Arnold Furious: As soon as I mentioned in conversation with James Dixon that I owned this, I knew I’d made a mistake. I knew I’d end up reviewing it for this book. I’m not even sure why I bought it in the first place, probably because it was in a charity shop and cost less than a pound. I had never previously watched it start to finish and at 99 pence I think I overpaid. The Undertaker was routinely awful during his early years in the federation. I honestly can’t even think of a decent match he had before 1996. He was totally into the character though and so were the fans, which is why he’s been an established figure in the WWF for such a very long time. He practically started out as a main eventer and even during his darker days (feuds with Mabel, Giant Gonzales and Kama spring to mind) he was a popular superstar. So much so the WWF felt the need to market his tapes even though the matches were atrocious. Host for this video is Ted DiBiase, for some reason. Was Paul Bearer busy?
The Undertaker vs. The Undertaker
Oh my God, why would you start with this? I know the Undertaker has a cavalcade of crap in his match vault but surely you’d avoid the very worst ones. This was a supremely bad idea that failed on every level. So that’s how we open up the tape. Here’s the copy and paste from SummerSlam ’94 because I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit and watch it again: When we last saw The Undertaker at the Royal Rumble, he “died” in a casket match with Yokozuna. Since then he’s been AWOL and now both Ted DiBiase and Paul Bearer claim they will bring The Undertaker to SummerSlam. Ted’s Undertaker was SMW mainstay ‘Prime Time’ Brian Lee. Seeing as there aren’t an abundance of 6’ 10” wrestlers with long hair and Taker’s build, this was the best they could do. Lee is 6’ 6” and sports grey trimming while the real Undertaker has purple gloves. The four inch height difference is really obvious when they stand toe-to-toe, and Lee can’t do a good impersonation. He angles his punches correctly but he has to spend time thinking about what he’s doing. To the real Undertaker, it’s natural. This is the kind of sh*t I had to grow up defending as a wrestling fan. I felt the best approach was to just say I hated The Undertaker, that got me out of most of the WWF’s b*llsh*t. Incidentally, the Chicago crowd is absolutely DEAD for this one. It’s quite fantastically boring and can’t possibly follow on from the excitement of the cage match. Taker gets 20% of the crowd back with the ropewalk, especially after Lee fails to do it. They make a horrible mess of a hot shot. The Ultimate Warrior would have called it sloppy, that’s how bad it was. Vince is audibly shaken by the lack of crowd reaction. It wouldn’t stop him pitching truly stupid cartoon ideas for one of his biggest stars, but it would cause him to dump the Underfaker. Poor Brian Lee paid the price for his involvement and was sh*t-canned. Lee hits the chokeslam, but Taker sits up. “Nothing is happening” says Vince. Oh, he is NOT pleased. Tombstone from Lee and Taker sits up again. Taker reverses another one and hits a JUMPING Tombstone. He waits for Lee to sit up, but he doesn’t so he hits another Tombstone. Still no reaction from Lee, so we go to a third Tombstone and that finishes. One of the stupidest matches the WWF ever conceived. At least they only had one match instead of the ’93 summer of Taker-Gonzalez matches. The swank jumping Tombstone keeps this match out of negative stars.
Final Rating: DUD
The Undertaker vs. Kwang
Really? Kwang? At least its not Kama. Commentary comes from Vince McMahon and a highly caffeinated Randy Savage. I know Kwang and Savio Vega are the same guy, but Kwang sucks far more than Vega ever did. His selling is all goofy and his offense is all bad kicks. He also blows… red mist. Not at the Undertaker, mind you, just up into the air. Congratulations on your pointlessness. Undertaker milks the sh*t out of the Ropewalk. As in “this is all we’ve got, so you’d better f*ck*n’ enjoy it”. Kwang seems to have no idea how to time Taker’s spots, so the missed flying clothesline looks dreadful. Kwang celebrates yet another kick, called “whatamanoeuvre” by Vince, only for Taker to no sell it. So Kwang mists him, with evil GREEN mist, only for Taker to completely no sell that too and hit his own green mist (which is the evilest of all mists). Kwang, being sh*t, is only worthy of a chokeslam and not the Tombstone.
Final Rating: ½*
The Undertaker vs. Yokozuna
This is from Survivor Series ’94 and I’m thankful they selected this match over the other Taker-Yoko casket match from earlier in the year. That particular match is an unmitigated catastrophe. This one is better. I’m not watching it again though, so here’s the streamlined play-by-play from the PPV: The special enforcer is “star of Walker, Texas Ranger” Chuck Norris. Undertaker kicks off by slitting his own throat with his thumb, which startles Yoko into falling over. Yoko is on his way down as a worker by late ’94 and he’d only get worse, so Taker has one of his slow motion matches that only his character could get away with. Unfortunately some asshole decided to give this match 15-minutes. If you compare the action in their last match, it shows how Yoko has deteriorated. Luckily for him Taker carries most of it with his charisma. Yoko can still take a few bumps, but 15-minutes is just too long for him, so he spends most of it laying around on the mat, seeing as he can’t get pinned. King Kong Bundy strolls down, but Chuck Norris stops him with a look that almost removes his eyebrows. Bam Bam Bigelow shows up too and their stare down has more heat than the rest of the match combined. While that’s going on, IRS runs in to attack the Undertaker and he can’t even make that interesting. IRS does a handy job of it though, putting Taker out with a sleeper and throwing him into the casket. Yoko would win… if he could get his fat carcass off the mat any quicker than 3-minutes, so no deal. Jeff Jarrett comes out to give Chuck Norris someone smaller to kick in the face. Yoko has a few decent bumps left. He takes the flying DDT and then a big boot sends him into the casket. Lid shut, Yoko done, Taker wins. The match isn’t a total disaster but it’s 5-minutes too long.
Final Rating: *
The Undertaker vs. Jim Neidhart
Owen Hart is in Anvil’s corner, in an attempt to save a tape he has no investment in. Taker and Anvil don’t seem to give even half a sh*t, because this was taped for Superstars, which leads to a b*llsh*t slow-motion match. Anvil is too cumbersome and struggles to take Taker’s big spots. He also cannot sell the zombie sit ups. Just look slightly shocked, it’s not hard. Anvil goes for a deliberate choke and the ref counts Taker down for 2. Oops. Wakey, wakey ref! Owen decides to cut a mid-match promo into the ringside camera about what Anvil’s doing: “dissecting”. Taker tends to just zombie sit up a lot. Bearer pushes out the casket that’s going to be used in the match we just saw. Owen gives us another promo about how it’s not a casket match. He’s irate. Not to mention incensed. They pick the pace up a bit even if Anvil still can’t take a decent bump. He falls into the casket and Owen sells it way better than Neidhart can. Then Anvil does a total 180 has a HUGE freak out and gets counted out. THERE ARE BUGS ON ME, MA, BUGS! Fantastic work from Jim, and Owen’s look of concern was genius. Undertaker did next to nothing in this match.
Final Rating: *¼
The Undertaker vs. Jerry Lawler
Mark Callaway used to wrestle for Lawler in Memphis, so he’s aware of Jerry’s whole game. But really, another casket match? Lawler, predictably, stalls a lot and then uses a hidden foreign object. Superfan Vladimir gets on his case. Just how many shows did this guy go to? I see him all the time. Unless we have an “I see dead people” thing here from Sixth Sense, which would be appropriate with Taker matches, but wouldn’t explain how I’m able to write this. Lawler gets all sneaky with the foreign object but he doesn’t need to, because it’s a casket match. There are no DQ’s. The only way you win is by putting your opponent in the casket. Hence the ten guys that attacked Taker and threw him in the casket against Yokozuna at Rumble ’94. Jerry could just walk out there and crack Taker in the face with a baseball bat if he felt the urge to do so. Taker gets punched a lot, zombie sit ups, etc. King realises there are no rules and punches Taker in the bollocks. That obviously agitates the Dead Man as he hits the Tombstone immediately afterwards and throws Lawler into the casket to win the match. This was thoroughly one-dimensional. Lawler looked determined to do the bare minimum and Undertaker slept through most the bout.
Final Rating: ¾*
Summary: The entire tape doesn’t add up to ***. I think that tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the wrestling. I wouldn’t even recommend this solely for Undertaker fans as there’s so little of interest. The “Underfaker” angle was dealt with on the SummerSlam ’94 PPV. I’d presume people bought that over this because that tape has the Bret-Owen cage match. The other major feud match, against Yokozuna, isn’t important as Yoko was fading quickly as a worker. The other three matches are TV JTTS matches, none of which are entertaining. At least the tape is swift, at under an hour, but being short isn’t a selling point. If you see this tape for sale somewhere, ignore it. Yes, it’ll probably be really tempting because it’ll be incredibly cheap but forget it. Walk on by.