Lee Maughan: Although Coliseum Video continued to distribute WWF pay-per-view events through 1997, and released the Shawn Michaels: Heartbreak Express Tour tape that same year, this is the last compilation featuring various different wrestlers ever released under the Coliseum banner as part of the regularly numbered series of tapes, so you can bet it’ll be mind-blowingly good. Right? Hosted by Todd “Awaaah, it’s-ah aaawwul great matches, Archie!” Pettengil. Ugh.
The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy
Maybe not. This tape is less than sixty seconds old and already Pettengil’s been outed as a liar. Great match my ass. Bundy was back in the WWF at this point owing to the problems the promotion had faced in direct relation to the steroid trials of 1994. Size-fetishist Vince McMahon had suddenly felt the pressure of the government to crack down on the usual muscle-bound meat heads of the mat, so with guys like the Ultimate Warrior and Davey Boy Smith on the outs, he had to rely on freaks of nature like Diesel, who could maintain his physique whilst clean, and blubbery blobs like Bundy and Yokozuna for his more gargantuan grapplers. The problem is, Bundy can barely move, and he looks like a giant baby. And how did things work out for McMahon during these dark, dark ages? One look at the crowd on hand for this one should tell you all you need to know, as the WWF was relegated to taping its TV in a New York high school gymnasium in front of just 1,400 fans, a crowd that Ring of Honor would have been disappointed with in that market. Undertaker wins a plodding match with a flying clothesline off the top, since Bundy is too bulbous to get up for the tombstone.
Final Rating: *
Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart vs. Men on a Mission
New Foundation reunion! And speaking of Vince McMahon’s flirtation with fatties, here comes Barney the Dinosaur! Oh, sorry, that’s Mabel, later to be known as Viscera, “the World’s Largest Love Machine”, and Big Daddy V, dressed up in a purple and gold bodysuit, being rapped to the ring by Oscar, a guy McMahon once heard performing a rap in a lift, resulting in an on-the-spot hiring. Seriously. I mean, having a babyface manager rap his team’s entrance theme isn’t the worst idea in the world, but you should at least hire someone who’s, you know, good at it. Obviously, since Mabel can barely move, it’s egg on legs Mo who works the early part of the match with Owen Hart, though the following period with Mabel vs. Neidhart isn’t half as rotten as one might (possibly unfairly) expect. And then play-by-play man Stan Lane describes a bodyslam with the evocative words “Planted down hard, like a… plant!” I hope Owen kicked Stan’s leg out of his leg for that one. Whoomp, der it is! “Roll over one Mo time!” barks colour man Gorilla Monsoon. Gorilla, Jamaican me crazy! “Whoomp, der it is! Whoomp, you get one too!” Good lord, this commentary is the pits. Mabel avalanches Owen in the corner and Mo gets a small package, but Neidhart rolls Owen on top and Owen grabs the tights to take the pin. Whoomp, you deserved it. Match was alright if a tad too long, and Owen’s clowning around was a great laugh, but I wish Owen and Neidhart could have had some better babyface teams to work against than Men on a Mission. Owen would win the tag titles a few months later with the returning Yokozuna, since Neidhart clearly wasn’t fat enough for the gig.
Final Rating: *¾
Diesel (c) vs. Jeff Jarrett
Some people might not realise this, but Jarrett was actually “Clique-lite”, in that Diesel, Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels and the 1-2-3 Kid would travel together from town to town, but when the group were split onto two different house show touring loops, Jarrett was always first in line to hitch a ride with one of the pairs. And in fact, he’s got Shawn Michaels accompanying here, as well as the Roadie (Road Dogg), who both spend the entirety of the match running around on the outside, jumping in the ring, and causing distractions. It’s like they somehow found a way to have three guys split the workload in a singles match. Shawn does the old “give chase” bit, with Diesel trying to catch him on the outside, which you would think would be the spot that turns the advantage over to Jarrett once Diesel rolls back inside, but Diesel just paintbrushes ‘Double J’ off like a watered down coat of emulsion. How odd. Suddenly, all three heels jump in the ring and stalk around Diesel, poised to attack, but somehow that doesn’t draw a disqualification, I guess because Diesel’s still dominating these three clowns. I know this is just a silly little dark match, but surely the intent alone is just cause for a disqualification? I mean, if three of you run into a bank brandishing shotguns and oversized novelty sacks with the word “SWAG” emblazoned on it, clearly there’s intent to rob the bank there, and you don’t avoid arrest if the lone security guard powerbombs you all into oblivion first. Pedantic maybe, but it’s already difficult enough to suspend your disbelief watching the grand pantomime that is professional wrestling without having the slim line between nonsense and credibility completely erased. Amidst all the confusion, Michaels takes the turnbuckle pad off one of the corners and Diesel goes back-first into it, which the camera almost misses and the commentators do entirely. Ladies man Lane instead prefers to talk about how he met Pamela Anderson at the Royal Rumble, which technically hasn’t happened yet since this match was taped prior to the Rumble, even if the commentary was dubbed on afterwards. Shawn then gets involved again, clobbering Diesel with a plastic chair, basically doing the Roadie’s work for him. And then Roadie gets involved again, blowing his interference badly enough for Jarrett to get Jacknifed and pinned. Roadie then gets one too, but Michaels thinks better of it and bails. The action was good enough here, but the liberal amounts of blatant interference really played free and loose with the rules, and the match at times was on the verge of descending into complete face.
Final Rating: **
Jerry Lawler vs. Doink the Clown
Doink has Dink with him, so expect shenanigans. And indeed, he sprays water out of his flower into Lawler’s eyes before the bell even rings. Now what if that had been pure acid? These WWF referees in the mid-90s sure were lenient. Gorilla declares there are “two kings too many right now in the World Wrestling Federation” which gives Lane yet another chance to spew some absolute nonsense: “Kings everywhere! ‘King of Harts’, ‘King’ Jerry Lawler… king fish.” Stan, I love your in-ring work, but you were a ROTTEN announcer. Uncle Gorilla does get in a good line about Lawler’s talk show segment, the King’s Court, saying Lawler “knows a lot about court.” Lane tries to cover that by suggesting Lawler had to go to traffic court. What? You go to traffic court on false allegations of rape? Gorilla then moves on to exposing Dink’s French heritage and strenuously sets the record straight that Doink and Dink bear absolutely no relation to one another… just in time for a close-up shot of Dink in which he tells the camera how proud he is of his father, referring to Doink. And if you thought the interference in the Diesel-Jarrett match was over the top, here comes Dink crawling between Doink’s leg on a test of strength to stamp on Lawler’s foot, Doink giving Lawler a boot up the arse as he hops around on one foot. From there, Doink slaps on a short-arm scissors, and Dink comes scuttling back in to do roly polys over ‘the King.’ That’s still not a disqualification, so he comes in for a third time and squeezes Lawler’s nose as Lawler sits in a chinlock. And then, just to ramp up the ridiculousness of things, Dink bites Lawler’s backside, which you could smell from a mile away. The spot you could smell I mean, not Lawler’s backside. And then all the clowning around backfires as Lawler moves out of the way on a charge and Doink collides with Dink on the apron, sending the micro prankster crashing to the floor and giving Lawler the chance to roll-up Doink for the pin. Well, you can’t say they didn’t deserve that. Anyway, this was a great match for anyone under the age of three, and all served to set up the abominable Clowns R’ Us vs. Royal Family elimination match at Survivor Series ’94 with Doink, Lawler, three teeny clowns and three little princes all running around.
Final Rating: ½*
Lex Luger vs. Bob Backlund
This was during the period that Luger came to the ring with an “official flag bearer”, here identified as Amanda. I wonder if she’s the same Amanda as Amanda Ultimate Warrior? What, you don’t remember Amanda Ultimate Warrior? Well, it’s probably for the best if you don’t, and at any rate, Gorilla identifies her as Amanda White, speculating that she might be the daughter of WWF referee Timmy White in a rather wink-wink kind of way, so it’s quite probable that’s who she actually is. As far as the match itself goes, it’s not quite the clash of styles you might expect, although most of it sees Luger grind a side headlock on Backlund, so there’s not a whole lot of opportunity for any potential awkwardness. There’s also a really fun spot where Backlund, in trying to escape the headlock, climbs over the ropes to the apron, forcing the break, only for Luger to grab the headlock again immediately and drag him back in over the ropes, limbs flailing. That’s actually not a spot you see all that often, and it’s ripe for the pickings for someone to bring it back since it’s not overplayed like everything else. Then again, working a side headlock seems to be a thing of the past generally speaking, so unless you can work it with a chinlock then I guess it’ll remain dormant for years to come. Shame. Backlund eventually gets a cheap shot then goes for the cross face chicken wing, but puts his head down on a charge after Luger escapes and gets a “Rebel Rack” (a renamed torture rack during Luger’s short-lived, barely-remembered ‘Rebel’ phase) some thirty seconds later. Wow, what a heat segment that was! Way to go Bob! To recap, they had a seven minute match, it took them a minute to lock up, they did a thirty second heat segment leading into the finish, and the rest of it was built around Luger working a side headlock. Man, talk about taking it easy out there. Not a *bad* match necessarily, just an odd one.
Final Rating: *¼
Mabel vs. Tatanka
You know, it’s like I always say – Why have one Mabel match on a tape when you can have two? I’m sorry, that’s actually a lie. I’ve never said that. And how many matches has Tatanka been in where he’s the better worker? Not too many I’d wager, but lo and behold, here’s one. And here’s another appearance from Oscar, garbling incomprehensibly into the microphone as Mabel wobbles his way down to the ring. Seriously, when you’re worse at rapping than PN News, it’s time to give it up. Tatanka’s manager Ted DiBiase just looks horrendously bored and un-enthused by all of this on the outside, and I can’t say as I blame him. What a dreadful choice it was to turn Tatanka heel when the naturally smug Lex Luger would have made a much better centrepiece for the Million Dollar Corporation. He had experience as a heel, more credibility as a top level player, and he had a built-in gimmick as the All-American hero, now the embodiment of Corporate America. But no, they went with Tatanka. What a waste, and what an insult to the great character that was the Million Dollar Man that whole stable was. And it always annoyed me how when Tatanka returned to the WWE in 2005, he came back as a babyface. I mean, I know it had been ten years, but he was last seen as a heel, why the change of heart? What happened during all that time away? Where had he been? It certainly wasn’t WCW, which is pretty amazing since they signed practically everyone with a modicum of WWF fame attached to their name. Not that you could reasonably expect any explanation from the history-deficient WWE.
Like the old adage about an infinite amount of monkeys with an infinite amount of typewriters eventually producing the complete works of Shakespeare, Lane finally gets in a good line about how “Mabel’s used to pain… he’s been married twice!” but it’s too little, too late, especially in this boring, plodding battle. And then it’s time for a chinlock! Whoomp, der it is! Why bother with that? Why not just go home? They’ve clearly got nothing left in the tank, adding a chinlock to stretch things out is just torturous. Mabel finally breaks free of that, but just when you think it can’t get any worse, they go right back to it! Good grief. Look, it’s obvious that Mabel can’t work a long match, so don’t have him work one! Nor should a guy his size ever really be expected to work a long match; just accentuate the positives! He’s a big blob dressed in purple and gold so let him dance, let him splash someone, then let him bog off. Don’t have him out there long past the point where it looks like he might have a heart attack sitting in a rest hold as strenuous as a chinlock! The camera keeps panning to DiBiase and he looks beyond bored every time, throwing only token words of encouragement. His heart just isn’t in this at all. Mabel breaks free of the chinlock a second time and nails a capo kick, Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger style. And I’ll bet you weren’t expecting a Jushin Liger comparison in a match involving Mabel! Also, I have to ask, why did all these big fat guys get put in matches with opponents who couldn’t do their finishers on them? How was anyone supposed to believe Tatanka could give Mabel the fallaway slam, or Undertaker could give Bundy the tombstone piledriver? Seriously, where’s John Cena when you need him? “I hope this doesn’t go to the bell, we might have to have a replay! We might have to have a rematch of this!” says Monsoon. Oh. My. God. No. Just NO. NOOOO! Mabel inevitably ends up completely gassed and looks like a deer in the headlights with no idea of what to do next, so he just does a big splash off the middle turnbuckle. And then DiBiase pulls him out of the ring for the disqualification! What an AWFUL finish for all of that! And all just to protect Tatanka! TATANKA! Good God. All I can say is they really did try out there, but neither guy had anything to give. “What a classic!” Oh, sod off, Gorilla. I love you, but please, just take a day off, will you
Final Rating: ¼*
No Holds Barred
Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart
FINALLY this wretched tape produces a match worth sinking some teeth into, and about time too. This comes from the same television taping as the earlier Diesel-Jarrett match, and it’s kind of a shame because I think a crowd from a house show or a pay-per-view event might have been a lot more fired up for it, particularly since they wouldn’t have been besieged with three hours of TV-level squash matches first. It’s not that they’re dead or anything like that, but it just doesn’t have that “epic” feel of their more important bouts. They WWF was actually running Bret vs. Owen no holds barred matches pretty regularly around the loop during the early part of 1995, another one of which you can see on the Super Slams video release, lifted from a March edition of Monday Night RAW. The interested but not overly excited crowd atmosphere isn’t really helped by Bret coming to the ring with a local country and western radio station DJ who cheerfully smiles and waves to the fans in a manner that totally belies any concerns you might expect someone going into a no holds barred match to have. It’s one thing to bring out a minor local celebrity to valet for a happy-go-lucky babyface gearing up for a run-of-the-mill match, but it just looks weird when you have them come out with someone about to dish out a serious ass kicking. Perhaps I’m just making too much of things, especially considering the odd lack of intensity on display from the two combatants. Owen does wave around the same towel he used to screw Bret out of the WWF Title with at Survivor Series ’94 though, so there is that. The WWF remembering continuity from as far back as six weeks prior? Will wonders never cease?
Everything about the match is as technically sound as you’d expect a Bret Hart/Owen Hart match to be, but aside from an early round of fisticuffs and a low blow, there really aren’t an abundance of ordinarily illegal holds on display. Owen does slap on a camel clutch and yanks back on Bret’s singlet for added leverage, but Gorilla completely kills the psychology of it by saying the hold would be much more effective if he used his hands. That might be true, but it really doesn’t help things. Gorilla by this point had become a lot more grating to listen to in terms of all those little traits he had that some observers tended to criticise him for, but having lost his adopted son Joey Marella to a car crash in July 1994, you can hardly blame him for his growing disinterest in the business. And then the Hart brothers bring Stampede Wrestling to Texas by way of New Japan with Owen throwing off a sweet belly-to-belly suplex, tilt-a-whirling into a tombstone piledriver, then heading up top for a flying headbutt. Sadly for him, the last of those moves misses, and Bret mounts a quick comeback, finishing with the sharpshooter before reapplying it after the bell. Here though, unlike his match with Jerry Lawler at SummerSlam ’93, there’s to be no reversal of the original decision.
Final Rating: ***½
And now for something entirely similar, as Stan Lane plummets to new depths of play-by-play incompetence:
- He declares that since this is a no holds barred match, “Even international objects can be used!” Surely that’s just nonsense? In a no disqualification match perhaps, but isn’t the clue in the word “holds”? Or is smashing someone with a chair considered a “hold”? And I bet this was the only appearance of the ridiculously PC WCW term “international object” on a WWF release.
- He calls a regular, standing front suplex a “belly-to-back suplex” which is impossible to comprehend. I guess you could reason that they’re stood belly-to-belly and land on their back… but then the idea of “belly-to-belly” suplex as a term becomes complete nonsense. I mean, how can you wrestle for as long as Lane did and not be able to correctly identify a basic, run-of-the-mill suplex, of all things?
- He claims that Owen stole the Sharpshooter from Bret which, in the context of the WWF’s storyline might well be the case, but in actuality, Bret was actually taught the hold by Konnan sometime in 1991, and excitedly introduced it to Owen, only for Owen to laugh and inform him that he’d been doing the exact same hold during his tours of New Japan for years.
- He calls a neck breaker a “neck bender!” I can’t really give you an explanation as to why, but I’m still laughing about that one.
- With both guys on the mat, he declares it “Ironic to see the two brothers laying there head to head, looking like they really care for each other as they should, when we know they hate each other’s guts.” Since when was laying head to head with someone a sign that you cared for them? Okay, I don’t think too many people wind up going to sleep with people they hold little regard for, but he made it sound like they were cuddling up for an afternoon snoozy-woozy, when they were cranium to cranium, length-ways.
- When Bret slaps Owen in a sleeper hold, Lane remarks “Owen looks like he’s… umm… going towards Nodo City.” I don’t know if there’s some kind of in-joke there, but given Lane’s track record, I think he’s just talking utter nonsense. I certainly have Nodo idea what he’s on about anyway.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Razor Ramon (c) vs. King Kong Bundy
Indeed, why end things on a brother vs. brother, no holds barred battle with two great workers when you could bookend your tape with two King Kong Bundy matches instead? This is from the same taping as the earlier Owen/Neidhart-Men on a Mission bout, and Razor’s even wearing gold and purple like MOM! A secret alliance perhaps? Razor takes a huge bump over the top to the floor to try and get Bundy over as Lane starts referencing Miami Vice. Nothing says “hip” like referencing a show that’s been off the air for five years but hasn’t even reached “retro cool” status yet. Bundy slaps on a chinlock, because it’s Coliseum Video and it just wouldn’t be the same without one. A bearhug follows as Bundy exhausts his wide arsenal of electrifying holds, and speaking of Coliseum Video, here comes Jeff Jarrett for the disqualification. What was the point of that? It’s not like this ever aired on TV, it was basically a dark match that was exclusive to video, so it’s not like it really did a lot to build the Razor-Jarrett series that dominated the Intercontinental title scene during the first half of 1995. What a crappy way to go out.
Final Rating: ¼*
Summary: One of the worst tapes I’ve ever seen, with not just two matches from King Kong Bundy, but two from Mabel as well! In fact, the only real saving grace here is the no holds barred match, although I do now have a perverse desire to see Mabel vs. Bundy. In fact, I think I’d book them in a triple threat iron man match against Typhoon. Winner gets IRS for the title of WWF’s Most Boring Wrestler of the mid-90s. Who knows, maybe some money mark promoter out there will cough up the funds and bankroll it for me? It could potentially make millions! Of YouTube hits that is, once it inevitably finds its way into Botchamania. So perhaps fittingly with this final compilation from the initial Coliseum Video run, it’s Bret Hart saving the day, just like it always was. Too bad there couldn’t have been a Shawn Michaels match too, since he was always value for money on these things, but he’d get a compilation tape all of his own in 1997, covering his run as WWF Champion. Here, Bret vs. Owen is definitely worth checking out, especially given it’s relative rarity, but the rest is complete and utter drek, so hopefully that match finds its way to a better DVD or Blu-ray compilation and the rest of this tape can be left to rot.