Arnold Furious: Gorilla Monsoon hosts but the Germans talk over him anyway. Not sure why that is. Alex Haunstein of Werdau requests…
Steel Cage Match
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
From Utica, New York and late 1993. Typical of “Ze Germans” to request something so good. Shawn makes this match with his ridiculous bumping. He flies around and bounces off the pretty blue bars. Bret seems almost offended that he’d take that approach and wrestles methodically to try and restore a sense of realism. And that is why Bret Hart is a better wrestler than Shawn Michaels, even at Shawn’s peak, but Shawn had more entertaining matches. It’s the same argument you could make about movies. Ones with lots of action tend to be more entertaining, but lack character development and are ultimately meaningless. That’s unfair to Shawn as he is a capable storyteller, he just feels the need to turn the volume up on it. They run the door dives spot that was recycled by Bret and Owen at SummerSlam ’94. Yanno, because basically these two re-created what a wrestling match was supposed to be like. Bret and Shawn redefined wrestling in the mid 90s. Some of Bret’s bigger bumps in this match were also recycled at SummerSlam, much like how Shawn and Bret’s ladder spots were for WrestleMania X. Talk all you like about stealing, but it’s easier to formulate a perfect match a bit at a time. Shawn hits the Superkick but forgets how close the door is and goes to climb out. The spot that follows, where Bret kicks Shawn off the ropes is superb, with Shawn taking a killer bump. They follow it with Shawn needing a Superman dive to stop Bret going over. They both climb out only for Shawn to get stuck and Bret drops down to win, in yet another spot recycled in the classic Bret-Owen cage match. Shawn’s execution on the spot was a bit obvious but safer. Like their ladder match this was a great template for a better match to follow.
Final Rating: ***¾
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Razor Ramon (c) vs. Diesel
This is from April 1994 and a Superstars taping. Diesel has Shawn Michaels as his manager. Diesel isn’t as intimidating as he’d become and Razor hammers him around the ring to begin with. Diesel has the common sense to buy himself time on the floor, which leads right into the heat segment. Diesel only has a few moves so he’s quickly into chinlock territory. It sucks royally too and is called a “double reverse chinlock” by Herr Commentator. Both guys are eager to work hard but Diesel just doesn’t know how. Razor plants Dies with a bulldog on the comeback, but Shawn has seen enough and jumps on the apron, taking a huge bump off a Razor right hand for his troubles. He tries again only for Diesel to accidentally knock him down and this time he bounces off the rail. What he did achieve was exposing the buckle, which Razor gets whipped into. Jacknife and Diesel wins his first title, much to Shawn’s delight after Razor beat him at ‘Mania. Like all Kliq matches, it’s pretty good as they all had strong chemistry and a good understanding of each other’s abilities. They could probably put out a tape of just Kliq matches, but only the Shawn ones really matter in the long run.
Final Rating: **¾
Jeff Jarrett vs. Lex Luger
Jarrett’s entrance has an insane amount of flashing lights. I hope no one with photo-sensitive epilepsy attempted to watch this. Jarrett is sporting neon yellow and pink tights with a black and pink frill. They’re a little ostentatious and I don’t remember seeing them before. The run of good matches comes crashing to an end. Jarrett brings his Memphis stalling and Luger brings… nothing. Lex eventually remembers his matches with Ric Flair and they go with that template, but Jarrett has no focus and can’t fill in for Flair. Luger gives up again and starts with lazy, rookie-esque bumps. Jarrett is the more competent wrestler of the two but he’s not sure how to deal with Luger and doesn’t really have a Plan B, so he hooks a sleeper and sends everyone to Sleepytown. Luger powers out, as he tended to. That becomes a theme. Jarrett attempts something, Luger powers out. Luger goes back to his Flair match and Jarrett gets it this time, bumping like crazy and begging off. Torture Rack finishes. Disappointing match, although a typically poor showing from an unmotivated Luger.
Final Rating: **
King of the Ring Qualifying Match
Tatanka vs. Crush
Urgh, can I get better Germans to ask for matches? Damn you Christian Suttrop! This is from Raw and May 1994. The winner gets Owen in the quarter final round of the KotR. The lumberjack gimmick is to cover up for the lack of ability in the ring. Luckily the WWF has the common sense to skip the ad break action. The match is pushing 20-minutes so nobody needs to see all that business. We return from a clip with Crush applying a terrible armbar. Wrestlers should really stick to their strengths and Crush was not a mat technician. Even the wrestlers around the ring look bored. Crush switches to a different badly applied armbar. If his aim was to make me cheer for Tatanka, then mission accomplished. The German commentators crack me up by referencing Monty Python’s “Lumberjack Song”. If only the lumberjacks broke out in song; that’d alleviate the boredom. Crush heads towards his A-game and hooks a bodyscissors and wouldn’t you know it; an atrocious armbar too. It’s so bad he has to give up on it because it looks like he’s holding Tatanka’s hand. Awww. The best selling in the match comes from Bam Bam Bigelow who winces as Tatanka unloads with chops. Yeah, sell those chops Bammer! He’s wincing like a mother… Crush’s selling looks like a cross between confusion and constipation. Crush once again takes it to another level with a god-awful front facelock. I don’t see why this got so long as they blatantly have zero creativity. Even Diesel and goddamn SID had a better lumberjack match than this. SID! They botch Crush catching a boot, which should have been pretty straightforward, so redo the spot! What, because that was so vital in the story they were telling? It doesn’t even lead anywhere. What’s fucking wrong with you? At this point I’m starting to think about time limits and why they weren’t shorter. Flexi Lexi runs out here, although he could easily have been a ‘jack to start with, lays Crush out with his metal arm and tosses him back in. Tatanka crawls across the ring as slowly as he possibly can and finally ends the misery after 17-minutes. So, so boring. Massive pop on the finish. Not because Tatanka was over, but because the crowd were so happy that the match was over.
Final Rating: DUD
The Undertaker vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Marco Heinrichs requested this one from back in May 1993. Practically every Undertaker match between 1991 and 1995 is shit, so my expectations are low. They run some standard Taker spots like the Ropewalk before they make a hash of a missed flying clothesline. Then it’s outside and they blow an Irish whip into the ring steps, with Bigelow letting go way too early, which left Taker running into the ring steps himself like an idiot. Why didn’t he just jump them? Or stop? Bigelow uses his power but Taker sits up to avoid the flying headbutt. The timing on that spot is nicely executed, compensating for all their earlier errors. Bigelow goes to walk but Tatanka, who he’s feuding with, throws him back in. Bigelow is still arguing with Tatanka when he eats a sloppy chokeslam for the loss. Well, that sucked. Why did you want to watch that exactly, Marco Heinrichs? I guess in theory it’s a good match as they’re two of the best big men in wrestling history. But in 1993, in the WWF? No.
Final Rating: ¼*
Yokozuna (c) vs. Bret Hart
This is from WrestleMania X. Hey, Daniel Gaerber, if you wanted a match from WrestleMania X, there are TWO five star matches on that show! I guess the lure of Burt Reynolds ring introductions was just too much. I talked enough about this match during the ’Mania review. It’s basically an injured Bret, a dominant Yoko and a crowd getting increasingly antsy that the WWF might screw them out of a babyface champion after they paid money to see a WrestleMania with not one but two ***** classics on it. The match is ok, considering Yoko worked Luger earlier in the evening. Although the more I see it, the more I hate the finish where fat boy Yoko can’t mount the ropes for his finisher and falls off to get pinned. I mean, come on, the WWF champion can’t even climb the ropes when he finisher is the Banzai Drop? What the hell is that about?
Final Rating: **¼
WWF Tag Team Championship
The Quebecers (c) vs. The Headshrinkers
This is from Raw and April 1994. The Headshrinkers have gained Captain Lou Albano, which means they’re due a tag title run as virtually every team he ever managed won the belts. The opening exchanges are designed to make Fatu look like a superstar, which he would certainly become. The Quebecers show a lot of ass and keep bumbling into each other and falling over. Johnny Polo is all “screw this, we’ll take a count out” and they head to the back. Earl Hebner orders them back in or he’ll strip them of the titles, which is a gimmick the WWF had run many times. But surely a count out is a champion’s advantage? It always has been. When they return, Fatu gets isolated for the heat because he’s better at bumping too. The Quebecers hit a legsweep/clothesline double team, which is a lightweight version of Eliminators style double teaming. The tape gets a bit weird as we jump back in time by a few minutes. Either that or I just time-travelled. Then the audio cuts out and we get Vince McMahon and Randy Savage instead. Did they cock up the recording? Never mind fellas, only Germans will ever watch this. It’s not like it’ll be reviewed decades in the future for a comprehensive book about WWF tape releases.
Shame we can’t get Vince and Savage on commentary for this because they look like they’re having a great time. I’d love to have a beer with those two guys. That would be an epic evening. Fatu ties his head in the ropes before taking a piledriver. The inconsistencies of selling the Samoan hard head kick in again. Seems they’re now vulnerable to piledrivers. Albano and Afa go after Polo to stop his middle class interfering ways. The champs miscue and Jacques finds himself beaten up by his own tag partner. Trouble in paradise. No, they wouldn’t speak French in paradise. Fatu hits the splash off the top to win the tag straps. I quite like both teams and it was a decent match.
Final Rating: ***
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Diesel (c) vs. Lex Luger
This is from Raw and July 1994 and also turns up on Slamfest. Michaels is still in Diesel’s corner. Diesel was enormously motivated from his in-ring debut until the weight of the WWF title destroyed him as a worker sometime around the big Mabel push. Luger pretty much stank after his run at Yokozuna finished. So it’s Big Daddy Cool who carries this one with his youthful enthusiasm. If that sounds like madness to you, it’s not far from the mark. For about 18-months Diesel was actually pretty good, and not just on the mic either. Luger gets into the match as it progresses and he gets to throw Diesel around a bit. Neither guy can rock a fast-paced match for too long and eventually Dies settles into a nice long chinlock. Luger mounts a fun comeback. In particular when he ducks under Diesel’s comically big boot, which looks like something out of John Cleese’s Department of Silly Walks. The ref is bumped and the Rack would finish, but in comes Shawn to Superkick the back of Luger’s head. Luger kicks out and Razor Ramon shows up to run HBK off. They end up in the ring and the ref calls it a double DQ. The match alternated between animated and the opposite of that. Both guys have a weakness for laziness, although Diesel’s wasn’t as pronounced yet. Considering who was involved this wasn’t bad and it actually ended up on the WWF’s 1994 Best of Raw comp.
Final Rating: **½
Summary: German Fan Favourites 2 isn’t anywhere near as good as the first one. It’s an interesting bunch of matches with a few curious choices. The offensively bad Tatanka vs. Crush match almost kills the tape dead in the middle. It’s a workrate black hole from which there was no escape. I think I might have enjoyed Taker-Bigelow more if it hadn’t followed that bout. Two Luger singles matches is a bit rough on the viewer and Germany’s taste in wrestling seems to have declined since the first tape. Still, it has a few title switches that aren’t common on tapes and most of the matches are passable. Just fast-forward Tatanka-Crush, for the love of God.