Lee Maughan: Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon.
Mr. Perfect vs. Papa Shango
I’m not sure why you’d name a tape The Best of Mega Matches when all the stuff on it is sourced from tapes that aren’t, you know, Mega Matches. Case in point, this opener, which actually comes from Grudges, Gripes & Grunts. Oddly, I’ve seen both versions of this match, the Coliseum Video version with Jim Ross and Bobby Heenan commentating on it, and the version that aired on WWF Mania, with Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes doing the honours. The Monsoon/Hayes duo I’d have concede sound a LOT more enthused about things than Ross and Heenan do, and Hayes is at his majestically absurd worst/best in suggesting Papa Shango might actually be Jack the Ripper in disguise. Because what the WWF has always been lacking is a brutal rapist. Also of note is that the Mania incarnation of the match is cut for commercial reasons, and about two minutes of Shango’s offence is chopped out of the middle, making for a much more palatable experience, given his vast limitations as a worker. It doesn’t help that neither guy’s style nor character really meshes with the other, and it makes for a rather underwhelming outing, before Perfect puts the voodoo man down the Perfectplex. It’s worth noting that Shango was actually filling in here for Razor Ramon, who missed a fair chunk of ring time between February and March of 1993, presumably through injury. With Ramon in action, it might have been a good match, but instead we got Shango, so it wasn’t.
Final Rating: *¼
IRS & Fatu vs. Billy Gunn & Rick Steiner
This was part of the hype for an eight man tag pitting the Steiners & the Smoking Gunns against Money Inc. & the Headshrinkers at the King of the Ring, though why they couldn’t have put Ted DiBiase and Scott Steiner in as the perceived two better halves of their respective teams, I’ve no idea. Even though Billy and Bart Gunn were fictionalised kin, this might be one of the first times in wrestling two unrelated brothers had teamed up with each other whilst their siblings were also active. Or at least, that might have been worth writing if not for the fact the Gunns were announced as cousins here, rather than the brothers you probably best know them to have supposedly been. Family lineage is something WWE has had a weird thing about for years, have previously declared Edge and Christian to be brothers before downgrading them to merely best friends by the time Christian returned to the promotion in 2009, not to mention tag team twins Brett and Brian Major who were renamed Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins respectively once WWE found out they weren’t actually related. Oddly enough, the Headshrinkers actually were related, and yet that was never made mention of on TV, presumably because they’re savages who nobody can get close enough to, to ask those kind of questions. I mean, despite the fact they’re clearly civilised enough to board aeroplanes and hire rental cars to get to the buildings, obviously. Actually, the WWF really took their savage edge off, and that becomes pretty prevalent here as miscommunication leads to IRS forearm smashing Fatu across the face, leading to DiBiase paying off the Headshrinkers’ manager Afa with a $20 bill, only for Afa to eat it because they’re only wild in the sense that they’re a complete and total cartoon show. Luckily, that prevents an implosion and the devious duo finally get it together enough to allow IRS to pin Billy after a wicked northern lariat from which Gunn takes a throat-first bump off the top rope, possibly the best looking bump he took in his entire career. Good match in places, though not without a long stall in the middle to account for a commercial break.
Final Rating: **½
1-2-3 Kid vs. Marty Jannetty
This was part of the build to Jannetty and the Kid winning the tag team titles from the Quebecers on Raw’s one year anniversary show, and was actually the second TV match they had against one another, this first being an outing on Wrestling Challenge. The key difference between that bout and this one is that this one is also part of the build to the Survivor Series, and as a consequence, it involves a hundred percent more Johnny Polo who’s charge Adam Bomb was on the opposing team. So if you think about it, Kid and Jannetty won the titles because Polo began aggravating off the back of them and Bomb being selected for warring Survivor Series teams by opposing captains Razor Ramon and Rick Martel. Ramon and Martel were naturally paired against one another on account of their being the final two in the battle royal to crown the new Intercontinental champion in October, 1993, after Shawn Michaels had gotten himself suspended and was stripped of the title. So owing to the butterfly effect, it was all Michaels’ fault that the Quebecers ever lost the titles! Fascinating, no? Commentators Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan certainly don’t seem fascinated, at least not with the rather fantastic action unfolding in the ring. It’s two babyfaces having a fast-paced, Japanese junior heavyweight style match and of course McMahon has no idea how to call it beyond ignoring it and cracking jokes with Heenan instead. Funny jokes, sure. “Leona Helmsley is out of prison.” “Do they know?” “She went over the wall!?” Chortle. That’s followed by this hilarious train of thought conversation: “He’s got hair like Julia Roberts.” “Who does?” “Marty Jannetty!” “Well, at least he’s not pregnant.” “She’s due in April isn’t she?” “Marty is?” “No, Julia Roberts! … I wonder if Booger knows?” “Booger who?!” “Bastion!”
Well, I laughed. It’s just a shame it was at the expense of what was going on in the ring, a flipping suicide senton from the Kid, Jannetty turning a leapfrog into a mid-air powerbomb, a bridging German suplex, just all kinds of stuff you wouldn’t see in the WWF in those days. The kind of stuff you generally wouldn’t see outside of Japan actually. But of course, it isn’t Japan, it’s the WWF, and that means that ‘rasslin stuff taking a back seat to shenanigans; in this instance, it’s Polo tripping both guys from the outside, then flinging Jannetty into the post on the outside as Kid misses a somersault dive over the top, and that’s enough for a double count-out. Given that Kid and Jannetty would soon team up against Polo’s Quebecers, at least that’s a finish that made sense in that it gave both guys a reason to go for revenge. Speaking of which, they deck Polo after the match with a double superkick, then use him to make a wish. Having watched both matches back-to-back for the sake of comparison, it’s tough to say which was better. The earlier match had a lot of the same spots but included more counter reversal pinfall sequences with both guys trying to win, had much more focused commentary from Jim Ross (naturally) and Gorilla Monsoon, and without any involvement from Polo, had Jannetty going over on a count-out after Kid missed the same somersault splash to the floor. On the other hand, whilst the Challenge match provided an actual winner, the Raw match had a finish that mattered much more in the grand scheme of things, so call it a toss-up.
Final Rating: ***¼
Randy Savage vs. Papa Shango
This is another one of those curious little matches that got a ridiculous amount of outings across various Coliseum releases, having also been previously available on WWF Wrestling Grudge Matches, The Best of the WWF’s World Tour, and The Best of Battle of the WWF Superstars. This would make the third appearance alone for it on a ‘Best of’ collection, when it’s clearly not the best of anything. It’s the sluggish Shango, and an unmotivated ‘Macho Man.’ Nothing at all about it screams “best.” Maybe its inclusion comes due to some of Lord Alfred Hayes’ best commentary work, as he describes Shango as “miraculous, if not horrible.” Perhaps whoever included it felt the bout’s best merits lie within co-commentator Gorilla Monsoon’s ramblings regarding “what a big part voodoo plays in this 20th century.” Maybe it’s just one of the best matches from the period when Savage decided to shave a couple of minutes a night off his bouts and eliminated the opening shine sequence, going immediately into the heat? He might as well, I suppose. He is Randy Savage after all, how much more shine can the guy get? It’s practically frivolous. Sadly, the interest levels are perilously close to rock bottom as Shango just has nothing at all to offer beyond a series of punches, kicks and bearhugs, a real red flag when that’s all you can muster in a match as short as this one. Savage simply pops up after about four minutes of sluggery with a backdrop, a bodyslam, and the bombs away axe handle from the top to the floor, before dropping the big elbow for the oddly unsatisfying pin. Make no mistake, Savage could still go in 1992, it’s just that sadly, he no longer went all that often.
Final Rating: *
Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna
From Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart: His Greatest Hits, this comes from the period where Bret was still WWF champion and Yokozuna had yet to win the Royal Rumble, and we kick things off with another winning quote from Savage, who’s now on colour commentary – “Sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time, not really.” As usual, where Savage’s commentary is concerned, your guess is as good as mine. The match itself is just a TV taping dark match quickie as the shine consists of Yokozuna missing the lock-up twice, then he gets heat for all of two minutes before missing a charge, allowing Bret to make his big comeback with a bulldog and a middle rope elbow before Mr. Fuji whacks him with a flagpole for the disqualification. And that’s it, aside from a few post-bout shenanigans in which Yokozuna misses a Banzai Drop and Hart knocks him out of the ring. “He gained a lot of credibility with fans all over the world for getting past Yokozuna!” remarks Savage. Winning a match on a DQ because you got illegally assaulted amounts to credibility? Goodness me. The action was actually pretty good here, brief as it was, primarily due to Bret’s terrific sense of timing and some truly exemplary selling on his part. In fact, I’d say it was a pretty perfect little match when you account for the truncated nature of things, since they clearly didn’t go a second longer than Yokozuna could manage without blowing up. I mean, if you ignore the cop-out ending of course, and one missed headbutt during Yokozuna’s heat segment. And as far as that rotten finish goes, it’s not entirely unlikely that this was held under the lights and cameras of a TV taping as a test run for their eventual meeting at WrestleMania IX, recoded to review how the pair meshed together as opponents.
Final Rating: **
The Undertaker vs. Samu
On paper, this looks to be a rather pointless little match, but the Undertaker was actually making his on-screen return after a brawl with Giant Gonzalez on Superstars had led to an assault by Mr. Hughes. Consequently, there’s no Paul Bearer since Hughes wiped him out too, and there’s no urn since Hughes pinched it like a common hoodlum. The upshot is that Undertaker might not be the same as he was before, and he looks to blow a leapfrog legitimately in the early going, but it actually works within the context of him being lost without his spiritual guidance. Heenan begins to wonder about the whereabouts of Bearer, claiming “he’s in Mobile, Alabama, robbing graves.” “Well… at least he’s healthy” retorts Savage. What on EARTH is healthy about being a grave robber!? Undertaker scores with a drop toehold early, then does something utterly unexpected – a European-style dropkick, complete with a flat back bump! Given some of the announcing from Vince McMahon and the fact he was off TV for a couple of weeks, I can only presume this was an attempt to try and add some new elements to Undertaker’s ring-style and freshen his character up somewhat, but obviously it didn’t last. At least he was smart enough to realise the dropkick didn’t suit him, and it looked pretty crappy in all honesty. From there, Undertaker gets lost on the ropes to turn the tide of the match over to Samu, who feels like more of a threat thanks to Undertaker’s missing elements and he being a little off his game. Not that it lasts long of course, Undertaker rallying with the famous rope walk and a rough-looking chokeslam. “Fourteen feet into the air!” grumbles Savage, as Samu gets barely a foot off the canvas on a mistimed jump, and the Tombstone finishes things. Better than expected owing to some nice characterisation of a “weak” Undertaker, but ultimately Samu was just there owing to his status as a tag team wrestler, making him a notable enough star to be able to mix it up with the Undertaker without a job hurting his standing on the card.
Final Rating: **¼
Summary: A pretty good tape overall. Aside from the two Papa Shango matches on offer, four of the six bouts clock in at average or better, and nothing really outstays its welcome. On top of that, the three Raw matches were never made commercially available on any other tape or DVD, giving this release a great deal more collectible value than some of the WWF’s other slapdash, 60-minute compilations, and the action peaks with the very good Marty Jannetty vs. 1-2-3 Kid match. Taking all that into account, I can’t give this anything other than a solid recommendation; it’s not the greatest tape you’ll ever see, but judged against the standards of the WWF in 1993, it’s a pretty good one.