a BS finish, but to me it felt like sport. I like the aspect of realism, and although there were plenty of points that I didn't care for (more in a sec) I thought overall I could put them to back of my mind and really enjoy the match.

In fact a lot of the problems with the match were not actually problems with the match, if you see my point. They were problems with TNA over the past few months. A twenty-minute time limit is pretty ridiculous in a match of this magnitude, and the short matches which have plagued TNA for so long distorts the viewer's attitude towards the match. There should have been matches on Impact which went to a 10- or 15-minute limit, to put over that this kind of thing happens.

The blood is an interesting issue, too. Kurt's bleeding was necessary to this match's conclusion. Yes it looked a bit extreme, yes I'm not usually a fan of wrestlers blading a great deal, but once in a great while it is effective - Stone Cold Steve Austin at Mania 13 springs to mind. The trouble is TNA have had Flair bleed all over the place every week; an EV2 v Fortune battle where everyone bled; and plenty more examples of loads of blood. So when Angle started bleeding, it meant so much less than it should have done.

My final gripe is Bischoff adding five more minutes twice. It's not too big a gripe, and it's even less because he went to the floor manager to 'talk to the truck' (that was a REALLY nice touch, by the way), but if Eric and Dixie were so keen there should be a winner, why not just say either no time limits or unlimited overtime? I get that the logic behind it was that they didn't want the PPV to run long (I'm talking in the story, here) and so if they said it was unlimited it could go forever, but it just seemed a bit contrived there.

I'm being picky. It was a very good WRESTLING match, backed up by some high, high quality storytelling by the wrestlers. Add in the little extra touches, and I think that's very possibly TNA's match of the year. In the top five, without a doubt. Congratulations.

Anderson v Pope concluded the show, and I thought it was a fine match, maybe a good match, but not a great one, and it certainly suffered from some outside factors. Frankly, Angle v Hardy being on before it killed it in some ways. I think I might have used the old technique of a buffer match between main events. If they had have put the Beautiful People match in between the semi-finals to let the crowd have a distraction before getting back up for the finale. I don't blame them for having Angle v Hardy on first, because of the time restraint issue, but it affected Anderson and Dinero.

There was another problem being that Angle and Hardy kicked out of finishers galore, and it meant that when Pope and Anderson starting hitting their big moves, there was no pop because the crowd didn't buy the finishes. I don't think being both babyfaces helped, because the crowd were not solidly behind one wrestler or the other.

Overall, though, I'm pleased Anderson won, because he has, for me, the more potential in terms of stepping up and being the World Champion. I look forward to either Kurt v Ken again, or Anderson v Hardy which would see out a storyline. I don't know how they get to that without beating Kurt though, so I can definitely see a three way dance.

Good PPV this, overall. One bad match (Jarrett/Joe v Nash/Sting), one largely insignificant (Knockouts), a couple that served a purpose but not up my street (all the EV2 v Fortune bouts), a decent tag opener (c'mon, work that out), a reasonable closer and a stonking MOTY candidate for good measure. Better PPV than average for TNA. No comes the interesting part - can they build for BFG............?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Raw Round Up

I've written a Raw report which should at some point go live on The Sun Wrestling, but I wanted to address a couple of things here which I would like to go into more detail about.

To catch you up if you haven't seen the review yet, perhaps because it is not yet live, I thought Raw was good this week, after a couple of poor episodes. Not sensational, but good. I make judgement not simply on the quality of entertainment in a two hour period, but on assessment with how this can affect the issues both short and long term. In respect to further storylines and building stars, I thought this was an effective show.

I'd say Daniel Bryan, Justin Gabriel and John Morrison were all greatly helped by the booking on this show. And the beauty was that the booking did not hurt anyone. Gabriel gave his best promo at the start of the show, they put over his finisher and he gave Cena a decent run for his money. Cena ultimately won, but Gabriel was still assisted. Bryan showed plenty of poise and character with a verbal debate with Miz, who of course gave as good as he got, meaning both men, plus the feud were helped.

Morrison's win over Jericho doesn't hinder Jericho too much as a character, because a) he is wildly over anyway (as he said, he's a main eventer even if he is jerking the curtain) and b) it plays into his storyline of being disillusioned anyway. For Morrison, it might spark a revival in fortunes, as he has been in the cold a little of late. I thought he had a game face on, and showed a touch more charisma than usual. Maybe that was a spring in the step knowing he was booked to win.

I was more than a little surprised to see Darren Young return on Raw. I thought that of all the eight season one NXTers he was the one with the least going for him, in the sense that he didn't seem an outstanding wrestler, wasn't a great talker, nor did he a very marketable look. I certainly didn't gauge that the fans felt bad for him, or got behind him when he spoke towards Barrett. The pop for him getting RKOed was telling, because the fans simply love that move. Certainly they care about seeing that way more than seeing Young.

While it was a better show, I think even WWE must realise they have no major hook for the upcoming PPV. No-one is going to buy this on the strength of Miz v Bryan or a Divas unification bout, so realistically they need a strong title match. They haven't got one. Even Cena on commentary was basically saying it's a bit of a lottery. I think his words were "It's a crap shoot."

I highly question the logic of booking a title match (That's a WORLD Title match) where one of the participants says "eh, anyone could win this." Surely the whole point of paying to watch title matches is to see a fair contest. After Sheamus already won the belt in dubious circumstance, you are watering down the belt even more by having Cena say anyone can win. How can you get behind a champion if the only reason he is the champ is by a fluke? I suspect this was their way of having Cena be self-deprecating so that when he loses it was in a lottery, and not a fair fight. If and when Cena regains the gold, it'll be one on one, I suspect.

I think you can have this kind of multi-man match for a 'lesser' title, especially if you have workers involved. To do this for, say, the IC title, and involve Ziggler, Kofi, Christian, Drew, Swagger and MVP, for example, would be really interesting. Or you can do it when you have an extra hook, like the Money in the Bank matches. But to have a bunch of guys devaluing the WWE title I think is a shame.

The way they spoke about things on Raw, I wouldn't necessarily expect a replacement for Jericho. They didn't talk about "I wonder who his replacement will be", although I wouldn't rule out them changing their mind next week.

I enjoyed Edge's interaction with Zack Ryder. I'm not as high on Ryder as some, but I do think he has promise, and I wonder whether he will suddenly rebel and prove he isn't as useless as some are making out on TV. I love paranoid, plotting Edge. It's such a compelling character.

Credit to Cole for calling the issue in the Great Khali/Edge match. Khali stepping over the top in an over-the-top match was odd, but I wouldn't haven't been surprised for the commentators to just ignore it. I liked Cole making this point.

On the GM front, I've often said that I haven't really seen the piece of paper supposedly on Cole's laptop when he is 'reading' a GM email, but it was very clear this week when Edge was threatening to destroy the laptop that was a big piece of paper with writing on it. If Cole is the GM, they can say this is a clue.

On the Cole for GM front, did you notice that they worked out a way of having Miz accept a Daniel Bryan challenge, rather than the GM forcing the match to take place. If the GM had forced Miz into it, then it would have either ruled Cole out, or made his reveal nonsensical if it does happen.

Very interesting to see the "This week in wrestling history" refer back to the first ever Impact, and with, might I say, a very fair assessment, too. That night, debuting with a strong Nitro, the Luger defection and so much more, really changed this industry forever.

I thought Sheamus did really well on guest commentary. He could easily have been overshadowed by the personalities of Edge and Cena, but he wasn't.

I like the tease of Cena v Orton for next week. Is it possible they are giving away big Orton matches before he goes to Smackdown for the SyFy launch?

Raw Number Five

Lawks a mercy, we're rattling through these now. If this your first step onto this page for a while (or ever), then welcome (back). To catch you up, I decided to have a little look at the first ever Raw a couple of weeks ago, since we were heading into Raw #900. It was so much fun, I kept going, and we're onto the fifth one already. If you want to read reviews of the first four, then scroll down or use the navigation on the right hand side.

For those that are ready, let's crack on with Raw number five, brought to us on February 15th 1993, approximately six weeks before Wrestlemania IX. As I recall, we were promised Brutus Beefcake v Ted DiBiase this week. I can pretty much remember what happened, but I'll feign a lack of recollection, and we'll get into it.

The show begins with a couple of jobbers already in the ring. Who will they be fed to, I wonder? Our commentary team is once again Vince "I'm the boss but I don't really want the world to know yet" McMahon, Randy "Quite Macho in my spangly gear and I don't really want to commentate really Man" Savage, and Rob "How I've still got a commentary job after four excruciating weeks is incredible, the WWF must have signed me to a stupid contract or they think I am giving them street cred" Bartlett.

Vince reminds us that it's Beekcafe's return tonight, and turns to Savage for advice. He actually calls him "Macho" which is very odd. Bartlett is dressed the same as the show previous, and it turns out it's a really bad lapel, not a scarf. That doesn't save him, he still looks like a prat.

The jobbers are for the Steiners, as made evident by the playing of the Michigan fight song. Oh, and the emergence Rick and Scott. Scott hits a couple of heavy looking suplexes, while Savage can't get his mic working. One of the jobbers appears to be called Bobby Hoo, which gives a chance for Vince to do his Abbott and Costello routine that he would later do when Jim Neidhart was put under a hood and forced to be "Who?"

The Steiners win, and just assume that during the last paragraph they hit a clothesline and a stiff suplex in succession for about three minutes.

Gene Mean gives us a rundown of matches booked for Mania. So far it's Bret v Yoko, Taker v Gonzalez and Crush v Doink.

Back in the arena, and for the second week running, and the third of five Raws, Yoko's in town. Ross Greenberg is the feed for today. Savage is still off mic, by the way. Although we can sort of hear him, almost like he is on a phone in space. We can hear agitated comments which sound deliberate, but Vince and Rob are ignoring or can't hear them.

Vince tells us that Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who fought Yoko on another show the previous weekend, was the first man to knock the big guy off his feet. Hey, I thought Savage did it at the Rumble? Does getting out of the way and letting Yoko run into the buckle not count?

Yoko wins nice and simply, and Savage steals a mic from Bartlett. I can only imagine the asides we can hear were put on in post.

A cardboard cut-off brings us a special report.....oh wait, no, it's Lord Alfred. He's here to tell us about Duggan knocking Yokozuna down. Apparently it was on WWF Superstars. Duggan eventually knocking Yoko over after a couple of shoulder charges, but the big Samoan threw salt in his eyes to get DQed, then hit the Banzai Drop a couple of times. Ouch.

Back to the arena, and Vince says that the 16 guys who will be in a battle royal later on all refused to take part if Giant Gonzales was involved. They go to highlights (using that term very loosely here) from Superstars of the Giant winning a handicap match by count out after the 3 opponents legged it. One of them was Louie Spiccoli I think.

Right, I'll try to work out the sixteen guys in the Battle Royal for you - this could be tricky. I can see Michaels, Razor, Backlund, Beserker, Kamala, Koko, Tatanka, Kimchee, Typhoon, Terry Taylor, Tito Santana, Damien Demento, Owen Hart, Skinner and I think Iron Mike Sharpe. That's fifteen, but it's all I can see.

It's very tricky to keep up with eliminations, although I should say this is given a nice amount of time to develop, and isn't rushed at all. It's a lot of fun. I liked seeing Shawn and Owen have a little battle, years before the duo made it bigger. It also amused me to hear the crowd chant 'Huss' along with a departing Beserker.

I should point out that on comms Savage put over Michaels getting upset by Tatanka on Superstars. Man, Superstars is where it's at, not Raw!

Kamala is eliminated by Kimchee, amongst others. When eliminated, he climbs back in and throws out his former handler, and chases him through the crowd and into the hospitality area. After a break, we are told Kamala is still chasing, and we see him continue to chase across the balcony. Back in the ring, Michaels backdrops Typhoon out to leave Tatanka, Michaels, Tito and Razor in the ring. The heels form a little clique (heh heh) of sorts, and the two duos square up.

Surprisingly, it isn't a babyface next out, but Shawn, disposed of by Tito and Tatanka as a pair. So who is going to win.....? Might be a moot point, as Giant Gonzales comes wondering in and starts to attack Tatanka and Tito. Razor sneaks away, and I guess wins by default because Gonzales threw the other two out. Yup, Finkel makes it official. Ramon wins. Hey yo!

After we have a break, the familiar "Money" theme plays, and it's time for Ted DiBiase and Brutus Beefcake and their, erm, Face Off, if you will.

Ted goes for a couple of hook ups at the start of the match which Beefcake avoids and does a little strut. Savage says he is worried about Beefcake and "the facial type sutuation. You know what I'm talking about." I don't want to know about that at all, 'Macho', thanks all the same.

It's all Brutus in the early going, with DiBiase swinging a couple of times at the face, but missing. Jimmy Hart keeps telling his charge that Beefcake is no pushover. Brutus, it's key to mention, hasn't taken a bump yet, several minutes in. There is a lot of stalling with DiBiase going to the outside.

Brutus holds a headlock for about a week, and during this pause IRS wanders to ringside, complete with steel briefcase. It doesn't take the man with the red braces to nail Brutus in the back. We have a DQ. Money INC double team Brutus, with Hart looking pained. He tries to stop IRS from inflicting more damage, but no luck. Irwin smacks Brutus with the briefcase after throwing Jimmy down.

Eventually the heels leave, with Jimmy left to try to tend to the fallen Beefcake. Brutus does a good job of holding his face and not letting the camera see it. Actually, this angle was pretty well done although the payoff (eventually) was pretty awful. To conclude the show, Vince tells us that Beefcake is standing in the dressing room and might have a broken nose. Other than that he'll be ok. Huh. I thought they could of held off on that for a little longer. He says Money Inc will be in action next week, so expect to see Beefcake try to exact revenge. He also says it wouldn't surprise him to see Hulk Hogan show up at Raw. That's an odd way to sell the Hulkster's big return after nearly a year, isn't it? A flippant comment in the closing moments of the show. You'd think it'd be big news that Hogan would be there, or no mention and the return comes as a surprise. Hmm.

Anyway, that's that for episode five. I shouldn't have thought it'll be long and I'll have episode six done and dusted. Let's hope no-one fixes Bartlett's microphone before then.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Raw Number Four

Here we go then, the fourth ever Raw, and what a main event we have scheduled, after the teaser from last week. Typhoon v Doink. Fat Bloke v Clown. Who could ask for more?

We start this exciting, historic broadcast with a sound of a chihuahua in an airing cupboard. Oh wait, no, it's Tatanka, and the wailing at the start of his music. Incidentally, his is basically the same entrance theme the 123 Kid, except for wailing swapped for some people shouting "123".

His opponent is the already-in-the-ring-and-therefore-presumably-soon-to-be-released Damien Demento. (Demento was in fact released in October of 1993 - Wiki is your friend.) Demento's hometown is "The Outer Reaches of Your Mind". Just.......what?

Vince on comms has Savage and Bartlett with him. Tatanka is, I believe, undefeated at this point. He starts strongly, and Damien soon is on the outside talking to thin air. Err, ok then. He is heard to say "The Indian Will Suffer." How very unPC.

Vince plugs Typhoon v Doink and a tag match featuring High Energy for later on. He also says we'll have an interview with Brutus Beefcake, so I assume this is the return which led to the big angle. We'll see. I won't spoil it for you if you don't know.

Interestingly, there is a very strong "We Want Flair" chant audible during this match.

Tatanka gets the upper hand, does his skipping version on Hulking Up, and dispatches Demento with his Samoan Drop finisher, which I believe he called the End of the Trail. Vince doesn't namecheck it, and Savage reasserts that Tatanka I still undefeated.

We go then to clips of MSG, where WWF made $100,000 for The Red Cross for the Headlock for Hunger appeal for Somalia. I will always say that whatever things are levelled against Vince and WWE (Many of them deserved) you should always remember that the company does a massive amount for charities. Vince genuinely feels (and I believe he is right) that his company can make a difference in people's lives. I applaud that.

Next, Vince is in the ring with Brutus Beefcake, who gets a nice reaction. Ed Leslie has been a figure of fun over the years, because of his association with Hogan, but he was pretty over here, despite being away for over a year. If you don't know (although he'll tell you in a second) Leslie genuinely had a near-fatal para-sailing accident which shattered his face. This is just over a year later, after having some metal plates fitted.

Beefcake tells us he is back, and will take on all comers. He then tells a (very) long story about his parents dying and his wife leaving him before getting smashed in the face in the above incident. Beefcake paints a picture of him being close to death, and, in his words, he was touching the Hand of God (he means he was dying, not that he knows Maradona.)

Brutus then credits Hulk Hogan with saving his life, and therefore hints that Hogan is more powerful than God. (Book it, Russo. Book it now!) Beefcake talks about how awesome Hogan is a bit more (well, he is awake), and Vince then says he has the Big Man looking over his shoulder. I don't know if he means Hogan or God. If indeed they are different.

So, the gist is, Brutus is back. I don't mean to make fun of him too much, because he did go through some traumatic stuff, but this was pretty dull.

Mania plug for Vegas - it's on April 4, and this Raw which we are looking at right now is from February 8. Let's at least get through all the Raws up until then, shall we?

A ring girl circles with a sign saying "Steak Tartare is RAW" - That's actually a good joke. I may steal that at some point and hope no-one notices.

High Energy are here now. That's Owen Hart and Koko B Ware to the uninitiated. They are taking on the legend that is Iron Mike Sharpe and his partner, who I believe is Glen Ruth, who was a jobber a couple of episodes back. I forgot to mention at the time, Glen Ruth would later bcome more well known to you all as Headbanger Thrasher. (Thanks Paul B for that tip. Good luck at Charlton ;-))

Owen and Koko will this in very short order, mainly with Drop kicks.

After a break, it's a three-shot on Savage, Vince and Bartlett, with the latter wearing a ridiculous combo of white tie, white scarf and sunglasses. He looks like a blind vicar. We get a flashback to Doink using a fake arm to attack Crush that we saw a week or two back, while the live crowd again throwing up a "We Want Flair" chant.

Doink emerges, and I have to say I loved this character. Evil, heel Doink was played to the hilt by Matt Borne. I wasn't keen on the babyface version, but loved this one. So do some of the audience, by the way, who chant "Doink" audibly.

Typhoon is his opponent, and one assumes this is supposed to be a showcase for Doink, who outwrestles Typhoon in the early going. Savage and McMahon talk about Doink being a technical wrestler, while Bartlett attempts a poor conceit about Clowns Anonymous. The other two basically ignore him.

It's hard for a big man like Typhoon to be a babyface in peril, so he basically just no-sells a couple of times after a while, then slams Doink. Typhoon misses an Avalanche (which was a later name of his Natural Disaster partner Earthquake), and Doink hits a second rope clothesline. He pulls some tights, and we're done. That was basically a squash. Poor quality match, really, but good booking of Doink. Fred Ottman would leave WWF shortly afterwards.

Vince talks to Todd Pettengill about WWF Mania, and he says he'll feature Giant Gonzales. Back in the ring, Howard Finkel tells us that Andre the Giant has died. He talks fondly of Andre, and gets the crowd to rise for a ten bell salute. Hmm. We don't see that anymore. So sad that the epidemic of wrestler deaths actually makes companies LESS likely to acknowledge them.

Skimpy costumed ring girl, ads, and then we are back. And the Japanese music signals Yokozuna's presence. Someone named Bobby de Vito is in the ring. Either as an opponent or lunch, I'm not sure which.

Savage mentions that he didn't fare too well against Yoko at the Rumble. Vince says that Hacksaw Jim Duggan will wrestle Yokozuna "this weekend". I assume that it's on Superstars or something similar that Vince can't namecheck because it's on another channel. Mind you, Vince then says (as Cole would say "And I Quote") "This past weekend Hacksaw Jim Duggan issuing the challenge to Yokozuna, and the big man is very much forward looking to.....something along those lines." Yeah, uh, thanks for that, Vinny. Very concise.

A buzzing noise comes over the top of Vince's words. He says that we have a phone connection with Hacksaw. In fact we don't, and the buzzing noise is a dialling tone. The bell goes, DeVito charges, and Yoko kicks him in the face. Hacksaw comes on the line, and calls the big guy Yakkazuma twice. Vince corrects him, and Hacksaw, the spirit of America says "It's some Japanese name". How very racially tolerant.

Duggan talks nonsense, and mercifully is breaking up so they cut him off. Yoko meanwhile has already won the match. Vince plugs Luger after the break. So if you thought Brutus talking was dull.......

In fact, it isn't Luger after the break, it's tag team champs Money Inc (Ted DiBiase and IRS). Vince says they asked for this time, and so DiBiase recites a nursery rhyme. Better than that, he botches a nursery rhyme. "Kings Horses"doesn't rhyme with "together again", Teddy.

The gist is that he's talking about Beefcake. He admits it's a sad story, but that Brutus has a screw loose. Ted says Brutus hasn't wrestled in three years, and both of Money will face him. Ted flips a coin, says he wins, and that he'll wrestle Beefcake. Brutus said he had an open contract, you see. This draws out Jimmy Hart, heel all his life, who says it is a waste of time. He is worried about his boys getting hurt.

DiBiase says Jimmy shouldn't worry, IRS calls Brutus a tax cheat (that's original) and Jimmy asks them to come to the back, selling worry. As they start to leave, here comes Luger to angelic sounding music. He poses to a mirror in the ring, while for no apparent reason other than to be cruel, a fat woman carries a Raw board around the edge of the ring. Classy.

Luger shows his annoyance at this to a very young looking Mike Chioda, before we cut to pre-tape vignette of Mr Perfect being a quarterback. You know, the one where an NFL player acts badly, and Hennig throws a pass to himself. Sort of. The reason for this was that Luger was brought in by Heenan to feud with Perfect.

Back to the ring, Luger is wrestling Jason Knight, of later minor ECW fame. Savage shushes everyone, to read a big announcement. Beefcake has accepted the DiBiase/IRS challenge. I assume for next week. In fact, yes, Vince confirms it. Then plugs Quantum Leap. Fine.

Luger hits a couple of clotheslines and a powerslam, before 'hitting' a big forearm. It looked like he missed by miles. He picks Knight up and punches him once more, before pinning him with his little finger. No talk about a 'loaded forearm' at this stage, so I'm guessing this factors into storyline soon enough. Luger throws Knight around a bit post match to sell arrogance. By that I mean he is trying to look like an asshole, not that he has starting pimping Rick Martel's fragrance.

Two Plus Size ladies now do the ring girl duties, with one of them (this is not a joke) wearing an almost exact replica of the outfit Bertha Faye would later wear. Late ads, including Lord Alfred doing an abysmal job of hyping Terminator 2 for Game Boy, follow, before Vince says Raw will be back in two weeks. There is a Dog Show in the interim. Hang on, he just plugged Brutus v DiBiase for next week, didn't he?

He changes his mind, and says that this will be in a fortnight's time, as well as a 16-man Battle Royal. He doesn't say what it is in aid of. Though he does say Bartlett might enter. I think he is joking. Although I'll pray that he isn't.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Raw Number Three

This is so much fun, I thought I'd carry on for a bit.

So if you are catching up, I'd suggest you pop down a couple of entries, and read "retro reviews" of Episodes one and two of Monday Night Raw, and the look back at the '93 Rumble, too.

That brings us to Monday 25th January 1993, the third episode of Raw, shown, I would imagine, live from The Manhattan Center. Or maybe not, actually. The PPV the day previous was from Sacramento California, so I'd be interested in the logistics of sorting out that switch from wets coast to east.

Anyway, we kick off this week outside the arena with Mike Adamle......oh, wait, no, it's Mooney again. He catches Repo Man jumping out of a tow truck (!) You could be forgiven for thinking it was Chavo, you know, under that mask. Repo squeaks about being ready for Macho Man, and enters the building. Titles, then that bloody annoying siren again.......

Wahey, Heenan's back! We've still got Bartlett, which is a shame, but Bobby is in the chair, which is great news. I'll include some classic Heenanisms if he spouts them forth, which I'm sure he will. Looking forward to his reaction at Flair v Perfect.

The announcing trio run down what we will see tonight, and Repo Man is first out. He looks hilarious in Savage's hat. Savage runs in, no music, jumping the bell. Not many sold uncontrollable anger like Randy did.

They've now mentioned that Savage came close to winning the Royal Rumble, but they haven't said that Yokozuna won yet, nor that Bret beat Razor. Four minutes in. After five, Yoko gets a mention.

Savage dominates the early portion of the match, before Repo catches him outside the ring on the ring steps. This slows the match down. You forget when you go back to 1993 that a lot of workers like Darsow wrestled a very, very basic style back then. It's a quite boring middle section to this match. So boring the announcers have started talking about an inauguration, presumably of Bill Clinton.

Savage turns the tables, and quickly gets a win, landing his big elbow from the top. Feud over, lasted about a week and six minutes. Savage throws him to the outside, but refs won't let him nail Repo on the floor. Too bad. Savage has hit hat back, but it doesn't match. Savage needs Rico.

Hey, it's Mr Backlund! Back when he was still Bob, he tells us no-one should go to bed hungry, in another plug for Headlock for Hunger. Vince says "speaking of Africa......" and says Kamala is on the show later. Ooh, awkward segue city..........

Back from a break, Heenan pervs at the ring girl, as a good heel should, and we go to a Wrestlemania plug. Vince calls Caesar's Palace "Opulent and splendiferous." Erm, ok. The build up seems to be more for the building than the show.

Back to the arena, it's Kamala. Babyface Kamala, remember, as we saw a couple of weeks ago. And he's facing wrestling premier jobber, The wonderful Brooklyn Brawler. I think Brawler used to portray Kimchee quite a lot, ironically.

Good character development and focus on Kamala here, explaining the babyface turn. The crowd are chanting "You Are a Man" to Kamala. The only wrestler they've chanted that to. Apart from Chyna.

Vince mentions Harvey Wippleman bringing out Giant Gonzales the night previous, and says he is eight foot tall. Heenan says he is actually 20'2". Brilliant. (Wikipedia says actual height of 7'6". Who to believe, WWE or Wikipedia. Both such reputable sources (Note sarcasm)) Is that the first time Gonzales name was mentioned?

Kamala hits a splash, then starts rolling Brawler all over the ring. Eventually he pins him, in a very odd manner. Kamala the character isn't really my kind of thing, but credit to Jim Harris, who played him so outlandishly that it has worked for years.

Slick says that he is not responsible for Kamala's success. The people are. He says Wippleman and Kimchee ought to stay away from Kamala; he doesn't know what the Ugandan will do to them if he sees them. I'm genuinely intrigued by this, because I can't remember what happened to Kamala. Although I do remember him bowling.

Gene Mean runs through what happened at Royal Rumble in fine style, and it's time for Flair and Perfect. Perfect gets the upper hand early on, and Ric bails to talk to Heenan, who has a hammer. Ah, if I had one of them. I would hammer in the morning. I would never do it in the evening, though. Have respect for the neighbours.

You'd suggest we are in for a longish one here, as aside from trying to break the indoor record for reverse knife edge chops, this is a cagey opening. Just before a break, Flair throws Perfect to the outside, but is prevented from hitting him with a chair (wooden, not steel folding) by Earl Hebner. That was pretty stupid, he could have been disqualified. Surprised about that.

Back from break and Flair is on top. Just. In fact I think we just about avoided Flair doing a spot where his trunks get pulled down. Thank God he doesn't do that any more. Erm........

Perfect has been sent into a ringpost, and BLEEDS on Raw. Don't get that anymore. Flair uses all manner of nefarious tactics befitting the dirtiest player in the game, including a hilarious spot where he leans on Perfect's throat, choking him, all the while pleading innocence with the ref.

Perfect gets on top, with Heenan getting increasingly animated on commentary, and McMahon getting more with the "1...2...he got him! No he didn't!" routine. Bartlett, mercifully, has shut up.

I'm making fun of the announcing, but to their credit, they are calling it like it's the biggest match of all time. Keep in min Kurt Angle has a 'career' match every sodding week on Impact, and the commentators talk about something else. It goes for every match, though. Commentators refer loosely to the match, then talk about an angle from earlier that night, or plug Dixie's Twitter, or call the show the longest episodic weekly programme this side of Neptune or whatever, and largely ignore the action in the ring.

Flair takes over with a long sleeper, and after Perfect fights out, slaps on the Figure 4. Perfect recovers, and gets on top, but it's another break time. After the ads, Vince tells us there are nine minutes on the broadcast. Once again, an interesting allusion to reality. They talk about what will happen if the match ends after the broadcast ends. McMahon says they'll fight to a finish and they'll show the result next week. I mean, we both know it will finish before the end, but even lip service to it being real is nice, isn't it?

Flair clocks Perfect with a foreign object, but Hennig gets a foot on the ropes. This is a very good match, and I'm taking into account the fact that I know who wins, because should you not know the outcome, you'd be even more into this. ]

Just as Vince asks Bartlett why he is so quiet, Perfect starts, well, hulking up, basically. Irish whip. back drop, clothesline, then Flair's upside down corner bump and so forth. A series of nearfalls, to which the crowd seem largely apathetic. Hmm.

They soon wake up, though. Flair reverses an Irish whip to the ropes, and drops the head. Perfect hooks it, and hits a Perfect Plex. The directing and camerawork leaves much to be desired, as it is unclear whether Perfect gets three, but the large cheer, referee raising Hennig's hand and music playing all give small clues.

Heenan goes into overdrive. Vince tells Bobby it's his (Heenan's fault), and Heenan's response is bleeped out. Heenan leaves with Flair, who wouldn't be seen on Raw again in person until 2001, the day after the InVasion ended.

A plug for WWF mania is next, and then Vince telling us they are about to name a big match for next week. But first there are more ads........this better be a big match.......

IT'S.........Typhoon v Doink. Ooh, craptacular. That was worth waiting for. Meanwhile, Vince says that Flair will honour his obligations through the weekend - presumably they were fearing some house-show backlash if he didn't turn up as promised.

So, Typhoon v Doink, huh? Can't wait for that............That's so exciting, I'm going to have to continue these old Raw reviews now. Oh well..........

Repost - Retro Rumble 1993

Hi All,

I first posted the below piece in January 2008, as part of a series reviewing some old Royal Rumbles. Since I've had a little fun reviewing the first two Raws, I thought it would be apt to post this review, as it fits in very well with our vintage (/Cole) Raw coverage.


Its 1993, it’s Gorilla and the Brain, and its the Arco Arena.

It’s the Royal Rumble, and we’re kicking off with The Steiner Brother against the Mullet twins, dah, I mean The Beverly Brothers, who seem to be sans Genius this year.

Scott Steiner, at this point, was an ordinary looking, talented individual and not the genetic (yeah, right) freak that he is now. The Steiners were a great team back then, with two individual looks, so quite a step up for the Beverlys considering they had the Bushwhackers for opponents the year before.

Hey, I’ve just noticed the referee is Fonzie. I have nothing to followed that up with, but that’s who the ref is. Wow, what a start to this recap. Hooked, ain’t ya?

The Steiners, at this point, had only been in the WWF for about 6 weeks, so this was basically a showcase outing for them. With this in mind, it wasn’t a great match, although the obvious result occurred, with both men hitting some stiff looking clotheslines and suplexes, Rick collecting the hot tag and cleaning house, before Scott hit the Frankensteiner and boy did the Beverly brother (I don’t know which is which) land square on his head.

Steiners win, and the obligatory face win to open the show is over.

Up next is Marty Janetty v Shawn Michaels for the IC title, a feud over a year in the making. It was a year in the making, though, because Janetty was supposed to work the injury inflicted on him in a episode of Brutus Beefcake’s barber shop, but managed to get himself fired before the payoff at Wrestlemania VIII.

Janetty returned in late 1992, and reignited the feud, and here at the Rumble we see a recap of Janetty’s return, which was fantastically well done. A great camera shows Michaels see Marty in a mirror Sensational Sherri was holding up for him. Marty knocks Shawn down, swings the mirror and Shawn pulls Sherri in front of him to take the blow.

It was a great build up to this match, and we kick off with Sherri wandering to ringside, in no-one’s corner in particular. Jannetty is out first, and appeared to put his ring gear through an industrial shredder before he went through the curtain.

The match is underway, and it’s all Janetty in the early going. He looked so different when Kennedy brought him out on Raw. Oh it wasn’t him? Really? Had me fooled.

Anyway, Michaels takes over, puts Janetty on his shoulder and runs him into the ring post on the outside. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that move actually hit apart from on this occasion.

They work the arm convincingly for quite some time. Another thing you don’t see that often, and Jannety does a good job of selling it. He gets the inevitable comeback, including a pretty cool suplex to the outside, and Sherri blasts Michaels to show her allegiance. Marty pounds away, and we have a couple of really close near falls, until referee Joey Marella takes a bump. Hmm, a Morella who gets easily beaten down. Something else that you don’t see.......oh wait, we do have that now.

Sherri comes in, high heel in hand like a drunk ladette on a Friday night, and swings at Shawn. She misses and levels Marty, so Shawn tells her off. He lifts Marty into position, nails the superkick, and Marty takes a ridiculous twisting bump. Shawn gets 3 and Sherri runs off in tears.

Gene tries to get a word with Sherri, and even starts to tell her off. The bloke who you tried to smack with a shoe, fine. But Mean Gene? How embarrassing is that? Anyway, Shawn confronts her, but gets jumped by Janetty. This feud lasted more day, in fact, when Janetty turned up for Raw drunk.

He came back during the year, and although he had a short IC title run and held the tag belts with the 123 Kid (X-Pac), he never lived up to his potential. This is a great shame, because watching the match we have just seen, he was a decent worker who was over.

Inventive theme music time as Bam Bam Bigelow comes out to the strains of........a fella saying Bam Bam over and again.

Boss Man is the opponent, and Bigelow jumps him early. Standard big man fare, but to be fair both of these men could go, and were pretty athletic. Certainly a damn sight more interesting than seeing Mark Henry or Big Daddy V.

Gorilla calls Bam Bam “not that bright”, because apparently saying ‘lateral collateral’ rather than just ‘knee’ makes you a bloody Mensa member.

Bam Bam nails a flying headbutt from the top, and this one is over .Gorilla calls it an impressive win, but that’s only if you consider 4 minutes of rest holds impressive.

Footage of Razor Ramon attacking Owen Hart is shown, before Gorilla says that Owen Hart literally got creamed. I don’t even want to think about what being ‘creamed’ really means.

Razor cuts a neat little promo with Ray Rougeau, apparently from basketball game, and then comes to the ring. The lack of depth in the company at this point shows in the fact that Razor, who was always a decent enough performer, is number one contender, as wasn’t really considered likely to take the strap from the Hitman.

The place goes wild when Bret comes out, and maybe I’m biased because I’ve always been a huge mark for the Hitman, but I don’t recall too many guys being as over as he was at that time. Even the Rock. Maybe Hogan and Austin, but that’s it.

The match gets underway, with Razor taking the early advantage, but Bret avoids a rush to the turnbuckle, and Razor hurts his knee. Big mistake. See, this is why I loved Bret, because everything he did made sense. He systematically begins to pound on Ramon’s knee, using a figure four, the ring post, the ropes, kicks, leg whips, a whole manner of offense. All for a reason.

Razor changes momentum, and the psychology of the match increases further as Bret takes a stiff looking bump to the ribs on the ring post having gone underneath the turnbuckles. Razor then begins to pound on the lower back.

Interesting to see Razor to get a 2-count and complain to the official. As champion, it must be nice for Bret to know he can trust the referee, who in this case is.........Earl Hebner. Er, ok then. Ten years, and I’m still bitter. That’s right.

Bret fights back, throwing Razor to the outside then diving on top of him. He plays the plucky babyface for a bit, throwing a series of rights, and then starts his little series of moves leading to his finisher. Atomic drop, clothesline, Backbreaker, Russian Leg Sweep, Bulldog. The beauty of it all is that he sells his own injury while doing all this.

Sharpshooter attempt countered by virtue of the ref getting ‘inadvertently’ pulled on top of Bret, breaking the hold. Ooh, those dastardly Hebners. Razor gains the upper hand, but Bret with a fantastic counter series of moves into a back suplex. Razor back on top, and signals for the Razor’s Edge, but Bret counters into a backslide.

Ramon back on top as the pendulum swings again, and while this isn’t a classic, the ride you are taken on by virtue of the psychology is superb. Bret counters another Razor Ramon power move into a very innovative pinning combination, and while both men are lying on the deck, applies the Sharpshooter, reminiscent of his famous match with Mr Perfect at Summerslam 1991.

Cracking title match, although you never really felt that this was to be Scott Hall’s first title.

Next up, Bobby Heenan unveils the Narcissist. He’d been talking about this guy for about a month, without naming names. When the unveiling took place, and Heenan revealed it was Lex Luger, the reaction was........almost non-existent.

Now I love Heenan’s commentary, he is undoubtedly the best colour guy ever, but his fawning over Luger was a bit embarrassing. Anyway, Luger cuts a passionless promo about Mr Perfect, who Bobby Heenan was in a tussle with at the time. I’ve never understood why Luger stayed near the top of companies for so long. Good lord that was dull.

From the Narcissist of Greek Mythology to Ancient Rome, and here are Caesar and Cleopatra. OK then. You see, Wrestlemania was at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas that year, so some dude in a Toga had to waffle on about stuff for 3 minutes. Very boring and pointless. Still more interesting than Luger though.
Rumble time, and number one is.............Ric Flair.

Bobby Heenan asserts confidence in the fact Flair can still win, which is obviously a death knell. The fact that he’d already signed with WCW at this point stood against him too.

Bob Backlund was number two, and got nothing. No music, not reaction, nothing. He was 43 at the time, and he’d be champion again within two years.

Papa Shango, early incaranate of The Godfather Charles Wright, and source of many childhood nightmares is in at 3, but lasts seconds before Flair dumps him.

Gorilla then does another classic piece of telegraphing, reminding us that when Backlund was WWF champion previously, he did some major feats of endurance. So basically you are saying he’d be able to stay in the Rumble for a long time, right? Thanks Gorillia, much appreciated.

I love the fact that they are playing up the fact that Backlund is 43 – wow, that’s so old, they seem to say. Ric Flair, by contrast was........just short of his 44th birthday. A spring chicken if ever there was one.

In at 4 is Ted DiBiase, and 5 is Brian Knobbs of the Nasty Boys. Now the Nastys got booed last year, and cheered this, so I suppose they must have had a face turn in between times. Gorilla informs us that the Nastys are feuding with Money Inc, which is DiBiase and IRS. Thanks. Knobbs nearly eliminates Flair, and gives Ted a Pit Stop (if you don’t know, you don’t want to).

Virgil is out next, and of course gets straight into it with The Million Dollar Man, who evicts Knobbs. So to speak.

Jerry Lawler is number 7, and Heenan tells us that he is the host of WWF Superstars. Lawler has done pretty well to still be quite a good broadcaster consider he’s been around for the best part of 15 years.

Max Moon is next, and I guess that might need an explanation. Max Moon was supposed to be a futuristic spaceman kind of character, and it was originally played by the man known as Konnan now. However, he had a dispute and left, so Paul Diamond (who I referenced as Cato in the 1992 review) took over. I don’t know which one played Max on this occasion. Anyway, the character sucked, and so badly that I haven’t even finished this paragraph and he’s gone.

As Moon got eliminated, Japanese superstar Tenryu entered, cueing up a Heenan classic. A reverse knife edge exchange with Flair led to Monsoon saying that Tenryu’s were better. Heenan: “How do you think they get the term Chop Suey?” Slightly racist, perhaps, but very funny.

Mr Perfect Curt Hennig is number 10, and of course heads straight for Flair. The focus is purely on these two for the whole two minutes that precede Skinner’s entry.

Soon after, Perfect eliminates Flair, and would go on to beat him in a Career match the following night on Raw.

Koko B Ware is out here now, and another borderline racist moment from Heenan, as he greets Koko’s arrival with “Someone call a cab?” Sorry if that offends you, but that Heenan cracks me up.

Perfect watches an impressive feat of athleticism by Skinner and rewards the Alligator man by dropkicking him out of the contest.

13 is a not at all racist gimmick of a bloodthirsty Samoan savage (thank God they don’t do that any more) and it’s Samu, one half of the Headshrinkers.

The Berserker is out next. You know that guy had such a great look, and I honesty think it he came along now he’d do really well. I didn’t say it would interesting, but he’d get a push.

Perfect eliminates Lawler, and then is thrown over the top himself, although it takes Lawler to help rid the ring of him.

Looking at the ring, it is now seriously devoid of star power, so it must be time for........The Undertaker. Tenryu and Samu are gone in quick succession, while Berseker slams Backlund on the concrete. You’ll see why in a minute.

Terry “Don’t call me Red Rooster” Taylor is next in, and is thrown by DiBiase at the same time as Koko. Taker throws the Million Dollar man, and gets to work on the Berserker, when you see the crowd look to the aisle.

The camera (from a great low angle shot) shows a gigantic man (who we would find out later was called Giant Gonzales) accompanied by Harvey Wippleman. Not an official entry in the Rumble, he enters the ring after Taker drops Berserker, and clubs Taker. The Giant eliminates Taker, then systematically destroys the Deadman, including using Taker’s own Goozle.

I want to note, for the record, as I have never really had the chance, that although Gonzales was one of the worst wrestlers of all time, I think his debut was one of the best. He looked enormous, got instant heat and shocked the audience because of his domination of the Undertaker. Mainly, though, the commentators did an awesome job of selling him. Absolutely brilliant. They explained about Wippleman’s past involvement with Kamala and how the Undertaker destroyed him.Eventually Paul Bearer came down to use the urn to revive Taker, and he went to the back. The feud was abysmal after that, but the opening was a belter.

After Taker is gone, we are left with Backlund being beaten down by IRS and Damian Demento (I’d forgotten him too) before Tatanka makes the save. Watching this may remind you that Tatanka was big-time over at the time. By the way, now you know why Berserker slammed Backlund outside, because they didn’t want him eliminated but if he had stayed in the ring, he’d have been slung by Taker or destroyed by Gonzales.

The other Nasty Boy (Janet Jackson’s favourite tag team) is in now, and of course goes for IRS. Some good continuity happening here. Big Typhoon is out now, also getting cheered, so another face turn in the last 12 months has taken place, and I notice that his singlet has a picture of a tidal wave on it. Which isn’t a Typhoon. That’s a Tsunami, surely. Maybe there was confusion about Tsunamis spreading Typhoid. I don’t know.

While I’m talking crap, Fatu is out here, and yes that is Junior Fatu AKA Rikishi, famed for his role as the Sultan. Or maybe not.

At this point you can look at the ring and realise that star power is truly lacking. Any form of logic tells you that with the winner facing the champ at Mania, realistically of the guys that have entered so far, it could only be Taker, Flair or Perfect, and they are all gone. So the tension was lost because it could only really be Yoko or Savage to win.

Earthquake and went straight to Typhoon, which made zero sense, because those two could have dominated all before them, then duked it out, but no, that would logical, so they fought each other instead .

I’ve lost count now, so number blank comes out now, and it’s Carlos Colon, father of current/former WWE wrestler Carlito. Monsoon calls him a youngster. Colon was 47 at the time. Makes Backlund and Flair look like young pups.

Tito Santana is next, and as he pounds on Earthquake, Backlund eliminates Fatu. I’m not sure if I hear it properly, and I’ve never noticed it before, but it sounds very much like a ‘we want Hulk’ chant. Sadists.

Rick Martel follows his former Strike Force partner, and these two get straight into it, and as they do, Quake throws out IRS.

Tito nearly eliminates Backlund, and the crowd scream for him to hang on. Not bad considering he got no reaction at all when he entered.

A Japanese flag poking through the curtain foreshadows the next entrant, and it a sumo wrestler who looks a lot like a Samoan. He slings Tatanka, and then Colon, before Earthquakes faces him up. As Quake clotheslines away, Owen Hart is the next man in.

Quake misses an Avalanche (I’m not getting my disasters confused, that’s the name of the move) and gets heaved over by Yokozuna.

Repo man comes out and runs straight into Yoko, who is clearly the story of the Rumble now. Everyone gangs up on Yoko, in much the same way was they used to do to Andre, but Yoko fights them all off.

Next out is the only other man who could win this, Randy Savage. He goes to work on Repo while Santana is next eliminated. A big drop kick by Owen Hart ousts Sags, and the Rocket escapes being slung by the Model, but is soon removed by Yokozuna.

Repo Man leaves the scene thanks to Savage, and its down to Martel, Savage, Yokozuna and Backlund. That must be all, because I’m sure it’s been more than two minutes since Savage came in.

Backlund is announced at 61 minutes in the match, and Heenan again expresses surprise at Bob’s age. Hell, Michaels and Undertaker now are 42. Backlund rids the ring of Martel, then gets the attention of Yokozuna. Brilliantly, as the time ticks past the moment where he breaks the record Backlund throws dropkicks to unsettle the big man, but then gets unceremoniously thrown out.

Down to just Savage and Yoko, and as Mr Fuji waves the Japanese flag at ringside, Yoko shouts Samoa into a camera. Nothing like a bit of nationalism.

Savage plays a great role of babyface in peril, and becomes the first person to knock Yokozuna off his feet. Thinking clearly, Savage drops his patented elbow from the top, and covers Yoko. Seriously, he covered him. In an over the top battle royal, he covered a 560-pound man. Hmm, logical.

Heenan says he is not leaving until the Royal Rumble is over. Good, considering that’s his job, but presumably, somewhere, Bill Watts is smiling.

Anyway, from a lying down position, Yoko manages to throw the Macho Man all the way over the top rope. Yokozuna is then led to the back by the Romans as we go to highlights of the show.

This is one of my favourite early Rumbles, because I think the wrestling pre Rumble is strong; with great stories told in both IC and WWF title matches, and a reasonably busy Rumble match itself. Perhaps it’s a little predictable as to how would win it, but as something you can go back and watch, its fun to watch a Rumble as it used to be. They are very overbooked these days.