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Dolfan Watches Every Wrestlemania On Lockdown


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The InVasion storyline ended in the most boring way possible, with WWF winning convincingly and sending both WCW & ECW to the scrap heap.  Through various machinations (and expiring contracts) Ric Flair became "Co-owner" of the WWF.  Near as I can tell, Undertaker decided he needed to pick a fight with Ric because... I honestly don't know. Well, anyway, Flair says no, so Taker beats the unholy fuck out of Arn Anderson and David Flair and goads Ric to a yes. I can't remember why, but this meant he had to give up his half of the WWF (until the day after WrestleMania).  

Keep Rollin' rollin' rollin'.... this was "Fat Taker" so my friends and I -- all fat ourselves mind you -- always sang "Keep Eating, eating, eating..."   Self-owns are never fun to look back on.  Oh well, at least the pizza was yummy. RIP La Vita Mia!  

Alright, Flair comes down super determined and refreshingly old school in his entrance. Like I got no time for posing and pops, I'm here to kick this son of bitch's ass.  So Taker hits him and basically IMMEDIATELY Flair bleeds.  Also, something cute I've noticed in the re-watching of these matches, for as many times as Taker did the rope walk during his career he's a whopping 1 for 5 with his Mania attempts at "Old School!" so far.  

Now the match itself... I am not sure what's happening here.  Taker seems... disinterested? He's laying in his shots and stuff, but it all seems a little forced?  I can't quite put my finger, but he definitely seems off tonight. Flair is Flair, and getting killified in the ring is what made him a legend.  (I was going to say rich, but his ex-wives took care of that.) 

Also, the crowd is dead, and I mean, completely dead.  They barely woo for any of Flair's chops, they aren't cheering any of the comebacks, and aren't booing Taker's heeling. I'm guessing the crowd reaction is partly due to Taker being a natural face and Flair being a natural heel.  That, along with the belief that Flair had a snowball's chance in Hell of winning here.  

And I think that's what it actually is. Because they finally begin to react a little for Flair's figure 4.  But as soon as they break, so do they.  God, I never thought of an Undertaker match as a bathroom break match, but here we are. 

Far and away the best spot in the match is at the end when Arn Anderson sneaks into the match and CRUSHES a spinebuster on Taker, but only for 2.  The rest of the match was pretty paint by numbers until Ric actually cannot do the Last Ride spot.  And it quickly becomes apparent why Taker had switched finishers, because the impromptu Tombstone that does end the match saw Ric get dropped right on his head.  Taker himself acknowledges the STREAK~ by holding up 10 fingers.  

Yeah.... thatsa no good.  

Of note, this was Undertaker's last Mania as a heel.  Weird how long all that took, but that was it for Day 52. 

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DAY 53

One of the good things about the InVasion was there were a bunch of quality guys brought in to feud with established WWF guys.  So, Edge and Booker T should have a great program together because they're both super charismatic and excellent workers. 

"THEY'RE FIGHTING OVER SHAMPOO" reads the sign in the crowd. This fuckin feud man... The crowd was dead until the Spinaroonie, and I should just take note, the spinaroonie got so incredibly over as a thing it's crazy.  It was just a breakdancing move that Book turned into a franchise-defining spot.  Good for him.  

This match was absolutely terrible.  Edge in particular looked nervous or lost or genuinely disinterested.   I'm really not sure what happened there, but yikes.   This day ain't off to the best of starts.

Mighty Molly betrays the Hurricane and becomes Hardcore Champ.  

You know what?   Molly Holly is about as underrated a worker in the 2000's as anyone in North America. Her whole career deserves a re-look, because she was a lot of fun no matter what shit you gave her.  

Next up... we INJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJECT the WWF.... with a lethal dose of POISSSSSSON.  

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30 minutes ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Now the match itself... I am not sure what's happening here.  Taker seems... disinterested? He's laying in his shots and stuff, but it all seems a little forced?  I can't quite put my finger, but he definitely seems off tonight. Flair is Flair, and getting killified in the ring is what made him a legend.  (I was going to say rich, but his ex-wives took care of that.) 

Funny that you say that because it was actually Flair who thought he was off because he was very self conscious about how he looked physically and not very confident going into that match. Ric fucked up his signature flip over the top and go on the apron spot. Then, Taker went in the corner as they were about to redo the spot, leaned in, and told Ric, "Lets do it one time, kid" and Flair nailed it on the second try.

I dunno...I really like the match but I think the crowd played a lot into as well as the blood.

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Taker wasn’t at his best, and Flair was still putting himself back together after pretty much giving up physically and mentally in WCW. I think the crowd would have been way more into it if they hadn’t seen him being broken on television every week in 99-2000. Whenever I think of this match it’s just the spine buster spot and the story from Flair’s book about Taker doing the attack angle with David. Hogan had done a similar angle, and he got rough with David and never apologized. Taker also beat the piss out of him but said something to the effect of, “I went a little overboard.” Flair tells this story like it means Taker is more respectful, which I’m sure made David feel better. 

Edited by (BP)
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Hogan went overboard whipping David with his weight belt and I think it was that he was using the buckle end too. I believe Scott Norton was one of the guys holding David down and thought it was fucked up and did what he could to help David through it. That story was one of the main things that stuck out to me from Flairs book.

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It’s weird, Hogan’s chairshots looked like love taps, but he could be brutal with that weight belt. 

I was trying to find the video of the beatdown, but instead I found a promo from that time period where Hogan mixes up horror tropes and promises to, “Put the silver stake through Flair’s heart!” 

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6 hours ago, (BP) said:

It’s weird, Hogan’s chairshots looked like love taps, but he could be brutal with that weight belt. 

I was trying to find the video of the beatdown, but instead I found a promo from that time period where Hogan mixes up horror tropes and promises to, “Put the silver stake through Flair’s heart!” 

It was at Souled Out 99

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There's something to be said about Austin and Hall in an Alcoholics Anonymous Hall of Fame match...  eh.  

So, in Vince's feud with Ric Flair as co-owners, he's brought in the nWo as a poison pill the WWF, in one of the best pre-taped promos ever. Here, let's relive it:

At the time, I was genuinely shocked by the promo and marked hard in a way I hadn't since Heenan showed up with the NWA Championship. Of course, wishes and reality are often very different.  Nash and Hall are both well into the downsides of their careers and Hogan... well we'll get to him in a few matches.  Anyway, they come in and pick fights with all the top guys.  Most notably the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Outsiders cost Austin a chance at the main event at this Mania by costing him a title match at No Way Out (Furthering the paper champion aspect of Chris Jericho's reign, but more on THAT later too...)   Hall challenges Austin to a match at Mania... and here we are.  

Right away, I get the sense that this means a lot more to Hall than it does to Austin. Like Austin's got grumpy face on (more so) the whole way to the ring.  And the energy he's got in the ring is INCREDIBLY different than last year.  Austin is definitely not moving as quick, not hitting as hard, and not selling as much as he did for Rock.  I should note, for the record, Austin at 75% is still very good.  Hall is doing fine for the most part, and they're just working a brawling style with no real story behind it.  

And so there's the big criticism I have of this match.  It's fine, they're both rolling through their stuff, Nash is on the outside generally being a dick... but there's no real story to tell here.   This match is literally going to end one of two ways:  1) a double team is going to lead to Austin getting pinned  or 2) Austin is going to stunner the fuck out of both guys and destroy the nWo.  So there's no real drama once Nash takes a  stunner.   Hall's stunner bump is ridiculous too and I really hope he and Rock had a sidebet on who's sell for the stunner was more insane.  

So, yeah, it wasn't bad... but it just wasn't anywhere near the level of match these two guys should have. 

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They do a Fan Axxess segment.  It's the standard "OMG I'm at Mania" fans and "Boy it's sure great to meet all these people" wrestlers.  But the reason I mention this, is because I watched this a few days ago... right in the middle of the #speakingout movement that (hopefully) will send big shockwaves and changes (lol no) throughout the wrestling industry.  

There's a statue of Stacy Keibler there... except the statue is just of her legs and ass, wearing a skirt.  The fans are allowed to touch the statue and pose with it.  Stacy's interview is fucking CHILLING to watch in 2020.  She's doing her best to keep the company line saying "Oh boy it's so fun they have a statue dedicated to my legs and ass and they can all touch it."  But you very clearly see she's mortified and crawling out of her skin because of it.  And look, she could just be a bad actress and have been 100% cool with it... but Christ, I hope everyone who was touching that statue is on an FBI watchlist now. 

Alright, let's wrap the day up with something else that makes my skin crawl.  Billy and Chuck, the WWF Tag Team Champions.  

The concept of queer baiting is not new in pro-wrestling.  It's been used for 50+ years as a time honored way to get heels over and in some special cases, it really pushes the wrestler into the stratusphere (Georgeous George, Adrian Adonis, Goldust). There's a direct correlation there between the talent of the individual and the success or failure of the gimmick.  Anyway, so this is still a few months before the WWF got out over their skis and tried to have a gay wedding on Raw.  Their opponents in this 4 way elimination match are STACY KIEBLER (managing the Dudley Boyz), The Hardy Boyz, and The APA.  And this again, falls into a good match for Raw, but not a Mania match.  

So, I'm again amazed at what  a good backstage job Bradshaw must do.  Because everything he does out here looks like he just messed up and is working too stiff for everyone.  I don't know if he ever hurt anyone in the ring, but it certainly looked like he was trying.  So the APA roll through their stuff, mess up and get eliminated.  The Dudleyz are very much just there so we can all look at Stacy...  and I mean seriously, they're working their ass off in the ring, and Kiebler is bent over looking at them in the ring, and *literally* an entire section of dudes is standing up and staring at her ass.  She definitely knew how to work them -- and they're all definitely creeps.  

The Dudleyz go after Jeff spanks Stacy into submission. And Jeff gets pinned after a Fameasser and a belt shot so B&C retain.  

The match wasn't anything more than decent...  and honestly... well, lemme relate a story.  Madonna's song "4 Minutes" was a fun little number featuring Justin Timberlake.  And my favorite opinion of the song was from a  friend who said... "Jesus, Madonna really ruins this new Justin Timberlake song."   And that's how I feel about this match.  The APA and Billy & Chuck are ruining my Dudleyz/Hardyz match.  

End of Day 53. 

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The only thing I remember about that 4-way tag match was the Dudleys entrance with Saliva playing them out.  And to be honest that band was definitely a band of that time period as I haven't heard their stuff for the longest time aside from something in a commercial.  And of course there's Batista's theme which I still love (not as much as Xavier Woods does though)  But in '02 I thought they were awesome and really loved their take on the Dudleys theme.  Which compared to the version before does to me sound a lot better.  I think they also did "Superstar" on the show which I liked too.  But since it's 2020 I figured hey, why not check that Dudleys entrance again.  And not gonna lie I still like it.

Speaking of music at WM I think Drowning Pool also did "Tear Away" for the HHH/Jericho preview.  I loved the song itself but I do remember the singer was completely going through the motions.  Rest of the band seemed alright but to go from Saliva giving their all to that was quite jarring.

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DAY 54

Christian becomes Hardcore Champion by doing a Looney Tunes joke.  Okay, that was at least a little funny. 

Hall and Nash are pissed backstage and Hogan tells them not to get involved in his match. 

Alright. So here we are, Hulk Hogan is back in the WWF for the first time in almost a decade. The nWo's invasion of the WWF has meant the return of the man most closely associated with the WWF in its last peak.  Hulk has definitely been vibing on his return, and has gotten a program with The Rock as a way to make a boatload of money for both guys (and "decide who is the true face of the WWF" -- a program that basically never goes well for the older guy).  Rock and Hogan work  a very fun Mutual Disrespect program that has been leading to a series of beatdowns on Rocky.  Alright, so here we go.

Hogan comes out first to the nWo theme, which is weird because I could have sworn he came out to "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)", but it does not appear to be dubbed, unless whatever intern was in charge of that was SUPER talented.  (And from YouTube rabbit holing, seeing his ridiculous entrance on Raw the next night, it was just the regular nWo Theme.)  So he comes out to a humongous face pop.  Hogan himself looks a bit taken aback by it.  Like he knew it was coming - as later interviews said - but not quite like this.  Rocky's out next and wouldn't you know it, the crowd doesn't like Rock going against the returning legend.   

The famous moment comes as Rock clearly says "look at the crowd" and they do their double stare into the crowd, with a solid cheering section for both guys -- but I think Hogan's ahead slightly.  And so the story as I said earlier is they're fighting over who's the biggest star in WWF history... a solid story to tell and one of the few ones that worked out well here.  The crowd is reacting basically the opposite of what they were expecting though.   And here's where you have to respect Hogan and Rock's abilities.  Rock has been wrestling face for the first five minutes or so, and Hogan as a heel...  about at that point, they both realize, it's not really working psychologically, so Rock starts heeling it up.  Really slowing down and playing to the crowd.  

The thought I kept having was it was funny how though Rock changed mannerisms and some moves, Hogan is essentially wrestling the same.   He sells a little more, but he hasn't really done that much different. It's always been a criticism of Hulk that he wrestled heel throughout his career, and it's very clear that's the case here.   By the end of the match, Rock has every male booing him and Hogan is getting REALLY loud cheers.  So that's fun.  

Now, going into this match, you cannot expect this to be Omega-Okada. It's by no means a workrate heavy, flippy move/counter/counter-to-the-counter, 20 false finish match.  But it really, really works because THIS was the match the crowd came to see and both guys told the story of the old lion defending his pride and the younger, stronger lion taking over.  And they told it very well. They both know when to play to the crowd for sympathy or a pop.   They both know exactly when to make their comebacks and make the crowd go apeshit.  

The end comes as Rock hits a Rock Bottom that leads to a kick out and a Hulk Up.  Rock can barely contain his own glee at being in this spot that he looks like he was cracking a smile.  Hulk hits the big boot & leg drop for a very close 2. (MUCH to the crowd's disappointment.) But he's spent his last ounce of energy here as he misses a second leg drop... Rock Bottom and a People's Elbow and a Rocky Sucks chant.   And that's it for Hulk.   

Hulk extends a handshake, which Rock accepts.   Rock leaves and Hall and Nash attack Hogan.   Rock fights them off and he and Hogan celebrate together.  Rock then demands Hulk pose for the crowd, and he does so.... begrudgingly at first.... willfully at the end.

This is really how they should have ended this Mania.... but nope.  We've still got two matches to go. 

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On ‎6‎/‎25‎/‎2020 at 9:38 PM, PetrolCB said:

Hey, you're halfway through these reviews. 

In terms of Number of Shows, Dolfan is past halfway. But in terms of total hours of wrestling to watch, I think the recent showbloating would put the halfway mark somewhere in the future.

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Hogan/Rock is one of those matches that when Rock did the challenge I just got massive goosebumps.  It was such a cool moment and try as they might the wonky build couldn't keep me from being absolutely glued to the TV for this match.  You just knew how historic it was and without expecting a 5-star classic it more than delivered on story alone.  And the post-match?  Forget it, man I may have snuck in a couple tears at the time.  I do have issues separating art from the artist and in this case it's all due to my issues with Hulk.  But despite that this is one match of his where I would not only check it out now but also likely be really into.

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As I mentioned, looking back on the Stacy Keibler in 2020 reveals it to be... problematic.  Well, on that note, we have a Triple Threat match for the WWF Women's Championship.  Jazz is defending the title in her WrestleMania debut. It should be noted, Jazz is less than 4 years into her career at this point and here she is, in front of 65000+ people. She is yet another underrated and underappreciated worker in this era.  She's defending against Trish, in her wrestling debut at Mania, and Lita.  Oh, and to top off the pressure, they're given the death slot between Rock/Hogan and Jericho/HHH. 

Jazz is out first and I can already tell Lawler is going to be a fucking problem.  He, a heel, is already sneering at Jazz as she makes her way to the ring.  Lita and Trish however get full on Horny Jerry commentary.  Lita's got the original (non-remixed) version of her music which is odd to hear, since I haven't listened to Forceable Entry in years and years at this point. Trish gets a very nice hometown pop. (I'd sing Trish's praises, but fuck it... she's in the Hall of Fame already.)  

Now, in the ring, they're telling a very simple story.  Trish and Lita really, really don't like each other... but to beat Jazz for the title, they need to roughly set aside their differences if they want to win.  They're clearly under the clock, because they hit it as soon as they're all in.  

Jazz takes control instantly and Lita and she work while Trish is hurt after an attack.  King can't control his fawning over Trish and I'm getting annoyed quick.  The ladies are working their asses off in the ring, and King is busy implying he's good at oral sex.  omg Jerry shut up.   Jazz busts out a fishermansbuster and Jerry is doing his damndest to bury everything he sees.  Lita in control and it's Twists of Fate and a moonsault!  We're up to about 10 on the "puppies" counter (fuck you Road Dogg for coming up with that). 

End comes as Lita counters a Stratusfaction and Trish takes an ugly stumble to the floor.  Lita goes to the top, but Trish recovers enough to mess her up.  Jazz dumps Trish and hits a Super Fishermans Suplex on Lita to retain.  

I said the words out loud "That was fantastic."  It's so, so much better than I remembered and Jerry owes all three women a long written apology for his commentary. Oh and so does the crowd, they sucked for this match too. For the second time, I'm going to attach the match, because I was just that impressed. 

 

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An aside on Lita; never cared for her much as a worker in general, but she did have an interesting moonsault. Instead of arcing high into the air, she went straight as an arrow towards her opponent. Because of this, she got some really impressive distance on it. If you go back and watch some of her stuff, sometimes she clears half the ring with it.

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Never understood WWE ending the Invasion angle when they did. Especially since Ric Flair comes in the night after 2001 Survivor Series and the NWO are there three months later. That there could get you to the Fall of 2002. Scott Steiner comes in November 2002 and Goldberg, the day after WM 19 in 2003. No reason why the Invasion couldn't have gone well into 2003.

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Maven steals back to the Hardcore Championship (and Christian's luggage!) as he rolls him up and takes his cab.  

So, Chris Jericho came in as the hottest free agent in history in 1999. The story was that Raw was on the TV's backstage the night of his debut because they kept it a good enough secret that no one outside of a select few knew if/when he'd jump and debut. When his name came up on the screen everyone in the WCW locker room popped... and I'm sure more than a couple saw themselves in his position and began making their plans. Cut to about 6 months later and remember the absolutely TITANIC pop Jericho got for stealing the WWF Championship from HHH on Raw.  

And I repost this, because here's the moment Jericho's first run went off the rails. An earth-shaking moment for Jericho, solidifying him as a top guy and it gets wiped out in a  heartbeat. (I still think they could have saved this by having Jericho refuse to relinquish the title, unless he got added to the Backlash title match.)  You can hear the disappointment in the crowd and that would linger for months and months, as Jericho always got *that* close, but never sealed the deal.  He was the guy who just gave up the title for nothing.  We move to the InVasion and Jericho and Rock are feuding because well, Jericho wants to be a world champion and Rock has the WCW Title. They traded the title and after Survivor Series, Jericho turned heel.  A mini-tournament was held to unify the WWF and WCW titles with the last two guys to hold each belt competing.  Jericho shocked the world and beat Rock & Austin and became Undisputed Champion. 

He beat Rock & Austin again on the next two PPV's leading to his defense at Mania... against a returning HHH.  Hunter famously blew out his quad mid-match the previous April and had been out for 9 months afterwards.  

All that drama meant nothing, because basically everyone assumed, when Hunter came back, he was going to all but instantly become champion again.  I'm not even going to get into the Stephanie angle on this because it made a bad situation much, much worse.  Suffice to say, there was no incoming champ who had been a bigger underdog since Bret defended against Yoko at Mania 9.  

HHH comes down to the ring to dulcet tones of Saliva... jfc okay, it's Drowning Pool (you guys know way too much about your bad early '00s rock bands)  Fun fact:  Their lead singer would be dead three months later!  Stephanie McMahon leads Chris Jericho to the ring and I want to die, right now.  Alright whatever, let's get this over with.

They do themselves no favors by booking HHH as overpowering Jericho at pretty much every turn.  Jericho's faster and smarter, but he's getting beat up left and right.  He finally takes control by putting HHH through a table, and then HHH *clearly* helps him get on a ringpost Figure 4.  And while it's smart to build this match around HHH's repaired leg, the match is kind of all over the place in terms of selling and moveset.  Plus the crowd is absolutely not buying that Jericho has any chance to retain.  In fact, they basically have no reaction in the match until LATE when Stephanie gets brought in and Pedigreed. 

I'm going to glass over this match because it really just does not hold up well.  It's tedious as everyone knows what's coming.   And sure enough,  Jericho off the ropes... Kick Wham Pedigree. HHH is the Undisputed Champion.  He celebrates and my ride is over.  

---  

For as good as X7 was, X8 was the opposite.  Most people were oddly off their games.  The crowd varied from great (during Hogan-Rock) to really distractingly quiet for others.  It's clear they were there to see one guy, and that's it.   There are some hidden gems in here, notably the Women's title match and the IC title match.  But like I said, this was the culmination of the Attitude Era.  Things that didn't work...stories that didn't make sense (or exist)... and exacerbating mistakes of the past.   

This one was a big disappointment.  Well, at least better times are ahead...  

End of Day 54.

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I don't totally recall the Saliva Triple H theme...

 

But Josey Scott isn't dead.

 

EDIT: You got Saliva and Drowning Pool mixed up.

Edited by Raziel
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