#P115 – Best Of Heroes Of The Squared Circle

Lee Maughan:

 

King of the Ring Qualifying Match
Mr. Perfect vs. Doink the Clown
Perfect and Doink had already clashed twice in King of the Ring qualifying matches on various WWF television programs, going to a 6-minute, 39 second time-limit draw on Superstars and a 7-minute, 3 second time-limit draw on Wrestling Challenge before engaging in this third bout. In the years that followed, a draw in a qualifying match would eliminate both guys from the tournament with no rematches to be had, but then the WWF never did care for consistency, or even bothered to explain that the format had been revised. Sometimes, it’s the little things, you know? To mention that wouldn’t have required much effort, and it wouldn’t have bugged me for years after the fact why some guys got to go again, and some guys didn’t. Speaking of the little things though, what I did love about this match was the way Perfect won, with a second Doink having slid into the ring only to get pinned moments later with the Perfectplex. Gotta love seeing a heel outsmart himself like that, his nefarious ways blowing up in his face. Post-match, both Doinks attack Perfect, which makes me wish they’d spun them off into a tag team, called Doink. Not Doinks, or “The Doinks”, just Doink, and had them still act like it was only one guy. Or maybe that’s too cerebral. You know it would have been great though.
Final Rating: ***½

 

Randy Savage vs. Repo Man
This was set up the week before when Repo Man repossessed one of Savage’s luminous cowboy hats as a way to try and hook viewers into tuning in from one week to the next. That was particularly important as this was the episode main evented by Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect’s loser leaves the WWF match, which led to quite a strange situation as the episode was taped prior to the Royal Rumble but aired the night after, meaning in “real time”, Flair was already six days into his banishment from the promotion when he entered the Rumble. He’d go on to wrestle for the WWF on the house show circuit for a couple of weeks after this too, finally bowing out after losing to Bret Hart in Dortmund, Germany on February 10th before returning to WCW just in time for SuperBrawl III. He was actually under a WWF contract until July, though had been promised if he wasn’t to be featured as a main eventer, he could leave and perhaps surprisingly, Vince McMahon actually kept his word once Flair was demoted from a headliner spot. Why he wasn’t kept around a couple more months and the loser leaves town match saved for WrestleMania IX is anyone’s guess, but it sure provided Monday Night RAW with its first classic match, so there is that. Savage vs. Repo Man? Oh, right, yes. It’s a fairly intense brawl for a few minutes until Repo takes over, at which point both the amount of action and the amount of interest fall considerably, especially when Repo slaps Savage in a bodyscissors. Alleged comedian Rob Bartlett, an excruciating staple of RAW‘s early episodes, starts making fun of Savage’s bald spot, because if there’s one thing great announcers do, it’s ridicule top babyfaces. Just ask Michael Cole! Finally, Savage makes his standard comeback and ends it with the big elbow to end a match that started out fine, but completely hit the skids until it reached the finishing sequence.
Final Rating: **

 

Scott Steiner vs. IRS
This is quite a strange one, as it comes from a house show in Milan that was broadcast locally on the Italian station Tele+2, although this bout specifically was a pre-show dark match, with the Steiners challenging Money, Inc. for the tag team titles later in the show. I’ve absolutely no idea what perpetrated that booking idea, but it didn’t happen on any of the other cards on the tour, so who knows. It did however make the cut for the Global Warfare VHS release, as well as getting recycled here. Obviously, IRS was deep into his tag team run with Ted DiBiase here, but seeing him come out solo to a song containing the words “I’m the ‘Million Dollar Man’” is a right laugh. And speaking of words, colour man Randy Savage doesn’t half make a meal of his when he asks Bobby Heenan “What kind of a psychological victory would it be if Scott Steiner beat IRS in a single match and… errr… with the World Wrestling tag team championships on the line in the future with the tag team with the brother situation.” Heenan does his best to reply, suggesting that “They would have to give a tremendous amount of confidence into Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner” before Savage admits he forgot his own question. “I forgot my own answer, so we’re even” snipes Heenan. Classic insanity. Almost as insane is seeing IRS use an enzuigiri, about the most energy you’ll see him put forth during his entire 90s WWF run. Savage is at it again shortly after, absurdly claiming that IRS is “280 pounds” and “all muscle.” Oh, Randy. As for the in-ring, in trundles along at a perfectly acceptable rate until IRS hits super stall mode to really grind things down to a distinct level of sub-mundanity, until a hot finish sees Scott begin to mount his comeback, only for IRS to get his knees up on a charge and put his feet on the ropes for an apparent cheap win. The referee says no to that, so Scott looks to set up the Frankensteiner, but IRS reverses that into an attempt at the Write Off, but Scott wriggles out into a sunset flip position to score the real pin. Average start, useless middle, great end.
Final Rating: **¼

 

The Undertaker vs. Papa Shango
Now, I can understand the appeal of seeing two opposing supernatural characters square off, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how the folks that put these Coliseum tapes together deemed it worthy of inclusion on so many separate releases. Besides its inclusion here, you can also find it on Invasion of the Bodyslammers, Grudges, Gripes & Grunts, and The Undertaker: His Gravest Matches. Talk about overkill, especially for a match as bad as this one. When the first move of the match is a choke, you know you’re in trouble. Papa Shango was such a plodding wrestler, and the Undertaker was hardly setting the world on fire in 1992 thanks to the limitations imposed upon him by his gimmick, so what better way to circumvent such shortcomings than by having Shango blast Undertaker in the face with a burst of fireworks from his voodoo staff to completely destroy any lingering shred of credibility left in this tepid performance? Shango then uses a chair against Undertaker, which leads me to wonder why he didn’t just put a curse on him and have him vomit uncontrollably like he did to the Ultimate Warrior? Finally, after having taken control with a series of elbow drops, Undertaker breaks out his usual sit-up routine, and polishes Shango off with a chokeslam, I guess since the dear old voodoo master didn’t fancy taking a tombstone that night. A diabolically bad match that absolutely did not need another repeat airing.
Final Rating: DUD

 

Best 2 out of 3 Falls Match
The Steiner Brothers & Tatanka vs. Money, Inc. & Doink the Clown
And the tape trundles towards a conclusion with the sweet irony of a match featured on All-American Wrestling that actually took place in Canada. Perhaps it was All North American Wrestling. This actually aired on the afternoon of the first King of the Ring pay-per-view, with Jim Ross hyping up the Tatanka vs. Lex Luger quarter final match by suggesting “something’s got to give”, all but promising one of them would lose their undefeated streak, when in actuality they went to a lame 15-minute time-limit draw to protect them both. As far as this six-man goes however, I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of it is. The Steiners had been feuding with Money, Inc. over the tag titles for most of the spring/early summer, though what Tatanka and Doink had to do with any of that is open to interpretation I guess. I suppose you could make the argument that Doink and DiBiase’s relationship dates back to their Mid South Wrestling days as members of the Rat Pack stable when Doink was still plain old Matt Borne, but that just makes me wish Jim Duggan had been in the match instead of Tatanka. In fact, with Rick Steiner out there and Ross on commentary, they were already halfway to a UWF reunion as it was. You can almost hear Ross longing for those days when discussing Doink’s tights – “You might not like his ring attire… I’m not so crazy about it myself.” Said with such disdain! As for the match, DiBiase gets pinned almost immediately with an axe handle off the top from Scott, though I was under the impression the best route for a best two out of the three falls match was to have the heels score the early fall to give the babyfaces longer odds to fight back from. Not that you should stick rigidly to such ideals of course, but the WWF wasn’t really in the habit of running this kind of match in 1993. Either way, it doesn’t really matter as the second fall basically becomes a heat segment on Rick, and he doesn’t even begin to mount a comeback before DiBiase pins him with one of the sweetest looking piledrivers you’ll ever see. And that’s another little quirk with this kind of match, you can break from the standard formula of the babyface scoring the hot tag and his team making a dramatic comeback because you’ve got additional falls to play with, even if you know what’s coming once the scores are tied up at 1-1. Oddly, the third fall has more of the same with Money, Inc. getting heat on Rick. I figured they might have switched it up and got the heat on Tatanka or Scott, but it does make a lot of sense to further single out Rick since he’s the guy who’s been weakened the most on that team. The fact that it’s him who scores the final pin might stretch credibility a tad though, the match having broken down into the expected all-in brawl, Rick catches DiBiase on a leapfrog attempt and impressively powerslams him into the mat to finish it. A really fun match to close out the tape overall, though I did notice that like some Legion of Doom six-man tags that were featured on earlier Coliseum tapes, it wasn’t really a six-man, more of a standard Money, Inc. vs. Steiners match that just happened to have a few brief appearances from Doink and Tatanka at the beginning and end. Still, they put the Steiners over really strong leading into their eight man with the Smoking Gunns against Money Inc. & the Headshrinkers at that evening’s King of the Ring card… and subsequently put the Gunns over Money Inc. on the big show before doing essentially nothing with them until 1995, and rumbling on with the Steiners as top contenders in the interim. That does lead me to wonder if DiBiase’s leaving the promotion in August derailed any long term plans for a Money Inc. vs. Gunns feud, but perhaps we’ll never know.
Final Rating: ***½

 

Summary: It starts strongly and ends strongly, and the stuff in the middle is okay apart from the Undertaker-Shango match, which is utterly diabolical. What else can be said about this tape? I guess the key comes with how strongly you desire ownership of the six-man, as everything else on here is thrown together from other commercially released tapes, and the Perfect-Doink match can be sourced on superior DVD quality. Mildly recommended overall.
Verdict: 58

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