Showing posts with label Wrestling Stuff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wrestling Stuff. Show all posts

Friday, November 12, 2021

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.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

AEW Full Gear 2021 Preview & Predictions

Great gobs of goose shit, what a lineup we have on tap for this Saturday.  I think I said this before All Out as well, but Full Gear 2021 is as stacked a show as AEW has ever put together.  Of the nine main show matches I could legitimately see eight of them creeping into **** territory or better, provided they all get enough time (a tall order on a four-hour show, I grant you).


I think we're gonna see another PPV of the Year candidate from a company that's firing on nearly every cylinder.  Huge, highly anticipated main event for the title?  Check.  Bryan Danielson in a semi-main slot putting together his own personal G1 Climax run?  Check.  Heated-as-fuck grudge match between two all-time great talkers?  Check.  Heated grudge match between two of the company's biggest young stars?  Check.  Title match involving two of the best tag teams in the world?  Check.  A pair of wild multi-man tags that will spill all over the arena?  Check.

Literally the only potential weak spot on this show is the women's title match, and that should still be decent.  Like if that's the worst thing on the show, that's one goddamn helluva show.  

Let's get into it....



Pre-Show: Hikaru Shida & Thunder Rosa vs. Nyla Rose & Jamie Hayter


Shida's had a pair of damn fine matches against Serena Deeb in recent weeks and has to be considered a TBS Title favorite.  Then again, Thunder Rosa is another.  If not for Jade Cargill's involvement in the tournament I could see Shida vs. Rosa as the final.  But Jade's first loss needs to be treated as a big deal, so she's likely to make it to the final at least.  I'll go with the heels to win here since I think each of them will lose in their next tournament match.

Pick: Rose & Hayter




Falls Count Anywhere: Superkliq vs. Christian Cage & Jurassic Express


This would be a fine PPV opener, as it will be nonstop action.  The Bucks always deliver on PPV and this should be no different.  It's Falls Count Anywhere so it'll be all over the arena and full of wild and creative spots.  I guess the Superkliq probably wins here given what's likely to happen in the main event.  They've also recruited Adam Cole's old buddy Bobby Fish, who may show up to help out.  Man do I hope Kyle O'Reilly shows up too.  Reunite reDRagon!  Anyway, heels win.

Pick: Superkliq

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.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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.

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.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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.

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.

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.

Friday, November 5, 2021

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?

Thursday, November 4, 2021

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.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

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.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

NJPW Power Struggle 2021 Preview & Predictions

Well, COVID restrictions are loosening over in Japan, and that means NJPW is once again allowed to run full-length, nine-match cards in front of up to 5,000 people.  So this weekend the annual Power Struggle show will be the first NJPW PPV in nearly two years to feature a full lineup.  And aside from a few warmup tag bouts it looks pretty solid.


The G1 is behind us and the road to the Tokyo Dome is ahead.  Kazuchika Okada has his sights set on regaining the company's top championship, though he does not recognize Shingo's IWGP World Title as the true championship (nor should he, that belt sucks).  He's been carrying around the REAL IWGP Title and I hope at WrestleKingdom we'll see that belt reinstated.  Regardless, before Okada can make that happen he has to get past the one man who beat him in the G1, Tama Tonga, and I'm betting he'll also insist on a rematch with Kota Ibushi at the Dome.  Meanwhile Shingo Takagi will have his hands full with the reinvigorated Zack Sabre Jr., who went on a submission warpath during the G1, tapping out Takagi clean in the middle of the ring.  Similarly, Hiroshi Tanahashi will face a man who scored a G1 upset over him, Kenta.  Not a bad trilogy of matches on tap, plus we'll get a Jr. Title contest.

But first....



NEVER Openweight 6-Man Championship: Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Evil, Sho & Yujuro Takahashi


These titles have now been around for six years and they've never really meant anything.  This is why I'm resistant whenever I see people clamoring for AEW to introduce a Trios Title - six-man teams don't stay together consistently or long enough to make a belt like this carry any prestige.  Remember the NWA version?  Thing had to be vacated every few months because of injuries or departures.  Pointless.  Anyway, this Chaos faction has held the title for a year or so, so that at least helps.  I think they'll lose them here though - the Evil wing of Bullet Club is hot thanks to the addition of Sho.

Pick: House of Torture





KOPW Trophy Amateur Rules Match: Toru Yano vs. Great-O-Khan


Ugh, I have no interest in this stupid trophy.  This is kind of NJPW's equivalent of the 24/7 Title - a meaningless achievement contested mostly in comedy segments.  This one is amateur rules and both guys do have an amateur background, so maybe the match will be entertaining.  I guess I could see O-Khan winning here just to give him a little something-something to do.

Pick: O-Khan

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.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1989)

Wait, it's not five-on-five anymore?  And the tag team match is gone??  WHAT THE DAMN HELL??

Survivor Series 1989 - Rosemont Horizon - 11/23/89

Here's a Survivor Series I went into just eager to hate the whole thing.  When I found out they had changed the format to 4-on-4 and done away with the 20-man tag team-based match I was livid.  This felt like it would totally water down the concept and ruin what had been one of my favorite gimmick matches.  Instead of putting all the tag teams in one supermatch, they paired two singles wrestlers with each tag team, and in the case of the Hart Foundation, actually split them into separate matches (something I still find baffling).

Fortunately though, Survivor Series 1989 was still a fun show to watch and featured some very good elimination bouts.  This was also the first Series where each team had a name - a silly touch, but it added a sense of officiality to the whole thing.

The opening match featured The Dream Team - Dusty Rhodes, Brutus Beefcake, Tito Santana, and The Red Rooster vs. The Enforcers - Big Bossman, Bad News Brown, Rick Martel and Honky Tonk Man.  On paper this looked like a yawner but it was actually pretty good.  Rhodes and Beefcake outlasted the Bossman team.

Second was the match I was initially looking the most forward to, as Randy Savage captained The King's Court, with Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine, and originally Barry Windham, who had jumped to the WWF as The Widowmaker.  I loved Windham at the time and had high hopes for his WWF run.  Unfortunately Windham only spent about six months in the company, for reasons I still don't understand, and was replaced by the WWF's newest monster heel Earthquake.  Savage's opponents were the 4x4s (a name that makes little sense since Jim Duggan carried a 2x4, not a 4x4): Jim Duggan, Bret Hart, Ronnie Garvin, and Hercules.  This match was solid and featured some rare televised Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage interaction (why they never had a major feud with each other I'll never know).  Savage's team was dominant thanks largely to Earthquake's involvement.

Monday, November 1, 2021

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1988)

Time to talk about my favorite Survivor Series....

Survivor Series 1988 - Richfield Coliseum - 11/24/88

Well somehow they did it.  The WWF managed to top the near-perfect 1987 Survivor Series with an EVEN BETTER show in 1988.  They crammed 50 wrestlers on the show (granted some were hardly A-listers but still) and presented 4 huge elimination matches once again.  Because of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage being presented as co-faces of the company, each team this year had two captains instead of one.  Kinda silly but it's a minor nitpick.

The opening match was once again built around the Intercontinental Championship feud, as new champ The Ultimate Warrior and Brutus Beefcake captained a team including Sam Houston, The Blue Blazer, and former Killer Bee Jim Brunzell (subbing for Don Muraco), against The Honky Tonk Man & Outlaw Ron Bass, and their team of Greg Valentine, Bad News Brown, and Danny Davis.  This bout was nothing special but kicked off the show with a fast-paced match and a feel-good moment, as the Warrior overcame the odds to survive.

The second match on this show is my favorite elimination bout in Survivor Series history.  Once again five tag teams were partnered up on each side of the ring, and this might be the greatest assembly of tag teams in a single match.  Newcomers (and Road Warrior clones) The Powers of Pain captained a team of the Hart Foundation, the British Bulldogs, the Rockers, and the Young Stallions (that's an unbelievably stacked crew right there) against Tag Champs Demolition, the Brain Busters, the Rougeaus, the Bolsheviks, and jobber team The Conquistadors (okay so they probably didn't belong).  The match was an epic 42-minute war where all the teams got plenty of ring time and the action was more or less non-stop until the closing minutes.  Then a shocking double-turn occurred, as Mr. Fuji turned on Demolition, causing their elimination.  The Powers of Pain then made short work of the Conquistadors and adopted Fuji as their new manager.  Demolition went on to become one of the most beloved teams in WWF history and set a new record for the longest Tag Championship reign (which held until The New Day eclipsed it in 2016).  This match holds up as a classic example of elimination wrestling.  Spectacular stuff.

That there is an even BETTER tag team division.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1987)

From the wrestling-dependent jackoff who brought you The Histories of WWE WrestleMania and SummerSlam comes the official Enuffa.com History of WWE Survivor Series.


Welcome to my retrospective about what has traditionally been one of my favorite wrestling concepts, the Survivor Series.  The PPV debuted in 1987 when the WWF's chief rival, the NWA, decided to venture into the PPV market with Starrcade '87.  Vince McMahon, in full-on predatory mode, created a new gimmick PPV to go head-to-head with Jim Crockett's flagship show, but also told the cable companies they would have to choose between Starrcade and Survivor Series, and if they chose the former they would not be permitted to carry the following year's WrestleMania event.  This unfortunately crippled Starrcade's distribution (a shame since Starrcade '87 was a helluva show) and essentially ruined Crockett's PPV hopes, leading to the promotion's sale to Ted Turner in 1988.

The Survivor Series was built around a simple but ultra-awesome concept, superteams of five men (with either one or two captains depending on the year) battling for supremacy in a sequence of elimination matches.  The last team (or portion thereof) left standing would be the winners.  I had seen six-man elimination tag matches but the idea of a 5-on-5 version blew my freakin' mind and I absolutely loved this plan.

For the first few editions the show was entirely comprised of these elimination matches, but as the years have worn on WWE has almost disowned them and made the card more like a regular old PPV with an occasional elimination bout thrown in.  The result has been a very watered-down version of a once epic annual tradition.  But let's take a look at the history of WWE's second-oldest PPV event.


Survivor Series 1987 - Richfield Coliseum - 11/26/87

The original Survivor Series was an absolutely colossal extravanganza.  The three-hour PPV consisted of only four matches, three of which pitted teams of five against each other.  The fourth (and this was fucking GENIUS) stacked five tag teams to a side, and when one man from a tag team was eliminated, both members were gone.  So for example if Dynamite Kid got pinned, his partner Davey Boy Smith had to leave the ring as well.  This match type was only featured in the first two Survivor Series' (and was brought back in 2016), but it was amazing.  It also demonstrated how incredibly deep the tag team division used to be.

That there is a tag team division.

The first event opened with the team of Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan facing the Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, "Outlaw" Ron Bass, Harley Race, and Danny Davis.  Savage and HTM were feuding over the Intercontinental Title, and the "Macho Man" had become the second-most popular babyface in the company.  Also consider how monumental it was that Savage and Steamboat were teaming up only months after their venomous blood feud.  This match was absolutely thrilling and kicked off this historic event in style.  Team Savage was dominant, winning the match with three survivors (Savage, Steamboat and Jake) after the hopelessly outnumbered Honky Tonk Man took a powder and got counted out.  Just twenty-four minutes of BOSS.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Top Ten Things: October PPV Matches

Welcome to another Halloween-themed (but not really) Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com.  Instead of this column relating to Halloween and all things scary, instead it's October-centric.  Specifically I'll be counting down the top ten October PPV wrestling matches.

While pro wrestling's autumn season (falling as it does between the SummerSlam peak and the beginning of The Road to WrestleMania) has been pretty consistently known for B-level PPVs, shoddy writing, and rather stale characters, many of the October PPVs over the years have produced some excellent matches.  Here now are the ten greatest October PPV matches of all time.





10. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio - Halloween Havoc 10.26.97


Quite possibly the greatest WCW Cruiserweight match of all time, Guerrero vs. Mysterio was voted WCW's Match of the Year and it's not hard to see why.  The action was breathtaking and impossibly fast.  Both men were in peak form and easily upstaged the rest of the WCW roster.  Mysterio won the Cruiserweight Title with a stunning top rope hurricanrana. 





9. Rock vs. Chris Jericho - No Mercy 10.21.01


This was the match that elevated Chris Jericho to a main eventer.  For the previous two years he had struggled to rise past upper-midcard status, but on this night he bested The Rock for the WCW Title in a spectacular 24-minute war, turning heel in the process.  Sadly the company hotshotted the belt back to The Rock only two weeks later, but this match proved Jericho could hang with the WWF's top stars and deliver a classic main event.






8. Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rob Van Dam - No Mercy 10.21.01


No Mercy 2001 featured two amazing Title bouts.  After the Rock-Jericho classic came the WWF Title match, as heel Champion Steve Austin defended against archenemy Kurt Angle and white-hot tweener Rob Van Dam.  The bout was a whirlwind of intense brawling, virtuosic grappling, and daredevil highspots.  Austin narrowly retained and added to his succession of fantastic 2001 PPV matches.


Friday, October 22, 2021

NJPW G1 Climax 31: Is New Japan Cursed?

On today's installment of New Japan Can't Catch a Break, we'll be talking about the just-completed G1 Climax 31.  Join us, won't you?


Fuckin' hell, what is going on with NJPW?  Let's recap the year they've had.  Hiromu Takahashi vacates the Jr. Heavyweight Title due to injury.  Then Will Ospreay vacates the World Title due to injury.  Then Kota Ibushi misses the Wrestle Grand Slam main event to crown a new World Champion due to illness.  Then Tetsuya Naito misses all but one night of the G1 due to injury.  Then, in perhaps the cruelest moment of all, Kota Ibushi, in his fourth consecutive G1 Final, missed a Phoenix Splash and came down hard on his right arm, dislocating his shoulder and forcing a ref stoppage.  Kazuchika Okada unceremoniously won his first G1 trophy in seven years, in a match that was on its way to being a legit MOTY contender, before this tragic, unplanned finish.  So that's five instances of major stars having to miss time in a single calendar year, one of them twice.  What vengeful bastard deity did Gedo piss off?  Maybe God was really a fan of the old IWGP Heavyweight belt?  Or the Intercontinental one?  On a more hopeful note though, Okada in his post-match promo did say he wanted the Heavyweight Title back.  So maybe this World Title experiment can come to an end after WrestleKingdom?  I'm not a superstitious man, but I can't help but notice the timing of all these injuries.....

Anyway, as for the G1 itself, it was a pretty good tournament.  Nowhere near the quality of 2015 through 2019 - how could it be given all the missing talent - but there were plenty of good-to-great wrestling matches and a few unexpected participants made their mark.  Okada looked like his old dominant Rainmaker self in this tournament, leaner than perhaps we've ever seen him.  Tanahashi at age 44 has been wrestling like a man in his mid-30s this year.  Ibushi up until the injury was on fire through most of this tour.  Zack Sabre Jr. went on a submission tear, tapping out a slew of opponents in a row, including Ibushi and the champion Shingo.  Shingo of course looked great.  Ishii was once again a force of nature.  And Jeff Cobb punched his ticket as the most dominant NJPW heel in a long time, winning eight consecutive matches before losing to Okada in the B block finals.  But the two biggest surprises in this tournament were the coming of age of The Great O-Khan, who put up several strong showings and actually stole the show twice (against ZSJ and Ishii), and the performances of Tama Tonga, who looked like a bona fide singles star against no less than the likes of Tanahashi and Okada (whom he handed his lone defeat).  This is the best I've ever seen Tama look in action, and I hope he gets a good singles run out of this.  Maybe a NEVER Openweight Title reign?

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Top Ten Things: King of the Ring PPV Matches

Welcome one and all to a special edition of Enuffa.com's Top Ten Things!  In light of the return of the WWE King of the Ring tournament once again, I thought I'd assemble my list of the ten greatest matches to take place at the once-historic King of the Ring PPV event.


The King of the Ring tournament was originally a special house show attraction held annually in New England, before the WWF decided to add it to the PPV schedule in 1993.  At the time the WWF calendar only featured the Big Four PPV events, so creating a fifth was a pretty huge deal.  The inaugural edition was built around making Bret Hart a top babyface again after WrestleMania IX hurt his stock somewhat.  Bret carried the show, working three good-to-excellent matches and winning the tourney before Jerry Lawler abruptly attacked him during the coronation ceremony.  It was an uneven show but featured some excellent work from "The Hitman."

The KOTR PPV history contains quite a few highs and lows.  The '94 edition only had a few matches worth seeing while 1995's had none.  But the '96, '98 and 2001 PPVs were all varying degrees of excellent (2001 is one of my all-time favorite PPVs).  King of the Ring would run a full decade before sagging buyrates prompted the company to discontinue the series and replace it with Bad Blood.

The tournament itself would return to free television in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2015, and of course this year, with generally very little impact on star-building.  The '06 winner Booker T made the most of the "King" gimmick, adopting an obviously phony English accent which was amusing for a while.  William Regal's tourney win in 2008 led to precisely nothing of value, while Sheamus's victory in 2010 actually hurt his career for about eight months as he free-fell down the card.  2015's winner Wade Barrett was maybe the crown's worst victim, as his career went into a tailspin from which he never really recovered.

Truth be told I do miss the KOTR PPV.  The tournament itself was rarely presented well; if it was a one-night bracket most of the matches got shortchanged, and if only the semis and finals were included on the PPV the tourney felt less important.  But several rising stars were able to use the tourney as a major stepping stone, and when the PPV was good it was great.  If they were to bring it back now I'd suggest having the winner of the tournament get a PPV Title match of their choice, have the first two rounds on episodes of RAW and Smackdown the week before the PPV, and have the semis and finals on the PPV itself, with the finals ALWAYS being the main event.  Then the King of the Ring would actually mean something again.

But let's go back and look at some of the in-ring classics to come out of this once-important event.