James Dixon: Sean Mooney promises us that The Rockers will talk about life in the fast lane both inside and outside the ring. I wouldn’t expect a WWF tape, especially from this time, to be so openly tolerant of the Rockers love of partying.
King of the WWF
Macho King Randy Savage (c) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
These two had a good match at MSG on the Mega Matches tape. It remains the only Duggan bout I have ever enjoyed. This one is from two months later in January 1990 on SNME at a time when Savage was seemingly becoming unmotivated in the ring due to his midcard demotion, so I am not expecting much here. Duggan starts by pushing over Savage’s throne as he is posing on it, then comes at him with a flurry of offense. He no-sells a few shots in return, but a clothesline takes him down. Hacksaw fires back with one of his own and then hits a really badly bungled big boot. He kicked the air two feet away from him, it looked horrible. Savage must have been knocked down from the force of the back draft. Duggan is distracted by Sherri and Savage capitalises, hitting the double axe handle from the top to the outside. Another one in the ring gets a two count. This has been pretty much all-action thus far. They both miss moves, and Duggan gives Savage a back body drop to the outside. It is one of Savage’s staple bumps, and he always makes it look great. You know someone is good when you can recognise the way they take certain moves. Much like DiBiase and the back body drop, RVD with the piledriver and Mr. Perfect with, well everything. A slam and a knee drop from Duggan only gets two due to a distraction from Sherri, causing Duggan to bellow to the ref that “it’s the broad!” causing him all the trouble. I would say it is more likely his low IQ and lack of coordination. Duggan suddenly gets a burst of energy and takes Savage out with some quick fire clotheslines and big shots. He gets distracted by Sherri again, allowing Savage to hit his trademark knee to the back. Another axe handle from the top is met with a gut punch, and both men are down. Sherri hands Savage a loaded purse and he clocks Duggan with it behind the back of the ref, but it only gets two. These two have surprisingly good chemistry. Hacksaw is clumsy and technically inept, but Savage bumps around for him well and hides his flaws. He deserves a lot of credit for carrying lugs like Duggan to watchable matches. Duggan connects with the Three Point Stance, but Savage tumbles out of the ring. Duggan goes to suplex him outside, but they do the Rude-Warrior WrestleMania V finish, with Sherri holding Duggan’s leg, allowing Savage to get the win. Duggan as per usual is a sore loser, and throws Savage back in, using his 2×4 to get a measure of revenge. Credit where it was due, that was pretty good and a pleasing start to the tape.
Final Rating: **½
The Rockers say how they have been waiting a long time to party with everyone on Coliseum Video. Well shit, they have partied with everyone else! Badda bing.
The Rockers vs. The Powers of Pain
This is from MSG, and took place just two weeks after the tape’s opening match. This was towards the end of the Powers’ run as a regular tag team, as they split and went solo soon afterwards. There is quite a size difference here, but the Rockers have proven many times that they can have exciting matches with muscle-bound lugs. Height wise, Shawn is not actually a great deal smaller than The Barbarian, which I am surprised about. He has significantly less muscle mass though of course. The usual exciting Rockers’ double-team stuff pops the crowd, and these guys were definitely over. Their offense was so unique and flashy compared to most of the roster, it is easy to see why people got behind them. Even though Shawn went onto become possibly the greatest of all time, I still think the Rockers were under-pushed. They always got beat by the top teams when it mattered. All Rockers here so far, they have flummoxed the Powers with their speed. However, a rana attempt from Jannetty is blocked by a Warlord powerbomb, and then he gives Marty a HUGE back body drop. It is the highest I have ever seen anyone go on that move. Incredible. He gets huge air again on a flapjack. Jannetty was great to watch when motivated and “on”. I want to say it depends how much he had partied the night before, but I won’t… A big boot from Warlord sends Jannetty flying over the top. Mr. Fuji gets involved, hitting Jannetty in the back with his cane. He did the same thing at WrestleMania VI a few months later when the Rockers took on the Orient Express. Back in the ring and Barbarian spins Jannetty 360 with a clothesline. Marty seems to have made it his personal mission to make the Powers of Pain look awesome. He is doing a great job of it too; they look like monsters. POP do a good job cutting the ring in half, and a bearhug from Barbarian slows the pace down. But not for long, as Jannetty flurries, only to be caught with an impressive spinning powerslam as he comes off the top. Barbarian goes up himself and misses an elbow, allowing Jannetty to make the hot tag to Shawn, as the crowd explodes. Michaels unloads on both of the Powers of Pain, and Jannetty recovers enough to help him out with some great double team offence. They run a hot finishing sequence, but Fuji grabs Michaels’ leg and trips him, allowing Barbarian to hit a solid looking elbow drop to pick up the win. The Rockers are sore losers like Duggan, and Shawn attacks Fuji with a dropkick. That pisses off the Powers of Pain, who throw him out of the ring and then beat the shit out of Jannetty. Well, they kind of brought that on themselves. Another good match anyway, with the pace brisk throughout and the sheer effort from Jannetty impressive. I actually like the Powers of Pain, they could hang with guys like the Rockers. They were wooden, but when people bumped around for them their offence looked vicious. I liked that a lot. Great cat-and-mouse tag wrestling.
Final Rating: ***¼
The Rockers vs. The New Dream Team
We continue with the tape’s profile on the Rockers, as they battle the New Dream Team, though they weren’t actively competing as that then. This is six months back from the last match, from June 1989, in Rochester, New York. Jannetty is going to have a herculean task making Bravo look good. Mind you, if anyone can do it he can. He bounces the length of the ring from a shoulderblock right away, so maybe there is hope! Quick double teaming gives the Rockers the advantage with speed, and they cause the Dreams to retreat to the outside. Bravo uses his strength to overpower Michaels, and brings in Valentine who unloads with chops and methodical axe handle and elbow shots. Valentine was solid, but he was so nondescript in the character driven late-80s WWF. He was just a very bland guy by then, and his style doesn’t mesh well at all with the Rockers fast paced offence. Hammer missed a charge into the corner, going shoulder first into the post. Michaels instantly targets the arm and gets the tag to Jannetty. They are working a strange formula here; no hot tag or anything. The Rockers are just controlling Valentine and focusing on the arm. Valentine eventually gets the tag to Bravo after an eye rake, but he fairs little better against Jannetty until he connects with a big atomic drop. The way Bravo moves actually reminds me a lot of Jack Swagger, only with significantly more muscle. They have this tendency to oversell their mannerisms at the wrong times and their movesets are surprisingly similar too. Jannetty ends up taking the heat for the second match running, and the Dreams cheat to cut off the ring. Watching a few of the Rockers’ matches together, it has to be said that there is no obvious difference in quality between Shawn and Marty like some would have you believe. Indeed, there is nothing to choose between them at all, both were superb. Shawn cleans house on the hot tag, but a pin attempt from a top rope double team is thwarted by Valentine. Bravo and Michaels run into each other, and both go down. Eventually Jannetty is back in, but a sunset flip attempt is countered by a big Hammer clothesline behind the ref’s back. That is enough to get the win. I cannot for one second fathom the booking in jobbing out the Rockers to a nothing team like Bravo and Valentine. Oh hang on, out comes Ronnie Garvin to informs the ref of Valentine’s cheating ways. Incredibly, and in surely a first for wrestling, the referee listens and reverses the decision, awarding the match to the Rockers! Bit of a lame finish, and it was not as good as the last match, but the back-and-forth action made it acceptable. Again, a display of how the Rockers could carry anybody at all.
Final Rating: **
Hercules vs. Akeem
A fan favourites match next, as Hercules takes on Akeem, because the fan requesting it didn’t care for Akeem’s dancing. Though really, who did? It was like watching your Great Uncle Albert dance at a wedding after a few pints. This is from August 1989 in Portland. Tony Schiavone and Lord Alfred Hayes take over on commentary duties and I am expecting the quality to drop significantly in-ring here. Hercules uses his power to counter Akeem’s size, and sends him flying through the ropes after a big punch, and Akeem takes a bizarre bump. It is like watching Les Kellett… if he had eaten Big Daddy. Slick gets all riled up and tries to get in the ring to take on Hercules himself, but Akeem wisely stops him. I guess you have to respect Slick’s bravery, he was never afraid to pick a fight with people far bigger than him. Herc is too quick for Akeem, and ducks and dives, connecting with punches. I think that Hercules has really good punches. They are realistic looking and very unique in the way he delivers them. I am a fan. It is a shame that he doesn’t appear to have any other moves in his repertoire! Akeem mounts a brief comeback, but Herc takes over again. They do a cute spot where he rams Akeem’s head into the top turnbuckle ten times, and the momentum makes Akeem do it a few more times himself without Herc touching him. I have seen him do that spot before, but I like it. It always gets a reaction from the crowd. I don’t much care for the dancing out of the corner to sell it though. I am with the fan who requested the match on that issue. A knee lift finally takes Akeem down, as do a pair of clotheslines. As he is mounting a head of steam, Slick pulls down the top rope and sends Herc falling to the outside, right in front of the ref. We have a DQ win for Hercules. As usual there are afters, as Akeem goes for the 747 Splash, but misses, allowing Herc to impressively and effortlessly slam the big man. It was brief enough to not be offensive, but it was pretty much all punches and not much else. Akeem barely had any offense.
Final Rating: *
Next up, ‘Call Of The Action’ with Lord Alfred Hayes. It is basically a heavily clipped match featuring the Orient Express against jobbers Jim Powers and Jim McPherson. The action stops every few minutes as Hayes highlights moves such as forearms and backdrops. The segment is basically pointless. Hayes calls a punch a “knuckle blow” and a chop is now a “penetrating knife edge”. He is giddy at “Tan-Ark-A” hitting the crescent kick. Silly stuff, but it was different I guess.
The Orient Express vs. Demolition
Now a full Orient Express match, as they take on Demolition at MSG in March 1990, a few weeks prior to WrestleMania VI, where Demolition would win the WWF tag team titles from The Colossal Connection. I like both of these teams. Demolition could really go when they felt like it, and were especially good against smaller teams. The Orient Express were both excellent workers and were criminally underrated and under utilised. There is a real size difference here, and Demolition use that to their advantage, controlling the early going and using their trademark “Demolition beat down”, only with the unique twist of Tanaka being hung out to dry on the top rope. Demolition are not your normal babyface team though, and they still very much work as if they are heels. Their offence is not babyface like at all. In the tag division especially, they are far too big for a face role. The Orient Express have not hit a move yet. Finally they get something, as Tanaka gives Ax a cheap shot to the back. It is a fleeting respite, and Ax just powers through Tanaka, allowing the tag to Smash, who works an armbar. Slow, methodical wear down holds are the staple of a heel tag team. I was actually expecting a lot more from this, but it has been a glorified squash so far. Tanaka takes a big back body drop, but goes to the eyes, bringing in Sato who unloads with big chops on Smash. That is the extent of their offence, as Smash pushes Sato off and hits a hiptoss and then a one-man Demolition beat down. See, heels. Mr. Fuji gets involved and does his usual cane to the back on the outside, allowing the Express an opening and finally, Smash is selling. Oh my, I don’t believe what Hayes has just said! Talk about cultural stereotyping. He basically went on a rant about how resilient the Japanese are, and how the Brits found this out during a few World Wars against them. “They are devils”. That is right out of the Jim Duggan school of xenophobia! After an Irish whip, Smash bounces out of the corner with a clothesline and tags in Ax. He further hammers the Express. Demolition Decapitation is thwarted by Fuji, so Ax grabs his cane and chases him. Salt to the face from Sato stops the attack, and Ax gets counted out. I am stunned by that result! Demolition were about to win the tag titles, and they just dominated that match from start to finish, yet they lost. That is crazy booking to put The Orient Express over, even it is was by count out. Shame the match was so one-sided, because if it was more back-and-forth it could have been good. Too much dominance from Demolition meant it was never really a contest.
Final Rating: *½
Bret Hart vs. Rick Martel
This is from the same MSG show as the Demolition-Orient Express match. Gorilla Monsoon, Hillbilly Jim and Lord Alfred Hayes are on commentary. I have high hopes for this. Both had very brief WrestleMania outings a few weeks later, with Martel defeating Koko B. Ware in short order, and the Hart Foundation destroying the Bolsheviks in a few seconds. They do a great start, with a good pace and some nice sequences, the best of which sees Hart wipe our Martel with a clothesline. Martel is someone else who doesn’t get enough credit for how good he could be in the ring. He rarely got the matches and the chance to prove it in later years and thus became jaded. Hart goes to the arm, as Gorilla and Hayes discuss the excellent conditioning of the two. Martel fights out of the armbar but Hart retains the advantage, blocking a hiptoss and switching into a backslide, before going back to the arm. Martel resorts to throwing Bret out of the ring to buy himself some breathing time. He follows up with a few shots on the outside, before bringing Hart back in with a suplex for two. Hillbilly Jim is pretty decent on commentary. He doesn’t do it too much in character, which is a blessing, and he is quite insightful. He adds to the match with his analysis, which is what a commentator should do. They talk about how the abdominal stretch that Martel has applied is on too deep, and Bret subsequently nearly escapes. Things like that add believability to proceedings, which I appreciate. Martel has slowed things down here, and is methodically wearing down the Hitman, then an inverted atomic drop from Hart is sold brilliantly by Martel. Bret hits a suplex and then goes into his singles routine. A few near falls cause Martel to seek solace on the outside, but Bret is right after him and brings him back in, where a backbreaker gets two. The crowd are getting into this now and are starting to buy the near falls. So am I! This has been really good. Martel goes to the eyes, but it doesn’t slow Bret down. He unloads with a few shots on the outside and then hits an atomic drop as the bell rings because the “time limit” has expired. What the hell was the time limit? It must have only been ten minutes or so. The finish is a shame because that was shaping up to be a very good match. You could see how much they trusted Bret and had plans for him, even in early 1990, by the fact they gave him matches like this at MSG and he always delivered.
Final Rating: ***¼
We get a manager profile on Slick next, which is mainly footage of him dancing with Akeem. It’s another pointless interlude, but it is very brief at least. I guess 30 seconds about sums up the highlights of Slick’s career!
Steel Cage Match
Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Ravishing Rick Rude
Sean Mooney claims this is a classic. Well, if it is then this tape will be up there with some of the best Coliseum releases. Pinfalls count in this as well as the traditional cage escape route of winning. We are in MSG for the fourth time on this tape, with this coming from December 1989. The frequent use of matches from the venue probably explains why the quality has been so high. The guys always worked harder at MSG and the matches were given time to develop so the New York crowd didn’t shit on them. It is all Piper early on, and Rude tries to escape the cage out of desperation, to get away from him more than anything. Piper hasn’t took a move yet so that predictably ends badly for Rude. Piper makes a genuine escape attempt but Rude stops him, crotching him on the ropes. Piper sells the hell out of his sore balls, and Rude is bleeding here already. I guess that must have been from Piper ramming him into the cage. Rude tries to go for the door but Piper keeps hold of his leg. Rude drops a few shots on him and goes for the pin instead but Piper gets out. Piper still hasn’t let go of the leg. Impressive commitment to the spot! He has been holding it for a good two minutes! Piper drags Rude’s tights halfway down his ass, exposing a full moon. Rude always gets his ass out in cage matches, he loves that spot. Naked asses in a cage… it’s like a Rockers party! Sorry, they just keep coming to me. Rude comes back with a Rude Awakening but Piper still manages to stop him escaping. They clash heads, and the ref starts counting to ten, which pisses off Gorilla, who reprimands him for not knowing the rules. He has a point. Piper and Rude both climb out over the top of the cage and hit the floor at the exact same time. The Fink tells us that the match has to continue, a’la Hogan-Orndorff. I should note, that Rude still has his ass out! He has a serious exhibitionist fetish. Rude mounts the cage and instead of climbing out, he hits a huge knee drop from the top of the structure. Ten out of ten for effort, but the execution was a bit off. He looked like he was unsure about doing it. Hey, I don’t blame him. That is quite the distance to jump from with a move like that. Rude hits a piledriver and goes to leave over the top, but Piper shakes the cage and crotches him on the bars. Rude ends up hanging upside down from the top of the cage. It’s another risky but very impressive spot from Rude and a great visual too. Heenan prevents Piper leaving by slamming the door in his face, and a back suplex from Rude keeps both men down. Heenan passes brass knuckles to Rude, but Piper catches him first. He puts the knucks on himself and clocks Rude between the eyes and escapes via the door the win the match. That was a superb effort from both guys, though Rude in particular was excellent and did everything he could to get the match over. That was a pay-per-view calibre match and another excellent outing on this tape. A glorious cage match.
Final Rating: ****¼
Next up, a selection of bloopers, the highlights of which include The Genius’ wig falling off in a match with Brutus Beefcake, Sean Mooney falling off his chair, Gorilla Monsoon dressed as Brother Love and some antics with Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon.
Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake vs. Mr. Perfect & The Genius
MSG for the fifth time, though a different show here, this one from February 1990. It’s kinda sweet that Beefcake dresses up like his best friend Hogan for this. Perfect and Genius are both excellent at making their opponents look good, so both are great choices to work with Hulk. Hogan and Beefcake are relentless, and Perfect flies all over the place for them. This is complete dominance from the face team for the opening five minutes. Perfect appears to be trying to take Jannetty’s current crown of best seller on the tape; he is just over-the-top and brilliant with every move he takes, flipping and flying all over the place. Perfect eventually gets a foothold in the match with the use of a foreign object on the outside, and back in the ring he and Genius use heel tactics to work a heat on Hogan. Yes, you read that right; the heat is on Hogan! I am stunned. I am even more stunned at him selling for The Genius. Gorilla is disgusted by the way Genius camply flails around the ring, and says as much. Welcome to the 90s! A nice moonsault from The Genius hits knees, and Hogan gets the tag to Beefcake, who cleans house. He locks the sleeper hold on Perfect, but Genius nails him in the back of the head with his metal scroll. Hogan chases him away while Perfect goes for the pin on Beefcake, and Hogan only just makes the save. Actually he missed it completely, that was a three count really. Beefcake is taking the real heat now so Hogan can do the big hot tag. This is more like what I expect from Hogan. Hillbilly Jim calls The Genius “limp wristed” and says he would “scratch your eyes out”. Why didn’t they just call him “The Faggot” and have done with it. Maybe they could have had him publically flogged by Jim Duggan. That would have delighted the commentators. Perfect puts his head down and Beefcake penalty kicks him in the dome, sending him reeling. Hot tag to Hogan, but the referee stops him hitting Perfect, because he didn’t see that tag. Back to the heat on Beefcake. You can always tell when Perfect has been in a long match because his hair goes all fluffy like cotton wool. It’s practically an afro! A Perfectplex is broken up by Hogan who finally gets the tag, and pretty swiftly the big boot and Legdrop of Doom follows on The Genius for the win. As usual, Hogan demonstrates his asshole side after the match, as he throws the ref out of the ring so he and Beefcake can beat up The Genius some more. Hogan and Beefcake mock The Faggot by dancing around the ring. They finish the hazing of the “poof” by cutting his hair. Jocks man, nothing but fuckin’ jocks. The match was better than the usual Hogan/Beefcake shit, largely because of the superb work from The Genius, and Perfect in particular, in making them look great.
Final Rating: ***
Summary: A consistently solid outing from start to finish. There is nothing really bad on there, even the Hercules-Akeem match was short and ok for what it was. There are some really good matches throughout, which is a rarity on a WWF Coliseum tape, which are often littered with short or boring bouts, then the odd rare decent contest. A very easy tape to sit through, and by Coliseum comp standards, this gets a high recommendation from me.