Friday, December 2, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2008)

Moving on to the era when the 5-on-5 elimination matches started to get good again.....

Survivor Series 2008 - TD Garden - 11/23/08

The 2008 edition was uneven at best.  The good matches were worth watching and the bad matches are to be avoided like a three-week-old pastrami sandwich.  On the plus side there were three traditional elimination matches, and on the minus side there were three mediocre-or-worse singles bouts.

The show opened with a 5-on-5 match, as Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, The Great Khali, and Cryme Tyme (yet another one of those classy "ethnic" WWE gimmicks) faced JBL, Kane, MVP, John Morrison, and The Miz.  Once past the idiotic, overly-quick eliminations this settled into some okay, watchable Survivor Series fare.  Nothing big was at stake, but it was just a solid, old-school elimination match.  Shawn, Mysterio, and for some reason The Great Khali were the survivors (shortly after this the company finally figured out that Khali probably shouldn't be beating anyone given his physical condition).

A Divas elimination match was next, featuring RAW's Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Candice Michelle, and Jillian Hall against Smackdown's Michelle McCool, Victoria, Maria, Maryse, and Natalya.  Once again we the audience were expected to believe that brand loyalty was more important to these wrestlers than moral alignment.  The match featured a series of rapid-fire eliminations spread over nine-and-a-half minutes.  Quite forgettable.  Beth Phoenix won the whole thing.

In slot 3 was the first singles match of the night, as The Undertaker and The Big Show plodded through a Casket Match.  I've never felt much chemistry between these two, and this was no different.  Tedious.  Very tedious.

The best 2008 elimination match was next, as Randy Orton led Shelton Benjamin, William Regal, Cody Rhodes, and Mark Henry against Batista, CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy, and R-Truth.  This match came about because two months earlier at Unforgiven, Orton attacked and punted World Champion Punk backstage, resulting in Punk being taken out of his title defense that night, costing him the Championship by forfeit.  I'm not sure in what universe it's believable that a Champion can be sneak-attacked backstage minutes before his scheduled defense, and the company penalizes him by immediately stripping him of the belt, thus allowing his last-minute replacement (Chris Jericho) to capture said Title.  The whole point of this was to start a major feud between Orton and Punk, but only weeks later Batista returned to WWE TV and usurped Punk's spot in the feud.  Punk became a total afterthought and never got a return Title match, instead having to win another Money in the Bank briefcase to get near the strap again.  Anyway, the match was quite good, despite yet another first-minute elimination and Punk being taken out unceremoniously midway through.  Orton and Cody survived.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2007)

Welp, this was an improvement at least....

Survivor Series 2007 - American Airlines Arena - 11/18/07

Things got somewhat back on track in late 2007, as WWE rediscovered consistently watchable PPVs.  That year's edition of No Mercy and Survivor Series began a string of solid shows.  While Series wasn't exactly a throwback to the gimmick's glory days, it was still a strong PPV with two excellent main events.

The show kicked off in style as CM Punk defended the ECW Title against John Morrison and The Miz in a brief but exciting Triple Threat match.  For a little while the company was finally starting to get behind Punk as a rising babyface star (partly out of necessity due to JoMo being suspended for PEDs).

Next was a rather pointless inclusion, a one-fall ten-Divas tag team match.  It was forgettable but inoffensive.

Another free-TV quality match followed as Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch successfully defended the World Tag straps against Bob Holly and Cody Rhodes.  Holly and Rhodes became a team in the logical fashion: they wrestled each other several times with Holly repeatedly beating the piss out of Rhodes until he "learned respect."  This was a terrible angle and a perplexing way to create a babyface duo.  The match here was fine but far from noteworthy.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2006)

Here's a PPV I would call joyless...

Survivor Series 2006 - Wachovia Center - 11/26/06

What a depressing show this was.  Survivor Series 2006 was a nice little cross-section of how uninspired and defiantly unsatisfying the WWE product was that year.  Looking over this card there were several potentially good matches, but sadly not one of them broke out of the two-star range.  WWE at this point was pushing who they wanted to push and more or less ignoring everyone else, regardless of how over they were (see Punk, CM).  Basically every match on this card felt like the whole crew was going through the motions and didn't want to be there.  Soooo, let's get started analyzing this bore of a show.

The opening match saw the already dead and buried Spirit Squad (featuring the future Dolph Ziggler) against four Legends with a combined age of roughly 240 - Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Ron Simmons and Sgt. Slaughter.  As with any nostalgia vs. youth match the Legends team won (Flair singlehandedly eliminated three of the Squad members to become the sole survivor), thus ensuring no long-term benefit from the match whatsoever.  This stunk.

Next was the US Title match between Chavo Guerrero and Chris Benoit.  This was fine but wouldn't remotely make either guy's highlight reel.

The third match was Lita's retirement bout against Mickie James for the Women's Title.  Of all the matches on this PPV this was probably the only one with any urgency or motivation from its participants.  Lita clearly wanted to go out with a bang, and both women delivered.

Up fourth was an elimination match that should've been epic given the talent involved.  Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk and the Hardy Boyz faced Randy Orton, Edge, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, and Mike Knox.  Hmmm, which of these ten dudes doesn't belong?  Could it be the guy who was eliminated 40 seconds into the match?  Yup, WWE once again decided to essentially pull a bait-and-switch by knocking someone out of the match right at the outset.  I love when that happens.  Anywho, what should've been a 20-plus-minute war became an eleven-minute clean-sweep, as the heels were made to look totally ineffectual and incompetent.  And yet the DX-Rated RKO feud continued for two months after this match, even though Edge and Orton got their asses handed to them in decisive fashion here.

Next up is an elimination match featuring DX! The Hardyz! CM Punk!
.............oh, and five other guys.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2005)

The first Survivor Series to be themed around an idiotic RAW vs. Smackdown rivalry, this was nonetheless a very good PPV....

Survivor Series 2005 - Joe Louis Arena - 11/27/05

This right here is a pretty damn good show.  Shockingly, for the second consecutive year the Survivor Series main event was a traditional elimination match.  While it was built around a completely phony "brand loyalty" premise, it was nice to see a melee between two superteams serve as the top-billed match at this event.

The card opened with a WCW retread - Chris Benoit vs. Booker T in a Best-of-Seven Series match for the US Title.  Their chemistry in 2005 was nowhere near on the level of their 1998 work, but this was still a fine way to open the show.  As with SummerSlam, Benoit went from headlining this PPV in 2004 to curtain-jerking in 2005.

Trish Stratus then took on Melina for the Women's Title in a pretty solid little match.  Trish was usually awesome, and Melina's absurd flexibility always made for some memorable spots.  Not bad.

Third up was a match I wasn't expecting to enjoy at all - Triple H vs. Ric Flair in a Last Man Standing match.  This feud started that October on the "USA Homecoming" episode of RAW, when Triple H turned on Flair for basically no reason.  Seriously, the feud was based on the thinnest of motivations.  Hunter said he realized Flair was no longer a legend and had to be stopped.  Really guys?  That's all you have?  Anyway, this match was definitely longer than it should've been, but still an exceptional, violent brawl with all kindsa flowing crimson.

"You must be stopped, ex-legend!"

The WWE Title match was next as first-time Champion John Cena defended against Kurt Angle.  This was sadly nowhere near their Unforgiven match two months prior, and due in part to special referee Shawn Daivari's biased officiating it devolved into a rather gimmicky affair.  The brief 13-minute running time didn't help either.

In the death spot was the one truly bad match of the night, as RAW GM Eric Bischoff faced Smackdown GM Teddy Long.  The whole RAW vs. Smackdown feud was so utterly forced and devoid of any genuine heat.  Did anyone in the audience truly believe any of these guys was loyal to their own brand, especially when they held Draft Lotteries almost every year to shuffle the roster around?  Idiotic.  Anyway, this was what you'd expect from two non-wrestlers.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2004)

The Randy Orton babyface experiment peaks here before its steep crash...

Survivor Series 2004 - Gund Arena - 11/14/04

The 2004 edition was a great big donut PPV - good at the beginning and the end, but empty in the middle.  This was honestly a show I wasn't expecting to like much at all, but it ended up being pretty decent.  The push was on for the OVW Class of 2002, as Randy Orton had become the company's top babyface despite being ill-suited for the role, and John Cena and Batista were emerging to the forefront.  I wasn't much interested in any of these guys but I got why they were being pushed.  JBL as the WWE Champ however was another matter.  Still befuddled by that one.

The opener was a Fatal 4-Way Cruiserweight Title match, as Spike Dudley defended against Rey Mysterio, Chavo Guerrero and Billy Kidman.  Exactly the type of match you want to kick off a PPV - fast-paced and full of crowd-pleasing moves.

Next was a potential show-stealer, as Shelton Benjamin defended the I-C Title against Christian.  This was given ample time and both guys turned in some fine work.  Remember when the company actually seemed to give a shit about Shelton?  And the I-C belt?

The donut hole began now, with the Smackdown elimination match.  Kurt Angle, Carlito, Luther Reigns (any relation to Roman?), and Mark Jindrak faced Eddie Guerrero, Rob Van Dam, Big Show, and John Cena.  For the second year in a row the SD elimination match seemed like it was only included out of obligation, and one of the participants was eliminated before the opening bell.  Unbelievable.  Carlito ran in fear from his nemesis John Cena (from whom he had cheaply won the US Title in his television debut) and was counted out.  From there Team Eddie dominated and made short work of the heels, winning the match in a scant twelve minutes.

Angle's team got bitchslapped here.

The most offensive match on the show was next, as The Undertaker took on the cosmically inept, made-Sycho-Sid-look-competent Heidenreich.  John Heidenreich was essentially WWE's attempt to replace Brock Lesnar as a monster heel, except he lacked Lesnar's wrestling background and most of his athletic ability and natural presence.  But they still paired him with Paul Heyman hoping the name association and Heidenreich's passing resemblance would make us all forget about Brock.  So in essence he was the 2004 counterpart to Fake Razor & Diesel.  By the way there was a point in this match where John struggled noticeably to figure out how to execute a Cobra Clutch.  How he made it past Developmental I'll never know.  This went sixteen laborious minutes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2003)

The company rediscovered five-on-five matchups again in 2003, but also presented a lotta shit on top...

Survivor Series 2003 - American Airlines Center - 11/16/03

Speaking of shows that piss me off, take a look at this rather homely little number.  Survivor Series 2003 was quite a mixed bag of random nuts that could've been pretty awesome if reimagined by persons of sound mind.  Like most of what happened in 2003 WWE, the good stuff was really fantastic, but you had to wade through some of the most ill-conceived and/or half-assed drivel to get to it.

Let's start with the main event, as WWE decided to.  Yes, the opening match of this show was the traditional elimination bout involving the WWE Champion (which at the time was still the top belt in the company, in spite of what Triple H wanted everyone to think).  Brock Lesnar led a team of The Big Show, A-Train, Matt Morgan, and Nathan Jones (seriously, he was still employed even after having been removed from the WrestleMania card for being so bad in the ring) against Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Bob Holly, Bradshaw, and an up-and-coming breakout star by the name of John Cena.  This was far and away the match I was most looking forward to, and it not only opened the show, but was given a paltry 13 minutes.  I'd like to repeat that: a ten-man elimination match involving the WWE Champion (and US Champ for that matter) opened the show, and was only given thirteen minutes.  To kick things off, Bob Holly (who had just returned after sustaining a real-life neck injury in a 2002 match against Lesnar) shoved the referee and was disqualified before the match even started.  So already they failed to deliver the advertised match, as it was now a handicap elimination bout.  Sorry, but that's basically a bait-and-switch.  Next, both A-Train and Bradshaw were eliminated within the first minute.  Isn't that special.  After twelve more minutes of rushed action unbecoming of what should've been the main event of the show, Chris Benoit made Lesnar tap and John Cena pinned Big Show to win the match, setting up challengers for both Smackdown singles belts.  Aside from a few good minutes, this more or less sucked.

Probably the most disappointing elimination match ever.

Next, Molly Holly (paying tribute to the recently deceased Crash Holly by wearing a CH armband) defeated Lita to retain the Women's Title.  This was fine for what it was.

The third slot was originally supposed to go to the Cruiserweight Title match between Tajiri and Jamie Noble, but instead they booked a completely purposeless altercation between Eric Bischoff and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, bumping the aforementioned match to the preshow.  They exchanged heated, poorly delivered insults and eventually Cuban got RKOd by Randy Orton.  I am almost without words.  They actually cut a Title match from a show people paid real money to see, to make room for a staged argument involving two non-wrestlers, one of whom had no association with WWE.  If WWE can produce any credible evidence that this segment helped their business or future ratings in any way I will sign over the deed to my house.

The actual third match was Kane vs. Shane McMahon, making this the sixth PPV of 2003 to feature at least one McMahon in a match (and the third PPV of the year to feature TWO McMahons wrestling).  I dunno what this family was smoking in 2003 that made them think people were climbing over each other in the hopes of seeing WWE's owners pretend to fight other people (or each other).  Just unreal stupid.  Anyway this was an Ambulance Match, or as I like to call it, a Casket Match.  Same rules except with an ambulance doubling as a casket.  This stunk other than featuring another Shane-should-be-dead highspot.

For some reason they booked a forgettable Tag Title match between Los Guerreros and The Basham Brothers (one of the most nondescript teams I can recall).  This was your standard free TV match and didn't warrant inclusion on this card.

Finally a PPV-worthy bout broke out as Team Bischoff (Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Christian, Scott Steiner, and Mark Henry) faced Team Austin (Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and The Dudley Boyz) in an elimination match for control of RAW.  Over the previous six months or so RAW was run by co-GMs, Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff, whose bickering yielded some pretty amusing segments but got tiresome after a while.  Finally it was decided they would each assemble a team with the winner becoming the sole GM.  For 27 minutes WWE reminded us all how good the Survivor Series concept could be.  This match was full of excellent action and drama, and came down to Shawn Michaels alone against Orton, Jericho and Christian.  A horribly bloodied Michaels fought valiantly, eliminating Jericho and Christian before finally succumbing to Orton.  Steve Austin was then forced to step down and gave a heartfelt farewell speech.  Of course he'd be back on TV a couple months later as the RAW "Sheriff," so in the end this match meant very little.  But it's still one of the best-ever Series matches.

Probably the most unexpectedly awesome elimination match ever.

Time for McMahon circlejerk #2 of the evening, as Vince took on The Undertaker in a Buried Alive match.  This amounted to little more than an extended squash.  Taker bloodied Vince in the opening seconds and spent the next eleven minutes pummeling him, only to be attacked by Kane in the closing moments, allowing Vince to win.  Yup, Vince booked himself to beat The Undertaker.  So let's see, Vince McMahon holds a WWF Title win over Triple H, a Royal Rumble win over Steve Austin, and a Buried Alive Match win over The Undertaker.  This is the pro wrestling booking equivalent of bending in half and blowing oneself.  For the record this sleep-and-nausea-inducing hokum was only about a minute shorter than the Lesnar elimination match, and LONGER than the main event of this show......

.....which ended up being the Goldberg-Triple H World Title rematch.  Remember their match at Unforgiven 2003?  Photocopy it, take out the novelty of a first-time dream match, and throw in a bunch of failed run-ins, and you have this.  Goldberg retained despite Randy Orton, Batista, and Ric Flair all attempting to interfere.  So one could argue that if the Title wasn't going to change hands and this match wasn't going to really one-up the first encounter, that it probably shouldn't have gone last.

There was really only one reason to watch Survivor Series 2003, and no matter how much they'd like to believe it, it wasn't to see a McMahon wrestle.  Outside of the RAW elimination match, which is pretty incredible, this show was mostly comprised of hot garbage.  Between Vince and Shane each fighting a Brother of Destruction, Triple H and Goldberg having another go through the motions, and the Smackdown elimination match getting comically shortchanged, there's crap oozing out all over the place here.

Best Match: Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff
Worst Match: Undertaker vs. Vince McMahon
What I'd Change: Alright, ready?  Put the Smackdown elimination match on last and change the teams as follows: Brock Lesnar/Big Show/A-Train/Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas (how were Haas & Benjamin not booked??) vs. Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit/John Cena/Los Guerreros.  Give that match 25 minutes and watch the fireworks.  Move Triple H-Goldberg to the semi-main slot.  It wasn't good enough to be last.  Combine the Vince-Shane nonsense so it's Vince/Kane vs. Taker/Shane, and make that a Tag Team Buried Alive match.  And put the Cruiserweight Title match back on the show.  Then you have a streamlined six-match PPV with two great elimination matches, one of which is the main event.
Most Disappointing Match: Team Angle vs. Team Lesnar - I'm still pissed at how far this fell short of expectations.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff
Overall Rating: 4/10
Better than WrestleMania XIX and/or SummerSlam '03? - Negatory.


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2002










The History of WWE Survivor Series (2002)

This installment, if anything, proves that I should likely see a therapist about my wrestling-related issues.  But I'm not wrong.  Read with caution.....

Survivor Series 2002 - Madison Square Garden - 11/17/02

Sweet mother of God this show pissed me off.  Really, on so many levels this show made me want to smash lots of things with a steel girder.  Besides the obvious surface-level stupidity of this not at all being a proper Survivor Series lineup (Not one traditional SS match?  Really?), the booking was so incredibly nonsensical it actually hurt my face.  Some of the matches were fine, but the backstage political games that plagued WWE at the time undermined almost everything good that happened.  So strap on your hip boots, cuz we's about to wade through some shit.

The opening match was a six-man elimination Tables Match. Ooooh, so close to being an actual Survivor Series match, but nope.  During the brand split in early 2002, the company decided to split up not one, but two of their top tag teams, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz, essentially gutting the entire division.  Oh, and they made the Tag belts exclusive to RAW so almost no teams even existed to fight over them.  Makes sense.  Anyway, this match saw Bubba Dudley, Spike Dudley and Jeff Hardy face Three Minute Warning and Rico.  It was fine for what it was, but I gave less than a poop.  There's one moment during the match where Jeff Hardy is brawling outside the ring and the participants have clearly been told to pick up the pace and get to the finish.  Rico gets up on the second rope and quite audibly yells, "Jeff! Get in here!"  Well done sir.  The one significant piece of this match was D-Von's run in at the end to help Bubba defeat Rico via a 3-D.  The Dudleys were reunited, correcting one of the two aforementioned tag splits.

Second was a Cruiserweight Title match between Billy Kidman and Jamie Noble.  This was fine.  Seven minutes was enough for them to make an impression at least.

The Women's Title match was next as Trish Stratus defended against her crazed, smitten rival Victoria (another Trish feud played out in similar fashion a few years later with Mickie James).  Victoria was great as this psychotic character who seemed to harbor romantic feelings for Trish.  She also had Tatu's "All the Things She Said" as her entrance theme, which was fucking fantastic - probably the best entrance theme in the company at the time.  This match was passable and elevated Victoria as an excellent heel champ.

Okay, here's where things get stupid, folks.  The WWE Title match saw the company's newest main event star Brock Lesnar, fresh off cleanly defeating Rob Van Dam, The Rock and The Undertaker in PPV bouts (plus Hogan and Flair on free TV), defend against The Big Show, fresh off defeating almost no one on RAW for months.  Big Show had been floundering for the better part of two years and lost basically every feud he was involved in, only to be traded to Smackdown and immediately given a #1 Contender's spot.  Umm, what?  To make matters worse, the storyline was that Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman legitimately feared for Lesnar's well-being after Big Show attacked him, and was convinced Lesnar couldn't win the match.  Keep in mind Brock Lesnar was undefeated at this point while The Big Show just came off a horribly unsuccessful midcard run on RAW.  Got that?  So Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman didn't think the undefeated WWE Champion could beat his newest challenger who had just spent months losing most of his matches.  Did WWE think their viewers didn't watch both shows?  Also of note: Big Show's most recent PPV match prior to this was at May's Judgment Day, where he and Ric Flair lost a handicap match to Steve Austin.  Yeah there's a credible challenger.

Why is Big Bully Busick beating up Brock Lesnar?

Anyway, the match was a four-minute brawl where the big story was that Lesnar's ribs were injured (to be fair Lesnar was legit injured so he couldn't work a full match).  Lesnar dominated much of the match, lifted Big Show up for an F5 (incredible), and went for the pin, only for Heyman to turn on Lesnar and help The Big Show win the Title.  So let me make sure I'm clear on this.  We're supposed to believe that Paul Heyman was so convinced his guy couldn't beat this perennial midcarder that he "opportunistically" turned on Lesnar, despite Lesnar never having lost a match, and despite Lesnar having THIS match won.  Sorry, did anyone at WWE Creative bother to proofread this garbage before they greenlit it?  This is some of the worst storytelling I've ever been privy to.  None of this made sense, and it wasted the potentially HUGE moment of Brock Lesnar's first pinfall loss by giving it to someone who wouldn't benefit from it (oddly similar to WCW booking Kevin Nash to beat Goldberg).  Oh, and the match wasn't good.

The one really great match on this show was the WWE Tag Team Title match (the company realized that RAW had basically no tag teams left to challenge the champions Chuck & Billy, so rather than the logical option of having the champs wrestle on both shows they created a Smackdown-only set of Tag belts) - a Triple Threat Elimination bout between Champions Rey Mysterio & Edge, Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit, and Los Guerreros.  This three-way feud for the straps resulted in some spectacular television in the fall of 2002, or as it's known by most, The Smackdown Six Era.  The only problem was that the belts changed hands every couple weeks.  Angle and Benoit were the first champions, but two weeks later they lost the belts to Edge & Mysterio, who lost them here to Eddie & Chavo.  But this was a helluva good match (with a slightly anticlimactic third act after Angle & Benoit were ousted), and really the only bright spot on the show.

Yes, I mean that wholeheartedly.  The Tag Title match was far and away the best thing on this card, including the inaugural Elimination Chamber.

Monday, November 28, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2001)

The botched Invasion Angle ends with a premature whimper at Survivor Series 2001....

Survivor Series 2001 - Greensboro Coliseum - 11/18/01

The 2001 installment was the big blowoff to the most disappointing wrestling angle of all time, The Invasion.  The WWF had purchased WCW in March of 2001 and retained all their talent, except the guys everyone wanted to see fight the top WWF stars.  Hogan, Flair, Sting, Goldberg, Nash & Hall were all still under contract to Time Warner for another year and would've apparently cost too much money (for this billion dollar entertainment juggernaut).  So instead the top WCW guys Vince got were Booker T (fine wrestler but still unproven as a main eventer), Diamond Dallas Page (who got killed dead by The Undertaker in his first WWF program), and Buff Bagwell (No I'm serious, they thought he was gonna be a WCW cornerstone.  Unbelievable.).  To supplement the rather anemic WCW contingent Vince merged them with all the former ECW talent, calling them The Alliance, and made the WWF Champion Steve Austin their leader.  Because if anyone in the company would want to bring down Vince and the WWF, it's the guy who became a pop culture icon thanks to Vince and the WWF (this would be like Sting becoming the leader of the nWo in 1996).  For three months the non-WWF wrestlers were made to look like total chumps, with the exception of the white-hot Rob Van Dam who, despite being part of the heel anti-WWF faction, was the most popular guy in the company.  As a result this whole angle died a slow death, and Survivor Series 2001 was a way of putting it out of everyone's misery.

The main event was a traditional elimination match (for the first time in eight years), where the losing team would cease to exist as a wrestling organization, and its members would all be fired (unless they possessed championships or won the Immunity Battle Royal, or it just didn't make sense for them to be written off TV).

The first match was a throwaway featuring European Champion Christian (an Alliance guy) beating Al Snow (a jobber guy).  This was your standard RAW-quality match.

Next was a complete waste of time as turncoat William Regal (one of several WWF guys who joined The Alliance for seemingly no reason) handily defeated rising star Tajiri in under three minutes.  Hey, how 'bout instead Tajiri challenges Christian?  That would've been great.

Third was a unification match for both the WWF I-C Title and the WCW US Title.  The WWF's Edge fought The Alliance's Test in a pretty solid eleven-minute match.  Edge walked away with both belts, but we'd see more of Test on this show.

The first noteworthy match was next as the WWF and WCW Tag belts would be unified.  The Hardy Boyz faced The Dudley Boyz in a Steel Cage match.  This could've been a little better, but it was still very watchable and featured fine Hardyz-as-underdogs storytelling.  The Dudleyz won the match to ensure they'd still have jobs.

Friday, November 25, 2022

WWE Survivor Series: WarGames Preview & Predictions

This weekend it's WWE Survivor Series: WarGames edition!  Seems like an odd mashup of the main roster and NXT November shows, but for the first time in a few years I'm actively curious to see what the company does with what used to be my favorite gimmick PPV.


I gotta say, I think I'd be more excited if these two big matches were just old-fashioned Survivor Series elimination bouts.  WarGames is a cool concept but it's very one-dimensional and they kinda all go the same way.  One of the inherent flaws in Dusty Rhodes's brainchild is the bit where one team has a one-man advantage - such a format necessitates that the heels win the coin toss or the qualifying match every single time, in order to create heat and drama (When WWE has tried to subvert this trope it never works).  WWE could rectify this by adding one person from each team simultaneously throughout the match, to create more possibilities for how the match progresses.  But what do I know?  Anyway, both of these WarGames matches should be quite good given the talent involved, plus we have a huge singles rematch five years in the making, with Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles battling for Bullet Club leader supremacy (Kenny would smoke 'em both, incidentally).

But let's look at the lineup....



Smackdown Women's Championship: Ronda Rousey vs. Shotzi


Not sure why Shotzi is the challenger here, as she has a snowball's chance in Orlando of winning.  This will likely be short and one-sided.

Pick: Ronda retains




US Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Austin Theory


Heh, remember when Theory was supposed to be the next coming of John Cena?  Good times.  Then they had him cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a title he'd already held.  And he came up short.  Pure dipshittery on ice.  It's possible he wins it here anyway, but man am I glad he's no longer being pushed like the next "it" guy.  I really just don't see anything special with him, aside from his being good looking.  I don't think Lashley wins the title here because he's likely heading for a rematch with Brock, so it's either Seth retaining or Austin winning the belt back.  Eh, I'll go with Seth.

Pick: Seth retains

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2000)

In a year when the company was white-hot and creatively kicking ass, this show was a wasted opportunity....

Survivor Series 2000 - Ice Palace - 11/19/00

The 2000 edition was a very frustrating one for me.  I had really gotten fed up with the lack of emphasis on elimination matches and how chintzy they had become.  The roster in 2000 was so stacked they could've effortlessly put together a good old-school Survivor Series card, but instead they went with a slew of regular matches and only two rather short elimination bouts.

The opening match was a six-person tag that could've easily been turned into an intergender elimination match by adding a member to each team.  Steve Blackman, Crash Holly and Molly Holly faced T&A and Trish Stratus.  This went only five minutes and was a rather vexing inclusion to the lineup.

The first elimination match was next as The Radicalz (Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn) took on Road Dogg, K-Kwik, Billy Gunn and Chyna.  It was a fairly one-sided affair mostly designed to give the Radicalz something to do.  Benoit and Saturn won the match, but this wasn't great.  Benoit would regain some footing the following month by capturing the I-C Title from Billy Gunn.

Third was one of the few bright spots on the card as Kane and Chris Jericho had a very entertaining midcard match.  I say this a lot, but they probably should've just captained opposing teams.  Still this was a solid outing which was sadly followed by a lame Last Man Standing match the next month.

Another pointless match was next as William Regal defended the European Title against Bob Holly.  Since the opening match featured six people and this match featured two, and both matches sucked, why couldn't they have been combined into one elimination match, hmmm?

The midway point featured the first bout of the "triple main event," as The Rock faced turncoat/cousin Rikishi.  The background of this rather ill-conceived feud dates back to Survivor Series 1999.  Remember how Steve Austin was run down by a mystery driver to explain his year-long absence from TV as he received spinal fusion surgery?  Leading up to his return they finally revisited this angle to establish a payoff.  There was a two-episode RAW arc where Commissioner Mick Foley questioned everyone who was in the building the night of the incident, and it was established the driver of the car had blond hair.  Now it seemed like all signs were pointing to Shawn Michaels being the culprit, which had me all in a tizzy (I discounted Triple H since he was far too obvious a choice - more on that later).  But as it turned out, Rikishi was the mystery driver.  Incidentally, Rikishi had literally just debuted on television the day before Survivor Series '99.  So this guy who had just joined the WWF decided to run over the top star in the company, to help out his cousin The Rock, who was the company's number-two star?  I mean in a way it makes sense, but it was pretty effin' thin.  Plus, no one wanted to boo Rikishi.  He was an amusing babyface character who generally lightened the mood with dancing and occasional comedy spots, but could still hold his own in a good stiff match.  There was no business reason to turn him heel, and doing so undermined his whole persona.

So Rikishi fought a returning Steve Austin at No Mercy 2000 in a brief no-contest, then later in the night attacked The Rock, costing him the WWF Title.  Ummmm, wasn't your whole motivation supposed to be to HELP The Rock?  Shortly thereafter on RAW it was revealed that Rikishi was working for someone else, who paid him to run down Austin (the result of the company panicking when Rikishi's unwanted heel turn didn't light the world on fire).  That someone else?  Triple H.  The most obvious guy to want Austin out of the way in 1999.  Really?  Has no one in this company ever watched a murder mystery?  This was so poorly written it was actually comical.  So now Rock wanted revenge against Rikishi, and Austin wanted revenge against Hunter.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1999)

We've reached a pretty dark time in the history of this great event.  Survivor Series 1999 is one of the worst wrestling shows I've ever seen....

Survivor Series 1999 - Joe Louis Arena - 11/14/99

I hated this show.  HATED it.  Survivor Series 1999 is very high on my all-time worst PPVs list.  It's just pure tripe almost from start to finish, and full of half-assed short-attention-span bouts.  Plus the much anticipated triple threat between the WWF's top three stars ended up not happening as planned due to one of them being unable to compete prior to the show, thus necessitating an incredibly stupid injury angle.

Shane and Steph are very concerned.  Imagine how Vince must've felt.

There were four traditional elimination matches, only one of which passed the ten-minute mark:
The Godfather, D-Lo Brown and The Headbangers faced The Dudley Boyz and the Acolytes.  Godfather and D-Lo won in a quick and forgettable nine-minute bout.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1998)

One of the worst wrestling tournaments ever, that was super entertaining at the time....

Survivor Series 1998 - Kiel Center - 11/15/98

The 1998 edition almost defies critique as a wrestling event.  Almost.  As an angle played out over a three-hour running time it was rather genius.  As a professional wrestling show it was abysmal.  Once again nothing about this show earned it the title of Survivor Series.  The PPV was built around a WWF Title tournament after Steve Austin lost the belt under controversial circumstances and the belt was vacated.  As with WrestleMania IV, the company tried to cram far too much into one show, and this didn't even have the benefit of a fourth hour.  Fourteen matches in three hours.  Simply batshit insane.

There were two non-tournament matches, Sable vs. Jacqueline for the new Women's Title (this one stunk), and a Triple Threat for the Tag belts pitting The New Age Outlaws against The Headbangers and D-Lo Brown/Mark Henry (this one was mediocre).

The tournament itself was shabbily thrown together and had some baffling inclusions such as jobber Duane Gill, midcarder Al Snow, newcomer Steven Regal, who had only been in the company a few weeks, and two first-round matches featuring McMahon henchman the Big Bossman.  Now the storyline going into this was that Vince would do anything to keep Austin from regaining the Title, and had handpicked (rather reluctantly) Mankind to be the next Champion (Mankind had shaved off his beard and styled his hair for the occasion).  Mankind opened the show against pushover Duane Gill to allow him easy advancement.  Steve Austin's first round match was against Bossman, tasked specifically with injuring Austin and hindering him going forward (why not just use a crooked referee to take Austin out of the tournament right at the beginning?).  The Rock, who had been slowly turning babyface and had run afoul of Vince, was slated to face Triple H in the first round.  Triple H, despite being injured, was nonetheless billed to appear on this show in a rather shameless bait-and-switch.  Instead Rocky faced the Bossman (making his second first-round appearance) and quickly rolled him up in a four-second match.

The second round featured a shitty Undertaker-Kane rematch, a very good little Rock-Shamrock rematch (where Bossman's interference on Shamrock's behalf backfired), a Steve Austin bye into the semis, and an exceedingly brief Al Snow vs. Mankind bout.

Monday, November 21, 2022

AEW Full Gear 2022 Review: The MJF Era Begins

The MJF Era has officially begun, kids!  Everyone's favorite wrestling anti-hero finally fulfilled his destiny on Saturday, cheating as always to unseat Jon Moxley as the new AEW Champion.  It was a very fine main event to cap off a pretty great but long PPV.  


I've read a lot of criticisms of Full Gear 2022 saying it felt too long and wasn't strong enough all the way through to justify its four-hour (plus pre-show) running time.  I guess I'd agree with that to an extent, but I'll bet if you rearranged the match order and laid it out like a NJPW show, with the lesser, shorter bouts at the beginning, it would've felt shorter.  This is one issue I've had with North American PPV events for a while now.  When you sprinkle the big matches throughout the show instead of getting the smaller ones out of the way first, it makes the show feel longer.  The only match I could see being cut from this lineup was the Jade Cargill one, which I still thought was decent.  Everything else was solid to great, including the three Zero Hour bouts.  My biggest gripe is that the three best matches were in the first half, and the middle of the show suffered from not being able to clear that bar.  Fortunately the last three matches all delivered.

The PPV proper kicked off with Jungle Boy Jack Perry (who is apparently transitioning away from his Tarzan moniker) against Luchasaurus in the big cage match.  This was a helluva strong opener, with Perry using his superior agility early on to frustrate the big man but eventually bleeding after meeting the steel with his forehead.  Luchasaurus dominated the middle portion of the match and this often reminded me of Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel and later Shawn vs. Undertaker in the Cell.  Christian Cage picked the referee's pocket to get the keys to the cage and managed to unlock the door before being ejected.  This allowed Luchasaurus to take the fight outside, catapulting Perry into the cage and grabbing a table and some chairs to bring back in.  Perry was chokeslammed through a chair, but mounted a comeback and landed a scary-looking Shawn Michaels-esque elbowsmash off the top of the cage through the table.  One Snaretrap later, Luchasaurus tapped out, giving Jungle Boy the biggest win of his young career.  Excellent cage match.  ****1/4


The History of WWE Survivor Series (1997)

November 9th, 1997 - perhaps the most infamous day in wrestling history....

Survivor Series 1997 - Molson Centre - 11/9/97

Speaking of PPVs that are a complete fucking mess, the 1997 Survivor Series suffered from all kinds of problems.  I'm guessing that due to the turmoil and uncertainty surrounding WWF Champion Bret Hart's impending departure from the company (essentially forced by Vince, mind you), there wasn't much time or energy left to focus on the rest of the card.  Bret had initially agreed to stay through November '97 and drop the title before he left, Vince insisted it had to be to Shawn in Montreal, Bret refused, you know the rest.  Anyway there were seven matches on the card, most of which were mediocre or just too rushed and/or chaotic to be very good.

First up was (what a shock) an elimination match consisting of four tag teams.  The New Age Outlaws teamed with The Godwinns to face The Headbangers and The New Blackjacks.  This was watchable and helped get the Outlaws over as the hot new heel team, but otherwise not much going on.

Second was a totally pointless elimination match between Crush's DOA stable and an Apartheid-inspired heel stable, the Truth Commission.  Essentially the whole point of the Commission was to get over a new giant wrestler named Kurrgan, whose career fizzled very quickly but who can be seen in such blockbuster films as 300 and Sherlock Holmes.  Kurrgan basically won the whole 9-minute match by himself.  Welcome to ThrowawayLand.

Friday, November 18, 2022

AEW Full Gear 2022 Preview & Predictions

Fasten your seatbelts, AEW faithful, because this Saturday night is Full Gear!


Once again AEW presents a loaded PPV lineup, at a time when the company desperately needs to generate some positive buzz again.  It will be a big test, as it's the first PPV since the CM Punk debacle, moreover the first show of any kind since then with Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks back in the fold, and hopefully the big coronation of the company's breakout homegrown star(s).  As of right now they're closing in on another million-dollar live gate, and if they hit that number and also manage a good 130,000 PPV buys (which would put it in the same ballpark as All Out) one has to consider Full Gear a win.

On paper this looks like one of their more stacked PPVs, with nearly all of their available star power on hand and a slew of potential ****+ bouts.  Let's take a look....



Zero Hour: Brian Cage vs. Ricky Starks or Lance Archer

Obviously Ricky Starks will advance to the semifinals (and likely the finals) of this year's Eliminator tournament.  His medical issue was a blessing in disguise for this show, as it forced the company to push the tournament final back to next Wednesday, thus reducing the PPV lineup to ten matches.  That should probably be the rule going forward with these contender tourneys unless they boast the necessary star power.  Starks and Ethan Page are potentially both future main event guys, but they aren't there yet.  Anyway, Starks will get past former Team Taz stablemate Brian Cage on his way to Dynamite's showdown with Page.

Pick: Ricky Starks




Sting & Darby Allin vs. Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett


Look, I get that Jarrett probably has a lot of experience and wisdom to offer the company in an offscreen role, but I just can't see the benefit of featuring him on television.  He's been doing the same act since 1998 and it was never a draw even back then.  That said, this should be fine if it's kept in the ten-minute range.  Darby and Jay will provide the fast-paced action, Sting will provide the big pops, and Jarrett will hopefully provide the warm body to pin at the end.

Pick: Sting & Darby


The History of WWE Survivor Series (1996)

Here's a PPV that felt barely cobbled together but was still mostly enjoyable....

Survivor Series 1996 - Madison Square Garden - 11/17/96

Survivor Series '96 might be the best-ever PPV thrown together with seemingly no logic or common sense.  There are some good matches on this show, but really look at it - the lineup is a complete fucking mess.  Aside from one singles match there wasn't much of a reason for anything that happened here.  Four new wrestlers made their in-ring debuts on this show (FOUR!  That's way too many debuts all at once.), only one of the three elimination matches was assembled around a feud, one of the three singles matches was totally unnecessary at this point, and the WWF Title challenger had no business getting a title shot.  I really don't know what they were thinking putting this show together the way they did.

The opening match was entirely built around nothing.  Yet another two-teams vs. two-teams elimination bout, Tag Champions Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith teamed with The New Rockers against The Godwinns and WWF newcomers Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon.  Furnas & Lafon were a celebrated team in Japan but American audiences were not familiar with them at all, and they made no RAW appearances before debuting at this show.  Yet immediately they were positioned as the #1 Tag Title contenders.  Aside from this match having a lot of good wrestling, there was no reason to care about any of it.

Match #2 was the fourth PPV meeting between The Undertaker and Mankind.  Now, let me preface this by saying the Taker-Mankind feud from 1996-1998 was and is one of the greatest feuds of all time.  But they had already wrestled each other on PPV in a regular singles match, a Boiler Room Brawl, and the first-ever Buried Alive match.  So to follow this up the company opted for.....another regular singles match??  This made no sense.  If the level of violence wasn't going to escalate, have Taker and Mankind each captain a Survivor Series team.  Ya know, since the show is called Survivor Series??  This match was fine, but totally anticlimactic after their three previous efforts, and was probably the weakest of this entire feud.

The one elimination match involving a real feud was next, as I-C Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley led Crush, Goldust and Jerry Lawler against Marc Mero, Jake Roberts, "The Stalker" Barry Windham (what a laughable gimmick), and another debuting star, Rocky Maivia (at least with Rocky the WWF showed a bunch of vignettes leading up to this).  This match was just ok, but I did like that both captains were eliminated before the end.  Rocky overcame the odds to win the whole thing, much to the delight of.....no one really.  This was long before Maivia showed us all what a true star he could be, and I'll confess that until his 1997 heel turn I didn't see any real potential in him.

Friday, November 11, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1995)

Another return to form for Survivor Series as the November tradition moves to Sunday night...

Survivor Series 1995 - USAir Arena - 11/19/95

To paraphrase Bobby Heenan, comparing Survivor Series '94 to Survivor Series '95 is like comparing horse manure to ice cream.  The 1995 edition was such a monumental improvement it's hard to even consider them as the same type of event.  While the '94 edition felt disorganized and largely inconsequential aside from a few key moments, this show featured multiple strong elimination matches and a big marquee Title match.

1995 was not a very successful year for the company, as Diesel failed to draw as WWF Champion and fans instead preferred the athleticism of Bret Hart and hot new babyface star Shawn Michaels.  But several newcomers were added to the roster which freshened up the product, such as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Ahmed Johnson, Hakushi and Goldust.

The first match featured mostly bottom-level talent but ended up being one of the best on the show.  The Bodydonnas - Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Prichard, and surprise member The 1-2-3 Kid took on The Underdogs - Marty Janetty, Bob Holly, Hakushi, and Barry Horowitz.  These eight guys wrestled like they had something to prove, as the match featured lots of aerial moves and spectacular high spots (for example Janetty's mindblowing top rope powerbomb on Skip).  The Kid stole a victory in the end after his new stablemate Sycho Sid interfered, and this seemed to be the beginning of a nice heel push for Sean Waltman.  However due to some drug issues his career stagnated and he left for WCW several months later.

Next up was a women's match reminiscent of the Team Sherri vs. Team Moolah bout from 1987, featuring several Japanese women wrestlers utilizing intricate, crowd-pleasing movesets previously not seen in the WWF.  The Women's Champion Alundra Blayze captained a team of Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa and Chaparita Asari against Bertha Faye's team of Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe and Lioness Asuka.  This was a highly entertaining, action-heavy showcase of Japanese-style wrestling that seemed to signal the push of Aja Kong as a major women's star.  Unfortunately Alundra Blayze defected to WCW a month later and the planned Women's Title feud was off.  Still this is easily worth a watch.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1994)

Back to sub-standard Survivor Series fare.....

Survivor Series 1994 - Freeman Coliseum - 11/23/94

Here's an ugly bit of business.  Survivor Series '94 saw the return of 5-on-5 elimination matches, which sounds like it'd be great.  Unfortunately the WWF didn't seem to care about making them seem at all important, so they came off as a jumbled mess.  The two main events on the show were singles matches (this began an infuriating trend of every major feud on a Survivor Series card being settled in a singles match while the elimination matches were treated as obligatory filler), neither of which really delivered.

Far too similar to the first match on the 1991 card, the opening match here had all the hallmarks of a classic.  The Bad Guys - Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, British Bulldog, and The Headshrinkers vs. The Teamsters - Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jeff Jarrett.  A bunch of good workers and a bunch of future main eventers.  What could go wrong?  Well, much like its 1991 counterpart, this match started out great, establishing Diesel as a killing machine, and then about twenty minutes in, ended with five - FIVE - men getting eliminated at the same time, with one guy left standing as the winner.  This was so unbelievably stupid.  It all happened after Shawn accidentally superkicked Diesel (the third time this had happened), leading to Diesel chasing Shawn out of the ring and back to the dressing room.  The rest of their team went with them to try and break up the impending melee, and the referee counted the whole team (yes, the WHOLE TEAM) out of the ring.  Umm, shouldn't only the legal man be counted out?  And then the next legal man would get counted out?  So like, shouldn't the referee have had to count to fifty to eliminate the entire team?

Hey look, it's the Kliq......and Davey Boy.

Look, dummies.  Here's what you do with this match.  The main objectives were obviously to break up Shawn and Diesel, turn Diesel face, and position Diesel as the next main event guy.  So instead of wasting everyone's time with a 20-minute match without a third act and a totally nonsensical ending, how 'bout you have Diesel run through Razor's whole team (like he did), tag Shawn in (like he did), hold Razor for the superkick (like he did), have Shawn miss and hit Diesel (like he did), and then have Razor roll Shawn up for the pin.  Then Diesel (now the legal man) realizes what happened and angrily chases Shawn back to the dressing room, thus getting counted out and making it a 3-on-1 match.  Razor gallantly battles Owen, Jarrett and Neidhart, eventually eliminating "The Anvil," befor Owen and Jarrett's heel tactics become too much and Jarrett covers Razor for the win (thus setting Jarrett up as the #1 I-C contender, which they were gonna do anyway!).  Would that have been so hard?  Then you'd have an epic, dramatic elimination match that elevated Diesel and Jarrett, set up the Shawn-Diesel feud, and painted Razor as a courageous fighter who never gave up despite the long odds.

Nope, let's just throw out another potentially awesome Survivor Series match.  Next?

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1993)

After three pretty bad editions of the Thanksgiving Night/Eve Spectacular, the show returned to its roots in 1993...

Survivor Series 1993 - Boston Garden - 11/24/93

Well that's more like it.  The '93 Series PPV was something of a return to form after the format had been watered down and then abandoned completely over the three previous years.  This show marks the first time a wrestling PPV had ever been held in Boston, so it has some sentimental value for me.  I was tempted to buy a ticket, but since it was Thanksgiving Eve and I'd have to travel home to the 'burbs anyway, I opted to watch on the tube.

This show not only put the focus back on the elimination matches, but for the first time since 1990 the main event was one of them.  The company made the most of a terribly depleted roster and put on a pretty damn good show, all things considered.  This would sadly be Bobby Heenan's final WWF PPV, as he would soon leave the company and wind up in WCW.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1992)

Oh look, a non-Survivor Series show.....

Survivor Series 1992 - Richfield Coliseum - 11/25/92

Survivor Series '92, or as I like to call it, Generic Wrestling Show '92, returned to the place where it all started, the Richfield Coliseum.  This was the first Survivor Series after Hulk Hogan's departure and featured a host of brand new main event stars.  The WWF had moved away from the superhuman power wrestlers due to mounting steroid allegations, and focused on smaller grapplers and more athletic action.

Sadly they also moved away from a Survivor Series format for this installment and it became just another PPV event.

The show opened with the newly-signed Headshrinkers (or Samoan Swat Team as they had been called in WCW) vs. High Energy (Owen Hart and Koko B. Ware, who for some reason both wore Jim Neidhart's old MC Hammer-style pants).  This was a serviceable kickoff tag bout but little more than a showcase for the Wild Samoans: NextGen team.

Next up was The Big Bossman facing Nailz (a "former convict" whom the former prison guard Big Bossman had allegedly mistreated in the clink) in a Nightstick on a Pole match.  Nailz was comically evil and had a digitally enhanced speaking voice to make him sound more monstrous.  This was his final televised WWF match, as he was later fired for physically assaulting Vince McMahon.  Probably not the smartest move to beat up your boss, but then again Steve Austin made a great living that way.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1991)

Consider this ugly little number, which ended up a sleazy sales pitch for another PPV...

Survivor Series 1991 - Joe Louis Arena - 11/27/91

Wow.  Not only was Survivor Series 1991 not a good PPV, it was little more than a hype show for the newest WWF PPV offering six days later, This Tuesday in Texas.  This was such a cheap-ass bait and switch, and had I actually paid to see this show I'd have been LIVID.  In an odd way this PPV was ahead of its time in that it essentially accomplished the same thing as every PPV in the Vince Russo era - hook the paid viewers into watching an upcoming show.  Just mystifying.

The opener looked fantastic on paper.  Ric Flair, The Mountie, Ted Dibiase, and The Warlord vs. Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Virgil.  This was Ric Flair's first major feud in the WWF, and the heat between him and Piper was fantastic.  Piper had been an announcer for a while and got put on probation for getting physically involved with Flair, to the point that President Jack Tunney threatened suspension if it happened again.  Flair then took advantage, taunting Piper repeatedly and slapping his headset off, hoping to provoke a fight.  Piper snapped, was fired as an announcer and reinstated as a wrestler.

Anyway what a great lineup - Flair, Dibiase, Piper, Bret and Davey Boy all in the same match!  And for about 22 minutes this was a pretty damn good elimination match.  Took its time, didn't rush to get to the end, had all the markings of an epic harkening back to the '87 and '88 shows.  Aaaaaand then a wild brawl broke out where five guys all got disqualified at once, leaving Ric Flair as the sole survivor.  Get the fuck right outta here.  FIVE-MAN DISQUALIFICATION.  This had to be the cheapest and laziest booking of the decade.  There was no discernible reason they couldn't have gone the traditional route, made this a 27-minute match that came down to Flair vs. Piper, and had Flair win using a cheap rollup while hooking the tights.  Then this could've been one of the best WWF matches of the year.  But no.  Let's just toss the whole thing out.  Unbelievable.

Image result for survivor series 1991 flair"
What a promising match this was....

Next we had, for the second year in a row, a pointless match involving Sgt. Slaughter, as he led Jim Duggan, Kerry von Erich, and Tito Santana against Col. Mustafa, The Berzerker, Skinner, and Hercules.  Slaughter had finally lost his feud with Hulk Hogan and once again embraced America, turning on his Iraqi sidekicks.  So the guy around whom they had built most of 1991 as a traitorous, flag-burning terrorist-type was now begging the fans to take him back.  This is reason #387 why the US-Iraq angle was a terrible idea: once you have the villain publicly side with a murderous totalitarian with whom America was actually at war, it's a little tough to get the fans back on his side later on.  Not surprisingly this new Slaughter-Sheik feud didn't exactly light up the wrestling world.  Also they had the babyfaces sweep the heels here, immediately negating the novelty of 1990's Visionaries-Vipers sweep.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Top Ten Things: Weird Al Yankovic Albums, RANKED

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Today I'll be talking about a musical legend.  And a comedy legend.  And a certified genius (Seriously, he skipped second grade and was senior year valedictorian at sixteen).


Weird Al Yankovic burst into the American lexicon in 1984 with an off-beat parody of a Michael Jackson hit, and has somehow managed to build a hugely successful thirty-plus-year career lampooning our most cherished pop music stars.  As an eight-year-old Michael Jackson fanatic I was initially offended that anyone would parody one of his songs, but Al won me over when I first saw the video for "Eat It."  Here was a dorky, bespectacled nerd mimicking all of Jackson's dance moves (badly I might add) and conjuring comedy from already-tired rock video imagery.  By age twelve I'd bought all of Al's records, and I've been a huge fan ever since.  In 2000 I got to see Al from the front row, and he even yelled at me for not singing along to "Dare to Be Stupid."  It was indeed a privilege.  Twenty-two years later I took my son to see his Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, a proud inter-generational moment. 

Despite originating as a zany novelty act on comedy radio, Weird Al's career has endured a staggering four decades.  For many artists, being parodied by Al is a badge of honor, a sign that they've truly "made it."  Al is like a pop culture mirror, making light of our society's latest fads and popular music heroes.  While he seems to be all done putting out full albums, he still pops up every so often with a new video to remind us he's still out there, ready to either lampoon or pay homage to whatever's grabbing headlines.

Here now are my ten favorite Weird Al Yankovic albums....




14. Polka Party!


It should come as no surprise that the album which nearly derailed Al's career ranks last.  Without the benefit of a strong single to help move sales ("Livin' With a Hernia" is a fun James Brown parody but didn't exactly light up the charts the way "Eat It" or "Like a Surgeon" did), Polka Party! would need to overachieve as a cohesive album.  Sadly it did not; the album's parodies tackled mostly less-than-memorable material, while its originals were largely pretty pedestrian.  The Talking Heads-inspired "Dog Eat Dog" and the Phil Spector-style "Christmas at Ground Zero" serve as a pair of standouts, but beyond those, Polka Party! lacks a strong catalogue of original tunes to make up for the rather uninspired slate of parodies.  Thankfully Al's career would resurge in a big way two years later with the release of Even Worse.

Key Tracks: Livin' With a Hernia, Dog Eat Dog, Christmas at Ground Zero






13. Alapalooza


Cashing in on both the mammoth success of Jurassic Park and the alternative music tour Lollapalooza, Al's 8th album dropped in 1993 and didn't quite make the splash its predecessor Off the Deep End did.  It probably didn't help that the lead single was a parody of an old 1960s tune rather than a hot 1993 alternative chart-topper (though Al's "Jurassic Park" song is pretty great).  Al did send up the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge," with mixed results (RHCP bassist Flea expressed disappointment in Al's choice of The Flintstones as the song's inspiration), and Aerosmith's "Livin' on the Edge," returning to the subject of food, in this case the kind that's been in the fridge too long.  The original songs on this album were a letdown for me, aside from the excellent REM-esque "Frank's 2000" TV."  To my mind "Traffic Jam," "Waffle King" and "She Never Told Me She Was a Mine" sounded like outtakes from previous albums.  But Alapalooza does finish strong with "Bohemian Polka," a sped-up, accordion-driven version of Queen's megahit "Bohemian Rhapsody."  Overall though, Alapalooza is one of his weakest efforts, and the worst of his 1990s output.

Key Tracks: Jurassic Park, Frank's 2000" TV, Bohemian Polka





12. Straight Outta Lynwood


Notable for boasting Al's highest-charting single "White & Nerdy" (a parody of "Ridin" by Chamillionaire), Al's 12th album was from a commercial standpoint another career highlight.  Other parodies include "Canadian Idiot," based of course on Green Day's "American Idiot," "Confessions Part III," a sendup of Usher's "Confessions Part II," and the epic "Trapped in the Drive Thru" based on R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet."  The originals on this album are quite varied, with "Pancreas" parodying the style of The Beach Boys, "I'll Sue Ya" capturing the sound of Rage Against the Machine, and probably the strongest original "Don't Download This Song" going after 1980s all-star charity tunes like "We Are the World."  Overall SOL is ambitious and sonically diverse, but not all of it landed for me.  Still it was satisfying to see Al achieve such mainstream success once again.

Key Tracks: White & Nerdy, Pancreas, Don't Download This Song





11. Bad Hair Day


Falling just shy of the top ten is Al's 1996 return to prominence after the critical and commercial disappointment of Alapalooza.  The ninth album in Al's catalog surged to double-platinum status largely on the back of "Amish Paradise," a parody of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise."  Coolio infamously disapproved of Al using his song as comedy fodder and publicly objected, though Al did get written permission from Coolio's management to use the song.  This was ironic considering the Coolio tune is itself a reworking of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise."  Aside from the hit single, Bad Hair Day boasts an excellent parody of Presidents of the USA's "Lump," about Forrest Gump, some standout originals such as "Everything You Know is Wrong" the a cappella "Since You've Been Gone," and "The Night Santa Went Crazy," and maybe his best-ever polka medley, "The Alternative Polka," which makes use of numerous mid-90s grunge and alternative hits.  Bad Hair Day is a bit uneven but contains enough standout tunes to almost make the vaunted top ten.

Key Tracks: Amish Paradise, The Alternative Polka, Gump





10. UHF - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff


The soundtrack to Al's 1989 summer flop sadly didn't fare much better than its film counterpart, but it did contain some fun parodies and solid originals, plus a few snippets of the film itself.  Al's spoof of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," which is essentially the Beverly Hillbillies theme set to different music, was accompanied by an excellent sendup of the Straits video.  Other highlights were "Spam," based on REM's "Stand," and two hilarious originals, "Generic Blues," which literally just recycles all the woe-is-me blues lyrical tropes, and folk-rock epic "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota," which recounts in great detail a trip to go see the World's Largest Twine Ball (Yes, such a thing actually exists).  Released at a time when a) the summer movie season was quite cluttered (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, Star Trek V, and Lethal Weapon 2), and b) Weird Al's record sales were somewhat contingent on including a Michael Jackson parody, this album and film kinda got lost in the shuffle (though UHF has since become a cult classic).  But it's not too shabby at all and shows evidence of Al's growth as a musician.

Key Tracks: Generic Blues, Spam, The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota





9. Dare to Be Stupid


Al's third album, and the first musical comedy album to see a CD release, showed that Al was growing beyond his reputation as "that funny guy who does the Michael Jackson parody."  With songs like "Like a Surgeon," "I Want a New Duck," and the superb "Yoda" (based on The Kinks' "Lola"), Al was attempting to last beyond the fifteen-minute lifespan most gave him.  But it's in the original songs where this album really achieves.  Style parodies like the hilariously descriptive doo-wop ballad "One More Minute" and the Devo-inspired title track demonstrated Al's gift for recreating different genres (Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh once said that "Dare to Be Stupid" captured the exact sound he himself had been trying to create).

Key Tracks: Dare to Be Stupid, One More Minute, Yoda

Friday, November 4, 2022

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1990)

Sadly the WWF followed up its first three good-to-excellent Survivor Series PPVs with a totally phoned-in edition...

Survivor Series 1990 - Hartford Civic Center - 11/22/90

Dear God this show sucked.  For the first time (and certainly not the last), the WWF took the amazing Survivor Series concept and diluted it beyond all recognition.  The 4-on-4 format was still in effect from 1989 but they added the wrinkle that the survivors of each match would meet at the end of the show for a "Grand Finale" match.  A very cool idea in theory, but a terrible one in execution.

For one thing it resulted in six elimination matches - far too many for a three-hour PPV.  For another, the company also added a Mystery Egg segment - the climax to a weeks-long series of teasers where at the TV tapings they would show this giant turkey egg in the arena and let everyone know it was due to hatch at the PPV (How did they pinpoint the exact date, might I ask?).  At the Series, the egg hatched, and it was a man in a turkey suit, known as the Gobbledy Gooker.  The Gooker ran down to the ring and danced with Mean Gene Okerlund, and that was it.  That's what this whole angle was built around.  Just a colossal waste of everyone's lives.

Anyway, the show opened (OPENED!!) with the match involving WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior.  This was the match I was most looking forward to, mind you; the hyped main event, and it went on first.  Warrior captained a team of Kerry Von Erich and the Legion of Doom, against Mr. Perfect (with whom Warrior was NOT feuding at the time) and the three members of Demolition.  Nevermind that Warrior was actually feuding with Randy Savage (who I presume wasn't medically cleared to wrestle, being that the two never fought until the following March), the lineup still looked intriguing.  And then it only went fourteen minutes.  Wait.  Thus far the shortest-ever Survivor Series match was almost 18 minutes, while the others were well over 20.  The MAIN EVENT of this Survivor Series PPV lasted fourteen minutes??  Something ain't right here.  Warrior won, incidentally.

Hmm, which of these four guys doesn't belong?
Incidentally only one of these men is still living.

Next was the Dream Team of Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, and The Hart Foundation against the Million Dollar Team of Ted Dibiase, Honky Tonk Man, Greg Valentine, and mystery partner Kane the Undertaker (that's right, his first name was originally Kane).  This match was pretty good partly due to the intrigue of Taker's introduction, and partly because of the later stretches of the match when it came down to Bret vs. Dibiase.  Ted won the whole thing.