Thursday, December 27, 2012

WWF A Cold Day in Hell (May 11, 1997)

This must be the most cheap-assed looking video cover they ever made. Holy cow. Look at those fonts.

May 11, 1997, from the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, VA. Todd Pettengill opens up the broadcast with some of his usual clueless putz bullshit on the Free For All, but then it's right into action. OH BOY

Double J Jesse James vs Rockabilly (w/Honky Tonk Man)

This is the sort of feud that was really going places, obviously. Following their crowd-pleasing classic at Revenge of the 'Taker, the stakes really got raised when Honky Tonk Man hit Double J with a guitar on Raw and nobody gave a fuck. Backstage, Ken Shamrock is "shaken up" after an attack by Vader and Mankind, but he's OK and calm and "in the zone," says Todd. Todd makes faces. Just like last month, these two dopes can't do anything to make the crowd care, even though frankly the match is fine. Rockabilly wins with a DDT.

I just can't believe that Rockabilly didn't work out. Such a boss character. Money all over.

Backstage, the Hart Foundation may have front row seats, or they may not. No, they do. They bought them from scalpers. Bret, he's all wheelchaired up because Stone Cold wrecked his knee up and what have you.

After that, there's an extremely dramatic, slow-paced Undertaker-Austin video package. This matchup was great for the time. Austin was ready, but hadn't quite gotten there yet. Not just yet. Undertaker was a good champion at the moment, an established star, and Austin was still on the rise, even though he'd become a big star already. He was good enough to get the shot, and be given the chance to prove himself, which establishes him as someone who can be in the mix, but it doesn't mean he has to win. And of course, you know he doesn't, it's not like I'm spoilering 15 year old shit. Elevation does not just mean beating guys. There's a whole process to doing it right and making it stick. When you just suddenly have a guy start beating everyone, it's forced. It's bullshit. And everyone knows it.

JR and The King are on the call. Lawler is sure Vader is going to murder Ken Shamrock later. Ahmed's Nation gauntlet is also tonight!

Flash Funk vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna)

Poor Flash Funk doesn't even have Funkettes anymore. Too much money to spend on this bum. The story is that the Funkettes didn't want to mess around with Chyna. She was gonna clit-whip 'em. Funk has no momentum coming into the match so the best you can hope is that it's good and maybe he gets some offense in, but that's not really the case. It's just a match where Helmsley mostly dominates and Chyna gets a couple shots in. The really horrible thing about watching Chyna stuff now is knowing the sort of totally mentally destroyed human being she becomes not so long after this, eaten alive by a horrible scumbag profession and the horrible scumbags in it, and then left to rot and die on the fringes of entertainment society, getting hideously gang-banged by a bunch of sorry ass porn stars who all look like they'd rather be somewhere else, while she can't even properly feign that she's enjoying herself. There is literally no porn more depressing than Chyna porn, and it's nothing to do with her being ugly or gross -- it's just uncomfortble to watch, there's nothing good about it, no one is having fun, no one is being pleasured, everyone just wants to vomit and mainline heroin and die.

Anyway, JR has to keep finding shit to talk about here because the match is just Helmsley beating the shit out of poor Flash Funk. Flash finally gets a mild rally, but it's all desperation offense leading into a couple flashy flash moves. Helmsley wins with the pedigree.

Here are clips of Ken Shamrock making love to men in a cage. Now Shamrock will speak. "I'm focused. I'm in my zone. Mankind and Vader. will not shake me from my zone. And when that bell rings, it's knuckle-up time." What a dork.

Mankind vs Rocky Maivia

Todd speaks with Rocky before the match. Maivia lost the IC title to Owen Hart recently, and Todd asks if success came too soon. Maivia stumbles a little on his promo. "You know what, Todd? This isn't about my destiny. This is about my determination." The rebuilding begins. Break down, destroy, rebuild. He needed it. These two would go on to have a few good matches over time. This is technically watchable, but Rocky tries to get the crowd all hyped up late in the match and just gets a bunch of groans. He hits his flying crossbody, but gets rolled over into the mandible claw, and that's that. Poor Rocky Maivia. He just never had a chance.

Let us take you back to Raw, where Crush beat up two turds in short order, but then the third man was Ahmed Johnson with pantyhose on his head and he got the Pearl River Plunge and shit. Oh God, Ahmed time.

JC Ice and Wolfie D are really tired of doing this godawful rap. Or they're drunk. who could blame them?

Gauntlet Match: The Nation of Domination vs Ahmed Johnson

Ahmed wants Faarooq (w/bad shoulder) first, but obviously that's not going to happen. Gorilla Monsoon has to get involved. He kicks them all out of the ringside area, and Crush starts as you would expect.

JR: "Ahmed Johnson, a former gang member." Lawler: "WHAT?!"

Crush and Ahmed have about all the chemistry you'd expect. JR: "I tell ya what, King, you know as well as anybody, big Johnson is hard to handle." Well anything to amuse yourself watching Ahmed vs Crush. Crush is doing fine, but he starts signaling for the Nation to come help him, and they can't, so they just stand there trying to look like a gang and shit. Crush with a piledriver, then he calls them down again and they're like, "We can't, you fucking idiot." Ahmed beats Crush with a heel kick, and Savio is next.

Oh and I forgot to mention Crush "has the flu" and Savio has a "bad ankle." Savio-Ahmed is a better match than Crush-Ahmed. Ahmed's so goddamn blown up that he's running on muscle, guts, and luck at this point, and Savio hits him with a chair for a DQ. Savio puts a beating down, and one-armed Faarooq turns his swag on and heads to the ring. Off comes the sling, and Faarooq is healed up. Johnson makes a proud stand, but the fresh Faarooq is too much. This was actually kind of an inspired performance from Ahmed and the story was told pretty well. This might have been Ahmed's best night.

Let us take you back to Raw for Vader-Ken Shamrock stuff. Shamrock is a natural on the mic. "SHUT UP!"

Knockout or Submission Match: Vader vs Ken Shamrock

This was Shamrock's first big WWF match, and he doesn't have his familiar entrance music yet. This song is more fitting Tito Santana or Val Venis, or a Tito-Venis hybrid.

This match is interesting, and different, and bless Vader's heart, he really gets Shamrock over. When Shamrock throws him belly-to-back, Vader really flies with it. And Shamrock, to his credit, makes Vader look devastating when Vader gets a clothesline in. This is very different from the rest of the show and oddly I think I might be more into Ken Shamrock: WWF Wrestler now than I was then, when I actually liked Ken Shamrock. Huge moment comes when Vader lifts Shamrock up for a suplex, then throws him out to the floor over the top rope. Fuck it, Ken Shamrock rules.

Man, this match is awesome. This is hard-hitting, fun shit right here. Knees and right hands from Shamrock in the corner as he throws all he can at Vader, who fires back with one wild right haymaker to put Shamrock on the canvas, but then Shamrock grabs the ankle lock and Vader is forced to tap out. Man, what the shit, this match is GREAT. Both guys deserve credit for this being as unique and good as it was.

Backstage, Turd is with Cold Steve Austin. He's going to whip the Undertaker's ass and then send the Hart Foundation back to "Cagary" in a bunch of wheelchairs. Then Todd really shows his great worth, as we look over clips from Raw two weeks ago, when Austin hit Undertaker with the Stunner, and Todd says that Austin's boot to the gut was a "knee to the midsection," and then Undertaker recovered to chokeslam Austin, which Todd calls the "Tombstone Piledriver."

WWF Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Undertaker (c)

Undertaker's hat is so cute. Also, let's be clear: There's no real comparison in Richmond on this night. Undertaker is much more popular than Austin.

After our staredown, the Harts come down to ringside from backstage to take their seats in the front row. Pillman is swinging crutches at nothing like a madman.

Austin and Undertaker brawl a bit, then Austin hits the floor and goes after Owen. Man, the crowd is riled up here, and the Hart Foundation deserve the credit. Undertaker cracks Owen, hits Davey. Then we settle down with a match in the ring.

Taker and Austin are quite a pair. 1997 is a huge year for Undertaker. Outside of Sid, he gets to work with Vader, Mankind, Austin, Hart, Michaels -- really gets to show what he's truly capable of instead of wrestling slugs and dickbags. It's the year where he started becoming the best big man to ever rassle, and I stand by that. A lot started in '96 with Mankind, but '97 it really came together.

Austin dominates the match, working Undertaker's knee. Undertaker goes to Austin's knee now, which was a problem after his matches with Hart at Mania and Revenge of the Taker. This moves to another level late in the match, with both guys worn down, and Austin gives referee Earl Hebner the ol' middle fangers behind his back after kicking Undertaker right in the balls. This gets a rise from the crowd, then Undertaker punches Austin in the nuts, and wants Hebner to intervene, so Hebner says, "You kicked him! FUCK YOU!"

Undertaker hits the chokeslam, Austin rolls away toward the apron. Austin turns the momentum with the stunner in mid-ring, and the bell rings, because Brian Pillman ran over there and rang it. Austin had it won and all this. Undertaker sits up while Austin is distracted, but Austin goes at him. Unfortunately, in his confusion he runs into the tombstone, and Austin turns it over, and Undertaker turns it back - Tombstone! Big pop. Really good match, really good show overall.

Hart Foundation run in to attack Undertaker. But Bret is left alone ringside, and Austin spots him, tips him over, grabs a crutch, and hits the ring. The Harts try to scatter, but Davey takes a crutch shot, and Owen gets chokeslammed. "All hell has broken loose here!"

The overall vibe to these shows, to the main angles, is getting seriously intense, really hot, and this is some kind of transition year. Austin hits Undertaker with the stunner again after the match, then leaves. Doesn't pose with the belt or anything -- it's not his yet. But it will be soon enough. He grabs a crutch and heads out after the Harts. Undertaker follows shortly after, looking for his own revenge. Everyone wants to fucking FIGHT. Everyone has an issue. And when you've got this many talented parts starting to mesh and move together, you're getting something really special.

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