Diesel (c) vs. Yokozuna
We start in Indiana in September 1995, with Diesel defending the WWF title against former two-time champion Yokozuna. This is advertised as a “Coliseum Exclusive”, even though we are watching a Goodtimes tape release. Though Goodtimes, Coliseum, like it makes a difference. All it actually means is that this is not exclusive at all. JR says “this one will not be pretty”. No kidding. The match goes a few seconds over a minute, with Diesel picking up the win after ‘Zuna misses the Banzai Drop. Wow, I feel short changed on my “exclusive” content somewhat. There is actually an interesting story regarding something similar that happened in a cage match between these guys once, which Nash revealed on his excellent Kayfabe Commentaries DVD release. It was during the time when Bill Watts was booking the WWF, and Nash had some residual heat from his days in WCW where Watts humiliated him in front of the boys, as he was known for doing. The match is question took place on a house show, and the cage took an inordinately long time to set up due to an incompetent ring crew. Once the match got going, Diesel called on the fly for Yoko to go for the Banzai Drop just seconds in, and he moved and pinned him. The match went less than a minute. Nash got backstage and told Watts that here in the WWF, he was the big dog. The whole thing was a big “f*ck you” to Watts. I don’t know what their excuse was here, but I am not overly disappointed, I must say.
Final Rating: ¼*
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Razor Ramon (c) vs. Goldust
This comes from Royal Rumble ‘96, and we are joined in progress. The match is covered elsewhere by Arnold Furious, so instead I am going to discuss the Goldust character. It was one of the most envelope pushing things that the WWF had ever done (at the time). In many ways, the character was the first sign of things to come in the Attitude era, due to his “androgynous” nature, the homosexual overtones of the character and the controversial storylines he was involved in. Goldust struck a nerve with macho men (not Randy Savage) everywhere, in a pre-tolerant America. The world was not ready for a character like Goldust, who would be viewed as nothing but comic relief nowadays, and because of that it worked. The character was groundbreaking stuff for the family friendly WWF. It was something different and something that WCW couldn’t ever do due to their strict corporate guidelines. Well, either that or Vince just wanted to mess with Dusty some more by dressing his son up like a shiny queer. The WWF surprised everyone when they turned Dustin Rhodes into Goldust. I am sure those within the industry were expecting him to end up as a plumber (Tony “TL Hopper” Anthony), a hockey player (Bill “The Goon” Irwin) or a dentist (Glen “Isaac Yankem” Jacobs) or something equally ludicrous. I am pretty sure that when the character was envisioned, no-one expected him to be one of the most enduring gimmicks the WWF has ever had. Dustin has been hired and fired more times than Jim Ross, has won a number of titles and has competed over a span of three different decades for the WWF. I think Furious has his match analysis about right to be honest. Scott Hall obviously hates being in the ring with him, clearly believing the character due to how far Dustin pushes it and the gusto he puts into playing the role. Either that or Hall was hammered and thought he was some sort of drunk vision… The crowd is PISSED when Goldust wins. They don’t even boo, it is more a chorus of people going “what the HELL just happened!”. America… such a tolerant place in the 90s.
Final Rating: **
Bret Hart (c) vs. British Bulldog
We continue with matches from PPVs, this from the month before at In Your House 5. Once again, it is covered in full elsewhere by Arnold Furious as part of the Winter Combat 96 tape release. It’s a great match, joined in progress but still early on. Once again Furious has covered this already, so there is no need for excessive play-by-play. You know, some actually think this match is technically better than their SummerSlam 1992 classic at Wembley, but for me it doesn’t compare. It is a superb bout, but it lacks one thing: the spectacle. The crowd is lukewarm in their reactions at best, and the stage is significantly smaller. This PPV actually pulled one of the lowest buy rates the WWF had ever done, which is a shame really as it is not a totally awful show and this match deserved to be seen. I didn’t really buy Davey as a heel though, and I am not sure if anyone did really. He was disliked sure, but he was never hated. There are actually an awful lot of chinlocks and rest holds in this match, and the pace is really slow for a while. Interestingly enough, I actually had a long argument with Furious regarding the rating for the Wembley match, which resulted in broken cups aplenty in the office and threats being levelled from both sides to throw the other out of a window. It got pretty heated, as wrestling debates often do. His argument was against the match getting a 5* rating due to the 30 seconds or so of chinlocks that slowed the bout down while Bret was detailing the next spots to a blown up and disorientated Davey Boy. The thing is, he also conceded that it was one of the best matches of the generation, and because of that I felt 30 seconds were not enough to ruin what was otherwise a practically perfect 30-minutes. There is no real point to this train of thought, I just want the world to know I was right! That match is practically untouchable, it is glorious. Furious came around to my way of thinking in the end when we mutually agreed that a 5* match doesn’t have to be flawless throughout, and that indeed some 5* matches can be better than others. But anyway, this match: one of the interesting things about it is Bret Hart’s blade job. Blading was of course outlawed in the family friendly WWF at the time, but Bret took it upon himself to blade anyway (as he did at WrestleMania VIII) because he felt the match needed it. You can tell it is not authorised by Vince due to his reaction on commentary. He is really quiet when he notices the blood and then less than subtly tells the cameras not to do any close up shots of Hart. It’s not like that matters anyway, because Bret is juicing such a gusher that there is blood all over his face, all over Davey’s tights and all over the ring and ringside area. This actually caused a few headaches for the WWF. At the time the company was in the midst of recovering from the steroid trial fallout and was in the process of rebuilding its image. The company’s vice president for distribution Michael Ortman, had recently produced a corporate manifesto to give out to affiliated and potential partners, showing how the WWF was family friendly and would avoid raunchy behaviour, weapons, violence towards women and blood. The reasons for this were two-fold. As well as rebuilding their image, the WWF also wanted to avoid an impending Congress bill regarding violent television and the hours it could be shown. By showing they were socially responsible, they were hoping to avoid another run-in with the government and that WCW would instead take the brunt. Inevitably, a stubborn McMahon, who hates being told what to do, decided to go against pretty much all of these directives within a few months, and blew them all out of the water within two years. It was for the better. The WWF was far more interesting and must-see when the shackles were off. This match was splendid, but ruined a little by the constant split screens used to show Diana Hart’s goddamn face.
Final Rating: ****½
The Undertaker vs. Isaac Yankem DDS
Undertaker vs. Kane! Sort of. Isaac Yankem was of course played by Glen Jacobs, who went onto become Diesel #2 and then eventually Kane. This match took place on Raw in December 1995, the night after the IYH5 pay-per-view. Taker is wearing his scary ass Phantom of the Opera mask, and I really think he should have kept it for longer, because he looks badass in it. Vince comments about how bad Yankem’s breath is and how bad his teeth are. It just doesn’t make any sense. “Oh he is a dentist, but, GET THIS, he has BAD teeth” *guffaw guffaw guffaw*. Shite. For anyone who has never seen Yankem and are expecting Kane, you might be in for a bit of a surprise. Yankem moves much differently to Kane, far less deliberately and monster like. He actually seems significantly smaller as Yankem than he does as Kane. He does wear lifts as Kane, though, and from what I have heard on commentary, I am led to believe they are about 5 inch lifts, as they are promoting Yankem as 6’7′ whereas Kane is supposedly 7-foot. He is certainly much lither here, but he is not intimidating or imposing in any way. This match is garbage, only made interesting by a ridiculous production snafu where Taker hits the Tombstone, but doesn’t go for the cover because midway through the move, they cut backstage to Dok Hendrix pacing around. Taker clearly gets instructions to repeat the spot, and he does it again and pins him. Why does it always take so many Tombstones to beat Glen Jacobs?
Final Rating: *
Owen Hart, Yokozuna & Hakushi vs. Bret Hart, Razor Ramon & Savio Vega
This six man match comes from June 1995 in Wheeling, WV, and my, isn’t it a randomly thrown together affair? Some great workers on either side, but I have no clue what the point of it was. I think it was shot exclusively for video release, due to the Coliseum Video signs on the big screen in the background. They certainly get their money’s worth out of it, as it appears on both WrestleFest ’95 and Terminators ’96, as well as this tape. The question is: do they really not have any other matches that could fit 10-minutes rather than recycling this for a third time? The match is good, excellent in places, but for a collector it is worthless. The action is exciting, with the expected trio of great workers holding up their end, and Savio Vega hanging in there well. Yokozuna and Razor don’t actually see a great deal of ring time, but Yoko is worthless anyway and he gets blown up from doing a rest spot with Hart. Hakushi bumps around well, and his involvement in this suggests to me that he was perhaps in line for a top level push, that sadly never came. Savio wasn’t too bad, but he got pushed down fan’s throats far too much and far too quickly, and subsequently he became boring and over-exposed. The stuff with him and Hakushi in this is pretty decent though, and I would happily watch a singles bout between them. You can see how much they are pushing Savio by the fact they give him the win. Fun little match, though I didn’t like it quite as much as Furious. Only marginally less mind you. Dok Hendrix lies to me by saying the match was exclusive to this tape. You are a piece of work, Hendrix.
Final Rating: ***
Summary: The content of this is pretty decent, and at times excellent, and if you own nothing on it then it is a good tape to get hold of. However, be warned, the majority is culled from elsewhere, with only the insulting 1-minute opener exclusive to this tape. The match selection is still pretty lazy from Goodtimes, and any serious collectors will feel short changed by this, despite the top notch wrestling that can be found here.