Lee Maughan: Just when you thought you were in the clear. Just when you thought you’d made it through the Todd Pettengill era still breathing, this tape begins rather ominously with a very early appearance from… wait for it… Michael Cole, who suggests that you can “for the first time, bring the fire, fury, excitement and allure of the World Wrestling Federation right into your own home with four new video selections from WWF Home Video!” For the FIRST TIME?! We’re only elbow deep into Volume FOUR of a WWF Home Video guidebook series! Not only that, but Michael Cole has only been on the scene for all of fifteen seconds and he’s already belting out the bullshit! Seatbelts on folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. In fact, one of the tapes he plugs is The Best of WWF Survivor Series 1987-1997, which is made up of footage previously released by the WWF on home video! Egads!
By 1998, the WWF had thrown itself headlong into the ECW-cum-Jerry Springer inspired “Attitude Era”, defined principally by hardcore brawling, foul language, crude humour and sex. Luckily, I was fourteen years old at the time, so that was all right up my street, and one of the biggest success stories of the period was Sable, a knockout blonde with huge fake tits who was hired to look good while wearing bikinis on magazine covers. It worked a treat, to the point that she ended up growing an enormously inflated ego to match her enormously inflated breasts and, becoming practically unmanageable, she was fired from the promotion in May of 1999. But this tape isn’t about that. This tape is about how she became the hottest commodity the WWF had outside of its main event scene. This is Sable’s story, in her own words. Oh boy…
Early in 1996, Hunter Hearst Helmsley was being escorted to the ring by a string of different valets, and Sable was hired by the company to escort him to do the same. It just so happened that her first appearance was at WrestleMania XII. Oh, how convenient. Helmsley blamed Sable for his loss that night (in later years, he’d blame the Ultimate Warrior’s selfishness, blasting him on WWE’s hatchet-job DVD The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior as “the most unprofessional man I’ve ever stepped in the ring with”) leading to Marc Mero sticking up Sable and Sable returning to manage Mero’s career (no mention of their real-life marriage here I should note.) Mero would go on to win the Intercontinental Title and dedicate his victory to Sable before a knee injury sidelined him.
In high school, Sable was on the junior swim team and was also a high diver. She takes any chance she can get to go swimming, and enjoys being underwater. Why is this of interest to anyone? Because it means gratuitous shots of her splashing around a pool in a white satin gown of course! And in slow motion too! With particular care and attention paid to an upside down camera shot of her thong-filled arse crack. Sable fact – she loves saltwater but definitely prefers swimming in a pool.
At first, Sable found it difficult to go out in front of a crowd on her own but she was able to perform and show that she had a personality. She did that by modelling Undertaker and Steve Austin t-shirts. Once again, that’s “talent” and “personality” demonstrated by modelling t-shirts. Sable was a model for six years, which is useful, otherwise this montage of her posing for pictures on the beach might have been a load of old shit. Why did the ocean cry? Because the seaweed! Har har. She covers her minge with slime and cups her norks in her arms. Didn’t think about covering your bare arse though, did you? Naughty little minx. What I would give to squeeze those buttocks together to make one juicy, giant peach…
Sable sticks to a low-fat, high protein diet to stay in shape, and has needles shoved in her face every other month to maintain her youthful complexion (allegedly). She feels very comfortable around the beach and the ocean. Oh God, she’s not going to start yacking on about swimming again is she? Since when was I watching Duncan Goodhew Unleashed? Footage from the 1997 Slammy Awards sees Sable picking up two gongs, and also means Todd Pettengill putting in an appearance since he hosted that show. Yes folks, Todd Pettengill and Michael Cole are BOTH on this tape. And speak of the devil, Cole tries to interview Sable after Mero’s comeback match, but Mero takes umbrage with that. That leads to the famous “potato sack” angle on RAW after Mero had outed Sal Sincere as a “jobber” called Tom Brandi. Sable doesn’t believe in jealousy and thinks it’s better to have a positive attitude in anything you’re doing. Like watching this tape, I guess.
Five days a week, Sable likes to train. She starts with weights then goes into 30-45 minutes of cardio with her personal trainer. Do you care? It’s just an excuse for some sweaty, close-up cleavage. So despite having turned Mero heel, the WWF decided to book a mixed tag with him and Sable against Goldust and Luna Vachon at WrestleMania XIV, with Sable getting physically involved for the first time. This all plays out to a comically upbeat number that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in Weekend at Bernie’s 2, and comes to a head when Sable enters a breathtakingly competent performance in her first public match. Seriously, that was a damn fun outing, ending when Sable pinned Luna after a powerbomb and a TKO. Naturally, the full bout isn’t included. What, you wanted some professional wrestling on this tape? Think again, buck.
Luna goes on to challenge Sable to an evening gown match at Unforgiven, which results in some weird backwards psychology as the fans love Sable, but go nuts when Luna wins. Sable “gets her heat back” by giving Luna a powerbomb in her underwear and stripping her of her gown too, which makes everyone the winner. Hey, some of us like freaky, alternative chicks too and let’s face it, Luna’s implants were every bit as delightful as Sable’s. Jerry Lawler gets in a cracking line in here about how “sex is the most beautiful, natural thing that money can buy” which fills me with sadness when I think about what a tiresome drone he became once he started hanging out with Michael Cole on RAW every Monday night. Sable then emerges from under the ring clutching Luna’s knickers and bra as her present-day self wonders if she “bit off more than [she] could chew.” She BIT Luna’s undergarments off?! This is why I’ve long advocated an underneath the ring camera. You just never know.
Sable rides a horse. Now she just rides Brock Lesnar, which I’d imagine is much the same thing. She likes animals because they don’t judge you, but can sense when you’re sad. “Kicking a bag is totally different from actually being physical with another human being” she muses. Are we still talking about horse sex now? Oh, she means kickboxing. She kicks Mero in the nuts and powerbombs him on RAW, so Mero tells her to find someone who can beat him without her interference, and the stakes couldn’t be greater – if Mero loses, Sable is free from her contract from him, but if Mero wins, Sable is gone from the WWF forever (keep that one in mind). Naturally, her mystery choice is… herself. That leads to Over the Edge, where Mero has a change of heart owing to Sable’s display of bravery and lays down for her, only to swerve her and reverse the pin.
To the beach, where Sable builds what looks to be a Pagan Wicca fire. In slow motion! Back in the ring, Mero introduces Jacqueline as his new valet, which leads to Sable returning. having served her gruelling sentence of “forever” in the span of about 24 hours. Ah yes, June 1st, 1998. The day Sable invented time travel. Her benefactor? The evil Mr. McMahon. Because when you’re Vince Russo, it doesn’t matter one lick who’s a babyface and who’s a heel. Shades of grey, baby, shades of grey! In an hilarious moment, noted homosexual Pat Patterson sticks his busy fingers up Sable’s crevice and gets a slap in the chops for his troubles. Too bad Terry Garvin wasn’t around, eh Pat? Jacqueline challenges Sable to a bikini contest at Fully Loaded, which leads to the famous shot of Sable wandering around the ring with handprints painted on her funbags. Sadly, Jacqueline’s blatant nipslip is excised from the tape, but then this tape isn’t really about her anyway. Sable gets disqualified because bodypaint doesn’t constitute a bikini, and McMisogynist calls her an “ungrateful bitch.” Charming.
Sable has a Corvette and a Ferrari, and she goes for a drive. Strike Force would have loved this. She returns to WWF screens alongside Golga and the Parade of Human Oddities, and in the space of about fifteen minutes, has gone from talking about what a nuisance Luna was to calling her “a wonderful human being.” Shades of grey, baby, shades of grey! Another smash hit from the schizophrenic pen of Vince Russo, no doubt. She can’t think of any better place to be than with the Oddities. I can think of a few hundred billion. She also tells Jacqueline that it doesn’t matter if they get into a wrestling match, a bikini contest, or a lez-off, she’ll always come out on top. Well, she doesn’t say “lez-off”, she actually says “arm-wrestling match” but to be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t think that sounded very interesting. From there, Jacqueline pokes Sable. In the ribs with a trophy I mean. That leads to SummerSlam ‘98 for another mixed tag, this time with Mero & Jacqueline against Sable and making his WWF pay-per-view debut; Edge, which proved to be a pretty pivotal moment in WWE history.
Summary: It’s easy to forget just how popular Sable was in 1998, but then it’s easy to forget how over pretty much everyone was in 1998. She was hot as hell though, largely because she had an athletic physique, whopping great bazookas and a nice symmetrical face, and this release does at least capture her in her prime, before she started looking old and leathery. Listen, that might sound unkind and unfair, but she was clearly being marketed on her looks (not to mention her immense talent for promoting inflatable King of the Ring chairs whilst parading about in thigh-high boots and leather catsuits), and once they start to go, you’re finished. Just ask any number of interchangeable MTV veejays who hit the ripe old age of 25. And Sable was already in her thirties by the time this tape hit video store rental shelves! Now, I can understand the cash-in aspect of this release, strike while the iron is hot and all that, but as an artefact of its time, I can’t really recommend it. For as hip and “edgy” as the WWF supposedly was in the late 90s, it strikes me as somewhat ironic that their brand of titillation was about as soft as softcore got during an era when skin flicks were all the rage on late night basic cable, the same platform By this point, Sable was so hot that she got the chance to act in an episode of Pacific Blue, which she loved because she got to experience what it would be like to be in a women’s prison. Oh my. Why couldn’t this tape have just been about Sable’s life inside the slammer? Imagine how much Big Bertha could have traded her for on the black market! In conclusion, Sable likes to know all the negatives and positives of any decisions she’s going to make. I should have drawn up a similar list before I decided to watch any of this tripe. And how does it hold up when viewed with modern eyes? You’re not a horny, fourteen-year-old boy struggling through puberty and an addiction to the more puerile aspects of South Park are you? You’ve got internet access haven’t you? So what are you waiting for? There’s way more of Sable out there to add to your spank bank that won’t require you to sit through almost an hour of banal chatter about swimming, horses and Marc Mero. A total pass.