Starrcade 1996 (Nashville Municipal Auditorium)
Jushin Liger vs Rey Mysterio Jr
Yep it’s mid 1990s WCW alright. Talking about nothing but Hulk Hogan. Seriously a USA chant? Jesus. Dusty Rhodes not a minute into this is already lost. Rey is so much smaller than Liger that it makes for an interesting match. Liger manhandles him. When you think about Liger you think about his work with say Otani, El Samurai, Pegasus, etc. All guys who are basically the same size as Liger. Now Liger has worked guys where their position on the card or storyline circumstances led to his being dominant, but this is amongst the few matches where Liger can bully a guy on that’s on his level. Well there was that one weird year no one talks about. Liger playing up being a heel to the crowd. I wonder if this match was supposed to be more back and forth and the USA chants led Liger to just going the bully heel route. Then again I’ve heard that when Liger works outside NJPW he lets his opponent put the match together so maybe not. Rey being 1990s Rey in a comeback is just spectacular. Until he is cutoff by a massive suplex from the ring to the floor. Looked rough. 20 years later I popped as loud as Heenan did. Giant powerbomb. Is it possible to work the back of someone’s head? Cause that’s what this looks like. Dusty is really putting over Liger now. So basically the match is Liger dropping hurting bombs methodically on Rey, and dominating the match really. Rey had one awesome comeback and that’s been about it so far. There are 4 men on commentary and basically only Dusty has talked for the last 5 minutes. Not a knock on Dusty there either since he has been actively trying to get someone, anyone, to interact with him the whole time. Kind of a disjointed match. Liger throws him around. Then Rey would do some movez. Liger playing heel. I really wonder what would have happened if this match was in New Japan. Or since this was their first match together what would have happened if they had rematches where they were more used to each other. This is a dream match that isn’t bad, but you can’t help but be a bit disappointed.
Result and Rating:
Jushin Liger defeated Rey Mysterio Jr via pinfall at 14:16 with the Liger Bomb (Star Rating: ***)
TWA 4/4 For History (Far West Rodeo)
TWA Heavyweight Championship/Control of TWA/Bunkhouse Brawl
TWA Heavyweight Champion Shawn Michaels vs Venom
April 4th, 2000. Shawn Michaels’ first match since Wrestlemania XIV. Wrestling not in front of tens of thousands during the World Wrestling Federation’s hottest period, but rather in front of about 800 in a bar in an indie promotion he was running. His opponent Venom was Paul Diamond who Shawn wrestled a ton of times over the years as a member of The Rockers. Diamond was the tag partner of Pat Tanaka in both the AWA and the WWF. As Badd Company they took the AWA World Tag Titles from The Midnight Rockers, and as Kato and Tanaka of the Orient Express they had one of the best opening matches in WWF history with the Rockers at the 1991 Royal Rumble. Also he was Max Moon. Well the 2nd one after Konnan quit. By the way a Bunkhouse Brawl appears to be nothing more than a 1990s garbage match. No idea why Shawn decided this was a good idea. Going off the commentary the set up to this match sounds almost verbatim what was done in the lead up to Summerslam 2002 except Shawn and Venom were always enemies instead of a friend who turned on him. Watching the match it is shocking how great Shawn was in his comeback in 2002. Shawn bluntly looks like a man who doesn’t have a spine so much as an inflexible metal rod in his back. He is very stiff. He does not bump much at all. Watching him get in and out of the ring looks like a chore which is odd since that never seemed a problem when he’d show up in the WWF. At one point he does a piledriver onto an aluminum trash can lid, remember the good ole days where basically foil was treated as a deadly weapon, and Shawn does not jump and is so awkward going to the mat with it. If this were Shawn’s last match it’d be really sad. At one point he climbs halfway up the world’s smallest ladder, not even the height of the 2nd rope really, and does a fist drop. Again the only thing not making something like that cringe worthy is knowing the future. Well some levity as we get a prolonged close up shot of the most obvious bladejob anyone has ever seen by Venom here. We finish up with the as stubborn a table as you’ll ever see. Damn thing will not break and Shawn will not let the match end until it does. A far greater battle of wills than anything else in the match. Basically imagine every WWF Hardcore Title match, double the length, and pretend one of the guys in the match had a broken back. Boiled down that’s what this match was.
Result and Rating
TWA Heavyweight Champion Shawn Michaels defeated Venom via pinfall at 17:07 with the Sweet Chin Music. Shawn Michaels retained the TWA Heavyweight Championship and gained control of the TWA. (Star Rating: *)
Glory By Honor II (Murphy Rec Center)
CM Punk vs Terry Funk
I have not watched a Ring of Honor match from this far back in forever. I have not watched a CM Punk match from this far back in forever. Feels very weird in just knowing what both look like not even today, but just a few years later. Not to mention how watching this throws me back to the time and place I first watched it, and that being so long ago is sorta disorienting. This was part of the Punk vs Raven feud. At this show they chose opponents for each other. Punk chose Steve Corino as Raven’s opponent, and Raven obviously chose Terry Funk as Punk’s opponent. Terry Funk looks great. He’s moving around the ring with no problems. Well he’s perfectly capable of moving around the ring anyways. Interesting psychology in this one. Funk totally out works Punk on the mat at the start of the match. Punk takes the match outside, and announces it is now a hardcore match, which is odd given the finish, and is able to take control brawling. At one time when Terry Funk was NWA World Champion he was known as an amazing wrestler, but at this point in his career he was going on 20 years as a death match/hardcore match guy. Whether it be Puerto Rico, Japan, ECW, or hell even the World Wrestling Federation that is what he had been doing for a very long time. There is a great spot where Punk hits Funk with the world’s weakest chair shot. We’re talking sub Lance Storm level chair shot. Funk just starts brow beating him over it. So Punk hits him again, and it is not much harder. Honestly it kinda comes across like Punk is trying to go as easy as he can on the old man. Now the finish is perplexing. Funk misses a moonsault and starts selling the knee. Punk works over the knee including, and this is important, many chair shots to the leg. After the umpteenth figure four leg lock Punk refuses to break it when Funk gets in the ropes and gets DQed. Huh? After all the other stuff they did to each other keeping a hold after a 5 count gets the match thrown out. And what happened to it turning into a hardcore match? Very odd. I can guess why there had to be a screwy finish, but what a terrible way of going about it.
Result and Rating
Terry Funk defeated CM Punk via Disqualification at 15:46 (Star Rating: *3/4)
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan’s Greatest Matches (Madison Square Garden)
World Wrestling Federation Championship/Desert Storm Match
WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan vs Sgt Slaughter (w/General Adnan)
Hulk Hogan was apparently under the impression that Saddam Hussein was a communist. So to start the match the plan is Hogan throws the belt into the ring, Slaughter tries to use it as a weapon, and Hogan throws powder into Slaughter’s eyes playing off the fire ball post Wrestlemania angle. Somehow Hogan manages to throw the belt backwards. So he has to go back down the aisle to get it. That was unique. Hogan utterly dominating. Hits Slaughter with the belt, with a riding crop, with an army helmet, with a microphone, with the monitor, headbutts Slaughter wearing some kinda mask busting Slaughter open, and chokes Slaughter with whatever he can get his hands on. Slaughter has yet to do anything to Hogan. This was at a time where there was no blood in the WWF outside of whenever Hogan got away with it. Wrestlemanias 5 and 7 spring to mind. Slaughter is gushing blood. Slaughter finally gets the heat with hitting Hogan with whatever was in the pouches on his belt. The first time I saw this match was on a tape called WWF Champion Hulk Hogan’s Greatest Matches. Interestingly the match is joined in progress after the extended beating by Hogan that starts the match. There is a needlessly goofy spot where Slaughter falls down because a steel chair is too heavy. Leads to him getting hit with it, but is almost immediately back on offense. So that led to nothing. Well to be fair it led to another goofy spot where Slaughter falls off the top rope. I mean this is the best match these two had together, faint praise, but it would have been much better going back and forth instead of being one long Hogan offensive period followed by one long Slaughter offensive period leading to the finish where Hogan wins. That and the weirdly wacky spots in a match that for its time and place seemed like it should be far more serious.
Result and Rating
WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan defeated Sgt Slaughter via submission at 15:34 with the Camel Clutch when General Adnan threw in the towel. Hulk Hogan retained the World Wrestling Federation Championship. (Star Rating: **1/2)
Wrestlefest ’94 (Florence Civic Center)
Steiner Brothers vs Hart Brothers
A dream match with a great reputation. It falls in the period right before Owen turns heel on Bret, and the Steiners leave the promotion. If it lives up to the hype it is likely the best Coliseum Video match of all time. Let’s find out. A bit of a botch between Bret and Scott on the go behind into an O’Connor Roll. They sorta saved it, but it was not pretty. Owen is taking all the bumps on his side. Bret kept it on the mat, and Owen is taking all the signature stuff. Crafty vet that Bret. I’m a poet and didn’t know it on that last line. Anyway I went back and checked and Owen never wrestled the Steiners before. I could swear I saw him in a tag against the Steiners in New Japan, but apparently not. Owen starts suplexing the Steiners all over the place. Somehow though Owen comes up selling after he German Suplexed Rick. Bret’s doing that thing where he works kinda heel when he is in with other babyfaces. Refuses to break a sleeper hold after Rick gets into the ropes. Starting to look like Bret is working this Coliseum Video style, and the other three are actually interested in having a good match. Bret is very much laying in a hold for a long time while Owen is flying around all over the place. Monsoon’s bitching about hooking the leg is cringe worthy as normal. Monsoon is more grating than normal in this one. Steiner obvious jammed his knee legit so even though Bret and Owen are working over the back Monsoon won’t stop bitching that they’re not working the knee. Unless Fujinami did a Dragon Suplex back in the day this match might be the first instance of that move in the WWF. A very rare move in the WWF period. Owen takes all of the Steiner’s stuff including the Steiner Screwdriver working like a plucky babyface, and Bret has just started to work outright heel. Once Bret went heelish this match got really good. The first 7 or so minutes with Bret just being laid on were meh, but once Bret turns into a dick, and Owen starts bumping like a maniac this gets great. The finish stinks. All four guys are brawling in the ring until Rick and Bret get bumped to the floor. Scott comes off the top onto Bret, and Owen comes down with a plancha onto Rick leading to the fastest countout ever. If you want a draw just go to like a 30 minute time limit or something. Takes it down a notch.
Result and Rating
The Steiner Brothers fought The Hart Brothers to a double countout at 24:55 (Star Rating: ***3/4)
NJPW G1 Climax Special 9/26/93 (Osaka Jo Hall)
Hulk Hogan vs Keiji Muto
Have you ever wondered what Hulk Hogan chain wrestling looks like? Well this is the match for you. The first half of the match is taken up by Hogan taking Muto down and transitioning from one hold to another including a few nifty ones where he gets good nearfalls. Muto gets next to no offense until Hogan calls for the Axe Bombah which Muto rolls out of the way of. Good spot where Hogan tries to suplex Muto over the top rope to the floor, but Muto lands on his feet. The match is short and everything they do is interesting. If you want to see two of the biggest stars of all time in a one off match, Great Muta and Keiji Muto are considered two different guys, or want to see something completely different from Hulk Hogan I give this a recommend. A fun watch that won’t take up your time, and will give you something different. A good click when you fall into a wrestling youtube hole. Even just to see Hogan rope Muto into doing the pose routine.
Result and Rating
Hulk Hogan defeated Keiji Muto via pinfall at 9:50 with the Axe Bomber (Star Rating: ***)
WWF World Tour 1992 (Olympiahalle)
World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Heavyweight Champion Macho Man Randy Savage vs Shawn Michaels(w/Sensational Sherri)
Macho Man is selling the leg from Wrestlemania 8. Shawn goes for the leg off the bat, and Savage keeps fending him off. The start of this match looks a lot like the title change where Flair got the WWF title back from Savage. That’s a match I really recommend because not only is it very good it deviates wildly from the normal Flair formula. A great little deal is just when it looks like Sherri’s interference will let Shawn get a hold of the leg Savage baits him into a wild brawl all around the ring that goes on for quite a while that Savage eventually gets the best of. Shawn tries to get some heat by bailing on the match, but since he is the challenger in a World Title match that spot doesn’t make a whole helluva lot of sense. At about the halfway point of this match I think Sherri has bumped more than Savage. Shawn and Sherri are finally able to work over the leg. This takes up the bulk of the 2nd half of the match until Shawn puts Savage in the figure 4. At first it looked like he was just going for the spinning toe hold which got a pop out of me. This goes on for a long time until basically Shawn tries for the hold again and gets kicked into the ring post and Savage pops up for the Flying Elbow. I really liked the first half of this match, but the 2nd half is too repetitive and the finish is too abrupt. So basically to the level of most Coliseum video matches. After the match there is a post match beatdown where Shawn beats Savage’s legs with a steel chair and the WWF Title belt. That leads us too…
Result and Rating
WWF Heavyweight Champion Macho Man Randy Savage defeated Shawn Michaels via pinfall at 14:26 with the Flying Elbow Drop. Macho Man Randy Savage retained the World Wrestling Federation Championship. (Star Rating: **1/2)
UK Rampage ’92 (Sheffield Arena)
World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Heavyweight Champion Macho Man Randy Savage(w/Elizabeth) vs Shawn Michaels(w/Sensational Sherri)
A few days after their match in Germany where Savage came in selling the leg and ended with his legs ground up into chop meat Randy Savage comes out here no worse for the wear. No hint of an issue with his legs. And I could not be happier. Most times on these tours or house show loops in general guys work carbon copy matches. Move for move. If you see guys in New York one night, and for whatever reason follow them to Philly or Boston the next night you will normally see move for move the exact same match. As a matter of fact on one of the early Coliseum videos for Hulk Hogan there are two Harley Race matches for whatever reason and they are identical in every way. So I totally appreciate that this match is completely different. This is the match you’d expect between these two. Back and forth with some awesome stuff. Shawn is going all out in this one. This has to be his biggest singles match to this point, and he is pulling out every trick he knows at this point. Savage is just always awesome in every way. Sherri goes after Elizabeth, in her last ever WWF appearance, then she comes back to take out Sherri after a ref bump. The finish is awesome. Savage used the flying elbow during the ref bump so instead he comes of the top in one corner, runs across the ring, runs up the turnbuckle, and comes off with a twisting crossbody for the win. It was really awesome looking. I wish these two had gotten their wish and worked a PPV. Especially Wrestlemania 9. Too bad we never got that. Find and watch this match.
Result and Rating
Result and Rating
WWF Heavyweight Champion Macho Man Randy Savage defeated Shawn Michaels via pinfall at 16:58 with a reverse top rope crossbody. Macho Man Randy Savage retained the World Wrestling Federation Championship. (Star Rating: ****)