Shotgun Saturday Night (01/18/97)

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Lee Maughan: Three weeks in and there’s already a change to the format, as we’re out of New York and into San Antonio, with everyone in town for tomorrow’s Royal Rumble. In another change, Sunny has been replaced with Jim Ross, so she’s off line dancing with Dok Hendrix and Todd Pettengill. Line dancing? Oh, did I forget to mention Denim & Diamonds was a country and western grill? Brace yourselves for a rootin’, tootin’ hour folks!

Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Hunter arrogantly declares this a tune-up match before his meeting with Goldust tomorrow, and basically promises to f*ck Marlena once he’s done. Believe it or not, this is actually the very first HHH-Rock singles match on record (hey, they had to start somewhere), and it’s really rather good. Rocky has so much poise for a guy with so little experience at this point, and the only other guy I can think of in recent memory who managed to get just as good in a similarly short span of time is probably Kurt Angle. Credit to Hunter too, who takes a typically solid ass-kicking while leading the match. Rocky runs through his basics until Helmsley hits an inverted atomic drop, and suddenly there’s a python in the ring! And in true Saturday Night’s Main Event fashion, a mid-match incident means it’s time for a commercial break!

The action picks up with Jake Roberts at the announce desk, doing a wonderful job of selling the Royal Rumble match tomorrow. In the ring, Hunter is back in firm control, but Rocky continues to fight back with a high cross body. Helmsley fires back with a knee crusher for two, but Rocky lands a powerslam as Marlena makes her way out to ringside. A dropkick of course sends Helmsley to the floor when Goldust suddenly steps out of the shadows, and Hunter opts to flee rather than fight, giving Rocky a count-out win. Very fun stuff as it was all action-meets-angle, meaning Helmsley had no time to work in his usual chinlockery and/or other assorted tedium. Very enjoyable stuff, especially with a red hot crowd that was completely into everything here.
Final Rating: ***

 

– Elsewhere, Dok, Todd and Sunny run through a country-fied version of ‘The Macarena’. As if the song itself wasn’t bad enough, try to imagine it drenched in backwater fiddles.

– Meanwhile, the Honky Tonk Man cheats a couple of luchadores out of their pesos over at the blackjack table.

– Back in New York, Mr. Backlund is losing his mind over morality.

 

Histeria & Mini Mankind vs. Venum & Mascarita Sagrada
This is actually a mixed match as Sagrada and Mankind are minis, but Venum and Histeria are full-sized luchadores. Venum is probably best known as Venum Black, having previously worked under a mask as Power Raider Rojo. Histeria you’ll likely know better as Super Crazy. It’s the regular luchas who start, popping the crowd with a back-and-forth sequence that concludes with Venum sending Histeria to the outside with a pair of head scissors and following with a springboard plancha. The minis follow with a sequence of their own, Sagrada landing a flying crossbody to the floor on Mini Mankind, and that’s the cue for Steve Austin to hit the announce booth, which is both a blessing and a curse. He’s wildly entertaining of course, rambling on about people trying to censor him because of his foul language and promising a Royal Rumble victory tomorrow night, but the whole thing results in a split-screen that takes the focus off the actual match. It’s like someone in the production truck didn’t realise that you could still hear Austin without the need for a close-up of his mug (or more likely, figured most people would somehow find high-flying, mask-emblazoned superhero wrestlers too dull to pay attention. Kevin Dunn, I’m looking at you). At this point, they seem to start running through some of the same spots, as often seems to happen in lucha matches owing to the wildly different psychology down Mexico way, but it’s kind of hard to tell when the action is all squished into a little box at the side of the screen. Venum misses a corkscrew moonsault and Histeria lands a sitout powerbomb for the win. More good stuff here.
Final Rating: **¾

– Meanwhile, George and Adam are already at the Alamodome.

– And now for something completely different as in a total surprise, Pettengill brings out Texas legend Terry Funk, who’s determined to get himself over kicking and screaming with an incredible, out-of-control promo:

“Yeah! I’m home! This is my state! This is my town! I’m in the heart of Texas, where I wanna be Pettengill! This is where I wanna be and everyone out here knows I’m a windmilling, piledriving, neck-breaking, back-breaking, bear-hugging, wrist-locking, knee-dropping, toe-holding son of a son of a gun, meaner than a rattlesnake, tougher than shoe leather, and more dangerous than a hollow-eyed scorpion, and I am ready to rumble!

Now, I wanna know what number I’m going to be in that ring. What number am I going to be? Am I going to be number 1 or am I going to be 29? To hell with number 15, I wanna walk out there with that first man. George Bush and the representatives of Texas designated me as their Texas member. I wanna start the Rumble, and I wanna end the Rumble, and I wanna start that Rumble not tomorrow night, how ‘bout a one-sided rumble with you right now Pettengill? How about a rumble with you?

 

Well is there somebody else out there? I am looking for anybody! Where’s a person that wants to rumble with me? There’s not a person in the WWF that wants to rumble with me! Not a person in the WCW, those bunch of snake-sucking scumbags, they don’t have an athlete enough for me! I’m looking around here, where’s Vince McMahon? That Yankee BASTARD!

I realise this is live! Hey Pettengill! Give me the microphone! How about rumbling with you? Your mother’s a whore! If you don’t like that, why don’t you rumble a little bit? You wanna rumble Pettengill? No! No you don’t! Is there anybody here? Where are you Jim Ross? Where are you, you Oakie asshole! Where are you?!


Oh. Oh. Come on ‘Stone Cold!’ ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin! Do you wanna rumble? Do you have the guts to get in the ring? How about you? This is live! How about you? I’ll lay here on the ground for you Austin! Come on! Yes! Nobody’s got the guts! I’m staying out here for the rest of the show! Come on! Where’s your guts Austin? I want a rumble! I wanna rumble!”

Austin finally responds to the challenge with a brief brawl into the commercial break. This was exactly the kind of segment Shotgun was crying out for, not that goofy karaoke shit with Pettengill the last couple of weeks.

Faarooq vs. Jesse Jammes
I guess I spoke too soon, as Pettengill joins Jammes for his latest rendition of ‘With My Baby Tonight’, joy of joys. Hilariously, as well as this might play out in an actual country and western bar, Jammes’ mic isn’t working so nobody can hear it anyway. Brilliant. And then the WWF further endears themselves to the hometown crowd by having Faarooq squash Jammes with a spinebuster and the Dominator in around two minutes after some token offence from Jammes. I know why you’d put Faarooq over with his Royal Rumble showdown against Ahmed Johnson just a day away, but why would you have the country bumpkin be the one to do the honours in a hillbilly bar when so many other perfectly sacrificial guys were in town?
Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)

 

Steve Austin vs. Goldust
Goldust’s on-screen graphic comes complete with the caption “What does his daddy think?” Chuckle. Once again, timing issues with the show mean this main event will only have about four minutes before going off the air, which exactly doesn’t bode well after last week. And speaking of last week, we never did see the finish to Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon vs. the Headbangers (Furnas & LaFon won), and what happened to Goldust’s pregnancy anyway? Not that I particularly wanted to see such a thing, but that’s such a blatant bait and switch. JR does at least address it by calling the rumours “off the mark”, and Vince calls it “an attempt at a little humour.” Yes, very little humour.

Austin starts by stomping his usual mudhole before Goldust fires back with a clothesline and takes over, but astonishingly, there’s still a commercial break that needs to be shoehorned in. Back from that, Terry Funk returns and attacks Austin, causing the disqualification, then Faarooq, the Headbangers and the Godwinns all dive into the ring for a mini Rumble. Hunter Hearst Helmsley soon slithers out and chokes out Goldust with a pool cue, as Austin backdrops Funk into a Bud Light beer tub.

 

THE SHOTGUN RECAP:

 

Most Entertaining: How could it be anybody but Terry Funk?

Least Entertaining: Not an easy award to give out this time, but we’ll go with Jesse Jammes for his microphone problems. A blessing to many no doubt, but he had his target audience right here, only for his equipment to crap out just in time for him to get his head caved in by Faarooq. Good going, Jesse!

Quote of the Night: Terry Funk’s promo, as transcribed in its entirety above.

Match of the Night: Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

 

Summary: Good wrestling, wild brawling and crazy promos made this by far the best episode of Shotgun yet, and in truth, I can’t imagine that status ever changing once things move back to NYC.
Verdict: 73

Survivor Series ’99

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James Dixon: The last few versions of this show have been pretty monumental. The previous year was the “Deadly Game” tournament to crown a new WWF Champion, which The Rock won after a heel turn and a night where there was next to no wrestling worth shouting home about. The year before was the infamous Montreal Screwjob, about which enough has been written already. 1996 saw Sycho Sid dethrone WWF Champion Shawn Michaels to thunderous applause, while on the undercard Steve Austin and Bret Hart assembled a bona fide classic. 1995 and 1994 both saw title changes too, with Bret Hart winning the title from long time champion Diesel in ’95, having lost it to Bob Backlund in a very long and mostly boring bout in ’94. Plenty to live up to then, and this show will be remembered long into the future too, but for something stupid and idiotic rather than monumental…

 

No Mercy (UK)

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Lee Maughan: Hosted by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Shane McMahon brings out the Corporate Ministry to kick things off with a bang, with a series of tiresome lines about showing “no mercy” to any of their opponents, bringing the damaged-beyond-repair European title “out of retirement for one night only” for his match with X-Pac, and revealing that tonight’s main event will now be “governed under no holl barls… rules.” Well that cleared that up.

No Mercy ’99

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Arnold Furious: This is a show I begged off James Dixon as I wanted to see the famous ladder match again. I could just watch it by itself, but I never seem to get time for such leisurely activity when we have tapes to review. This came from a time when I was meticulous about recording details of shows, and inside the tape case is a complete match listing of the show, complete with the star ratings I gave out at the time. If only I’d been so meticulous when it came to cataloguing my Japanese tape collections, which appear to have been dumped in large cardboard boxes with no labelling whatsoever. I probably have 40 unmarked VHS tapes in my collection that are completely unidentifiable without sitting down and watching the tape. With all the Japanese matches that have found their way onto YouTube since I acquired all these tapes it makes such a job both excruciatingly dull and utterly pointless. But I’ll hang on them anyway in case I one day need a load of random Japanese matches from the 1990s to keep me amused.

 

We’re in Cleveland, Ohio. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. No Mercy has some of the most unfortunately awful theme music of all time. It’s a rubbish techno soundtrack with about three notes repeated over and over again. Garbage.

Unforgiven ’99

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James Dixon: This is a very notable show for one very good reason: it marked the final time Vince Russo and his poisoned pen would ever scribe anything for pay to air television in the WWF. A momentous occasion certainly, and as the tremendous year 2000 will prove, they were far better off without him. Russo’s departure was typical of him, as he let himself become consumed with his own hype and started to genuinely believe that he was the one-man-band who single-handedly turned the WWF around. Everyone with any smarts knows the truth: that Russo threw a million ideas at the wall and Vince McMahon filtered the worst and went with the “best”. Russo jumped ship to an ailing WCW in an attempt to turn their fortunes around, but ended up tanking the company in record time, proving to everyone what they already knew: that he was a complete and total blowhard fraud. It is hard to suppress a large grin at his fate.

 

We get a shot of all the WWF referees, who are outside the venue picketing over unfair working conditions. Scab referees have been appointed for the matches tonight. The fact that anyone involved in the WWF is trying to put together a union is just dripping with irony and smacks of McMahon lording it over anyone who has ever tried.

 

SummerSlam ’99

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James Dixon: We are in Minnesota, home of one Jesse Ventura, and the Governor is the special guest referee for the triple-threat main event tonight. Ventura gets into a debate with Triple H about following the rules, to which Hunter reacts like a petulant, whiny child. That is the way he came across to me for the entirety of his heel run prior to winning the WWF Title for the first time, with him acting like he had some sort of God-given right to the gold. Frankly after some of his performances from 1995 through 1997, he is lucky he even kept his job.

Fully Loaded ’99

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Arnold Furious: Over the course of Volume 4 there has been a definite trend; the realisation that Attitude shows seemed great “in the moment”, but have little to no replay value. Most of the 1999 shows were littered with poor matches, wacky storylines and talking. This clearly got the better of my fellow reviewers as evidenced here. King of the Ring ’99 was supposed to be my last review for this book chronologically, and yet here we are. 1999; the year everyone doesn’t want to re-watch. This show is much like any other 1999 PPV. The main event is Austin-McMahon, or rather McMahon surrogate the Undertaker. HHH-Rock is on the undercard. What’s left of DX continue to have matches despite Triple H’s departure at WrestleMania three months earlier. The rest of the card is made up of title matches that hardly inspire. The one relatively surprising move came in Toronto the night before this PPV, where Edge beat Jeff Jarrett for the IC belt, his first major title in wrestling. It being a house show, no-one saw it coming. Edge wasn’t scheduled to have a title match until the night of the show. Ah, that wacky Vince Russo; throwing curveballs all the time. Given the proper build-up, Edge’s big title win could have been a defining moment in his career. We’re in Buffalo, New York. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. They bill the “end of an era” match where either Austin will get no more title shots or Vince McMahon will never appear on TV again. It’s a First Blood match and they make it interesting by having Austin bleed backstage on Heat. Roving reporter Michael Cole tries to accuse Vince of being behind the attack, which causes Shane McMahon to question who he is. Vince guarantees victory this evening.

King Of The Ring ’99

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Arnold Furious: When all the tapes had been claimed for this book I sat down to plan out my reviewing schedule and discovered, to my horror, that King of the Ring ’99 was on my list. Attempts to trade the tape, for literally anything else, proved futile. So here we are with King of the Ring ‘99. The WWF’s worst PPV of the year and indeed the whole Attitude era  (unless In Your House: DeGeneration X counts). It was bested in year end awards by the sensationally awful Heroes of Wrestling PPV (the one where Jake the Snake was hammered during the main event and every match sucked), so history only remembers this as the worst WWF show of 1999 rather than the worst PPV of the year. Although to be fair to the WWF, WCW probably rattled off two or three PPVs as bad or worse than this show in 1999.

 

We’re in Greensboro, North Carolina. This is the 7th annual King of the Ring PPV. The show was booked around Steve Austin battling the McMahons for control of the WWF. The event even has bad music. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. JR updates us on Heat and how Shane McMahon was “injured”. Ken Shamrock is the focus though; Steve Blackman’s attack on him has resulted in internal bleeding. Shammy liked his internal bleeding.

Backlash ’99

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Arnold Furious: This show comes right on the back of the WWF’s hugely underwhelming WrestleMania XV show, one I really detested. I think WMXV was the first big disappointment from the Attitude era. There had been other poor shows, but for a WrestleMania to not deliver in the midst of the biggest wrestling boom since the height of Hulkamania just seemed unacceptable to me. Eager to ensure Backlash didn’t fail, the WWF set about re-booking WrestleMania. They switched Mankind vs. Big Show into a Boiler Room Brawl, as opposed to the dull, straight-up match they had at ‘Mania, and gave Austin and Rock room to breath in their big rematch. 1999, arguably, only has three decent PPV events and Backlash is one of them. 1999’s event was the first Backlash PPV. It would continue on the schedules until 2009.

 

We’re in Providence, Rhode Island. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. The main event has recently been declared No Holds Barred, apart from Austin touching referee Shane McMahon, which is a DQ and results in a title change. Got that? Good.

 

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

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Arnold Furious: The WWF isn’t known for its class. There have been several dubious decisions by them over the years (including but not limited to; necrophilia, coffin surfing, miscarriages and faked death), but nobody ever seems to flag up their decision to name a 1999 PPV after the real-life murder of seven men. The actual St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place some 70 years earlier so perhaps the WWF could be guilty of either ignorance, not knowing what happened, or considering enough time had passed to make light of those events. Given that one of the S’s in “Massacre” is backwards on the edge of the video cassette; I’m going with the former. However, what better gangster for the WWF to name something after than Al Capone? As American as Vince and company, and often in trouble with the government, Capone was a figurehead for his respective career choice. Al Capone is The Gangster. Much like Vince McMahon is The Wrestling Promoter. Vince’s own Valentine’s Day Massacre was buying out his rivals and firing them live on TV. Perhaps the title is more appropriate than at first glance.

 

We’re in Memphis, Tennessee. Hosts are Michael Cole (unfortunately) and Jerry Lawler. The latter is over HUGE, thus proving he was Memphis wrestling to many people.