James Dixon: By now the WWF had long abandoned the idea of WrestleFest being an event of its own, now it was just a bog standard comp tape like any other. The line-up shows what a weak roster the WWF had in the wake of WrestleMania VIII, with the likes of Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts, Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice all having left the company for various reasons. The lack of star power helped ruin the group’s mainstream appeal over the next few years. Of course, featuring a limited and tedious worker like IRS no less than THREE times on one release doesn’t help matters. Even though he was never over and didn’t have a single memorable match, he was STILL kicking around well into 1995. The tape cover promises an exclusive profile on Bret Hart, which precedent would dictate means a handful of the Hitman’s finest matches. Instead, we get brief highlights of a couple and then a bout with the Barbarian. Great. Coliseum had become as lazy as the WWF in general by mid 1992, and this tape is an encapsulation of all that was wrong with the Federation at the time.
Shawn Michaels vs. Virgil
We start of at Madison Square Garden, this coming from March 1992. By now the WWF was running a lot fewer shows at the Garden compared to in the past, due to the rising cost of hiring the venue. They went from a show every month to one every three. The earlier Coliseum tapes would usually feature half of the matches from the Garden, at least but we are all over the place on this one. Virgil is wearing a face mask to protect his broken nose, and he looks like a right goon. It could well be the most over the top and intrusive mask I have ever seen. Michaels punches Virgil in the face to begin with and hurts his hand on the face mask. Next time he slaps him instead, which incenses Virgil, who chases Michaels out of the ring. Back inside and Virgil gets the better of the exchanges and controls Michaels with a headlock. Alfred Hayes’ ritual character assassination begins, as he calls Virgil “devious and sneaky”. Does he think he is Japanese? He then basically calls him a cheat, saying he will happily break the rules when the referee’s back is turned. Nice one pal, way to get over the babyface as a total wanker. After some quick back-and-forth action, which Virgil gets the better of, Shawn retaliates by lifting up Virgil’s mask and punching him in his broken nose and continues to work on the damaged body part with stomps and punches. Because Hayes is a pussy, he says that Virgil should stay down for the three. Sound advice to the watching kids there; if something is difficult or unpleasant, just give up and quit! Michaels is relentless in targeting Virgil’s nose, taking shots at it whenever the opportunity presents itself, and every time Virgil mounts a few comebacks Michaels cuts him off instantly. Hayes possesses an astonishing ability to completely ignore the actual story that is being told in the ring, and instead weave his own nonsensical take on things; he has no clue about what is going on right in front of his eyes. Virgil eventually does fire up and takes Michaels to town, but he misses a charge in the corner, and Michaels hits the teardrop suplex to win the match. A typical overly-long MSG match. It shouldn’t take Shawn Michaels 12-minutes to beat Virgil. It was actually pretty decent for the most part though, because Virgil was not totally terrible when he was against a good worker.
Final Rating: **
WWF Tag Team Championship
Money Inc. (c) vs. The Bushwhackers
To Toledo, Ohio next, a few weeks later in April 1992. Sean Mooney questions how IRS would know if people cheated on their taxes. Maybe because he is a TAXMAN you simpering drip! Don’t you start, Mooney. What is this bullshit anyway? Hadn’t the Bushwhackers disappeared by 1992? Who could possibly buy them as a credible challenge to Money Inc.? I no longer do anything resembling play-by-play on Bushwhackers matches. I just can’t bring myself to. This is how the match will go, almost without question: The Bushwhackers will use ass biting and fake looking offence, before Money Inc. take over and combine cheating with tedious rest holds. Money Inc. may or may not leave midway and get threatened with losing their belts if they don’t return. Money Inc. over, probably via the Coliseum DQ. Suffice to say, that is almost entirely accurate, only IRS pins Butch after a knee to the back, and an elbow drop. It’s an Incredibly boring match, because both teams were pretty awful. The Bushwhackers are obviously terrible, but Money Inc. were a tedious pairing too. IRS was uninteresting and slow, whereas DiBiase was past his prime and seriously lacking in motivation. It is a shame he was stuck in a tag team, because he could have still been a player in 1992. Bret-DiBiase matches for the title could have been a lot of fun. He would have been a great partner for Flair at Survivor Series ‘92 as well, and matches with Mr. Perfect could have been belting.
Final Rating: DUD
Rick Martel vs. The British Bulldog
This is from Biloxi, Missouri in March 1992. Both these guys are good workers on their day, though Martel was far beyond his prime years by this point. I think he was so disheartened with the goofy gimmick that he stopped trying sometimes. Hayes says it was a touching moment at UK Rampage when Bulldog won his match and his parents were both crying. They were probably tears of relief, because that match (with the Berzerker) was appalling. Bulldog controls Martel with a headlock, which Martel breaks by reaching the apron. Davey brings him back in the hard way and goes to the arm, blocking a Martel escape attempt with a hiptoss. Martel finally catches a break when he throws Bulldog through the ropes to the outside, and he rams him back-first into the apron. A fairly slow start here, far below the level that both are capable of. They have done very little. If this was in the 80s it would have been a mini-classic, no doubt about it. Martel controls the next few minutes, but Bulldog fights back with a kick to the head, an atomic drop and a couple of clotheslines. Martel bails to avoid a punch and gets his head slammed into the apron. Davey with a sunset flip back in and Martel holds onto the ropes, but the referee catches him, allowing Bulldog to roll through and get the three. Short and pointless, a real letdown. I expect much better from two guys of that calibre.
Final Rating: ½*
We get a few highlights of Bret Hart’s IC title run, including the last few moments of his victory over Mr. Perfect in their SummerSlam ‘91 classic. Next are highlights from the surprisingly competitive bout between Bret and Skinner from This Tuesday In Texas. Both are reviewed in full by Arnold Furious elsewhere in this book.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. The Barbarian
We go back to November 1991 for this match, from Springfield, Massachusetts. This also features on the Columbia House release Best of the WWF: Superheroes. Urgh, as far as choices for Bret Hart matches go, this is not the most inspiring of selections. Just how many Bret-Barbarian matches exist from this era!? I thought with this being a 1992 tape, we would be spared the generic Barbarian snoozefest. He tries the IC belt on before the match and looks at it almost longingly. Yeah, if only you weren’t a plodding piss-break wrestler huh? Bret survives a Barbarian power onslaught using his superior speed, and then looks to focus on the arm. Hayes offers his usual ass-backwards wisdom, questioning Bret’s tactics and methods. Listen dickhead, who did you ever beat? This crowd is as dumb as Hayes, chanting “we want Bret”. Erm, he is IN THE DAMN RING. Has everyone gone fucking mental or something? Barbarian takes over, using a bearhug to wear Hart down, before slamming him back-first into the post on the outside. Bret breaks the count, and Barbarian continues the assault in the ring with a vicious chop and a hard whip into the buckles. Barbarian makes him think about a backbreaker, and gets a two count from it, before going back to the bearhug. His focus has primarily been on the Hitman’s back, which is sound strategy. Unlike in a lot of matches where the bearhug is just an out of context rest hold, the use of it here has been built to with what has gone on before it. More whips into the buckles from Barbarian, but Hart gets his foot up on a charge and hits an atomic drop and a clothesline for a two count. Bret goes into the five moves, hitting a backbreaker of his own and the middle rope elbow for two. Side Russian legsweep gets another two, and the kick out from Barbarian is so powerful that Hart is sent through the ropes and to the outside. Sunset flip back in from Hart, which eventually takes Barbarian down for a close near fall. Barbarian comes back with a stalling suplex, which also gets a two. This has been fairly competitive and has told a good story. Though it has to be said; Bret has rather forgot about the back injury. Barbarian goes for another suplex, and Hart catches him in a small package for the win in just under 13-minutes. I was maybe a little harsh on Barbarian at the start, because this was a sound contest with little stalling and resting, everything was given time to develop and the psychology was solid. It could yet be the best match on the tape.
Final Rating: **½
The Nasty Boys vs. The Natural Disasters
We are back in Biloxi and this comes from the same show as the Bulldog-Martel match earlier in the tape. If I has bought a ticket to that event, I would be pretty pissed. Typhoon sells Sags going to slam him like he has just grabbed him by the cock and tugged. He throws a wild clothesline which misses by a mile, obviously. The only good thing I can say about Typhoon, is that he taught me how to work safely as a kid when I was wrestling in my living room. I watched Typhoon miss moves by several inches, and figured that is how they were done. I guess in a way I should be thankful. He is still the absolute WORST wrestler in WWF history though. I can tell you right now, that when we do the awards at the end of the book, he will be top of the list for worst worker for sure. Surely none of you reading this book need to read play-by-play on this match. If you see Nasty Boys vs. Natural Disasters listed, you automatically know it is going to be horrible. For those reading who are unsure, let me spell it out: THIS IS AWFUL. After Typhoon made a mess of his early spots, Quake clearly just decided that he would carry this match, because Typhoon doesn’t even get in the ring again. The Disasters won, if anyone cares.
Final Rating: DUD
Macho Man Randy Savage (c) vs. Irwin R. Schyster
This is a “fan favourite” match from Kalamazoo, Michigan in April 1992, just a few days after Savage’s WWF title win at WrestleMania VIII. And isn’t a fan favourite match just the perfect tonic to follow a Natural Disasters contest? Something occurs to me: why does Ric Flair feature so little on the majority of these tapes? He had two corking matches on Invasion 92 but other than that, he rarely gets on them. It would be nice to see a few Flair matches with different opponents than Savage, Bret, Shawn and Perfect once in a while, as good as those matches were. I know exactly how this is going to go down; it will be a lot of tedious rest holds from IRS, then Savage will win with the elbow. As well as that, I assume Hayes will tell Savage to accept defeat and win the belt back in the rematch, like he has in every other Savage title defence we have seen. Honestly, we might as well not even bother watching this either… Rest holds? Check. Using the ropes for leverage? Check. Chinlock? Of course. Savage wins with the big elbow to end the misery. See, predictable and boring, the curse of fan favourite matches continues.
Final Rating: *
How To Throw A Party With The Berzerker
Can the Berzerker speak or can’t he? He goes from perfect English in an obvious American accent, to shouting his trademark “Huss, Huss, Huss” repeatedly. He comes across as a total babyface in this, just wanting people to come to his party. He makes everyone peanut butter sandwiches and says he wants to keep his guests happy. Why am I supposed to hate this guy again? Other than for being involved in a dreadful segment like this of course…
Tito Santana vs. Repo Man
This is from the same show as the previous match. Like with a lot of the tapes that came out around this time, the lazy folks at Coliseum have just pulled a handful of random dark matches from two or three TV tapings and thrown them together onto a tape. I have no interest in watching this. I hate the bastardisation of Tito as El Matador, and I hate the Repo Man gimmick that Barry Darsow was saddled with. Smash vs. Tito Santana in 1988 I could get on board with, just about, but this has no appeal at all. They go through the motions and Santana wins via DQ when Repo uses his steel hook. In a rare but engaging act of violence, Repo chokes the life out of Santana after the match with his hook, causing Tito to foam from the mouth as Repo is prised off by officials. The post match stuff is great, the match itself is nothing. That angle looked like it was supposed to go somewhere, but I am pretty sure it never did.
Final Rating: ¼*
The Nasty Boys & Money Inc. vs. The Natural Disasters & The Legion of Doom
This is the last match on the tape, taking place in Niagara Falls, New York in April 1992. So to sum up: we get the Natural Disasters, Ted DiBiase and the Nasty Boys wrestling twice on this tape, and THREE IRS matches. They must have produced this tape with the intention of marketing it as a tranquiliser. It is enough to put anyone into a coma. Three IRS matches! I don’t believe it! What a dreadful state the tag division was in as well. Other than the quickly fading LOD, the other three teams are poor, and the rest of the roster is even worse, with the Bushwhackers and the Beverly Brothers making up the numbers. The heady heights of the Brainbusters, the Rockers, the Hart Foundation and Demolition are long gone. Apparently no-one has told the babyfaces where the hard cam is either, because Animal and Typhoon stand directly in front of it on the apron. With Typhoon being somewhat ample (see: fat), that causes some considerable problems for the director. The babyfaces clear the ring to begin with, but Hawk gets neutralised and cut off from the rest, and they work a standard tag formula match heat on him until he hits a clothesline. There is no excuse for pacing an 8-man so damn slowly, because there is plenty of opportunity to rest on the outside as it is, you don’t need to do that in the ring. At least Typhoon hasn’t been in there on his own at all yet. This turns into an all out brawl, but surprisingly it is not a DQ. Sags goes for a sunset flip, but Quake sits out on him and that is enough for the win. It is the exact same finish as the Nasties-Disasters match from earlier in the tape. Why put those on the same release and expose the business in such a way? Well, why put any of those matches on in the first place. Whoever was involved in putting this tape together, has hopefully since been shot.
Final Rating: ¼*
Summary: This is a woeful effort from Coliseum. The decent workers are stuck with useless opponents, and the rest of the tape is just flat out boring. Three IRS matches tells you everything you need to know, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, watching Typhoon “wrestle” twice makes this an automatic avoid. Stay well away from this, it is the WWF at its very worst.