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WrestleMania XXIV: And We Never Saw Flair Again

March 31, 2014 By: Category: Boxing, Sports, WWE | Pro Wrestling

-It had been 15 years, but WWE had to get back on the horse and have an outdoor PPV again. Following the debacle that WrestleMania IX, I know that it had to be tough to repress the memories of bad matches and a horrid appeasement of Hulk Hogan’s ego. So here we are, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL, on March 30, 2008. After years of watching TNA, I had no idea that more than 900 people were allowed to attend wrestling events in the city.

-So after JBL went back to being an active wrestler, our teams became Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (Raw), Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman (Smackdown), and Joey Styles and Tazz (ECW). The Smackdown team has the most legit news experience by far, yet want to be hung by their Adam’s apples for atrocities committed on headset, courtesy of the smark community. From this, I can infer that smarks hate news people.

-Kane won a 24 man battle royal before the show to earn a shot at the ECW Championship on this show. I still wish Val Venis had gone to the brand with him to form my dream team: “The Libertarian Extremists”. They could hold Tea Party protests over administrational tyranny and everything. They’d have my support.

-John Legend performs the America the Beautiful. When watching the show with my viewing party, I believe my exact reaction was “Oh, so that’s what he looks like.”

-The show opens with a “Belfast Brawl”, which I believe is actually a hardcore match, aka extreme rules match aka no holds barred match aka street fight. In other words, you can use weapons with total impunity to settle your blood feud, but just don’t aim for the head. Anyway, Finlay’s taking on JBL in this contest, which was centered around one of the most bizarre and non-sensical storylines in the annals of WWE history. I don’t even think I wish to recount it.

-Or maybe I do.

-Long story short, Vince found out that he had an illegitimate child in a case where the mother never revealed herself. The son was revealed in a convoluted game of process of elimination to be Hornswoggle. So Vince was dismayed, as you might expect, but eventually, Finlay kept coming out to save the little bugger from certain harm that Vince would create for him. Some “deal” between Finlay and Vince was tossed around, albeit vaguely. Finally, JBL somehow has this inside knowledge and he reveals that Finlay is Hornswoggle’s actual father. How he acquired such knowledge is anyone’s guess, but this led to a match between Finlay and JBL for this event.

-Yeah.

-JBL attacks early and manages to hit Finlay with a trash can that the Irishman threw into the ring. He hit em in the head, but hey, we can ignore that for the sake of a Senate run.

-After reversing a piledriver, Finlay wallops JBL with a cookie sheet. Anyone have any earthly idea how cookie sheets get under the ring in the first place? Maybe if they had those old five minute intermissions in mid show and they’d serve some Toll House cookies to the announcers, that’d be one thing. As it is, makes no sense.

-Just to exacerbate the horrible story arc, here comes Hornswoggle with a kendo stick. Sure enough, he hits JBL with it. Anyone who’s ever taken comedic pleasure in the mere sight of a midget should be hanged. Because of you, we have moments like this.

-Finlay attempts a suicide dive, but JBL smashes him with a trash can in mid air. It’s important to keep in mind that both men are north of forty years of age. Just wanted to note that.

-JBL throws a trash can hard onto a prone Hornswoggle on the floor, thus earning him the official ranking of “Jesus Christ Almighty” in my book. Thank you, John. I will never mock your man-boobs ever again.

-After whacking Finlay’s legs with the kendo stick, JBL lands the Clothesline from Hell for the win. If you take out the horrid angle and the involvement of a freaking leprechaun, then you’re left with a rather decent brawl. JBL and Finlay have known each other for years going back to their alliance in the CWA in Germany, so it makes sense that they’d have some chemistry. Good Belfast Brawl or hardcore match or street fight or whatever it was….

-Backstage, Mr. Kennedy has words with guest hostess Kim Kardashian. Ah, Kim. There’s a potential Raw host I could get behind. And I’d support her bid to host as well.

-Up next, we have the fourth annual Money in the Bank ladder match, featuring seven participants. That’s because Jeff Hardy decided to be El Violator de Wellness and get him excised from the match. So while Jeff’s at home living for the moment, we’re left with Chris Jericho, CM Punk, MVP, Mr. Kennedy, John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, and Carlito. All in all, a pretty stellar cast.

-MVP manages to come into possession of a ladder early, and uses it to ward off the other opponents like some blinged out pong paddle. I take pride in knowing that I’m first person to ever type those four words in that order. Unfortunately for Mr. Porter, Jericho gets a bigger ladder and phallically out-duels him. So much for that.

-Jericho tries to put Kennedy in the Walls, but ends up slingshotting him onto the ladder, allowing last year’s winner to try and climb. However, Morrison and Benjamin end up joining him near the apex and it leads to a tower of doom sunset superplex spot. Not wasting time, I see.

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-Shelton tries to top his usual insanity by springboarding to an empty ladder, but slips off without anyone to counter balance it. You mean WWE can’t find ANYTHING for Shelton to do? Really?

-Punk nails Benjamin with the GTS. Well, they found something for him. Unfortunately, it’s a role as “guinea pig for other guys’ finishers”. Well, it’s something.

-Shelton gives it one last go, but is dumped off the ladder, flipping through a table bridge at ringside in a truly scary spot. How scary? Carlito couldn’t hide the look of horror on his face, even though he’s one of the guys who pushed the ladder. Amazing.

-Jericho, Carlito, and Kennedy all make a run for the contract, but MVP dumps them all. Then MVP eats a ladder to the face from Morrison.

-Jericho, Carlito, and Kennedy again find themselves up on the ladders, with Punk as well, but all of them end up crashing, leaving MVP as the last man standing. He goes to climb with no one in sight to stop him, until Matt Hardy jumps the rail and asks us to buy his brother’s DVD to help pay his legal costs. No, sorry, he takes MVP out with a Twist of Fate. My only question: why is Matt in the audience without a shirt on?

-Two ladders get wedged together and Jericho drops Carlito onto the contraption, causing it to project one ladder vertically. Morrison tries climbing this oddly-positioned ladder, but gets pushed off and crotched on the top rope. Ouch.

-Carlito and Kennedy wipe out, leaving a finale between Jericho and Punk. They meet at the top and Jericho gets the upper hand, but Punk pulls Jericho’s leg through and hangs him out, leaving CM Punk to pull down the briefcase and earn the contract. Good stunt show featuring some really innovative stuff, especially Morrison’s climb up the doubled ladder. Plus, it pushed Punk up the ladder (pun intended) to becoming a featured player, which helped lead him to where he is today. What more can you ask for?

-The Hall of Fame Class of 2008 is introduced by Howard Finkel (#24!): The Briscos, Gordon Solie, Rocky Johnson, Peter Maivia, Eddie Graham, Mae Young, and Ric Flair, who is represented by his family. Moments after this recognition took place, Reid and Ashley were arrested for beating up Megan, and Ric was disappointed in David for being David.

-Backstage, Snoop Dogg, Festus, and Santino Marella ham it up. Maybe Snoop’s part of the reason why Luke Gallows got so messed up. Punk should rail against Snoop next.

-Teddy Long and William Regal provide the intros for the next match between Batista and Umaga, which is the “Battle for Brand Supremacy”. Man, when you can’t come up with a solid angle for Batista to work within, you must not have your priorities in order.

-Yes, Regal does call Umaga “Youmanga”. That will never get old, even if the guy is dead.

-Slow paced hoss fight with no story at all, and the crowd is all over Batista for some reason. Seriously, Umaga nails him in the throat at one point and the fans all cheered.

-Boo. Yay. Boo. Yay. The punch sequence we’ve all grown to love, except Umaga’s getting the yays. It’s like Hogan vs. Rock, but without the intrigue and imagination-capturing fun.

-Umaga has the Samoan Spike blocked, and Batista goes into the final sequence, botching the Batista Bomb en route to victory. Not good at all, and uncharacteristically stale for two pretty good brawlers. Batista would recover from this and Umaga….well, unfortunately, not so much. Last Mania match for the big man, who is sorely missed.

-JR and Lawler give us the tale of the tape for the Mayweather-Show fight. They should have included Show’s WrestleMania record, just for a laugh.

-Highlights of Kane winning the battle royal, thus dampening my spirits as I was pulling for Snitsky. Truth told, I was hoping that “bad teeth” Snitsky was a ploy to bring Isaac Yankem back through Kane, and create the most epic feud in the history of civilization. Sadly, the moment was wasted.

-So here’s Armando Estrada to do ring intros for the ECW Title match, and he’s wearing arguably the greatest hat in the world. Why not just make HIM Raw GM? He’s Cuban/Palestinian Slick!

-So here’s Chavo Guerrero to defend the title….and it’s over. Yep. Not even fifteen seconds and Kane chokeslams him to Hell for the gold. I wish Kane had been in the original ECW, just so he could set people on fire with more gusto. The match didn’t suck because, well, it wasn’t a match.

-Raven Symone promotes her Make a Wish charity to grant wishes for 50 kids in 50 states. WWE was so touched by the humanity on display, that they totally forgot to send Michelle McCool and Layla out there to call her fat.

-Shawn-Flair highlights to build up this historic match, and Mike Adamle gets Ric’s final thoughts. To Hell with Adamle, we should have Peter Vescey doing interviews. He could ask “So, are you retiring at age 59 because you finally have your finances in order and aren’t evading your taxes anymore?”. It’s a burning question, I think.

-Before we go any further, I’d like to state for the record that I, in fact, don’t have the same level of invested emotion in this match as many other fans do. Those who still love Ric Flair and voted this as match of the year for 2008 over, say, Shawn’s match with Chris Jericho at No Mercy, were free to have done so. However, given that I believe that Flair is a sycophantic lush who blew all of his money and sucks up to his current employer just to keep his remaining assets safe, I could not wait to see Ric go. What follows is a really good match, but I shed no tears over Flair’s departure.

-Anywho, it’s Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels in a match where Flair has to retire if he loses. Former WWE writer Seth Mates was right: they should have done it the opposite way. Have Flair lose to undercard guys like MVP and Kennedy, etc, with the edict being that Flair can’t retire until he WINS a match. In order to go out on top, Flair has to put on the performance of his life against Shawn, whom he tells not to lay down. Flair ends up beating Shawn in a possible classic, and then rides off into the sunset. Works better, I think.

-Technical exchange to start and Flair lands a hip toss, followed by his Flair strut. Flair’s not going down easily. The Internal Revenue Service learned this.

-Hey look, a chop fest between two men that Bret Hart doesn’t like, and they’re doing his least favorite move back and forth. If Bret goes to Hell, this move will be on loop for all eternity.

-Hey look, Flair hit a top rope move. It’s a cross body on Shawn, and cross bodies are played out, but hey. Better late than never for Naitch.

-Then we get a moment that’ll make ya cringe: Shawn attempts a moonsault to the floor with Flair in his path, and Shawn kinda gets em, but also slams his ribcage on the commentary table. It looked a lot worse than it would end up being, but geez. Flair shoulda just pinned him in a shoot and said “Ha ha, Vince still has to pay me! I’m out of debt forever!”. Just because.

-The match seesaws from here, which is fine because you can’t really have a heat segment for this kind of match if Flair’s going out, and I get that. So you have a game of one-upsmanship which I’m sure Michaels and Flair are willing play, since they’re buddies and all.

-Figure Four locked on, but Shawn gets to the ropes. As much as I disliked Flair here, I was enjoying the drama.

-Pinfall reversals and Flair gets a second Figure Four. C’mon, Shawn, tap out, his finances depend on this. Crap, Shawn gets the ropes. Oh well, maybe next time.

-Shawn lands the SCM, but a slow cover gets only a 2. Shawn tries another, but Flair goes low, since it’s one of the few moves he can execute now without giving himself a hernia. I have to admit, dramatic as it is, two years removed it, it’s just looking like any other match.

-Finally, the well known ending, where Shawn gets a second SCM, but is hesitant to cover. Finally, Flair tells him to bring it, and Shawn mouths the “I’m sorry….I love you” comment, before landing the third Sweet Chin Music to win and end Flair’s career. Shawn hugs the unconscious Flair and kisses him in a nice moment, before leaving him to have his spotlight. Flair embraces his kids at ringside, whom are all crying (“Crap, Dad’s going to be home more!”) and Flair leaves to a thunderous ovation. If you love Flair, then this was your Graceland. If you’re like me and you think he’s a scumbag, then it was merely a “really good match”.

-Goodbye, Ric. It’s a shame that we’ll never see you wrestle another match, since you’re a man of your word.

-Edge assures us that tonight, the fans will leave disappointed. Shoulda waited till next year to use that line, Mr. Copeland.

-Snoop Dogg is the guest emcee for the LumberJills Playboy Challenge Gala Thingie-ma-bobber. Beth Phoenix and Melina vs. Maria and Ashley while Mickie James gets to watch from ringside again. Lucky her.

-Mmm….Maryse and Layla dancing up on each other on the way out. Victoria dancing….well, not so much.

-And here’s a highlight: the lights went out during the match. And there’s your highlight. Thanks for taking interest in the match!

-Anyway, Santino Marella interferes on behalf of the heels and Beth pins Maria with her Fisherman’s Buster. Then Snoop takes out Santino and makes out with Maria. When you have 15 women out there and you’re just happy to see Santino Marella, there’s a good chance that WWE didn’t pique your sexual interest properly. Match was lame, as you’d expect.

-Hype for the triple threat WWE Title match. The viewing party was torn: one half hated Cena, the other half hated Triple H. Regardless, we received our Randy Orton Fan Cards in the mail days before, so our allegiance was set.

-Randy Orton vs. Triple H vs. John Cena was indeed next, and Cena’s special entrance is a college marching band playing his theme. I’ll admit, this is probably my favorite of the collection. How would the marching band play a theme like Isaac Yankem’s though?

-Cena tries to end it with the FU early on Orton, but HHH goes low on him to put a stop to that. Then HHH and Orton hit a cross body version of the Doomsday Device on Cena. Well, Hunter hates doing jobs, so that WOULD make him Animal. And they’re both related to Johnny Ace, either by blood or….I’ll just stop right there.

-Orton drops Cena and HHH with a dual rope-assist DDT. I really can’t believe I wasn’t an Orton fan sooner. If you get past his real life aggressive behavior, is there any heel that’s so perfectly slimy like Randy Orton has been? Even Jericho’s too likeable as a weasel. Orton just has the right amount of gusto for his character.

-HHH begins to work Orton’s knee, because the match could use a story other than “three muscleheads beating each other up in shifts”. Good call.

-Orton manages an RKO on Hunter, which knocks him to the outside. Cena gets the STFU on Orton, but Hunter pulls the pile to the ropes. Clever spot. Basically, the match turns into HHH and Cena taking turns wearing Orton out while disrupting the other man’s attempts to win. Makes you forget that Orton has a chance.

-Cena with another STFU on Orton, and Hunter locks Cena in the Voldemort Crossface. There’s a good way to wake the crowd up, imitate a disgraced murderer. Of course, Triple H is the smartest man in the business, you know.

-Hunter avoids the FU and Pedigrees Cena, but Orton comes flying in out of nowhere to Punt Trips’ head into the third row. With Hunter incapacitated, Orton covers Cena to win and to retain the title. It was a really good match, and my friends and I actually marked out like idiots when Orton actually won. And really, isn’t that what matters?

-Hype video for Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather. I believe the original concept for the match, before Rey Mysterio got hurt, was to have Mysterio and Oscar de la Hoya face MVP and Mayweather, which would have been far more interesting. At least, that’s what a couple of outlets revealed, so take it with a grain of salt. Poor Big Show. He’s always the consolation prize that nobody wanted.

-Mayweather’s entourage consists of about 8 large men and a promoter who looks like MVP if MVP went on the Kirstie Alley diet. Those sixty pounds that Show lost during his layoff had to go somewhere, geez.

-What follows is incredibly worked stuff, since Mayweather has to sustain as little damage as possible. Being an active boxer who draws millions of dollars on PPV, it would behoove you to work as light as you can. With the crowd kinda lukewarm on Mayweather, who doesn’t exactly have the most endearing personality, the fans seem lost.

-Show dominates for a few minutes and the entourage tries pulling Mayweather to safety. So Show lays out the crew and brings Mayweather back. Fans still have no idea who the face is here. Neither do I.

-After the crew helps Floyd avoid the chokeslam, Mayweather takes Show down with some chair shots, and then knocks him out with a pair of brass knux. Show cannot answer a ten count, so Mayweather is declared the winner. Weird spectacle of a match that wasn’t boring, but it was just badly booked. At least the Vince-Trump saga from one year earlier had a good story to it, with the characters better defined. This was just there.

-Kim Kardashian announces the attendance at 74,635. That’s also the number of things I’d love to do with her. Oh, don’t give me that look, you’re in the same boat with me.

-Undertaker-Edge highlight package. At this point, it was a bit uncomfortable watching Vickie Guerrero play a heel who was so sickeningly intimate with Edge, given that her husband, a hero to many, had just died two years before. At the same time, I feel like WWE has to go over the line when trying to get heels over, because there’s too many heels like Jericho, Punk, and others who the fans cheer and admire so much that it’s hard to get the vehement hatred that they desire. So, on the one hand, I understand using Vickie to cement Edge as a heel that you hate with all your heart. On the other hand, just….ugh.

-It’s funny how Teddy Long keeps getting reduced to minor roles, like “guy who pushes Vickie’s wheelchair”, when he’s possibly one of the top two or three most charismatic authority figures that WWE’s ever had. Between doing menial tasks, making weird deals (MVP’s contract when he debuted, for one), and relying on The Undertaker to be his main enforcer, has any authority figure been as misused as Teddy?

-I’m done being a bitterhead, I swear.

-Stand up brawl to kick things off, with Taker getting the better of it. There’s a good litmus test for main eventers. If you can’t have a decent brawl with Undertaker, then you’re probably not going to make it far in the company. Just saying.

-Taker tumbles to the outside after hitting a running knee into the corner, and the tide turns. Edge goes outside and slams Taker into the apron. Inside, Edge lands a beautiful neckbreaker, and the Dead Man falls back to the floor. Good build so far, but they have their work cut out for them after the Mayweather-Show debacle.

-Edge is knocked off the buckles, and Taker lands his super dive onto him. Finally, the fans are coming around.

-Meanwhile, Taker can’t hit the Last Ride due to back pains, and Edge takes him outside, slamming him into the rail with a back suplex. Even then, I don’t think any of us thought the streak was in jeopardy, even though Edge is that good of a heel.

-Edge works the leg to little avail, and Taker comes out of it with Snake Eyes, but runs into a dropkick on the rebound strike attempt. Taker tries a chokeslam, but Edge lands the Edgecution for 2. The two take turns countering moves, and it ends with Taker attempting Old School, only to get crotched. Edge lands a superplex for another 2 count. Good stuff.

-How often does someone outright kick out of the Last Ride? Edge just did. Then the champion counters the Tombstone attempt with the Edge-o-matic for 2. Nope. Still not buying the streak being in jeopardy.

-Taker misses a big boot attempt and takes out the ref. I’ll bet there’s going to be run-ins and/or chicanery. What do you think?

-Sure enough, Taker lands the Tombstone with no referee, and here comes Charles Robinson sprinting 165 MPH to the ring, but it’s only a 2 count. THAT was awesome.

-The Edgeheads of Curt Hawkins and Zack “WOO WOO WOO” Ryder hit the ring, but Taker takes them out easily. However, Edge manages a couple of Spears, but soon falls victim to Hell’s Gate, and submits after a struggle to give Taker his sixth World Title. Really good match, but the Smackdown matches seem to suffer compared to Raw in terms of telling the story, since Monday night is the “wrestling night”. I barely remembered the issue between the two men and I follow wrestling very closely. Even then, I still think the match was better quality than Michaels/Flair.

-Chili Peppers, Rev Theory, play us out.

-CYNIC SAYS: Kind of a weird show, but it wasn’t terrible. You had 4 matches to hang your hat on, but there was a share of crap as well. Finlay and JBL was the only “middle ground” match, so other than that, either it was really good, or it was really bad.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WrestleMania XXIV: A Portrait in Wrestling History

March 31, 2014 By: Category: Boxing, Sports, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WRESTLEMANIA XXIV
From The Orange Bowl in Orlando, FL
March 30, 2008

BACKGROUND
WWE as we knew it changed forever in the early summer of 2007. At that time, the company received some of its most extensive media attention to date, although it was for regrettable and horrifying reasons.

The story, which bears no necessity to rehash fully, sees Chris Benoit murder his wife Nancy and seven-year-old son Daniel, before hanging himself on a warm Georgia weekend. Accusations of “roid rage” ping-ponged through media circles, while television commentators asked empty questions about a serious story.

While Benoit’s catalyst for ultimately snapping is likely an undetermined combo of diminished mental capacity (due to years of hard landings and impacts in wrestling), a failing marriage, and a disconnect from life and faith after losing several friends at young ages (particularly Eddie Guerrero), steroids became the hot topic.

After some probing into his life, and his death, Benoit was found to have been received shipments of steroids and other drugs from an online company called Signature Pharmacy. By the end of the summer of 2007, a whole host of WWE superstars would receive suspensions for having their names linked to the pharmacy, including Edge, John Morrison, Umaga, Booker T, among others. Soon-to-be World Champion Randy Orton was reportedly on the list wasn’t punished. Batista and Rey Mysterio were both also linked to the company, but were never formally accused of association.

Gradually, as the scent of Benoit dissipated from WWE’s climate, the company began to alter their avatar, painting over the low-brow, violent, overly sexual image with, well, low-brow, family friendly colors.

Blood would disappear from WWE almost entirely, as would weapon shots to the cranium. The divas began to wear more clothing, in addition.

WWE was attempting to return to “family entertainment” at a time when they needed a safe place to rebury their roots.

THE EVENT
Randy Orton had reigned as WWE Champion since October 7, 2007, after John Cena’s year long reign ended after he tore his pectoral muscle. Orton was handed the title at No Mercy, lost it immediately to Triple H, and then won it back at night’s end.

Cena, who was due to be out anywhere from six months to a year, was back in four. To the complete surprise of onlookers at Madison Square Garden, John Cena entered the 2008 Royal Rumble last and eliminated Triple H to advance to WrestleMania.

But what if he didn’t want to wait that long?

In an interesting move, Cena chose to cash in his title shot against Orton at No Way Out, six weeks before the big dance. Cena would win the match, however, he won by disqualification, meaning that Orton had outsmarted the challenger, making him blow his earned opportunity.

Triple H, meanwhile, had won a #1 contender’s Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out, getting a shot at Orton at WrestleMania. Cena managed to defeat Orton the next night on Raw in a non-title match with “The Game” as referee, to make the match a triple threat match.

The three men would then spend several weeks booking his opponents in difficult situations, as the three attempted to wear each other down before March 30.

Over on the blue brand, however, Edge was reigning supreme as World Heavyweight Champion after shacking up with Smackdown’s interim GM, Vickie Guerrero. With Vickie now in his hip pocket (among other places), Edge had also amassed a small army, consisting of Vickie’s nephew Chavo Guerrero, as well as Edge’s own wannabe doppelgangers Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder.

However, The Undertaker won Smackdown’s Elimination Chamber at No Way Out, and had revenge on his mind. Edge had cashed in a Money in the Bank privilege in May 2007 to injure Undertaker and take the World Heavyweight Title. Edge had also cost “The Dead Man” the championship at Survivor Series, so Undertaker now had a road toward revenge already paved.

Among the other marquee showdowns, Ric Flair was embroiled in an angle where he would have to retire if he lost one more match. After staving off the likes of Mr. Kennedy and MVP, Flair wanted a true test. He challenged Shawn Michaels to a match under WrestleMania’s bright lights, believing that if he couldn’t beat one of the all-time greats, then he should, indeed, walk away. After some hesitation, Michaels agreed to the match, which had both historical implications, as well as consequences.

In an attempt to add mainstream attention to an already stacked show, WWE brought in undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. to face Big Show in a no holds barred match. Mayweather had broken Show’s nose with a jab combo at No Way Out, setting the stage for their WrestleMania confrontation.

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Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler called the action for Raw, Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman handled Smackdown, and Joey Styles and Tazz would perform duties for ECW. Socialite Kim Kardashian served as the show’s “guest hostess”, while Snoop Dogg appeared during a divas’ tag team match. Singer John Legend performed “America the Beautiful”. The WWE Hall of Fame inducted Ric Flair, Rocky Johnson, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, Mae Young, Jack and Gerald Brisco, Gordon Solie, and Eddie Graham.

THE RESULTS
Belfast Brawl: JBL def. Finlay in 8:35
(I’d share with you the saga of how Hornswoggle was Vince McMahon’s son, until JBL revealed it was a ruse and he was actually Finlay’s son and how JBL attacked Hornswoggle in a hospital and…well here, lemme bash you with this 2X4 so you’re not cross-eyed anymore)

Money in the Bank: CM Punk def. Chris Jericho, MVP, Mr. Kennedy, Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, and John Morrison in 13:55
(Somewhat disappointing given the talent level involved, but still a really good match. Shelton’s free fall through the bridged ladder prompted a legit look of horror from Carlito. Jeff Hardy was supposed to be in this match but, well, you can probably guess what happened)

Inter-Brand Challenge: Batista def. Umaga in 7:06
(What’s funnier: the fact that Batista was booed out of the stadium and botched the finish, or that these two were relegated to a forgotten “battle for brand supremacy”?)

ECW Championship: Kane def. Chavo Guerrero in 12 seconds to win the title
(E-C-DUB! E-C-DUB! No wonder Joey Styles quit commentary)

Career Threatening Match: Shawn Michaels def. Ric Flair in 20:23
(Here’s the deal: it was a pretty good match, but, in my opinion, it’s nowhere near as great as everyone makes it out to be. Overzealous fans were hailing this as a magnum opus, but Ric Flair blew more big moments than the ’86 Red Sox in this match. Flair should have stayed retired, but it was clear at points in this match that Michaels was carrying him. When Flair needs to be carried, it’s over)

Lumberjill Match: Beth Phoenix/Melina def. Maria/Ashley in 5:56
(The bad news is that Maria decided to ditch her general cute look and try for some oversexed Manga-esque appearance from here on out. The good news is Ashley wouldn’t be around much longer)

WWE Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton def. Triple H and John Cena in 14:09
(The crowd reaction when Orton wins is a sound to behold. I had this long-standing theory that Cena’s “pec injury” in 2007 was actually a quiet suspension for a wellness violation, because in 2008, he was embarrassed so many times on pay per view, jobbing here, jobbing to JBL, jobbing to Batista, etc. It wouldn’t be until November that he would see the title again)

No Holds Barred: Floyd Mayweather def. Big Show in 11:36
(If you can figure out what this match was supposed to accomplish, you’re a better man than me. Best I can tell is that it was a way to humiliate Show again. Which I’m okay with)

World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker def. Edge in 23:50 to win the title
(Best match of the night, which is overshadowed by Flair’s retirement, and the fact that Smackdown seems to get little or no respect compared to the events on Raw. Compared to now, when Undertaker’s broken down, and Edge is starting to get there, this match is a near masterpiece)

ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
I’ll say one thing about WWE: they’re lucky to have the roster of competent, experienced, and instinctive wrestlers that they have, because their efforts in making a show great often bail out horrible writing and uninspired storylines.

Going into this event, you had angles involving a leprechaun offspring, a champion courting a real-life widow for title opportunities, a giant facing an unlikeable boxer with an annoying posse, and a meandering angle involving three men fighting for a world championship, in which the two babyfaces involved are stale and, at that point, largely disliked by strong portions of the audience.

But, at least, you had Michaels and Flair. Do I think the match is overrated? I do, but I do enjoy what it symbolized. The ending, in which Michaels had to search his soul before trying to finish Flair, with Flair egging him on, telling him not to let up, before Shawn’s famous “I’m sorry, I love you” declaration, followed by the kick and pin, will be burned into the annals of WrestleMania history.

If only Flair had stayed retired. A tearful “Nature Boy”, embracing his wife and kids, walking out to a thunderous ovation, was the proper ending.

If only.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WWE Flashback – Floyd Mayweather Wins At WrestleMania 24

March 31, 2014 By: Category: Boxing, Sports, WWE | Pro Wrestling

After all of the talking, all of the hype, and all of the promotion, it was finally time for Floyd Mayweather to wrestle at WrestleMania 24. Not only did Floyd win his first-ever professional wrestling match, but the pro boxing great may have stolen the show.

WrestleMania 24 saw titles change hands, a legend retired, and one of the greatest entertainers in all of sports captivate a new audience in a different kind of ring. The glitz and glamour of WrestleMania 24 drew an estimated crowd of 74,635 people to watch the greatest show in all of sports entertainment.

This show was built around the debut of boxing great Floyd “Money” Mayweather with Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair playing the role of supporting act. Mayweather and the Big Show had an exciting confrontation at No Way Out which saw “Money” drop the big man. After the turn of events at No Way Out, Mayweather agreed to wrestle the 7 foot, 441 pound former WWE, WCW, and ECW world champion, the Big Show.

The storyline seemed to change week by week for the match. One week it was Floyd the hero. The next week it was Floyd the villain. The following week it was Big Show and the WWE against Floyd Mayweather. The only constant was that after all of the promotions and angles ended that these two athletes would have to wrestle.

The atmosphere surrounding the match was pure WrestleMania. The match started out similar to the infamous Rocky vs. Hulk Hogan sequence in Rocky III with Show charging and Mayweather running away. The cat and mouse story continued until Mayweather connected with body shots to Show. The fun and games seemed to be over once the cat caught the mouse with the loudest chops in the world.

Big Show finally cornered Mayweather and brutalized the WBC welterweight champ with punches and chops. Mayweather attempted a sleeper to counter the attack which was fruitless against the 440 pound wrestler. As silly as a match between two guys of varying sizes sounded on paper, this one looked as credible as it could get as the match continued.

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The finishing sequence was quite a spectacle. Mayweather’s handlers unsuccessfully tried to rescue Mayweather from the onslaught. Show destroyed Mayweather’s handlers en route to a side slam. Show stood on Mayweather’s hands as the 74,000 plus WWE fans went crazy. The end looked near for the boxing great, but as anyone knows the tide can change quickly at WrestleMania.

Show attempted to finish off Mayweather with a choke slam before Mayweather went “downtown” and regained control of the match. Mayweather proceeded to use a chair and chop down the giant with three massive shots with the steel chair. Mayweather now had the giant in trouble. Mayweather was on offense for the first time since his attempt at a sleeper hold.

Mayweather grabbed a chain off of one of his handlers which had brass knuckles on it. Mayweather wrapped the knuckles around his own knuckles and nailed Big Show. Show went down like a ton of bricks and the crowd went nuts. Show couldn’t answer the count and Mayweather gets the win at WrestleMania 24.

Full WrestleMania 24 results:
Undertaker defeated Edge for the WWE World title
Randy Orton pinned John Cena to retain the WWE title against Cena and Triple H
Shawn Michaels pinned Ric Flair, thus ending the career of the Nature Boy
CM Punk won the Money in the Bank match
Kane won a battle royal and subsequently defeated Chavo Guerrero for the ECW title
Batista defeated Umaga
JBL defeated Finlay in the Belfast Brawl
Beth Phoenix and Melina defeated Maria and Ashley Massaro in the Bunnymania Lumberjill Match

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Gina Carano Vs. Ronda Rousey UFC Rumors Continue To Swirl

March 21, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

What does the UFC do when they have run out of opponents for their superstar? Well they go back in time and bring back a star from the past of course. According to reports Ronda Rousey may be in for a big payday and an easy fight.

Dave Meltzer on the Wrestling Observer newsletter and MMAFighting.com reports that the UFC and Gina Carano are talking. The reports indicate that both sides are talking about a potential mega fight between Rousey and Carano this summer. The fight is not signed nor is there any indication that it is a done deal.

Rumors started heating up after UFC color commentator Joe Rogan teased a big announcement regarding Rousey’s next fight a few weeks back.

You might actually know, but I can’t tell you. I can say no more than I’ve already said. I will tell you this, and this is a KROQ exclusive, within the next probably week or so a huge announcement will come about women’s fighting and I’ll be back in [the studio] and we’ll talk some more. It’s going to be crazy. Madness. I wish I could [talk about it now], but I would betray the confidence of my friend and employer.

The UFC were in negotiations recently with undefeated boxing champion turned MMA fighter Holly Holm about a fight with Rousey. Holm’s management met recently with the UFC about a fight with Rousey. Those negotiations did not end well with Holm’s team wanting Rousey money and the UFC no longer interested in Holm.

The idea of the UFC billing a fight between Carano and Rousey as anything but a mismatch is a joke. Carano hasn’t fought in years and was brutalized in her last fight against Cyborg Santos (now Justino). This is the exact con the UFC perpetrated when they brought back Royce Gracie to fight Matt Hughes. We all know how that fight played out. I can’t see anything other than a repeat performance from the UFC champion here.

MMA analysts are hyped up on this fight predicting big numbers. I am not so sure that the number would be nearly as big as some are predicting. Carano was good but she was a novelty in Strikeforce. She also isn’t bringing in a “world’s greatest” reputation like Gracie brought into the Hughes fight. Plus, Carano isn’t a trash talker, Rousey respects Carano, thus there will be no trash talk to stir interest. I don’t think anyone thinks this will be competitive. I think it is pie in the sky to think that this will draw a million buys in 2014 without some kind of grudge.

The UFC has a problem on its hands with Rousey. She is in her prime as a draw and they have no opponents ready for her to do business with. Sure there is Cat Zingano and Alexis Davis but they aren’t rivals like Miesha Tate and Cristiane Cyborg Justino. They need to take advantage of her star power and the only way to do that is with a grudge fight.

Which brings me back to Justino. Rousey and the UFC continue to blow off the idea of Rousey moving up to 140 to fight Justino. I have believed all along that the UFC is deathly afraid of this fight because they know Rousey will get brutalized. There is no other explanation for the support Dana White has offered Rousey in not taking a big money fight. Rousey did herself no favors in my mind when she said she would move up to 140 to fight Carano. How the UFC can continue to back her up with a straight face is a mystery to me.

Unfortunately for MMA fans I don’t think you will get the Carano vs. Rousey fight. She has already been announced for a new movie to begin production next year according to IMDB.com. I can’t imagine a scenario where a producer would allow her time off to get her face beaten up before a big movie. All roads will eventually lead back to Cyborg and until they do, Rousey’s drawing power will continue to be underutilized by the UFC.

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WrestleMania XI: A Portrait in Wrestling History

March 18, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WRESTLEMANIA XI
From The Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, CT
April 2, 1995

BACKGROUND
Three years after raking in over 60,000 fans to nearly fill a domed stadium, the WWF experienced the ignominy of putting their biggest show of the year on display in a shopping mall.

Imagine, shunted in between your local Best Buy and Bed, Bath, and Beyond is a moderately sized civic center, and that building is housing the eleventh annual WWF WrestleMania, in the middle of one of the smallest states in America.

Coming down from the enthralling and hallowed Madison Square Garden of one year prior, perhaps Vince McMahon was better off holding WrestleMania in an actual garden.

Despite dodging a bullet in July of 1994 by being acquitted on charges of steroid distribution, Vince McMahon was still reeling. Toymaker Hasbro pulled their licensing out, declaring the WWF a “dead brand”. The stench of illicit happenings in the World Wrestling Federation was enough to gag a large number of fans into turning away from the product. Those that stayed were treated to the rise of wrestling’s most cartoonish circus atmosphere to date, with silly storylines and nonsensical characters (garbage men, race car drivers, pig farmers, etc).

Attendance waned at television tapings and house shows. Pay per view buyrates were largely sliding. In 1994, the WWF began the still-running tradition of having sponsors for pay per views (Dominos Pizza would be the first for Summerslam ’94).

To top it all off, McMahon watched Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage both defect to WCW and bring mainstream attention to Ted Turner’s “rasslin’” company. McMahon tried celebrity tie-ins to shuttle fans into his product, such as Leslie Nielsen, Chuck Norris, and senile NFL great Art Donovan, but to little avail.

However, at the 1995 Royal Rumble, two celebrities would become intertwined with WrestleMania XI, and it would help save the day.

THE EVENT
Shawn Michaels, long considered to be on the fast track to stardom after his stellar performance in the ladder match at WrestleMania X, won the 1995 Royal Rumble match from the #1 position. Lasting around forty minutes in the fastest Rumble match in history (just one minute intervals), Michaels survived all the way to the end of the match with the #2 entrant, Davey Boy Smith. After a false elimination that gave impression to the British Bulldog’s victory, Michaels snuck back into the ring (with only one foot having touched the floor), and deposited Smith over the top.

Shawn Michaels would be facing his former bodyguard, Diesel, for the WWF Championship. The two men went their separate ways after Survivor Series 1994, when Michaels inadvertently superkicked Diesel for the third time in three months.

Diesel, three days later, won said WWF Championship by defeating Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden in just eight seconds. Diesel survived a title defense against Bret Hart at the 1995 Royal Rumble, wherein five different men (Michaels included) interfered.

Michaels was convinced that he had created the monster of “Big Daddy Cool”, and was equally convinced that he could break him as well. In Diesel’s mold, Shawn Michaels brought in Sid Vicious, now simply known as Sid, to be his new bodyguard, and to convince the world that Diesel was as replaceable as anyone.

In addition to winning the Royal Rumble match, Michaels won the opportunity to be accompanied to the ring by Baywatch sensation Pamela Anderson. In 1995, Anderson was at the apex of her fame, starring on a syndicated show that was watched worldwide, and it catapulted her into permanent stardom. Getting Baywatch’s own CJ Parker was a coup for the WWF, and would certainly turn some relatively positive attention toward the big event.

But Anderson wasn’t the only star who was tied in with that year’s Royal Rumble. Sitting front row at ringside to the January spectacular was future NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. The fearsome linebacker was seated with friends, taking in the action, when he suddenly became a part of the show.

Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka had failed in their bid to become WWF World Tag Team Champions, and it was Bigelow’s clumsiness that was the difference maker. As the “Beast From the East” seethed in loss, he stomped around ringside on the verge of a tantrum. That’s when he caught “LT” giggling, and Bigelow perceived his merriment to be a slight against his manhood.

Bigelow confronted Taylor, who seemed keen on playing peacemaker. Taylor’s good natured attitude fell on deaf ears, as Bigelow shoved Taylor over a row of chairs, creating a new hot button story.

In WWF vernacular, Bigelow was suspended for thirty days for touching a spectator, but before long, the two men were signed to meet at WrestleMania in the main event.

Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler handled commentary duties for the second straight year, while Jim Ross provided post-match interviews from the aisleway. Special Olympian Kathy Huey sang “America the Beautiful”, while Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Nicholas Tuturro, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas were on hand as window dressing for the World Title match. Lawrence Taylor had with him an entourage of NFL defensive greats, including the likes of Reggie White and future Horseman Steve McMichael.

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THE RESULTS
The Allied Powers def. Eli and Jacob Blu in 6:34
(Lex Luger was in the World Title match one year earlier. The British Bulldog was the runner up in the Royal Rumble. The best thing you can do is give them the no-sell twins? Unusual opener)

WWF Intercontinental: Razor Ramon def. Jeff Jarrett by disqualification in 13:32
(Solid match, made interesting with future DX members 123 Kid and The Roadie serving as seconds. Historians may note that Kid performed what may be the first televised crotch chop in wrestling history. BREAK IT DOWN!)

The Undertaker def. King Kong Bundy in 6:36
(That’s four. Undertaker’s urn would be stolen, mid-match, by Kama, who apparently melted it down into a necklace fit for the jivest of pimps. Hmmm)

WWF World Tag Team: Owen Hart/Yokozuna def. The Smoking Gunns in 9:42 to win the titles
(Wanna hear something awesome? Watch this match, and listen to the crowd reaction when Owen pins Billy Gunn and gets his first piece of gold in the WWF. Owen’s celebration seems to be at least half legitimate, and it makes you happy for a deserving man)

I Quit Match: Bret Hart def. Bob Backlund in 9:34
(A far cry from their classic at the 1994 Survivor Series. With Rowdy Roddy Piper as referee, the match seemed to be little more than rushed comic filler, and that’s no use for either Hart or Backlund. Bret called it his worst PPV match in his WWF tenure, and for good reason)

WWF World Heavyweight: Diesel def. Shawn Michaels in 20:35
(Really good match. Michaels ended up being escorted by Jenny McCarthy, while Diesel arrived with Anderson, who was, in character, repulsed by Shawn’s ego. Of course, she married the likes of Tommy Lee and Kid Rock. To paraphrase Jeffrey Ross, keeping it cleaner, doesn’t she screw anyone with talent?)

Lawrence Taylor def. Bam Bam Bigelow in 11:42
(The best celebrity match in wrestling history. Bigelow could take a beating, and Taylor obliged with wicked forearms, hard slams, and even sold admirably for Bigelow. The highlight was Vince McMahon’s ring introductions for both men’s entourages, doing his best pre-game PA announcer impression)

ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
WrestleMania XI was premised as a two match show, and both matches were loaded with outsiders and celebrities in order to entice casual buys. With a lot of wrestling fans either turning to WCW or ECW, or tuning out altogether, at the time, Vince McMahon had to try and grasp as much of a new audience as possible, and thus resorted to these means.

The most telling image of the show was in the post-match of Diesel vs. Michaels. When Diesel won, he stood in the ring with his arms raised, celebrating with Anderson, McCarthy, Thomas, and Tuturro, in an attempt to achieve some kind, any kind, of rub. Diesel’s World Title reign had been lukewarm thus far, and his match with Shawn would basically be the peak.

Late in the match, the crowd was booing Diesel’s forced “fist pumping” gestures (to insinuate that he was loading up on ‘Diesel Power’), and it was clear that making Kevin Nash into a Hogan clone was failing miserably.

McMahon couldn’t have forced Diesel down the fans throats any harder, even if he’d used a plunger. But the image of Diesel celebrating, flanked by pseudo-stars, still left a foul taste in our mouths.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WrestleMania XI: Help Me, Lawrence-Wan

March 18, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports, WWE | Pro Wrestling

-So we come upon an interesting show: one that is generally panned as one of the weaker entries in the annals of WrestleMania history, yet is also considered a show that helped save the WWF. On April 2, 1995, WrestleMania emanated inside a shopping complex at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, CT. The WWE at this point was in shambles, due largely to a stale and cartoony product. WCW was picking up steam due to the acquisitions of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, and would soon be knocking on Vince McMahon’s door with Monday Nitro. What to do?

-You bring in a retired all-pro linebacker, that’s what you do. But hey, we have time to get back to that. On with the show!

-Here to sing the national anthem, Kathy Huey who is a Special Olympian. She actually does a good job, given her condition, and it makes me feel good to see that sometimes Vince McMahon can show some sensitivity and compassion.

-Our hosts are Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler, with Jim Ross doing post match interviews in the aisleway. It should be noted that Ross did most of the interviews while shrouded in darkness, so that we couldn’t see the aftermath of his bout with Bell’s Palsy.

-Please don’t try and tie the last two thoughts together; I won’t be held responsible for your anguish.

-Hey, remember last year when Bret and Owen Hart kicked things off with a stellar match? This time it’s….The Allied Powers and the Blu Brothers. Because, you know, incredible opening matches are just SO 1994! The Blus have Uncle Zebekiah with him, who is Dutch Mantell. Could Dutch come up with an opener this bad when he worked in TNA? I believe he could.

-The Powers, for the unaware, are Lex Luger and Davey Boy Smith. Wow, Lex is opening? In a perfect world, sure, but I just never thought I’d see the day.

-The match is nothing more than a six minute exhibition to show the world that yes, Luger and Bulldog have plenty of power moves and that, yes, Luger can be forced to jerk the curtain. So I kind of half got what I wanted.

-I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Vince referenced the Battle of Normandy during the ring intros for some reason. That was the basis for the 1998 Tom Hanks Movie “Saving Jobber Luger”.

-Bulldog gets Jacob Blu with a top rope sunset flip for the pin. No one ever noticed that Jacob and Eli Blu was similar to Jake and Elwood Blues. Slick could have managed them in the Cab Calloway role. They’re on a mission from God….to completely suck.

-JR, the Phantom of the BBQ, interviews Zeb in the aisle, but the production on this show is so shoddy, you can’t make anything out. Bret vs. Owen ain’t got spit on this, kids.

-Nicholas Turturro of NYPD Blue tries to do an interview backstage, but the production woes continue. If that was his brother John holding the mic, everything woulda been smoother. Why hasn’t WWE had a character like Jesus Quintana? I already know what his catchphrase would be, but Eric’s never going to print it. So just look it up.

-123 Kid and Razor Ramon try an interview, but the production is bad there as well. Did Vince have to give a large up front fee to one of the celebs and it detracted from the show’s production? Just how much WAS Steve McMichael holding out for?

-Next up, we have Razor Ramon and Jeff Jarrett for the IC Title. Jarrett, the champ, is seconded by The Roadie, who was not quite fat yet. Razor has Kid, who is wearing something out of the Royce Gracie Ladies collection. Seriously, if Kid didn’t have a slight five o’clock shadow, he looks like Alanis Morissette dressed as a ninja.

-Quick shout out to Wrestlecrap.com forum member Jazzman, who is really big on Miles Davis and lives in New York. He won a mention just by responding to one of my posts. That’s right, I’m so bored with this show already that I’m giving out space to random strangers. I feel like Vince when he hires the guest hosts for Raw. “TIMBA-WHO?”

-Razor attacks, because he’s sneaky, and goes to town on Jarrett, who at the time was basically a heatless champion with a nasally hick voice that leeched off of a 1970′s heel act and seemed overly dated. Nowadays he….umm….yeah.

-Roadie helps Jarrett cheat and get to safety at various points. You know, The Road Dogg never gets his due. Yeah, he got lazy in the ring in later years, but he made bland talents like Jarrett and Billy Gunn look exceptional with his timing, natural ability, quick wit, and penchant for working the crowd. When DX was him, Gunn, X-Pac, and HHH, it was Dogg that had the most charisma. Shame that drugs dragged him down, because if he had a better look, he’d have easily been a main eventer. Oh, you didn’t know?

-Jarrett tries to take a walk after Roadie saves him from a Razor’s Edge, but is scared back to the ring by the Kid. What was Kid gonna do, sing “You Oughta Know”?

-Good seesaw battle, as at this point, Scott Hall was a damn fine worker for a man his size. I always liked his matches with Jarrett, because Hall could bring the charisma and timing, and Jarrett would do the basic legwork, and it evened out.l Kudos to both.

-Things begin to drag late in the match, when both men knock each other out on a couple of occasions. Way to bring it for the biggest show of the year.

-Jarrett manages to get the Figure Four, but Razor reverses. Soon, Razor goes into his finishing sequence, but Roadie clips him on the Edge attempt for the cheap DQ. Kid runs in to even things out and busts out a couple of pre-DX crotch chops. Awesome. Know what’s the opposite of awesome? All four of these men were in TNA in 2002, working in the main angle that ended one of the weekly PPV’s. It would have happened sooner, but Dogg was still under house arrest for his drug probation. Good thing TNA learned their lesson and stopped using drugged-out has beens.

-Meanwhile, Turturro catches up with Shawn and Sid as he does his best to try and find Pamela Anderson. Did he check the men’s room stall? I think his career was floating in the commode. Also, Sid screams and Jenny McCarthy covers her ears. Fun Jenny McCarthy fact: if you refuse to give her attention, she pouts and yells “MY KID HAS AUTISM!”. What a whiner.

-At ringside, former Chicago Bear Neil Anderson has a chance to kill Todd Pettengill and doesn’t take it. This makes Justin sad.

-Up next, Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy in a match over a stolen urn. Screw People’s Court, the ring is the best place to settle petty crime. Vince takes a moment to mention that Taker is undefeated at Mania. Hmmm….

-Your referee for this match: Striking baseball umpire Larry Young. He will face the CEO of Caesars in the finals for “least important WrestleMania celebrity ever”

-Bundy’s staggering through this match. I like the guy, but this was definitely a weird person to make a comeback, considering he didn’t have his 1980′s mobility. Undertaker gets bored with trying to have a passable match, steals the urn back from Ted Dibiase at ringside, and hands it to an overjoyed Paul Bearer. If the urn was a missing child, Bearer the kid’s dad, and Bearer acted that happy to see him again with that facial expression, I think I’d call Chris Hansen next.

-Kama comes to ringside and steals the urn, either to put a curse on it or give it as a gift to one of his escorts. The advantage of having multiple gimmicks. Next up on Schizo Wrestler Happy Hour: Glen Jacobs pulls a kid’s tooth, sets it on fire, and then says “Wanna see how I look in leather chaps?”.

-To further distract us from the thrillingly slow paced match, Quasi-Rosso interviews Kama, who promises to melt the urn down and make a chain out of it. There’s an idea for WWE films: melting a mystical urn and it creates a curse! Like whoever wears it will forget all but three moves.

-Taker ends it with a flying clothesline to improve to 4-0. His record in Mania matches that are actually good is still 0-0.

-Pamela Anderson is missing! So is Jimmy Hoffa, but I don’t see Nick Turturro looking all disheartened over that.

-MONGO! Wow, this show had the two best Horsemen ever: Mongo and Sid. Sid has half the brain you do and Mongo has twice the charisma of Paul Roma. All we need is Ole and Benoit and my dream stable is set.

-Meanwhile, Bob Backlund plays chess with a tentative looking Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Why’s he so nervous looking? Did Terry Garvin whisper something into his ear?

-Now for something with a bit more meat to it: The Smoking Gunns defend the tag straps against Owen Hart and a mystery partner, who is the returning Yokozuna. Speaking of meat, MAN Yoko got fatter during the layoff. He’s a blonde rug away from looking like Tammy Sytch. Owen picked Yoko for the simple reason that he’s beaten Bret. I love that little character touch that makes Owen look so petty. Basically, he’s just playing the role of his brother Bruce, who was watching with a beer in one hand while muttering “If only I were 6’2, if only I were 6’2….”

-The basic story is that when Owen’s in, the Gunns beat the hell out of him, but when he tags Yoko, the big man dominates. Basically, it’s Jeri-Show, V1. The Gunns were a decent team, but it was 1995 and nobody was taking cowboys seriously anymore. This was the first time I ever cheered for Yoko, as I just wanted Owen to have a belt. I don’t even care if he beat Alundra for the Women’s Title. I would have supported his decision.

-The Gunns manage to hit the Sidewinder, but the ref counts slow for some reason and Owen kicks out. See? Even the ref thinks that Owen deserves a belt more than Billy “Screaming means Selling!” Gunn.

-Wait, THAT’S why the ref slowed the count: he couldn’t end it until Yoko came in and applied a nervehold! That’s like ending one of Rock’s matches before he can do the People’s Elbow. All the pros have to get their moves in, man! It’s just how wrestling works!

-After Bart takes a header to the floor, Yoko CRUSHES Billy with a belly to belly and then lands the Banzai drop to an INCREDIBLE pop. Yoko tags Owen and you can hear the fans buzzing. Owen was just so fun to watch that even though he was a bitter heel, the fans wanted to see him compensated in some way. Sure enough, he pins dead Billy to get his first taste of WWF gold. He celebrates with both belts like a maniac in a truly priceless moment.

-Lawler says that Cornette exclaimed “Michael Jordan AND Yokozuna are back”. Well, except these days, you still hear rumors that Jordan’s mulling another comeback. Yoko? Not so much.

-Pettengill goes to interview Bam Bam Bigelow and the production snafus continue. This is like the production value on the set of an amateur porn. Umm, not that I would know how that goes….

-Up next is an I Quit match, where the loser must say “I QUIT” over the microphone. Quick time out to mention #11 for Mr. Howard Finkel. You go Howie.

-Rowdy Roddy Piper is the guest referee for this grudge match between Bob Backlund and Bret Hart, which Bret had the audacity to call the worst PPV match of his career. Concussions seem to have made him forget War Games 1998 but screw it, it’s Bret’s book.

-The match starts out as one would expect, with some back and forth feeling out, followed by frenzied attempts to get a submission from one another. Although the two men have a certain level of gravitas built up over their feud, Piper kills the mood by yelling “WHADDYASAY?!” over the mic during the submission attempts. Piper’s going to make a great homeless guy that hands out pamphlets one day, I can just feel it.

-Bret’s not comfortable at all, and Piper’s throwing him completely off his rhythm. Funny moment as Lawler tries to bring up the fact that Bret beat somebody kinda important at WrestleMania 8, and goads Vince into guessing who. Vince guesses the British Bulldog, and Lawler is flabbergasted. Way to play dumb, Vince. Just for a goof, Lawler should ask Michael Cole who Randy Orton beat for his first World Title.

-Bret locks Backlund in a Figure Four and Piper’s weird motions prompt Lawler to ask if he’s hitting Backlund with the mic. Piper hauling off and beating a man with a microphone is funny, regardless of the context. Also, Lawler insults the French commentators for being ugly. Notice how bored I am? I’m bored.

-Backlund begins to work the arm, setting up for his crossface chicken wing. Crowd is just enthralled I tells ya. Fortunately, Bret doesn’t want to keep his rat waiting, so he reverses Backlund’s chicken wing attempt into one of his own for the submission win. Remember how Bob was supposed to say “I QUIT?”. He just simply said “YEAH!” instead. What a gaffe by Backlund. Maybe he was in charge of the production staff for this show?

-Backlund says he saw the light. Then he was hit by the train. Stupid train.

-Pamela Anderson is missing, so the sympathetic WWF does the right thing and….pairs Jenny McCarthy with Shawn instead? Because, you know, if someone’s inexplicably missing, they just replace them instead of being worried. Tonight, Jenny McCarthy gets to play Johnny Nitro to Shawn’s CM Punk, then.

-Technical difficulties during a Diesel promo. This is as opposed to Diesel’s NORMAL difficulties, which include tearing his quad while running on a canvas.

-So the celebrity roll for the World Title match: Not-John Turturro (ring announcer), JTT as the kids called em (timekeeper), Jenny Mcarthy (Shawn’s broad) and….Pamela Anderson (Diesel’s broad). Pamela looks gorgeous as she always did in this time period, but is so bored to be here. You know, because Baywatch is so much more dignified and classy.

-Diesel beats down Shawn Michaels before the bell, with his song still playing, and then poses for the pyro with CJ Parker. I love when they make the heels look like dipwads in big situations. You know you’re in a “kid friendly” era when the heels look dumber than Batman villain sidekicks. Speaking of which, does anyone else think Cody Rhodes and Burt Ward are related?

-Shawn takes another header to the floor and a cameraman gets wiped out. Did I mention there’s like 50 cameramen there at ringside? It’s like the queue outside Spago when Kim Kardashian goes out to dinner.

-Now for a fun spot, as Shawn tries to slide between Diesel’s legs and gets double goozled, lifted, and dropped onto the top rope for the classic crotch-the-villain spot. Some things never get old. There must be a law of wrestling that states that no babyface must do the horsey-ride-on-the-top rope spot ever.

-Shawn decides “Screw this, I’m stealing the show again”, and performs the super reverse cross body off the top onto the floor on Diesel. Damn, I was hoping he’d wipe out a few more paparazzi.

-In hindsight, Vince was nuts for making Nash his guy. The one he should have pushed to the top was Razor Ramon, who had a better name, more charisma, was a better wrestler, and was in his prime. You have Shawn beat Razor for the IC belt in the fall of 1994, THEN have RAZOR beat Backlund for the title, then you do champ vs. champ at WrestleMania, so Shawn can cash in the “I beat the champ once, I can do it again” saga. Instead, there’s reserved Kevin Nash shoehorned into being Biker Hogan. Does anyone have the financials for 1995 handy? I need a good laugh.

-Shawn has to resort to a sleeper to try and keep Nash down. A sleeperhold on a boring champion. Mmmm, delicious coincidence. Another reason that this match wasn’t quite perfect is that Shawn’s the villain, but he’s fighting from underneath. Why not have Sid demolish Diesel outside the ring to make it 2 on 1 and make Diesel the underdog since he’s, you know, the babyface? I hope this doesn’t make too much sense, now.

-As the fight spills to the outside, Earl Hebner tries to jump out to keep Sid at bay, but twists his ankle on the landing. This is kinda important, because when Diesel and Shawn get back into the ring, Shawn nails him with Sweet Chin Music, and Hebner is nowhere to be found. Take note, Bret: Shawn never whines about the “Hartford Screwjob”, so you need to let go of your anger, man. Hebner is finally thrown back in by Sid, and Diesel kicks out on two. Crowd seems kinda sad and I, as a Shawn fan, was bummed, but hey, I don’t see HBK smashing monitors now.

-So to help swing things Shawn’s way, Sid cuts off the turnbuckle pad with a pocket knife. Is Sid such a pathetic wuss that he needs to cut the pad off? Just untie it or rip it, you fool. Notice that I didn’t make the “You mean he didn’t bring his scissors?” joke. I feel that I’m above certain lowbrow humor.

-After Shawn tries for the exposed buckle, Diesel blocks and lands a back suplex, then he begins to “rev up” with his “Diesel Power”. When Hogan does it, it’s cartoony and fun, but when Diesel does it, he just looks like a total tool and the fans let him know it. Who would have guessed that Diesel would be the funny one of the now just 14 or 15 months from now? Certainly not me?

-Rev rev rev, rev some more and Diesel ends it with the Jackknife to thoroughly piss me off and make me swear off WWF for about 26 seconds. 11 year old Justin was not happy. Diesel then celebrates with the B-level celebrities to put a definitive stamp on his title reign. Great match, thanks to Shawn, but the bad taste was evident.

-Sid cuts a crazed promo backstage while Shawn makes disgusted faces. Was Shawn disgusted over losing, or over Sid’s promo? We may never know for sure.

-Salt n Pepa perform “What a Man”, and I’m under the assumption that Jason Knight of ECW is coming out. Two great bits of comedy: in the show’s opening montage, Salt n Pepa posed with a smiling Bret Hart in a video that Julie’s lawyer called “Exhibit 56J”, and then Vince tops the insanity when Pepa shakes her booty at the camera by going “WOOOOOOOOOW”. For once, it seems Bret and Vince can agree on something.

-So Vince introduces each man’s entourage for the main event. On the heel side, King Kong Bundy, Tatanka, Nikolai Volkoff, Kama, IRS, and Ted Dibiase. For the faces, NFL all-pros Ken Norton Jr, Chris Spielman, Rickey Jackson, Carl Banks, Steve McMichael, and Reggie White. Wow, the NFL players have more collective United States Titles than the heels. That’s incredible.

-Bigelow and LT make their entrances. If that’s the best they can do for LT’s song, then Vince must harbor some hatred on the man. Maybe four years earlier, Vince had bet $50,000 on “no way Scott Norwood misses this kick”. I’m an Eagles fan, but c’mon Vince, no hate necessary.

-Pat Patterson is the referee. That’s because he knows LT’s laid some mean hits on wide receivers, and has even split open a few tight ends. Alright, I’m done now, I promise.

-Ever wonder why Bigelow got to be LT’s opponent? Rather than teach LT to throw worked forearms and punches, they just said to themselves “Who on the roster can take the world’s deadliest forearm smash and only be slightly fazed?”. Bam Bam, duh! LT throws some scary forearms too. If that were a lesser man taking them, he’d look like Mike Tyson after the Lennox Lewis fight.

-LT lands a nice bulldog as well. That’s the real reason Pat’s the ref: to communicate with Taylor as an experienced vet and help keep the flow going. It’s those little subtle tricks from WWE that you have to admire.

-The cornermen get into a skirmish just to add to the fun of the match, which has actually been pretty good by celebrity standards. Taylor even sells admirably, especially when Bigelow works in some submission holds. Now would be a good time to have Bill Parcells as LT’s manager. “GET UP! BE HURT ON YOUR OWN TIME!”. That’d be fun.

-Bigelow lands the moonsault, but blows out his knee and cannot cover. Maybe LT lived up to his reputation and sent some hookers to Bigelow’s room the night before? Maybe those hookers also went to Bundy’s room. That might possibly explain why a flying clothesline kept him down for the three count.

-LT gets himself a nice pop from the crowd by landing kind of a half powerbomb, half gutwrench suplex on Bam Bam. For the lack of real substance in this match, I have to give credit and say that LT’s doing his part. The only thing missing is Joe Theismann in Bigelow’s corner. He can hit us with gems like “Great wrestlers make great matches” and then kvetch about how you’re watching the sloppiest match in the history of time. On the upside, ESPN football’s been more watchable without him and Tony Kornheiser.

-Now to bring it home, LT lands a couple more forearm shivers, followed by one giant one off the middle rope for the win. The NFL players celebrate while Dibiase chews Bigelow out for losing to a football player. Could be worse. Wait 18 months when he loses to an overrated mixed martial artist named Kimo. The real MVP of the match was Pat Patterson, who should do refereeing every time there’s an inexperienced or potentially awkward performer involved. In other words, he would become Drew McIntyre’s personal ref. That might look fishy.

-The NFL players get down with Salt n Pepa to close things out. It’s not quite the Super Bowl Shuffle, but I guess I’ll take it. I’ve learned not to be too picky with shows from this era.

-CYNIC SAYS: Seven matches, eh? Granted, many things were accomplished. LT got the media attention that Vince wanted, Shawn and Diesel had a great match, Bret and Taker went over, Owen got his first belt, and Razor and Jarrett got their needed face time. Technically, I wouldn’t say this was a BAD show….

….but it wasn’t WrestleMania.

Had this been an In Your House, or even Summerslam, I don’t think it would have been given the flogging that it’s gotten over the years.

To put it insensitively, as a friend of mine did 15 years ago, the WWF’s involvement with the Special Olympics in this time period was interesting, since those events were held in Connecticut. The ACTUAL Olympics were held in Atlanta, the home of WCW, in 1996. So WCW’s backyard gets the world class athletes, and WWF’s stomping grounds host the events with the disabled and mentally challenged. I won’t make a joke here, but I will say that the parallel was definitely worth noting.

Solid show, but nothing I would call good. See you next time, as we discuss a sixty minute match and the inherent perils of trying to transcribe it into readable text.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

WWE: The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the ’80s

Wrestlemania 30 DVD

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WrestleMania X: Starring Lex Luger As Marv Levy

March 17, 2014 By: Category: Sports, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WrestleMania X-Man, I can’t believe I’ve completed the first ten years already. I can’t believe it took me an entire weekend and three fully-clothed showers to get over WrestleMania IX. Usually, it takes me a good week. I guess my resilience has actually increased with age.

-So it’s March 20, 1994, and we’re back at the epicenter of pro wrestling, Madison Square Garden in New York City. The event is billed as “Ten Years in the Making”, which proves that WWE and math have been mutually exclusive for far longer than the “Twenty Fifth Anniversary of WrestleMania” Though, technically, if WrestleMania was born on March 31, 1985, and it takes nine months to give birth, then technically, the seed may have been laid in June 1984. June 1984 to March 1994 may not QUITE be ten years, but it’s darned close. So, good enough.

-We kick things off with Little Richard doing America the Beautiful with a choir. The way his voice keeps cracking would indicate that some people don’t hit puberty until their sixties. I remember being ten years old and seeing the promo shot of Little Richard in the weeks before the event, saying he was going to be performing, and I excitedly told my brother that Johnny B Badd was coming to WWF. Seriously.

-Our hosts this afternoon are Vince McMahon and a recently acquitted Jerry Lawler, who has big shoes to fill in the Heenan/Ventura role. Lawler immediately stumbles out of the gate when trying to make fun of Little Richard’s voice. Somebody graduated summa cum laude from The University of Trying Too Hard.

-Immediately, we get highlights of what led up to the Owen Hart/Bret Hart encounter that will kick things off. It’s one of my favorite feuds ever, if only because I felt bad for Owen, being a younger brother myself. I remember in fourth grade, my friends and I talked about the feud and it seemed that anyone who was the oldest child sided with Bret, and us younger siblings were rooting for Owen. Contrast this to eight years later when the Hardyz feuded and we ALL agreed: they’re both sissies.

-Here to do ring announcing is Howa—wait, who the Hell is Bill Dunn? He sounds like some pitchy winner of the Vince McMahon soundalike contest. WHERE IS FINK!? I’d forgotten all about this development. Sigh.

-Bret and Owen are evenly matched, and it shows. The interesting thing is that, while Bret has been portrayed as the mat master, Owen has a counter for everything, outwrestles him in some cases, beats him to the punch, and then follows up with an insulting slap. Note to modern bookers: if you’re trying to book a heel as a jealous jerk, and you need to do it in a way where he doesn’t win sympathy points for being an underdog, just have him act REALLY obnoxious. Let Owen be your template.

-Not one to be outdone, after some more wrestling in which Bret takes control, Owen goes to the outside, Bret drags him in, and repays the slap. Good stuff.

-One thing I miss about Owen out of many things: the spinning heel kick. He just floors Bret with it and even the fans ooooh for it.

-Another thing I miss about Owen: the overhead belly to belly suplex. Is there anyone in wrestling who would give this much offense to a career midcarder as Bret would, even though it’s his little brother? As a quick aside, I just wanna note that ever since The Rock left, the main eventers have beaten the upper carders far more handily these days. This didn’t happen when Rock was there, as he would sell for ANYONE from Al Snow to Hardcore Holly to then-midcard Eddie Guerrero. That pretty much forced guys like HHH and such to take it down for the lower guys and help give them cred. I miss The Rock.

-Bret tries a German suplex, and Owen goes behind and gets a BEAUTIFUL German for two. See, Bret’s smart. He knows he’s getting the belt at the end of the night, so if he makes Owen look like a main eventer here, Owen gets to main event….against Bret! Easy matches for six months! Bret was pretty smart up until the day he said “Then Shawn gets me into the Sharpshooter….”

-The parade of awesome Owen moves continues, as Owen lands the Austin Killer, aka sitdown tombstone. Good thing he didn’t break Bret’s neck with it. Bret wouldn’t have had the energy to enjoy his post-show ring rat.

-To enhance the story of the match, each man attempts the Sharpshooter, but neither can apply it, due to each brother’s natural instinct. Then to heighten the drama, Bret attempts his slingshot pescado onto Owen and winds up injuring his knee. Can I get a “DUN DUN DUNNN!”?

-Owen slaps on the figure four, while Vince looks over at the timekeeper. I’m sure it was just a simple stretching exercise. You know, Vince stretches a lot of things like his neck, feuds, the truth….

-Did Bret just hit an enzuigiri on Owen? I guess it’s realistic. It’s better than his hidden character video game movesets on Smackdown vs. Raw that includes a standing roundhouse kick that I’ve yet to see him do. It’s not as comical as editing Andre so that he has the shooting star press. Not even close.

-Since I’m highlighting Owen’s supreme moves, here’s one for Bret: the best looking superplex in the business. Always puts a good snap on it. I’m enjoying this way too much.

-Owen finally gets the Sharpshooter (Vince, stop turning your head. I don’t want to see your Linda Blair impression), but Bret hooks the ankles and reverses it into his own, but Owen gets the ropes. Crowd is breathless.

-Then we get the shocking finish: Bret tries his trusty victory roll, but Owen drops the knees across the arms and Bret has nowhere to go, with Owen scoring the pin in the colossal upset. Owen was MADE here, and WWF finally had a credible heel to join Yoko and Shawn in the upper echelon. The best part is you didn’t need a blasphemous act or violent match to make Owen, either. Just beating an established star is all it took. Great, great match, and one of my all time favorites.

-Backstage, Owen is rewarded for his great match by getting to be interviewed by Todd Pettengill. How lucky of him. Owen also has a white splotch of spit by his lip. I hope it’s spit. If not, then Pat Patterson must have been watching that match in a room with a giant oscillating fan. Can we get a mop? And maybe a scrubber zamboni? Or two?

-FINALLY, Howard Finkel’s here. And he’s introduced by the first celebrity(?) of the night: Sy Sperling. Sy is not only the president of the Hair Club for Men, but he’s also a client. This is what happens when you tarnish the company name with the steroid allegations: all the good celebrities steer clear. Could’ve been worse after the Benoit/Signature Pharmacy story. “Tune in to WrestleMania 24 to see Stephanie Zimbalist, Kato Kaelin, and Vince the ShamWOW guy!”

-To help the crowd settle in after the spectacular opener, we resort to a comedy match with Doink and Dink facing Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon. Things I learn watching wrestling: a male midget and a normal sized woman is a “fair fight”. I also learned that some leprechauns bring bad luck. For instance, if you agree to exploit your dead uncle for storyline purposes, you’re cursed to spend six months feuding with one, and losing to him. Hornswoggle’s like an albatross.

-Hey, it’s not a bad little match when Bammer and Doink are in there. Whoever Doink was at this point, apparently Ray Apollo, was not a bad wrestler at all. Imagine if Matt Borne was still Doink. Nine years ago, in this building, you faced Ricky Steamboat in what was, at the time, the most important card in wrestling history. Now, you’re teaming a with a midget clown in a throwaway match. Ever see a man in a clown costume hanging from a bed sheet in a Motel 6 just outside Secaucus? Sounds life altering.

-So when Dink and Luna are in there, it degenerates into an alleged comedy match, where Dink grabs himself a piece of Luna, just for fun. If Molly Holly was in there, she could just turn around suddenly and clothesline Dink with her backside. That would be the sillest, yet hottest, move of all time. Molly was truly the unslutty Kardashian sister.

-Luna’s overselling is great. Of course, she’s also the whackjob that says she hates Christian because he’s a “pretty boy”. Hey now, Luna, you’re the one who married a wannabe vampire with love handles, not Christian. Let’s not be hateful, here.

-Just as I tire of Dink, Bigelow brings us home with a diving headbutt on Doink. Not a bad match at all. Didn’t say it was good either. Let’s leave it at that.

-Meanwhile, up in the skybox is a President Clinton impersonator flanked by IRS and several WWF officials, including Jack Tunney. Was this the only Mania that Tunney ever appeared at? I think it is. Personally, I always liked Tunney because he looks like Peter Gammons after three decades of drinking seven pints of vodka a night. And yet, he was still intimidating. I miss Tunney.

-Now for our next contest, Randy Savage and Crush in a falls count anywhere match. To win , you had to pin your opponent outside the ring, and the fallen foe had 60 seconds to get back inside or he lost. So basically, it’s falls count anywhere meets last man standing meets TNA. You know, because they overcomplicate things. I’m shocked TNA never did a “Last Blood” match where in order to win, you had to blade faster than your opponent. Dusty Rhodes would have been undefeated.

-Crush scores a fall by pinning Savage in less than a minute after spiking him on the guardrail. Imagine that. In 1988, Savage beat four men in one night. In 1994, he loses in under a minute. NEED TO REBUILD YOUR ENDURANCE?! SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM! Savage beats the count back inside, though.

-It’s a decent brawl, but nothing like you’d expect in a blood feud where Crush accuses Savage of betrayal, and then lacerates his tongue during a violent turn. WWF was still breaking out of the cartoon doldrums at this point. Actually, it was just getting worse. Tune into the WWF 3 months from now and watch as they end Leslie Nielsen’s career.

-Savage drops the big elbow, rolls Crush to the floor, and pins him. Fuji revives Crush with water and he beats the count. If you wanted to revive Crush, just tell em the kids are going into his guns-and-narcs closet again. These minute long pauses are going to be the death of me.

-Finally, Savage just lays Crush out backstage, pins him, and then hogties him to end things. Did Crush wake up screaming “NO, I’M SORRY, BRADSHAW, I WON’T BREACH LOCKER ROOM ETTIQUITE AGAIN!”? Savage wins, and then he celebrates in the theater room of MSG with the freeloaders. The last Mania hurrah for Macho, before something may or may not have happened. Oooooh yeeeeah.

-IRS talks to fake Clinton about raising taxes. You don’t have to ask him twice, Irwin.

-Clips of WWF FanFest are shown, including an appearance by HappyJack the Clown. Don’t ask me. Know how WWF AXXESS looks like it’s held on a giant convention floor? I think FanFest was held in my dad’s garage.

-Up until this point, Jerry Lawler has yet to make me laugh. Difference between then and now is that he’s stopping trying. Can we get Matt Striker on Raw?

-Now for the Women’s Title match as Alundra Blayze takes on Leilani Kai in….WOAH CRAP IS KAI UGLY! Seriously, it’s like they stuffed billiard balls in Tonya Harding’s mouth and beat her with a paint roller. Were they afraid that Alundra was too ugly and they brought in Kai to offset her? Geez, my eyes. I feel like I just watched the ending to Looking for Mr. Goodbar with those Clockwork Orange eye-stretch devices. Unsettling to say the least.

-I’m not going to lie, I’m scouring pictures of various pretty women to offset the horrors of Kai’s face.

-Thank you, Alundra for making it quick. And thank YOU, Jennifer Love Hewitt. Don’t listen to anyone, you’re not fat in the least. Mmmm….

-My bad. Moving on.

-Now for the Tag Team Title match, with the Quebecers facing Men on a Mission. Both teams never seem to get their due. Quebecers were just a skilled team who cheated like crazy and had STELLAR theme music. Meanwhile, MOM had the crowd alive everytime they came out and were in the right era, where rap was becoming accepted by suburban white kids. I think Vince should have pushed them over the Headshrinkers and Smoking Gunns, but what do I know?

-Did I mention Raven’s here, playing a cross between Shane McMahon and Sinister Minister? It’s worth noting.

-Match starts a little disjointed, but the crowd ooohs as both Jacques and Pierre manage to suplex Mabel, all 500 pounds of him. Anyone else a little off-put at the names here? Back in the day, if you had one name and were a tag team wrestler, you sounded tough. Ax, Smash, Crush, Animal, Hawk, Warlord, Barbarian. In 1994, it’s Mo, Mabel, Jacques, and Pierre. No wonder my generation grew up to embrace guyliner.

-Mabel kicks out of the Quebecer Tower, and eventually comes back with a spinning heel kick(!). That always floored me. How is Mabel useless at everything else, but can do a spinning heel kick? Color me impressed.

-MOM wins it on a countout when Pierre gets sandwiched on the floor. Mo and Mabel celebrate with the belts for some reason. Is every babyface stupid? Lord Helmet once said “Good….is DUMB” and I have to side with Moranis on this one. Good match, though.

-And now for the celebrities for the first World Title match: confirmed cougar Rhonda Shear is timekeeper and mega tool Donnie Wahlberg is the ring announcer. Know what’s fun? Run up to Donnie and say “Hey man, you were GREAT in Invincible!” and then run off while he yells obscenities with that dopey accent. Not that I’ve ever done it, of course.

-Donnie introduces the guest referee: “MIS-TAH….PER-FICT”. Perfect comes out wearing some garish pants. The only way he could have redeemed himself is to ask Donnie if he’s Milli or Vanilli. I’m mean.

-Yokozuna and Lex Luger for the WWF Title. It’s notable because when Lex came out, Vince literally screamed “YES! YES! YES! YOU CAN FEEL IT! YOU CAN FEEL IT!”. I think he has to overdo it with the noises during sex to make up for Linda’s half. What do you think?

-If ever a match were concrete proof that Lex Luger does not a Hulk Hogan make, it’s this one. If Hogan, in his prime, faced Yokozuna, he would at least pace it a little better than this. Luger has no sense of timing if he’s not facing Flair or Sting or Steamboat. He’s about as one dimensional as….something that’s one dimensional.

-Luger can’t slam Yoko. He never slammed him the first time either, so I don’t know what the big surprise is.

-To condense this rant a little bit, lemme summarize the next few sequences for you. Yoko applies a nerve hold, Yoko applies a nerve hold, and Yoko applies a nerve hold. Also, Yoko sweated a lot and Luger made crazed faces to indicate that he was selling. Cliff’s Notes, eat your heart out!

-Finally, Luger gets the alleged slam (as Fuji calls it, a HEEP TOSS) followed by the loaded forearm smash. After Luger beats up Cornette and Fuji and drags them into the ring, he covers Yoko, but Perfect refuses to count, due to Luger breaking about 46 fundamental wrestling rules, including “selling like Max Headroom having a seizure”. So Luger gets pissed, shoves Perfect, and Luger is disqualified. Wahlberg can’t even announce the winner, because Howard Finkel beat him up and took the mic. I’m assuming anyway.

-Backstage, Luger confronts Perfect and the situation gets heated. You know it’s bad when Tony Chimel has to help break it up. That triple chin makes for a good battering ram.

-The crowd chants something about bovine feces, and Vince says “These fans are not happy!”. Wow, so Vince CAN hear them when they’re mad! I never knew!

-Next up, to waste some time, Harvey Whippleman calls Finkel some derogatory names like “monkey face” and “banana nose”. I’d be very impressed if he repeated that to someone like Ron Simmons. Simmons beating up Whippleman would be the moment to end all moments.

-Oh, and Earthquake beats Adam Bomb in under a minute. Just wanted to mention since, you know, it’s kinda vital.

-Meanwhile, Yokozuna has a stern warning for Bret Hart. He really should have been warning Samoa Joe that if Joe eats just 5 more boxes of malomars, that they’ll be twins. Am I the only one who’s glad that Yoko was never given Rikishi’s gimmick?

-Now it gets good: the first ladder match in PPV history, as Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon do battle for the IC Title. As a childhood Shawn mark, I was looking forward to this more than anything. I mean, at this stage of life, girls were icky and I couldn’t wait to see Shawn. Somewhere, Johnny Weir’s nodding.

-Moron ring announcer Bill Dunn informs us that for this next match, there are “no rules”. Crowd cheers. I love you, New York.

-Shawn Michaels and Diesel look like something out of a David Bowie music video, and Razor Ramon walks under the ladder just for fun. That’s seven years of bad luck that somehow turned into 16 and counting. That’s not really fair, is it?

-After some early wrestling sequences, Razor abruptly takes control with his snap chokeslam. Soon enough, Shawn regains control and sends Razor to the floor, where Diesel attacks. Hebner ejects Diesel for his interference. Diesel gets thrown out in a match with no rules? Russo, that’s brilliant!

-Lawler notes that Razor gets his prescriptions written in spray paint. Finally, Lawler makes me chuckle. Took over two hours….

-Razor tries a Razor’s Edge and gets backdropped over onto bare concrete. Let the sickness begin.

-Spotfest or not, Razor could throw some awesome punches. Razor, Big Bossman, Goldust, and Jerry Lawler are first ballot inductees into the Worked Punches Hall of Fame. Shawn ups the ante by baseball sliding the ladder into Razor’s gut, then using it as a ramrod on the champ. Good stuff so far.

-Shawn goes for the belt, but Razor pulls his pants down, leading to Shawn hitting the first ever bare-butt flying elbow smash. It’s like half Randy Savage/half Randy West.

-Now for the video moment: Shawn’s superfly splash off the ladder onto Razor. It’s so precise, that it’s frightening.

Soon enough, we get Shawn being whipped into the ladder and over to the floor, and then Razor sandwiching Shawn into the post using the ladder. No wonder the man’s back was reduced to Swiss cheese. Razor also jaws Shawn with the ladder and sends him to the floor again. But as Razor climbs the ladder, here comes Shawn with a double ax handle to knock him off, sending the ladder falling onto Shawn. I’m still speechless at this match.

-Just for fun, Razor suplexes Shawn off the ladder, and collapses to the mat himself. Is it any wonder that both men fell in love with percocets?

-After Shawn gets the almost-Sweet Chin Music, and lands a ladder flume ride onto Razor, he tries the winning climb, but Razor slams into the ladder, crotching Shawn and getting him tied in the ropes. Razor goes up and Shawn frees himself a second too late as Razor pulls down both belts for the win. POSITIVE! FIVE! STARS! My favorite ladder match until Shawn/Jericho set the new standard at No Mercy 2008. Both men deserved their painkillers after this one.

-Meanwhile, the heels in the ten man tag can’t decide who the captain is, so the match is off. Works for me. Also, Dibiase tries to buy out Bill Clinton. I think Clinton’s waffling led to the Republican Revolution of 1994. Really.

-Music video set to “Making Some Noise” by Tom Petty to put Bret over before the main event. The supposed archive footage of Stu Hart watching a young Bret and Owen wrestle kills me.

-Here are the guests for the mainer: a smoking hot Jenny Garth is timekeeper (I’d keep time with her), a heavily drunk Burt Reynolds is the ring announcer, and Roddy Piper is the ref. Burt introduces Bret as “in his opinion, the greatest wrestler in the world today”. I’m sure Vince REALLY highlighted that one on the index cards.

-So it’s Bret and Yoko and for the gold, much like last year except with a better crowd and no Orange Goblin to speak of. Yoko attacks before the bell and IT’S ON~! Ten year old Justin thought Bret had no chance due to getting his leg injured against Owen earlier. Ten year old Justin also pegged the Eagles to win Super Bowl XXIX.

-Yoko just dominates, but he’s so winded from earlier. Bret gets 2 hours to rest and Yoko gets maybe 45. Did Vince flunk Physics or something?

-Bret finally knocks Yoko down and the crowd is loving it. See Luger? Those are called CHEERS. After Bret lands the middle rope elbow, Cornette pulls Piper out on the two count and gets decked. That’s it Roddy, knock about 12 layers of bitter off of him.

-The match seesaws a bit more, albeit slowly and within the story, until Yoko finally gets Bret in the corner. As Yoko goes up for the Banzai drop, he inexplicably slips and Bret moves away, covering the stunned Yoko for his second World Title. Not a good match, but it had a crowd pleasing ending. Afterward, Yoko chases Piper to the locker room, trying to beat him to the pork buffet. Yoko may have won, but after his death, Piper would get the catering tables all to himself. And how.

-So then we get the endorsement parade, as Vince says Bret’s going to lead the WWF into the new decade. Imagine that. Here to endorse Bret are Luger (marveling at a “winner”), Tatanka, Razor, Savage, 123 Kid, Bob Holly, Burt, Rhonda, Wahlberg, Patterson, Monsoon, and Vince himself, while Owen Hart stands in the aisleway with a look of shock and disgust on his face, as if to say “that should be me”. A truly underrated ending, maybe the greatest ending in WrestleMania history, next to Hogan endorsing Warrior from the aisleway at 6, Shawn crying at 12, and Eddie hugging an invisible man at 20.

-CYNIC SAYS: Well, here’s the deal: what was great was GREAT. Bret vs. Owen and Shawn vs. Razor find themselves among the top ten or fifteen WrestleMania matches ever, and that encompasses nearly 300 matches. What was bad wasn’t terrible, but most of the action felt so insignificant compared to the two incredible matches mentioned. There was a great ending with Bret winning, and that makes up for the slow match. Plus, it’s always fun to watch Luger fall short, isn’t it?

So far, there hasn’t been a WrestleMania that trumps #3 from 1987, but this one came the closest. Had the undercard been just a little better, #10 could have very easily taken over the top spot. As it is, I merely call the show “excellent” and it falls a little short. Much like Lex Luger. Take that for what it’s worth.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WrestleMania IX: You Don’t Deserve A Subtitle

March 16, 2014 By: Category: Sports, WWE | Pro Wrestling

-Getting right into things, the event took place outdoors at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas on April 4, 1993. What made this day significant, besides being WWE WrestleMania Sunday, was that it was the day we’d celebrated my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We’d celebrated it at a hunting club. I’m serious. Other than important events like the big family picture that was taken and such, us kids spent the festivities by running around outside, picking up empty bullet shells to throw at each other, and playing hide and seek in the woods where the was a chance that some drunken hunter might think that I, dressed in a blue sweater with a Kevin McAlister haircut, was a deer and plant some buckshot into me.

-I share this anecdote for two reasons: to give you, the reader, a glimpse of ‘typical’ New Jersey life, and to indicate to you, the reader, that things on April 4, 1993 were abnormal all around. This is especially true for the wrestling event in which I am about to review.

-Having made it home an hour before showtime, my brother and I each rushed through our showers (Justin’s first ‘whore’s bath’!) to witness the proceedings. They went something like this.

-Gorilla Monsoon (in toga) welcomes us to the show, but this is, however, the first WrestleMania that he does not commentate for. Instead, the role is turned over to….JIM ROSS. This was shocking to Josh and I, who were more shocked to find JR in a toga. Having just jumped from WCW, Ross had just left Bischoff in the dust for Vince McMahon. That’s like your dad going to jail for child abuse, and then you get adopted by Ryan O’Neal. You lose either way.

-Did I mention the tag line for this show is “The Epic Encounter?” I’ll mention it now, since there’s no way in Hell that you’ll believe me later.

-We do get an impressive opening with something similar to a Carnival parade, complete with animals, harem girls, a mock Caesar and Cleopatra, Randy Savage on a sedan being catered to by beauties (well, he IS divorced now, oh yeah), and Bobby Heenan riding an elephant. Know what’s more impressive? Howard Finkel at his 9th straight WrestleMania! I didn’t mention him in the WrestleMania 8 rant, so here it is: a double mention! I’m trying to stay cheery while I still can!

-As Ross, Heenan, and Savage settle in on commentary, we jump right into the opener: the reliable Shawn Michaels defending his IC Title against Tatanka. Tatanka is seconded by Sherri, who is upset with Shawn after he allowed her to be injured six months earlier. Shawn has brought an equalizer: the debuting Luna Vachon, who looks out of place and the fans have no idea who she is. Michelle McCool’s been with WWE for five years and it still holds true for her, actually.

-Match starts off good, with Shawn bumping off of everything Tatanka throws his way. The other story here is that Tatanka was undefeated and had pinned Shawn twice, once in a non title match and the other in a six man tag, where Tatanka had teamed with the Nasty Boys. What would have been funnier is if the Nastys turned on Tatanka by littering at his feet and making him cry. Well, not funny but….uh….let’s just move on.

-As Shawn slows things down with a chin lock, I realize that Tatanka never had a chance. It’s kinda hard to get behind an Indian character. It’s hard to say without sounding prejudiced, but they’re just portrayed as being so serious and honorable. Fans get behind good guys with a sense of humor and ones that they can relate to. Wrestling’s never had an Indian that lusted after divas and listened to thrash metal. Hard to connect with the crowd, you know.

-See what I mean? Shawn beats on Tatanka, who no sells it by going into a war dance. We’re supposed to take him seriously with this? He’s so rigid and serious, but then he goes into a dance and can’t be hurt? If the dance deflects all pain, why doesn’t he do it at the START of the match? I have more gripes coming, don’t worry.

-Shawn gets himself DQ’d when he has a run in with the ref, giving us a bad ending, but it keeps the gold on Shawn, so hooray. Also, Luna beats up Sherri to start a feud that had no ending. No, I don’t think Russo worked here yet, actually.

-Next up, The Steiner Brothers take on the Headshrinkers, in a match that was booked to make Jim Ross feel right at home. Sadly, WWF was unwilling to meet the appearance fees of J.W. Storm and The Mulkeys. If you’re a young fan who has never seen Scott Steiner before 1998, then I assure you that the man on your screen is, in fact, him. He just reached a point in 1997-98 when he said “You know, I hate walking normally and finding clothes that fit. I’m gonna screw myself up….”

-It’s a brawl to start and JR works in a certain word that may be familiar to all of us, what could….it….be. SLOBBERKNOCKER, YES! Good guess. It sounds like you’ve seen a Jim Ross match before.

-So Fatu attempts a hotshot on Scotty, and Samu pulls the ropes down, causing Scott to take a MONSTER header onto the concrete. Sick. Horrible. Outrageously bad. I loved it. Chris Benoit nods and says “That’s how I woulda done it”.

-For a bonus, Afa whacks Scotty across the back with a rattan bamboo stick. Usually, I would make a joke here that ECW stole this idea for Sandman, and thus makes them look less cutting edge, but, since this was a full year before Michael Faye got caned over in Singapore, then I’d like to say that Southeastern Asian corporate punishment advocates stole their ideas from WWF. No wonder Vince gets so mad: everybody steals his ideas, and he never gets credit for them! Like the overhead cameras in the XFL that the NFL stole! Jerks.

-I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Rick Steiner’s incredible move where he was seated on Samu’s shoulders and Fatu dove off the top rope at him, only for Rick to catch him and power slam him in mid air! Why is this match not mentioned among the all time WrestleMania classics? We shouldn’t disqualify it for being on such a lousy show. If we did, we’d have to disqualify Taker-Shawn from WM25 as well.

-Scotty ends it with the Frankensteiner. He’d get four more years out of that move before he’d spend the remainder of his life buying socks to put on baseball bats so that he could wipe himself.

-We get a backstage promo from one of the all time great underrated characters ever, Doink the Clown: Version Heel. Can you imagine if this Doink existed in the Attitude era? He could lure kids to his house with lollipops and then build a crawlspace…..wait, good God, what is this show doing to me? I feel like I should apologize in advance for any levels of disturbia that I display from here on out, but then that would dilute any fun I have punishing this event.

-So up next is Doink vs. Crush, and the story was that Doink decided to beat Crush with a fake arm filled with lead and other blunt objects. Laugh all you want, but it’s a better story than “I BURNED DOWN MAH BROTHER’S HOUSE BECAUSE PEOPLE LOVE HIM MAHR FAHR BEING A FACE PAINTED WEIRDO AND I’M JUST FAT”. Much better story.

-Was Crush being punished? He got beaten up by a clown and dispatched off the card for a couple months. I don’t get it; he had everything needed to be a main eventer in WWF: the body, the color scheme, the look, the hard rock theme music. I’m still mystified as to why Vince never pulled the trigger on him.

-Speaking of ‘pulling the trigger’, somebody put this match out of its misery. It’s a boring brawl when the characters are supposed to be a hyper-strong hero and a treacherous clown, and it comes off as amateur night. If you want tips on how to do it right, just watch the interrogation scene from Dark Knight. Crush should be yelling “WHERE IS HE?!?”

-Ref gets bumped and Crush manages to apply the Jason Voorhees Memorial Head Crush, which is broken up by another Doink! Fat Tony was watching the show and was like “I’m seeing’ double! Dere’s four of em!” The second Doink beats Crush with another loaded arm and the two Doinks perform an uncoordinated ‘man in the mirror’ routine. Uncoordinated and loaded. Two words that can describe what the booking meeting was like.

-Doink gets the pin and Bill Alfonso tries to reverse it by hitting the ring and telling Joey Marella that the second Doink went back under the ring. So they check and there’s…..nobody there? I’d laugh if they pulled up the skirting and found him still crawling. How would they handle that live? No wonder Fonzie lost his job: he made up crazy things and swore they were true. Come to think of it, he DID seem kinda crazed in ECW.

-Meanwhile, Todd Pettengill (In a toga, ballcap, and blue blockers) interviews two Japanese cameramen. As bad as you’d expect.

-Next up, Razor Ramon vs. Bob Backlund as we near the end of the “meaningless matches to get everyone involved” era. At this point, nobody cared for virtuous Bob, and ultra-slick Razor was getting over as a heel. So the match should be Razor beating the crap out of Opie, right?

-Well, you’re wrong. Bob torments him with classic wrestling, and Razor pins him four minutes in with a cradle. Yup. Whatever.

-Now we get to the meat(?) of the card, as Money Inc defend their Tag Team gold against Hulk Hogan and an increasingly fat Brutus Beefcake. Story here is that Money Inc attacked Beefcake’s face with a Haliburton and Jimmy Hart, then a heel, had a change of heart and tried to save Beefcake. The most memorable part of this was earlier that night on Raw when Beefcake was giving his sob story about his facial injuries, and a fan yelled “JUST KILL YOURSELF”. Good times.

-Money Inc cut their promo beforehand, indicating that Hogan may have “had an accident”. What could it mean?!?

-So out come the Mega Maniacs, with Beefcake wearing a crappy X-cross face mask and Hogan….wow, somebody gave him the shiner from Hell. Word was it was Randy Savage popping him over a slight involving Elizabeth, but it was never fully confirmed. All I know is this: Savage kept changing the subject on commentary in regards to the injury when Heenan and Ross would bring it up, and the “official” story was that Hogan had a jet ski accident. Right. Jet ski accident. You know, I had a jet ski accident once, and I have to side with Hulk on this. I slammed hard into a pier piling and the wreck was horrible. Fortunately, the only thing that I sustained injury-wise was a gash near my eye. Despite hitting that beam at 65 MPH, my limbs and torso were A-OK and I was able to work a backyard wrestling match the following day. Yup.

-Heenan tries to cover Money Inc’s alibi by saying that he was up till 4 AM “shooting the breeze” with them. That’s wrestler jargon for “up all night snorting cocaine”. Remember in Bret Hart’s book: you stay up all night doing drugs and/or sleeping with loose women to stay OUT of trouble. He said it. Meanwhile, I’m trying to imagine what Money Inc and Heenan do while high. “Hey Irwin…hee hee….tell us again about the time WCW made you a SHIP CAPTAIN”.

-Beefcake’s mask is super annoying. Come to think of it, Beefcake himself was super annoying at this point. Whatever coolness that Hogan had left, Beefcake eradicated the lot of it. He and Jimmy were like Scrappy Doo at this stage.

-After the early “dominate the heels” portion, things settle in and Beefcake becomes the face in peril, which is the only “face” joke that HASN’T been made about Ed Leslie yet. So there you go.

-Crowd’s rallying for Hogan to get the tag, so the show’s eventual ending might not sound TOO dumb, but….well, we’ll get there.

-Savage still ducking the injury, Savage still ducking the injury, Savage still ducking the injury…..

-Hogan’s in and the craziness starts, but sheesh, wouldn’t you know it, ANOTHER ref bump. Two in the last three matches is a weeeee bit lazy, unless the Vegas nightlife has made them vulnerable.

-After Dibiase and IRS each get knocked out, the Maniacs cover and Jimmy Hart reverses his jacket to reveal referee stripes! Yeah, because Jimmy knew going in that the ref was going to collapse like Enron, and wanted to be there to make the pin. So he counts, and the Maniacs celebrate like they just won the belts. Idiots. Danny Davis comes out to reverse the decision to Money Inc, and Jimmy, now a babyface remember, fires his former ally in Davis out of the ring. What a role model that Jimmy Hart is.

-Speaking of role models, Hogan, Beefcake, and Jimmy paw through IRS’ briefcase and begin to throw their money to the fans. Theft on camera? Beating up officials? Cheating? No wonder so many kids my age grew up to be degenerates. Not me, of course.

-Now the show begins to REALLY drag, as Pettengill interviews the lone celebrity that bothered to show up in Natalie Cole. Seriously, Vince couldn’t give her $5000 just to do the national anthem at the show’s opening? Or at least a big credit line inside Caesar’s? Wait, she’s not the ONLY celebrity: Dan Reitchartz is here! You know him, right? Dan Reitchartz? He’s the CEO of Caesar’s and…oh screw it.

-Up next, a potential silver lining between Mr. Perfect and The Narcissist Lex Luger. During his pre-match banter, Perfect calls Luger “The Lexercist”. Well sure, I get it. I projectile vomit every time I see a Luger match as well. Funny how Perfect always seems to have a botch or two on the grandest of stages. Not quite Perfect, now is he?

-Luger is accompanied to the ring by four women in thongs who hold up mirrors for him to admire himself in. I admit, I laughed at Savage’s “Have you met the Mach-o Man?” line, because I’m wondering if that’s what he said to Stepha—er, let’s just move on.

-I just realized that both men here, as well as Savage at ringside, would be eventual members of the now Wolfpack. Incredible. No wonder WCW’s dead.

-I have to say, I love Luger’s bad selling. Perfect works the leg, and Luger screams like he just had a live piranha bite his sphincter. This is the same man who sold spray paint to the eyes at Uncensored 1997 by playing dead. Luger’s tremendous. I think his spinal stroke was worse than it had to be because he sold it by laughing and everybody assumed he was ok.

-Man, despite being a wreck on painkillers and booze, Perfect was carrying things here. Shame that he was such a mess, though. Post King of the Ring, when he had that disappointing match with Michaels at SummerSlam, it was all downhill, sadly. Did he ever even have surgery after his back fell apart in 1991? Because after his comeback, he was grimacing a lot more. This is sad to watch.

-So here’s a weird finish: Luger gets the backslide and Perfect’s legs fall over the middle rope, which the referee ignores to give Luger the win. I have no idea how you miss that, but I’m going to assume that the referee just wanted to get this show over with. I’m with reffy.

-Afterward, Perfect runs backstage to get Luger, only to be inexplicably jumped by Shawn Michaels to set up their feud. The trash can shot looked nasty. Am I the only one who’s watching this that’s laughing at the fact that the fight is being separated by men in togas, as well as the fact that they look like they’re fighting at a flea market? Billy Kidman couldn’t headline this drek either.

-Now it gets good.

-And by good, I mean crap.

-Next on the docket, The Undertaker goes one on one with perhaps the worst wrestler in the history of civilization, one Giant Gonzalez. Gonzalez, for the unaware, is 7’7″, and about as thin as a Kotex tube. He has no mobility, no desire, no timing, and no skill. How is Undertaker going to get a good match out of this goof?

-Spoiler: he doesn’t.

-Undertaker at least makes a cool entrance, coming to the ring on a chariot with a vulture, indicating that this show is about to die very soon. I have to say, Gonzalez looks totally natural out there, wearing a bodysuit with a butt crack airbrushed on it. If I could find that outfit on e-bay, I’m certain I’d buy it just to have it. I’m just rambling now, because I’m face to face with absolute crap. Somebody save me.

-Remember when I said that Luger couldn’t sell? GONZALEZ IS WORSE. He just makes the face you would make when you twist your head trying to stay awake. It’s like a sympathy move. I’m trying to stay awake also.

-Taker keeps striking. Gonzalez keeps trying to sell. Justin is considering throwing in the towel.

-Gonzalez on offense. Taker is trying. Justin bashes his head into the coffee table to stay awake.

-Speaking of sleepiness, here’s the finish, are you ready? Gonzalez gets a rag covered in ETHER and gags Taker into unconsciousness for the DQ. Reread it, I have time. So Taker gets carted away and Gonzalez celebrates the demise of Undertaker. From ether.

-BONG

-Taker’s music hits, so he can come back out and beat up Gonzalez. I always liked that. “Hit my music so I can go back out there and beat the crap outta him!”. Good stuff. Not the match.

-Where’s Bryan Alvarez to yell “MINUS FIVE STARS!” like a 10 year old girl?

-FINALLY, we get the silver lining we needed: Bret Hart and Yokozuna for the WWF Title. Logic would dictate that Bret goes over here to establish him as the ultimate champion. Logic would dictate that, yes.

-Oddly enough, Hogan cuts the promo backstage instead of Bret, challenging the winner of Bret and “The Jap”. Ever get that uneasy feeling?

-Crowd is resoundingly for the Hitman, who was a great champion in the ring, even if the numbers don’t back him up. Yokozuna’s game, however, and the crowd is antsy to see just how The Hitman’s going to overcome the odds (Copyright John Cena, 2005).

-The first big hope spot comes when Yoko gets his ankle twisted in the ropes and Bret lands his impact moves quickly. It’s the first time Yoko’s been in such a position and the crowd eats it up.

-For as limited as Yoko was, Bret’s dragging a good match out of him. Not great, but reasonable. The crowd’s firmly behind the underdog champion, but they deflate when Yoko crushes him in the corner. That’s a good advantage for all fat heels: a crushing spot like that can work the crowd in so many ways.

-So now for the big sequence as Yoko tries to pull Bret from the corner, but Bret’s holding onto the turnbuckle pad with all of his strength. Yoko yanks him off, and the turnbuckle pad goes with him. The tide turns, however, and the sumo man hits the exposed steel! Yoko goes down! Is this the break that Bret needs?

-Bret stands over Yoko’s legs and manages to snare him into the Sharpshooter, which many thought was impossible. Then it happens: Mr Fuji spends seven years looking for his pack of salt to throw into Bret’s eyes, and then finally does. Bret collapses and Yoko simply covers him (no splash or anything to knock him out) to score the pin and the gold. The ref doesn’t even ask himself why Bret would just fall over like that. Maybe he figured “Musta been up all night with Money Inc and Heenan”.

-So Hogan hits the ring at about 145 MPH to protest this decision, and Mr Fuji takes the mic, saying that the winded, tired, and blown up Yokozuna immediately issued a challenge to Hogan to defend the belt RIGHT NOW. Yep, really. Bret implores Hogan to “do the right thing” and go get the belt back. Hogan better do it for America!

-So Hogan slides in and Fuji tries the salt toss, but this time Yoko gets hit! Bye bye Fuji, clothesline for Yokozuna, big leg drop and Hogan’s the champion for the fifth time.

-Hogan celebrates like a jerk and the crowd actually does eat it up, but it’s just such a sour way to treat Bret’s fans, who ordered the show to see him in the main event. This created a major discontent backstage between Hogan, Bret, and Vince, and it’s very fascinating if you believe Bret’s hinted theory that this was Vince’s way of painting Hogan as a bad guy to all the boys in the locker room and thus devaluing him before ridding WWF of the Hulkster in the following summer.

-Me? I’m just glad it’s over.

-CYNIC SAYS: Wow, where to even begin? The first two matches were good, but there were so many unsatisfying endings on this show that it boggles the mind. You do a bait and switch with the World Title match, apparently to kowtow to Hogan, and the rest of the show comes off as un-WrestleMania-worthy. There’s a reason that this show is reviled as the worst of all time, and it’s no surprise 17 years later that it still holds up as being just as bad.

Watch this one with low expectations, unless you’re a sucker for crap like I am.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Calling the Shots of Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler

March 14, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

A new champion will emerge on Saturday when Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler battle for the vacated throne in the UFC’s welterweight division. The obligation of being the champion is a burden with glorious purpose. Both fighters are in hot pursuit of this coveted achievement and have traveled down different roads to reach the same destination. UFC 171 presents an interesting scenario since being the champion in a post Georges St. Pierre world will bring increased attention and heightened expectation to the victor.

Johny Hendricks, as well as many others, believes he is fighting for something that should have been his four months ago. He took it to GSP like no one has before, and he is unquestionably the favorite going into the bout. Hendricks was touted as a serious prospect from the get-go and has exceeded expectations. Twelve years ago, Robbie Lawler was pushed as the next big thing, but faltered after an impressive start. A move to middleweight garnered mixed results with no real sign of the ruthlessness we once knew. Hendricks evolved over the years from wrestler to knockout artist while Lawler remained a striker for most of his career. However, Lawler embarked on a career renaissance last year by racking up three consecutive wins against opponents who were expected to take him down with ease and pound him into oblivion.

It’s no secret that both fighters are knockout junkies, but it’s their difference in application that makes this matchup intriguing. Lawler has one punch KO power and is the more refined striker of the two. His best chance at victory is to circle away from Hendricks power at all times while keeping the fight in the center of the octagon. If he is taken down, it will be easier to get back on his feet if his head isn’t pressed against the fence by the two time national champion.

Hendricks is a solid boxer who is able to find his range faster than most and is the harder-hitting fighter. The Oklahoma native will be at a reach disadvantage, so pressuring Lawler early is a must. Using angles to control where the fights takes place is essential because getting into a firefight in the center of the cage plays into Lawler’s strengths. Of course, if all else fails on the feet he can go back to what brought him to the dance with his wrestling. Beware his jiu-jitsu, though because it is vastly underrated and it could catch Lawler off guard.

This is a tough one to pick because both of these men have lucky punch written all over them. Hendricks’s recuperative abilities are a mystery, while Lawler, as shown in his fight against Melvin Manhoef, can put your lights out even when he’s rocked. Lawler is no longer a turtle on his back so Hendricks will have trouble keeping him down.

The fact that Robbie Lawler is fighting for a UFC belt in 2014 is amazing and serves as an opportunity to substantiate the hype over a decade ago. He has a great chance of winning, there are just too many factors in Johny Hendricks’ favor. Lawler has greatly improved but Hendricks is better at mixing it up, therefore controlling where the fight takes place more often than not.

Verdict: Johnny Hendricks via unanimous decision

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