David D. here again with another Retro review. These things are moving along swimmingly. Sorry I missed a week a couple of weeks ago. Your texts telling me to suck it made me feel missed. Hey, these things are a butt ton of words and sometimes I’ll miss a week. YOLO.
While you’re reading wrestling things, head over to The Smoking Section to read an article about CM Punk that made people mad. And are you following me on Twitter? You should.
Now, on to the shizzle.
Fashion Break: Savio Vega. Worst Ring Attire Ever.
Savio Vega had the worst attire ever. Not, like Bastion Booger attire, but he dressed like the worst-dressed regular person you’ll ever see. He wore New Japan streamers over a spandex top that was tucked into his jeans ever so gingerly to expose his muffin top. Goodness.
Best: Owen’s Cast Gimmick
If there’s one thing Owen Hart did better than anyone, it was turn sh*t into gold. Think about it: the guy tagged with Koko B. Ware, said f*ck it and just flipped around being awesome. He turned being the only Hart stuck in his contract into a hot angle. He turned White Guy In Nation Of Domination into comedy and the Blue Blazer was super over until his accident.
For Summerslam 1996, though, he was stuck with Typical Heel Gimmick #7 AKA “stuck with a cast.” These are always the dumbest because the heel feigns an injury, takes the cast off and hit his opponent in the head…because apparently a cast is the only object on Earth that’s more dangerous hollow than it is with something in it. Go figure.
But Owen turns it into entertaining comedy. Savio Vega was underrated as a worker, so they had a decent match here but the beauty was Owen hamming it up with his cast. Celebrating every move – think Daniel Bryan’s heel YES stuff or Bo Dallas now. It’s glorious…until, of course, he wins by hitting Savio Vega with a hollow paper mache thingy.
Best: Whoa look at JBL and Zeb
The WWE Network is wonderful. Mostly because you can watch a random pay-per-view, or Summerslam 96′ and see an out-of-nowhere appearance from Justin Hawk Bradshaw Blackjack Jimmy Jam Flam Bam or whatever he’s going by here and Zeb Coulter as Jebediah. They just pop in really quickly so if you blink you miss it. Don’t blink. Don’t miss it.
Best: Okay, Sunny looks smoking hot
In previous B&W’s I talk a lot about how Sunny doesn’t really appeal to grown-up me like she did when I was a kid, mostly because her innuendo isn’t nearly as clever as I thought it was and she sort of looks like every generic diva that’s come and gone in the company. Plus her gimmick was basically “Gold digger” over and over again.
But I likes what I likes and Sunny looks like a plate of yams with extra syrup. There’s no think piecing my way out of that.
Enjoy it now because things really fall off the rails by about late 1997.
Worst: The Tag Team Division
Pre-Hardy/E&C/Dudleys brought us some pretty damn bad tag teams. I mean, the Smoking Guns were the class of the division. That should say enough.
Here’s a Four Corners match between the aforementioned Guns, The Godwins (dude, Mideon had a legit long run as a wrestler, bee tee dubs), The Body Donnas and the New Rockers.
Oh man, the New Rockers. Some people will argue that Marty Jannetty was as good as Shawn Michaels and the chips just didn’t fall his way. Those people are named Marty Jannetty. Through the course of scouring the Network, I’ve seen Marty Jannetty invited back to the company every few months and it got progressively worse. Here we get Marty and Al Snow trying to do the New Rockers and there’s just nothing there. Snow was definitely a worthy partner but they just didn’t have it.
Anyway, we get another tag match that’s way longer than it should be and nobody cares. The division was the torrential turds. You know how you make that “haha piss break” joke on Twitter about the Divas matches. Well, that was the tag division.
Fashion Break: Savio Vega Again
This video of the WWF hanging out in Cleveland is just magical. They’re all showing the landmarks of the city and being “Cleveland is…okay?” with the same conviction of Marty Jannetty selling “charisma”…but anyway, we get Savio Vega in street clothes which is depressingly similar to Savio Vega in wrestle gear.
WTF: Wait. WTF. Undertaker Gave Away A Funeral?
As part of that video, they show how the Undertaker and Paul Bearer gave away a free funeral. Wait. I must know things now.
Is that guy still alive? How did they fund this? Did they put his funeral money into a fund that would last, like, 30 years? What if that guy goes on to do something horrible, like die while trying to slingshot cats into a bonfire one by one? Does he still get a funeral? Is it a WWF-themed funeral? Once his casket drops, do the lights go dark and a video of him all like “I’ll return, creatures of the night!” show up on the big screen? Does his funeral get a big screen?
All. The. Questions.
Best: Psycho Sid In His Prime Or
Worst: Shut Up, WWE Historians
A couple of weeks ago, WWE’s Countdown had an episode of biggest screw-ups or whatever and Psycho Sid Vicious/Justice got his own entry. Revisionist history has a way of becoming canon and I hate it (I’ll make the same argument when I talk about Glacier soon). Sure, Sid rarely made much sense on the mic and he wasn’t in Undertaker or Kane’s class in terms of big men. But he had moments when he was on. Here, he’s wrestling British Bulldog and it’s sort of the blind leading the blind as neither man was really known for directing good matches. However, this is a serviceable power match. More importantly, the crowd is absolutely nuclear for Sid. He had the monster charisma down and just looked like a boss all match.
The match itself is short and sweet with an exchange of power moves (and, sigh, rest holds for some reason in a four-minute match). We get some little side story with Cornette and Johnny Cochran but most importantly we get Sid dominating the British Bulldog. This was the best he looked since 91′-era Halloween Havoc. Really, they could have cut the rest holds and just thrown each other around a lot.
Best: Sable With Clothes On
I mentioned this for the last PPV, but young, innocent Sable >>>> MILF Gargantuan Boob Sable from the Attitude Era. She looked way better here than she did with hand paint over her nipples. Fight me.
Oh God, Lana is going to come to the ring in pasties in a few months and lose all her sex appeal, isn’t she? Dammit.
Best: The One Thing Marc Mero Could Ever Do
Balrog was the most useless Street Fighter character ever. But he had that one really sick combo that I liked watching from time to time because it was leaps and bounds better than he had any right being.
That was Marc Mero and the shooting star press. He literally did everything badly but could hit the move that almost shoot murdered Brock Lesnar with ease. It’s basically the equivalent of Buff Bagwell hitting a Canadian Destroyer. They should be take team partners, run around the ring hit the taunt button until they get their special moves and just do those.
Because everything else Marc Mero does here stinks. It smells. I hate it. In the last two months, we had Stone Cold carrying Mero’s carcass to decent matches and here we get Goldust trying his damnedest to be remotely okay. I’m pretty sure that every Marc Mero match has his opponent getting totally pissed with him for screwing something up. This match is no different. The match ends with Goldust setting up the Curtain Call, but Mero…just…won’t…bend. And you can see Goldust stop himself from losing his sh*t while trying to get a mannequin to just f*cking bend.
By the way, I know what you’re doing with that ring attire, Goldust. I’m appropriately disturbed.
Fashion Break: Mark Henry In All-White Everything
You couldn’t tell Mark a damn thing when he broke out this Kangol hat and matching white denim outfit for his WWF debut. Eat your heart out “Make A Difference” Fatu.
Best: Mark Henry Is Legit Scared Of Snakes
God, Mark Henry on commentary for the Lawler/Snake match is the greatest. How can you not love Mark Henry because seriously. The beauty starts when Vince McMahon lets him know that yes, Jake The Snake brings out snakes to the ring and Mark is all “wait, you didn’t tell me about that sh*t” because he’s legitimately scared of snakes. And not, fake wrestler scared of snakes. I mean Mark spends the next five minutes like “no, but seriously, we’re not going to have a goddamn snake out here, right?” Vince and Mr. Perfect are trying to build the Lawler/Snake match about alcoholism and Mark Henry is still, “nobody’s answered my question about snakes, mother*ckers.” The guy writes poetry and is deathly afraid of snakes. Just love him, everyone.
Then, of course, Lawler comes out and gets 10 minutes of mic time for whatever reason and gets all “if Mark Henry had a gold medal he’d just get it bronzed” because Lawler is pretty much the cop that pulled me over in Memphis that one time. The best part is Henry legitimately might be watching wrestling for the first time ever. Perfect keeps making alcohol jokes and Henry says out loud, “oh, I get it. Everything turns into a joke” like he’s learning how wrestling people talk right before our eyes. I half-expected him to say, “ah, I get it. He’s hitting him but not really, so it’ll look like it hurts more than it does. I understand now.”
If you watch one thing out of this whole pay-per-view. It’s Mark Henry being real-life amazing.
Worst: Possibly The Worst Live Experience Ever
So there’s this Boiler Room Brawl between Undertaker and Mick Foley and it’s at least 17 times better than it has any right being. This is the type of match that they would have been one of the legendarily awful Undertaker matches if it were between him and Kamala or someone, but the boiler room stuff is basically a hardcore match that’s entertaining despite some of the slow moments. We get huge metal pipes to the scrotes, burning via hot steam and hot coffee attacks.
But man oh man, f*ck Cleveland. Right, WWF? I don’t know if that arena had a huge tron or something to show the match for the fans in attendance or not, but I do know that they set up four regular TVs in BLACK AND WHITE around ringside for the entire arena to look at. That can’t be right, can it? There had to be a monitor at the top of the arena. There definitely wasn’t a Titantron or anything. What’s funny is the crowd starts booing when the signal fades as if they’re not getting screwed over by a 20-minute match they’re watching in WORSE quality than the people watching from home.
As for the rest of the match, we get Undertaker’s big vulnerable moment as Paul Bearer turned on him for the first of many times. And he plays it to perfection. If you ever question Paul Bearer as a manager, just look at how much of a slime ball he is here. You think Seth Rollins turning was a big deal? This was unthinkable.
Worst: THEY’RE BURYING STONE COLD
I’m convinced. Wrestling fans in 2014 are spoiled brats. We’re so smart and smarky that we know who should get booked when and who should become the next big star. Yes, a year ago none of us would have had Roman Reigns as the biggest star in The Shield but whatevs.
Here we are, two months after Stone Cole Steve Austin become one of the biggest stars ever at King Of The Ring and he’s not even booked for Summerslam. No run-in. No promo. Nada. He pops up backstage during the Taker/Mankind match in his pirate mustache and that’s it.
This made me think: imagine Austin not being booked in 2014. He was easily one of the most over guys in the company and not having him in a pay-per-view would have all of us yelling that WWE does’t know who to push. Well, what do ya know? I think they did okay with Austin. It’s easy to forget that it was a solid 18 months between Austin’s I Have A Dream speech or whatever and him winning the belt. Sometimes, the people who get paid to make these decisions are smarter than we are. Sometimes.
Best: Fat Vader vs. Asshole HBK
This is the match HBShizzle was made to have with Vader. The only thing missing was Vader’s potato-ing Michales with his WCW punches. Still, this is Michaels getting tossed around and showing off how much of a monster Vader is. It’s lovely minus that dumb ass rest hold me and my bae thing Vader did last month. Sure, the ending it overbooked and the worst possible example of 50/50 booking, but I guess the point was to keep Vader strong so he could win the title at Survivors Series. Oh.
Despite the silly ending and the rest hold, we get another great Michaels match that holds up well. Hell, we even get the skin the cat/tombstone spot from The Greatest Match Of All Time, too.
Then, of course, the infamous A-hole Shawn Michaels rears his ugly head. You may know the spot by now, but HBK went up for the elbow drop, expected Vader to move, stopped, yelled “MOVE!” and kicked him in the head as hard as he could. I know Michaels is a saint now and all that, but gee whiz what a d*ckhole. The fact he kicked Vader after bitching about Vader hitting too hard still makes my blood boil. Add in the fact that Leon White is a legit teddy bear and Michaels knows it so he bullied a guy twice his size. This is the moment that ruined Vader’s run. Some guys play politics and some guys just want to wrestle. Michaels ruined Vader in WWF just like Hogan did to him in WCW and it’s just not fair. Dammit.
Hey, did I mention that Sting/Vader feud from the early 90s was boss? You damn straight it was.