#WWE57019 – Hall Of Fame 2004 Induction Ceremony

BONUS CONTENT: DISC TWO

 

Aside from the usual matches and Confidential segments are a meagre selection of short, out of context clips of Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon larking around on Prime Time Wrestling, plus a smattering of promos, by far the best of which comes from Jesse Ventura.

 

Bobby Heenan
A criminally short (2:39) piece from Confidential sees Arn Anderson, Pat Patterson and WWE DVD rent-a-quip Steve Lombardi lavish generic praise on Heenan, set to an amusing collection of comedic clips from Prime Time Wrestling, whilst a second piece has Heenan himself discussing his first night in the business. He never asked to get into wrestling but would help carry ring jackets and put up posters when he got a call from Dick the Bruiser whilst working at a Ford dealership, telling him that he was the new manager of The Assassins and to be at TV the next day at one o’clock. Upon discovering that his name was now “Bobby” (rather than his real name of Raymond), Heenan took his lunch hour off and headed to the studio, where he was told that he going to Louisville, Kentucky that night. At the matches Heenan wore a mask, but didn’t know how to gimmick the knot in such a way as to allow his opponent to yank it off, and almost had his scalp ripped off in the process as he hung there in a makeshift noose and almost choked to death, followed by a woman coming out of the stands to try and stub a cigar out on his neck. Later that night he witnessed promoter ‘Wee’ Willie Davis get carted off to jail for busting Johnny Valentine’s head open with a nightstick after Valentine and Gene Kiniski got into a real fight and ended up brawling with a group of cops, before being bulled into drinking beer for the first time on a ride home that included ignoring the screams for help of a man they saw burning to death in the middle of the road. Finally making it back to Indianapolis in the small hours of the night, Heenan was paid the grand sum of $5 for his unexpected entrance into the profession, and the first thought that ran through his mind was, “When can I do this again?”

 

Steel Cage Match
WWF Intercontinental Title
Greg Valentine (c) vs. Tito Santana
[WWF @ Baltimore – 07.06.85]
Valentine won the title from Santana on September 24, 1984 in London, Ontario, Canada, then injured Santana’s knee and put him the hospital for several months shortly thereafter, so this is the culmination of a grudge stretching over a year-and-a-half. Suitably, Santana pounds away on Valentine immediately as Valentine tries to escape the cage as quickly as possible. Valentine gets crotched on the top but kicks Santana square in the head to take over, but Santana blocks all of Valentine’s attempts to hurl him into the cage. Santana gets crotched on the top rope in the opposite corner to Valentine, but blocks an attempt at the figure four and nails the flying forearm to put Valentine down.

Valentine comes back with a belly-to-back suplex and finally runs Santana head-first into the steel, while commentator Gorilla Monsoon covers for Valentine not going out of the door despite being stood right next to it as a mark of fatigue. The fact they’ve only been wrestling for about seven minutes at this point is rather contrary to Monsoon’s usual claims that it takes Valentine fifteen minutes just to get warmed up. Santana blocks Valentine from leaving but hasn’t got enough left to escape himself, and at least he’s got the justification of having being busted open when he got hoyed into the mesh. Santana groggily goes up and over so Valentine heads for the door, then in a really cool finish, Santana swings around the corner of the cage and boots the door on Valentine’s head before dropping to the floor to claim his second Intercontinental Title. Valentine destroys the belt in frustration after the bout, leading to the introduction of the second –much loved- design of the Intercontinental belt, used from 1985-1998.
Final Rating: ***½

 

Harley Race vs. The Junkyard Dog
[WWF WrestleMania III – 03.29.87]
In a poor piece of quality control, this is advertised on the disc as being from Saturday Night’s Main Event, but actually comes from WrestleMania III. Bobby Heenan trips JYD from the outside and Race immediately goes into the heat, but misses an insane diving headbutt from the apron to the floor. Dog clotheslines Race back into the ring, where ‘The King’ takes another spectacular bump, going backwards over the top to the floor off a headbutt, then eats a powerslam over the top back inside. JYD goes to an abdominal stretch but Race hiptosses out of it, then in a funny spot, drops a diving headbutt which hurts him more than it hurts JYD. From there, Race takes another backwards bump over the top to the floor off a whip into the corner, but Heenan gets involved again and Race gets the pin with a belly-to-belly suplex at 4:22. As per a pre-match stipulation, Dog bows to ‘The King’, before decking him with a chair and stealing his robe. Race was bumping for two here, and the result was a surprisingly fun little match as Race spent the entire time making JYD look like a monster before beating him clean in the middle.
Final Rating: **

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Pedro Morales (c) vs. Don Muraco
[WWF @ Philadelphia – 06.20.81]
Muraco takes a backdrop to the floor, and they run a lighting quick game of cat and mouse in the corner before Muraco grinds away with a headlock and a chinlock. A shoulder block from Morales and a bodyslam from Muraco liven things up, but Muraco slaps the chinlock right back on after that, and dubs Morales a “greaseball”. Morales finally tries to power out after what feels like an eternity, but Muraco pulls the hair and goes right back into the hold, but this time the referee calls it a choke and makes him break it, but then goes after it again following a jab to the throat and a kick to the ribs. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Muraco blows his big high spot of ramming his taped thumb into Morales’ throat by missing, then he goes back to the chinlock for a fourth consecutive time.

Things finally pick up as Muraco misses a charge into the corner and hits the post, as the virtuous Morales comes back with a rake of the eyes and a pile of punches. Muraco takes a rough-looking upside down bump in the corner and falls on his head, then gets posted again on the floor, but a shoulder block from Morales results in the referee getting bumped. Morales goes for a backbreaker and looks to finish with a Boston crab, but goes to check on the referee, allowing Muraco to blast him with a foreign object to score the pin at the title, leaving at least one female fan so apoplectic she almost punches her way through the ringside guardrail, although she might just be annoyed at having paid front row prices to sit through ten minutes of Muraco chinlocks. I recall these two having some exciting scraps over the course of their feud, but this was interminably boring before they each took a shot of Red Bull and hit the home straight.
Final Rating: *

 

WWF Championship
Bob Backlund (c) vs. Jesse Ventura
[WWF @ MSG – 03.14.82]
This is clearly Ventura’s match as he stalls, preens around the ring and gets into a posing contest with special guest referee Ivan Putski, whose presence comes into play when Ventura chokes out Backlund in the ropes after a lengthy heat segment and Putski yanks him off. There’s also some weird reverse psychology, as babyface Putski refuses to count any of Ventura’s pin attempts with any reasonable amount of speed, and even commentator Vince McMahon gets wound up about it. Ventura just rips Backlund apart with a piledriver, a backbreaker and an atomic drop, but Putski refuses to play ball and slaps on a fast count when Backlund escapes Ventura’s Body Breaker (an over-the-shoulder backbreaker) and scores a roll-up for the pin to retain. Ventura of course ties to attack Putski after the match, but the gallant babyfaces team up to kick his ass and win the war, as well as the battle.
Final Rating: *½

 

Summary: As nice as it was to see many of the names highlighted on this DVD set take another bow in the spotlight, the sheer amount of inductees dictates a limited amount of time for each to recap his career, especially amidst all the McMahon-pandering and family shout-outs. I can’t really knock any of them for taking the time to address their parents, wives or children, but as a paying fan, I wanted to hear more war stories about life on the road in the crazy world of wrestling. Some speeches were obviously better than others, and the likes of Sgt. Slaughter, Ric Flair and Mick Foley had some terrific zingers, but it was Bobby Heenan who stole the show with a largely improvised twenty-five-minute stand-up comedy routine built around his life and career that just absolutely brought the house down, and remains a gut-buster after years of repeated viewing. Extras-wise the assorted promos are mostly culled from the main feature, and immediately feel like repeated material, while the segments from Confidential are so brief that they almost feel like samplers for other bio DVDs. As for the featured matches, there’s enough quality action and historical value spread across all seven bouts as to be well worth your time, particularly for anyone whose interest in the promotion pre-dates the days of Hulkamania, although why they felt the need to include a match from WrestleMania III instead of a lesser-seen bout is anybody guess.
Feature: 75
Extras: 60
Verdict: 68

One thought on “#WWE57019 – Hall Of Fame 2004 Induction Ceremony

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s