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Thread: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

  1. #21
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998



    WWF Royal Rumble 18/1

    Vader vs TAFKA Goldust

    You know, I really don’t think I have seen much of this period of Dustin’s career due to how much it apparently sucks. The strikes me as a truly bizarre gimmick based on the video package before the match. That and how pudgy he is makes me wonder how much drugs Dustin was on at this time. This obviously wasn’t on par with their WCW matches, but I thought it was a pretty fun PPV opener. Short, hot match with a lot of clobbering. Dustin had some nice punch combos and they paid respect to Vader’s size with him not being able to lift him for a powerslam. A lot of Luna interference, which was actually well done and led to an awesome finish with Vader hitting the Vader Bomb with her on his back. Great visual. Can’t say I’m inclined to watch more Dustin from this period, but boy do I wish we got more babyface Vader because he was super over.

    Battallion/El Torito/Tarantula vs Max Mini/Mosaic/Nova

    WCW brought in luchadores, so WWF tried to one-up them by brining in luchadore minis. A small insight into Vince’s mind. This was a considerable step below the Souled Out lucha tag. A lot of nice looking arm drag and rana exchanges, but no heat and the crowd did not care one bit for it. Nice dive train, and Sagrada’s pinning combo was incredibly slick, but this could have done with either more juice or bigger spots to leavy any impression. Also sunny was referee and no I don’t know why.

    The Rock vs Ken Shamrock

    This was a nicely laid out match. Ken gets his shine early, Rock cuts him off by countering the rana attempt by dropping him on the ropes, Shamrock keeps attempting comebacks with Rocky cutting him off a few times before he gets the momentum swing. Rock in control was a bit chinlock-y for me, but otherwise this was all perfectly solid, and they even paid the rana spot off later with Ken hitting it. Finish was a screwjob with some Nation interference and brass knucks. Didn’t love it but didn’t hate it, this was a chapter in a longer rivalry, and for that it served it’s purpose.

    New Age Outlaws vs Legion Of Doom

    LOD running wild over the Outlaws is all good fun. This is a short-ish match, all about the angle at the end, but everything before that was enjoyable. LOD are legit tough dudes and all their clotheslines, shoulderblocks and slams all hit hard. Animal eventually gets taken out, then Hawk gets handcuffed to the ring-post shortly after. Even in both situations where it’s 2-on-1 the LOD are able to get the better of the heels, which is fine with me. I don’t need to see Road Dogg and Billy Gunn working a big heat section. Finish was a bit abrupt though, literally the first pinfall attempt Animal makes Road Dogg breaks up with a chairshot for the DQ. If he could make it in time, why did he need a chair? Who thought to book two DQ finishes a row on this show? NAO beat down Animal with the chair and work an injury angle with his back, until Hawk rips off the cuffs and runs them off. Felt like one of those matches which was more about the angle than anything else, but this was all fine with me. Achieved what it needed to do as getting over the NAO as shitbags trying to take out the veteran team.

    Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker (Casket Match)

    The casket match gimmick is so goofy, but in a wonderfully pro wrestling way. I could totally see Jerry Lawler facing Kamala in one at the Mid South Coliseum if he had thought of it first. These two had really good chemistry together built around Michaels bumping and ragdolling all over the place. You would never know he broke his tailbone 2 minutes into this match on a sick casket bump the way he was flying around here. Total bump fiend, he was getting bigger air on moves and getting tossed around more than most guys without broken backs. Cocaine will make you feel like a superhero. Sick piledriver on the steps and it rightly leads to Taker spending the rest of the match working from beneath. Both the elbow drop into the casket and tombstone into it were nutty spots visually and made fun use of the gimmick. The finish is Russo-rific, which is a great shame - a bunch of dudes run out to stop Taker winning (20 mins in) leading to Kane coming out to save, only to then turn on Taker. The casket being set on fire was a cool if highly implausible angle, but the way we got there was pretty stinko, the only damper on an otherwise really good match. I’m a lifelong Michaels sceptic but this was a hell of a performance from him.
    Last edited by King Steventon; 01-11-2021 at 06:00 AM.
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  2. #22

    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    Battallion/El Torito/Tarantula vs Max Mini/Mosaic/Nova

    WCW brought in luchadores, so WWF tried to one-up them by brining in luchadore minis. A small insight into Vince’s mind.
    If it helps any, this was less about McMahon bringing in minis to counter act WCW bringing in luchadores and more about McMahon throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. That means minis, luchadores from AAA (Including a pre-WCW Hector Garza Jr), ECW, creating Shotgun Saturday Night in its original conception, and bringing in a slew of new undercard talent (Mostly comprising the various factions). Minis just happened to outstay all of the other attempts to garner viewers. This is basically it for the minis until Smackdown in 2005 though.

  3. #23
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngFIAtokhkk

    Masato Tanaka vs Gannosuke, FMW 6/1

    Straight from the bell these two are going at it and brawling all over the place. I have seen more crappy walk-around brawls in Japanese indys than anyone one man should watch in a lifetime, but this objectively ruled. It was heated, fast, and brutal. They absolutely paste each other with chair shots and Gannosuke hits Tanaka with a nutty powerbomb off the bleachers though a table to put him on the back foot. He then proceeds to blast him with a slab of wood from the table and you can see Tanaka lose 2 inches as it cracks him in the dome. When Tanaka gets his payback, he blasts Gannosuke so hard the piece of wood breaks in 2 over his cranium, just a visually nasty piece of business. The second half breaks away from the weapons and settles into more of a traditional big title match, and you can see the All Japan influence bleed heavily into this. So much so the last 3rd feels more like an All Japan engine running under the FMW chassis. Korakeun is molten for all the bombs and nearfalls, and thankfully just as this started to divulge into Too Much, Gannosuke gets the clean(!) win with a slick roll-up. I may have rose-tinted glasses because I was an FMW mark back in the day, but I thought this was a great match that blended FMW violence with Kings Road style structure, and as a result is probably Gannosuke’s career match and a Top x match for the promotion. Most big FMW title matches were either heavy on the Deathmatch side or fell into indy spotfest territory, this towed the line.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NQhWj_VBNQ

    MEN’s Teioh vs Funaki, MPro 14/1

    When you think MPro, you think fast pace, lots of flying, and big spots. These guys enter a parallel universe and have a long technical match based 90% on the mat. It’s nothing that will be make you forget Flair vs Steamboat or any other high-end technical wrestling comes to mind, but it’s all very solid and it’s cool to see. Both guys target each other’s leg and rather than having a bunch of slick counters or epic struggles for control, its more about working holds like a Texas cloverleaf or Indian deathlock. We are used to US indy guys mimicking the big matches from Japan, so it’s interesting to see two Japanese indy guys work a long Figure Four battle and do Bret Hart ring-post leglock spots. The finish run was pretty fun, I especially liked Teioh dumping Funaki with a desperation backdrop suplex once the momentum began to swing. I’m not going to sell this too hard, a lot of the technical parts were quite dry and it began to drag towards the end, they probably should have taken this home 5 minutes before they did. Still, I enjoyed it on the whole and it was cool to see these guys have this match.
    Last edited by King Steventon; 01-12-2021 at 05:50 AM.
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  4. #24
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KH7eWcx145A

    Owen Hart vs Hunterdust, WWF RAW 20/1

    Dustin comes out in full HHH costume complete with wig and big plastic nose. I am assuming the idea is that HHH is hurt and therefore has sent out Dust as a proxy for him to mess with Owen. The match itself is a perfectly fine, solid 5 minute TV match. Dustin controls 90% of it and Owen has some cool athletic spots before he quickly subs Dust with the Sharpshooter. Post-match DX gloat until Slaughter declares Owen the new champ as he beat HHH by proxy. This was all fine.

    Kobashi/Ace vs Kawada/Taue, AJPW 25/1

    Long match but it’s good the whole way through. First 10 minutes or so was all in second gear, but once Kawada and Taue started picking apart Kobashi’s leg things heated up. Taue smashing Kobashi leg-first over the announce table punctuated it. Middle section was all very good, Kobashi is a great Face In Peril, Ace was pretty fired up for his hot tag. They do a bunch of stuff with Taue building up to the big Nodawa Chokeslam off the apron to the floor, which in vacuum is all very good, but in the bigger picture feels like a spot these guys had done a hundred times by this point. In fact, maybe the biggest criticism I can say here is that a lot of this was simply by-the-numbers and repetitive. These guys were doing big epic tags with Kobashi getting his leg worked 5 years ago, and it was done in a more meaningful way then. There’s one or two instances of rare sloppiness from these guys, but they aren’t enough to drag it down. Big main event finish with the faces desperately trying to survive as Kawada and Taue lurch towards their inevitable win, and the finish itself was pretty unique. Taue comes off the top and hits Kobashi with a single leg dropkick that looks more like a flying Big Boot. I enjoyed this but I’m sort of at two minds with it – if it had happened in 2020 I’d probably rave about it but in the context of 90s All Japan it doesn’t stand out as anything special. That’s more a testament to the level these guys were at than this match in particular.
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    WCW Thunder debut show 8/1

    Goldberg vs Steve McMichael

    Good fun for a 2 minute squash. Mongo starts the match by flying at Goldberg with a dive as he’s making his entrance. All of Goldberg’s blows looked hard hitting and Mongo hit him with some cool football tackles to the legs before getting killed for the finish. Did the job.

    Eric Biscoff vs Larry Zybsko

    This is a fairly well-known match for control over Nitro. When did authority figures feuding for control of a show become a thing? Couldn’t have been much before this. Biscoff’s karate get-up and him punching himself out were both pretty funny, but otherwise there wasn’t much entertainment to be found here, even by the standards non-wrestler vs wrestler matches. Too much stuff from Bret Hart who was working as heel ref (was he actually heel here? He was holding Larry back a lot atleast), only for him to then turn on Biscoff and Hall seemingly without provocation. We don’t even get an actual pinfall, Bret just raises Larry’s hand it’s made out he’s the winner. More nwo stink.

    Ultimo Dragon vs Juventud Guerrera

    Annoyingly short match. Ultimo comes in as the champ and peppers Juvy with a bunch of nice kicks and chops, including a couple stiff blows right to the mush. For the couple minutes this went he looked dominant, then Juvy gets the win with 2 moves. Shame we never got a lengthy singles match between these 2 in their prime, there was a glimpse of something cool here but that’s all we got.

    DDP vs Kevin Nash

    Boy, this was a stinker and a half. Even the shortest of matches can feel like a lifetime when Kevin Nash is controlling it, and he was controlling this literally from bell to bell. The words ‘boring’ and ‘plodding’ spring to mind, and DDP makes no effort to come back or put up any fight or struggle until the very finish, which was a DQ as Hogan hit him as he tried the Cutter. Just as they’re about to go off the air, the Giant makes his way to the ring for a confrontation and it’s clear they fucked up the timing. The commentary team are falling all over themselves no knowing what’s going on, and the show goes off the air just as Giant and Nash start going at it, which might have been an act of divine intervention. Bad match, bad finish, bad angle, just a total horsefuck of a way to close the debut of your new TV show.
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  6. #26

    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    Eric Biscoff vs Larry Zybsko

    This is a fairly well-known match for control over Nitro. When did authority figures feuding for control of a show become a thing? Couldn’t have been much before this. Biscoff’s karate get-up and him punching himself out were both pretty funny, but otherwise there wasn’t much entertainment to be found here, even by the standards non-wrestler vs wrestler matches. Too much stuff from Bret Hart who was working as heel ref (was he actually heel here? He was holding Larry back a lot atleast), only for him to then turn on Biscoff and Hall seemingly without provocation. We don’t even get an actual pinfall, Bret just raises Larry’s hand it’s made out he’s the winner. More nwo stink.
    This is from Starrcade 1997.

    So Bret wasn't a heel yet, just working a by the rules referee role in his WCW debut as a play off of The Montreal Screw Job. At least in terms of big companies, this may be the first battle for some sort of control, especially with an official involved in the match.

  7. #27
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    Huh, no idea why I didn't clock that it was from the PPV. Must have gotten videos mixed up while watching.
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  8. #28
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RE7JXriKmY

    Dr. Wagner Jr./Emilio Charles Jr. vs Mr. Niebla/Shocker, CMLL 23/1

    Hot start to this as Wagner and Charles bring the heat to Niebla and Shocker from the off and this feels like a beef. Wagner was probably in his prime in this period and it was good stuff watching the experienced rudos lay the smackdown on the up-and-comers. The second and third fall were fairly by the numbers and didn’t keep the momentum unfortunately. The technicos were athletic enough and did resort to craftiness a couple times, which made the match feel more important, but there wasn’t the same sense of urgency or bad blood. Wagner does get a bunch of heat in the big finale when he hits the Wagner Driver, which is very close to a piledriver (banned in Mexico), and the finish itself was funky as Niebla does what I can only describe as a reverse kip-up onto Wagner’s shoulders into a pinning combo. Solid match but it really did peak with the rudo beatdown at the start.

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    Misawa vs Akiyama, AJPW 26/1

    I talked about the classic these two would have in 2000 here, but this is 2 years prior and Akiyama is 2 year’s away from being at the level he can beat Misawa yet. We get a hot start as Akiyama takes it to Misawa from the bell, really bringing it and having a counter for all of his early match offence. He hits a tombstone to the floor very early on and I groaned. A big move like that thrown out early can work if it’s treated with respect, but you know these guys are going to go another 20 minutes still and it gets zero reaction from the crowd. Worse still, they follow it up with a lot of rest-holds. Misawa kicks out of a Tiger Driver at 1 and then proceeds to no sell his way into a comeback, which was total ass. Again, guys no-selling into a comeback works in many situations, but here it just made Akiyama look ineffectual. That is also followed by another long rest-hold, oy vey.

    We do get a big All Japan title match climax, plenty of bombs and drama, and Akiyama looked like a shark that smelt blood with how he was just throwing everything and the kitchen sink at Misawa. I love the guy, and his bad day is still better than most wrestlers’ good day, but this was one of the least-good Misawa performances I can remember seeing, and he once again makes a relatively easy comeback to win the match. He does do it with the debut of the Emerald Frosion atleast, but the way we got there felt like he wasn’t spending too much effort. Look, in the grand scheme of the story this all makes perfect sense – Akiyama was still climbing the ranks and not on Misawa’s level yet, and matches like this make the 2000 win even more rewarding – but in a silo this was more good than great (but it was good).
    Last edited by King Steventon; Yesterday at 09:41 AM.
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  9. #29
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    ECW House Party 10/1

    Justin Credible vs The Great Sasuke

    Nicole Bass is part of Credible’s crew and fuck me she is a unit. Hot start with a big dive from Sasuke gets this off on the right foot, but once they’re back in the ring it simmers down as he focuses on stretching out Credible with a bunch of submissions. I don’t mind that, but they clearly lost the crowd who wanted to see more dives and violence, not boston crabs and abdominal stretches. Sasuke does respond by going back to hitting some big dives to wipe Credible out, but then Jason interferes causing Sasuke to miss and splatter himself on the floor. Nasty spill even if it is in the lower percentile of Sasuke insanity bumps. Credible goes to work on Sasuke’s injured leg and it’s decent, he has to use chair-shots as a crutch because he’s not that good of a worker, but he at least goes at it with a sense of urgency. Sasuke gets a brief but awesome comeback where he hits a one legged dropkick while selling the damage before missing a Phoenix Splash, which is a move I can’t remember him ever using much. Solid match, though I have to imagine the TV version which clipped out the submission stuff and just showed the big spots plays better.

    Bam Bam Bigelow vs Rob Van Dam

    Bigelow might be in the small venn diagram of guys who worked for all 3 major US promotions in the '90s and did the best in ECW. I enjoyed the early going of this with him wrecking RVD. Van Dam’s routine of dive, pose, dive, pose can get tiresome very quickly, but all of his dives in the early part here looked pretty great and it made sense as a strategy to take out his much bigger opponent. However once they took this in the ring and RVD had to do something other than just dives this quickly fell apart. Every other move was blown and sloppy, then we get a fudged ref bump leading to a literal handful of run-ins including Francine in a thong because ECW was super progressive. These two would have a great match together a few month later where things clicked, but this was a total mess.

    The Sandman vs Sabu (Stairway to Hell match)

    A lot of the big ECW hardcore matches are kind of duds, but on this night these guys must have had just the right balance of alcohol and fentanyl in their blood to deliver this crazy bucket of violence. A wild, out of control, hellaciously violently fight. I love Sandman’s punch-drunk 'selling' here, not bumping or whizzing about, just loopily falling into fans and chairs. He looked like he was out of it this entire match but it created this really authentic, gritty vibe, like this was a bar fight in front of a crowd. Classic Sabu performance too, constantly flying and crashing and burning over and over again. Tons of mental, violent spots, I won’t reel them all off but Sandman 'suplexing' a ladder out of the ring onto Sabu was fucking mad and felt out of control. Sandman actually retrieves the barbwire from atop the ladder about halfway into the match, and then proceeds to take a spectacular spill from the top through a bunch of tables. Sabu legit breaking his jaw does hurt the pace of the match understandably, but the sight of him wrapping his broken his jaw shut with duct tape is legendary, and it’s gruesomeness is only matched by Sandman working the last part of the match with his head and face wrapped in barbwire. A completely wild, gritty brawl with some astounding violence. Most of the best ECW matches aren’t the kind of thing the promotion was known for, but this is absolutely the best ECW ECW match.
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  10. #30

    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    I'm surprised you didn't watch Gran Naniwa vs Gran Hamada. Seems like a nice treat that's different from the norm for ECW. Along with Chris Candido vs Jerry Lynn and 2 Cold Scorpio's ECW return against Taz, House Party '98 looks fun.

  11. #31
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    If I could find them online outside the Network I would have done, though being throwaway undercard matches I don't feel like I've missed out too much. I do love the Crab though.
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  12. #32

    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    If I could find them online outside the Network I would have done, though being throwaway undercard matches I don't feel like I've missed out too much. I do love the Crab though.
    Do you want it?

  13. #33
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    Go on then.
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  14. #34
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    Re: Wrestling Retrospectives - January 1998

    Gran Hamada vs Gran Naniwa, ECW House Party 1/10

    Weird match. Within the first 30 seconds we get big chants of “USA! USA!” and “Boring” because ECW fans are ‘smart’ fans supposedly. Naniwa seemed to take exception to this hostile crowd and proceeded to completely half-ass it in response. When you see these guys working a 10 minute exhibition match, you’re expecting fast action and spots, but Naniwa was happy to take his time and spend most of his part of the match posturing. At one point he got into it with a group of fans at ringside and spat on them. Then to top it off the ref completely fucked the finish by counting 3 on a nearfall, then was hesitant to count the actual finish because he thought he was right.



    BattlARTS 20/1

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    Minoru Tanaka vs Tajiri

    For what this was – an unabashed spotfest – this was fun. Tajiri had been on an excursion to Mexico not long before this and was clearly keen to show off all the lucha submissions he had learned. A reminder that BattlARTS wasn’t just quasi-shoot stuff, because this is a very standard juniors match that is more New Japan than anything else, though I guess the benefit here is that the various submissions are viable finishers rather than filler. Not much rhythm to the match, mostly just spots, though they do get a pretty hot finishing few minutes with some good nearfalls and urgency, and it goes 10 minutes rather than 20 so doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Movez exhibition, but a fairly solid one.

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    Ishikawa vs Otsuka

    Great example of the BattlARTS style that blends the gritty realism of shoot-style with pro wrestling tropes. Both guys are masters of this format and this was a match of great mat grappling and brutal physicality. Most of the match was scrambling on the ground, grabbing holds and blasting each other with hard punches, headbutts and uppercuts, but sprinkled throughout were some big spots. Otsuka doing a rana and giant swing were both carny as hell and awesome. Lots of close-call submissions and hard suplexes, and the finish was great. Otsuka dumps Ishikawa with several big suplexes leading to a huge KO tease, Ishikawa gets to his feet, Otsuka goes for another to finish the job and Ishikawa counters into an armbar for the sub. Total clinching of victory from the jaws of defeat. This was very good.
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