WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Texas Tornado (c) vs. Mr. Perfect
Ted DiBiase pays off The Fink to replace him as the ring announcer. Fink sold out, Fink sold out, Fink sold out! The WWF is calling time on Von Erich’s IC title run after he didn’t play out as they were hoping. Unfortunately by 1990 his injuries had left him a shell of his former self. Perfect is classier by comparison and has a better set of skills to cope with big matches. His selling suits Tornado’s forceful style and he takes a great bump over the top rope off a clothesline. For me, Kerry wasn’t aggressive enough during his WWF run. When you compare him to Warrior, who was relentless and oozed energy, Von Erich’s pacing is often too methodical for what the WWF wanted him to be. Perfect was exactly the champion the WWF wanted. He’d make all his challengers look strong, like Honky Tonk Man did, but had the technical ability to win without cheating. Ted DiBiase being at ringside is the x-factor in this match. For the finish, Perfect is laid out from the discus punch with the ref down, and DiBiase clocks Tornado in the head with the belt. Heenan revives the ref and the Perfectplex wins it. As a Curt Hennig fan it’s great to see him win his second IC title. Sad to see the decline of Von Erich in the same match though. He was never the same after this failed title run.
Final Rating: **
King of the WWF
King Haku (c) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
This was back in 1989 where the title of “King of the Ring” was like a title and could be passed from one man to another via pinfall or submission. Harley Race held it for quite some time before jobbing it to Haku on his way out. To make matters even more confusing they were also running the actual King of the Ring tournament as far back as 1985. It might have been an interesting concept IF the King had to defend his title in a yearly tournament as well as during regular defences. It would have cemented the title as something important, probably a workers title, but instead it became goofy angle for Race, Duggan and later Savage. The match is pretty poor although Haku does try to make things happen. Duggan finishes with the Three Point Stance to become the new King of the WWF. I suppose the match has a degree of historical importance. Duggan would hold onto the title for half a year before the Macho King angle. Once that angle was played out the title was forgotten about, but in 1989 it meant something.
Final Rating: ½*
Roddy Piper vs. Rick Martel
From early in 1991 with Martel heel and during his ‘Arrogance’ perfume era. Piper was certainly slowing up into the 90s but retained a mystique due to his past accomplishments. It wasn’t until he passed the torch to Bret Hart that his aura began to fade. Although, that was absolutely the right thing to do. Piper comes in with a strapped up knee, which was one of many injuries he was carrying. Piper’s selling of the knee isn’t quite right. They make a point of him blowing it out on a leapfrog but he just stands there holding it. All that’s missing from an ‘Iron’ Mike Sharp impression is a loud “AAAARGH, MY KNEE, AAAAARRRRGH”. They do a nice spot where Piper’s leg gives out on a suplex but his selling of the injury just doesn’t feel natural. Martel rips off the strapping on the knee so Piper chokes him with it. Questionable tactics, but it does create a bizarre visual of Martel being dragged along the ropes after a crotching. Someone bring out the antiseptic wipes for that top rope, STAT. The finish is even weirder as Piper just punches Martel in the ribs and inside cradles him. The idea being that the punch forces Martel to bend over. Some interesting bits and pieces of psychology, but it was all very rushed.
Final Rating: *½
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. The Barbarian
This is from late 1991 with Bret on a tear as the Intercontinental champion, keen to prove he can work with just about anyone. The WWF certainly fed him a huge variety of opponents, but they were eager to see how he’d fare against the bigger guys. Barbarian is passable in that respect and not as bad as other lugs like Warlord or Typhoon. Bret tries to sell the size difference to start with, which is smart because people don’t care about David slaying Goliath if David is a superior fighter. Bret eases the technical wrestling into the match by grabbing armbars and such, but Barbarian continues to boss any straight up contact. You can see even at this early juncture the aspects that Bret worked into his matches with Diesel or Undertaker. Barbarian is as charismatic as neither. Bret’s slower matches against bigger opponents weren’t quite good enough at this point. Although the WWF obviously thought different as he still ended up with the title. Bret’s selling is worth a quick look but Barbarian just kills the match dead with rest holds like the bearhug. The match only comes to life with Bret on offence and that’s infrequent. Even the Five Moves of Doom are so much better than Barbarian’s plodding approach. Eventually Bret catches Barbarian in an inside cradle to block a suplex and scores the pin. Bret looked bored out of his mind during Barbarian’s offence and the match was way too long. I’d have rather seen something different here rather than a generic choice. Personally I’d have loved to have seen, an extremely rare, appearance from another Hart challenger; Big Bully Busick. The match would have been similar quality but with a five star moustache rating. Anyone who’s seen a few WWF shows from the era knows what Barbarian can do and it isn’t much. Again, an odd choice for the “best of” comp.
Final Rating: **
The Legion of Doom vs. The Orient Express
This is from The Main Event in January 1991, which means it’s Kato rather than Sato. That means he gets to bump around for the LOD. The good thing about The Road Warriors is they were always so OVER that it made the job of every other team easier. It was easy to get heat and it was even easier for the LOD to get pops. We’ve spoken in this book about how Hogan retained popularity by rarely jobbing, and the same could be said of Piper who’s commentating on this match, but it is also true of The Road Warriors. It gave them a certain enigma. The Orient Express can’t get anything going and the LOD just mow them down, with Kato having a wonderful time bumping around like a maniac. The LOD weren’t big on selling but this match is exceptional even by their standards. Animal doesn’t even leave his feet until Fuji throws salt in his eyes. The Orient Express are so ineffective on offence that their one double team is completely no sold. Kato gets picked off and murdered with the Doomsday Device. Virtually a squash but a really fun match with an energetic performance from both teams. The Orient Express were very aware of their role in the match and Kato taking a beating was glorious.
Final Rating: **
Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake
Done this one before as it is from SummerSlam 90. Don’t want to see it again, thank you very much. Here is the review from that show: Quake had been on a mini-rampage since WrestleMania and eliminated Hogan’s original corner man -and Beefcake replacement buddy- Tugboat. Hogan didn’t sweat it and just replaced him with Big Bossman. Quake has fellow Canadian and Jimmy Hart stable member Dino Bravo in his corner. The WWF had been trying hard to get this angle over to give Hogan a reason to not be in the WWF title match or involved with Warrior. The whole angle reminds me of King Kong Bundy as he injured Hogan in order to set up a big Hogan comeback and PPV main event. Quake isn’t good in long matches due to his lack of moves and conditioning. Hogan, like a lot of big stars, ignores that and figures he’ll be the man capable of having Quake’s first good long match. The only thing Hogan comes up with is hitting the fatigue selling at the opening lockup. It’s after the first two times he gets punched off the apron that I figure the only reason Jimmy Hart is out here is to take bumps, seeing as Quake can’t. It doesn’t help that Bossman just strolls in there and double teams with the Hulkster. It’s not a tag match! Bossman was quick enough with a DQ when he was refereeing earlier and yet here he thinks he’s above the law. Who does he think he is? Steven Segal? Quake brings some goofy selling that doesn’t fit into the match, at all. Earthquake sits on Hogan and Vince McMahon starts eulogising the former champ but he kicks out of a second one and starts no selling. He gets a big slam, which they’ve built up to with him failing beforehand. Bravo stops the pin after the legdrop with Hart jumping in there too. I don’t like the booking where the DQ rule just goes out of the window because it suits them. I don’t see why Hogan couldn’t just go over with the legdrop and I don’t even like Hogan. The actual finish is far more disappointing as he slams Quake on a table and wins on count out. The attempts to get Quake over made no sense to me. There are only so many times you can watch Hogan battle another monster, especially after Zeus, before it gets tiresome. Quake was never a main event talent. He was just a big dude with a crap finisher. They couldn’t even finish the feud off here because they wanted Quake strong for the house show circuit. It doesn’t help that the feud was a replica of the Bundy feud, which didn’t make sense to me either.
Final Rating: *
Summary: It felt like there was a plan after two matches. Both had historical importance and both involved “title” changes. Then the tape goes south in a hurry with seemingly random matches capped off by the Hogan-Quake match AGAIN. I didn’t want to see it the first time, but the WWF have been insistent on sneaking it onto tapes like it was a classic. And why is a SummerSlam match even on this tape? They brought out a best of SummerSlam release at the same damn time.