James Dixon: When is a world tour not a world tour? When it is this tape! Lord Alfred Hayes, dressed like Sherlock Holmes, introduces things. Must they ALWAYS go with the over the top stereotype? Why am I even asking!?
The Mountie vs. The Texas Tornado
This is from Battle Royal At The Albert Hall, which we have also covered elsewhere in this book. Both of these guys are good examples of talent ruined by the WWF machine. The Mountie used to be an exciting wrestler when he was simply Jacques Rougeau as part of The Rougeau Brothers. As The Mountie he put on a lot of size and slowed his ring style considerably, choosing stalling and cheap heat over workrate. I don’t think there is a single Mountie match that exists that is beyond passable. Tornado on the other hand was of course super over in WCCW under his “real name”; Kerry Von Erich. While not the most talented of the vast Von Erich clan, he was still a national star when he joined the WWF and could have been much more than he ended up being. Injury and a lack of motivation due to numerous personal tragedies undoubtedly derailed him, but it is a shame when you think what he could have been. This match typifies both of their falls from grace; it’s stalling and little else for the first 5-minutes. After threatening to leave, Mountie puts on a sleeper for a few minutes, and catches it again after Tornado escapes. This has already gone on for far too long, as all the matches did at this show. Mountie remains the aggressor, sending Tornado out of the ring with a clothesline and then throwing him into the steps. Mountie has controlled the majority of this match and the crowd are dead because of it. Instead of changing things up to make the match interesting over fifteen minutes, they have instead just gone with formula and stretched the heat to an unbearable level. You will notice I have barely mentioned the match, but that is because almost NOTHING has happened the whole time. They piss the crowd off by doing a screwy heel win, as Mountie pins Tornado with his feet on the ropes. The crowd is completely silent now, they hated this show because of all the heels winning. That was one of the most boring wrestling matches you are ever likely to see.
Final Rating: DUD
Of all the matches to choose, they went with that one. They should have picked Santana-Flair from that show, which was a mini classic. Usually these tapes start strong and go to hell, so let’s hope the trend reverses here and we get some crackers… I must be delusional. We get highlights of the last few minutes from the Battle Royal main event from the same show, joined as Mountie and Typhoon are double-teaming hometown hero Davey Boy Smith. The crowd comes unglued as Bulldog eliminates the big man to win the match. This takes us straight into a superstar profile on Smith, which starts with Davey leaving his quaint little house and getting mobbed by fans. We get a touching sit-down interview with Davey and his parents, as they discuss what they used to feed him. They claim steak, but I call Dianabol and HGH.
The British Bulldog vs. Irwin R. Schyster
This comes from England again, from the UK Rampage ‘92 show in Sheffield, which is also available in full elsewhere in this book. Davey was incredibly over with his home crowd again, he really was an absolute megastar for a brief period over in the UK. Sadly, just like at UK Rampage and Battle Royal at the Albert Hall, he gets saddled with a methodical, boring opponent. It baffles me why they always gave him such useless lugs to work with. Mike Rotunda was incredibly tedious under the IRS gimmick. He reminds me a lot of the Mountie actually, in that once he became a cartoon character, he stopped caring and putting any effort in. After Bulldog takes IRS down with a powerful tackle, the next two or three minutes are taking up with stalling and playing to the crowd. Davey then gets the better of some quick exchanges, sending IRS to the outside and giving him and Jimmy Hart the double noggin knocker. After Davey controls the arm, IRS fires back with an enzuigiri and then throws Bulldog to the outside, where he gives him a kicking. Abdominal stretch, and IRS uses the ropes for leverage, as he does in every match. Maybe he and Mountie were having a contest throughout their collective WWF careers, to see who could do the most rest holds. Davey catches a roll up while IRS argues with the ref, but a punch slows him back down. IRS hits a clothesline and drops a legdrop, but only gets two, so he goes to the chinlock. Yeah, you have a rest after all those two moves… IRS uses the ropes for leverage with the chinlock, and catches Bulldog with a knee to the gut when he escapes. IRS catches a breather by throwing Davey to the outside, but he comes back in with a sunset flip over the ropes. IRS takes control again straight away, and throws Davey back to the outside again. How many times is he going to do the same boring spot? I think he did it to buy time because he was overly hot from the awful attire he had to work in. Maybe that is what made him work so slowly. Davey blocks a suplex and hits one of his own, mounting a comeback. He sends IRS hard into the corner, and stops him escaping the ring by standing on his tie. IRS turns the tide in his favour again by reversing a whip, but an attempt to hit Smith with his briefcase is blocked, and the running powerslam wins it for Bulldog. For an IRS match it wasn’t that bad, but it was about five minutes longer than it needed to be.
Final Rating: *
The British Bulldog vs. Earthquake
This is from Barcelona, Spain in October 1991. Davey is accompanied by Andre the Giant, Earthquake by Jimmy Hart, making it three for three for Hart on this tape. I have nothing against the guy, but I am sick of the sight of his face! I am actually surprised that Davey is so over in Spain; they are chanting his name as if he is ‘The Spanish Bulldog’! Although, I guess it would just be ‘The Spanish Bull’. After a number of attempts, a dropkick from Davey takes Earthquake off his feet and outside of the ring. Back inside and Bulldog uses his quickness to stay on top, until Earthquake catches hold of him with a bearhug. Davey escapes, but an attempted slam fails, and Quake uses his leverage to get a two count. Sunset flip from Davey, but Quake sits down on him and regains control. The problem with all of the matches from the European tours is that they were far too long. This is going the same way, with Quake keeping a bearhug on for what seems like an eternity. The reason they were so long, is that they had essentially half a roster on the tours, with the rest staying back in the States to work the house show circuit. Thus with less guys to ram onto the cards, they had to stretch them out instead with longer matches. The WWF roster in 1991 and 1992 was just not talented enough to accommodate those kind of bouts, and it made for some horrid matches and shows. This one finishes when Andre hits Quake with his crutch as he is running the ropes, and Davey manages the slam, impressively, to win the match. Quake was often protected, so it is actually quite impressive that Davey was given a clean pinfall win. I just realised; there hasn’t been a cheap non-finish on this tape yet! That was one of the bonuses of these European tours I guess; they all had finishes because the guys didn’t need protecting for return house show matches.
Final Rating: ¾*
At Home With El Matador
Every time I see Tito Santana doing this gimmick, I am going to reiterate the same thing: what a complete waste of a genuine talent it was when they gave him this horrid gimmick, complete with new unsightly and unflattering long tights. We get footage of Tito “bull fighting”, which is actually pretty well done, even though it is absurd. He ends the segment by threatening to bring a sword to the ring with him one time. He should have done it when he worked The Berzerker, they could have had a sword fight.
The Barbarian vs. Roddy Piper
We stay on the same show for the next match, and a relatively rare Piper appearance from the time. It’s a weird little match this on paper, just two guys you would never expect to wrestle each other, because Barbarian was no-where near Piper’s level. Roddy didn’t do many house shows by this stage either, so unless he was feuding with someone he generally wouldn’t be working with them. There has been a lot of posturing early on, and Piper is fairly reserved for a change, not his usual wild self. I don’t blame him for taking it easy with Barbarian though, because hell, he sure knows it won’t be a classic or anything. And indeed nothing much happens. It is unstructured and lacks any flow, because as expected these two don’t click together at all. I haven’t seen anyone get anything exciting out of the Barbarian, and over the course of this book I have seen him work the likes of Bret Hart, Jake Roberts, Tito Santana and Davey Boy Smith. He should have stuck to tag wrestling. The highlight of this match is Piper falling out of the ring when he loses his bearings. A sunset flip wins it for Piper, which Mooney calls a surprising victory. Yeah, a main event legend who never loses beating a roided glorified jobber always is…
Final Rating: ¼*
16-Man Battle Royal
We go to Munich, Germany for this in April 1992, and we are joined in progress. This whole show was actually released on a German exclusive tape, which you can find reviewed towards the end of the book by Lee Maughan. We are hardly overflowing with name talent in this. Other than Bret Hart, Sgt. Slaughter and Davey Boy Smith, everyone else is pretty worthless at this stage. Oh, there goes Bret. Urgh, why bother? Yet Repo Man is still in there… While we are on the subject, I want to mention that Repo Man looks so much smaller than Barry Darsow’s alter-ego Smash. There is a huge difference in a short time frame, and it has always baffled me. Generally guys in the WWF get bigger, not smaller. Ok the steroid trial could be a factor I guess, but what a change! He is another guy who got repackaged and turned into a cartoon joke. He would have been better off competing as Smash in singles (like Crush did) than being saddled with this nonsensical gimmick. I am actually surprised that Demolition never made a WWF or WWE comeback at any point, I think they would have received a great reaction for a one off nostalgia shot. Oh right, the match. After a long segment with no eliminations, the final four are the British Bulldog, Sgt. Slaughter, The Mountie and Nasty Boy Jerry Sags. All of the remaining heels are managed by Jimmy Hart! Please, GET OFF THE SCREEN! The only time I have seen a worse final four was when the Duke of Dorchester, otherwise known as insufferable commentator Pete Doherty, managed to survive until this stage of a battle royal on one of the tapes in Volume #1. This rivals that quite closely though. What an absolute dearth of talent they had when all the ‘roid guys left. Mountie eliminates Slaughter, leaving Davey in a similar situation to the one he was in at the Royal Albert Hall; being left 2-on-1. Mountie accidentally uses his cattle prod on Sags and Bulldog clotheslines him out, then disposes of Mountie right afterwards to win it. Davey has a battle royal winning streak to rival Andre the Giant! I have nothing more to say about the match though, it was a poor battle royal.
Final Rating: *
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart vs. Rick Martel
We are in Sheffield, England, once again as part of the UK Rampage 92 show and this is more like it. Two great workers, and we covered a really fun match these had at MSG a few years prior, so hopefully this will be of the same standard. As stated before; Martel did have a tendency to become lazy once he started wearing pink and being an over-the-top character though. Almost like there is a pattern there or something, huh? They do a smooth start here as you might expect, with Hart getting the better of things in the early going, before Martel slows it down. They go back-and-forth, with neither guy able to get a clear advantage. Bret targets the leg, looking to weaken Martel for the Sharpshooter, and controls the Model with a grapevine. The wrestling can’t be faltered, but the Arena’s decision to sell air horns certainly can. They are SO annoying, especially when they are met with a chorus of adolescent voices screaming after each one. It’s like World Cup 2010! Anyway, Bret tries to wrap Martel’s leg around the post, but he escapes and rams Bret back-first into it instead. Martel takes over now, sending Hart hard into the buckles and dropping a number of elbows to the back. Some nice psychology here, with Bret targeting the leg and Martel the back. Martel appears to have forgotten about selling his injury though. Bret comes back with the five moves, and the middle rope elbow gets two. Martel fights back as Bret complains to the referee, and he sends the Hitman to the outside. Bret slips over a suplex attempt, but Martel holds the ropes on a O’Conner roll. Martel brags about it, and Hart catches him with an inside cradle to win the match and retain the title. Another clean finish. Every match has had a pinfall! Colour me stunned! There was some nice stuff going on there, but they needed another ten minutes to tell the story that they set up in the early going. Thus, instead we got the abridged version and Bret caught a lucky win. As usual with matches between these two, it was good, looked like it could potentially be great, but didn’t come close to reaching the next level.
Final Rating: **½
Macho Man Randy Savage (c) vs. Shawn Michaels
Hello! Check this match out! If anything can make this tape worth seeing, it is this. What an unexpected bonus! This is from the same show in Munich as the earlier battle royal. Savage had just won the belt a few weeks earlier from Ric Flair at WrestleMania VIII and he limps to the ring, presumably selling his injury from that match. Dedication to the craft like that is a joy to behold. Michaels instantly looks to target Savage’s hurt leg, but the champ manages to avoid the assault, slipping out of the ring to prevent Michaels catching him. Savage gets distracted by his former manager Sherri, and Michaels takes control, and they have a fairly lengthy brawl on the outside which goes back-and-forth. This is not really what I expected, I didn’t see this as being a brawl, but it has been really good. Both guys move, bump and sell better than pretty much anyone in history. Savage hits a top rope axe handle, which tweaks his leg, but he manages to stay on top, so Michaels goes to leave. Savage brings him back to the ring, and Sherri tries to get involved again, but Michaels ends up running into her and knocking her off the apron. Michaels slows Savage with a shin breaker, but subsequently eats a knee in the corner. That only buys Savage time though, and Michaels targets the leg again, with Sherri wrapping Savage’s leg around the post. Up until now this has swung back-and-forth constantly, like all good matches do. My only slight criticism is that Savage has not been able to show the usual fire you would expect from him as a babyface, due to playing off the knee injury. I must mention Lord Alfred Hayes, because as usual he says something totally asinine that proves to me he is in some sort of drug induced haze. He mentions that Savage and Sherri used to be close, then says: “I don’t know what happened there; he must have done something to upset her.” Excuse me!? Was he the only person who didn’t bother to watch WrestleMania VII and one of the most famous post match angles of all time? The bumbling fool manages to damage every match he commentates on. If this had Gorilla and Jesse (if he hadn’t left) it would be even better than it is. Michaels has controlled the last few minutes by going for the leg, as expected, and he puts on a figure four leglock, which is the same move Ric Flair used at WrestleMania VIII that caused the injury in the first place, and a nice bit of symmetry and continuity, even if the commentators miss it entirely. Hayes actually thinks Savage should give up and accept defeat, dropping the title to Shawn, because there would be a rematch clause in his contract anyway. That is the most backwards logic I have ever heard. Savage escapes the figure four, and Michaels goes for it again, but gets kicked off into the post and then clotheslined down. Savage gingerly climbs to the top rope, and hits the big elbow for the win. You see what would have happened if Savage had taken your advice, Hayes? Moron. Anyway, that was a good, long match full of strong psychology and with an obvious story, though it ended rather suddenly. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the potential match it COULD have been between these guys, and I do think that was severely hampered by Savage selling the leg from before the bell. They could have easily worked in a spot with him re-injuring the leg and told the same story, but with a fast start to boot. It is still worth seeing, but far from the classic you might be expecting.
Final Rating: ***¼
Summary: A tape that doesn’t come close to achieving what is expected. Savage-Michaels and Bret-Martel could both have been show stealing matches, but neither lives up to its potential. The rest of the tape is an absolute disaster, with the shoddy ’92 roster phoning it in overseas, in front of large, wrestling starved crowds that deserved better. There are some real stinkers on here, and the matches are so long, making it even harder to sit through. Most are also readily available elsewhere. Not recommended.