Friday, September 25, 2009

The Glory of YouTube

Yeah, YouTube's pretty amazing really. Daily Motion, to give it its due, is also pretty damn stellar. Music videos, on-air gaffes, long forgotten 80's cartoons - it's all there. And wrestling. Lots and lots of professional wrestling.

Obscure matches. Bizarre gimmicks. Great angles. Long forgotten memories. There's so much great stuff available that it's kind of hard to know where to begin. I plumped for a search of "WWF - 1992" and just watched whatever came up.

P.S. I wrote these reviews about three/four years ago when YouTube first 'came out' (accounting for a different writing style and my habit of occasionally dishing out star ratings and occasionally not. If any of the videos are still alive, I'll bung them up in case you fancy a goggle too).

Nailz vs. Ken Wayne (WWF SummerSlam Spectacular, August 11th 1992)

The referee frisks Nailz to start. Cute. Nailz chokes out Wayne in the corner and Irish whips him out of ring. Nailz slides under the ring as if he's escaping under barbed wire. Cute. Again. Nailz is facing Virgil at SummerSlam dontcha know? Back in and Nailz slams Wayne then kicks him in the ribs. More choking and Wayne takes the Cactus Jack hangman spot whilst Vince shills the pay-per-view. More choking. Clothesline and Nailz gets a choke/sleeper for the win at 3:29. After the match, Nailz scares of the referee and continues to work over Wayne with The Big Boss Man's nightstick. 1/4* for the character traits. If you like chokes, this is the match for you.

Rick The Model Martel vs. Joey Maggs (WWF SummerSlam Spectacular, August 11th 1992)

Hey, it's Jumpin' Joey! This is bound to be a squash but it should be pretty decent. Vince is still shilling SummerSlam. Martel slaps on a headlock and wont let go. Hammerlock reversed by mags but Martel drop toe holds himself out of it. Irish whip is reversed by Martel and he avoids contact with a cartwheel. Fancy. Armdrag and Martel does jumping jacks. Shouldn't that be Joey's gimmick? Collar and elbow tie up and now it's moderately famous angle time as Sensational Sherri makes her way to ringside while Joey gets in some token offence. Martel takes a look at Sherri and Joey gets a roll-up but Martel kicks out and Sherri leaves. She was with Shawn Michaels at this point you see, but Michaels had cost Martel the Intercontinental title in a match with Bret Hart a few weeks earier by interfering and attacking The Hitman so Martel was out for revenge on Michaels at Summerslam. Sherri was worried though that both men were going to come to fists and both were too handsome to let that happen which led to a unique no hitting each other in the fact pact and the announcers began to wonder if Sherri had a crush on Martel despite professing her love for Michaels. Anyway, backbreaker sets up the Boston Crab for a Martel win at 2:42. 1/2*

For some reason, searching "WWF - 1992" even brought up some '92 WCW matches. Not that I'm complaining:

The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner) vs. G.Q. Stratus & Mike Sampson (WCW TV, August 2nd 1992)

Scott starts with Stratus and gets a hiptoss. Stratus complains. Legtrip and Stratus moans to the referee again. Stratus backs up Scotty into the corner and wails away but Steiner reverses on a whip and gets a belly-to-belly suplex. Half crab and in comes Rick who just kicks Stratus square in the face. Rick flapjacks Stratus into the corner and allows Stratus to bring in Sampson who gets an elbow smash in the face and takes a stiff Steinerline. Scott gets back in with teh tilt-a-whirl slam and Scott hits the Frankensteiner at 2:36 for the pin. In case you didn't get it, The Steiner Brothers were awesome back then. 3/4*

(No vid, so here's a delightful pic instead):

Ron Simmons vs. Mike Superior (WCW Worldwide, August 2nd 1992)

Simmons was fresh off his WCW World Title win against Vader here. Superior shows his strength but he's less ripped than Simmons. Simmons wrestles his way into an early pin attempt then starts to fire away on Superior after Superior cheap shots him. Simmons just pounds the guy and doesn't look back. Well, you just don't step to Ron. Clothesline from Simmons and the big powerslam wins it at 2:12. 1/2*

Joey Maggs vs. Bob Cook (WCW Saturday Night, October 1992)

This is being promoted as a Battle of the Underdogs since both guys are enhancement talent. 29. Cook wont shake hands. Collar and elbow tie-up and they do some basic wrestling whilst Jim Ross tries to explain the level of talent on display since they're both jobbers. This is an equal playing field and one of them is going to get what could be an important win. Cook gets a drop toe hold into a front face lock but Maggs takes it into a hammerlock. Cooks turns that into a fireman's carry and Maggs counters with a head scissors. Ross wishes his mother a happy birthday since there's nothing more interesting to talk about. More basic stuff, just displaying the fundamentals really. Armdrag into an armbar by Maggs. Cook with an elbow and uses his experience to avoid a corssbody and works away in the corner. I like his subtle heel-isms. Maggs catches Cook with an elbow on a corner charge but misses a European-style dropkick. Cook sends Maggs into the turnbuckle. Scoop slam by Cook but he misses the elbow and Maggs gets an enziguri and fires away in the corner. He goes for a monkey-flip but Cook pushes him off and gets a floatover suplex for the pin at 4:05. Back and forth stuff. Maggs showed some fire but never went anywhere because he was too small. Cook just didn't have the look or the body to be a star but they put together a decent little match. 3/4*

Kamala vs. Burt Stiles (WWF SummerSlam Spectacular, August 11th 1992)

Doctor Harvey Wippleman introduces Kamala. Kim Chee is in Kamala's corner for this one. The big guy has a date with The Dead Man himself, The Undertaker at SummerSlam. Vince McMahon is worried about Kamala putting Undertaker in a pot and cooking him! If only. It's weird seeing Kamala pushed as a legitimate force when you've just watched him doing exactly the same act and not looking a day older whilst getting squashed by Umaga on Raw. Kamala dominates and slaps his belly a lot. Superkick by Kamala! Bobby Heenan wonders how many people in Uganda are going to order SummerSlam on pay-per-view. Slam, thrust to the throat and a big splash which should be academic but Kamala tries to pin Stiles whilst Stiles is still layed out on his front. Wippleman tells Kamala to roll him over so he does. And again and again before finally getting it right and getting the pin at 2:30. 1/4* After the match, Kamala threatens a splash from the top rope but Kim Chee talks him out of it.

Meanwhile, in a Peoria local news story, The Nasty Boys have been stabbed:

I watched a tribute to Tony Atlas which was just a load of pictures set to a background of Hand Jive. It's not on YouTube any more so here's something else - Tony Atlas vs. Vinnie Vegas in Jesse Ventura's "Strongest Arm In WCW" tournament. Something else indeed.

Next? Al Bundy introducing the November Saturday Night's Main Event. I had that show on tape (still do - love the Ultimate Maniacs vs. Money, Inc match) but my tape cut in after this little skit. And it's not on YouTube any more either so here's the second SNME theme (one of my favourites):

A sad story about Andre The Giant's love child. Andre hardly ever saw her even though she wanted to get to know him. Andre passed away in January of 1993, just a few months after this piece was made. Feature runs 4:14, and it's not on YouTube any more either so here's Andre fighting Chuck Wepner instead. And why not?

A bunch of promos from the 1992 Royal Rumble. Runs 9:23.

Blood, Sweat and Jeers

A famous Wrestling Expose news piece about the sex and drugs lifestyle of pro wrestling. Bruno Sammartino says Vince McMahon's need for monsters led to steroid abuse, notably with Hulk Hogan who tells kids not to do drugs. Superstar Billy Graham calls Hogan a liar, a coward and "the scum of the earth" for lying to the kids. Graham claims to have personally injected Hogan in 1987 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan (at WrestleMania III), again at The Keil Auditorium in St. Louis, MA and finally at The Cow Palace in San Fransisco, California. David Shultz also claims to have given Hogan drugs and Billy Jack Haynes says he and Hogan injected each other. Hogan himself claimed to only use steroids three times and only for medical purposes but refused to talk about it on the expose. Talk moves to cocaine and Hogan telling Billy Graham not to do it because it's too addictive to get off whilst shooting up three lines himself. Haynes claims that if you want a job with Vince McMahon and he wants you to do steroids, you better do it. Haynes says he got addicted to steroids and had a bad reaction on a plane and woke up in a hospital where he was faced with the choice of shock treatment or a pacemaker. Hell. Haynes took the shock treatment then recieved a call from Vince McMahon telling him he needed to make his dates or be fired. What a shitty business. Meanwhile, we go back in time to "Dr. D" David Shultz slapping reporter John Stossel on 20/20. Shultz claims McMahon told him to blast Stossel for making a joke of the business in his report but then fired him when word got out of the assault. Jim Stewart, Vince's personal limousine driver from 1985 to 1990 backs up Shultz, claiming he heard Vince saying he shouldn't have told Shultz to slap him. Stewart also calls McMahon a "pig" and claims he uses people then tosses them away. Next, Murray Hodgson claims he was fired by the WWF for refusing to have sex with the Vice President of Operations (Pat Patterson). Patterson was never charged with sexual harassment but resigned when Hodgson filed suit. Hodgson apparently told Patterson "You've got the wrong guy" but Patterson replied "Not if you want to keep your job". A few weeks later, Hodgson was unemployed. Reporter John Johnston then catches up with Vince McMahon himself who refuses to answer any alegations and tells Johnston that the proper way to go about this is to talk to Steve Planamenta (presumably a WWF lawyer). Johnston says he talked to Planamenta and claims Planamenta told him McMahon wasn't available to comment so McMahon tells him to try again. Johnston called back the next day and was again told that McMahon refused to answer any of the allegations. The WWF however did send a letter dated April 27th, 1992 in which Murray Hodgson asked Vince McMahon for work on the WBF project (and in my opinion, he seemed really insincere in his interview). His case was due to go to court later that summer. Absolutely fascinating piece which runs 7:18 in total.

Big Van Vader vs. Bobby Baker (WCW TV, 1992 or 1993)

This is listed as 1992 or 1993 so I'll review it anyway. Vader's the WCW Champion at this point. Eric Bischoff and Teddy Long on commentary. Vader headbutts Baker to start and pounds away. Three shots and Baker is out. Short arm clothesline and Vader poses. Backbreaker into a fallaway slam. Bischoff notes that it's been eight months since Vader broke Joe Thurman's back so that should place this. Powerbomb and thats all she wrote at 1:33. Brutal. 1/2*

Match is gone, so here's Vader killing some other bum right before Fall Brawl '93:

Big Van Vader vs. Joe Thurman & ? McCoy (WCW TV, 1992)

This was some time after Vader beat Sting for WCW title at The Great American Bash in Baltimore.

Vader splashes McCoy in the corner and lets him tag in Thurman. Vader mows Thurman down and hits the short-arm clothesline. Pump-handle chokeslam and people in the front row are grimmacing. Powerbomb folds Thurman over, breaking his back. Vader rolls him over gingerly and leans over him for the pin at 2:10 as everyone crowds Thurman to check if he's OK. Vader looked visibly shaken. 1/2*

Vinnie Vegas vs. Todd Champion (WCW TV, 1992)

This is from a Canadian WCW telecast (I think) and is pre-WrestleWar '92. Lock-up goes nowhere. Pretty slow to get into things. Hardly surprising with Nash involved. Top wristlock by Champion and Vegas trips Champion. The pace is what Jim Ross might call 'deliberate'. Champion goes for a full nelson but Vegas yawns (he was probably blown up by this point). He nails Champion with a back elbow and goes to a full nelson of his own but Champion drops out. Vegas goes to the abdomen with a knee but misses a clothesline. Champion tries to slam Vegas but Vegas is too big and Vegas goes after the back. Bearhug and we're clipped to Champion coming back but he misses on a charge and Vegas gets a backdrop suplex and his feet on the ropes for the win at 3:15 shown. 1/2*

Unfortunately I found the original match on Daily Motion so I'll have to find another way to shoehorn the Vinnie Vegas theme music video in:

Intercontinental Title Ladder Match - Bret Hart [Champion] vs. Shawn Michaels [w/ Sensational Sherri] (WWF Prime Time Wrestling, June 1992)

This is split into two parts for easier digestion but I've seen it on tape plenty of times anyway. So the backstory goes a little something like this: With SummerSlam '92 fast approaching, Bret Hart (or Davey Boy Smith, depending on who you believe) went to Vince McMahon and proposed holding the event at Wembley Stadium in London, England, given the WWF's massive level of popularity throughout Europe at that time. Vince's other plan was to hold the event in Texas and have Bret Hart drop his Intercontinental Title to talented young mid-carder Shawn Michaels who had been groomed for success from the beginning of the year and right through WrestleMania. Bret's idea was to drop the belt to Davey Boy in a 'family feud' if the event was held at Wembley (to capitalise on Smith's home-country popularity) or to Michaels in a Ladder Match if the show was to take place in Texas. Vince was curious to the Ladder stipulation but didn't fully understand the concept, so asked Hart and Michaels to go out and perform an 'exhibition' of sorts of this whacky new match at a TV taping. Fortunately for all of us, the WWF filmed the match and released it on tape through Coliseum video shortly after. This is that match.

Collar and elbow tie-up into the corner and Michaels goes to work right away with punches since there's no referee in the ring. Bret gets a pair of clotheslines and punches back. Backdrop by Bret and Michaels bumps hard off an an Irish whip. Uppercut and Michaels takes another huge bump. Bret goes for the ladder but Michales cuts him off and takes control. Michaels knees Bret in the stomach and goes out after the ladder but Bret waits on him and nails him as soon as Michaels drags the ladder down to ringside. Back in and Bret elbows Michaels and goes out to bring the ladder in but Sensational Sherri (Michales' valet) grabs the ladder and wont let Bret pick it up. Bret forgets the match and chases Sherri down the aisle allowing a heart-in-mouth moment as Michaels sneaks out and brings the ladder in himself and Bret has to sprint back to the ring to prevent Michaels from getting the belt. They slug it out in the middle of the ring and Micahels goes down allowing Bret to dash up the ladder but Michaels is quick enough to pull him back down. Michales goes to work on Bret with the ladder but misses a charge into the corner.

Micahels sets the ladder up in the corner but puts his head down on a whip and Bret kicks him in the face. Michaels reverses another whip and sends Bret running into the ladder and decides to climb but Bret pulls him down and the ladder falls right on top of Michales. Bret makes a reach for the belt but Michaels knocks him back down and takes control again. They fight over the ladder in the corner until Michaels sends Bret headfirst into the ladder and sets it up in the corner again. Bret gets his foot up on a charge then gives Michaels a slingshot into the ladder and Michales takes yet another huge bump off that. Backbreaker by Bret and he goes up but Michaels shakes him down and they both hit heads on a charge. Michaels sets the ladder up and they both climb up opposite sides and both fall off the side trying to knock each other down. They slug it out and Sherri trips Bret allowing Michaels to get the reverse crescent kick (superkick) and his pattented side suplex, giving him another chance to climb the ladder. He gets his fingertips to it so Bret dropkicks the ladder and Michaels lands crotch-first across the top rope. Ouch! Michaels falls outside the ring giving Bret the opportunity to go up the ladder and grab the belt to retain the title at 14:34. Absolutely great match for drama, crowd heat and psychology, as the match was structured around the chase rather than the big spots that modern ladder matches are based on. As a consequence, wrestling fans from the Attitude era onwards might not appreciate this as much as maybe they should. Fuck 'em. ****1/4

Incidentaly, McMahon chose Wembley as the site for SummerSlam and Bret dropped the belt to Davey Boy Smith for the show-closing superpop. Davey himself dropped the belt to Michaels at the October Saturday Night's Main Event taping to set up a title vs. title match with new champion Michaels against Bret who had recently won his first WWF title from Ric Flair. The ladder match concept itself lay dormant until WrestleMania X in April of 1994 when it was used for the Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon Intercontinental Title match that made both guys megastars, and the match became synonimous with Michaels despite having been Bret's baby and a staple of Stampede Wrestling. Needless to say, Bret could never quite let that one go.


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