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Thread: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

  1. #261
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    Re: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

    That promo by Piper is my favourite Piper promo ever. the firstvtime i watched it, i watched Piper matches all night after it. lol
    Wrestling fans need to give Ring of Honor a chance again.

  2. #262

    Re: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

    ECW on SportsChannel
    January 18, 1994

    In the cold opening, Shane Douglas and Sherri Martel preps for The Franchiseís big match tonight. Tonight Douglas has the opportunity to win back his NWA-ECW Title as he battles Terry Funk!

    To kick off the show opening, we get a title card that hypes NWA-ECW as the best kept secret in wrestling. Yeah, Iíve already seen a lot of ECW in 1994. It was the drizzling shits. Anyways, the ECW opening video lacks the montage feel that it would have in the future. Instead, it just shows highlights from different acts, but in different sections starting with Sabu, Road Warrior Hawk, Woman, The Public Enemy, ect. It also feels...long.

    Finally, the opening video wraps up and we join Joey Styles in the Eagleís Nest. Tonight is a special ninety minute edition of ECW featuring a gigantic NWA-ECW Title match between Terry Funk and Shane Douglas. Thereís other stuff too, but that match is the entire reason why this episode matters at all.

    After the first set of entrances for the opening match, we head to a commercial break before returning to a Terry Funk promo. Heís sitting around with The Bad Breed where he puts over tonightís match against Shane Douglas. Hyping it as something special that you canít see in the Big Two. This is Funkís Last Stand, he just hopes that heíll be the better athlete tonight to be victorious.

    Johnny Hotbody, The Tazmaniac, and Kevin Sullivan w/Woman vs Badd Company and Tommy Dreamer
    Sullivan and Tazmaniac are the current NWA-ECW Tag Team Champions, having beat Dreamer and Shane Douglas (Subbing for the injured Johnny Gunn) at the end of 1993. Meanwhile, Hotbodyís last NWA-ECW Tag Team Title reign came to an end at the hands of Dreamer/Gunn back at November to Remember 1993. Throw in the fact that Badd Company (AKA The Orient Express) has been chasing after the tag titles for a few months, this is a very tag centric six man tag. This match was the Paul fín Diamond show. In just one match, Diamond convinced me that he has to be considered one of the best stars in ECW at the moment. Not only does he look like a professional wrestler, something that is rare for ECW talent in 1994, but his workrate is great. I donít know whether itís that heís putting on a hell of a show with his offense or if I just experienced so many lousy ECW 1994 matches, but he was entirely responsible for making this seemingly nothing match into something special. After some initial babyface offense with Diamond impressing, Tanaka doing the bare minimum, and Dreamer botching his first spot, the heels took over with Diamond smartly being made to be the face-in-peril. Again, Iím impressed by how much I dug this segment with Diamond selling a lot with the heels tagging out frequently. Hotbody didnít seem like anything truly special, but heís a very competent wrestler. Meanwhile, Sullivan and Tazmaniac brought a bit of hardcore to the match by tossing Diamond over the top rope behind the refereeís back and Tazmaniac using a chair on Diamond on the outside. Eventually, Diamond does manage to score the hot tag to Tanaka, but after a few chops, Tanaka gets overwhelmed by the three-on-one assault and itís time for face-in-peril sequence #2. Again, the heels are all about the fast tags and then cheating whenever possible. This included the referee being distracted while Sullivan used a foreign object to nail Tanaka in the balls. Despite really enjoying the match up to this point, the finish is kind of awful. With Hotbody dominating Tanaka in the ring, Sullivan was acting a little too crazed prompting Woman to blind him to try and settle him down. Tazmaniac, being more animal than man, began to imitate Sullivan. Hotbody, being the one normal person on his team, became distracted by this madness, allowing Tanaka to roll him up for the abrupt pinfall. Itís an awful finish for an otherwise oddly fun match. One of the best NWA-ECW matches of 1994, especially when you take into account that it didnít really matter. Paul Diamond rules. ** Ĺ

    After the match, an obviously upset Hotbody ends up getting Tazplexed by The Tazmaniac to ensure that this trio doesnít become official.

    Back to Joey Styles to further hype this special ninety minute edition of ECW. His objection here is to bring up the backstory for tonightís Funk/Douglas. It was back at Holiday Hell 1993 that Douglas actually helped Funk beat Sabu to win the NWA-ECW Title in the first place after interfering following the lights going out. Weíre then shown a Franchise music video, but with the music being edited, it obviously lacks the fun it likely originally had.

    Inside of the ring, Chad Austin awaits his match, but is interrupted by Paul E. Dangerously and 911. Dangerously wants to discuss Sabuís perspective of not being involved in tonightís NWA-ECW Title match, but Austin makes the grave mistake of interrupting that. The poor guy just wants a match, which caused 911 to snap and attack Austin. CHOKE SLAM~! 911 lays one boot on Austin and the referee smartly decides to count rather than inform 911 that this wasnít a match. 911 unofficially wins and celebrates by delivering a second choke slam to Austin. Apparently, this was 911ís first ďMatchĒ in ECW history.

    Backstage, Jason looks at himself in a mirror. Interviewer, Matty in the House, tries to get a word with The Sexiest Man on Earth. Jason hypes up The Pitbull in his recent feud with The Sandman. Weíre shown clips of a recent Sandman/Pitbull match with Jason providing insight, but I literally could not care any less. We then shift to seeing highlights of a recent Pitbull/Tommy Cairo match and I still donít care. All of this is just meant to serve as an explanation for why weíll be seeing an upcoming double dog collar match between Jasonís clients of The Pitbull and Rockiní Rebel vs Tommy Cairo and The Sandman. Anyways, the match would happen at The Night the Line was Crossed. That would be the night where The Sandman would turn heel after the bout to change his gimmick in ditching the lame surfer act. This segment sucked.

    Recorded moments ago - Shane Douglas and Sherri are going insane with anticipation for tonightís NWA-ECW Title match.

    Terry Funk © vs Shane Douglas w/Sherri - NWA-ECW Title
    I went into this match fully expecting to hate it. Having already seen the snoozefest at The Night the Line was Crossed, I knew that this was going to go for the full forty-five minute time limit draw. How could that not be terrible? Instead, itís a match with a slew of flaws, but one that I came away feeling more positive than negative. You can break the match down into three unofficial falls. Fall #1 is pretty short as itís just Funk slapping on a headlock and refusing to let go. The action spilled to the outside with Funk, still holding onto the headlock, dragging Douglas up the entrance way while the referee would count both men out for the double count-out finish. Funk then got on the mic and demanded that the match be restarted. This is where the bulk of the match comes from. The majority of this Fall #2 is The Franchise working over the arm/shoulder of Funk. Iím a sucker for limb work, so itís mildly entertaining to watch Douglas figure out different ways to inflict pain to Funkís bad arm. This included using a chair on the arm to open Funkís arm for the visual of blood. This is filler, but itís the sort of filler that makes for solid action as long as youíre only halfway paying attention to the screen. Sometimes itís fun to have wrestling on in the background and this match works for that. Eventually, Funk does manage to mount a comeback, but the end result is Douglas performing a bridge with his feet on the ropes and seemingly winning the NWA-ECW Title. As soon as the referee counted to three, The Bad Breed ran out to contest the result. Paul E. Dangerously, who had been providing valuable color commentary up to this point, was soon to follow with Tod Gordon joining the fray to officially restart the match yet again. Fall #3 is a chaotic brawl with Dangerously, The Bad Breed, and Sherri all getting involved. Hats off to Sherri because her role in the match was to get her ass kicked. She sustained boots from The Bad Breed and even a chair shot from Funk. Considering the fact that so much of the match was just Douglas applying various arm based holds, this portion of the bout brought some much needed excitement. Sadly, if there is one glaring negative with the match, itís Funkís selling. As I said, thereís a ton of arm work, but it didnít stop Funk from using his left arm. I know itís Funk, so heís naturally pretty wonky of a performer, which I normally love, but Funkís erratic style could have blended beautifully with selling. Imagine old man Funk being so stubborn that he refuses to stop using his arm, even though itís hurting him more and more with each additional shot. That could have been a fun story! By the end of the match though, despite working with such a clear strategy, both with the arm work and using Sherri for interference, The Franchise is in bad shape as Funk is taking his time to destroy Douglas, delivering a low blow and a chop to go for a cover, but the time limit expired first. The show goes off the air with Styles hyping the fact that heíll inform the viewers next week if thereís any news on the official result of the match. Sometimes the best way to end up satisfied with a match is to go into it with absolute bottom of the barrel expectations. Thereís plenty of issues and Stylesí claim that itís the best heavyweight title match heís ever seen seems greatly over the top, but it does succeed in feeling quite important. Besides, itís a match that featured a pop can used as one of the main weapons. How can you hate that? ***

    After already spending a couple of months watching a bunch of NWA-ECW 1994, I felt like I went into this episode with pretty realistic expectations. Itís not going to be good, but maybe there can be a bit of an appeal in seeing the company in this early stage. As it turns out, this may have been the most enjoyable show Iíve seen from ECW from 1994. The special ninety minute edition of ECW featured two official matches, both were good. Iím quite surprised to see that the WWE has never released Funk/Douglas on any ECW DVD/Blu-Ray release. Sure, it wouldnít be in the first group of ECW matches Iíd ensure made DVD, but the company released three ECW Unreleased sets. How does this match not make one of those DVDs? The match helped set-up arguably the most influential match in ECW history with the subsequent sixty minute three-way dance at The Night the Line was Crossed. Unlike the three-way dance, Funk/Douglas actually had some positive qualities with the forty-five minutes passing fairly fast. From a production standpoint, the quality improved tremendously over the next year. I wouldnít recommend going back and binging old NWA-ECW, but if your only experience in watching ECW comes after they became Extreme Championship Wrestling, I recommend checking out a random show for the novelty of how primitive ECW looked during their NWA days.

  3. #263
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    Re: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

    I thought 911 was Jake Roberts when I saw that gif
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  4. #264

    Re: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed View Post
    I thought 911 was Jake Roberts when I saw that gif
    Funnily enough, there was a brief Jake Roberts mention during the episode where it revealed that Sherri was spending some of her time managing Roberts down in Mexico when she wasn't busy being Douglas' manager.

  5. #265

    Re: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

    Hardcore TV
    October 25, 1997

    Joey Styles opens the show up in the middle of the ring and wastes little time before introducing the ECW World Champion, Shane Douglas. The Franchise, dressed to compete, comes out with his head cheerleader, Francine. Douglas trashes the New York crowd some before calling out his buddy, Rick Rude, to announce Rudeís next challenger for Douglasí ECW Title. At this point in time, ECW was running an angle involving Rude and Douglas where since The Franchise didnít need Rude to be his bodyguard (Unlike HBK at the same time in the WWE), he instead enlisted Rude to keep him strong by handpicking ideal opponents in order to push Douglas to be the best ECW Champion ever. Thus far, Rude had picked Al Snow, Axl Rotten, and Phil Lafon (As Good as it Gets 1997). Rude comes out and the crowd quickly starts a, ďYou fuck ChynaĒ chant. The classy fans then shift their attention towards Francine, wanting her to show her tits. She motions going for it, but reveals sheís just teasing everyone. Anyways, Rude mentions how heís being paid (with Francineís body) to provide Douglas with the best opponents, so he found a man that ran roughshod over the WWE. Douglas is initially ecstatic thinking that Rude has picked Shawn Michaels, but Rude continues that his pick also ran roughshod over WCW and in Asia. The confused Douglas suddenly looks shocked and terrified as the music of Guns ní Roses ĎWelcome To The Jungleí begins to play. Itís a great moment as The Triple Threatís own Bam Bam Bigelow came out with fellow member, Chris Candido trying to stop him, but being shoved on his ass in the process. Inside of the ring, Candido is shoved on his ass again, Sunny is screaming, Francine is giving Bigelow the middle finger, and Douglas is on his knees begging The Beast from the East not to do this.

    ECW opening video. ECW - Join The Revolution.

    Shane Douglas © w/The Triple Threat & Rick Rude vs Bam Bam Bigelow - ECW World Title
    While thereís not much to this match, I did think that it was fun. The opening minutes are all Bigelow as he just tosses Douglas around like a ragdoll. The interactions with Rude are the highlights as Douglas goes from begging Rude to stop this to giving him the middle finger. Meanwhile, Candido and Francine are shown giving Rude the finger any time they shout at him for what Douglas is going through. Meanwhile, the aloof Rude proves that he can use his middle finger too as he casually gives everyone the bird. Eventually, Douglas does manage to calm down from the surprise of the reveal to gain the advantage. Most of Douglasí offense is cheating based, but itís the only way he can actually best his buddy turned opponent. Itís when Douglas attempts a series of Ric Flair-like chops that Bigelow begins no selling and soon after goes back on offense. A mean looking kneeling power bomb suddenly ends the match with Bigelow becoming the NEW ECW World Champion. I liked the handling of Styles calling the action during the finish as he didnít seem as if he expected that to be the finish, further adding to the hype of the shocking title switch. Despite Douglasí ego, his matches with Bigelow would fail to be all that interesting, especially compared to Bigelowís matches with RVD, Little Spike Dudley, and even Taz. Itís not that their matches are bad, theyíre just not very remarkable. This one at least stood out due to the angle of Bigelow being the surprise challenger. ** ľ

    ECW is coming to Poughkeepsie, New York, on November 21st! The following matches are currently signed:

    The Sandman vs Sabu - Singapore Cane is Legal
    Taz vs The Pitbull #2 - FIRST TIME EVER~!
    Tommy Dreamer vs Rob Van Dam - Flag Match
    The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardcore Chair Swinging Freaks vs The Gangstantors - ECW Tag Titles

    Looking at the results, two of those four matches actually happened. The three-way dance was expanded to becoming a four-way after The FBI won the tag titles a month earlier. Meanwhile, the first time ever match, which technically happened in ECW before, but it was Eastern Championship Wrestling, ended up not taking place in favor of Taz defending the ECW TV Title against Little Spike Dudley. Taz vs Pitbull #2 would occur at November to Remember 1997 though. Also on the show is Bam Bam Bigelow vs Chris Candido, which actually looks pretty interesting to me.

    Call the ECW Hardcore Hotline to hear about a backstage fight, who is the top prospect for The Triple Threat, and all about the bidding war to sign Taka Michinoku!

    You can also subscribe to World Wrestling Weekly, the newsletter that the big boys are too afraid to print!

    Did you know that you can buy Terry Funkís Wrestlefest on VHS?! I never bothered to review the show, but the card is actually interesting just because itís ECW, WWE, and unsigned wrestlers competing on the same show with matches like Taz vs Chris Candido, Mankind vs Sabu, and Terry Funk vs Bret Hart in Funkís retirement match. Just think, people had been rolling their eyes at Funkís retirement announcements years before even this.

    ECW is coming to New Britan, Connecticut on November 7th! No matches are announced, but looking at the results, thereís a couple of matches Iíd be into watching in Mikey Whipwreck vs Bam Bam Bigelow and Taz defending the ECW TV Title against Jerry Lynn.

    At this point, we finally head back to the ring with Rick Rude announcing Bam Bam Bigelow as the new ECW World Champion.

    Sabu w/Fonzie vs Mikey Whipwreck
    Sweet. These two previously worked a couple of matches in 1995 and 1996, both of the ones Iíve covered (Hardcore TV in 1995 and Massacre on Queens Blvd) were real gems and helped establish Mikey as just a good wrestler rather than a jobber who somehow lucked into victories and title reigns. This one felt shorter than the previous ones and with Mikey already established, it naturally had that interesting trait not available here. I do suspect the match was clipped a bit using shots of Fonzie or the crowd to sneak in a few cuts. Anyways, similarly to their other matches, itís a total spotfest, but one that gives Mikey a fighting chance because heís able to counter or block some of Sabuís bigger spots. For example, when Sabu attempted the triple jump dive through the table that Mikey was lying across, Whipwreck surprised Sabu by whipping a second chair at a midair Sabu. Each time Mikey gained the advantage, Fonzie was there to try and bring the advantage back to his man such as introducing the first chair. Eventually, with Mikey countering enough of Sabuís moves, RVD came out to try and interfere while Sabu and Mikey were on the top rope. Instead, Mikey thwarted the interference by diving onto RVD, crashing through the table on the outside that Sabu had originally set-up earlier in the match. Despite taking care of RVD, the interference still worked as it allowed Sabu to deliver a moonsault to both RVD and Mikey before returning to the ring. Then to ensure that Mikey was properly screwed, a hurt RVD manages to grab Mikeyís ankle as he tries climbing back into the ring. That brief moment allowed Sabu to deliver a Lionsault to the back of Mikeyís head (Picture Guidoís Sicilian Slice, but with a Lionsault instead of a leg drop) to nab the pinfall. These two always had fun chemistry, pity they didnít work against each other more often. ***

    Justin Credible w/Jason vs The Great Sasuke
    Sasukeís first singles match in ECW and his return after working Barely Legal. Since then, Sasuke had worked a couple of matches for the WWE, including a great match at In Your House: Canadian Stampede, and has already turned down their offer to be the face of the Light Heavyweight division. The idea of this match is that itís simply a showcase for Sasuke. Joey Styles practically announces Sasuke as the winner just after the match began to the point that he hyped up the fact that Sasuke recently defeated Taka in front of 6,000 fans in Tokyo last week while admitting that Credibleís recent win over Jerry Lynn isnít nearly as impressive. Styles even claimed that Credible just being able to wrestle Sasuke was automatically the most prestigious match of his career! The opening minutes reflect this as well as itís all Sasuke. Heís kicking Credibleís ass and making it look easy with a variety of kicks and working over the leg. Itís pretty fun stuff especially with Credible selling as if heís completely overwhelmed and generally fucked. That is until Sasuke enjoys some kicks in the corner, but when the referee orders him away, that allows for the brief distraction for Credible to deliver a low blow to finally gain the advantage. At this point, suddenly Credible has regained his mojo and is cocky. This means a lot of playing to the crowd. His offense isnít nearly as interesting as Sasukeís, but Credible manages to not embarrass himself. Despite the fact that Credible is firmly in charge, Styles is still acting as if Sasuke is obviously going to win, announcing that Credible is putting up a great fight, but itís Sasukeís night. Finally though, Sasuke manages to mount a comeback and the match becomes interesting again especially when Sasuke hits a swanky dive to the outside. Itís when Sasuke nearly has the match won when he attempts to climb to the top rope only to be kicked off by Jason. Credible would then be quick to hit Thatís Incredible to score the massive upset. Sadly, this is the start of Heyman pushing Credible down everyoneís throats. Heís only been in the company for a couple of months, but with this only being his second TV match and now heís being presented as undefeated, even against stars of Great Sasukeís level, heís going to be pushed whether you like it or not. That being said, the fact that this match was presented as an easy win for Sasuke with Styles still hyping up that likely outcome when Credible was hitting his finisher, I liked what the story of this match had to offer. Maybe the ďWrongĒ guy went over, but itís kind of special because of that. An enjoyable match that nicely sets up Credible/Sasuke II for when Sasuke returns to the states in early 1998. ***

    Hardcore TV goes off the air with a dumbfounded Styles describing Credibleís upset asÖĒThatís incredible!Ē

    As Iím wanting to move into 1998 ECW, I wanted to get in one last taste of 1997 ECW with this episode of Hardcore TV being the most obvious choice for post-As Good As It Gets action. In fact, outside of episodes of Hardcore TV that features matches from PPVs or ECW Arena shows released on VHS, itís a very safe assumption that this was the biggest episode of the year. Bigelow vs The Franchise wasnít anything too notable quality wise, but itís a fun moment seeing The Beast from the East ditch The Triple Threat in favor of finally winning a World Title. This result would help set up a lot of booking over the next year and a half with Douglas/Bigelow II at November to Remember, Taz trusting Bigelow, Taz/Bigelow PPV matches, Taz creating the FTW Title, and ultimately Taz/Douglas Guilty as Charged 1999. Itís always a treat seeing Sabu and Mikey Whipwreck go crazy on each other even if there wasnít much importance placed on this one. Lastly, the final match showcased Credible scoring maybe his biggest singles TV victory in his career thus far. Itís at least between this Sasuke match and the Jeff Jarrett one from 1995. Overall, a fun and important episode of Hardcore TV to leave 1997 on a high note.

  6. #266

    Re: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

    AWA Championship Wrestling
    January 24, 1988

    Although this was just a weekly show, this edition of Championship Wrestling aired the same day as WWEís Royal Rumble 1988 on the USA Network. Can AWA compete with WWEís mega event?

    Your host for tonight is Larry Nelson, but before we get to the wrestling, we HAVE to talk about the Cash (Kash?) Dollar family in Cleveland, Ohio. Theyíre the Fan of the Week! With that out of the way, Nelson promises that AWA president, Stanley Blackburn, has big news regarding The Midnight Express vs The Midnight Rockers!

    Nick Kiniski and Mr. Magnificent w/Madusa vs Jake Milliman and Van Van Horne
    Kiniski is the son of former NWA World Champion, Gene Kiniski. With that famous last name, he was able to secure runs around the world with various promotions including the WWE, but he never really accomplished anything. Meanwhile, Magnificent is also known as Kevin Kelly (Not THAT Kevin Kelly) whose biggest claim to fame was his short run in the WWE as Nailz. Heís unrecognizable here though as Magnificent looks...pretty darn magnificent. He looks a bit like a taller version of Stunning Steve Austin. At this early point in her career, Madusa has mostly just replaced Sherri Martel as the main heel valet in AWA after Sherri went to the WWE. Itís not a great showing for the heel team. Kiniski has a lousy look and was somehow the weaker member of a team that included the future Nailz. Magnificent wasnít so magnificent, but he offered a hell of a lot more than he did with his limited moveset in the WWE. Apparently Iím not the only one not impressed by Kiniski as the commentator openly stated how obvious that Kiniski wasnít spending any time in the gym. Kiniski would score the pinfall after delivering a piledriver on Van Van Horne. Keep your chin up, Madusa, youíll be managing better talent soon enough. SQUASH.

    Billy Jack Strong vs Tom Stone
    Strong looks like a dollar store version of The Ultimate Warrior sans face paint. His biggest success came in Stampede where he competed as Steve DiSalvo and had even held the North American Title once. The fact that he received a few try-outs from the WWE and even appeared on WCW TV ever so briefly as Minotaur before being pulled worries me that heís all look and zero talent. Meanwhile, Stone looks like your average Junior High science teacher. Stone was used as a jobber on WWE TV between 1987-1995. He was a real AWA lifer though, first debuting for the company in 1978 and last appearing in 1990. After watching the match, I can attest to the fact that Strong unique wrestler. He takes his time, seemingly entirely disinterested in even being in the ring. Most of Stoneís attempts at offense were no sold by Strong. When Strong began working in his own spots, they were botched with a shitty looking hip toss and a lariat over the top rope that failed to send Stone over the top rope. Normally, I would say that could be either guyís fault, but considering the fact that Stone was apparently good enough to be used as a jobber for a decade by McMahon, I suspect he knows how to take moves if heís given the proper assistance. It doesnít help matters that any time Strong lays into Stone, it looks as if heís purposely being rough. Strongís entire style is just weird. Heíll hit a big move like a middle rope DDT, but then stands up, wanders around some, before picking Stone back up, not even bothering to try and pin the jobber. Frankly, after the first two botches, I thought Stone was crazy for trusting Strong with any bigger spots where it was entirely up to Strong to protect Stone. The finish was even a jumping Tombstone that Iím just thankful that it hadnít been botched. Strong wins, but itís clear why this guyís career never went anywhere. SQUASH.

    Backstage, Bill míf Apter is with Wahoo McDaniel for a special PWI Press Conference. Bless his little heart, but Wahoo is an awful guest. He came into this seemingly unprepared to answer any question, so he talks a bunch of nonsense and repeats himself a lot. Topics include his recent strap match against AWA World Champion - Curt Hennig, Paul E. Dangerously being a talker, his recent attempts at winning the AWA Tag Titles from the Midnight Express, and helping train Billy Jack Strong. In Wahooís defense, the guy is 50 years old. Heís well past his prime and heís just here to collect a paycheck while marks continue to think he has any value left.

    Soldat Ustinov vs Dennis Stamp
    HE GOT BOOKED! After the massive success of Nikita Koloff, a bunch of companies tried replicating that success. The idea is you take a big bald guy from Minnesota, give him a Russian name/gimmick, and hope that he can be the next Nikita. JCP tried it with Vladimir Petrov while AWA tried it with Ustinov. To no surprise, since Nikita actually had talent, none of these cheap copies could be the next Nikita because all the similarities were was physical. To give you an idea how potentially bad Ustinov is, he was Boris Zhukovís partner in the AWA where they were AWA Tag Team Champions. When the WWE wanted to find a partner for Nikolai Volkoff to form The Bolsheviks, they called the pudgy Zhukov instead of the fit Ustinov. In fairness to Soldat, when heís just working a squash, heís fine. Heís clearly green and his moveset is ultra basic. However, I prefer simple movesets done well than more complex movesets that you botch everything. He has a bit of a personality though, both in terms of yelling at the fans and at one point pulling Stamp up to break up his own cover. I suppose it makes sense based on their friendship, but Stamp reminds me a lot of Terry Funk. Heís got that goofy drunk selling and has similar punches. The finish is pretty bizarre though as Soldat blocks a charge in the corner by Stamp with a big boot and then just...pins Stamp? Weíre not even going to see your finisher? Odd. The best of the squashes tonight. SQUASH.

    Backstage with Larry Nelson, as he hypes up tonightís main event of The Midnight Express vs The Midnight Rockers for the AWA Tag Titles. Nelson really goes over the top in the praise for the match, practically promising a five star classic.

    The Midnight Express © w/Paul E. Dangerously vs The Midnight Rockers - AWA Tag Titles
    The idea here is that The Midnight Rockers were the #1 babyface team a year ago, but they got signed by the WWE and quickly dropped the belts last summer. Since the WWE run crashed and burned literally on day #1, AWA fans had been waiting for The Rockers to return to reclaim their tag titles. It took a few months, but The Rockers are finally back and it just so happens that the current top team in the AWA are a fellow Midnight team in the form of Randy Rose and Dennis Condrey. Although this wasnít the five star classic that Nelson promised it would be, it was a pretty good match that by AWA 1988 standards, probably does make it a five star match. Thereís a lot of stalling in the early going by MX as The Rockersí shine went on. Itís not until MX takes over with Shawn playing the face-in-peril that you really see the value that Condrey and Rose bring to the tag team division. Itís not as if theyíre great, but theyíre a really, really solid heel team that goes through all of the usual motions to maintain the advantage, even if it means cheating. They know how to play to the crowd to get maximum reaction. They just come across as if theyíre way too good to be stuck in the AWA. Obviously, the same can be said for The Midnight Rockers. They did some 80s flying around that still looks good to this day. Eventually, Shawn got the hot tag to Marty and he cleaned house with the Las Vegas crowd going wild. The referee ended up taking a bump after a suplex spot sees his leg being landed on. For a ref bump, itís pretty good as it feels fairly natural and the referee doesnít have to fake being knocked unconscious. At this point, the match becomes chaotic with all four men in the ring while the commentator questions whether or not weíll see a double DQ. Instead, MX attempts a double team move on Marty after Shawn is knocked out of the ring, but Marty blocks the charge by Rose and uses that momentum to cause Condrey (Who was applying a full nelson to Jannetty) to land on his back. A new referee rushes out to count on the outside while the original referee crawls over to perform a delay count. Both refs count to three, but it looked as if Condrey had kicked out before the original refís three count. Regardless, this wacky results in NEW AWA World Tag Team Champions being crowned. Not as good as the bloodbaths The Rockers had with Buddy Rose and Doug Somers, but The Rockers were seemingly incapable of having bad matches in the 80s. *** ľ

    Larry Nelson wraps up the show by hyping up The Midnight Rockers win while going over the rest of the results of the episode. And weíre out!

    Wait...wasnít there supposed to be some sort of announcement from Stanley Blackburn?

    The AWA is always a bit interesting to go back and check out. Here they have this awesome TV deal on ESPN, their territory spans a good amount of distance in Minnesota to Las Vegas, and they even manage to have some quality 80s stars. Yet, despite all of their claims of being the best wrestling in the world and trying to look all new and hip, they feel like a company that is going nowhere fast. Besides featuring the title switch, the main event is a good little match featuring two of the better teams of 1988. Itís a shame that the company didnít have additional acts that could deliver like MX and The Midnight Rockers. Instead, the appeal of watching such a show is seeing all of the oddities. A young Nailz that looks like a million bucks and is the superior worker for his lousy tag team with the son of a NWA World Champion? An Ultimate Warrior clone that looks dangerous in the ring? A Nikita Koloff clone battling Dennis fín Stamp? Itís a fun show to watch because of all of that shittiness. Thereís not a ton of AWA on the WWE Network/Peacock, but if youíre a fan of older wrestling, be sure not to ignore these Rockers gems. Overall though, if you had to only watch one show on January 24, 1988, Royal Rumble was your better bet.

  7. #267

    Re: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

    AWA Championship Wrestling
    February 13, 1988

    Apparently, the WWE Network doesnít believe that thereís any need to upload AWA weeklies in order. The January 24th episode of Championship Wrestling was added years ago while Julyís classic content dump is seven episodes of Championship Wrestling from 1988, but for whatever reason, they skipped over a couple of weeks rather than just build from where they last left off.

    Larry Nelson opens the show with a rundown of what weíll see tonight. The headline match will be a rematch from a couple of weeks ago featuring Greg Gagne vs Adrian Adonis. Nelson calls their last match a real dandy. Well fuck, if Larry god damn Nelson called a match a dandy, it must be have something special.

    Your commentators are Rod Trongard and Ray Stevens.

    The Nasty Boys vs Ricky Rice and Tom Johnson
    Sags and Knobbs were originally put together by AWA last spring where they worked a few matches before being sent down to Memphis for a bit. Theyíve now been back in AWA since January. They look pretty similar as they would in the 90s. Theyíre a bit thinner and their ring gear is a little more simplified, but otherwise, they have the Nasty Boys act down. Itís a dominating squash with poor Johnson getting controlled with ease. Unfortunately for Johnson, the one spot he was given, when he delivered a shot to the gut to Sags on the apron and then slingshot himself into the ring for a sunset flip is badly botched as it took multiple attempts to successfully fling himself over the ropes. Itís very possible that the really loose ropes is the reason why the botch occurred, but regardless, it just made Johnson look bad. On the other hand, once Rice was tagged in, things picked up. He briefly cleaned house, leveling both Nasty Boys with drop kicks while the crowd went wild. Itís no wonder Rice would receive a bit of a push as one half of The Top Guns (With Derrick Dukes) later in the year. Despite this brief strong showing, Rice was then cut off and was made quick work of by the heels. Nasty Boys would win with Sags whipping a poor sap into the corner where Knobbs is waiting to leap off the middle rope with a lariat. Pretty solid for a squash thanks mostly to the novelty of seeing young Nasty Boys and Riceís brief hope spot. SQUASH.

    Backstage, Larry Nelson brings in the AWA World Champion, 'Cool' Curt Hennig. Hennig, wearing some ridiculous looking Bret Hart-inspired sunglasses, boasts about what an amazing year 1987 was, but he plans on making 1988 just as successful. Hennig then goes on to talk about how much he loves beating people at their own game. Thatís his game. Nelson then tries to turn the conversation towards the 1988 Olympics, but then he realizes that theyíre out of time and he never gets the question out. See, THIS is why itís fun to go back and watch old AWA. Itís a taped show. Thereís no reason why they should ever run out of time, but this company is so poorly managed that they canít even successfully pull off this interview!

    'Cool' Curt Hennig © vs Darrell Olson - Non-Title
    'Cool' Curt Hennig is cooler than you. Just a squash for the AWA Champion, but one that ended up being interesting as the jobber apparently is a heel jobber. When Olson attempted to gain the advantage before being cut off, he was completely cheating by going after the eyes in multiple eye based attacks. Hennig seemed legitimately upset over it as he was rough with strikes to regain the advantage. When you think about it, Hennig is the #1 heel in the AWA, if you're a jobber, you absolutely shouldnít be trying to cheat against him. Expert commentator, Rod Trongard, reminded everyone about how Hennig originally cheated to win the title back on May 2, 1997. Thatís what I like about Roddy, you can often rely on him to Jim Ross himself. Hennig would win with the unnamed Perfect Plex. SQUASH.

    Backstage, Larry Nelson is with Verne Gagne to talk about the upcoming Olympics. Frankly, Verne canít believe what Curt Hennig just said about the Olympians! THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?! Hennig literally didnít have time to talk about the Olympics! Apparently, old man Verne needs to check his hearing aid because heís convinced Hennig talked trash about how amateur athletes arenít as talented as pro wrestlers, but he thinks all athletes are great! The Olympics talk continues with Verne bringing up a neighbor of his that will be competing in the games (...a real neighbor or a made up neighbor?) and then they even began talking about their own past skiing trips. WHAT IS THIS? The AWA is amazing. First, they ran out of time on a taped show to run the entire interview with Hennig and then they kept in Verneís interview that was apparently taped first, that referenced what Hennig was meant to discuss in his interview. How do you mess up so badly?

    Soldat Ustinov w/Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie vs Alan West
    Despite what the name would imply, West isnít a jobber, but rather a well built guy who resembles Magnum TA, but has a beach bum gimmick. This ends up being a bad thing because this means Soldat has to actually wrestle instead of just relying on it being a squash. The match is pretty dreadful and lasts the entire ten minute time limit. Neither guy puts in much effort in this battle of stars that should just be jobbers. The most interesting aspect of the match revolved around Ray Stevens being replaced on commentary by...Donna. No last name, just Donna. Ronny Trongard hypes her as someone who can bring a lot of interesting information to a match. While clearly reading trivia off of cards, Donnaís input includes: claiming Al-Kaissie holds the record for most suspensions in AWA history (Okay, mildly interesting), speculating whether or not AWA airs on other planets (uhhÖ), and gleefully stating that she wished she could cut Al-Kaissieís hands off with his sword for interfering (...the fuck). But again, this is the value of the AWA. Even when theyíre lousy, and theyíre almost always lousy, itís oddly entertaining. The time limit would expire just as West nailed a belly-to-belly suplex, but Ustinov kicked out before the time expired anyhow. * ľ

    Backstage, Larry Nelson (oh godÖ) brings out Tom Zenk. Nelson immediately asks about the Olympics. Why? WHO CARES ABOUT THE OLYMPICS?! Meanwhile, Zenk, master promo, praises the Olympics and believes that there will be a lot of medals being handed out soon. Uhh...yeah, thatís the idea, Tom. Zenk then cuts a promo on AWA Champion Curt Hennig, but luckily itís only built around Hennigís title and not Hennigís comments on Olympic athletes. Zenk stumbles over all of his words though. Zenk leaves and is replaced by a mustache wearing Baron von Raschke. He praises Zenk and then hypes up all of the other great wrestlers currently in the AWA like Curt Hennig, Greg Gagne, Wahoo McDaniel, and, ď many other great wrestlers.Ē I LOVE it! You can visibly see von Raschkeís mind shutting down as he suddenly forgot everyoneís names. This company is such a trainwreck that even in their taped shows, itís an utter mess. I love it.

    Greg Gagne © vs Adrian Adonis w/Cowboy Bob Orton - AWA International TV Title
    A rematch of the finals of the International TV Title tournament. Well, sorta. It wasnít a traditional elimination style tournament, but rather a points based tournament with Adonis and Gagne qualifying to be in the finals. Oddly enough, the title was only created after the AWA International Title had been unified with other titles to create Memphisí CWA Unified Title. So...why do away with one international title to make room for a new international title? Anyways, Adonis returned to AWA shortly after being fired by the WWE following Wrestlemania 3. There, he quickly joined up with Paul E. Dangerously and The Dangerous Alliance. Meanwhile, Adonisí WWE buddy, Orton, would leave the WWE around Survivor Series 1987 to then join back up with Adonis in the AWA. Although I enjoyed this match, I felt as if Gagneís shine went on for too long. It got quite repetitive as Gagne was a slamming machine, body slamming Adonis and then slapping on a hold, typically leg based, to remain in charge. Adonis would continue to try and gain the control by going for the eyes for an illegal move, but again and again, Gagne would thwart him. Despite the fact that Adonis is still rather heavy (Although heíd begun dropping some weight prior to his death), heís still a bumping machine. AWA may be a giant heap of trash, but Adonis was a legitimately great pick-up for the company. Eventually, Adonis began to get in some offense and my interest picked up. Meanwhile, Ace is there to try and interfere whenever possible when the referee isnít paying attention. Now, the finish. The finish is actually ultra simple and Iím going to explain what actually happened first and then Iíll explain how Ronny Trongard made it out to be. After Orton attacked Gagne on the outside, but stopped before he was caught, the referee was briefly distracted yelling at Orton while Adonis grabbed Gagne in a bulldog position, readying to ram him into the ring post. Instead, just as the referee turned his attention back on the action, he saw Gagne push off on Adonis, sending him into the ring post. Since using the ring post is apparently not allowed in AWA, the referee DQíd Gagne, awarding the match to Adonis, but Gagne retained the title since titles canít change hands on DQ. Sounds simple, right? According to Ronald, as soon as the bell was called, heís convinced that Adonis had been DQíd. Personally, I assumed that there was a count-out since Gagne and Adonis were fighting on the outside for a while. Then as the referee raises Adonisí arm up in victory, olí Tronny is erupting with excited clatter about how Adonis is the NEW International TV Champion. But then moments later, Tron Tron is yelling at the referee, questioning when the rules were changed and a title could change hands on a DQ! The ring announcer then comes on and announces that Adonis won by DQ, but Gagne is still champion. If Trongard knows the rules, why did he ever think that Adonis was the new champion? Commentators are supposed to make wrestling easier to follow by explaining things, but Ronny boy made things way more confusing for the TV audiences than they were for those live in attendance. Trongardís awful commentary was a perfect way to wrap up a problematic episode. Despite the disappointing, and confusing, finish, this was a solid main event thanks to Adonis being a star. ** Ĺ

    Oh boy. This sure was an eventful episode. It began with Larry Nelson calling a match a ďDandyĒ and by the end of the show, there was one problem after another. The worst of the show had to be Larry Nelsonís interviews particularly the failure of asking ĎCool' Curt Hennig about the Olympics while keeping in the Verne Gagne interview where he responds to Hennigís Olympics verbal attacks. I donít know when the interviews were taped, but the matches were taped a week earlier. So I donít understand how you put together this episode without realizing that a key part of the show doesnít make any sense because you ďRan out of timeĒ and couldnít film the necessary portion of the interview. Both squashes were memorable in terms of the jobbers. Whether it was Tom Johnsonís pitiful attempt of a sunset flip or Darrell Olsonís not so wise choice of trying to work as a heel, they managed to stand out in matches that otherwise should have been instantly forgettable. Throw in little things like Curt Hennigís sunglasses, Donna casually wanting to cut off Al-Kaissieís hands, and von Raschke forgetting the names of his coworkers and seemingly every segment had a little nugget of goofy fun. A good episode of AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN, even if itís only good in ways not intended by Gagne and company.

  8. #268

    Re: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

    AWA Championship Wrestling
    February 20, 1988

    Larry míf Nelson opens up the show with news that AWA World Champion, Curt Hennig, will be defending his title tonight against Mr. Magnificent. With how busy Hennig has been as champion, Nelson believes Hennig is wearing thin and tonight could be Magnificent's night! Nelson is sure to tout the AWA fan of the week, some woman named Myra.

    Ace Bob Orton Jr. vs Ricky Rice
    Besides Ronny Trongard being the commentator, heís joined by Donna. Just Donna. Iím quickly becoming a big Donna fan because sheís just so...shit. Sheís here to inform the viewers about some trivia regarding Ace Orton, but sheís so clearly reading off of some notecards. With how badly sheís stumbling over her words, I donít think she read the notecards ahead of time. The big fact is that Bob Orton Sr. was one of the originators of the piledriver. Anyways, Orton dominated the match except for when he connected with a drop kick. Since the young Rice is more of a high flyer, he decides to show Orton how itís done with a drop kick of his own. It does not look pretty at all. Riceís second drop kick looked fine though. This proved to anger Orton, causing the father of a Viper to snap, sending Rice to the outside and climbing to the top rope to crash down on Rice down below. Apparently, in the AWA, thatís against the rules so Orton is DQíd. That doesnít stop Orton though as he brings Rice back into the ring to deliver his super plex and attempt a pin. When the referees tried to get the assault to stop, especially after he gave Rice the dreaded piledriver, Cowboy attacked them. That brought out a couple of jobbers to attend to their fallen buddy. Naturally, Orton decides to get in a few cheap kicks on one of the new jobbers for shits and giggles. Orton came off like a star in this segment. Not being able to come off the top rope to the outside does make the AWA feel really dated though, even back in 1988 since the likes of Randy Savage had been performing similar stunts for a few years over on WWE TV. SQUASH.

    Back over to Nelson (Please no Olympics talk this week) with Nelson bringing up his own curiosity over why Ace Orton seems to love beating up people. That drove Nelson to ask some other wrestlers and the general consensus is that Orton is a mean man because it creates intimidation. Nelson then shows the last few minutes of last weekís Greg Gagne vs Adrian Adonis match where Orton interfered. The good news is that despite Adonis and Orton stealing the AWA International TV Title last week, promoters forced them to give the belt back to Gagne. Frankly, Nelson doesnít know whatís wrong with those two. Tsk tsk, neither do I, Larry, neither do I.

    Donna then leaves the commentatorís table to allow Trongardís regular partner, Crippler Ray Stevens, to join in on the action.

    The Midnight Rockers © vs Mike Smith and Mark Wagner - Non-Title
    I canít find any sort of information on Smith or Wagner. Smith is a big guy though. According to Trongard, heís about 280 pounds and 6í8. So he certainly stands out. The fact that I canít find anything about him leads me to believe heís likely awful otherwise he would have at least popped up on WWE TV as a jobber. Based on the short amount of time Smith was in the ring, yeah, he seems pretty green. He did manage to slam Michaels, but one of the few moves he knew how to perform - the leg drop, was his downfall after hitting the first one, but then trying to get flashy with a middle rope leg drop which he missed. One Smith tagged back out to Wagner, The Midnight Rockers quickly put him away with a double DDT. Iím a bit disappointed that this wasnít a train wreck with that big lad. SQUASH.

    Back to Larry Nelson, who has a RARE opportunity to talk with one half of the tag team champions. Shawn Michaels shows up to hype up the fact that The Midnight Rockers arenít a pair of kids anymore. Theyíre now two time tag team champions and theyíre more than ready to take on all comers including AWA teams like The Nasty Boys and whoever Soldat Ustinov finds as a partner, but also other teams across the globe including Memphisí Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee. After all, The Midnight Rockers have only lost once in two years. With that, Michaels bails. Obviously, Michaels would become a much better promo come the 90s, but he wasnít bad here. He just needed a bit more practice and to find himself a proper character rather than relying on the traditional babyface type of promo. After Michaels left, Soldat joined Nelson. Ustinov is here to refute what Michaels just said about him. He DOES have a partner - itís Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie! Oh...thatís it? Some forty-nine year old manager? That does not make the prospect of Soldat challenging for the tag titles any more enticing.

    Soldat Ustinov w/Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie vs Darrell Olson
    Hey look, itís your new top challengers for the tag titles! Does Soldat have to wrestle on all of these shows? On the plus side, Soldat is booked against Olson, the jobber who tried to out heel the heel AWA World Champion in a squash last week. So this could be interesting. Soldat seems to be in a lousy mood as he just destroys his jobber opponent. Any possibility of Olson trying to heel it up are squashed by all of Soldatís slams and any time Olson tries to get in a shot, Ustinov just no sells it. Soldat scores the submission victory with a backbreaker rack, but rather than really selling the fact that heís hurting Olson, Soldat just sorta holds Olsonís body up on his shoulder. Itís a pretty shit submission hold for a shit wrestler. How was anyone supposed to watch this and think that the AWA product was cool when JCP was showing Lex Luger snapping jobbersí backs in half with his Torture Rack at the same time? SQUASH.

    Wahoo McDaniel vs Jim Thomas
    Everyoneís favorite part-time commentator, Donna, returns to call the action in place of Stevens. Yay! Donna finds new ways of being awful as sheís not even her usual shit trivia nerd self. Instead, itís as if sheís distracted, any time she tries to speak, she ends up laughing and losing her train of thought. Honestly, if I didnít know any better, Iíd say something was going on between Donna and olí Tronny. Wahoo is a chopping machine, but after he extended his hand to Thomas, Thomas made the mistake of slapping Wahoo, causing the Chief to go berserk on his opponent. Wahoo would win quickly after that after sending Thomas off the ropes and knocking him down with yet another chop. SQUASH.

    Back to Larry Nelson and heís joined the Mr. Magnificent and his valet - the AWA Womenís Champion, Madusa. Magnificent cuts an angry promo about his match tonight as heís set to challenge for Cool Curt Hennigís AWA Title. Heís going to win the belt because 1988 is going to be his year! As the promo goes on, Magnificent becomes angrier and angrier while Madusa tries to calm him down. The fact that Magnificent's voice keeps cracking makes this a fun segment.

    íCoolí Curt Hennig © vs Mr. Magnificent w/Madusa - AWA World Title
    Only Verne Gagne was smart enough to recognize the pure gold in booking a World Title match between Mr. Perfect and Nailz. Iím gutted that there wasnít a single reference on tonightís show to Hennigís ďCoolĒ nickname. He didnít even have his rad sunglasses! Lame. What wasnít lame was how surprisingly solid this match was. Itís easily the best Nailz match Iíve ever seen, which admittedly isnít all that impressive. Kelly dominated the opening minutes with Hennig seemingly doomed against his much superior in shape opponent. This causes Hennig to stall a lot, but any time he tries to get something going, Kelly either no sells it or reverses it to inflict that same punishment onto the champion. This forces Hennig to re-think his strategy, opting to outsmart Magnificent by faking him out before successfully attacking the leg of the challenger. Hennig locked in a few leg holds, while trying to use the ropes for the unfair advantage as long as he could before the referee would catch him, which isnít all that interesting, but it goes along with the story well with Hennig finally figuring out how to best Kelly. My disappointment with the match is that while Kelly was mounting his comeback, now suddenly the babyface of the match when he was more of the heel in the first half, he doesnít bother selling the leg at all. Itís a shame because everything else was oddly working for me. Just as Magnificent looked as if he could have the win in hand, he attempted a body slam only for Hennig to block that by grabbing onto the top rope. Thatís an illegal move, so the referee goes to kick Hennigís hands off the ropes to stop the cheating yet again, but in doing so, causes Magnificent to fall backwards with Hennig landing on top of him. Thinking quickly, Hennig grabbed a fistful of trunks and would steal the victory. A really strong finish in terms of protecting Magnificent in losing while also making it clear that Hennig is still the superior heel after initially being presented as a babyface in the first half. Itís not the most exciting match, but with the exception of Kelly ignoring the leg work, this was a fun main event. ** ĺ

    Finally, just as the show is ready to go off the air, Larry Nelson brings out the legend Red Bastien. Bastien is here to hype up the AWA World Champion. Despite Hennigís problems with his personality since winning the World Title, Bastien has to admit that Hennig is likely the best ever. Even when Nelson tries to disagree by bringing up other legendís names, Red smartly puts over the fact that the stars today are in better shape, better nutrition, ect. So how are past legends supposed to be better than the stars of today? Itís honestly nice to see a past star todayís stars like this especially when thirty years later, Vince McMahon seems to live in the past. To close up his talk with Red, Nelson jokes about wanting to see Bastien and Pepper Gomez team up against The Midnight Rockers. Eh, why not? Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie is only a few years younger than Red and Pepper.

    Alas, not every episode of AWA Championship Wrestling can be as big of a train wreck as last weekís edition. The star attraction for the night had to be Donna. With her joining Trongard to call the action on a few matches, that meant even more lovely awkwardness as she struggles to read her notes without any regard of trying to sound natural. If youíre going to be shit at your job, at least be entertaining. Donna was an entertaining part of AWA in 1988. Booking wise, there doesnít feel as if thereís a whole lot going on in AWA. Curt Hennig is your World Champion, so heels and babyfaces alike want a piece of him. Greg Gagne and Adrian Adonis are feuding over the AWA International Title. The tag team division is apparently quiet enough that Soldat Ustinov and his ancient manager are lined up to be The Midnight Rockersí next challenge. Beyond the titles, I havenít got much of a sense of any programs going on. Hell, with Soldat literally being booked to wrestle on every show Iíve seen so far, the roster depth seems very shallow. At this point in time, Verne just has to know that his two big attractions - Curt Hennig and The Midnight Rockers, wonít be around forever. With this current roster, I donít know what the company is meant to do once those three stars leave.

  9. #269

    Re: Jim Reviews WWE Weeklies

    April 16, 2009

    My geeky old school mark brain was pretty darn pumped for the WWE bringing back Superstars after being off the air for...eight years. My god, Sunday Night Heat has been off the air for a longer amount of time than the period between WWF Superstars (Originally called Superstars of Wrestling) and WWE Superstars. I suppose that just goes to show how much the landscape of wrestling changed in the early 2000s. In fairness, WWF Superstars became exclusively a clip based show in early 1997 and thus became entirely forgotten about with other clip shows like Afterburn and Bottom Line gaining more attention. Anyways, the big appeal of WWE bringing back Superstars is that it would feature action from all three brands, thus making it the only program since the brand extension started in 2002 to feature that concept on a weekly basis.

    The Undertaker vs Matt Hardy
    Smackdownís match for tonight. After wrestling on the debut episodes of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown, Taker can add Superstars to his resume as well. Taker is also one of the very few men that also wrestled on 1997 Superstars. At this point in time, this is Takerís first match since Wrestlemania 25. Meanwhile, Matt Hardy is in the middle of his feud with his brother having already beat him in an Extreme Rules match at Wrestlemania 25 and in a stretcher match on the last edition of Smackdown. This match had a real old school feel about it due to the commentary. Jim Ross and Tod Grisham kept hyping up Wrestlemania 25 and what a magical night it was focusing entirely around Hardyís big leap and Takerís horrific crash and burn from the suicide dive where Taker landed on his head. Although Taker dominated the early going for this match, Hardy began to find some success by dedicating ALL of his offense directed at the head and neck of The Deadman. Literally, the only time that Hardy hits something that doesnít go after Takerís bad neck is when Matt gets in a quick kick to the gut as a defensive move. I really dig this strategy though and it further adds importance towards that Shawn Michaels/Undertaker WM match that the commentators continue to tout as a classic. If you hadnít watched Wrestlemania 25, but saw this match, Iíd have to think that youíd feel compelled to go out of your way to watch that Taker bout to see if the hype is warranted. That sort of presentation seems to be a lost art in wrestling with the pace being so quick and as soon as one big show is finished, the hype train for the next show is already underway. Despite liking the story of the match, the finish is super underwhelming as Matt manages to avoid the choke slam, taking a rest on the outside to compose himself. With the referee counting away, Matt decides that heís better off allowing himself to be counted out rather than actually being beaten. With that, the first ever match on WWE Superstars ends in a count-out. To be honest, I donít mind such a finish for a Taker/Matt match since youíre saving Mattís loss for Jeff at Backlash, and you obviously donít want to randomly be having Taker lose, but if thatís the case then perhaps Taker/Matt isnít the ideal bout to kick off a brand new show. Still, I appreciated the hell out of Mattís storyline focused strategy. ** ľ

    After the match, Jeff Hardy ran out to attack his older brother, tossing him in the ring so that the fans could see Taker deliver a choke slam.

    WWE DID YOU KNOW - The day after Wrestlemania, broke its all-time record for page views with an astonishing 105,179,641. Neat, I guess.

    A Wrestlemania 25 recap video is shown. I wouldnít mind giving that show a fresh review since Iíve only ever seen it when it originally aired.

    Christian vs Finlay w/Hornswoggle - Elimination Chase Finals
    To determine the #1 contender to Jack Swaggerís ECW Title for Backlash, ECW created a bit of a wacky tournament where Christian, Finlay, Tommy Dreamer, and Mark Henry would work a series of matches where one man would be eliminated in each round. Round 1 saw Finlay win a four-way over the four men with Henry being eliminated since he was the one pinned. Round 2 saw Finlay winning again, this time a triple threat, pinning Dreamer. I can remember when this match originally aired, I was looking forward to it, but ended up being disappointed. Re-watching it now, I get where I was coming from. At only five minutes long, they didnít have much of a chance to do much or create a story. Finlay took over after Hornswoggle presented a bit of a distraction on the outside. Itís a whole lot of filler though. Christian mounted a comeback, but Finlay was there to try and stop him. Both men were trying their finishers when Finlay countered by ramming Christian shoulder first into the ring post. Finlayís attempt at a Finlay Roll is countered into a Killswitch though. I donít know if Christian was selling his arm or if he had legitimately injured it, but he tried turning Finlay over for the pin with only his right arm, but it came off so awkward as Christian struggled a lot in slowly...slowly...slowly managing to flip Finlay over to nab the pin and earn the ECW Title shot for Backlash. Between the Killswitch out of nowhere and Christian taking forever to secure the pinfall, the finish was pretty deflating. The elimination chase finals may have been a disappointment, but it did set-up a killer match at Backlash between Christian/Swagger. I wouldnít necessarily call this a bad match, but itís the sort of unremarkable bout that youíd see on a 2015 episode of Superstars rather than when the show mattered. **

    This Monday on Raw - WWE World Champion battles Randy Orton! Yeah, no thanks.

    Shane McMahon vs Cody Rhodes
    A preview of Backlashís six man tag where Triple Hís WWE World Title will be on the line against Randy Ortonís team. The more the commentators talk about what villains Legacy have been in the feud with the McMahons, the more the storyline just sort of fails to work with me. Yeah, Orton had been a real dick to the McMahons, what with Orton delivering a RKO to Stephanie and a punt to Vince, but itís the McMahons. Theyíre basically the biggest heels in the history of the WWE. Why should anyone feel empathy for them when theyíve caused so much harm to babyfaces over the years? IIRC, the fans reflect this attitude at Backlash when they refuse to react the intended way to Orton winning. As far as this particular match goes, I begin to lose interest as for whatever reason, itís given fifteen minutes, about the length of Taker/Hardy and Finlay/Christian combined. Itís a Cody/Shane match, thereís zero reason why it should have been as long as either of the previous matches. Shane was on fire in the early going until he appeared to hurt his elbow on a closeline from the apron to the outside. Cody took over and targeted the shoulder a bit while also killing time with rest holds. Where the match truly lost me though is the finish as Shane is exhausted on the outside with Cody trying to drag him back in the ring. Shane, the babyface, opts to grab a steel chair and hit Cody in full view of the referee to cause the DQ. The idea, and what the commentators had been trying to sell us since the start of the match, is that Shane is a hothead. This is problematic for Triple H because if Shane gets himself DQíd at Backlash, Triple H will be losing his WWE Title. Much like Taker/Hardy, I understand the purpose for the finish, but weíve already seen one non-finish tonight. Do we really need a second one, especially in the main event of the first ever WWE Superstars? * ĺ

    After the match, Shane continued the assault on Cody, delivering Coast to Coast with a garbage can. And by delivering, I mean coming an inch or two short, not even touching the garbage can.

    Watching debut editions of new programs is always an interesting experience. More often than not, a company will load up a first show and present it as being far more important than what it will be once that fresh, new scent is gone and the stank of being a C show comes through. Star power wise, this show delivers. Just the fact that The Undertaker wrestling is a big enough deal. In fact, this will be the first and only time Taker will wrestle on Superstars 2.0. On top of Taker, youíve got a McMahon wrestling, something that doesnít happen too often. In the case of Shane, heíd wrestle a handful of times between February and May 2009 and then wouldnít wrestle again until 2016. The rest of the show was filled out with meaningful midcard acts. No one too high up the ladder, but still acts that felt bigger than the stars of Superstars at the end of the showís run. Quality wise, I donít think that it was all that good of an episode. It began with a match that involved a count-out decision. The main event ended in a DQ. The middle match did have a pinfall, but it was awkward due to how long it took Christian to go for the pinfall. The match that I expected to be the workrate match, Christian vs Finlay, ended up being a disappointment. Overall, a disappointing debut episode and if you want to see WWE delivering on a debut episode, check out WWE Main Event from 2012.

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