h1

20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 6

January 12th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: February 16, 1997
Company: WWF
Show: In Your House 13: The Final Four
Rules: Pins and submissions allowed
Stipulation: Winner becomes WWF Champion
Roster (4): Bret “The Hitman” Hart, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the Undertaker and Vader

The 1997 Royal Rumble ended with some controversy. Bret Hart eliminated Steve Austin while the refs were too busy dealing with an eliminated Mankind. Despite the crowd and cameras seeing everything clearly, nobody official noticed Austin was gone, so he got back in, threw out the Undertaker and Vader at the same time, waited for Bret to finish off Fake Diesel, then eliminated Bret to win the match. Bret was understandably pissed and Undertaker and Vader weren’t so happy either. For the next In Your House PPV, it was decided that they’d redo the final four (minus Fake Diesel, who was eliminated fairly) and the winner would become #1 contender against champion Shawn Michaels.

Plans change. Michaels made this big announcement that his knee wasn’t up to snuff and that he “lost his smile”. He gave up the WWF Championship and walked off into the sunset. Because of that, the Final Four match became for the vacated championship.

Really weird to have a PPV main event that’s just a four-man battle royal, but at the time, there’s a real feeling that any four of these guys could come out the winner. Remove the battle royal aspect and make it pin/submission only and it’s suddenly far too big for just an In Your House show. One cool little aspect of this match is that there’s no battle royal teamwork that you’d usually see, other than a brief instance of Bret holding back Austin so Undertaker can get a shot or two in. Our two heels are so independent that at no point do they want anything to do with each other.

The match goes a full 25 minutes and it helps that the weak link in terms of workrate is Undertaker. It’s a ton of brawling that’s mostly focused on Bret vs. Austin and Undertaker vs. Vader. They do mix it up quite a bit and the brief Austin vs. Vader heel/heel stuff is intriguing to watch, but we’re mostly treated to two matches going on at the same time. There’s a lot of guys going under the bottom rope for the sake of brawling on the outside.

Very early into the match, Vader runs at Undertaker with a chair and gets it booted right into his face. Vader’s eye pretty much explodes at this point. He doesn’t have a gusher, but it’s open enough that by wrestling for another 20 minutes, his face gets increasingly grosser to the point that it eventually looks like his face is a volcano.

Towards the end, he gets very wobbly and even removes his mask for the sake of vision.

Nearly 20 minutes in, we randomly see a shot of Bret holding Austin across his shoulders and he drops him out with a fireman’s carry. Since we don’t see any lead-up to this, it comes out of nowhere, but Austin is gone. Bret and Undertaker trade headbutts until Vader clips Undertaker’s knee and rolls him to the outside. As Undertaker gets to his feet, Paul Bearer – Vader’s manager at this point – smashes his skull with the urn. Bret wins out against Vader and puts him in the Sharpshooter, but Undertaker gets back in there and breaks the hold just because.

Soon Austin comes back and continues fighting with Bret, leaving us with more Undertaker vs. Vader. Vader takes down Undertaker and sets up for the Vader Bomb in the corner. Undertaker sits up and exploits the open advantage.

Out goes Vader, who later wanders around ringside screaming while covered in a disgusting amount of blood. We’re left with Undertaker vs. Bret, but Undertaker notices Austin is still stomping down on Bret. Undertaker clotheslines him out of the ring and begins to finish Austin’s job by chokeslamming Bret. He holds him up for a Tombstone, but Austin still wants a piece of Bret, so he pulls him off Undertaker’s shoulders. Undertaker keeps getting distracted by having to punch down Austin and after the third time, Bret is able to catch him with a clothesline, sending Undertaker over the top.

Bret Hart is champion for the fourth time while Undertaker wonders what the fuck just happened. Of course, this was originally supposed to be Bret winning a title shot for Wrestlemania so he could get his win back against Michaels, but that guy has a bad knee (which appears to be just fine shortly after) and he lost his smile and… well, what I’m saying is that 90′s Michaels is a jerk.

If anything, this match is an entertaining prelude to the infamous Montreal Incident.

Speaking of taking trips to WCW, tomorrow I’ll cover that company’s three-ring circus.

Oh! Oh, wait! Before you go, I almost forgot. One of the things talked about was that the winner would have to face Sycho Sid on the following Raw. To illustrate that, they’d occasionally show Sid backstage watching the match. Here’s a gif of Sid being King Galoot.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

Wrestling History (From My Recollection): Part 2

May 13th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

In Part 1, I lazily glossed over the first century of pro wrestling and stopped at the early-mid-90′s. WWF was focused more-or-less on Bret “The Hitman” Hart, though they shoved him in the background to push a badass, near-7-foot-tall trucker named Diesel as champion. As a heel, Diesel got popular due to his ruthless and cool demeanor, but when they turned him face and made him champion, they wussed him down by making him a smiling good guy with no edge. His year as champion was a financial failure as his presence simply failed to draw money. Bret was eventually made champion again.

WCW wasn’t doing much better. This was a company where Hulk Hogan was being dry-humped by a giant mummy that the commentator kept insisting was, “THE YET-AAAY!”

ECW had brought in Steve Austin, fresh off his firing from WCW. He was injured at the time, so he could only do interviews for a while, but good gravy, were they good interviews. It was a weird fit because on one hand, he spent all of his time ranting and raving about how badly WCW treated him, which we were supposed to like. But he’d also run down ECW for being garbage, which we were supposed to hate. It was a definite prototype for what would change the business in the near future. He was soon scooped up by the WWF.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

Wrestling History (From My Recollection): Part 1

May 12th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

I talk about wrestling a lot. I’d like to think that in my 20+ years of following it, I know at least a thing or two. I’ve said it a million times before, but to reiterate, it really is the most intriguing and fascinating business. Maybe that’s why I shrugged off the whole Before Watchmen/Alan Moore controversy going on in the comic world because honestly, that’s nothing compared to the petty and deplorable stuff I’ve seen in the wrestling business and I’m too jaded to care. It has its ups and it has its downs, but ultimately, the history of it all tends to be more entertaining and worth paying attention to than the scripted stories they’re portraying. After all, it’s a business run by power-hungry egomaniacs who act like man-children with many of them either delusional or on drugs.

Just because I thought it would be fun to write about, I thought I would go through the basic history of wrestling in the United States. Something to educate the outsiders looking in, the new viewers who are curious, the people who’ve skipped around, those who stopped watching years ago or the longtime fans who wouldn’t mind sitting back and enjoying a refresher. I want to make this accessible, so I’m going to stray from most insider terms. Since it’ll annoy me, there are some exclusions, so let me get these out of the way:

Face: good guy
Heel: bad guy
Turn: go from good to bad or vice versa
Push: promote and move up the card
Bury: drop down the card or make someone look foolish
Booker: writer

I should reiterate that this is my take on everything. I’m sure it isn’t accurate, but I figure it’s close enough. Again, I only intend to cover the US stuff, since I don’t know the slightest about Mexico, Canada, Japan or Europe.

Professional wrestling started up in the late 19th century, usually in the form of a carnival sideshow. At first, it was a legitimate fight, usually between the wrestler and anyone who thought they could take him, but over time, the brains behind the operations realized that if the challenger was in on it, they could make more money with less risk. The popularity spread across the decades enough that federations were built up, each with their own championship and everything. The territory days made it pretty easy for a wrestler to keep himself fresh, as once things got sour, they were able to simply move on to the next territory and start anew. For instance, a wrestler could gain a reputation as an unbeatable monster villain, eventually make a couple other wrestlers look better by beating him. Eventually, he’ll lose his fictional luster and is no longer considered much of a threat, but then he can travel elsewhere and be seen as an unbeatable monster again, starting the cycle over.

The first wrestler to truly catch the public’s eye was Gorgeous George, a heel who decided to add an excessive amount of flair to his pretty boy character to the point that the fans were in a frenzy whenever he showed up. He was rude, vain, pampered and insulting and the fans paid hand over fist for the possibility of seeing someone shut him up. With the advent of television, he became a media superstar and would be credited for inspiring Muhammad Ali’s charismatic personality.

With the territory system, many federations were able to coexist without too many problems and they even did business with each other regularly. Vince McMahon Sr., who ran the World Wide Wrestling Federation, would rent out his superstar Andre the Giant to other territories and bring them huge business. In the early 80′s, Vince Sr. sold the WWWF to his son Vincent Kennedy McMahon, a genius in his own right who has more issues than Time Magazine. Soon after Vince Sr.’s death, his son went against the big territorial truce and decided to dominate professional wrestling. While wrestling companies were shown on local TV, Vince made his renamed World Wrestling Federation national and overshadowed the rest of the market. He bought off the biggest names from different territories and stacked up the WWF to the point that it was like the Yankees.

The WWF’s poster boy was Hulk Hogan, an entertaining big man who became a breakout star after appearing in Rocky 3 as Thunderlips. McMahon started a partnership with the then-new cable channel MTV as a way to team up and play off each other in the name of promotion. The Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection was created, pushing both sides harder into the media limelight. McMahon incorporated as many celebrities as possible, leading to the first installment of his big event Wrestlemania. While the show is a bit rough to watch due to today’s standards, the main event, which featured Hogan teaming up with Mr. T, helped it do gangbusters.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

The Top 60 Wrestling Matches That Surprisingly Happened (20-1)

December 18th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Before I finish the countdown, here are some honorable mentions.

Bob Backlund vs. Shawn Michaels happened after Michaels initially went heel and before Backlund went all crazy. I was told that in IWA-Mid South, there was Austin Aries vs. Mr. Anderson in a match where CM Punk was on commentary ragging on how terrible Daredevil was. For comedy entries, there was the time Carl Winslow and Steve Urkel fought the Bushwackers as well as a masked Mr. Ernst vs. Captain Lou Albano on Hey Dude. Brock Lesnar and Ron Waterman vs. Rico and Randy Orton as a Raw dark match is an oddball encounter, but I thought Lesnar and Orton were better represented elsewhere on the list. Umaga vs. Kamala on Raw was a cool generational gimmick pairing in the same light as Hall vs. Carlito, but their encounters were set up strongly enough on TV that there’s not enough obscurity in there.

To refresh your memory, 60-41 is here and 40-21 is here.

Now let’s get to the good stuff.

20) ESSA RIOS vs. SAMOA JOE
WWF, 2001
YouTube
Suggested by Dr. Video Games 0055

This one’s a bit of shock to me, not for the appearance by Samoa Joe, but the knowledge that Essa Rios was around in 2001 WWF. I have no memory of that. For those who don’t recall, Rios was a highflyer with an amazing moonsault who’s biggest claim to fame is introducing Lita as his manager. Once Lita split, he faded into obscurity and unemployment. His match with the wonky-looking-compared-to-how-we-remember-him Samoa Joe was good for the in-ring stuff, but only if you watch it with the sound off. The commentary had Coach and Michael Hayes not only discussing the XFL for way too long, but discussing the storyline between Jesse Ventura and Coach Rusty Tillman. God, that was one of the saddest things. McMahon really wanted some kind of on-air rivalry, so he had Ventura try to overly criticize Tillman. Ventura got into it, but Tillman refused to care. He just wanted to coach football and leave this soap opera crap out of it. Yet you had this awesome match going on and the commentators were forced to talk about this made-up hatred. Even when they got to actual wrestling angles, their dialogue came off as extremely forced.

With the actual match, we got some really keen spots, including a Samoa Joe powerbomb reversed into a DDT. Essa Rios won, but Samoa Joe looked pretty good for a guy taking the nameless jobber role.

19) ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER vs. ZEUS
WWC, 1990
YouTube

Normally I wouldn’t have cared about this match if it wasn’t for how brief Tiny “Zeus” Lister’s wrestling career even was. The guy was an actor whose role in a bad movie spun off into a feud with Hulk Hogan that lasted about four months. So what the hell was he doing against Abdullah of all people? What made WWC think he was worth bringing in other than his status as having main-evented Summerslam?

Not only was it a bad match, but it was bad and way too long. Zeus was only able to do four things: flail his arms around like windmills as a way of punching, bearhugs, strangleholds and pounding his chest while looking intimidating. The last thing was the only one he could do believably. While Hogan and Beefcake were good enough performers (yes, I’m serious) to work around Zeus and make him seem almost acceptable, Abdullah had none of that magic. He just stood there for the 12 minutes and absorbed the punishment while looking bloody and dazed. When Abdullah got offense in, the only reason Zeus sold any of it was because he looked like he had tired himself out more than anything else. The match ended with the two brawling to the back and being counted out. Throughout the match, the Puerto Rican crowd rained garbage into the ring and I think at one point some of them left the building to gather more garbage from neighboring buildings so they could throw that too!

Front row kid in the pink shirt loved that shit, though.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

The Summerslam Countdown: Day Six

August 11th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

With Summerslam just a couple days away, it’s not hard to notice that there are so few matches announced. One of those guys who has nothing going on is the Miz and that brings up an interesting pattern. See, the Miz has never wrestled a single Summerslam in his entire WWE career. Check it out.

2011: Rey’s injured, so the possibility of Rey vs. Miz is down the tubes. Will most definitely appear on the show in some way, but having a match is up in the air.
2010: Was going to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase, but decided not to as he would be joining Team WWE in the main event. Was going to wrestle in the main event, but Cena had him replaced with Daniel Bryan.
2009: Got fired and banned from Summerslam (Summerfest?!) by one of the guest Raw General Managers.
2008: Even if he and Morrison were still tag champs, it wouldn’t matter. The only tag match on the show was a mixed tag.
2007: Is too busy feuding with Balls Mahoney to be of any importance to the big picture.

The dude just can’t catch a break. I’m pretty sure that the Hurricane never got a Summerslam match either, which is kind of weird. See, the big DVD box set of the first 20 Summerslams are split into four packages and each package has this awesome collage of stuff from those five years. Stuff like posters, Dibiase angrily pointing, Cena punching Jericho, Diesel and Michaels posing, etc. One of them features, rather prominently, a picture of a guy in a Hurricane mask in the corner. I don’t remember seeing such a thing and I can’t remember the Hurricane doing anything of note, let alone appearing, yet there it is.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

The Summerslam Countdown: Day Three

August 6th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Yesterday, WWE released a handful of wrestlers. There’s Gail Kim, who just eliminated herself within seconds during a Diva battle royal just because she wanted to see if anyone would notice. Then there’s Melina, who I wouldn’t mind not having to see ever again. David Hart Smith is gone and… yeah, that was a long time coming. Then there’s Chris Masters, which is the biggest shame because the dude actually went to Japan to improve his craft only to get completely underpushed. Seriously, he’s good in the ring these days!

The one that wounds me the most is the loss of Vladimir Kozlov. Sure, he isn’t the best wrestler by any stretch, but I enjoyed him for the most part regardless. Here is his finest moment.

Second best moment is when he dramatically delivered the line, “Then it is settled. Next week I get what I want… OR I will destroy MacGruber.”

Oh well. Maybe he can go back to Baltimore and work with the Greek again. What? You didn’t know he showed up on the Wire for like two seconds?

Anyway, the list.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

The Summerslam Countdown: Day One

August 4th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Before World Wrestling Entertainment oversaturated the pay-per-view market with too many shows per year, they were better about giving us more with less. We had four big PPVs. Wrestlemania was the granddaddy of them all, a major spectacle meant to be the show of the year where major feuds would meet their climax and they’d fit in as many memorable moments and matches as possible. The Royal Rumble would lead into that show with its own exciting and unpredictable 30 (now 40)-man match that’s fun to watch no matter what year it is. Survivor Series would use its gang warfare gimmick to fuel the fire between ongoing feuds while giving us new matchups and its own sense of unpredictability. I’ve covered those three before. That leaves Summerslam.

Summerslam is the fourth corner of that equation and lacks the standout gimmick. It’s more like Wrestlemania Jr. than anything else. It’s a 3-hour show where things are a bigger deal than your average PPV or Saturday Night’s Main Event, but not QUITE as major as Wrestlemania. Comparing Wrestlemania and Summerslam is a lot like comparing WWE’s top shows Raw and Smackdown. One is more about flash and stardom while the other gets a little more freedom in its second place spot and usually tends to have better wrestling overall. I’m going to be honest, I expected this to be a bitch to go through because Summerslam was never all that interesting to me. Going down the list, only 10 of the 23 existing shows have I seen before, either via PPV or Coliseum Home Video. While, yes, there are a couple stinkers in there – as you’ll see here in this first update – the show tends to be quality. Even the #22 spot goes to a show that many would consider to be a quality outing.

With the upcoming Summerslam 2011, where we’ll see CM Punk face John Cena, it’s only fitting that I spend the next eleven days leading up to it by ranking and reviewing every Summerslam from worst to best.

A reminder on how the rating system works. I don’t want one single great match or bad match completely define a show. I rate each match one-to-ten. WWF/WWE Championship and WCW/World Heavyweight Championship matches as well as non-world-title main events count as two matches. The “atmosphere”, which means the stuff on the show that isn’t part of the matches themselves, such as backstage promos and the like count collectively as one match. From there, it’s averaged out.

So let’s get to it. 4thletter says… SLAM.

Wait, did they have a Tony Schiavone voice clip in that intro when he was gone from the company for several years?

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

The Survivor Series Countdown: Day Eight

November 18th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

To show how bored I am when I’m not writing and how desperate I am to fill this intro space, I put together this presentation.

Stupid jerk Big Show, beating up Blue Meanie, Taka and Funaki for no reason.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

The Survivor Series Countdown: Day Five

November 15th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Before we get to #15 on the list, let’s check back in with the Gobbledy Gooker.

Three cool guys right there. Three cool, cool guys.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

Summerslam for Comic Fans

August 15th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Tonight we have what I guess would be considered the WWE’s third most important show of the year, Summerslam. I mean, on paper, it’s supposed to be the secondary Wrestlemania, but everyone and their imaginary friend loves Royal Rumble more. I look forward to the show despite the roadblocks it sets up. There are only six matches signed. One of these matches is a throwaway Divas match I couldn’t care less about. One of the championship matches is Rey Mysterio vs. Kane and while I love Kane and don’t mind Mysterio, I don’t need to be reminded of their abysmal, “Is he alive or is he dead?” feud.

So why am I so jazzed about the show? Team WWE vs. the Nexus in an elimination tag match. The Nexus has been one of the better wrestling storylines in past years, despite its own set of roadblocks (Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson being fired, Wade Barrett’s visa problems, Ricky Steamboat’s injury). I can only hope the storyline doesn’t get killed as of the end of Summerslam, yet at the same time, I don’t want them to last long enough to get destroyed by a returning Triple H. God, I really don’t want to see Triple H involved with this in any way.

For those new to the big main event, here it is laid out DC Comics style.

(click for bigger version)

Let’s see who we got on here…

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon