Wednesday, December 26, 2012

WWF Revenge of the 'Taker (April 20, 1997)

April 20, 1997, at the War Memorial Auditorium in Rochester, NY. For the life of me, I don't recall ever watching this show before.

On the Free For All, Handsome Dok Hendrix yaks at me about the sold-out building and kicks it down to The King, JR, and Vince Mackman.

Between WrestleMania 13 and this show, Sid disappeared, Paul Bearer failed to reunite with Undertaker, and Bret Hart stopped brother Owen and brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith from fighting anymore, uniting them for common goals n shit.

The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik & Bob Backlund) vs Flash Funk (w/The Funkettes)

McMahon reckons that Flash Funk is often too eager to appease the audience. Flash tries a huracanrana from the top and gets powerbombed, and he loses in, like, two or three minutes. Poor Flash Funk. I think this was about when he was written off as a guy with a long entrance and a couple of carnal urban babes trailing him, but not WWF material. This isn't surprising, really, as much as I dig on some 2 Cold Scorpio. He ain't WWF-y. Never was.

Freddie Blassie talks some jive about the Undertaker for the intro video.

WWF Tag Team Championship: The Legion of Doom vs Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (c)

Ross says that Smith & Hart may be the best tag team in WWF history, but they're all putting over the Road Warriors, too. Ross and Lawler get into a great exchange, better than anything happening in a fairly mundane match with the washed-up Road Warriors doing their latter-career best but having long since lost much besides being cool on the way to the ring with their music and oh, what a rush, and all this. Animal pins Smith after a powerslam from the second rope, but another referee comes in to say they pinned the illegal man. So the pinfall doesn't count. Furthermore, the official tells the Fink that this match must continue. ALRIGHT! Good enough! Whatever! They have to come back or they lose the titles by countout. I didn't know referees could make a crucial call like that in the heat of the moment.

Back and it continues on, with Owen hit with the Doomsday Device, and Bret Hart a little late on his run-in for the DQ, but it's all good. After the match, Dok talks with Owen and Davey, who are shocked to learn that Steve Austin has made it to the arena.

WWF Intercontinental Championship: Savio Vega (w/The Nation Domination) vs Rocky Maivia (c)

Last Monday on Raw in a non-title match, Savio beat Rocky pulling the tights, then they put the beatdown on that damnfool. After we start, Faarooq and his bad shoulder hit ringside to join on commentary. JR gives up his headset. Faarooq has challenged Ahmed to take on all three members of the Nation in one night, back-to-back-to-back. What a terrifying idea, three Ahmed Johnson matches in one night.

This is more interesting than yet another crummy Rocky Maivia match, as Savio Vega does his best to seem like he's a viable threat. "That's how we do it on the street. Death is gonna have to do us part." Lawler breaks out, "Ahmed is hooked on ebonics" to Faarooq, who says he also knows ebonics. This is so 1997. Eventually Crush heart punches Maivia outside the ring, and that's a countout. Savio's like, shit, dude, that cost me the title, and Crush is like, I'M TERRIBLE. Now Vega and Crush are all mad at each other, and Faarooq has to "go pull some rank." So they all beat up Rocky. Ahmed Johnson runs in wearing red pajamas and carrying a bit of wood, so they run away.

Then Ahmed gets on the mic, and calls Crush a convict, Savio Vega an "illegal immigrant," which isn't possible, and references Faarooq's "black ass" to accept the challenge.

Dok talks to Marc Mero and Sable backstage. Sable says it's nice to be Miss Slammy and shit, and asks Mero about his knee injury. He says he'll be back in the summer. Great, can't wait. Behind him, Steve Austin walks into the john, and he's involved in some kind of a ruckus. Davey and Owen emerge with weapons.

Recently, Double J Jesse James turned down the Honky Tonk Man's offer to be his protege, which was kinda stupid of him, so Honky is here with his new man: It's Billy Gunn. Man.

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

Recently, Billy Gunn had punched Honky in the face, so the explanation is that his punch was so impressive that Honky just had to pursue him.

JR talks to Honky to get the scoop as the match gets underway and comes away saying, "Strange things have happened." Later in their careers, something even stranger would happen, as within the year, these two would become a tag team that people actually gave a fuck about. This match goes nowhere fast and the commentators try to find shit to talk about. Both guys try to get cheap reactions from the audience, but man, it is not happening. Nobody's cheering for Double J's taunts, nobody's booing Rockabilly's showboating. Double J wins with an inside cradle and no one cares. Honky misses a guitar shot and no one cares.

Backstage, Kevin Kelly is with Stone Cold and Gorilla Monsoon. SON DAMN ASS. AINT BOTTOM LINE. "He can bring his whole family, and his own fat father Stu, because none of 'em can whip Steve Austin's ass!" Gorilla buys Austin some time by rearranging the order of the matches.

Now Lance Wright is with Bret, Owen, and Davey Boy. They blame Austin for interrupting their celebration.

This Undertaker-Mankind video package is about as stupid as video package as the WWF ever put together, but it manages to get the rivalry over anyway.

WWF Championship: Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) vs The Undertaker (c)

All Mankind-Undertaker matches besides Hell in a Cell are underrated, this one included. They had a terrific rivalry that really brought out the best in Undertaker, made him a physical, high pace action guy, brought out his strengths. It's kind of like when Foley talks in his book about when he was booked with Sting, and a reluctant Sting wound up thrilled to work with someone who didn't suck and brought something to the table. I have to think Undertaker had a similar reaction to working with him; for years he'd been largely stuck with guys who didn't make him show his very best, but Mankind turned up the heat physically, and story-wise, they were a great mesh. Undertaker had been feared forever, but Mankind was fearless, and someone Undertaker seemingly couldn't get a mental upper hand on, no matter what he did.

This is a great brawl, highlighted by Undertaker laying in a crazy ass chairshot. Mankind gets choked in the ropes, and his mask comes off, so Undertaker hits him with the steps and Mankind flies headfirst through the Spanish announce table. Lawler is great here: "Help him, Ross!" Undertaker retains and points at Paul Bearer so that maybe he can murder the fat fuck. Ross theorizes Bearer may have messed himself. Then we get what feels like an hour of Mankind failing to make a fireball in Bearer's face "accidentally," so Undertaker just knocks him over and takes the shit himself, blatantly just lighting some flash paper in Bearer's face.

Now here's an ad for the next Coliseum Video release, which ruins the outcome of the next match for you.

The Hart Foundation talks to Handsome Dok.

No. 1 Contender's Match: Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin

Owen and Davey Boy try to accompany Bret, but obviously do not have manager's licenses. Tone shift early is apparent: Austin wins the familiar exchange of right hands this time. Lawler does good commentary work with the Bret turn, not forgetting their past history. Austin dominates the early portion of the match, just taking Hart apart. Hart turns things around with a chair on Austin's bad knee, really doing a number on it. Off comes the brace eventually, so Austin's in a real pile now. Lawler is really into machines and tanks here.

Reeling, Austin gets himself a break with a big shot to the nuts, followed creatively by another shot to the nuts.But that nutshot-led offense just can't sustain momentum for Stone Cold. Hart just destroys the knee to the point that Ross figures he's going to need knee surgery after this match. Eventually, Austin cracks Bret in the face with the knee brace, and locks on the Sharpshooter, all the while talking mad jive right at Bret's stupid head. Owen runs in, gets hit. Davey runs in, same result. Austin's knee apparently feels a lot better. They interfere anyway, and Austin wins via DQ, so Bret doesn't really lose face, and Austin gets the title shot people want to see him get, but without going in seeming like there's no way he should lose. After the match, Bret goes after Austin, but Austin turns it around and works over Bret's knee.

This show has two really good matches preceded by some gunk!

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