James Dixon: An Undertaker tape from 1993 with a running time of TWO hours? Oh good lord this could be the worst thing we ever cover. Bobby Heenan tickles me right away though, hiding with “fear” behind Mean Gene during the introductions.
The Undertaker vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
We start out in Worcester, MA in May 1993. We actually covered a fairly energetic and watchable bout between these two on the Best of Battle of the WWF Superstars Columbia tape release in Volume #2. Bam Bam was the perfect foil for Taker in a lot of ways, because he was a big intimidating monster, but he could also work and bump Taker’s moves, unlike Kamala, Giant Gonzales, et al. Obviously they were doing a house show run around this time, which usually meant a PPV match once they had been around the shoe, but it never transpired with these guys. For whatever reason, I don’t think there was ever a plan for them to work a match or feud on TV/PPV. Taker blows my mind by doing a drop toehold. Busting out the big moves for Coliseum, huh? As usual Taker misses the flying clothesline, which leads to a ringside beating involving the steps. That was his favourite cut off against everyone. Taker is like Hogan and Warrior in a way, in that you can predict his matches pretty much from start to finish. That is often the problem with these profile tapes, because you don’t notice it so much when it is just one match, but when there are five or six back-to-back, the repeated spots become glaringly obvious. Bam Bam works the standard heat that all heels do with Taker, beating on him until he sits up, this time with Taker moving out of the way of a diving headbutt. Bam Bam goes to leave, as he did in the other match we covered, but Tatanka stops him in the aisle and beats him up, before sending him back into the ring, where Taker finishes it with a chokeslam. It is a refreshing change that we get an actual finish, which is something at least, but Taker shouldn’t need an assist to win, especially on his own tape. Gorilla applauds Coliseum for their choice of match, and says what a great tape this is going to be. Oh, how I long for his optimism. That was far too short and generic for my liking.
Final Rating: ¾*
The Undertaker vs. Yokozuna
Gorilla Monsoon continues with the lies, claiming this is a Coliseum exclusive. It has actually appeared on a number of tapes, including Bashed in the USA and German Fan Favorites. I don’t quite get why either, because it is a dog of a match. After burying Jake Roberts by using the DDT as a transition, Taker takes his usual outside the ring beating before sitting up. This gives Yoko the wiggins, so he clonks him with his salt bucket for the DQ. The whole thing goes a merciful 4-minutes.
Final Rating: ¼*
The Undertaker vs. Repo Man
This is another flagrant show of disregard by Coliseum for the people who collect their tapes, as they recycle this match from the comp released prior to this. It was a match that had been sitting in the vault for a year, and someone found it and shoehorned it onto Grudges, Gripes and Grunts. As ever with these double dip matches, it is always the worse ones that get reused. The match is completely worthless, with Taker selling literally nothing, including various plunder shots, before winning easily with the Tombstone. I didn’t need to see it the first time and I definitely didn’t need to see it again. Jim Ross gets into full “WWF mode”, by becoming the latest person to lie to me, as he calls this a Coliseum exclusive. IT WAS ON THE PREVIOUS COMP TAPE THAT THEY RELEASED!
Final Rating: ¼*
The Undertaker vs. Kamala
Another match culled from a past release, with this coming from SummerSlam ‘92. Again it is 4-minutes long, and if the tape continues this way we are going to have thirty matches. Just imagine that… Still breathing? Ok. This was bad, nothing happened at all. However Kamala and Taker did achieve one thing: they managed to make a scientific breakthrough in the field of controlling and manipulating time. How so? Well, they managed to make a 4-minute match feel like 40-minutes. Impressive indeed! Kamala was a clown by this point and no threat to Taker, and the people didn’t see him as one. Even as an 8-year old I knew Taker could and would kick the shit out of him. Kamala in the 80s, I could just about get on board with, but by 1992 he was a joke. Of course, we don’t get a finish here, so they could drag this interminable nonsense out to another pay-per-view.
Final Rating: DUD
The Undertaker vs. Papa Shango
So instead of logically going to the coffin match blow-off between Taker and Kamala, we have this; ANOTHER rehashed match, having previously appeared on Invasion of the Bodyslammers. Fortunately, it is not anywhere near as shitty as you might expect. The highlights are Shango trying to set fire to Taker’s face and then giving him an absolute pounding outside the ring. Shango continues his run of jobs on Coliseum releases, falling victim to the chokeslam. Fairly watchable considering who was involved.
Final Rating: *½
The Undertaker vs. Razor Ramon
Six matches in, and this is the FIFTH in a row that has been featured elsewhere, having appeared on Rampage ’92. Seriously, Coliseum, what were you playing at with this shit? No wonder people started turning on the WWF by the time 1993 rolled around, the whole company was a joke. The fans were being ripped off on every level, be it by the snoozefests they saw in the ring or the copy and paste tapes that were being churned out. It’s not like this was a classic that simply needed to be seen again. No, it is a plodding match between two guys who couldn’t lose, and features all the standard Taker spots. The fact it was Razor rather than one of the less mobile slugs, elevates this beyond completely awful to just simply painfully mediocre.
Final Rating: *
The Undertaker vs. The Berzerker & Mr. Fuji
Good lord we get a Coliseum exclusive, and it is this? We are in Alabama for this one, from August 1992, and it comes after a TV feud between the two that saw Berzerker try and stab the Undertaker with his sword. Jim Ross says “vintage Undertaker here” as Taker lands on his feet. So THAT’S where Michael Cole got it from! Gorilla then advocates Berzerker using his sword and shield against Taker, saying he should be allowed them in this match. I’m sorry!? Gorilla Monsoon has a dark side! It must be because JR has come into the company, he has developed bitterness! Listening to the great Gorilla wing it and go into generic sound bite mode, is a little sad. I guess he had lost his motivation by this point as much as the fans had. Either that or he had one eye on Vince’s steroid trial and potentially helping run the company should McMahon go to prison. What a different world the wrestling landscape would have been if that had happened! We might not have had to suffer the Alcatraz that is 1995. This match is fairly boring. Brawl, brawl, brawl. Piledriver, piledriver, piledriver (!?). They try to stab each other but get thwarted, and Taker wins with the Tombstone. Better than most of the stuff on this tape, worse than pretty much everything else.
Final Rating: *½
The Undertaker vs. Kamala
This is the laziest tape we have ever covered, as this comes from Survivor Series ‘92. Kamala is scared of the coffin, to add to his already established in the 80s fear of snakes. He must hate Indiana Jones movies. As far as coffin matches go, this is a pretty dreadful one. As we have stated when covering this in Volume #2; the coffin match does not lend itself to quality wrestling. When it features Kamala and the Undertaker, even less so. Taker wins, of course, and then hammers the world’s largest nails into the coffin himself. I don’t see the WWF releasing a “best of coffin/casket matches” DVD any time soon, and even if they did, this dog wouldn’t make the cut.
Final Rating: ¼*
The Undertaker vs. The Mountie
We have covered a match between these two before, though not this one. This comes from Binghamton, New York, the day after the match with Repo Man earlier in the tape. This bout was advertised locally as The Undertaker vs. The Berzerker, but for some reason it got changed, and Mountie ended up taking his spot, so it’s his turn to job on Taker’s tape. Perhaps Berzerker just didn’t want to lose to Taker again on this release, so thought “bugger that!” and got “stuck in traffic” or something. I’m onto you, Nord. These two actually had a relatively watchable match on UK Fan Favourites. Conversely, this is stalling and then some stalling, before they stop to stall. Mountie impresses by taking a frankly absurd bump with a slingshot to the outside. Talk about being brought out the hard way! Taker misses his flying clothesline, then gets rammed into the steel steps, for a change. Remember what I said about multiple matches from the same guy in a row, exposing their matches? Hello, prime example. This is almost a carbon copy of the other match they had, with Mountie hitting a few piledrivers, which Taker sits up from while Mountie boasts. Jim Ross says he is an idiot. He is right. Tombstone, game over. At least this match had a finish I guess. Small mercies.
Final Rating: ½*
The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez
Oh my. You think this tape has been bad so far? Just wait until you see this! This is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in May 1993. It was previously released on the German exclusive German Fan Favourites, so it may be the first time it appears in the US and UK. It later features on the Columbia Best of WWF Fan Favorites release, later in this book. To be honest, Gonzalez is my secret guilty pleasure. He is utterly diabolically bad in the ring of course, but man, he is just so tall! Watching him do anything leaves me in awe at his sheer immensity. To this day, when I am measuring stuff up around the house, I use Gonzalez being “8-foot tall” as a reference point. Like, if I buy a new bed, I will wonder aloud how much of Gonzalez could fit in there. Do I have a problem? Gonzalez’s version of Sweet Chin Music is a thing of, erm, what did we establish as being the opposite of beauty? Check out the “snap” on the bump from Taker’s flying clothesline? Yikes. Gonzalez high tails it and Mr. Hughes comes in to give Taker a pounding, meaning we have a shitty DQ finish. The match in real terms was hideous, but I enjoyed it more than anything else on the tape. For that, I am staying away from negative stars. Because Gonzalez is so tall.
Final Rating: DUD
Ric Flair vs. The Undertaker
We dip into the bag of past releases one last time, with this WWF title match from September 1992, the day after the match with Razor Ramon earlier on the tape, which was also the card that Flair beat Randy Savage to win the title. This was on Volume #2’s Wrestling Grudge Matches release. It is a fun little bout, and the best thing on the tape, of course. Flair does his usual stellar job of carrying a lesser opponent, but the match is tarnished by a second consecutive shitty finish, as Mr. Perfect gets involved and waffles Taker with a chair for the DQ. Still, Taker hangs with ‘The Nature Boy’ and their styles meshed fairly well. What a jump to go from Gonzalez to Flair though. Talk about a difference in talent!
Final Rating: *¾
Summary: There were points during that tape where I was begging for death. It would have been nice to see Taker against some different opponents in fresh matches, perhaps a hitherto unreleased bout against Bret Hart at MSG when he was heel, or one of the body bag matches with The Ultimate Warrior. Sure, it would have been balls, but at least it would have been fresh balls, rather than rehashed stuff that has been seen a number of times. I like The Undertaker and respect what he has achieved in the business, especially with such a wacky gimmick, but he was the shits in the early 90s and this tape reflects that. As if I need to even say it, but this is one to avoid.