Monday, January 31, 2011

Dragon Gate USA Freedom Fight 2011

Dragon Gate USA Freedom Fight 2011
Taped October 30th, 2010
Rahway Recreation Center, Rahway, New Jersey
Attendance: ???

Your hosts are CHIKARA-san and Lenny Leonard.

So this was Dragon Gate USA's first PPV airing of 3 in January 2011, a show that was taped back in October. Lets get right to it.

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Arik Cannon

Jacobs opens with a wristlock on Cannon as they exchange holds and counters briefly in a feeling out process. Jimmy gets a northern lights suplex and works an armbar on the Anarchist Arik Cannon. Jacobs gets a near fall with a victory roll but Cannon counters with a spinebuster and then locks in a modified Indian deathlock on him. He leans back and puts a crossface on Jacobs in the Muta-lock briefly, but Jacobs gets to the ropes before any real damage can take place. They trade hiplocks and suplexes and go into a nice reversal and rollup sequence off the ropes with Cannon showing off his agility with a cartwheel. Cannon attempts a wheelbarrow suplex but gets a bulldog instead. Big boot sends Cannon out, and Jacobs follows only to eat a superkick. They trade chops for a bit and then Jacobs delivers a headscissors on the floor and follows it up with a quick tope. Very good pace here and the crowd is getting into it now as Jacobs works a modified Mexican surfboard submission on Cannon. Cannon takes advantage for a bit with targeted dropkicks. He attempts a superplex but Jimmy swings out of the corner as if to perform a tornado DDT, only to snap Cannon down with a suplex of his own. Very fluid movement there from Jimmy. A bulldog gets another two count for Jimmy as the crowd starts clapping, getting into the action and seemingly behind Jimmy Jacobs. Spear in the corner gets him another near fall but Cannon won't be put away so easily. Jacobs misses a back suplex and goes for a lariat but Cannon tosses him over his head and into the corner with the Exploder suplex! Jacobs seemingly tweaks his knee after that and he's favoring it as they both rise to their feet for an exchange of elbows and headbutts. And just like that, Jimmy's cut from a brutal match 24 hours ago with Jon Moxley is opened back up. The blood only pumps Jimmy up though and he attempts Sliced Bread #2, but hits an ace crusher instead and follows it up with a cannonball senton for two. Wow Jimmy's cut is REALLY busted, his face is a mess. He eats a superkick and then a moves out of a brainbuster, but gets the Total Anarchy (twisting brainbuster) from Cannon for only 2! He hits ANOTHER brainbuster on Jimmy and follows it up with a Shining Wizard, 1-2---NO! Jimmy kicks out. Jimmy locks in the guillotine choke shortly afterwards and Cannon has no choice but to tap and give Jacobs the win at 12:12. Great opening match here as both men got the crowd fired up, hit some nice spots and put alot of heart into the ten minutes they had. Just the kind of opener you want to get your crowd into the show. ***

After the match Cannon and Jacobs shake hands in a sign of sportmanship.

Backstage Johnny Gargano introduces himself, Chuck Taylor and Rich Swann as the new stable "Ronin". Realizing it's a promo Chuckie T livens up and cuts a funny little promo with Rich Swann. They say it doesn't matter if you're WORLD-1 or WARRIORS (the two major stables in both Dragon Gate and Dragon Gate USA), it only matters if you're Ronin. These are three very talented young wrestlers and I see nothing but great things in their future, especially in the case of the brilliant Chuck Taylor.

Homicide/BxB Hulk vs. Jon Moxley/Akira Tozawa

Hulk and Homicide are part of the DGUSA version of the World-1 stable (babyfaces), while Tozawa and Moxley are two prominent members of the KAMIKAZE stable of heels. No real build between these guys mostly, but the crowd is fired up for Homicide and BxB Hulk. Homicide starts off briefly with Moxley but the tag rules disappear in seconds apparently as all four men go at it in the ring for a bit. Hulk and Tozawa trade armdrags and reversals and the crowd begins a quick "BxB Hulk!" chant (pronounced Bee-Bee Hulk). Hulk lays into Tozawa with a multitude of kicks for a quick two count. Homicide tags in and starts laying in big right hands and choking Tozawa into the corner. Hulk tags back in and hits Akira with a nice back heel kick for another two count. Tozawa is really starting to get worn down and he eats more chops and right hands in the corner, selling with gusto. That's right I just used the word gusto, deal with it. Homicide tags back in and a snap suplex gets two. Finally Moxley tags in and immediately lays into Homicide in the corner. Tozawa and Moxley isolate Homicide for a bit in their corner, trading frequent tags. Tozawa goes crazy on Homicide, choking him in the corner and literally screaming like a raving lunatic (but he has a mouthpiece so it's muffled). Some classic heel tag work here as Moxley gets cheap shots on Homicide while Tozawa distracts the ref. Back in the ring Moxley tags in and just starts laying in stiff forearms to Homicide in the corner. Tozawa hits cheap shots on the outside and Moxley continues the isolation, locking in an STF to Homicide briefly until BxB Hulk comes in to break the hold. Hulk and Akira tumble outside as Homicide and Moxley do battle in the ring. Big shoulderblock from the second rope takes Moxley down but he grabs Homicide's leg in a grapevine and tags Akira back in. Backbreaker and a running kick only fire Homicide up who tries to almost Hulk up but gets quickly put back into the corner and dominated by the Moxley/Tozawa duo. Moxley gets a superplex but he doesn't go for the cover, as he just wants to hurt Homicide now. He taunts him to get up but Homicide gives him a quick ace crusher! Burning elbow attempt is blocked for a near fall and a Fujiwara armbar. Hulk gets the hot tag though and quickly lays a series of kicks into Moxley and Tozawa. Akira misses a series of diving headbutts and a senton and Hulk hits a scissor kickand a BxB star press for a quick two! Homicide somersaults off the apron onto Moxley outside while Hulk attempts a pump-handle slam. Tozawa counters out and they trade near falls as this match is too fast to call at this point. Hulk and Tozawa lay forearms and kicks into each other, topped off by a lariat by Hulk while Homicide gets thrown into the steel barricade outside the ring. Rollup for another near fall followed by a superkick and the FTX (modified piledriver/sidewalk slam) from Hulk for the 3 count at 13:31! Phew, hell of a little tag team match here as everyone was game and the last five minutes were literally too fast for me to even keep up with. Great little tag match. ***¼

After the match Moxley taunts Homicide's abilities, calling him a 12 year old and challenging him again. The fans want them to go at it and Homicide hits the ring for a brief exchange of elbows. Suddenly the crowd is completely dead. What the shit? They brawl outside for a bit while the crowd has strangely become so quiet you could hear crickets chirp. They brawl into the crowd and around the building in classic ECW style. Crowd is really quiet here and I don't get it, they were hot for the whole match and were begging for them to go at it again after the match, but when they did they just kind of died. What the hell is up with the fans in the Rahway center tonight? A suplex on concrete in the crowd gets them a bit more interested as the brawl continues but is eventually broken up by wrestlers coming from the backstage area after a chair gets involved. Obviously this means Moxley-Homicide in the future and I think they could have a fine match, but the crowd just died here and it really killed the heat of the brawl.

Shingo Takagi vs. CIMA

Here we go, now this should be solid as Shingo and CIMA are probably the two best all-around workers from the original Dragon Gate. No real build or reason for this match other than two great athletes wrestling for the sport of it. Feeling out process to start with lots of wristlocks and reversals. Both men are evenly matched and the crowd applauds a quick exchange of counters. Where were you for that big brawl moments ago Rahway? They trade armdrags and shoulderblocks which Shingo gets the better of and locks on a chinlock briefly before deciding to use his legs to grapevine around CIMA's neck for thesubmission. CIMA rolls into the corner and the hold is broken. Shingo keeps at it with forearms and back into the chinlock, followed by a yuranagi backbreaker that sends CIMA outside the ring. CIMA gets thrown into the barricades and Shingo grabs a steel chair and hammers CIMA on the back while he's at it! Great close-up of CIMA's grimacing face here. Back in the ring Shingo stomps away at CIMA's back on the mat and in the corner. Backbreaker and a senton gets two for Shingo, who slaps on a camel clutch afterwards, leaning back on CIMA's lower back section before CIMA gets the ropebreak. CIMA gets a sudden burst of adrenaline and hits a big double-stomp that buys him some time to recover from Shingo's backwork. Big dropkick in the corner seemingly knocks the wind out of Shingo and the crowd begins to rally behind CIMA, chanting his name. More stiff kicks to Shingo and a rolling senton gets another close two count. CIMA attempts the perfect driver but Shingo counters only for CIMA to wrap around him in a guillotine choke. More reversals but CIMA locks him back into the guillotine, only for Shingo to deliver a fisherman's brainbuster. Shingo goes for a backbreaker but CIMA hits a heel kick and a big back-stabber to lay both men out! Both men are hurt but CIMA hits a missle dropkick and the perfect driver for a close two count. Both men are selling their injuries quite well. CIMA springboards across the ring with a dropkick and follows it up with a superplex perfect driver! Damn that was cool. He misses a double knee stomp springboard however and Shingo counters with a running lariat. He carrys CIMA on his back on the top rope and hits the STAY DREAM for another two count as both men are pulling out their signature moves to try and put the other away. CIMA tries to leapfrog over Shingo but gets caught in a death valley driver and a lariat for another near fall. He gets a waistlock and hits the Made-in-Japan for two! Both guys are exhausted but Shingo won't give up and starts barking like a young Bruiser Brody. He eats a superkick but counters with a stiff right hand. CIMA hits the Schwein for only two to CIMA's disbelief. He signals for a 450 but all but misses a dropkick instead. He climbs to the top for the Meteora (double knee stomp) finally to put Shingo away at 17:10. Very good match here that saw both men pulling out every signature move they could to try and put the other away before CIMA finally got the 3 count in a match that could have gone either way. Damn good little match. ***½

After the match CIMA grabs the mic and thanks the crowd in broken English and he announces a big tag team tournament to take place in January to crown the inaugural Dragon Gate USA Tag Team champions.

Jimmy Jacobs cuts a quick promo saying he's ready for his first major singles championship and he wants it to be the Open the Dream Gate title.

Austin Aries/Ricochet/Genki Horiguchi vs. Chuck Taylor/Johnny Gargano/Rich Swann

This should be good as Dragon Gate is known for their six-man tag matches and this is one of Austin Aries' few appearances in DGUSA. Ricochet has really made a name for himself in 2010 with big performances in DGUSA, EVOLVE and PWG. Ricochet and Chuck Taylor start things off with some nice fast-paced armdrags and they trade wristlocks. Hurricanrana by Ricochet followed by a dropkick sends Taylor back to his corner for a breather with his partners. Johnny Gargano and Genki Horiguchi tag in Gargano eats a quick dropkick. Rich Swann tags in and does the old Ali shuffle which Genki counters with an incredibly lame cabbage patch dance attempt and a Rick Rude-esque body pose. Austin Aries tags in next as he faced Rich Swann at the previous show. Swann wants none of this and quickly bails, prompting Johnny Gargano to tag in. Aries forces Gargano to tag Swann back in and Aries quickly takes advantage with an amateur wrestling takedown. Swann kips up and taunts the crowd while Aries simply sits back, unamused by Swann's antics. Quick lockup and they trade wristlocks for a bit until Aries takes quick advantage and begins to drive his knees into Swann's left arm. Crowd is really behind Aries as he's arguably the "biggest" (in terms of exposure) wrestler on the show tonight. Swann and Aries go into a beautiful sequence of reversals and dropkicks for a bit until Horiguchi tags back in and starts driving in elbows and forarms on Swann. Chuckie T gets the tag from Swann back in Ronin's corner and Gargano & Swann take advantage of a distracted ref, choking Genki in the corner. Swann hits a suplex on Genki for a quick two count. Back into Ronin's corner he goes and Chuck Taylor tags back in, slapping on an armbar. Aries hits the ring and clears all of Ronin out, getting a near fall on Swann in the process before sending him to the outside. He goes for a tope but get's speared en route by Gargano, followed by a moonsault off the second rope onto Aries and then a big frog splash from Swann seconds later! Great teamwork from Ronin there, but it's only a two count. Swann toys with Aries for a bit, isolating him in Ronin's corner and exchanging quick tags with Gargano and Taylor. This goes on for several minutes until Ricochet gets the hot tag and catches Taylor, Gargano, and Swann all in headscissor takedowns. He hits another one on Taylor and then hits a standing moonsault on Gargano for a two count. Ricochet goes for a handspring back elbow but gets flapjacked by Taylor who rolls him up in a half Boston crab while Gargano applies the camel clutch. Aries and Horiguchi grab onto Taylor and Gargano though and apply abdominal stretches, creating a 5 man submission pyramid of sorts. Now there's an image you don't see every day, that's a play out of the lucha libre handbook. Swann breaks it up though and goes back to working on Aries for a bit before taking out Ricochet outside with a splash. Taylor goes for a baseball slide but get's racked on the bottom rope instead. Aries flies out with a tope to take out Swann and Gargano while Horiguchi hits Taylor with a missle dropkick in the ring! Chocolate Rain (flying knee) from Ricochet gets only two. Taylor gives Horiguchi a jawbreaker and all three members of Ronin dropkick Genki for another close near fall. Aries tries fighting off all of Ronin but eventually gets a spinebuster/shooter star press/Boston crab combo of moves for his troubles. Impressive teamwork from Ronin there. Swann gets dropkicked and put in a backslide for another close two and Horiguchi follows it up with a tornado DDT to Gargano. Aries takes out Taylor but gets met with a spinning enziguri from Swann. Ricochet goes for a rollup on Swann but hits a pele kick instead and then hits a corkscrew Space Flying Tiger Drop to lay out everyone outside and send the crowd wild! UNBELIEVABLE! Back in the ring Ricochet eats a superkick from Gargano and then gets a doublestomp/DDT combo from Ronin and Gargano covers him for the 3 count at 21:13. DAMN! Great match here as all six men went balls to the wall and bumped all over the place in the last 10 minutes or so after a strong formula beginning. Ricochet continues to impress everywhere he goes, file this match under just NEARLY a classic. ***¾

YAMATO vs. Masato Yoshino

Yoshino's Open the Dream Gate title is NOT on the line here for some reason, but this should be solid regardless. YAMATO has quickly risen up the ranks in Dragon Gate to become the top heel both in Japan and in the USA chapters of the company. This is all about revenge for YAMATO as Yoshino defeated him for that very same Open the Dream Gate title the night before in a very good match. Feeling out process to start us off with armbars and drop-toe holds being applied. Both men are cautious to start, which is nice to see after the high-risk six man tag match we just saw. Both men fly around the ring at lightning speed, exchanging headscissors and impressing the New Jersey crowd in the process. Yoshino slaps on a wristlock for a bit but YAMATO obviously won't submit that easily. Yoshino continues to work on YAMATO's arm, grapevining around his body on the mat and cranking back on YAMATO's arm. The action spills outside the ring shortly after and YAMATO starts laying in chops on Yoshino only to wince from the arm-work Yoshino has been putting on him all match long. Back in the ring he locks on a keylock briefly until Yoshino gets the ropes. YAMATO starts attacking the leg of Yoshino, laying in lefts and rights while Yoshino struggles to put pressue on the leg. Scoop slam gets a two count and YAMATO simply flips Yoshino over into an ankle lock. Yoshino gets the ropes again but the damage has clearly been done to his leg. They trade stiff chops for a bit, reddening each other's chests. Shinbreaker on Yoshino followed by a figure four and Masato Yoshino is in a world of pain. YAMATO sends him into the corner but eats a boot from Yoshino who then hits a big running dropkick up to the apron from the floor, seizing back some momentum from YAMATO. Yoshino comes off the top but misses a dropkick and eats and flying forearm. Crowd is a bit tired at this point from every match being so intense but they're starting to get into it now as Yoshino spins around YAMATO's body and locks on the From Jungle submission and then rolls him up for two. Stiff German suplex on Yoshino gets another two count and YAMATO is pissed now. He tries for a superplex but get's a Sling-Blade off the top for two! Yoshino tries the lightning spiral suplex but YAMATO flies into him off the ropes with a big spear. YAMATO is grinning now with nothing but evil thoughts in his head. He eats a boot from Yoshino for his scheming and then gets a doublestomp delivered to his forearm, the same one Yoshino had been working earlier. Both men jockey for an abdominal stretch until YAMATO locks it on tries a pumphandle slam to no avail. Yoshino hits a big time missle dropkick and hits the lightning spiral for only a two count as the crowd chants "This is awesome!", finally coming alive. YAMATO hits a superplex for another near fall and both men are spent physically. Back on their feet YAMATO applies a sleeper and then hits a lightning-fast sleeper-suplex and a brainbuster! 1-2---NOOO! No three count, YAMATO calls for his signature Galleria slam, but Yoshino counters into a crucifix for a two count. Yoshino gets spiked with a Michinoku driver but he's just barely able to kick out before the 3! Crowd is chanting for Yoshino here. YAMATO just can't put Yoshino away as he keeps coming back from every blow and big move YAMATO can pull out. Yoshino hits a torbellino and then finishes with the Sol Naciente armbar submission for the hard-fought victory at 23:41. Phew, great match here that started off with some very good leg and armwork and led to great action down the finish. The crowd was dead in the beginning but eventually they got them going and once they did there was no turning back. Very good match here. ***½

And that's the show!

Bottom Line: Freedom Fight 2011, much like all of Dragon Gate USA's shows, is well worth the $20 they charge. Every single match on the card is good, we get some angle progression with Jimmy Jacobs and Jon Moxley, and the Ronin stable establishes themselves big-time as serious players in the company in the best match of the night. No match of the year candidates or anything like that, just 2 full hours of great wrestling action from start to finish. Easy thumbs up for Dragon Gate USA's first PPV offering of 2011.

Score: 8/10

WWE Royal Rumble 2011

WWE Royal Rumble 2011
January 30th, 2011
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 15,000+

The build for this Rumble has been very good with the WWE continuing their effort to push young talent through 2010 and into the new year of 2011. For the first time ever the Royal Rumble has been expanded to 40 participants instead of the usual 30, and both World titles are on the line tonight.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler, and Matt Striker

WWE World Heavyweight Title Match
Edge (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler won a number one contender's match against Cena a few weeks back leading us to this title match tonight which many inside the company see as Ziggler's big chance. If he excels here he could be destined for the main event on a more permanent basis, but if he flops it's back to the midcard. Vickie comes out first to remind Edge that if he uses the spear or gets disqualified he will lose the title to Ziggler. The crowd can only be described as electric tonight. Quick lockup to start off as they begin feeling each other out, exchanging blows in the corner. Edge tosses Ziggler hard into the turnbuckle and nails Ziggler with knees to the abdomen. Gutbuster on Zigger by Edge, a move you don't really see too often anymore. Another near fall for Edge. Outside the ring Edge tosses Dolph into the barricade a few times before tossing Ziggler back in. Big kick from Ziggler before Edge can make it back into the ring and a suspension neckbreaker for two. Ziggler goes to work now, kicking away at Edge's midsection and laying in elbows. Ziggler chokes Edge with the ropes and tries another pin attempt but doesn't even get a two. Crowd is fired up now, chanting "Let's Go Edge!" while Ziggler slaps on a chinlock on the Rated R Superstar. Ziggler gets catapulted headfirst into the turnbuckle for a two count but he recovers quickly with another neckbreaker for a near fall. Ziggler keeps wearing Edge down with the chinlock but the crowd is still completely into it because of just how excited everyone seems to be tonight. Elbow to the heart gets another two count for Ziggler. Edge gets tossed into the barricade again but is only down for a two count back in the ring. Back to the headlock for Dolph. Edge eventually breaks out of it and they collide in mid-air from attempted cross-body blocks. Ziggler gets pancaked in the corner and both men are out for the count again. Edge tries a comeback but Ziggler delivers a jaw-jacker to him instead. He goes for the Rocker Drop but Edge catches him in a sitout powerbomb for a close two count! Edge and Ziggler fight on the top rope for awhile before Edge attempts a splash that Ziggler rolls through for another close 2 count that everyone in attendance and at home totally bought as a finish. Small "Let's go Ziggler!" chants break out as he hits a dropkick for a quick near fall. Edge catches Ziggler in a bit of a modified sharpshooter briefly until Dolph gets the ropes. Ziggler then is able to hit the Rocker Drop on Edge for another close two count, another finish the fans buy into. Vickie is screaming outside while both men are spent inside the ring. Big boot from Edge, Edge thinks about the Spear which gives Ziggler the chance to try to lock on his deadly sleeper hold, only Edge reverses THAT into a big Impaler DDT! Edge is pulling out old moves he hasn't used in years, trying to beat Ziggler. Vickie breaks up a pin attempt but Kelly Kelly of all people comes down to ringside and lays her out. While Edge is distracted by this Ziggler runs up behind him and hits the Zig-Zag! 1-2---NOOO!!!, everyone including Michael Cole and myself just totally bought into that finish there, I legit thought that was a 3 there now. Ziggler locks on the sleeper-hold now, wearing Edge down again, his constant gameplan throughout the match. Edge wildly flails around with Ziggler on his back and knocks out the ref. Edge hits a bit jaw-jacker on Ziggler and with everybody laid out Edge sees the opportunity to give Ziggler the SPEAR, and then lays down beside Ziggler luring him in and then finishing him with the Killswitch Engage/Unprettier, the finisher of his longtime kayfabe brother/partner Christian at 20:47!. This was one HELL of an opener as the crowd was red-hot and Edge and Ziggler pulled every trick out of their bag trying to put the other one away, Edge was bumping all over the place like it was 1999 and Ziggler brought everything he had and what we got was an incredible world title match that still made Ziggler look like a million bucks even in the loss. This has to be considered one of the first true Match of the Year candidates for 2011 thus far. ****¼

WWE Title Match
The Miz (C) vs. Randy Orton

Orton is hugely over as this crowd is still red hot from the brilliant opening match. Good luck following THAT guys. Miz makes a cheap shot at Tom Brady for some delicious cheap and intense heat. Cole, as per usual, verbally fellates Miz for awhile before the bell rings and the match is finally off. Orton takes the quick advantage laying in forearms and uppercuts. He tosses the Miz around for a bit into different corners, laying in shots all the while. Alex Riley is getting antsy outside and rings Orton's neck over the top rope while the Miz distracts the referee. Miz tries to take advantage but Orton hits him with a big clothesline. Orton hits the steel post and The Miz takes the upper hand, running into the corner with a big clothesline for a two count. Riley interferes again and gives a high five to Michael Cole afterwards. Some nice heat from the crowd here because of the whole Cole association. Miz slaps on a headlock for a bit and then hits a kneedrop for only a one count. Forearm to the face gets a two. Cole and Lawler bitch about The Apprentice for some reason while Orton tries to comeback, only to eat another elbow from Miz. Orton eats a knee with his head draped over the side of the ring for another two count. And back to the sleeper from Miz. Miz doesn't exactly seem motivated here. Orton gets out of it with a back suplex. BIG boot to Orton's face for another two count that Cole buys into. The Miz goes to the top but Orton catches him and delivers a huge superplex from the top rope! Orton hits a series of clotheslines on Miz and then hits his trademark backbreaker. Miz tries to escape and Orton goes for his second-rope DDT, only to have Miz backdrop him all the way to the outside and take a cheapshot from Riley outside the ring. Back in thering Miz gets a 2 count and follows it up with a double axe-handle off the top rope for another two count. Orton gets tossed the outside and Miz follows, catapulting him into one of the steel ringposts for his efforts. Back in the ring Orton hits another clothesline and a quick powerslam. The crowd comes alive after a neckbreaker and a near fall for Orton. Orton goes for the RKO, but it's blocked and Orton reverses that with a back suplex for a two count. Miz has had enough and bails outside the ring, grabs his belt and is promptly clotheslined by Orton for even attempting this. Orton rolls him back into the ring but Miz gets a cheap shot for two. Orton gets a rollup for a near fall, then catches Miz in the ropes with his signature suspension DDT. Orton goes into his whole Viper routine, pounding the mat waiting for Miz to rise. Suddenly the new Nexus comes out to distract Randy Orton,who avoids Riley's interference again and delivers an RKO, throwing him out of the ring and onto Nexus, sending them all tumbling. Out of nowhere CM Punk slides into the ring and delivers the GTS to Orton, and the Miz gets the cheap win at 19:50 Very good match here as they had to follow up the excellent opener on the show and put on a damn fine world title match with a hot ending and a creative finish. ***½

Promo for next month's Elimination Chamber PPV.

Backstage Todd Grisham reads a letter from Cody Rhodes who is apparently in hiding because of his broken nose and vanity.

We get clips of them getting Royal Rumble predictions from a plethora of fans in Boston. A simple but nice little touch in building up for the Rumble later.

WWE Diva's Title Match
Natalya (C) vs. Eve Mendes vs. Michelle McCool vs. Layla

Before the match can even begin the lights flicker and we get the inbox sound as Michael Cole has recieved an email from the anonymous Raw GM. He says that instead of a tag team match, it's going to be a fatal fourway with them and......Eve Mendes! Eve Mendes? Really? Everyone, myself included, thought that was about to be Awesome Kong's debut for the company. I almost marked out there. Almost. LayCool quickly take advantage of Eve with double team moves before Natalya starts handing out clotheslines and catapults Layla into Michelle. Laycool tumble outside where Layla clotheslines Natalya. LayCool tease wrestling eachother as the only two in the ring for a bit until Natalya and eve return. Natalya puts the sharpshooter on both Layla and Eve at the same time! Michelle breaks that up pretty quickly and hits modified Michinoku driver. though and tosses Eve to the outside. Natalya dominates Laycool for a bit until Eve returns and sends her out of the ring. Eve climbs to the top rope and hits a moonsault on Layla while McCool rolls up Natalya and the ref counts only Eve's pin for the 3 at 5:14. Wow, pretty good women's match here actually, not too long and they had a few nice spots. **½

Backstage Daniel Bryan (with Gail Kim) gets interviewed by Josh Matthews but they're interrupted by the Bella Twins who initially try to apologize to Bryan but instead end up in a fistfight with Gail Kim, screaming "GET AWAY FROM HIM!". Damn, Daniel Bryan is booked like he's god damn Shaft with the women.

Very good little promo for Wrestlemania, followed by the same Royal Rumble numbers breakdown promo they've been playing all week, but is still great.

40 Man Royal Rumble Match

First out is CM Punk, who gets a strange mixture of heat and adulation. Number two is Ezekiel Jackson apparently, but the entire Corre group come out with him and surround the ring around Punk. Inside the ring they all hammer away on Punk briefly until the rest of Punk's New Nexus run to the ring and we've got a good old-fashioned 1950s Outsiders kind of rumble. But of course the lights flicker to interrupt this great start with the GM's email saying that all of both the Corre and Nexus must go backstage and leave Punk alone in the ring. Number two? Daniel Bryan. Oh yeah, now we're talking. They start the Rumble off strong with some solid wrestling, exchanging lariats. Bryan hits a big missle dropkick but misses the Shining Wizard in the corner. Justin Gabriel is number three and quickly starts to brawl with Punk in the ring. Gabriel goes for the 450 splash but Punk rolls out of theway and Daniel Bryan eliminates Gabriel with a back suplex out of the ring. Bryan Danielson marks everywhere are going wild right now (myself included). Zach Ryder is next out and gets some nice heat from the hot Boston crowd. He attacks the already hurt CM Punk momentarily and then Daniel Bryan eliminates Ryder with a backdrop. Next out is William Regal who gets a nice reaction from the crowd and quickly hits a few variations of suplexes on CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, which the crowd loves. European uppercuts to Daniel Bryan as we've got a battle of the master and trainer as Regal was integral in training Bryan. Bryan takes both Regal and Punk down with stiff kicks. Next out is Ted DiBiase who comes in fired up and heads straight for CM Punk. Bryan superkicks Regal on one side of the ring as DiBiase nearly goes over. Next out is John Morrison, to a big pop. He jumps right in and takesout everyone with a slew ofdropkicks and springboard kicks. He hits the Spanish Fly on CM Punk! Regal gets tossed out and it appears so does Morrison, but Morrison lands ontop of the barricade! He's not TECHNICALLY out, his feet haven't touched the floor! That's utterly brilliant, really. He walks the barricade around and leaps back to the steel steps and climbs back into the ring, never having set a single foot on the ground. Next out is Yoshi Tatsu who quickly gets taken out Punk. They brawl for a bit until Husky Harris comes out. Husky protects Punk for a bit and takes the punishment from the other wrestlers in his place. Next out is Chavo Guerrero who goes right for CM Punk. They trade counters and suplexes for a bit, putting on a mini-match in the middle of the ring. Punk interrupts the 3 Amigoes suplex only to have his 3 Amigoes interrupted....suddenly 3 Amigos Suplexes EVERYWHERE. Literally, everyone in the ring including Daniel Bryan deliverst the move while the crowd goes apeshit for CHAVO GUERRERO of all people.

Next out is Mark Henry, who quickly eliminates Chavo with ease. Yoshi, who has teamed with Henry in the past, tries to chop the big man down but gets eliminated himself by Henry instead. Entry number twelve is JTG, you know, that guy who is just kind of there. King tries to speak ebonics and a single tear of laughter is shed on my part. Morrison and DiBiase start going at it with DiBiase teetering on the top of the turnbuckle. #13 is Michael McGillicutty, another member of Punk's Nexus group who comes in fired up. JTG is quickly eliminated and McGillicitty goes after Morrison. Daniel Bryan meanwhile delivers a very stiff dropkick to Punk's face. DiBiase gets eliminated and next out is Chris Masters who locks the full-nelson on CM Punk and threatens to eliminate him briefly until Nexus makes the save. Next out is David Otunga meanwhile Daniel Bryan gets eliminated after about 20 minutes, which the crowd boos. Masters is out next and after a valiant effort so is Morrison. Now it's just Nexus versus Mark Henry and they eliminate him quickly. Who comes out now you say? To face off against the entire Nexus?

Why...TYLER REKS of course!(?!) Who is quickly beaten down and tossed out in no amount of time. Next out is Vladimir Kozlov who tries to fight them off and then falls to the mat, where Husky hits him with a senton. Punk throws Kozlov out with ease as ifhe were garbage and gets HUGE heel heat from the Boston crowd as he raises his fist for Nexus. He sits down indian-style in the middle of the ring like a true guru and next out is R-Truth. Just like the others they beat down on R-Truth for a bit and then Punk calmly eliminates him. Crowd is all over Punk who just soaks it in. Next out is....The Great Khali! Would it be appropriate to make a joke about the shooting he and his bodyguard were involved in weeks ago in India at this time? Khali tosses out Husky Harris and next out is Mason Ryan, a guy who got his job entirely because he looks so much like Batsita. He quickly eliminates Khali and it's the waiting game again. Next out...CAN YOU DIG IT...SUCKA?! Booker T returns! Crowd pops huge and everyones marking out, including Striker who literally tells us he's "marking out". Booker T hits the ring and hits his signature scissor kick, followed by a Book-End. Crowd is flipping out for Booker T and so is Striker as we see the first SPINAROONIE in many years in a WWE ring and Striker sounds like he just jizzed himself from marking out. After a few more signature spots Mason Ryan eliminates Booker T, pissing the crowd off big time. No need to worry though because next out is John Cena! He sprints to the ring and makes short work of Nexus, eliminating everyone besides Punk. Next out is...Hornswoggle? What the shit? The fun doesn't last long though as Punk kicks Hornswoggle's face off in the ring. Punk tries to dump Cena out but John ends up slamming him over his shoudlers, over the tope rope and eliminating CM Punk! Cena helps Hornswoggle up and they wait for the next entrant, and it's Tyson Kidd who gets stuck in between Cena and Hornswoggle and suffer a tilt-a-whirl slam and then AN FU! No, really, Hornswoggle just gave Tyson Kidd the FU and he sold it and everything. That was just funny. Heath Slater is next out and he doesn't long either as Hornswoggle gives him a STUNNER and then a tadpole splash, leaving Cena to eliminate Slater. Good lord, this Cena/Hornswoggle team is actually working! Next out is the Intercontinental Champion, Kofi Kingston who has a nice showdown with Cena briefly until Swagger comes out and starts delivering slams to everyone. Kingston flies off the top to take out Swagger and hits the BoomDrop with Hornswoggle as a step-ladder of sorts. Next out is Sheamus who takes it right to Swagger and then takes down Cena with a backbreaker. Sheamus shoves Hornswoggle down but Hornswoggle starts doing the HBK foot stomp "turning up the band" move, and delivers Sweet SHIN Music! Somewhere Mick Foley is marking out. Sheamus finally eliminates the little guy with a big boot just as Rey Mysterio comes out at number 29.

Rey's a house of fire in the ring, hitting his spots on everyone in the ring before being taken down by a lariat from Sheamus. Out of nowhere Kofi hits Trouble in Paradise on Swagger, who then eats the 619 from Rey and is eliminated. Next out is Wade Barrett, the leader of the Corre. Barrett goes for the Wasteland on Kofi but Cena interrupts and they go at it. Out next is number 31, Dolph Ziggler out for the second time tonight after the incredible match with Edge earlier in the night. Out next is...DIESEL! Yes, you heard right, fucking DIESEL! Kevin Nash with his beard dyed and all came out to the music and Diesel ring gear. Crowd erupts in a giant collective mark-gasm. Nostalgia for all! Alex Riley is next out which gives Miz the chance to jump on commentary. Drew McIntyre follows but is eliminated within minutes as Diesel gets eliminated and has a staredown with the Big Show in the aisle. Ezekiel Jackson comes out next and he quickly eliminates the Big Show! Next out is Santino who manages to last more than one second like years before. Cena starts trying to work on Ezekiel's mid-section but he's too strong. Entry number 38 is Alberto Del Rio who arrives with his trademark car and Ricardo Rodriguez doing his announcements. Lots of stall time basically for Del Rio here. Eventually he makes it to the ring just as number 39 comes in, and it's Randy Orton. He delivers a few RKOs and quickly eliminates both Kofi Kingston and Sheamus, leaving it down to Orton and Cena as the only two standing. At number #40 we get Kane, who is known for his elimination records in the Rumble and they've been hyping it for weeks. Kane dominates Orton in the corner for a bit until Ezekiel Jackson gets inbetween them. Kane pulls the ropes down and eliminates Ezekiel. Rey and Kane square off and Mysterio manages to eliminate him just long enough for Wade Barrett to eliminate Mysterio. We are down to the final Four now with Cena, Orton, Barrett, and Del Rio! Cena teases being eliminated but comes back with a sidewalk slam on Barrett. Cena and Orton start going at for a bit and Cena almost eliminates Orton but Barrett breaks it up. Del Rio takes the Attitude Adjustment from Cena but then Riley comes out to distract Cena while The Miz comes into the ring and eliminates Cena himself! Orton, Barrett, and Del Rio remain., two of these are not like the other. Barrett and Del Rio double team Orton in the corner but Orton fights back and hits backbreakers on both men, going into Viper mode and he eliminates Barrett, but Del Rio eliminates Orton! Del Rio has won! The crowd is in total shock...but wait! Santino was never officially eliminated before and returns to the ring where he's promptly eliminated by Del Rio to end the match at 69:55. Unbelievable, nobody could have predicted the winner of this year's Rumble, nobody. The match itself was absolutely brilliant from start to finish with several stories, feuds, and surprises, this was flat out one of the best Rumbles ever in my book. The Diesel and Booker T cameos were awesome moments, and we got great performances in the match from a wide variety of great workers like Daniel Bryan, John Morrison, CM Punk, and William Regal. This was a fantastic Rumble match and even managed to somehow one-up last year's stellar Rumble match. ****¼

Bottom Line: This was a great show, simply put. Ziggler and Edge had a serious Match of the Year candidate to open things up, Miz and Orton had a fine match, and even the divas showed a bit of effort. This had to be the best Rumble in years as the match itself delivered a huge surprise winner in Alberto Del Rio and they were able to integrate several angles and feuds into the match to set up the road to Wrestlemania. WWE definitely delivers big time with their first PPV of 2011, easy Thumbs Up.

Score: 9/10

Sunday, January 30, 2011

WWF @ Madison Square Garden 7-12-86

WWF @ Madison Square Garden
July 12th, 1986
Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Attendance: 16,000-25,000

Note: This is the WWE Classics on Demand version of the show. So I'm bored, and came across a stack of old house shows I had laying around and I love me some old school, so let's get to the reviewing.

Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes

Pretty big card here with a near sellout for the big tag team cage match in the main event between Bruno Sammartino and Tito Santana versus Randy Savage and Adrian Adonis. We've also got a big battle royal for $50,000, JYD vs. Greg Valentine, and the British Bulldogs defending the tag titles against the Moondogs.

Tony Atlas vs. Leaping Lanny Poffo

Lanny of course delivers a schmaltzy poem before the match, reminding me why he never got over in that gimmick. Terrible stuff. Atlas is in his physical prime here and is built like Apollo Creed. Feeling out process to start the match with hiplocks and armbars being exchanged. Atlas locks on a headlock and gets a series of near-falls on Poffo, grinding him into the mat. Both men get back to their feet and criss-cross across the ropes, accidentally ringing the bell at the ringside table more than once. Back into armbar-land for Poffo. Lots of restholds here and a few "boring" chants can be heard. Atlas counters with--GASP! An armbar! Suddenly they give up on their armbars in favor of a face-to-face shovedown and slapfest. Bodyslam by Atlas. Poffo gets up and kind of saunters into Atlas like an effeminite scarecrow and we're back to the restholds and staredowns. They each deliver a dropkick to the other and then dropkick eachother simultaneously. Things are finally starting to pick up as Atlas takes advantage with a stiff headbutt. Poffo gets a quick rollup for two but is then given an atomic drop for his troubles. And back to armbars. Goodness knows we need more armbars, thousands of them. Poffo trys a headlock but gets tossed into the corner. They exchange right hands for a bit until Atlas delivers the devasting armbar of doom for the 9000th time in this match. This crowd is dead by the way, and I don't blame them. Hiptoss on the Leaping one followed up with another headlock from Atlas. Seeing a pattern in this match? Eventually Atlas gets a backslide pin to finish at 12:38. This was almost entirely armbars and chinlocks, and the crowd could not have cared less. Very close to DUD territory. ¼*

After the match Atlas and Poffo shake hands and do the gentlemenly sportsman routine.

22 Man Battle Royale for $50,000
(Junkyard Dog vs. Greg Valentine vs. King Tonga vs. Jimmy Hart vs. Billy Jack Haynes vs. Harley Race vs. Leaping Lanny Poffo vs. Iron Mike Sharpe vs. Pedro Morales vs. Brutus Beefcake vs. Tony Atlas vs. Moondog Spot vs. Davey Boy Smith vs. Dynamite Kid vs. SD Jones vs. Johnny Valiant vs. Siva Afi vs. Moondog Rex vs. Tony Garea vs. Big John Studd vs. Bobby Heenan vs. King Kong Bundy)

Egh, battle royales never do much for me, lets see here. Everyone gangs up on Bundy immediately and eliminates him while Jimmy Hart dives outside the ring under the bottom rope. Heenan is quickly eliminated next, and comes to the announcers table to yell at Gorilla a bit. The camera pans to the bottom of the ring where Jimmy Hart peeks his head out from underneath the ring. SD Jones is eliminated by one of the Moondogs and there's really nothing interesting going on in the match, everyone just doing your usual battle royale offense of brawling and hugging your opponent against the ropes. Iron Mike is eliminated off-camera, as is Tony Atlas. Johnny V is out next while Tony Garea works on Harley Race in the corner. Garea gets tossed out moments later by Moondog Rex. Billy Jack Haynes puts Big John Studd into the full-nelson while Harley Race gets tossed out off-camera, followed shortly by Siva Afi. The Bulldogs do a bit of double team trickery and double dropkick the Moondogs, eliminating both of them. Billy Jack and JYD square off in the center of the ring as we're down to only 9 people. Beefcake eliminates the Dynamite Kid and things have slowed down considerably. Morales is eliminated by Greg Valentine on one side of the ring while his partner Beefcake is eliminated on the other side. They all pounce on the Hammer but Valentine fights them off, able to eliminate both the Tonga Kid and Billy Jack before locking up with Davey and eliminating him AND Larry Poffo, leaving it down to a final two of Valentine and the Junkyard Dog. But wait, Jimmy Hart is still hiding outside the ring, remember. JYD grabs Hart and drags him out and back into the ring. Back inside JYD and Valentine go at it while Jimmy cheers on like a neurotic maniac. Valentine holds onto JYD and lets Hart get some cheap shots in. They tustle around the top rope and both end up eliminating eachother, leaving Jimmy Hart alone and the winner of the $50,000 at 12:59. Actually not that bad of a Battle Royale as they had several rivals interact and eliminate eachother in this match, rivals that would be facing eachother later in the night. That plus some classic heel manager antics from Jimmy Hart made this much more enjoyable than it should have been. **½

Pedro Morales vs. Iron Mike Sharpe

Pedro is still over big despite rarely being around over the past few years. Iron Mike argues with the crowd for a bit in his usual fashion. They lockup and Sharpe misses a clothesline, tumbling to the outside. Back to a lockup inside the ring for a bit but Pedro throws him over the top rope again. Back inside Iron Mike pokes Pedro in the eye and tries to take advantage but is met with lefts and rights instead. Morales rams his head onto the announcer's table at ringside and it's been all Pedro thus far. Morales slams his head into the turnbuckle and drags him back in the ring. He runs for a shoulder block but Sharpe moves out of the way. The ref checks on Pedro while Sharpe pulls out a foriegn object, but Pedro simply rolls him up for the 3 count at 5:53. Pretty much just a squash match but Sharpe was still able to get a bit of offense in. *

Big John Studd/King Kong Bundy vs. King Tonga/Siva Afi

Bit of a strange match-up here. Studd and Tonga start off with Tonga laying in headbutts and chops only to have Studd continuously overpower him. Tonga gets tossed to the outside and Studd follows him and slams his head into the steel ring post. Studd sort-of jumps off the top rope with a big axe handle. Studd is toying with Tonga now, slamming him at will while Bobby Heenan freaks out in delight outside the ring. Tonga gets a superkick though and begins laying in karate-esque chops, taking Studd off his feet. Crowd is alive now and pretty strongly behind Tonga, and they absolutely EXPLODE when Tonga body-slams Big John Studd in an amazing display of strength. Afi tags in next and attempts to slam Studd, but he powers out of it. Studd calmly shrugs off a dropkick and tags Bundy in, who slams Siva Afi around the corners for a bit. Afi leaps off the top rope with a cross-body splash for a near fall. He gets back up and starts laying in lefts and rights as the crowd is strangely REALLY into this match and the Tonga/Afi. Studd and Bundy isolate Afi in their corner for awhile, tossing him around like a ragdoll. Tonga tries to break it up but is easily disposed of. Bundy splashes Tonga for what appears to only be a near fall, but the ref calls for the bell late and informs Bundy it was actually a 3 count at 8:36. Tonga and Afi were pretty fired up and the crowd was red hot to start, but the ending was pretty clearly botched and really killed the heat.

Billy Jack Haynes vs. Brutus Beefcake

Lord Alfred Hayes talks about Beefcake being a future WWF Champion. Yeah, about that Alfred. Beefcake jumps Billy Jack before the bell and quickly takes the upper hand, laying in a plethora of right hooks. He taunts the crowd a bit but gets irish whipped into the corner roughly for his troubles. Beefcake misses a second-rope fist drop and gets rolled up in a sunset flip for two. Billy Jack suplexes Beefcake but apparently hits his head badly on the mat. Beefcake back on top, delivering a back suplex for another near fall. Billy Jack eats a bit clothesline for another two count and the crowd is starting to get behind Billy Jack. He starts the comeback as Brutus does his heel shtick, begging on his knees to not be hit. Billy Jack of course doesn't listen and just keeps laying in shots, followed by a scoop slam and a top-rope splas for two. Luscious Johnny grabs a hold of Billy Jack's leg when he bounces off the ropes in full view of the referee, who DQs Beefcake at 6:23. Moderately entertaining match while it lasted, but the DQ finish seemed unnecessary.

The British Bulldogs vs. The Moondogs

Captain Lou accompanies the Bulldogs to the ring. I assumed the tag titles were on the line here but apparently not, even though the Bulldogs come to the ring proudly displaing the titles around their waists. Dynamite Kid starts off with Moondog Spot and quickly gets taken down. Rex tags in and gets a double shoulder block from the Bulldogs. Dynamite grabs Rex's arm and performs a beautiful rolling wristlock. Davey Boy tags in and slaps on a headlock on Rex. Spot gets the tag anyways but eats a running knee and a bodyslam for a near fall. All Bulldogs so far. Davey and Spot trade forearms and headlocks until Rex tags back in and gets put right into an armbar from Davey. Tag to Dynamite who continues working the arm. He gets a sunset flip for a two count and then goes back to the wristlock. Rex lays some big elbows into Dynamite in the corner, but can't follow up and is taken down by Dynamite, who tags Davey in for the wishbone spot. Davey Boy attempts to give Rex a sharpshooter but can't flip him over. Spot tags in but get's taken down by Davey Boy easily, who works on his right leg for a bit and then tags Dynamite in to do the same. Spot gets out of the hold eventually and the Moondogs take advantage for awhile. They attempt to double team Davey but get their heads slammed together instead. Rex kicks out of a pin attempt and tosses Davey outside the ring. Back inside Rex locks a chinlock on Davey for awhile. Spot tags in and gets a two count after a dive from the second rope. Frequent tags here with the Moondogs, wearing Davey down methodically. This goes on for several minutes until finally Davey gets the hot tag to Dynamite, but the ref is distracted and doesn't allow the tag. Rex goes for a splash but Davey lifts up the knees and nearly gets the tag. Davey gets a crossbody for two and this match has really become boring at this point as the beatdown of Davey has been going on for about 10 minutes. Finally he gets the hot tag to Dynamite who promptly cleans house and comes off the top with a kneedrop. The match has broken down as all four men are fighting in the ring now. Dynamite leaps OVER the ref's back and gets the 3 count at 18:24. Standard formula tag here that dragged a bit towards the middle but made up for it somewhat with a hot finish. Probably the best match tonight so far. **¾

Harley Race vs. Tony Garea

The Brain is at ringside with Handsome Harley Race. It would figure that Vince would finally hire Race on a full-time basis once he was old and slightly washed up. He's still pretty good here though. Race quickly takes advantage, slamming Garea into the ringside table and stomping him down on the concrete floor. Race breaks the count but returns to continue the beatdown as this is clearly going to be a squash match for Race. Garea is slower than molasses here for some reason, barely selling Race's offense and looking completely disinterested. Cradle suplex from Race gets the 3 count at 2:05. Just a quick squash match for Race here, but man Garea looked like he was moving in slow motion. ¼*

Greg Valentine vs. Junkyard Dog

Valentine has to be the unsung hero of the WWF in the 80s, the guy was always down for a great match with just about anyone. His matches with Tito Santana over the IC title are still some of the best matches I've ever seen. Lots of stalling to start as JYD has a thick steel chain and Valentine won't come into the ring until he drops it. Eventually they make it back in the ring and JYD takes the quick advantage with right hands and headbutts. He does his trademark headbutt-from-all-fours (a move that always looked terribly weak to me) and Valentine bails to the outside for a breather. Valentine does the old Flair flop after another headbutt for a two count. Valentine starts to comeback with several elbows before slapping on a chinlock as the MSG crowd begins chanting for JYD. Dog takes Valentine down with a clumsy clothesline for two, and then rolls him up in a package for another near fall. JYD blatantly begins choking Valentine in the corner, much to Gorilla's surprise. They bang heads and both men are out briefly. JYD goes for a slam but falls underneath Valentine for another near fall. They exchange lefts and rights and a few more nearfalls as Valentine tries to wear JYD down by pinning his arms to the mat. Valentine goes to work on JYD's midsection, and then his right leg, inevitably setting up for the figure four. Valentine slaps the figure four on and JYD writhes in pain for a few minutes until Valentine uses the ropes to assist himself and the ref calls for the break. Valentine misses a diving headbutt and JYD is able to deliver a huge powerslam, but he can't get the cover as his leg is clearly hurt. Valentine tries the figure four again but gets shot outside the ring instead. Both men begin brawling outside as the ref continues to count. JYD breaks the count and their back up the aisle, where JYD slams Valentine's throat onto the steel guardrail! Unfortunately the referee counts both men out to end the match in a no contest at 13:35. Valentine was always reliable and JYD was able to hold his own end of a match around this time, so what we got was a fun contest with a disappointing ending. Both men worked hard though and this was the best match of the night thus far for sure. ***

Steel Cage Match
Bruno Sammartino/Tito Santana vs. Randy Savage/Adrian Adonis

Now this should be good. This was one of Bruno's last big matches at MSG for the company if I remember correctly, and fortunately they stuck him in there with 2 excellent workers and one good one to hide any ring rust for the living legend. The steel cage is a combination of the very old-school mesh with a few big blue rods similar to the cage the WWF used in the late 80s. The bell rings and the heels take the quick advantage, going for cheapshots briefly until Bruno grabs a hold of Savage and starts slamming him into the cage, sending the crowd crazy. Tito and Adonis square off in one corner while Bruno and Randy grapple in the opposite corner. Savage starts to reach out the cage door but Bruno is easily able to drag him in while Tito absolutely LAUNCHES Adonis into the cage. Savage continues trying to climb out the door but Bruno holds on for dear life. Very fast pace to start this match as everyone is brawling with a ton of heart. Savage tries to climb over the top while Adonis tries the door but both are stopped almost immediately. Tito begins climbing the cage but gets racked on the top rope by Adonis. Tito and Adrian grapple along the door while Bruno really takes it to the Macho Man, tossing him around into the corner and upside down. Santana gets suplexed in the center of the ring while Savage crawls for the door again. Adrian makes it to the top again but Bruno grabs a hold of his foot at the very last second and racks him on the top ring rope again. Man it's scary to see how much weight Adonis gained in so short a time, guy went from husky in '84 to flat-out obese by '86. Savage comes off the top with his signature axe handle on Tito, who has been busted wide open. Adonis rakes Santana's face back and forth across the steel cage, busting him open even more while Bruno continues the beatdown on the Macho Man. Adonis flies into the corner and now he's busted open as well. Savage comes off the top for another axe handle but Tito catches him in the stomach with a right hand. Savage flies upside down into the steel mesh while Adonis rips apart a cabinet at ringside trying to claw his way out of the front door. Another slam into the cage for Savage and now he's busted open, and bad. Adonis climbs to the top, but instead of climbing out he DIVES off the top of the cage with a kneedrop on Bruno! Damn, that fat man just FLEW across the ring. Savage gets draped over the top and this match is just a battle of who has the stronger will to win at this point. Savage and Santana jockey on the top of the cage for a bit until Santana slams Savage off the cage and Santana drops to the floor while Sammartino walks out the front door to give them the victory at 9:53! Excellent main event here as they fit as much hate and intensity into 10 minutes as they possibly could, this was just a wild, wild match that saw everyone but Bruno bleed all over the place. Really fun main event. ***½

Bottom Line: This show, like many house shows, drags to begin with but as time goes on the show gets better and it ends on a high note with the JYD-Valentine encounter and the flat-out fun steel cage main event. Still though, the show really did drag early so I can't rightfully give the show a full thumbs up. We'll go with thumbs squarely in the middle for this one, half of the event is quite good, the other half quite boring. Definitely check out the main event though.

Score: 5.5/10

Saturday, January 29, 2011

WWF In Your House #1

WWF In Your House #1
May 14th, 1995
Onondaga War Memorial, Syracuse, New York
Attendance: 7,000

Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Dok Hendrix (Michael Hayes).

Not much has changed since Wrestlemania 11 a month ago. Diesel is still
the WWF champion, Yokozuna and Owen Hart are still the tag champs and Jeff Jarrett is still your IC champ. The only big changes really are that Shawn Michaels has been out of action after being kayfabe injured and betrayed by his new bodyguard, Sycho Sid. This would plant the seeds for Shawn's big face turn and eventual domination of the company. Tonight Sid challenges Diesel for the WWF title, so let's get right to it.

We get a nice little hype package where they quickly set up tonight's matches as well as plug the big giveaway of a newly built house in Florida, tying in with the new theme of these shows.

Bret Hart vs. Hakushi

This is one of two matches for the Hitman tonight, the other against Jerry Lawler later on in the night. This would be the first in many midcarders that Bret would feud with over the year 1995 as they were busy focusing on Diesel and HBK in the main event and kind of just let Bret go out every month and have great matches with random midcarders. These two had a few excellent matches over the summer of '95 and this is their first. Hakushi, better known to Japanese wrestling fans as Jinsei Shinzaki, and Bret lockup to start and we've got your basic feeling-out process to start things off. A shoulderblock gets a quick two for Hakushi as the fans begin chanting "USA!" briefly and ironically, before probably realizing that neither man in the ring is American. Rollup for Bret gets another two count and Bret takes control with a few armdrags as the pace quickens up. Bret takes his usual stiff bump into the corner and Hakushi gets a two count while The King watches the match backstage with delight. Hakushi hits a stiff dropkick and taunts the crowd for a bit, getting big time heat. You know Hakushi could have been a major heel if he hadn't been buried shortly after the Bret feud. On the outside Shinja takes some cheap shots on the Hitman while Hakushi distracts the ref. Hakushi and Shinja play some classic heel games with Bret for awhile, getting in cheap shots while the other distracts the ref. Crowd starts to rally for Bret as Hakushi hits his trademark handspring back elbow intothe corner, a move Chyna would steal a few years later (and perform badly). They reverse backbreakers momentarily and Hakushi climbs to the top rope for a diving headbutt for a very close 2 count. Hakushi springboards off the top rope (which is incredible stuff for 1995) but Bret moves out of the way at the last second. The Hitman starts laying in right hands and begins going into his 5 moves of doom; russian leg sweep, bulldog, backbreaker, diving elbow for the second rope and the sharpshooter, but Shinja distracts Bret long enough to delay the sharpshooter. Bret hits a huge clothesline that turns Hakushi inside-out, but he doesn't go for the cover. Shinja trips him up and Bret has had enough as he dives outside the ring and takes him out. Dropkick from Hakushi gets another two count. Hakushi tries for a suplex but Bret reverses it and they both go tumbling over the top rope and to the floor outside. Shinja distracts Bret again while the count is being applied and Hakushi hits a picture-perfect Asai moonsault onto Bret on the outside! A small "Hakushi!" chant starts out among the smarks as Hakushi's offense is mind-blowing stuff for the WWF in 1995. They trade hiplocks inside the ring but Bret rolls up Hakushi in a victory roll for the 3 count at 14:39. Great stuff for it's time as it started off a bit slow but the last 5 minutes or so both men were at their best, bumping their asses off. Hakushi impressed alot of people here with his signature spots and fortunately this led to more (and better) matches between the two down the line. ***¾

After the match Bret twists his ankle getting down from the ring. A bit of foreshadowing for his match with The King later on.

Handicap Match
Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett/The Roadie

We get a few brief words from the 1-2-3 Kid via telephone who doesn't say much. Razor had been feuding with Double J for months and with the Roadie's constant interference they decided to book this handicap match, which was originally planned to be Razor and the 1-2-3 Kid against Double J and Roadie until the Kid was injured. Razor is over huge, as always, making me wonder as always why he never got a real shot at the main event. Jarrett starts off with Razor and they lockup to start. Jarrett's attire is striped black and white so he looks exactly like the referee oddly enough. Cheap shot from Double J but Razor comes back quickly with a few big right hands. Jarrett misses a dropkick and gets clotheslined out of the ring. Jarrett drags him out with him and lures him in so the Roadie can get a cheap shot from behind. Back in the ring Razor gets tossed into a few corners and then hit with an enziguri. Double J tries for a cross-body block but Razor catches him in his trademark fallaway slam. Roadie tags in quickly and we bare witness to the televised in-ring debut of the future Road Dogg. After a few cheap shots he quickly tags out however. Jarrett and Razor trade sunset flips for near falls and the Roadie tags back in. Crowd begins to rally behind Razor while the Roadie keeps laying in lefts and rights. Roadie and Jarrett trade tags for a bit, dominating Razor until he starts to make the comeback. He signals for the Razor's Edge but Jarrett backdrops him over the top to the outside, where the Roadie dives off the top with a clothesline to the floor. Nice sequence of moves there. Back inside Jarrett hits a flying body press but Razor rolls through for a two count. Neckbreaker by Jarrett (which Vince strangely calls a "neckbuster") but he taunts the crowd instead of taking advantage of the hurt Razor. They knock heads into eachother off the ropes and both men are out. Razor is able to hit a nice back suplex but can't cover and both men are out once again. Roadie tags back in and hits a kneedrop from the second rope for a near fall. He locks on a headlock here as the pace has slowed down considerably. After a backdrop Jarrett tags back in but is met with a few stiff right arms. Both men are in the ring now but Razor is making easy work of them both, hitting a back suplex on the Roadie off the top rope. Jarrett attempts the figure four leglock from behind but instead gets met with the Razor's Edge for the win at 12:36. Nice little match here between these three as this was all about simply extending the Jarrett-Razor feud without having to keep putting out one-on-one matches between the two. Give this match a better middle and we've probably got a much better match. **¾ as it is.

After the match Jarrett locks on the figure four as he and the Roadie put the beatdown on Razor. Aldo Montoya of all people tries to make the save, but he's quickly rid of. A few moments later a random "fan" (Savio Vega) makes the save for Razor as apparently they're old friends. Atleast Savio isn't pretending to be a ninja anymore.

Backstage The King and the WWF President Jack Tunney argue about when King's match with Bret will take place.

King of the Ring Qualifying Match
Mabel vs. Adam Bomb

Oi vey, who's bright idea was it to put this on PPV? This has RAW-match written all over it. This was the beginning of Vince's attempt to make Mabel a main eventer, a mission that would fail horribly in every conceivable way and seriously hurt the company financially over the summer. Adam Bomb tries a few shoulderblocks but Mabel makes short work of him and squashes him (literally and figuratively) with a slam for the quick victory at 1:54. Typical squash match that should have been on Raw, not on PPV. DUD

Backstage Razor introduces us formally to Savio Vega, calling him one of the biggest superstars of the Caribbean. Let's not be THAT generous Razor.

WWF Tag Team Title Match
Owen Hart/Yokozuna (C) vs. Smoking Gunns

Owen and Yoko had all but squashed the Gunns for the tag titles back at Wrestlemania, so this is their big rematch. Yoko waves the Japanese flag around for a bit for some cheap heat. Yoko and Billy start it off and exchange a few headlocks while I'm busy entranced by the bodacious mullets-n-mustaches look of the Gunns. Hard to believe that was once considered fashionable. Owen and Bart tag in quickly and toss each other around for a bit. Bart hits a big dropkick and tags Billy back in who dropkicks Owen while Bart holds him in the air with a suplex. Say what you will about the Gunns, they had some innovative double-team moves I haven't seen before or since. Yoko tags back in and hammers away on Billy for a bit. Owen tags back in and hits a neckbreaker for a two count. Sunset flip on Owen gets another two but he recovers quickly with a spinning heel kick. Outside the ring Yoko slams into the turnbuckle inadverdantly while Owen starts getting double-teamed back in the ring. Big back suplex from Bart and they hit another double-team move, a suplex/neckbreaker combination that gets another two count. Bart misses a body press and flies outside the ring where he's met with a huge legdrop from Yokozuna. Yoko rolls Bart back into the ring and Owen gets the 3 count at 5:44. Bit of a rushed match here as they must have been running short on time. Decent, but nothing you couldn't see every week on Raw.

Backstage Diesel gives a bittersweet interview as he mentions how his mother passed away the year before around this time. He wishes all the mothers out there a happy Mother's Day anyways. Kind of a sad moment there.

Meanwhile, The King comes back out and cuts a promo on Bret, showing off a model in her mid-20s claiming her to be his "mother". Kind of creepy honestly, especially with the King's storied sexual exploits over the years. Bret quickly lets the King and everyone know that he's been faking the leg injury all night to ease Lawler into a false sense of securtiy, and that he's had enough. He charges to the ring and we're off...

Bret Hart vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler

Great heat to start the match off as the King is bumping all over the place, selling like a madman every bit of Bret's offense complete with classic King facial reactions. Vince plugs the house giveaway while The King hits a crisp piledriver on Bret and celebrates, thinking the match is over. Bret however completely no sells it (huh?) and hits a piledriver of his own. Man I miss seeing that move since it's near-universal ban over the last 10 years. King calls for help from the back and Shinja comes down to the ring to distract the ref while Bret lays in lefts and rights on the King. The ref gets bumped and gets his foot caught in the rope while Bret starts hitting trademark moves. Hakushi however flies down to the ring and hits Bret off the top a few times while the King holds Bret down on the mat. The ref recovers just in time for Lawler to get the cover for the cheap win at 5:01. They managed to actually fit some nice stuff into the short time they had and the crowd was hot all the way through, but they simply didn't have enough time to do anything really meaningful. Check out their match at Summerslam '93 for a better idea of the match these two were capable of having together.

Backstage Sid delivers his usual creepy, rambling promo with the camera basically up his nose. I wonder if this is where the filmmakers of the Blair Witch Project got their camera angle ideas from?Todd Pettinggill and Stephanie Wiand come out as it's time for the big house giveaway. They draw the winning entry from a giant pool of letters with lawn rakes of all things before Todd sexually assaults/helps Stephanie into the pool of letters to pick the lucky winner. They talk to some yokel on the phone who sounds about as enthusiastic about winning a new home as I am watching a Mabel match. Thankfully this would be the one and only time they did this.

WWF World Title Match
Diesel (C) vs. Sid

Sid had turned his back on Shawn Michaels the night after Wrestlemania when he failed to win the world title, and Diesel of all people came out to make the save for his old buddy. With Shawn kayfabe injured by Sid, he was made the number one contender and was revealed as the supposed "crowning jewel" of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation. On paper this looked like a dream match, but what we got instead was a big fat stinker if I remember correctly. Staredown to start off but Diesel takes advantage early with forearms and a few irish whips into the corner. Diesel is hugely over here and as much as his title reign was maligned by critics, you really can't blame Vince for pushing the guy the way he did. They brawl outside briefly but quickly make it back inside where Diesel only gets a 1 count on Sid. Diesel gets dragged out of the ring and we've got more brawling. Big "Diesel!" chants start while DiBiase distracts him long enough for Sid to throw Diesel back to the outside. That's literally been this entire match so far, brawling inside, then outside, then back inside, then back out, etc. Sid rams Diesel into the ringpost and starts to take the upper hand. He gets a running start and punts Diesel in the head in Randy Orton-like fashion. Back inside it's nothing but forearms as about 90% of this match thus far has been lackadaisical brawling. This match is moving along at a snail's pace now, somehow making the first five minutes look like Bret-Hakushi in comparison. Sid locks on a camel clutch. Because that's just what this match needed, restholds. Sid holds this resthold on for what seems like an eternity but is actually probably closer to about 4 or 5 minutes, which is still unfathomably long. Diesel powers out eventually but gets met with a half-hearted chokeslam from Sid. Sid hits the powerbomb next as Diesel looks to be done, but Sid is busy taunting the crowd while DiBiase flips out on the outside of the ring. Diesel kicks out at two and starts the comeback. Seconds later Diesel hits the jacknife for what would have been the 3 count, but Tatanka and DiBiase hit the ring and start the beatdown on Diesel for the DQ at 11:31. Awful, awful match here between two guys that really need a better worker to play off of to have great matches. It was only a little over 10 minutes long, but felt like 20. When your world title main event consists 90% of punching and a camel-clutch resthold and ends with a DQ, we've got problems in the quality department. ¼*, and that's honestly being extremely generous as this could just as easily been a dud. I'm feeling nice I guess.

After the match Bam Bam Bigelow makes the save and we go off the air with Diesel celebrating in the ring.


This is the Coliseum Home Video version of the show, so we've got a few extra matches. Let's get to it.

Undertaker vs. Kama

Kama would be better known as Charles Wright or The Godfather, as he spent most of the 90s trying one gimmick and character after another until finally just settling on being himself and getting over huge with the Attitude Era fans. Undertaker is still busy squashing DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation every week, and this is going to be no different. Lots of stalling from Kama to start but eventually 'Taker brings him into the ring and starts tossing him around with ease. Crowd seems strangely dead for an Undertaker match. 'Taker hits Old School and lays in a few headbutts but Kama trips him up and starts hitting left and rights on him in the corner. Outside the ring 'Taker slams his arm into the ringpost accidentally and Kama half-heartedly brawls with him for a bit as the crowd is pretty much completely dead for this match thus far. DiBiase taunts 'Taker with the big gold chain that was supposedly made out of 'Taker's melted down urn. I'm sorry, but hasn't the angle for the last 3 years been that Undertaker derives ALL of his power from the urn? So it finally gets destroyed...and nothing happens. Bit of a booking fail there if you ask me. Kama locks on a half Boston crab for a bit as the crowd finally starts to come alive with a "Rest in Peace!" chant. Undertaker hits a back suplex but both men are laid out for the count. Back on their feet Undertaker begins the Deadman routine, no-selling Kama's offense and hitting trademark moves like the running clothesline. Kama comes back with a few elbows, but Taker rises in his usual fashion and finishes Kama with a chokeslam at 13:08. Boring dark match here that was just another chapter in the seemingly-neverending Undertaker-Million Dollar Corporation feud. *

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Tatanka

Bam Bam had left DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation after his loss to LT at Wrestlemania and turned face. He comes out with this weird dragon thing around his neck, which always perplexed me at the time. Bam Bam takes the quick advantage and lays Tatanka outside the ring, doing a cartwheel in the ring in celebration. Back inside Bam Bam continues to dominate with hip-tosses and shoulderblocks. DiBiase lowers the top rope when Bam Bam goes to bounce off of it though and tumbles nastily to the outside. Tatanka takes it to him outside, slamming him into the steel steps. He delivers a freaking DEATH VALLEY DRIVER to Bam Bam on the outside! Holy shit, this match just picked up. Eventually Bam Bam makes it back in the ring but Tatanka continues to dominate with running boots. Tatanka locks on a headlock though, crushing my hopes of this match picking up it's pace. This goes on for a few minutes while the crowd tries to get a "Bam Bam" chant going briefly. Eventually Bigelow breaks the hold and both men collide in mid-air, both attempting cross-body blocks. Tatanka misses an axe handle off the top and Bam Bam leaps off the top rope for a sunset flip for 3 at 8:50. Match started off pretty fun, but Tatanka's chinlock saw an end to that. Average dark match.

The worst thing about those bonus matches? They chose both of them over a 15 minute time limit draw between Owen Hart and the British Bulldog that happened the same night. What kind of twisted cruelty is that?

Bottom Line: Not one of the WWF's finest efforts, this was a shaky start for the In Your House experiment. The show starts off strong with a very good Bret-Hakushi match that would set up a great feud over the next few months and a solid handicap match between Razor and Jarrett/The Roadie. After that though it's all downhill as the rest of the card is extremely rushed and the main event is absolutely awful. The Coliseum extras aren't worth watching either, so I've got to go with a thumbs down for the first In Your House event. The Bret-Hakushi match is well worth your time though.

Score: 5/10

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WWF Wrestlemania 11

WWF Wrestlemania 11
April 2nd, 1995
Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Connecticut
Attendance: 16,305

Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jerry "The King" Lawler

This is generally seen as one of the worst Wrestlemania's in the history of the company, so let's see how well it holds up (or doesn't.) The big matches
tonight are the Bam Bam-Lawrence Taylor match and the big blowoff to the Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels feud for the WWF title.

The show starts off with Special Olympian Kathy Huey singing the national anthem. That's just odd honestly. Afterwards Vince and the King welcome us to the show.

Lex Luger/British Bulldog vs. Jacob Blu/Eli Blu

The Blu twins would be better known as the Harris brothers, only with hair here. Luger and Bulldog had absolutely nothing to do after the Rumble so they just stuck them in a team together, called them the "Allied Powers" and called it a day. The Powers dominate to start with clotheslines and Davey hits one of the Blu brothers with his trademark delayed suplex. The Blu twins try to double team Bulldog but he clotheslines them both. Uncle Zebekiah, the twins manager (Dutch Mantell in real life) trips up the Bulldog and the twins start to take the upper hand in the match. They switch in and out of the ring without tagging while the ref is distracted, delaying things a bit. One of the Blu brothers eats a few big boots from Davey Boy but the Blu's isolate him in their corner again. Hot tag to Luger moments later and he tosses the Blu's around for a bit. He hits a powerslam on one of them but doesn't go for the cover. A flying forearm from Luger gets two (isn't that the arm with the steel plate?) and the Blu's make another switch while Zebekiah distracts Lex. Jacob tries a piledriver but Bulldog makes the blind tag and comes in with a sunset flip on him for the 3 count at 6:34. Not a very good start to the show as this was basically just a slightly longer squash match with no heat or motivation on anyone's part. *

WWF Intercontinental Title Match
Jeff Jarrett (C) vs. Razor Ramon

Jarrett had been feuding with Razor for several months, beating him for the IC title cleanly at the Royal Rumble after Razor sustaned an injury, was counted out, and decided to restart the match after being goaded on by Double J. Backstage the 1-2-3 Kid speaks a few words of encouragement on behalf of Razor who's by his side. Kid is wearing some kind of bizarre karate-kimono type thing. Razor and the Kid storm the ring and get a few shots in on Double J who quickly breaks to the outside for a breather. Back in he's met with lefts and rights from Razor who clotheslines him back outside. Back in Double J attempts a sunset flip but is sat on by Razor for a quick near fall. Roadie gets knocked off the apron by Razor to the crowd's delight. Razor lifts Jarrett up for the Razor's Edge but he's too close to the apron where Roadie is able to pull Jarrett out of the ring and out of the Razor's Edge. He tries to leave but the Kid throws him back into the ring. Roadie eats the turnbuckle and Razor tosses Double J outside over the top rope. Jarrett is really getting dominated here as he and the Roadie are really bumping around for Razor. Back in the ring Double J finally gets some offense with a neckbreaker and a pair of dropkicks. He wears Razor down for a bit with a sleeper hold but he gets put into a backslide for a nearfall. They exchange some lefts and rights but Jarrett hops on Razor's back and applies the sleeper again briefly. He slams Razor's head into the mat for another two count. Back to the sleeperhold we go as the crowd begins to chant for Razor. They knock eachother out from here and are barely able to make it up in time to beat the ref's count. Razor drapes an arm over Double J for a near fall that the crowd really buys into. Back up Razor hits a few left hooks and then tosses Jarrett with his signature fallaway slam for another two count. The Kid tries to crotch Double J on the turnbuckle but gets kicked into the steel barricade. Back in the ring Razor misses the top rope bulldog and lands on his knee, the same one he injured against Jarrett back at the Royal Rumble. Seeing this Jarrett goes right to working on the knee and applies the figure four leglock right in the center of the ring. Razor eventually reverses it, applying the pressure to Double J instead. Razor lifts Jarrett to the top rope and hits a back suplex from the top, but he doesn't go for the pin. Instead he calls for the Razor's Edge, but the Roadie runs into the ring and clips Razor's bad knee for the DQ at 13:32. After the match the Kid cleans house with spinning heel kicks but gets left laying in the ring as Jim Ross tries to get an interview with Double J on his way to the back. Pretty good match here between these two that was spoiled by an unnecessary DQ finish and a bit too many restholds for the match's own good. **¾

Backstage Nick Turtorro, some quasi C-List actor, tries to interview some heels and Jenny McCarthy. HBK and Sycho Sid talk a bit of trash about Diesel.

Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy

This is one of those matches that sounds like a dream match on paper, but isn't something you'd ever want to actually see. Undertaker was in the midst of a seemingly never-ending feud with Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation at the time and King Kong Bundy as the latest ringer that the Million Dollar Man tried to bring in to defeat the Undertaker. The special referee here is an MLB umpire named Larry Young. I guess he's in need of work considering the baseball strike at the time. This match is just as slow and plodding as you'd expect, consisting mainly of punching and kicking for the first few minutes. Undertaker slips outside and simply takes his urn that DiBiase stole right out of his hands. Well that's one way to end your "feud" rather quickly. DiBiase calls Kama Mustafa down to the ring who takes the urn back from Paul Bearer, distracting the Undertaker long enough for Bundy to hit an axe handle on his back. The offense doesn't last long however as 'Taker quickly smashes his head into the corner. Jim Ross interviews Kama in the aisleway with the urn while the match is still going on. Kama claims he's going to melt it down into a chain or something, who knows. We're tortured for an additional minute or so with a sleeper on the Undertaker before the dead man finally hits a jumping clothesline on Bundy for the 3 count at 6:36. Awful, awful match that was simply an excuse for 'Taker to continue to squash people while not being involved in any meaningful angles or feuds. Just terrible. DUD

Backstage Turturro tries to find Pam Anderson but instead finds Steve "Mongo" McMichael and an assortment of other NFL players who are going to be in LT's corner tonight.

In some dark backroom Turturro finds Bob Backlund and Jonathan Taylor Thomas (the kid from Home Improvement) playing a game of chess in the dark. Truly a creepy visual here as you can only imagine what the fuck Bob Backlund was doing back there. Jonathan Taylor Thomas answers some trivia questions from Bob and gets them all right, sending him out in anger. Just a bizarre segment.

WWF Tag Team Title Match
Smoking Gunns (C) vs. Owen Hart/Yokozuna

Yokozuna is Owen Hart's big surprise partner here as he's making his return after being gone from the company since losing to Undertaker back at Survivor Series in a casket match. He's somehow even bigger than he was before. Backstage Billy and Bart Gunn say some meaningless words while I'm too busy staring at their awesome mullets and mustaches. The match starts off soon enough with Yoko waving the Japanese flag to some easy heat from the crowd. Owen and Billy start things off but Billy takes the quick advantage and tags Bart in. Owen tags Yoko in quickly who body slams Bart but misses an elbow drop to follow it up. Owen tags back in and starts working on a wristlock. Billy and Bart tag in and out frequently and hit a double-team version of a neckbreaker for a 2 count. They hit a few more of their nifty double team moves but Yoko distracts the ref. Now I'm starting to remember why the Gunns were popular, they had some nice double team moves. Yoko tags in and delivers a leg drop to the back of Billy's head. Yoko puts on a nerve grip on Billy's shoulder and they sit there resting for awhile. Crowd is pretty dead here and I don't blame them. Owen tries a missle dropkick from the top rope but hits Yoko instead, allowing Billy to make it to his corner and get the hot tag to Bart. Gorilla slam sends Owen outside and Bart slams Yoko back on his head by his ponytail. Ouch that looked painful. Billy tags in and they attempt another double team move, but Owen takes Bart out which allows Yoko to give Billy a belly-to-belly suplex and then the Banzai drop. Bart breaks up the pin though only briefly. Owen tags in and appears to go for a sharpshooter but instead decides to just hook the leg for the pin right there and he gets the 3 count, winning the titles at 9:42. Big pop for the heel title win here too, so this match pretty much failed on all fronts. The work itself wasn't that bad, but everyone knew the Gunns were losing here and nobody cared because of it.

Backstage Todd Pettingill gets a few words with Bam Bam Bigelow who says LT will be no problem tonight.

I Quit Submission Match
Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund

Rowdy Roddy Piper is the special guest referee here for no apparent reason whatsoever. This match is all about Bret getting revenge on Backlund after having lost his title to him back in a submission match at Survivor Series without ever actually saying "I Quit". To make sure no one gets screwed this time, you have to actually say the words "I Quit" to lose, this being one of the first official "I Quit" matches in that sense. Backlund had done absolutely nothing since dropping the title to Diesel in 8 seconds at MSG and the only reason he was sticking around and being booked here was so that Bret could get some heat back after his title loss. Bret dominates to start with elbows and headbutts. He goes for the sharpshooter early but to no avail. Piper keeps asking Backlund if he wants to quit after about 30 seconds into the match. Bret keeps going for the sharpshooter but Backlund weasels out of it. He flails around for a bit while in a figure four leglock but reverses it soon enough. More legwork from Bret for a few more minutes that leads to nothing as Backlund gets up and starts trying to work on Bret's arm. Bret takes a hard bump into the turnbuckle while Backlund looks to be getting ready to put him into the crossface chickenwing. Instead he takes him down with a weak armbar. Crowd starts to rally behind Bret while he's stuck in this very weak armbar. Piper keeps asking Bret and he keeps shouting "No!" in return. Bret starts doing his five moves of doom routine, backbreaker, diving knee from the second rope, and then applies the sharpshooter briefly but Backlund quickly gets to the ropes. Bret slams his shoulder into the corner and Backlund comes up from behind him and tries to lock in the Crossface Chicken Wing, but Bret holds onto the ropes briefly. Backlund tries to hook the leg and sink into the hold but eventually Bret reverses it into a chickenwing of his own which sends Backlund screaming, which I guess Piper interprets as him saying "I Quit" as he calls for the bell and awards the match to Bret Hart at 9:34. Slow match with legwork that went nowhere and no real emotion put forth by either man. Skip this one altogether and check out their match at Survivor Series 1994 if you want to see what these two are really capable of together in the ring. This was average at best and was all about Bret squashing Backlund to regain his heat. **

Backstage Todd Pettingill gets a few words from Diesel who says he's going to hold onto his belt tonight. Riveting stuff Mr. Nash.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Nick Turturro make their way to the ring to be guest timekeeper and announcer respectively. Shawn Michaels makes his way to the ring with Jenny McCarthy on his arm, looking smoking hot, along with Sycho Sid at his side, looking less hot. Diesel comes out with Pam Anderson, who looks disinterested at best.

WWF World Title Match
Diesel (C) vs. Shawn Michaels

This was the big blowoff to the breakup of Diesel and HBK after Diesel turned face in the fall and was pushed to the main event abruptly. This match was given Match of the Year by PWI in 1995, so we'll see if it's as good as I remember it being. Shawn bumps around for Diesel to start with a few backdrops before being sent outside the ring for a breather. Back inside HBK tries to lay some punches into Diesel in the corner but gets shoved off. He tries again and gets the same response as Diesel is just flinging Shawn across the ring to start things out. Diesel reverses a suplex and hits a big knee to Shawn's face, sending him back outside once again. Shawn continues bumping around the ring like a pinball for Diesel, going for rollups and backslides but being continously reversed by Diesel. Eventually Shawn gives him the old Cactus clothesline and then skins the cat back inside the ring. He leaps to the top rope and hits a cross body block from the top rope to Diesel outside of the ring! Excellent pace to start off this match. We get a nice shot of Pam and Jenny's cleavage while Diesel and Shawn brawl outside the ring. Shawn hits a big splash off the apron onto Diesel on the floor as this match thus far has been carried pretty much entirely by Shawn bumping around like a maniac for his buddy Diesel. Diesel clutches at his ribs on the outside for awhile but Shawn distracts the ref from counting Diesel out. Back in the ring Shawn has the upper hand, laying kicks into Diesel on the mat. He hits a Razor Ramon-esque bulldog from the top rope for a near fall. They reverse irish whips for a moment but Shawn leaps from the turnbuckle back onto Diesel with a big elbow for another near fall. A small "Let's Go Shawn!" chant begins to break out as it was becoming clear around this time that Shawn was going to have to turn face pretty soon, and this match infact is the one that some claim put him over the top in that regard. He hits another elbow from the top rope for another two count and goes for a powerbomb but Diesel powers out of it with relative ease. Shawn again goes for a move but is again tossed aside from Diesel's power. Diesel catches him running out of the corner but is rammed into the turnbuckle while Shawn leaps on his back and locks a sleeper hold on the big man. Now the crowd is getting behind Diesel again, rallying behind him while the referee checks Diesel's arm to see if he's still conscious. Of course Diesel's arm doesn't drop a third time and he's able to stand back up and slam Shawn into the corner. He clotheslines HBK into the corner twice and follows it up with Undertaker's old snake eyes move. Shawn does his usual running-into-the-corner and over the turnbuckle spot and leads Diesel around the ring, chasing him back inside. He delivers a few forearms and they take the fight back outside of the ring, brawling by the apron. The ref jumps off the apron to try and follow the match but he lands awkwardly on his leg and is nowhere to be found when Shawn hits Diesel with the superkick (not known as the Sweet Chin Music yet officially) and covers him. Eventually the ref makes it back in but only for a two count while Sycho Sid rips the protection off of a turnbuckle. Diesel delivers a back suplex and both men are out for the count. Eventually Shawn drapes an arm over Diesel for another close two count. Shawn leaps from the second rope but Diesel catches him and delivers a sidewalk slam. Diesel catapults Shawn head-first into the exposed steel turnbuckle and follows it up with some right hands and a big boot. Diesel pumps himself up and calls for the jackknife, which he delivers (a bit awkardly) for the 3 count to retain the WWF title at 20:35. Very good match here between these two and the only real highlight from an otherwise dismal show. Everyone expected Shawn to go over here so when he was pinned clean this shocked alot of people. Shawn's time would come soon enough though. They would go on to have much better matches together, but this was still a worthy world title match for a show as big as Wrestlemania. ***¾

After the match Diesel celebrates with a few of their C-List celebrities in the ring. Jonathan Taylor Thomas looks like a mouse next to the 7 foot Diesel.

Backstage HBK complains to Todd Pettingill about how he should have won with the superkick but the referee was distracted. This was actually a pretty smart thing to include in the match as it leaves the door open for rematches down the road and a legit argument for Michaels having been screwed in this match.

Pat Patterson comes to the ring to be the special referee for the main event. Members of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar COrporation and the All-Pro NFL team come out to support teir sides in the match. Reggie White gives Kama a forearm and the crowd loves it. I wonder if Vince ever really stopped to realize how bad he was making his company look by having a group of football players come in out of the blue and completely squash a large stable of the WWF's wrestlers.

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor

Joy, it's this match. Still to this day people are trying to figure out just what the hell Vince as thinking by booking this as the main event of a show as big as Wrestlemania. On his way to the ring Bam Bam taunts Salt 'n' Pepa who had just performed. LT makes his way to the ring and to his credit he actually does look to be in very good shape still. They talk some smack and Bam Bam extends his hand for a handshake but LT attacks him instead and the bell rings. LT dominates early with some big punches, sending Bam Bam outside the ring to consult with Tatanka, IRS, and King Kong Bundy. Back in the ring he misses a splash in the corner and LT delivers a surprisingly well executed bulldog. It's just strange seeing a guy as big as Bam Bam get dominated so easily and so early, but LT continues to with a hip toss that sends Bam Bam outside the ring and reeling once again. LT follows him out and the MDC and All-Pros get into it while Bam Bam takes it to LT back inside of the ring. Patterson tells to Bam Bam to open his fists while he continues to pound LT into the corner, choking him with his boot against the bottom rope. LT retaliates with another big punch but he gets caught and slammed into the corner once again. LT tries to kick out of the corner but is just slammed right back in by Bigelow and then choked on the middle rope. Bam Bam locks in a Boston crab on LT briefly but Bam Bam can't hold onto his big frame and ends up just cranking back on only one of LT's legs. The All-Pros start rallying the crowd behind LT whose able to finally reach the ropes to break the hold. LT hits Bam Bam with a stiff right hand and then reverses a headlock into a big-time back suplex that The King credits to Diesel having trained LT. Bam Bam goes to the top rope and hits his quasi-moonsault but he injures his knee on the way down apparently and can only get a two count. LT tries for a powerbomb but sort of just drops Bam Bam the moment he's lifted him up, even earlier than Nash would with the jackknife. Well atleast LT is trying out there, have to give him credit for that. Bam Bam comes back with an enziguri and leaps off of the top rope with a diving headbutt, but only gets a two count to Bam Bam's disbelief. LT comes up behind him and lays in some very stiff-looking punches and then takes him down with a pair of running forearms. He climbs to the top rope and hits a flying forearm on Bam Bam for the 3 count and the upset win at 11:42. One of the most bizarre main event choices in Wrestlemania history and one that still puts a blackmark on the entire show, but it's actually a lot better than it had any right being. LT actually looked decent in there and Bam Bam was always good to carry someone, so this wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. **½

After the match LT celebrates with his family and fellow football players as we go off the air.

Bottom Line: Not one of more fondly remembered Wrestlemanias and for good reason too as there's really only one match on the entire show worth checking out, that being the Diesel-HBK title match. This was a serious transitional period for the company and some disastrous buyrates in the first half of 1995, including this show, would lead Vince to shake things up and eventually bring in a man by the name of Vince Russo to help book, and well, the rest as they say is history. Thumbs down for Wrestlemania 11 as a show, but the title match is worth your time.

Score: 5/10