— Hey guys, it’s David D. here with another vintage recap. But first, let me say that this whole With Spandex thing is really cool and fun to be a part of.
— Yesterday I wrote about the 15th anniversary of the “Rap Is Crap” angle in WCW. People liked it so much that they thought I was Brandon Stroud.
— Follow me on the Twits. @DavidDTSS
— Now, on to wrestling things that happened 18 years ago here at Vintage Best and Worst, where mortality stares you in your eye sockets.
Worst: Jim Ross’ Heel Turn Is Still Going On
Guys. Did I mention to you how this is the worst? If you ever want to see an early WWF angle with Vince Russo’s fingerprints all over it, look no further than this. We get JR making all sorts of edgy shoot comments about Vince McMahon’s announcing and whoa there he mentioned that Vince owned the WWF. Tsssssss apply water to the burn. This whole fiasco got amped up by the fact JR’s mic wasn’t working the whole first 15 minutes of the PPV. So instead of focusing on the Austin/HHH matchup we get HOT ANNOUNCING STRIFE.
Of course this all is part of Jim Ross bringing in Fake Razor Ramon and Earth-2 Kane which is a train wreck I want no part of. But alas…it’s happening.
Best: Stone Cold Promo Gold Continues
Whoo man. Austin is pure platinum on the mic, but you already knew that. Here he lays into Savio Vega, builds his feud with Bret Hart and does the “I respect the other heel” bit even if he calls him Hunter Hearst. It’s about 90 seconds long and more fire than any promo you’ve heard on RAW in ages.
Best: This Is Basically NXT
Watching IYH events really illuminates how crazy the current WWE business model is. Bray Wyatt debuted in the WWE a year ago and I bet he’s had as much WWE televised in-ring time as both Helmsley and Austin in their three-combined years in the company. There’s just so much TV to fill and every important (or even mildly important) guy on the roster is wrestling 15 minute matches at least once a week it seems. So there’s a good and bad to this:
1) In 2014, Austin and HHH would have had this match 13 times on RAW, Smackdown, Main Event and Superstars already. Which is overkill and totally makes this whole thing pretty bland. But…
2) Austin and HHH get to wrestle on WWF TV so much that they have incredible chemistry by the time thy get on a PPV. Maybe.
Clearly this is more of a benefit to HHH as Austin had been having long matches on TV in WCW for most of the decade already, but still, this match is pretty much an NXT match as they look brand new to the product compared to other wrestlers who are in the company as long in 2014. The match is good and you can see them putting the pieces together, and it’s great when Vince says one of them could be champion one day and you know they’ll both be megastars.
Unfortunately, they spend half the match stuck in rest holds as JR and Vince sell their stupid heel announcer angle.
Worst: An Ending To A Match With Little Logic
The Smoking Guns and The Bulldhozers had a rematch to their tag title bout from last month and it was, well, a match. They hit the same notes as last month with the only exception being the Guns playing up their dissension more. Owen carries the match as usual, but the ending just doesn’t work.
As you can see in the pic above, Bulldog *hides* behind Bart like I hide behind my couch when I’m playing tag with my son. He also has a handful of Bart’s jeans but Bart doesn’t notice because of that comfort dip Brett Favre talks about or something. In the end, Billy misses the finisher and Owen gets the pin.
Fashion Break: Farooq In His Special Hat
I won’t make the special class joke. Nope. Won’t do it. Instead I’ll just say DAMN.
Best: Even Sable Doesn’t Know WTF You’re Talking About
I don’t know if Sable and Mero were dating or what at the time of this promo but I do know that Sable wants to laugh really hard at whatever the hell he’s talking about. Me too, boo boo. Me too.
It’s also the same look my wife gives me when I say things like “I have to concentrate on writing about wrestling pay-per-views from 1996 now.”
Worst: Marc Mero Still Having The Most Mediocre Of Matches
Bless Goldust’s tiny golden heart. Getting a good match out of Marc Mero was damn near impossible and I’m pretty sure his opponents just figured they could handle the entire match and tell him when to do something jumpy. And Mero doing a shooting star press is basically the same as Buff Bagwell busting out Canadian Destroyers. It’s their one move. Their Spirit Bomb that they spend the whole match saving up energy for. That’s the only way to explain how he’s utterly incapable of doing anything else for the entirety of the rest of his matches.
Meanwhile we get some distracting story of Helmsley and Mr. Perfect, which will of course lead to Perfect joining Helmsley because wrestling logic.
Worst: Why Won’t This Match End Like I Want It To?
Vader vs. Psycho Sid should have been better than this. But Vader was deflated from HBK murdering his career and Sid is the less agile guy in the ring. These two faced off in a #1 contender’s match in a battle of power bombs that wasn’t as hoss-y as it should have been. Instead Sid relies on being incredibly over and Vader relies on his ability to coast.
In the end, we don’t. get. a. power bomb. There was a five minute video before the match based on whose powerbomb was more devastating and in the end Sid wins thanks to the crappiest chokeslam not featuring Paul Bearer of all time.
The saddest thing is this effectively ended the idea of Vader as a main eventer. He’d had a hell of a match with Michaels and deserved another run. But thanks to pre-Jesus HBK not liking getting punched in the face in a wrestling match, the heat got shifted to Sid. Granted, the crowd was into him like crazy, but he wasn’t Vader.
But whatever. Sid gets a title shot at Survivor Series and Vader becomes Lulz Fats McManTits for the rest of his WWF career. Life isn’t fair.
Best: A Thing That Happened A Year Ago Still Matters
Well wattayaknow. If Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt ever feud again, I guarantee the WWF won’t acknowledge the four month feud they had in 2013. It’s what happens now. Feuds seem to happen in a vacuum and nobody remembers what happened before. But as soon as Sid won and starts to head to his match with Michaels, everyone remembers and brings up the fact that he turned on HBK more than a year ago. Now we have a compelling story that we don’t have to remember on our own and create fan fiction motives out of. They’re there as part of the storytelling because for some reason announcers have brains and can remember things that happened as part of their jobs. Bravo.
Best: Mankind vs. Undertaker Forever and Ever
This feud just won’t stop owning my heart. Mankind is coming off a match of the year contender with Shawn Michaels and is back in the feud of the year with Undertaker. Buried Alive matches are supposed to be as bad as Boiler Room Brawls but this match is incredible. It’s classic hardcore Mick Foley style and Undertaker adds another layer of physicality to his repertoire.
One of the underrated aspects of Taker’s career is the way he adds moves to his matches as the stakes get higher. Like how he does the top rope dive at WrestleMania or the crazy flying DDT against Batista or something. Here, he’s jumping off the top rope to the outside and doing flying clotheslines over the security railing. Just those two moves made the match seem more important.
Take away the grave and we’ve got one of the first truly great hardcore matches of the early Attitude Era.
Worst: 50/50 Booking And A Million Hilarious Things
So Undertaker wins the match which features another ending due to Worst Chokeslam, but 50/50 booking dictates that Mankind still has to get his heat back immediately so the Executioner or whatever his name is hit ‘Taker with a shovel and puts him in the grave instead.
And this is where the literal magic happens.
So next we have lights going dim and thunder and SFX lighting happening as Undertaker is getting “buried”…presumably to allow Taker to duck away while they put a DUMMY OF THE UNDERTAKER in the bottom of the grave. Or at least it damn sure looks like one. Then, we get to watch Mankind STRUGGLE to get dirt on Undertaker because shoveling is difficult as sh*t. So naturally we get the entire heel roster come out to help because Undertaker picked out all the roast beef from the sandwiches in catering and just left a tray of bread or something to cause heels to hate Undertaker always. Also, because it would probably take Mankind 40 minutes to shovel a ton of dirt with his bare hands.
Still, we get five minutes of guys shoveling. It’s not exactly compelling television. Naturally, though, it all ends with SOUND GUY MAGIC that scares the heels away and Undertaker ominously raising his hand from the grave to close the show in typical horror movie fashion. Wrestling is real, dammit.
Worst: In Your House Is An Episode Of Smackdown
I don’t know if this means that the product was too slow in 1996 or it’s too fast in 2014, but IYH was an hour and 45 minutes of wrestling that people paid 15 bucks for and it’s about half as newsworthy as an episode of Smackdown now. The event was five matches, zero title changes and some story development. Hell, the champion didn’t even wrestle. If this were an episode of RAW it’d be considered filler or solid at best. Shit, no wonder the writers are so stressed these days.