Saturday, September 20, 2014

WWF Wrestlefest '95

WWF Wrestlefest '95
Coliseum Video - 1995
Hosted by: Stephanie Wiand

This tape is part of the rare and hard to find “500 series” released in by Coliseum Video in 1995 and 1996. This particular series is the rarest of the rare, the holy grail as far as collecting Coliseum Video WWF tapes goes. These ten tapes were mail order only and couldn’t be bought in stores. This is one of the cheaper tapes in the series, that can currently be found for about $70 on Ebay while most of the others will set you back over $150 or more. Let’s see if there are any rare gems on this rare old VHS tape.

The Undertaker vs. Jean-Pierre LaFitte

This appears to have been filmed in what looks like the gym at the local YMCA darkened to look like an underground fight club. LaFitte was a well known pirate. He dominated the high seas in the 1700s by attacking American and British ships, peddling knock-off Oakley shades on a street corner in Boston, and then hocking bootleg DVDs in Baltimore. Years later, he made his way to the WWF. If you don’t remember this, don’t feel bad, most people don’t. He was around for about six months and his biggest feud was with Bret Hart over a leather jacket. Welcome to 1995 WWF. Both guys pretty much stuck to the basics here and seemed to be in cruise control. Match wasn’t long, maybe about 6-8 minutes and looked like it was filmed in a gym somewhere. Crowd wasn’t into this at all either, I’ve seen more livelier crowds at funerals. Taker polished off Pierre with a chokeslam and people yawned.

Owen Hart/Yokozuna/Hakushi vs. Bret Hart/Savio Vega/Razor Ramon

Six of the marquee guys of mid-1995 in this match. Action starts between Yokozuna and Razor as Gorilla Monsoon drones about how Yokozuna was weighed in an airplane hangar in Singapore for this match in West Virginia. What? Some good action between Razor and Owen highlighted by a stiff looking heel kick from Owen. Bret and Hakushi had a nice exchange as well that saw Bret absolutely plant Hakushi with a DDT. Haven’t seen a whole lot of Yokozuna yet, except to come in and just beat down people. He was pretty much working the Andre the Giant role the whole match, coming in as needed to lay a quick beatdown to quell some offense from the opponents. Savio did this horrible looking and telegraphed dive off of Yokozuna in the corner onto Hakushi, who was way out of position. Wait a second, did I just see this match end on a clothesline of all things? Yep, I sure did. This was a fun little match with some pretty good action but nothing worth going out of your way to see.

Shawn Michaels vs. Dr. Tom Prichard

Here's a random match from an episode of Superstars that has since fallen somewhere into the ether. Michaels seems to be in complete showboat mode thus far and doesn’t look to be taking anything seriously. Prichard and his entourage consisting of Jim Cornette and Jimmy Del Ray seem to be in no mood for Michaels’ high foolishness. Quite honestly, neither am I. Prichard worked the first bit of the match as a punching bag and foil for Michaels, with Jimmy Del Ray getting the most offense in. No, seriously. The illegal guy in the match, got the most offense in for the heels. Prichard though, after the interference, kept things moving by working over Michaels’ back. Ending seemed rushed with Michaels making a quick comeback and finishing off Prichard with the Sweet Chin Music.

Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Adam Bomb

On paper, this sounded like an interesting match and turned out to be a true study of how to be an effective heel and a one-man show. Lawler ran this whole match by using basic psychology and doing some really good selling of Bomb’s big-man offense. The most offense he got in the whole match was when Bomb took a big fall to the outside and Lawler shoved his head into the steps. Lawler was so good in this match that I forgot he had an opponent and it seemed like he was just wrestling himself. Even the end with Lawler getting the pin by putting his feet on the ropes fit it perfectly with the flow of everything.

Bob Holly/Alundra Blayze vs. Hakushi/Bull Nakano

Let's pause a moment before we even go to the match. The host of this tape, Stephanie Wiand introduces this match and calls this a “Sadie Hawkins mixer” in the most cheesy way possible. What the hell did she even mean by that? Anyway, the women start this one off highlighted by Bull flinging Alundra across the ring by her hair numerous times. Holly and Hakushi managed to screw up a simple Irish Whip. Nicely done, gentlemen. Monsoon calls this “a main event in any arena across the entire world”. Well, OK. Not sure I’d plunk down a twenty to see this match top the card. Action breaks down and Holly and Alundra do a double dive spot. Blayze hoists up Bull in a German suplex to get the pin. The women were pretty much the shining stars of this match, otherwise, this was not good at all.

Bret Hart vs. Jimmy Del Ray

Bret Hart and Jimmy Del Ray looked like it could have been from the same Supertars taping that the Shawn Michaels/Tom Prichard match from earlier was, maybe even the same episode. Bret controlled the majority of the match with an assortment of technical stuff. Really liked the takedown he had after catching a spinning kick from Del Ray. Del Ray tried a moonsault, I give him a 9 for form but a zero for landing it as he missed completely. Bret’s comeback with the leg sweep, the elbow, and everything else led to him quickly polishing off Del Ray. Basic TV match here, nothing more, nothing less.

British Bulldog/Lex Luger vs. Jeff Jarrett/The Roadie

The commentators keep referring to Roadie as “Road Dogg”. They must’ve been able to see into the future. This match has been going nowhere fast, watching Jarrett strut, Luger work a hammerlock, and Roadie doing the most action of anyone thus far. Bulldog seemed to be an afterthought except for pretty much the beginning and getting a hot … well, lukewarm tag to clear the ring as Stan Lane put it on commentary “like a lawn mower”. Again, nothing here worth checking out a second time. A colossal mess of a brawl led to Luger and Bulldog getting the win in a match that accomplished absolutely nothing.

Men on a Mission vs. Smoking Gunns

The Smoking Gunns rush the ring and this starts out with more fire in the first 30 seconds that anything else on this tape combined. Not sure when this match was filmed but it appears to be before Mabel won King of the Ring. If there’s one thing that I love about wrestling, it’s seeing big dudes like Mabel, Vader, and Yokozuna just completely wreck shop and ruin peoples lives, and that’s exactly what Mabel did. Mabel did some sort of back suplex looking move that looked completely nasty and had to destroy Bart Gunn’s back and probably made his night absolutely miserable. Billy got a hot tag after what seemed like an eternity (seriously, I've seen epic ten-part documentary films from Ken Burns that were shorter than Bart's face in peril segment) and managed to get a pin with a small package.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Razor Ramon

Finally, the last match on the tape and it's for the Intercontinental Title. Has there ever been a title change on a match filmed exclusively for Coliseum Video? I doubt it. First five minutes of this was stalling from Jarrett and Roadie with Razor cutting a promo. Finally, the action starts and the pace stays pretty quick. Crowd is pretty hot from the get-go as well. That shark cage Roadie is in doesn’t look sturdy at all. There’s a ref bump and Roadie sends down a mystery object on a rope from the cage that Razor tries to use and is unsucessful. A vicious Razor’s Edge on Jarrett led to a lame double count-out finish as Jarrett scurries away and Roadie gets a post-match beatdown. I’m guessing this same match was done around the circuit numerous time with the same finish.

Final Thoughts:

At points, this was a bit of a chore to sit through. Kevin Kelly once said that mid 90’s WWF had a “antiseptic feel to it” and after watching this, I’m inclined to agree. A lot of the stuff felt really stale and bland. If you’re a Jerry Lawler fan, then it’s worth looking up for his performance against Adam Bomb. The six-man tag was fun watching six of the top guys from spring of ’95 going at it and Mabel was a blast as usual in the tag match against the Gunns but even all of that isn’t enough to save this tape.

Monday, September 15, 2014

2001: A WCW Odyssey - WCW Thunder 1/3/01

WCW Thunder 1/3/01
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Stevie Ray
Memphis, TN

Shane Helms vs. Jamie Knoble

Helms is the number one contender for the Cruiserweight title after beating Shannon Moore on Nitro two weeks ago. Stevie Ray calls a wacky submission hold Helms hooked a “possible submission hold” on commentary. Noble took pretty much all of Helms offense including both a Vertebreaker and the Nightmare on Helms Street. This was essentially a three minute squash match to get Helms over, nothing more, nothing less. Afterwards, a run-in by a litany of dudes including Evan Karagias, Shannon Moore, and Chavo Guerrero which amounted to absolutely nothing.

Cpl. Cajun/Sgt. A-Wall vs. Sean O'Haire/Chuck Palumbo

This match feels so non-descript its not even funny. Lots of punching, kicking, and clubbing blows. The Misfits are working in t-shirts. I can’t stand it when people work matches in t-shirts. It feels so low rent and and lazy. End of this was complete chaos with Stasiak and Jindrak outside beating up on A-Wall and O’Haire and Palumbo double teaming Cpl. Cajun with Gen. Rection doing absolutely nothing to help him teammates. Ugh.

Chair on a Pole Match: Crowbar vs. Meng

Yes, you read that right, it’s chair on a pole match. It’s never explained how to win, I guess it’s by pinfall or submission? Crowbar grabs the chair 90 seconds in. I guess he pressed the easy button from Staples. Then, we get a brawl on the floor which featured Crowbar trying a Vader Bomb off the guardrail and then Daffney and Paisley getting into a scrap. Meng wins with the Tongan Death Grip and Schiavone goes absolutely crazy on commentary. Not a whole lot to see here.

Mark Jindrak vs. Goldberg

Well, I think we all know how this will turn out. Tony on commentary plugs a Goldberg t-shirt and remarks “I’m sure Jindrak would rather be there”. Yeah, I’m sure Jindrak would want to buy the shirt of the guy who’s about to beat the hell out of him. Goldberg runs over Jindrak in about two minutes. Pretty sure Goldberg’s entrance took longer than this match.

The Cat vs. Reno

Only five matches in to the first episode and I’m already sick of hearing the lame music for the Natural Born Thrillers. Did I just hear Stevie Ray call a small package a brainbuster? Reno took a rough looking face plant into the buckle and ate a kick from Cat to polish this one off. Another very non-descript match with zero crowd reaction.

Mike Awesome vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan

This was set up when Duggan beat up Elix Skipper in a bus earlier in the night. Let’s not question the logic behind that. This has been the most entertaining thing on the show by far. I enjoyed every second of watching these guys just wail on each other. No bullshit, no major interference during the match, just two big dudes pounding each other non-stop for five minutes or so. This was lots of fun.

Buff Bagwell vs. “Sarge” DeWayne Bruce

Longtime WCW fans will recognize Bruce as Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker of the tag team The State Patrol from early to mid-90s WCW. Never really cared much for Bagwell and this felt like they were on auto-pilot until Bagwell hit a completely random double arm DDT. We then get a random cut scene where Kronik attacks Goldberg, shoves him in a box, and makes some hapless bystander haul him out in a forklift. Cut back to the ring where the bell randomly rings and Bagwell and Luger beat up Bruce and break his arm with a chair.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Sid Vicious

This was set up earlier in the night by Ric Flair who said the winner of the match gets the third spot in the Sin main event. Sid got some offense early on, which was mostly a really tepid brawl outside the ring. Jarrett controls with a sleeperhold, Sid then gets a comeback which involves a clothesline, a big boot, and a kick to the gut before interference from the Mystery Man and the match is thrown out. Ok, great, that accomplished exactly nothing.

Pretty mediocre show overall with a lot of guys that seemed like they were just going through the motions. The Duggan/Awesome match was a fun five minute brawl but that was the highlight. This review came across pretty much just like the show, very bland.

Next up in this series ... Monday Nitro 1/8/01

2001: A WCW Odyssey Master List

Project Announcement -- "2001: A WCW Odyssey"

Reading the WCW Highway to Hell thread over at Pro Wrestling Only inspired me to revisit something I did last year, and that's watch the whole year of WCW in 2001. I've got all of the Nitro and Thunder episodes and all the pay-per-view shows ready to go. So, over the course of the next few months, I'll be looking back at WCW 2001 in chronological order and then sharing my thoughts overall at the end of the project. Hopefully, this isn't too painful.

Listed below are the dates of each show individually, I'll be updating this master page with the link to each show as the project progresses so you can track everything.

1/3/01 - Thunder
1/8/01 - Nitro
1/10/01 - Thunder
1/14/01 - Sin PPV
1/15/01 - Nitro
1/17/01 - Thunder
1/22/01 - Nitro
1/24/01 - Thunder
1/29/01 - Nitro
1/31/01 - Thunder

2/5/01 - Nitro
2/7/01 - Thunder
2/12/01 - Nitro
2/14/01 - Thunder
2/18/01 - SuperBrawl Revenge PPV
2/19/01 - Nitro
2/21/01 - Thunder
2/26/01 - Nitro
2/28/01 - Thunder

3/5/01 - Nitro
3/7/01 - Thunder
3/12/01 - Nitro
3/14/01 - Thunder
3/18/01 - Greed PPV
3/19/01 - Nitro
3/21/01 - Thunder (Final Episode)
3/26/01 - Nitro (Final Episode and Final WCW Event)