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On Greg Klein’s podcast, he rewatch just started 83: last episode had he Andre/Kamala slam. I agree with the consensus that late 83 is not as good as some of the other stuff, but 84 is a high bar for anyone to be compared to, in any promotion. 

i dont think there’s a bad year of Mid South, just some are better than others.  It’s not like 1984 JCP or post 86 WCCW.

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'84 is pretty great. Mr. Wrestling II/Magnum TA is one of the best feuds I've seen in '80s stateside pro wrestling. I think the thing about '84 is that it has very high highs (Midnights/RnRs, Midnights and Cornette in general, Wrestling II/Magnum, Adrian Street's run), but the middle card stuff outside of what I mentioned didn't grab me as much as '82 or '83. I think my particularly low tolerance for Terry Taylor being pushed in any significant way is just something that I can't get over. 

I didn't like '85, but I wouldn't call it bad, just booked in a way that didn't work for me. '86 is solid, especially whatever the Fantastics are doing at any time that year, but '85 is clearly the point at which the company is out of its hot streak creatively. It's not dog shit like late '80s World Class or whatever, don't get me wrong, it's just well off its peak. 

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14 hours ago, Cobra Commander said:

the legend I always heard was that the 24/7 era World Class episodes with intros by Kevin and Michael Hayes included Hayes basically saying "hang in there, it's gonna get good soon" for the earlier episodes. I haven't watched that run of World Class, but I got the impression that the Freebirds showing up livened the place up big time

They were wise to add that caveat to the front end of those shows. 

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SummerSlam ’98 notes:

  • The opening video package a) has too much Vince fucking McMahon in it and b) reminds me of how much I hated the Undertaker/Kane relationship drama by this time. They love each other, they hate each other, they barely tolerate each other, who the fuck cares after about ten months. Have Kane do literally anything else than get mixed up in convoluted plots with the Undertaker, Vince McMahon, and sometimes Steve Austin.


  • Val Venis is much like Tatanka, I think: League average. Won’t elevate a damned thing, won’t drag it down. Sign in the crowd: VALBOWSKI, PLANT YOUR SEED IN THE BIG APPLE. That is the first time I’ve seen a fan sign ask a wrestler to fuck his way through the city and leave a few newly-impregnated women behind. There are an absurd number of pro-Val signs in the crowd. What the fuck was wrong with people? Venis grabs a mic and says, “I came, I saw…and I came again.” This is an understatement, but 1998 WWF is unnecessarily gross sometimes.


  • Luckily, someone who is quite good at pro wrestling comes to the ring to face Val. D’Lo Brown is the European Champion and is doing that gimmick where he’s announced as now residing in a different European city every show. Tonight, he’s announced as now residing in Helsinki, Finland. D’Lo will get something decent out of Val; I enjoy D’Lo as a sneaky heel quite a lot. In fact, D’Lo takes cheap shots and runs away and ducks under the ropes almost immediately. D’Lo also has that chest protector on, and he's using it to avoid injury like pre-prime Roman Reigns. Venis fires off a forearm that hurts him more than it hurts D’Lo. I’m a sucker for this gimmick – I was digging Lex Luger’s metal forearm being a secret weapon on my ’93 WWF watch and generally love it when a heel uses a cast to bonk opponents on the head.


  • These fellas cut a pace and do a lot of rope running and countering until finally, Val scores a spinebuster for two. We cut to Edge standing in the crowd, watching the match. Where’s his source of charisma Christian? In the ring, Val scores a lariat, but whiffs on a follow-up jumping headbutt attempt. We get more counter-counter-counter until D’Lo slips to a side position and hits a back suplex. D’Lo reverses an Irish whip and goes off his feet to get some force; Val takes a nice bump in the corner and flops onto his face.


  • I am somewhat surprised that this match is so fast-paced and fun. Val counters a lariat attempt by ducking it and hitting an overhead suplex, but then he runs the ropes and D’Lo indeed scores that lariat he missed earlier. D’Lo gets two on a legdrop, then two on a wheel kick.  Val tries to slam his way out of trouble, but his back gives out, and D’Lo knocks him down and hits a second-rope elbow drop for another two count. Again, Val tries to go for a suplex, but again, his back hurts, so D’Lo slips out and locks on a Texas Cloverleaf (!!!) that he breaks, I guess because Val is crawling toward the ropes and he doesn’t want to bother trying to struggle over it.


  • D’Lo goes back to the second rope and completely whiffs on a senton splash. Val makes his comeback here with knees and elbows. He back bodydrops D’Lo and goes up top, but D’Lo gets up, meets Val’s leap in mid-air, and counters it into a Sky High. He’s hurt, though, and his delay in crawling over to cover only nets him a 2.9. Back to standing, both guys counter-counter-counter until D’Lo ducks a lariat and scores a DDT for another 2.9. D’Lo slaps the mat in frustration as I remain shocked that we’re getting a competitive, enjoyable opener on a late ’98 WWF PPV.


  • D’Lo tries to go up top, gets met by Val, and knocks Val back to the mat. He’s caught in a weird place though and takes time to re-position himself for a dive, which Val catches and turns into a powerslam for two. These fellas are just going to try and throw bombs at one another until someone stays down, I guess. Val tries to go up top, gets blocked once, gets back up top, gets blocked again, and decides to come down, hit a double-underhook suplex and a body slam instead, and then finally go up and hit a Money Shot. Val goes up, swivels his hips, dives…and eats all knees. I can’t believe they had an effective struggle over Val’s finisher. The crowd is apparently impressed with this and gets a D’LO chant going before it gets shut down with a D’LO SUCKS chant. D’Lo drops Val on a running powerbomb attempt – ominous, portentous – and then tries again and lands it.


  • D’Lo follows up with a Lo Down frog splash attempt, but Val moves, and I am really, really, REALLY enjoying this match, and Val rips off D’Lo’s chest protector and powerslams him for two, then puts the protector on himself, which is pretty smart, actually. Val goes up top while Jimmy Korderas tries to get Val to take the protector off, and actually, Korderas grabs Val’s ankle while protesting about the protector and knocks Venis down accidentally. Val keeps control, but when Korderas gets back in his face trying to get the protector back, Val shoves him out of the way, gets DQ’d, and this match deserved a far better finish than it got. Val beating up Korderas post-match for admittedly bad reffing and then hitting the erstwhile ref with a Money Shot is fine, but I am disappointed at this end, personally. Also, just so everyone is aware, I think I’ve identified Val Venis’s career match. I just wrote multiple paragraphs about a Val Venis match! I can’t believe it! Also, I have to take the “league average” label right back off the guy because he absolutely did a fantastic job in this match and it wasn’t just D’Lo lugging him along. D’Lo is fun and good, but not that fun or good.


  • Mankind is upset about some hearse he borrowed getting smashed up in the back. He’s mad at Kane for some reason that I’m not even going to try and parse.


  • Kai-en-Tai head to the ring to face the Oddities in a four-versus-three handicap match. I always forget that John Tenta ended back up in WWF for a minute under a hood and wearing South Park t-shirts. I’ll say this: The idea of Tenta vs. Taka intrigues me, but obviously not Golga vs. Attitude Era WWF Taka. Golga steals Yamaguchi’s shoe to do a “comedy” spot that really needs Chavo Jr. involved to find a way to make it work. Lawler says some objectionable stuff on color, but the nature of what he says is not what you’d first guess, or even second or third guess. The crowd kind of enjoys the, IMO, uninspired comedy spots in this thing, but I think we should just move along to the next match soon or maybe get Val Venis, top worker (?!?) back out here. Even Jim Ross says, “Well, we never advertised this to be a classic.” As I slowly remember the Oddities – Is that Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope out here at ringside? When did Luna join this group? – Golga flops on top of all four Kai-en-Tai members for the win.


  • Jeff Jarrett (w/Southern Justice) cut Howard Finkel’s ring of hair on the Sunday Night Heat before this show, apparently. I think they did him a favor; fellas, just let all the hair go or go get some of it shaved off your ass and implanted on your head, but don’t do the “keep a ring of hair around a bald dome” thing. Anyway, the finish of this match Jarrett’s going to have against X-Pac is spoiled because it’s a hair-vs.-hair match, and only one of these fellas famously sports a crew cut through the rest of this period. Fink’s with X-Pac as his support and is allowed to stick around even though the ref sends Southern Justice to the back. X-Pac grabs a mic before the match, calls Jarrett a “beeyotch,” and then hands it over to Fink so Fink can say “SUCK ITTTTT” in Fink voice. I chuckled at some of that.


  • X-Pac is very good at pro wrestling and Jarrett showed why he's a top talent with that first WCW run, at least in my eyes, so I expect something good, and of course, I get something good from these fellas. Again, we have two guys putting together a pacey match full of counter-wrestling. There’s a FANTASTIC, creative spot where X-Pac whiffs on a wild haymaker at ringside; Jarrett ducks the punch, pulls X-Pac into position for an atomic drop, lifts him, and crotches him sideways on the post. That looked like it hurt so bad the whole crowd felt it – OHHHHHHH – and X-Pac only made it back to the ring at the nine count.


  • I never would have guessed that the WWF undercard guys (outside of the Oddities, of course) would work at a more energetic pace than the WCW undercard guys, nor would I have guessed that X-Pac and Jarrett would have a match full of MOVEZ~ that would put all the cruiserweights who showed up on Road Wild to shame. Well, probably WCW’s commentary desk on that latter show had a salient point about wrestling outside in the heat versus inside a temp-controlled arena. Anyway, Pac drills a gorgeous tornado DDT for 2.9, but gets wrapped up in a sleeper when he runs the ropes again. Pac survives, then survives a super back suplex attempt by elbowing Jarrett away from him. He tries to follow up with a twisting crossbody splash, but Jarrett simply ducks, then crawls over and gets a long two count.


  • Lawler does make me laugh at one point here while both wrestlers in the ring counter one another some more. After insulting Howard Finkel, Lawler is asked by Jim Ross, “What did poor old Howard Finkel ever do to you?” Lawler takes a beat, maybe a beat-and-a-half to consider before responding: “Well, what did Howard Finkel ever do for me?” I mean, that is both honest and SHOOT! relevant to how people often treat one another in our disposable, fast-food, streaming society, and I consider that while X-Pac fights to turn a Figure Four leglock. They struggle over it, get an AWWWW when X-Pac almost turns it and is barely stuffed, and finally end up both on the mat for a standing ten-count when Pac blocks Jarrett as Jarrett tries to re-apply it and hits a desperation back suplex.


  • Pac makes his comeback when everyone gets to standing, hits a Bronco Buster, and moots a Jarrett comeback by rolling through a Jarrett crossbody attempt for two. They run the ropes some more and Jarrett’s Frankensteiner attempt gets stuffed into a sit-out powerbomb that scores two for X-Pac, and then Pac takes a wild corner bump a la Psicosis, and this match fucking RULES, man. I can’t believe how good the undercard has been so far. After Jarrett boots Pac in the junk on another Bronco Buster attempt, Fink gets on the apron to complain. Jarrett knocks Fink off the apron, but the distraction causes him to turn around into an X-Factor. The delayed cover gets 2.9. That’s when Southern Justice shows back up. Knight/Slazenger/Phineas I. distracts the ref while Canterbury/Shanghai/Henry O. grabs Jarrett’s guitar, swings at X-Pac, and completely misses the target. Pac grabs the guitar and hammers Jarrett with it before the ref turns back around. That scores three to a huge pop.


  • The New Age Outlaws run Southern Justice off and we commence the hair removal. Droz and the Headbangers apparently also have beef with Jarrett and come down to hold him down so he can get his head shaved. Man, for a guy whose catchphrase was “Don’t piss me off,” he clearly should have considered not pissing off a few people of his own. Jarrett cracks me up because while he’s getting his hair shaved, he’s just verbally ABUSING Mike Chioda for not seeing the guitar shot and for missing the guitar pieces laying around the ring: CHIODA, YOU PIECE OF SHIT, YOU DIDN’T SEE THE GUITAR SHOT, HOW THE HELL DIDN’T YOU SEE IT, YOU’RE THE REF. Jarrett is fucking killing me. While this was not as good as the Chavo Jr./Eddy hair match from the rival company because few things are, this was legitimately pretty damned awesome in its own right.


  • Method Man is chilling in the crowd decked out in DX apparel and bouncing to X-Pac’s version of the DX theme. The ‘90s, y’all!


  • In a bit of pre-acquisition synergy, we see the OCTAGON as Dok Hendrix, who is still on WWF TV as of 1998 under that name (?!?!), hypes the Lion’s Den match for later tonight between Owen Hart and Ken Shamrock.


  • The Rock cuts an interview with Michael Cole. Apparently, Rocky attacked his opponent for tonight, Triple H, on Heat before this show, targeting the knee in a bit of work that will come back to factor into their match later tonight. The Rock/HHH face-heel alignment is all wrong and should never have HHH as the babyface. In fact, as I recall in 1998, everyone in my group of friends who saw this show was rooting for The Rock. Triple H was naturally and completely unlikeable until he found the Papa HHH persona by hugging Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Cedric Alexander after big matches, but that was like two whole decades after this show. Anyway, the Rock threatens to slap the yellow off Cole’s teeth if he’s asked another stupid question. The crowd laughs. McMahon and Co. were wise to get this belt off him so they could elevate him to the World Championship scene ASAP.


  • It's Jacqueline! And also Marc Mero, who is good at pro wrestling. They’re a tag team tonight, up against Sable and someone whom Sable hasn’t revealed. Jacqueline left WCW because she didn’t want to job to Woman or Debra or whomever, but she’s apparently happy losing arm wrestling contests to Sable. Maybe the money’s better. Lawler pervs out while Sable introduces her partner, and YOU THINK YOU KNOW HIM, it’s Edge. Well, this match automatically has a cap on how good it can be, and it’s not because Sable’s in it. My distaste for Edge runs deep unless his better half Christian is with him.


  • This mixed tag unfortunately is not wrestled under intergender rules – Ross shouts out famed Lawler nemesis Andy Kaufman in pointing this out – so Jacqueline unfortunately doesn’t get to square off with Edge and we get a lot of Mero/Edge. Like Luna, Jacqueline will legitimately square up with a dude, but run from Sable. A cynic might say that it’s because no woman would expect a babyface guy to actually go full force at them, so they’re just peacocking, but it’s the Attitude Era, so any woman can get it from anybody. I think Jacqueline in this era would legit be willing to fight Edge, so that makes it silly that she’s running from Sable.


  • Speaking of Sable, she kicks Mero in the jewels and sets him up for a Sable Bomb because she’s basically Chyna, apparently, and Jacqueline cuts her off. Unfortunately, Jacqueline isn’t in there with Disco Inferno, having a fun match. Sable catches Jacqueline in a TKO and covers, but Mero grabs her ankle and drags her away. Jacqueline and Mero get their wires crossed on a double-team shortly after, and after Edge is tagged, he hits what I think is a wonderfully gorgeous dive on Mero to the outside. He got a surprising amount of hangtime. Jacqueline jumps on his back, so Edge pulls her down, puts her over his knee and spanks her – the Attitude Era, everyone! – and then goes back in the ring and gets two by hitting Mero with a crossbody.  


  • Some other stuff happens, Mero and Jacqueline can’t complete one single double-team move, and Edge crotches Mero on the top rope. I have to give it to Sable here because she tags in, lands a GORGEOUS top-rope Frankensteiner, and scores a deserved SABLE chant. It’s all downhill for Mero from there, as he gets headbutted in the balls by his own partner, hit with a Downward Spiral, and press-splashed by Sable for the loss. This was unobjectionable as a whole, but Edge and Sable nailing a couple of gorgeous moves made this worth watching. I guess I forgot that Edge was a very good athlete because inside of like two years as a WWF wrestler, he’d car crashed himself enough to kill quite a bit of that athleticism.


  • I guess Mankind and Kane are tag champs. Kane isn’t here, though, and Mankind has a freak-out about it because he’s got to defend the gold by himself tonight. He cuts a great promo in which he squeals at Michael Cole for asking him about defending his title by himself – “Maybe I should just go play in traffic,” he despondently asserts  – and generally gets really aggy. Vinnie McMahon shows up and tries to calm him by telling him that a) no one wants to see Mankind play in traffic (Mankind’s response: “I don’t think that’s true”) or to see him dive off the top of a cage (Mankind’s response: “I don’t think that’s true, either”). Vinnie finally hits on a calming refrain, which is that Mick spent his childhood and young adulthood loving Madison Square Garden matches, hitchhiking to them against his parents’ wishes as a matter of fact, and if he can win this tag title match by himself, Vinnie will shepherd him right into the MSG Hall of Fame. I looked it up to see if Vinnie was lying to Mankind about there even being an MSG Hall of Fame, but there’s an MSG Walk of Fame that was established in 1992. Anyway, that promise of MSG immortality fires Mankind up, and the poor dumb bastard goes off in search of a few weapons for tonight’s tag match.


  • Boy, they turned Owen Hart heel again way too quickly. Anyway, they’d never do something like this Lion's Den match today now that everything is so cookie cutter and corporate. They set the mini-Octagon up in a theater at MSG apart from the rest of the arena. This is a cool, intimate setting to have this in. It’s visually interesting. Owen (w/Dan Severn) enters first; Ken Shamrock comes out alone. They have an overhead cam shot that also offers a neat perspective. Maybe now that they’re under the TKO banner, they can do some cool worked-shoot stuff and be interesting as a company in some small way for the first time in a decade.


  • I just think I’m a sucker for worked shoot wrestling matches. This is on the way fluffier end of that scale, but there’s just enough semi-legit grapz here amidst the t-shirt assisted beals and stuff to work for me. It’s not UWFi, but I like it. Owen’s bleeding early; Shamrock launches himself off the side of the cage to hit a hip attack. This thing is just really fun, really visually different as I mentioned earlier, and even though they probably could have, and should have, done some more mat grapz to really differentiate this from a typical wrestling match, I approve of the effort here.


  • So anyway, everyone is bleeding in this thing the hard way. Shamrock keeps running to the cage and jumping against it to launch himself for moves. The third time he does it, Owen finally wises up, catches him, and powerslams him, then follows up with an aesthetically pleasing belly-to-belly and a Sharpshooter. Shamrock crawls to the cage and lifts himself up it to break the hold in a neat spot, very creative, and he manages to score a tornado DDT to get himself a breather shortly after.


  • Shamrock is up first, scores with a lot of strikes, and tries to follow up with a slam. Owen leaps over it, shoves Shamrock into the fence, and locks on a rear naked choke that apparently Severn had spent weeks teaching Owen to do. He doesn’t sink it in, though, so Shamrock is still standing, which is a real problem! Shamrock uses the cage to flip himself backwards over Owen, lock on an armbar, and transition it to an ankle lock that gets a tap.


  • I remembered this show as not being that good, but I have no idea why. It’s very, very good so far. I think the main event is a slog and that colored my memory of the show, which would make sense – the same thing happened for me and Bash at the Beach ’98. My memory of a show is easily swayed by the main event unless there’s something in the undercard that I really, really, really love. I don't have an excuse for not fondly remembering multiple of the matches in the undercard of this show, though. Maybe I was in a bad mood the last time I watched this show.


  • Stone Cold respects the Undertaker like some kind of punk bitch, this is the Attitude Era, don’t respect anyone you cornball, but anyway, he’s still going to beat ‘Taker’s ass in the main event. That’s basically what he says to Michael Cole. Am I the only one in the whole world who thinks the Smoking Skull belt is ugly? Probably.


  • Mankind comes to the ring to face another ass-whooping, this time from the New Age Outlaws. I’m not sure why Vinnie wants Mankind to lose the tag titles to the Outlaws so badly, but it’s probably not that important. Most of the storylines that don’t involve Austin and McMahon going at each other directly kinda stunk, let’s be honest. This is a No Holds Barred, Falls Count Anywhere match, so I assume Mankind will get hit in the head with a lot of stuff over the course of this bout. Apparently, Mankind and Kane had a Hell in a Cell match on the RAW before this show for some reason that I refuse to find out and the result of which might be the reason why Kane isn’t showing up for this match. Mankind self-soothes by yanking out some of his hair while Mr. Ass and Road Dogg bring out a dumpster full of plundah. Road Dogg calls it a “diggity diggity dizzumpster.” How did this corny fool ever get over?!


  • I don’t get why Road Dogg starts off on the apron when it’s no holds barred and falls count anywhere. Anyway, the conventional tag part of the match ends pretty quickly so the Outlaws can hit Mankind in the head with baking sheets. I just saw this sort of match on Road Wild, so I’m bored early. We’re in New York, so we get a small FOLEY FOLEY FOLEY chant, but mostly people are OHHHHHing at all the weapon shots. So many weapon shots. There’s a little drama here when Mankind is able to incapacitate one Outlaw and then quickly hit the other with a move and go for a pinfall. It’s reminiscent of trying to keep two opponents at bay in an AKI wrestling game by switching focus between them as effectively as possible while getting your momentum bar up so that you can hit both of them with your finisher and then pin the first one if they’re still prone (since the second one will be laid out for longer by that point).


  • Mankind tries his best, but gets double powerbombed into two opened chairs. That gets 2.9, and I’ll admit that it’s impressive that Mankind kicked out of that one. The Outlaws are so irritated that they spike piledrive Mankind directly onto one of the tag title belts for the three. The Road Dogg does his whole schtick with the TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS OF THE blah blah blah, and then they dump Foley in the dumpster and close it in a somewhat poetic callback to WrestleMania 14. So wait, the lid of the dumpster opens and Kane rises out of it, then hits an unseen Foley with the sledgehammer. I know this is supposed to be a supernatural thing – the Outlaws are freaked out by it and run away – but I just like to assume that both Ass and Dogg both have protanopia colorblindness. Anyway, this was dumb.


  • Triple H gets a live performance of his theme from the Chris Warren Band as he comes out to face the Rock in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. HHH (w/Chyna) destroys some instruments after the performance is over. All this work to get this doofus over. The Rock (w/Mark Henry) walks out looking like an actual star. Chyna stands in the ring and stares at him grimly; she also looks like an actual star. Then, there’s HHH.


  • Henry hits on Chyna. Well, that’s the mild way to put it. He pervs on Chyna, yeah, that’s a better way to put it. I love this company having zero idea what to do with Mark Henry for like a full decade before doing the thing they should have done in the first place. So, the match starts, and I’m seeing a theme here where every other match is a fast-paced, creative match and then bookending those matches are other matches that are generally mediocre, but have one or two spots that are pretty good. In this match, we get lots of counters, including early counters of one another’s finishers, before The Rock back bodydrops Haitch to the floor. The Rock goes for the ladder, but HHH catches up to him and stops him.


  • Back in the ring, HHH hits a high knee and goes after the ladder, but just as he gets there, The Rock shoots suddenly into the picture and shoves him into the ladder, knocking them both over. The crowd in the aisle chants ROCKY SUCKS, and an irritated Rock mouths FUCK YOU before grabbing the ladder and taking it back to the ring. Every SummerSlam should be at MSG just for the aura and the chance to have a bunch of mouthy New Yorkers yelling at heels in the aisle. They do a bunch of opening ladder bumps that are fine. These bumps were more impactful in 1998 before ladder matches got completely played out, but I can respect that they’re doing good work here.


  • They do get lucky in a couple spots because the ladder is inanimate and therefore does merely what physics demands it to do, like when HHH dives at the ladder to knock the Rock off of it, but accidentally clips the bottom of it in a way that knocks it back onto himself. After the third Mark McGwire reference of the night, in this case a reference to Trips swinging a ladder at Rocky, Ross grumbles, “Why don’t we ever talk about Sammy Sosa?” I completely agreed in 1998 and still agree today. I will talk about Sosa fondly when it comes to his baseball career. I have little issue with steroid use in baseball considering baseball's history of bullshit and think Barry Bonds, as unpleasant as he may be, is the G.O.A.T. hitter or second to the G.O.A.T. hitter depending on how you see Ted Williams. Imagine: We had all these Senate hearings over steroid use for hitters, but pitchers slathered baseballs with Spider Tack for literal months and damned near ruined the game and all we got was Manfred quietly stepping up the ump checks. Fuck off, MLB. And don’t get me started on every HoF’er pre-integration who ducked a bunch of elite competition just because that competition was brown or black. Take them all out of Cooperstown if we’re being real about fairness in competition.


  • I digress. The Rock has targeted Trips’s knee in the lead-up to the match, so he uses the ladder to try and destroy it, and there is where the creativity of offense comes in that really elevates this match into something good. I dig Rocky setting the ladder up between the barricade and the ring so that he can hit HHH with a kneebreaker on the ladder. After a couple minutes destroying the knee, Rocky gets back in the ring and tries to climb the ladder, but Trips is juuuuuuust able to crawl back inside and knock him down. Let me give HHH some love for this spot: He then knocks the ladder down, closes it, shoves it outside, and then tosses Rocky out of the other side of the ring so that he can give his knee enough time to recover so that he can climb. He undercuts this by grabbing the ladder again to set it up for use as a weapon, but still, good psychology in general there.


  • Trips tries to toss the Rock into the ladder, but Rocky reverses into a catapult. You may know my dislike of the immersion-breaking catapult move, but it was pretty good watching Trips bump off of taking the move, as he slams into the ladder, weeble-wobbles around, and finally falls forward right into the broadcast table. There’s more fighting around the ring and in the aisle, including Rocky escaping a Pedigree attempt by back bodydropping Trips onto the ladder. Yeah, this is some real good stuff from both guys.


  • The Rock gets a second ladder, which is always dangerous. He climbs it in the ring as Chyna helps HHH up. Hunter gets to the apron and Mark Henry stops him, so Chyna comes over and clobbers Henry, which allows HHH to shove Rock off the ladder. There is a cool move where Rocky falls outside the ring and when he gets up, Hunter baseball slides the top of an open ladder fight into his face. That spot was gnarly, and Rocky’s busted open. This match actually rules a whole hell of a lot, I have to say. HHH decides to climb the ladder after that move, and for good reason, but Rocky knocks the ladder over and there’s an element of danger as the ladder and HHH topple wildly to the mat.


  • There are some more counters, and quite honestly this match was considered a new classic at the time, but I don’t think it gets talked about as much as it should today. It should get a whole lot of love, though. Both men climb the ladder, and the Rock tosses Hunter off into the other ladder that's propped in the corner; Trips rebounds and stumbles into the standing ladder, which knocks the Rock over. The crowd applauds because they understand they’re watching something great. Chyna slips Trips a chair, and he uses it to clobber the Rock as the Rock holds a ladder. Still, Rocky comes back by slamming HHH onto a ladder and then dropping a People’s Elbow. The crowd cheers wildly for the People’s Elbow, then chants ROCKY ROCKY ROCKY. Turn him babyface already!


  • The crowd also cheers when Rocky catches HHH, leaping from a wobbly ladder, and plants him with a Rock Bottom. The ROCKY chant starts up again. Rock goes up for the gold, moons the crowd after Hunter grabs his tights, and is pulled of the ladder and into a Pedigree. Mark Henry is still able to toss powder in a downed HHH’s eyes, but Trips is first to his feet and tries to climb the ladder anyway. Rocky slowly climbs up after a blinded Hunter, who just can’t quite locate the belt. Rock gets some punches in and climbs up over HHH, but Chyna runs in and junk-punches Rocky right off the ladder, which gives Trips plenty of time to clear his vision and grab the Intercontinental Championship.


  • That was an absolute classic, and though I’m in the moment, I think it’s better than anything Trips did in 2000. I’d take this just slightly over the Royal Rumble 2000 match against Mankind. Maybe Trips should just have all his big matches in MSG, where he’s clearly at another level. As for Rocky, the ladder match was designed to elevate HHH to the next level, but what it did even better than that was legitimize Rock as not only a great talker, but a guy who could deliver in a big match. We get some immersion-breaking exclusive footage in which Pat Patterson calls for ‘Taker to get in gorilla; we watch Rocky walk through the back, shoo off a doctor, and cut a promo on Trips in which he says he’s still the People’s Champ even though he’s not the Intercontinental Champ anymore. What a run he had with that title, though! In fact, it might be the last iconic run anyone had with that title (though I don’t watch the programming and am willing to be corrected).


  • The Undertaker successfully found the gorilla position because he’s out here first as the challenger to Steve Austin’s WWF World Championship. Austin comes out and starts the match doing some awkward-looking mat wrestling. Apparently, Austin and Taker were tag champs before Mankind and Kane won them or something. Hold on, while this match is slow and boring in the early going, I’m going to go check the tag title lineage. When last I left off at KotR ‘98, the New Age Outlaws were champs. The belts between that show and this one – a period of two months – went New Age Outlaws -> Kane and Mankind -> Steve Austin and Undertaker -> Kane and Mankind -> New Age Outlaws. Boy, the Big Two were totally disinterested in decently booking their tag titles at this point.


  • Oh yeah, this shitty match. Undertaker is methodical in dissecting Austin, and by “methodical,” I mean “he does some slow and unimpressive back attacks.” Austin, in the last two of the Big Five PPVs, has been upstaged by the semi-main that has come directly before his main event match. He also had the drawback of having to try and carry Kane through a First Blood match in June, but Undertaker is a far better worker and I expect something better out of them.


  • Austin goes after ‘Taker’s knee, is able to pull the Undertaker down from a rope walk, and stomps at the knee a bunch while Kane wanders out to ringside. ‘Taker signals Kane to leave ringside because I guess they’re cool with one another at this moment and because 'Taker wants to win the match on his own, so Kane slowly backs away and then leaves. Austin goes back to a bunch of dull knee work. They do a little bit of ringside brawling, which is what Austin is best at, but it doesn’t feel heated like the best Austin brawling normally does. As an aside, I saw someone holding up a GOLDBERG SUCKS t-shirt, and then there’s a STONE COLD SUCKS sign in the crowd. I just think New Yorkers hate everything. Well, except maybe ECW.


  • These fellas are trying to bring some intensity to this thing, and Austin goes so far as to take a back bodydrop in the stands, but things are just not feeling amped up to me. They again try to pick up the drama with a ‘Taker Stunner escape followed by ‘Taker posting Austin’s spine, but neither guy has it in them to do much in the way of consistent, compelling body part work, so it’s a decent spot that feels ultimately meaningless. Taker does some chokes, and some more chokes, and then actually does one cool spot where he hits a legdrop from the top rope onto a Austin who is lying on the Spanish announcing table. This is shades of WrestleMania XIV in which I found his match with Kane to suck except for the one high spot he did. Oh, and Paul Bearer’s incessant chatter from ringside was good, too. Paul Bearer should be at ringside for this match. Shoehorn in a plot reason for it; it’s not like the shit needs to make sense. This is the Attitude Era.


  • There’s some more work in here, including an ugly botched Stunner spot in the corner. Austin gets up from that and runs into a chokeslam; ‘Taker signals for the Tombstone. He tries it, but Austin slips out of the back and tries a Stunner. The Undertaker blocks it and crotches Austin, and this ending sequence is also off and feels like a clash in styles rather than a real struggle. ‘Taker sits up after hitting a side Russian and goes for Old School again. That’s another mistake, as he’s able to rope walk, but gets punched in the balls as he leaps for the strike. Austin follows up with a Stone Cold Stunner for three. That was interminable. There are some guys who the Undertaker just cannot work with in a compelling manner, and Austin is one of them. I’m not sure they ever had a good singles match. Undertaker shows respect after the match and walks down the aisle, where Kane joins him.


  • This show was fascinating in that every other match ruled. The real main event was that Rock/HHH ladder match. Austin keeps getting upstaged on these shows, though. It’s going to happen again at Survivor Series! Honestly, maybe the good thing about Undertaker/Kane at WM XIV is that it gave some room for Austin to shine against Michaels. Though it’s funny, I’m not sure since Hogan beating Sheiky Baby at MSG that they’ve ever crowned one of their flagship stars for the first time in a way that was at all memorable, even when they’ve tried to (if we’re counting, say, Shawn Michaels as good enough to be at that level).


  • I digress again, though. Summerslam '98 was much better than Road Wild ’98 and the under-30 crowd on this show blowing away the under-30 crowd on that show is the reason why.
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WWF delivering consistently in big matches is one thing, but as much as we talk about how much talent WCW had in their undercard, by 1998, WWF has a pretty amazing group of undercard talent itself.

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7 hours ago, SirSmUgly said:

SummerSlam ’98 notes:

  • As I slowly remember the Oddities – Is that Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope out here at ringside? When did Luna join this group? – Golga flops on top of all four Kai-en-Tai members for the win.

not only were ICP at ringside, they actually rapped the Oddities to the ring that night! i assume it was cut out of the Network version due to music copyright. the Oddities were such a weird group. It never made sense. WWF never even TRIED to make it make sense. But somehow, it still kinda sorta worked? i dunno. there was zero reason for this to even exist at all.

semi-interesting sidenote, the ICP never got paid for their WWF appearances. they had negotiated a deal that would have WWF air a commercial of/for them, but WWF just.....never aired it. which led to ICP leaving.

SummerSlam '98 was a good show. not even sneaky good. just actually good. well told stories, good action, everything played out reasonably well or better. love it.

i have a lot of love for fun things like the Lion's Den match. not an all-time classic or anything, but added some variety to the show and made it feel more important somehow. Or maybe it was because to me, the UFC was still this mythical quasi-legal hardcore fighting tape. my local rental store(s) didn't carry the tapes, so i lived vicariously through second third fourth hand stories and magazine mentions. 

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1. Who came up with the Oddities? Russo?

2. Did WCW air an ICP commercial for them?

3. Was the Lion's Den match before the fight in Hart Dungeon or after or... what's the timeline on that? Were they even related? I don't remember who was involved.

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11 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

3. Was the Lion's Den match before the fight in Hart Dungeon or after or... what's the timeline on that? Were they even related? I don't remember who was involved.

Hart Dungeon was the July PPV before Lion’s Den IIRC

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17 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

Did WCW air an ICP commercial for them?

i want to say that ICP and WCW never had any sort of actual agreement, but my memory is very hazy on that. i DO remember Shaggy 2 Dope getting a Cruiserweight Title shot for some reason. and, of course, Mike Awesome powerbombing Shaggy off the top of his bus. but with ICP having a short stint in both 1999 and again in 2000, i would think that they must have gotten out of it what they wanted.

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A series of thoughts about The Main Event (2/5/1988):

I mean, this was pretty much a two match card (with the tag match being wrapped up quickly as sort of a de-facto standby match). It was also the WWF deciding that if they were gonna get on primetime network TV in 1988, they were gonna unleash pure WWF on the populace. (On checking, the WWF didn't appear to run any extra SNMEs as a result of the 1988 WGA strike since they didn't exactly need to swap out SNL reruns for SNME during the summer).

The IC title match was pretty much a display of when having a champ refuse to job actually worked out for the best for the promotion in general. The match really wasn't a lot to write about. Post-match, Macho Man trying to square up with a guy holding a guitar was something you'd think Macho Man would do. Using a guitar as a distraction for a megaphone shot was fun. Sherri in a disguise means that you get Sherri Martel in a wig with no bumps. So she just jumps around. It feels like they were trying to find extra stuff for her to do until they realized "hey, she could actually be a manager". Like they fell backwards into the whole thing.

The story, for the unfamiliar, was that Honky Tonk Man ixnayed the idea of dropping the IC title on this show. Which as a result led to him being the champion for another 6 months. Also it led to Randy Savage winning the WWF title tournament instead of Ted DiBiase. So it worked out great for everybody except Ted DiBiase.

The WWF title match something I've seen a bunch. You've probably seen it a bunch. It had a result that made my cousin cry. Before the match, we notice that hey, Vince and Jesse are at a commentary table that's like 3 rows away from the guardrail. Hey, if AEW is gonna be unable to sell half of the arena for various shows, maybe the commentary table should move to be on the non-hard cam side of the arena. To be fair, AEW might have 150 titles but they didn't have their champ switch belts from the prematch promo to the live match. Anyways, the match is actually delightfully basic in the sense that they didn't really seem to do anything that they couldn't do. Although Andre trying to slam Hogan off the top did not look as good as it did when Ric Flair was slammed out of the corner (more on this later). Andre's offense of choking and stepping on Hogan and kicking was at least done far from the ring ropes so his legs weren't totally fucked by then. DiBiase and Virgil were basically there to do stuff to keep things rolling around. Hogan makes his comeback by hitting a clothesline off the top rope, which doesn't feel like something he did often in this country and especially not by 1988. Then Hogan gets his anklegrabbed by Virgil, setting off the world's longest referee lecture as Hogan hits a legdrop to no avail. Then Andre headbutts Hogan and hits him with the world's shittest suplex for the victory.

Of course, Hogan's shoulder came up at 1 and Hebner kept counting. Then Andre got the title, surrendered it (while mangling the verbiage) in an almost slow motion paced handover, then there were two referees in the ring (unless you were really paying attention to the background, you wouldn't know which ref was the one who worked the match). So Hogan does the rational thing, interrogates both referees, and then one Hebner cheapshots the other and that's enough for Hogan to conclude that must be the evil one. Good news, Hogan didn't pick the wrong Hebner, because he launched Earl directly onto the ramp. In theory, Andre could have caught Earl Hebner. In reality, Andre needed help for a scene with Robin Wright in the Princess Bride and that slam out of the corner was a bit perilous. He wasn't gonna catch Earl Hebner. Fortunately I think Hebner didn't hit exposed concrete or a rail or anything.

Then the Hogan postmatch promo was probably one of his most delightfully insane promos ever. And that's covering some ground. Before the match there was sort of an election denier energy to the "Andre actually won at WM3" thing, but postmatch, you got Hogan going way deep into the conspiracy angle of what was a conspiracy. You know, throwing out claims of plastic surgery, acting like his favorite NFL team just lost on a bad call. It was an amazing promo in a sense. Maybe your top babyface shouldn't have done a promo like that, but it wasn't boring. Just insane.

Then we saw a very short Strike Force vs Hart Foundation match that I think was intended more as a standby match. I'd argue that maybe they wanted to end the night with the Hogan promo but they didn't cover enough time in the two matches, as opposed to actually intending to air the third match. They had an entire show before the Main Event.

Jesse Ventura was in amazing form for the title match ("Hogan can't manhandle a referee like that" "That man wasn't a legal official" "He just did the match"). Even in light of recent news, the Jesse/Vince team was an amazing TV experience. Also you can now treat Jesse Ventura as the face commentator who was right all along because he kept making solid points to counter the illogical points of his colleague. That being said, we're probably due for a disappointing Jesse comment if he ever goes on the record about the accusations that Vince is facing.

Of course all of this lead to a Wrestlemania which is mostly notable because your local video store needed a rubberband to hold the two tapes together when you rented Wrestlemania IV.

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Time for more afternoon wrestling

World Championship Wrestling (2/4/1989)

Jim Ross and Magnum TA are commentating with no mention of Tony Schiavone (Tony just left the company for the WWF and his last TV appearance is the 2/5/89 Main Event)

We start off this episode with Eddie Gilbert as a house of fire with a taped up face. Between the UWF commentators and Eddie Gilbert. It feels like we're getting a UWF/Memphis/JCP fusion today. Welcome to a transition phase for this promotion.

Match 1: Kevin Sullivan and Dr. Death vs George South and Bob Emory. Dr. Death legdropping a leg is a fun double team spot. Take your pick between Dr. Death manhandling a job guy and Kevin Sullivan making sure to avoid leaving his feet at any time working this match. Bob Emory just trying ti punch Dr. Death as he no-sells is an amusingly terrifying sight. Between that wrist lock and the arm bar, we're getting UWFI Kevin Sullivan today. He's a shootah. Hey Sullivan actually leaves his feet to apply an armbar and that's enough for the Varsity Club victory.

Ricky Steamboat joins JR at the table and he's working out with three men today. These 3 will be pretty darn good wrestlers too.

Match 2: The Fantastics vs Trent Knight and Eddie Sweat. Get all the women to the front row, the Fantastics are giving out hugs. Lots of double team moves. Then Tommy Rogers randomly sits on the lap of a fan in the front row for a few moments. Tommy Rogers looking like Great Value Terry Taylor today. JR insisting that the Fantastics name is apt because of the fan service. Eddie Sweat looking like fat Garry Shandling out there. Fantastics get the win with the Quebecers cannonball finish. Man, it looks like Tommy Rogers had to narrowly avoid clipping a light to hit that move.

Barry Windham, Ric Flair, and Hiro Matsuda are joining JR at the table. Hiro Matsuda is the new mentor for Flair/Windham because JJ Dillon just left for the WWF Front Office. It appears that Ric Flair's measuring stick for Japanese culture involves fucking Japanese women. Mannnnn.. at least Hiro Matsuda isn't being called the Shogun. I guess.

Match 3: Abdullah the Butcher vs Dave Heath. JR harping on how the Japanese are trying to buy the Dallas Cowboys. Yeah, imagine if the Cowboys were owned by somebody like that. Also the Japanese darn near control Hawaii according to JR. I'd imagine that Dave Heath wouldn't wanna drink Abdullah's blood. Extended nervehold by Abdullah where he's squeezing Heath's creeks. Yeah his face is turning red due to the effects of the hold, not because Abdullah slaps him with one of his hands every minute. Abdullah wins with an elbow drop. Gary Hart enters the ring postmatch to convince Abdullah to release a postmatch thumb to the throat.

Chi-Town Rumble is on a Monday Night.

Match 4: Rick Steiner vs Pretty Boy Lloyd. This guy doesn't have a CageMatch profile and I don't think he's Ray Lloyd. Rick Steiner powerslams this guy off the second rope because yeah sure. Lloyd doesn't land on his head on a German so Rick might be in a good mood. Then he forearm shivers Lloyd with a Steinerline. Rick Steiner wins with a Belly to Belly Suplex.

The NWA is saturating their own market because they're running a Clash 5 days before a PPV.

Mike Rotunda, Kevin Sullivan and Dr. Death join JR at the table to talk about their upcoming PPV matches.

Match 5: Kendall and Barry Windham vs Mike Justice and Robbie Wise. Nice to see Kendall getting to spend some time with his brother. Not sure if teaming with Barry actually makes Kendall seem any heavier. This feels like another era where Barry Windham is starting to build momentum only for him to do something to grind that momentum to a halt. Barry hits a Superplex but then lets Kendall come in to win the match with a bulldog. Then he hits a bulldog on the other job guy. Gotta love that little brother energy Kendall brought there.

Match 6: Midnight Express vs The Terminators. The Terminators are a masked team of short dudes. Meanwhile Paul E and the Original Midnights are taunting Jim Cornette with a sign. Midnights win with a double flapjack. Cagematch doesn't know who the Terminators are but my guess is "short dudes inspired by the Power Team"

Lex Luger joins Magnum TA to talk about how he's gonna be in line to face Ric Flair if he beats Barry Windham. And guess who's out of the NWA within 2 months of this show.

Ricky Steamboat's Public Workout: Ricky Steamboat is taking on Bob Cook, Dustin Rhodes, and Ric Diamond. Hey, Dustin Rhodes bringing out Ricky Steamboat in 1991 had continuity to it. There is some real elephant in the room energy in what they don't mention as Dustin works out with Ricky Steamboat. Kinda interesting how it took another 2 years after this for Dustin to get his national TV run because he wouldn't have been the worst regular on this roster in February 1989. There's some fun about them mentioning that the workout partners are doing Ric Flair moves. Ric Flair walks out to be outraged at being compared to these guys. Anyways this workout ends without anybody being jumped.

So naturally the chaos happened during the commercial break instead. During the break, Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat fought in the ring. As is Ric Flair tradition, this ends with Ricky Steamboat ripping Ric Flair's shirt off. Ric Flair has words for Ricky as he is shirtless with a necktie still on his body. Well, that's one way to do a segment.

The Road Warriors join JR at the table. Maybe Paul Ellering has more of a Leon Redbone look this week. Or maybe Leon Redbone as a cowboy.

Match 7: Butch Reed vs Jerry Price. Hiro Matsuda has taken over Butch Reed from JJ Dillon. Jerry Price is also African-American and he got flinged into the floor, flung onto the floor... "Does the date December 7th mean anything to anybody anymore"... Jesus Jim. I forget if Turner Broadcasting just killed this whole gimmick or if it died on it's own. But yeah this would be like if we had an Arab manager in wrestling in the 2040s and the commentator was referencing September 11th. JR pivots back into reciting biographical information about Butch Reed. Butch Reed wins with the shoulderblock off the top rope.

Sting joins JR at the table. He will be facing Butch Reed at Chi-Town Rumble. Sting decides to imitate Butch Reed's voice talking trash.

Match 8: The Road Warriors vs Mike Jackson and Kip Montana. No slide-in this week because they're wearing shoulderpads. We have some real stars of the future today doing TV jobs. Montana pretty much looks like later 90s Billy Gunn only with less muscles and a mullet (I don't think Billy had blonde hair for most/all of that Smoking Gunns run). Warriors win with the Hart Attack on Kip Montana. But he would get revenge many years later.

Match 9: Dick Murdoch vs Mike Thor. Mike Thor looking like a man with deeply held opinions about which Outlaw Country singer is the best. Jim Ross is betting that Dick Murdoch would never be under the employment of somebody from Japan. Oh boy Jim. Also, Murdoch was aligned with Russians on this show like a year or two ago. Dick Murdoch's son was part of an undefeated Texas high school football team this last year. Dick Murdoch unleashes a dropkick so he's feeling it today. Murdoch wins with the Brainbuster.

Chi-Town Rumble being on a Monday makes me wonder about the concept of a certain federation running PPVs on Monday Nights outside of NFL season when Raw goes to Netflix.

The Midnights and Jim Cornette join JR at the table. Stan Lane looking like a man who runs a tab at strip clubs. Bobby's in a salmon colored shirt. Jim Cornette enjoying his opportunity to do the Untouchables open on TV (Jim's delivery of that open is very "Jim Carrey doing an imitation on In Living Color" esque too). Jim reading some newspapers lately with that Ted Bundy namedrop. Don't worry, the booking/executive change was doing work to fuck up this feud.

Match 10: Mike Rotunda vs Ric Allen. Dr. Death has Oklahoma gear. Rotunda has Varsity Club gear. Your liver would fail if you drank for how many times JR found ways to reference football in his commentary around this time. JR trying to avoid getting hatemail for suggesting Mike Rotunda could execute a gameplan better than Rick Steiner. Rotunda's heel moveset involves doing boring moves and grabbing the rope behind the referees back. JR says that Jet Magazine named Teddy Long as referee of the year which.. yeah, JR might have too much time to fill by himself working with TA. I think the key to grabbing a rope behine the referee's back is to just not touch the rope if the referee's looking but make it real obvious that you could touch that rope. Rotunda's midmatch jumping jack is threatening to shatter my belief that he's boring. Rotunda wins with a butterfly suplex.

Match 11: Junkyard Dog, Michael PS Hayes, and Sting vs Max McGyver, Cruel Connection 1 and 2. This is certainly a match that is gonna fill TV time. They seem to waffle on how to spell McGyver's name even by 1989. It looks like both Cruel Connection guys could work Ninja Turtle gimmicks without changing their costumes much. George South getting two paychecks today. McGyver is being called Mad Max McGyver today. Hayes DDTs McGyver for the win. Man, this match would have been so much longer if it happened in the first half of this show.

"I'm surrounded by a lot of beef" says JR as JYD, Michael Hayes, and Sting are at the table with him. These three will take on the Road Warriors and Tenryu on February 15th (weeelllll...). At least they're actually hyping a match for the Clash on this show (but...). Noted paragon of racial understanding Michael Hayes closes with "they're talking about how big Tenryu is, I'd love to slap a Jap". Boy, this promotion decided to transition hard into making Japan the heel force. Which, yeah I remember hearing about how people thought in the late 80s, but holy hell...

So I think this promotion is gonna actually transition after all this to reach their "dynamo of good programming" because right now it's... something. I can't imagine why this group is about to lose their working relationship with All-Japan Pro Wrestling but it won't be because of what they did on TV this week.

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Before I get too far behind and I forget.. let's go back to

The Mae Young Classic (Episode 5/Round 2)

Why yes, the WWE does have a Nation of Domination collection for anybody wanting to celebrate Black History Month.

Let's take a look at Abbey Laith and Rachael Evers.

Round 2: Rachael Evers vs Abbey Laith. Gotta love how that RE t-shirt works for either name that Rachel Ellering works under. Hey, Kassius Ohno is in the audience applauding. If I was watching this live and some time traveller asked me to guess which Mae Young Classic competitor was doing a Golden Age of Hollywood gimmick in AEw in 2024, I'd guess Abbey Laith, and then i'd ask "what's AEW?". That camera angle on the suicide dive did it's best to hide that Abbey didn't seem to make contact with it. This match is taking place in a magical universe where it's not really being paid much attention to, as you might notice from Evers hitting a Diamond Cutter off of an Irish Whip as a throwaway move early. The crowd is feeling their potentially obnoxious energy with dueling chants, well blondes vs brunettes has been a question of taste for awhile. The Abbey kicks look pretty good too. That powerslam off the top rules. Abbey wins by countering a kick into a powerbomb and cradle. Well, that was a quick one. I'm sure somebody that I don't remember is doing that powerslam off the top regularly but that looks like a move that somebody needs to steal.

Let's take a look at Serena Deeb and Piper Niven.

Round 2: Piper Niven vs Serena Deeb. JR gets another moment to be impressed with wrestlers getting college degrees while mentioning Serena Deeb got a degree from Indiana while in OVW. More crows chants. This feels like a matchup that should feed into the "Serena Deeb overcoming adversity and acheiving redemption" story that they're pushing here. The Piper Niven running splashes are a fun visual although i'm not sure I can buy Serena Deeb countering a senton by lifting her knees. There's a fun amount of creativity of Deeb figuring out offense she could hit vs Niven (running her head into a turnbuckle while Deeb's on the top rope, the monkey flip off the top). The art of wrestling is Piper Niven hitting offense on Serena Deeb without actually flattening her. That facebuster by Deeb that led to a Niven flip sell was something. Nice Vaderbomb there by Niven for a nearfall. Niven misses a splash, Deeb charges but Niven counters into a Michinoku Driver for a win. Well, I guess we didn't get to figure out how Serena Deeb could hit a spear in this matchup without bouncing off of Niven.

Let's take a look at Princesa Sugehit and Mercedes Martinez. We got some actual hype package trash talk as Sugehit pledges to destroy Mercedes (or they figured that was the toughest possible translation of what she actually said)

Hey it's Kalisto in the crowd.

Round 2: Mercedes Martinez vs Princesa Sugehit. Sugehit is pronounced like it's French, for the record. Both competitors have full sleeves, in a sense. Got some early mat wrestling here. Nice go-behind into the turnbuckles and a running somersault attack by Sugehit. Liked the 3 suplexes in a row by Martinez. Sugehit counters a superplex with a toss-off and a swinging DDT. Nice tilt-a-whirl into an armbar for a few moments. Martinez comes back from that adversity to win with a Fisherman's Buster.

Quarterfinal matchup: Mercedes Martinez will face Abbey Laith.

Charly Caruso getting air time feels a little superfluous if she's gonna just introduce the prematch package for the 4th match of the night.

Let's take a look at Bianca Belair and Kairi Sane. "I want people to memorize my matches" feels like somebody botching a translation of Japanese.

Round 2: Kairi Sane vs Bianca Belair. JR is fascinated with Kairi Sane being a yachtsperson, isn't he. JR calling Bianca Belair the best pure athlete is like if you trained an AI program to write Ross Reports. Nice taunt exchange from these two. This is real early so the concept of Bianca Belair whipping someone with her hair is novel. These two have faced each other a bunch and this is the first matchup. Nice full nelson camel clutch by Bianca of her just ragdolling Kairi. A countered Bianca splash leads to us seeing Kairi hit chops in the corner. Nice double-arm clutch submission from Kairi that gets countered. Neat powerslam. Logical for Kairi's strikes to sorta knock Bianca back and Bianca's to knock Kairi back 4 feet. Bianca with a nearfall on a 450 that looked cool. Obligatory shoulder charge into the ringpost turns things in Kairi's favor. Nice Uraken by Kairi and Kairi wins with the top rope elbow to advance. That was a fun one. That elbow drop looks like it would actually fuck up the hip more than the regular top rope elbows.

I'm paying a little more attention today so I might be wrong but it feels like Lita is warming up to color commentary which is good since it means less JR.

Now it's time for...

The Mae Young Classic (Episode 6/Round 2)

Earlier tonight, Ronda Rousey and her friends walked into the arena.

Let's take a look at Toni Storm and Lacey Evans. Lacey Evans declares that Lacey Evans stands for what women all over the world fight for, which is certainly one hell of a thing to say out loud with sincerity. Meanwhile Toni Storm leans in for her prematch like someone who needs glasses reading an eye chart.

Round 2: Toni Storm vs Lacey Evans. Slight curveball as the person with the second prematch segment doesn't get introduced first here. It's Toni Storm vs someone with a retro look. Well, knowing what we know now. More dueling chants because Full Sail fans are jacked up on Mountain Dew for this one. Neat series of moves with Lacey catching a foot, dropping it and Toni just kicking her in the face. Neat combo by Lacey with the legsweep and the move over the top. Pretty good action here as I consider the possibility that either Lacey Evans is better than we acted or she peaked in NXT or it's all Toni Storm carrying this. Toni Storm wins with a move called the Storm Zero (not the one she calls the Storm Zero now) which was a bit of a surprise but then again, NXT results and who actually gets main roster play are different. Also I can see why they realized "hey, Toni Storm can't hit the Air Raid Neckbreaker on some people without killing them, use the name for something else"

Toni Storm will take on Piper Niven in the quarterfinals.

Let's take a look at Mia Yim and Shayna Baszler. I keep having to remind myself not to mispell Baszler as "Baeszler"

Round 2: Mia Yim vs Shayna Baszler. Did you know that Shayna Baszler is friends with Ronda Rousey? Nice kick exchange early. Mia Yim with a suicide dive that looked pretty good. Nice two gutwrench suplexes in a row by Shayna. Yeah these two gel well together. Mia's in peril but she gets out of an ankle lock. Leg caught into a Mia Yim powerbomb. The fans are chanting about how much they believe this is wrestling. Mia Yim's 450 is countered into a rear choke and Shayna advances. That was fun. This was their 3rd match with each other (the first in WWE) and they would work against each other a bunch in 2019. They also haven't had a singles match with each other since 2019 and haven't faced each other in a tag match since January 2020. Also we had postmatch showdown that probably didn't actually go anywhere.

Let's take a look at Rhea Ripley and Dakota Kai.

Round 2: Rhea Ripley vs Dakota Kai. Finally a chance to determine which country is better between Australia and New Zealand. Dakota Kai facing down quite a bit of peril with the occasional hope spot. Lots of emphasis placed on Rhea Ripley being 20. Nice Northern Lights Suplex. Rhea Ripley's Charlotte Flair aesthetic sure was something. Lots of fighting on the top turnbuckle which ends with Dakota Kai knocking Rhea into the tree of woe and beating her with a double foot stomp. That was a surprising result to me. So a bit of a preview of coming attractions with Ripley on offense and then Dakota finds an opening to win.

Dakota Kai will take on Kairi Sane in the quarterfinals.

Let's take a look at Candice LaRae and Nicole Savoy.

Round 2: Candice LaRae vs Nicole Savoy. Hey, Johnny Gargano is watching this match. Nicole Savoy with a solid entrance jacket game. Savoy threatening to be a heel in a tournament without much overt face/heel stuff. Savoy folds LaRae with a back suplex. The second back suplex looks safer. We got an almost-surfboard countered into a surfboard. Nice back to back double underhook suplexes. The German Suplex was almost doen in a way that would cause a near-double pinfall finish in the 1989 NWA. LaRae doing some neat stuff to hang in there. More battling on the top turnbuckle. Swinging neckbreaker by LaRae and that gets her a win.

So, our quarterfinals are Candice LaRae vs Shayna Baszler, Dakota Kai vs Kairi Sane, Toni Storm vs Piper Niven, and Mercedes Martinez vs Abbey Laith.

Those 3 episodes and the final 7 matches will be watched later. If the CWC is any guide, there'll be an 8th match somewhere too.

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On 2/5/2024 at 1:16 AM, zendragon said:

SS 98 is a sneaky good show I even like the main event although Cold Day in Hell is better with the non finish

Overall, this is one of my favorite Attitude Era PPV's ('98-'99,anyway).

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It's a Tuesday Afternoon. Time to watch some Wrestling. This time around, let's watch some shitty wrestling.

Things I Remember From The 1995 WWF King of the Ring:

Would it shock you to find out that my local video rental stores did not carry this event?

First surprise of the night, Stephanie Wiand is still employed by the WWF and she does an intro for the Savio Vega vs IRS Free For All match

Savio isn't from Puerto Rico at this moment. He's from the South Bronx. This match with IRS goes for a few minutes and ends with a Savio spin kick. It's probably good enough but if you were won over to buy the PPV due to this match, god help ya.

Also, how the fuck did the WWF afford a blimp in 1995? And which warehouse is the Stridex indoor blimp in right now?

We start the PPV proper with Yokozuna vs Savio Vega. This one goes for a few minutes and eventually chicanery has to happen to get Savio past Yoko via countout

Roadie vs Bob Holly was surprisingly good. At least relative to the rest of the card. Bob Holly won his KOTR Qualifier 6 fucking weeks before this PPV. Jesus. Roadie wins with a boot to the face counter and a fucked up three count. Woo more screwy finishes.

Shawn Michaels going to a time limit draw? I can buy that. Kama the Supreme Fighting Machine going to a time limit draw? What. Anyways, Shawn's skin the cat makes me ponder how many pants would have been ruined by a Shawn Michaels vs Ricky Steamboat match. They wade towards the final minute with some slight suspense but surprise, it's a draw. Also the ring announcer, who isn't Finkel, fucked up the announcement of the draw. Who is this guy. What happened to Finkel.

There's a long break after this one where we see a Bob Backlund video package

Now it's Mabel vs the Undertaker. Mabel during this period in-between his heel turn and his King run might actually have the best look he's ever had in the WWF/WWE. But he has a lot of shitty looks in the WWF/E. Also Stephanie Wiand showed up to give Mabel a prematch interview. Mo looks like Evil Biz Markie in his role of being Mabel's cornerman. Mabel's gold entrance shirt is a lot better than his stupid purple gear. This one was sloppy. There's a ref bump. Undertaker chokeslams Mabel. Kama runs down, kicks the Undertaker, Mabel drops a leg, and that's enough for the win. Really. Also, this is during the time that the Undertaker is being stalked by Hot Topic Teens and he doesn't have an urn. Also I noticed ECW's Hat Guy for the first time during this match.

There's another break as we hear about the WWF Hall of Fame inductees. Should I read between the lines with the descriptor "longtime friend" for the guy accepting Ernie Roth's invitation? You can tell how well the WWF was doing in 1995 that they got a video from Bill Murray but Bill Murray didn't give enough of a fuck to show up in person.

And then my internet went down. Eventually I figured out that I could unplug the modem and plug it back in. This, fortunately, did not slow down the updating of my computer. Maybe my modem was trying to stop me from watching this card.

After all that work, I was able to watch Savio Vega vs The Roadie. And it was sloppy as fuck. Like I shouldn't have wondered about Road Dogg doing a Russian Legsweep if he couldn't hit a clean swinging neckbreaker. Eventually heel miscommunication happens and Savio pins Roadie to advance to the finals. Then Savio gives an interview in Spanish as Dok Hendrix tries to be useful.

On paper, the top of this bracket was loaded, and end the end, we got a final of Savio vs Mabel. A real "every top team lost in the NCAA Tournament" King of the Ring.

Bret vs Lawler was an attempt to save the night. It was pretty good. Bret won with the Sharpshooter. They teased the Summerslam 93 finish. Oh yeah, Bret made Lawler kiss his foot and then made Lawler kiss his foot. Also Hakushi ran ineffective interference. Could you believe that this caused the feud to pivot into Bret vs Isaac Yankem.

(around this time I start typing as I watch the show)

Now it's time for the finals. Savio vs Mabel. In theory, all of these Savio matches could have been better. In theory, maybe Savio didn't get his due because a Puerto Rico wasn't the favorite of every smart fan. Also because there's a lot of lumbering dudes working with Savio. Why did Mo dress like a guy working security for MC Hammer while Mabel was dressed like a mattress that hurts people. This tournament feels like it was booked to punish Philadelphia fans. Don't let them act like Roman vs Rock would have been taken any worse than Savio vs Mabel.  And eventually the fans start loudly chanting "ECW" during this match. Mabel wins with a Splash. Mo fulfills his role postmatch by eating a punch from Razor. Razor didn't work for a month after this one, so the injury was probably pretty legit and not Scott Hall not wanting to job to Mabel here. Man that skull and crossbones on Mabel's boots is neat. It's also possible that Scott Hall got hurt worse by Mabel. Then the Kid comes in to get beat down by Mabel and Mo too. Man, this postmatch booking is waving red in front of bulls.

Let's take a look at fans leaving the arena before the Mabel coronation ceremony.

Nowadays, you'd bump the coronation to Raw to help fill out a segment the next day. I think this Mabel coronation unintentionally inspired Stone Cold just ignoring all the bullshit in a coronation the next year. They gave Mabel a sword. As if he doesn't have enough ways to hurt people. Then Mo gets a scroll like he's Lord James Blears. And people are throwing shit. South Philly really loves black people. Yeah I was wondering how they would fill 40 minutes with 2 matches before the KOTR finals. How the fuck did Mo fill out a scroll before the match. And Mabel is now King Mabel. Which is actually an upgrade for a ring name. The WWF/E may have never figured out a look for Mabel but I think his names gradually got better. Just imagine if Mabel got a run in WCW in 1993. Also, Razor and friends are rushing the stage in an attempt to save this segment.

You know, Mabel probably should have changed his name after the heel turn. Mo really should have said his name as Morris or something. Then give Sir Morris a move called the Morris Code.

Meanwhile, Jerry Lawler is puking. I mean, that Mabel match wasn't good, but.

More Stephanie Wiand with the heel team in the main event. Stephanie wants to know what they have planned. Hard hitting question. After all this we got a main event with the Native American Tatanka in a tag team match. You know, the whole Tatanka gimmick was sort of a curveball on the usual Native American gimmick until they lost interest. Also having an actual Native American (though the Federal Government doesn't recognize the Lumbee) instead of an Italian helps a tad.

You know, they could have had this tag match at In Your House and then jobbed Bam Bam to Mabel for KOTR.

Gotta love how Sid gets to keep his music while being ineffectively managed by DiBiase. Heel Tatanka really could have went a few better ways but they didn't really care and he pretty much gradually went away.

You know, it was either this or Great American Bash 1991 in the echelons of shitty PPVs I haven't seen before.

Diesel and Bam Bam Bigelow, a total normal tag team where Bam Bam isn't being squeezed out of the picture by Diesel and his friends. Also gotta love doing the backstage interviews well in advance so that they're in street clothes.

Bam Bam decided to add more fire and pieces of flare to his outfit after turning face.

Gotta love how they had these doormen at the KOTR PPV in 95 and 96 before Ahmed wiped them out in 1996. So does Diesel have a Lex Luger Forearm of death with that Elbow Gear on. Imagine all the guys not on this card and we got two Roadie matches. Tatanka as a heel could have leaned more into looking like a redneck because he kinda looks like a dude from Oklahoma at this time. Cool, a match built around working Kevin Nash's arm. Tatanka doing some stereotypical offense to work the elbow. This heel turn was a mistake, wasn't it? Bam Bam threatens to make this match interesting with some hot offense. I don't really get Bam Bam doing a DDT since he has a giant back and would probably take the brunt of the move. But he also does diving headbutts, so. Sid chokeslams Bam Bam off the second rope which is the sort of cool looking move you don't expect in the middle of this match. Maybe a certain amount of the "Kevin Nash sucked as WWF champ" talk is really about him spending months working Sid and Mabel. But yeah, when all the other hot acts are babyfaces. I missed a few minutes assembling tacos for dinner. Did Tatanka take a flat back bump for an enziguri. Tatanka eats a lazy powerbomb and Diesel pulls him up. Sid walks out instead of fighting Diesel, so Diesel drops an elbow to beat Tatanka. Hey, doesn't Tatanka look like a moron for staying heel after that. 

and that's all folks...

what a show... I guess

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Why did you do this to yourself, bud?

The most memorable thing about this show was Bret/Lawler. The second most memorable thing was the RAW after the show with Lawler crushing mouthwash straight out of the bottle, which got my mom to laugh. 

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I was aiming for a card that I hadn't seen that was gonna end after my updates finished. So I didn't think that the February 1989 Clash was long enough. But I might do that sometime this week before I do Chi Town Rumble. I think Bash 91 at least has good wrestlers who may or may not have had a hidden good match or two.

It's possible that the WWF mixed the life out of the crowd to make it sound less angry at KOTR 95, even if the ECW chant made it through. But that was a dump of a card.

It appears the WWF didn't have an idea of who to use as a heel commentator when Lawler was unavailable for at least 2 years. I think Hennig was at least better than guys like Dok Hendrix which was basically Michael Hayes trying to be Michael Hayes without any flourish. Also, for all the smart people that dumped on Gorilla Monsoon for years, the product was not helped by having more Vince on commentary in the 90s.

Looking back on 1995 WWF, and you could probably figure out why 1995 WCW thought they could beat the WWF on Monday Nights. The main question is "what if they had debuted Nitro earlier in 1995 vs some real dregs of WWF Raw"

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17 minutes ago, SirSmUgly said:

Lawler crushing mouthwash straight out of the bottle

I guess he didn't know that broke the Straight Edge Code (then again fucking minors did too)

WWF were so out of gas they had a Jerry Lawler's Stank Foot Match. Think about that. 

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WWF wrapped up the Hart/Backlund feud and decided to go back to Hart/Lawler since they didn't wrap up that feud in 1993 due to... reasons.

Hakushi's WWF run had the high of working really good matches with Bret Hart, and also being Jerry Lawler's Asian flunky for part of his time there.

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