James Dixon: Who comes up with these titles? Ted DiBiase hosts and claims that every match on here is a Coliseum exclusive, something he personally requested. Apparently. Let’s keep that in mind as we progress. A tape from 1994/95 with no rehashed matches or bouts culled from the TV shows would be something of a collector’s item indeed.
Tatanka vs. Lex Luger
It is a shame we have to start with this. You have all heard the old cliché of the “proverbial broomstick match” right? Well this is the lesser known “double-broomstick match”. As in, they are both wooden and need carrying. These guys feuded from the start of time until the end of days. They didn’t manage a single “good” match in that time period. Hell, it is nearly two decades since I last watched their match at King of the Ring ’93 (I usually fast-forward through it) and the prospect of it still bores me to tears. Note to Stan Lane: Tatanka’s lame “tomahawk” chops are NOT the same thing as knife edge chops. Ric Flair would never do a tomahawk chop. The start of the match sees the two workrate beasts pissing about chasing each other around ringside. Thrilling stuff. Gorilla thinks Tatanka has become more aggressive since his heel turn a few months prior. I have a different view: I think he has become less watchable and far more lethargic and harder to sit through. He is a charisma black hole with no grasp of how to work a heat and make it entertaining. I watch these things out of sequence to try and keep them fresh and different, and the last tape I covered in “real time” was Mega Matches ’95. That tape features three Luger matches, one of them seeing him take heat for 17 unwatchable minutes. Tatanka was the one dishing out the punishment in that one too. You can thus imagine my delight that I am sitting through essentially the exact same thing, sans tag partners on the apron, again. Attire tangent: Luger and Tatanka both wear very strangely cut tights, and both are frequently seen with at least one ass cheek hanging out of the side. Tatanka has been known to be almost fully thonged at times, and is one of the most moon-happy workers around, though he rarely gets the recognition for it. He is no Flair or Rude in that department, but he is on the nominees list at the very least. SHOW SOME FIRE LUGER, FOR CHRIST SAKE! At least do something to make it look like you are awake. I have seen you work good matches in WCW, I know you have it in you. Hell, I have watched you have an energetic match in this very volume with Diesel of all people. No? You’re just going to sit in a chinlock for 5-minutes? Fine; I am going to watch the rest of your “match” with my peripheral vision while drinking coffee and reading Power Slam magazine…
…still in the chinlock, huh?
…STILL in the chinlock, huh? People actually paid to see this match. The crowd is so apathetic after the snoozefest they have been forced to endure, that they don’t even pop for his comeback. Not that it lasts, because we have MORE heat. Back to my magazine I go…
…I look up upon hearing a commotion, and I can conclude that Luger is either having a fit, or he is making his comeback. The accidental glimpse I catch of a Jericho-style bulldog makes me choke on my coffee, such was the poorness of its execution. The payoff to 15-minutes of dreadful non-action? A double count out of course! Luger says he wants the match to continue after the bout, because the “fans paid their money for a ticket not to see a count out”. Yeah, they also paid their money to see some wrestling and reasonable levels of effort, but they got neither of those things from you either. A further note to sour my mood: this match was not in fact a Coliseum exclusive at all. It actually appears on TWO other tapes: Off The Top Rope and Canadian Fan Favorites, both of which are covered in this volume. Furious hated this match too, but no-where near as much as I did. I seriously don’t even want to do the rest of the tape. I rarely stray into negatives, but that was such an abysmal and shameful level of effort, that this deserves it. Pathetic.
Final Rating: -**
Bret Hart & The British Bulldog vs. Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart
The next match is not an exclusive either. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that Ted DiBiase lied to me, he is a lifelong heel after all. This also turns up on the supremely excellent tape Slamfest and I would advise picking that up instead, because it doesn’t feature Luger-Tatanka. On paper this should be excellent, but I have to question Davey’s choice of attire, as he sports an off yellow on half of his tights which from a distance makes him look naked on one side. Bret and Owen’s technical wrestling exchanges are as smooth as you would expect, as they flow effortlessly from counter to counter. Owen amuses me by petulantly shouting “Don’t!” and “Stop it!” when Bret slaps him on the back of the head during a hold. On Slamfest this was clipped, but here the match is shown in full. It turns out that all they cut was Owen and Neidhart hamming it up on the outside, a Neidhart bearhug on Bret and Davey doing a suplex. I suppose I can forgive that! The New Foundation then work a long heat on Davey, but they are all good enough to keep it fairly interesting. Owen was world class and on fire in 1994, and everything he does is superb. I enjoy Owen and Anvil using the Hart Attack as a double team to try and put Davey away, but Gorilla and Lane make no reference to it being the Hart Foundation’s old finisher, which is a shame. Bret’s hot tag leads to the Five Moves of Doom on Owen, but Anvil prevents the Sharpshooter. They run the old favourite small package double switch for the finish, with Davey Boy eventually pinning Owen. Entertaining, but the problem is; I expect more than just entertaining from guys the calibre of these. It was good, but could have been so much better.
Final Rating: ***
Doink and Dink piss around in the WWF television studio, harassing employees with silly string, electric handshakes and water guns. This is some highbrow entertainment and not a waste of time at all. Doink was a bit of a wanker really.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Razor Ramon (c) vs. Jeff Jarrett
This is the third match in a row from the same show, and finally we DO have a Coliseum exclusive. These guys feuded extensively throughout 1994 and 1995 over the IC belt. Some of the matches were ok, others stuck rigidly to formula. Razor comes to the ring with a fat dude called Ranger Danger. No, he is nothing to do with Kevin Smith. He is a local celebrity who did… well really, who cares? Stan Lane calls him a “lucky fan”. Jarrett is dressed as ostentatiously as ever, today sporting yellow spandex with multicoloured shiny bits. When you look at Double J in 1994, it is very hard to picture him ever being a world champion anywhere. The difference between his very “Memphis” level act here and the polished super-heel he became from 1999 onwards, is night and day. They start slowly, and Razor gets bored and busts out the SOS (sack of shit), then follows it up with an armbar. That wouldn’t have been my logical next hold, I have to say. Jarrett busts out some dropkicks, which is a strange choice of move for a heel. I associate the dropkick with a high flying babyface, not a heel, no matter how colourful he might be. The same applies to a top rope high crossbody, which Jarrett also uses. Gorilla breaks out the insider jabs, saying how Razor looks “lethargic, for whatever reason here”. Oh, Gorilla, you cad you. There is nothing to this at all, the chemistry just isn’t there. Which is a bit of a bugger really, what with them going onto have many more matches, often on PPV. Jarrett wins on a count out, but it doesn’t dawn on him that he hasn’t won the IC title, because he is an idiot. When he realises, he goads Razor into returning to the ring and the match restarts. He did the same thing at Royal Rumble ’95 a few months later, and actually won the title. That doesn’t happen here, instead Double J gets pasted in about thirty seconds after getting caught with the Razor’s Edge. A drab encounter, with little in the way of action or entertainment.
Final Rating: *¼
The Bushwhackers vs. Well Dunn
Oh fantastic, just what this tape needed. Why does EVERY Coliseum release, no matter what era, have to feature these two moronic, gurning idiots? Well Dunn are utterly useless as well, so this has no chance right out of the gate. This is every Bushwhackers match when they are on offense, which is to say complete crap. Well Dunn have little to no impact in everything they do, their moves all look so phony. The Bushwhackers win, let’s all move on with our lives. You already knew the rating before the first bell even rang.
Final Rating: DUD
Tatanka, Shawn Michaels & Diesel vs. Lex Luger & Men On A Mission
Tatanka against Luger again!? Are you freaking kidding me!? Shawn Michaels has a helluva task here if he is going to carry this match to anything worth seeing. He tries his hardest though, at one point blatantly leading Bart Gunn through a sequence, positioning himself and throwing himself so it looked like Bart did something, when in reality all he did was stand there being confused and in way over his head. Shawn was literally wrestling himself. Once they go to heat on Bart, Michaels figures a chinlock is the safest option against someone so inadequate, something I can’t fault him for based on reasoning, but a chinlock is the LAST thing I want to see after the opener. Things get a bit out of hand as everyone brawls, and Shawn pins Billy after a covert Jacknife powerbomb from Diesel. Other than that, Nash did sod all in the match. Who said he was lazy? This just kind of happened, and ten seconds after it is over, I already can’t remember it. The one positive is that Luger didn’t take the heat from Tatanka. I would have smashed up the tape if he had.
Final Rating: *¼
Bret Hart (c) vs. Owen Hart
Yes! Yes! Yes! The match these two had at WrestleMania X is one of my all-time favourites, and if this is even a patch on that, then it will save this tape from certain doom and redeem it for the abomination it opened with. The lumberjack stipulation is probably a negative rather than a positive, and I just hope it doesn’t detract from the in-ring stuff too much. If they are working smart rather than hard, they will utilise the lumberjacks and use them as a shortcut, but I hope they both have too much pride in their work for that. Sadly they don’t, and the match is all lumberjack-centric, with little in the way of smooth holds, countering and counter-countering to be seen. The lumberjacks all get on the apron and in the middle of the chaos, Jim Neidhart nails Bret with a clothesline while he has the Sharpshooter applied, and Owen pins him to win the WWF title. Only, he doesn’t of course, because the ref uses the video wall to prove Neidhart’s interference. Well, that is a first! He reverses the decision, only doesn’t, instead restarting the match. The referee is both smart and useless. I was expecting a brief second outing ala Razor-Jarrett, but instead they go for another ten minutes or so, and things do pick up significantly towards the end, as Bret rolls Owen up for the win. I tried to get into this, but I just couldn’t. Don’t be fooled by the players involved, because this is not the match it can be when they go full tilt. Reasonable, though far from incredible, but it is pretty cool to see Owen with the title for a brief few minutes.
Final Rating: **
WWF Women’s Championship
Alundra Blayze (c) vs. Bull Nakano
These two were pretty much the only female wrestlers in the WWF at the time, so they had countless matches against each other. Fortunately, both were good workers, and their matches were usually excellent. The WWF rather missed the boat with women’s wrestling, because there were so many supreme workers around at the time in Japan, and if they had brought some of them in to work with Blayze or indeed each other, it could have changed the landscape of women’s wrestling in the United States mainstream. Even though the WWF were reluctant to go with Japanese talent, it could have worked, and they had history of past success with the superb Jumping Bomb Angels. There is of course a world of difference between this and the modern WWE “Divas”, in that the flow of the match makes sense, the moves have impact and meaning and everything is solid. It is everything the opposite of what the inept Divas churn out to apathetic crowds. Nakano puts an exclamation on that point with a vicious piledriver, and then utilises an Indian death lock. I would bet everything I own that Kelly Kelly has never even heard of an Indian death lock. Mind you, Stan Lane and Gorilla Monsoon are not much better, as Nakano puts on an extravagant octopus surfboard variation, and Lane admits to not knowing what it is, while Gorilla says “it probably comes from the mountains of Kilimanjaro”. What, in Tanzania? Nakano is Japanese. I know the WWF sometimes have a pretty insular understanding of Geography, but that is a comment so ridiculous it is laughable. The stellar work on offer here goes over the heads of the announcers and the crowd, who unfortunately sit on their hands throughout. It is a shame, because the match is well structured and features some exciting and innovative (for the WWF) stuff. Nakano is the aggressor, as you might expect being the heel with a massive size advantage. But the difference between Blayze taking the heat and Luger taking the heat is enormous. Alundra does things to make the crowd know she is still alive and in this, even if they don’t particularly care. The finishing sequence is very strong, with Nakano pounding Blayze with high impact moves (such as a powerbomb) and Blayze kicking out each time. The champ then fires back with a trio of dropkicks and hits a picture perfect German suplex with a bridge for the win. The effort levels far surpassed everything else on the tape, and it is the best match on here.
Final Rating: ***
20-Man Battle Royal
I love battle royals. When I was deciding which tape to review next, it was between this and Paul Bearer’s Hits From The Crypt, and I went with this because it had a battle royal on it. The strange thing is, nearly every battle royal I have ever seen has been really rather bad. Maybe it is just a visual thing, or the change of pace. Maybe seeing unique and odd couplings squaring off, I honestly don’t know. Yokozuna goes out first, and then my spirit is broken within seconds as I notice Typhoon in it. There is something not right about seeing him in there with the likes of Duke Droese and Bob Holly. It is like two very awful worlds colliding. Bless you Kevin Nash, for getting rid of him early. For those wondering, yes he did do his “fly swatting” sell upon elimination. Stan Lane calls this a “three ring circus”. I think he is getting confused with WCW’s utterly mental World War 3 shows, which featured a three-ring 60 man battle royal as the main event. WCW did some crazy things. 1-2-3 Kid is the MVP in this, because he actually does stuff. His desperate clinging onto the ropes keeps things interesting, though he does seem to have forged a curious bond with Samu, who saves him a bunch of times. Diesel has a habit of doing well in battle royal matches, and he eliminates Mabel single-handedly as the crowd starts to chant for him. Everyone else in the ring gets pissy about it and gangs up to throw him out. Kid nearly goes out again at the hands of Billy Gunn, but Samu saves him. What is going on there!? He gets eliminated himself soon after, leaving the final four as: Jeff Jarrett, Billy Gunn, Bob Backlund and the 1-2-3 Kid. It is a strange final four, but anyone can win it. Well, except Billy Gunn, who gets eliminated in short order. Kid desperately holds on again and then eliminates Jarrett. Backlund and Kid is a strange pairing, but their chemistry is actually really good for a few moments. Backlund locks on the chicken wing to weaken Kid, then throws him over the top to win. It was every battle royal you have ever seen, but it had its moments.
Final Rating: *½
Summary: The tape starts out in the worst possible fashion, but it does make attempts to recover thanks to the Hart family and the women. The rest is lazy cobbled together stuff that no fan would ever want to see. It seems like minimum effort has gone into this from both the wrestlers and the Coliseum folk who put it together, and the result is a slapdash offering that has little merit. The lies of matches being “Coliseum exclusives” grates on me as well. Not recommended.