Written by: Tom Hopkins
The Main Characters
— The Top 50 Superstars (not wrestler’s) of all time, obviously! Let’s speculate now who is on the list that shouldn’t be, the ones who didn’t make it and more importantly the ranking of the superstars.
The Top 50 Superstars (not wrestler’s) of all time wrestled (or should I say entertained) in all the eras of the business – dating all the way back to the 1950’s.
The Film (2:26:19)
The entirety of the list is included on Disc One, with Discs Two and Three hosting the matches. The usual cool montage starts off the Feature. I always look forward to the opening and closing portions of the DVD’s because WWE really excels at these montages – just the combination of music and footage and sound bytes used are great. Todd Grisham is here to host the countdown. This countdown is guaranteed to be controversial, according to Todd. The list was obtained like this: WWE asked their locker room who their favorite wrestlers were of all time and they used that to create the list. Well, here we go!
By the way, I have the list in order below. Basically each superstar is shown with the usual talking heads hyping them up. I will ignore them for the most part unless something really interesting is said. If I have anything to add I will.
#50: Killer Kowalski – Ah, the great Kowalski. He trained Triple H, you know. Triple H credits being a Ring General thanks to him. My mother in law, who is Polish, loved this guy because he too, is Polish.
#49: Batista – I wonder if he voted for himself? Actually, I don’t know when he left the company but maybe his leaving affected where he is on the list? Maybe he could’ve been higher considering he was one of the biggest stars of the late 00’s for a few years. Cena just said Batista WAS unbelievable so it was recorded after he left. Glad I could clear that up without Wikipedia.
#48: Rick Rude – He’s a bit low on the list, no? He was one of the greatest heels of the late 80’s into the early 90’s. He was a great antagonist. I guess his career wasn’t really as long as other heels on this list and really his only big feud was against Ultimate Warrior and Jake Roberts
#47: Bob Backlund – second longest reigning champion in WWE history and he’s #47. That’s some serious hate from people here. He bridged the WWF from Bruno to Hogan and had a good heel run in 1995 against Hart. I blame this on people not being familiar with his body of work. Watch some WWEClassics.com, WWE locker-room! Striker says Backlund was an actually shooter who could take care of things if needed. I never heard that before.
#46: Dory Funk, Jr. – I know he was an NWA champ but I am not really familiar with his stuff. I’d easily put Backlund over him. Now I guess I sound as ignorant as those I complained against just before!
#45: Jeff Hardy – Jeff was definitely a great superstar who put his body on the line. He certainly provided some amazing moments in the history of the sport. Of course – Jeff was kind of weird. In a way, I can see him ranked higher than those before just because of how entertaining he was. Regal doesn’t understand it but he sees how the crowd reacts so it works.
#44: Nick Bockwinkel – Easily one of the greatest AWA champs of all time. He was a great technical wrestler’s and you have to see his hour-long draw against Hennig. He was AWA’s version of Flair, just toned down a bit.
#43: Kane – Okay, I am a bit surprised at this one. Yeah, he’s had a good, long career in the WWE (which I am sure helps) but I don’t think he’s even in the same league as Bockwinkel or Backlund.
#42: Sgt. Slaughter – Not as good as Backlund or Bockwinkel but easily more recognizable because he’s broken over into the mainstream with GI Joe so certainly understandable. I personally think his feud with Patterson was his highlight and ironically his biggest moments in wrestling came as a heel! His Patterson feud and his WWE Title run in 1991 were both done as heels.
#41: Jack Brisco – Here’s another guy I don’t really know too much about. I can’t argue with his placement on here based on what I have heard. Wade Boggs makes the DVD by saying how much he liked Brisco.
Just a brief side-note here: Through the first 10 Superstars only 3 have passed on and really only one of those (Rude) due to dubious circumstances!
#40: The Big Show – Cena call’s him our generation’s Andre The Giant. I agree with that. He’s big, he can be dominant when booked that way, but #40? That’s a tough sell for me.
#39: Jake Roberts – Jake is probably most well-known for his personal demons than anything he ever did in the ring. Jake did have the DDT, a snake and just an amazing delivery with his promo’s. His personal demons weren’t mentioned here, either.
#38: Superstar Billy Graham – He was a guy who was light years ahead of his time. Had he been around in the 90’s he would be much higher on this list. He was a colorful, charismatic, built superstar. Hogan credits Graham for his desire to get into the business. I think he should’ve been higher, as well.
#37: Junkyard Dog – He was probably the #2 baby face in the WWE behind Hogan during the early 80’s. If this were my list I’d definitely put him lower, though.
#36: Gorilla Monsoon – I think he made the list more for his commentary work than anything else. Gorilla did have a big feud with Muhammad Ali of all people and that needs to be put on some DVD somewhere. For my money Gorilla is the best announcer the WWE ever had.
#35: Buddy Rogers – The original Nature Boy! He was one of the first big TV stars and had a great heel persona with the blonde hair and strut. He was also the first ever WWE Champion. He was probably ranked too low but that’s just because of the majority of voters knowing him by name and legend other than actually seeing him wrestle.
#34: Kurt Angle – I am surprised he made the list considering he is in TNA now. Honestly, he’s my favorite wrestler. He was just an AMAZING wrestler and one of the best entertainers of the 00’s. I think his placement here is pretty good considering that even during his time in the WWE he was never the biggest star. He was near the top but never #1.
#33: Mick Foley – Foley is another favorite of mine. I think he deserves to be higher. He really introduced the hardcore style into the WWE and had one of the biggest bumps in wrestling history from his Hell In A Cell match. I wouldn’t go much higher for him (Top Twenty I think) but definitely higher.
#32: Jimmy Snuka – We go from one big spot to another. I think Snuka is best known for his Splash off the top of the Cage and really innovated the whole high-flying aspect of his career. Other than that he was really one-dimensional. Not a great worker, never carried a major a title, and is known for having a coconut smashed over his head. Yeah he jumped off the top rope, but so did Savage around the same time. He’s a guy I think should be in the 40’s, not 30’s.
#31: Iron Sheik – Lots of respect for Sheik here. Higher than Foley? Higher than Rogers, Graham, Bockwinkel and Backlund? Not in my book. He was a big heel for sure but I wouldn’t put him at #31.
#30: Pat Patterson – The first ever IC Title holder! He was a really solid worker in the early 80’s with some violent matches against Slaughter. If you’ve seen him work you know he’s the real deal. I think he fits here as a Superstar. If you were taking into account his work behind the scenes in the WWE he’d easily be higher.
#29: Randy Orton – Okay, so this superstar, who is still young in his career, is higher than Patterson, Foley, Angle, Rogers, Backlund, Brisco and Funk. Higher than people who BUILT the industry which he’s in now. I never cared for him as a worker, actually. He is a third generation superstar who definitely surpassed his father and grandfather in terms of popularity. Stick him in the 40’s where he belongs until his career is over. It’s like putting Alex Ovechkin as one of the top 30 NHL players of all time. Maybe when his body of work is over, but definitely not now.
#28: Freddie Blassie – The great manager. He wrestled out in California (as a heel of course) but I think everyone knows him best as a manager. Blassie was just a fantastic talker and managed some of the greats. From what people are saying he seemed like a really good person, too.
#27: Fabulous Moolah – Sure, longest reigning women’s champion of all time and the most famous of all the female wrestler’s. I am happy she’s included on this list. I don’t know how many other women are on here but I guarantee she will be the best “wrestler” on here. I can’t complain about where she is on the list, either.
#26: Ted DiBiase – I’m a big fan of the Million Dollar Man. He was just a great character and Ted played it perfectly. I can see him being #26 but if it were my list I think I’d have him lower.
#25: Chris Jericho – Hey, it’s Chris Jericho! At first I was like, #25 – that is kind of high, but then I think about his career. From the Cruiserweight days of WCW up to his run in WWE he’s really done it all. He was a good face but an unbelievable heel. He was the first ever WWE Undisputed Champion and he helped carry the WWE for years in the absence of Rock and Austin. I love that he keeps reinventing himself, too.
#24: Bruno Sammartino – Another case where not seeing the person when they were at their prime hurts their ranking (not being chummy with McMahon hurts, too). Simply put – the longest running champion of all time. He carried the NY Territory for over a decade. Sure it is a scripted “sport” but making money counts and this guy did that.
Grisham warns us about the next superstar on the list and how controversial his placement is.
#23: Hulk Hogan – This is where the list really takes a turn. It’s a joke that he’s #23. The people voting must have some sort of bias against Hogan. He’s probably the most recognizable superstar of all time. C’mon, he WAS the WWE from 1984-1988 and then he WAS WCW in 1996 with the NWO. He easily should be Top 3. The only person I could think of putting above him is Austin or Rock (in terms of wrestling superstars).
#22: Terry Funk – Putting Funk right above Hogan shows just how ridiculous Hogan’s place in this list is. Yeah, the Funks are legends in Texas and Terry has won an NWA title but can you say Funk is a bigger “superstar” than Hogan? Funk did have a good, long, career. He won the ECW title at their first ever PPV in 1997, almost 20 years after winning the NWA title. He really brought the hardcore style of wrestling into the NWA and into wrestling.
#21: Lou Thesz – I’m not familiar with his work but he’s legendary and probably should’ve been higher based on his body of work. He influenced guys like Brisco and Race who went on to influence many of the top guys of the 80’s. He was one of the first to be on TV in the 50’s. Cornette calls him the Babe Ruth of wrestling.
#20: Jerry Lawler – I originally thought this may have been too high but when you consider his entire run, especially in Memphis, then you realize that this is probably where he deserves to be. Of course, he broke into the mainstream with his Andy Kaufman feud. It seems that Lawler’s won over 125 titles in his career, mostly regional titles. His run as the color guy on WWE has gone one for almost 15 years now, too.
#19: Edge – It’s tough to compare these newer guys with the older guys. It’s tougher for those who wrestled after 2005 because I didn’t really see them. I didn’t see Edge’s WWE Title runs. Gut-reaction says this is too high, though. Yeah, he had a great run as a Tag Champion and then a big-time main eventer. His Rated-R Superstar persona seemed to be a hit, too.
#17: Dusty Rhodes/Ric Flair – I’m surprised they’d have a tie with these two, though fitting considering their history together. I can see Rhodes in the Top Twenty, but not Flair. Flair is easily a Top Ten guy, possibly even Top 5. These are “superstars,” and Flair set the mold. Whole DVD’s have been made on these two, so I don’t think I need to mention their career accolades. I am wondering if Flair and Hogan still wrestling in TNA (when they should be retired) had any effect on their place in this list.
#16: John Cena – I’ll be honest – I can totally understand this. He’s been the guy since people like the Rock left. He’s carried the company since basically 2007 and the merchandise sales show how popular he is. He’s been in a lot of good matches, too. I know the Smark hate for the guy but I think it is a bit unfounded. He’s a decent worker playing a character on television. People hate his superman selling at times but it’s the same thing Hogan did and many people consider him the greatest superstar ever.
#15: Curt Hennig – He’s actually listed as Mr. Perfect but I went with his real name. This is a WWE set so obviously he’s Perfect here. I love they show some of the vignettes he did, too. He was a great worker and it seems a lot of the current WWE stars were influenced by him. If I were to rank Top Superstars he’d be in the Top 50 for sure, maybe even Top 25 but I don’t know if I’d put him this high. Boggs comments on his friend (taken from the WWE DVD) and I just have to mention that his Yankees jersey is in the background with his only World Series title. Let’s Go Yankees! I should point out that only his WWE career (as Mr. Perfect) is mentioned here. They don’t note his AWA or WCW run, and even bypass being the manager to Flair when he didn’t wrestle. His match with Hart should’ve been mentioned, too.
#14: Randy Savage – He’s another personal favorite of mine. I would definitely agree with Randy’s placement here, definitely Top 15, very close to the Top 10. He had a great WWE run in the mid-80’s and was just different than the big muscle-bound folks that were there. He’s probably best remembered for his ***** classic with Steamboat that stole the show at WMIII. Hmm, his WMIII match was ignored, too.
#13: Gorgeous George – I’m surprised Savage’s one-time valet in WCW made the list! Oh, never mind. This is actually the 1950’s wrestler. He was quite a character – sort of Adrian Adonis before Adonis was around. The Masked Destroyer from NWA is interviewed here – IN HIS MASK! Wow, he showed up with a mask to the WWE Interview session. Bert Sugar and John Waters, two people not even connected with wrestling, talk about George’s impact in pop-culture with his flamboyance and his ego. George was definitely an innovator and his place on this list is well-deserved.
#12: Triple H – Sure when you marry the boss’ daughter you’re going to be high on the list! Again, I don’t have too much of an argument here because he was one of the top three guys in the 00’s. Sure you can complain about his backstage politics but he had an incredible stretch in 2000-01 where he was putting on great matches every night. His quad injury set him back a bit but he eventually came back and was putting on great matches again. Myself I would have him closer to #20 than #10, but he is in that ballpark for what he’s done. DX is mentioned, but the more recent incarnation, not the original ground-breaking one that pretty much helped WWE start winning the Ratings War.
#11: Eddie Guerrero – I don’t want to be mean here but his untimely death certainly put him higher than he should’ve been. Sure, he was a great wrestler with a good career but I can’t put him above George, Triple H, Savage or Hogan. Yeah – he was one of the first Cruiserweights to make the scene and was a big WWE star but as a Superstar I think people are remembering him for more than what he was. I love Eddie in the ring and he should be on the list, but not this high.
It’s Top Ten Time!!! This had better be good.
#10: Roddy Piper – One of the biggest heels of the 1980’s and certainly one of the best talkers in wrestling history. I won’t argue with this. He was just such a character who could entertain people either in the ring with his matches or with his interview segments. How can you forget the Piper’s Pit with Snuka? Who can forget his participation in the first ever Wrestlemania Main Event? Hogan was the biggest star but it could be argued that he may not have been as big if Piper wasn’t there alongside with him.
#9: Rey Mysterio – Now we have reached the point of ridiculousness. Hogan at #23 and Rey Mysterio at #9? No way. He flies around and entertains and puts on good matches but he’s not on the level of Hogan or even Piper. In the annals of wrestling history people will remember Piper before Rey. Name 5 Rey moments that stand the test of time? I can’t even name one.
#8: Andre The Giant – Easily the biggest spectacle in wrestling history. This guy really was the 8th Wonder of the World. His biggest moment came at WMIII against Hogan but that was towards the end of his career and you really have to see some of his early 80’s and late 70’s stuff to see how good he was. He’s another guy who found mainstream success – he’s someone that even the most casual wrestling fans would know.
#7: Ricky Steamboat – I think this is a case of people confusing wrestling star with superstar. Ricky was an unbelievable wrestler who had ***** matches with Steamboat and Flair and could out-wrestle just about anyone but I don’t know if he’s to that superstar level. To me, Top 10 Superstars would be people who casual wrestling fans would really know. They would know Andre. I don’t know how many would really know Steamboat. He’s certainly awesome and I am not taking away from his wrestling ability, but I don’t know if he deserves to be in the Top 10. The WMIII match is mentioned here. That’s probably why it wasn’t mentioned in the Savage segment. Oh, and how is Steamboat higher than Flair?
#6: Harley Race – Legendary NWA champ? Yeah, he deserves to be here. He was known as a legitimate tough-guy in the ring. Thankfully they focus on his NWA career and not his watered down WWE stuff from the late 80’s.
#5: The Rock – Man, think about what he could’ve been if he stayed with the company! Rock was one of those guys who became BIGGER than the business and for that he deserves to be this high. He’s now a true Hollywood Star and his track record in the theaters proves that. In his time he was the best talker in the promotion and one of the most entertaining. He was hated as heel and loved as face. One of the cool things about the Rock as a performer is he could play both roles perfectly. Look at his Wrestlemania match with Hogan – He was booed as the heel and he went on to play the heel character in the ring! For my money he’s probably the best Sports Entertainer this business has ever seen. Another thing I liked about the Rock is that he never seemed to mind doing the job in big stages. I never heard of him refusing to job to anyone. I think he understood the business and his place in it very well.
#4: Bret Hart – The Hitman, the Excellence of Execution. I can agree with this. Hart was a consummate performer who would put on great matches in the big stages. He made his way through the ranks, from tag champ to IC champ to the WWE champ. He guided the WWE through some of their leanest years and helped put Shawn Michaels over as a big star. His career in the WWE ended in a controversial way and probably led to WWE overtaking WCW in the Ratings War. Bret was just a great worker and a great star. I wouldn’t put him in my Top Ten, just because of all the people he skipped over but I won’t argue too much for him being this high.
#3: Steve Austin – THE biggest WWE star of all time? Yeah, he’s definitely Top 3 material. I actually put him as #1 on my list just for what he did to wrestling. Aside from his great matches and great angles, he brought the WWE back into the national spotlight. In 1998 he was the coolest thing on the planet. I would see TONS of people wearing Austin 3:16 shirts. Wrestling was never as popular back in 1998-99 because of Austin. His everyman character just resonated with people. He took on his boss – he was the anti-hero. He really redefined the industry.
#2: Undertaker – Undertaker is a controversial figure to some because of his backstage politicking but one thing you can’t deny is that since 1990 he’s been one of the fan favorites in WWE year in and year out. I noticed that Undertaker is the only one in the Top 10 that is a gimmick – it’s not just someone’s name who played a character he was a full on gimmick. He was a dead zombie! Mark Calloway made it work and he played the role perfectly. He got into the character and made something that sounds goofy actually work. He was never the greatest worker in the industry but he somehow got really good towards the tail end of his career. His Wrestlemania streak is well noted and certainly being in that many Wrestlemania’s shows his longevity. He’s definitely in my Top Ten.
#1: Shawn Michaels – Hard to complain about this one, especially considering it is the WWE stars who voted. He’s had a great career with some unbelievable matches and has probably been even better since finding Jesus and coming back in 2002. Say what you will about who he was as a person back in the mid-90’s – he still had amazing matches and clearly influenced a lot of today’s talent. I wouldn’t have him as #1 but I won’t argue too heavily based on who is voting. After all, he is Mr. Wrestlemania.
Well that was certainly an interesting list. Having the current WWE locker room vote on who they think should be on the list certainly affected a lot and since many of these guys were kids in the 80’s and 90’s you can see that the list is heavily weighted to people from that era. There are a lot of issues due to that. Some people were really too low on the list (possibly because of personal attitudes towards said person) while others are way too high. I myself go with the WWE DVD measuring stick. Hogan (at #23 – the biggest joke ever) has had something like 4 WWE DVD’s released. Much more than people ranked higher than him, like Lou Thesz, . Let’s get back to that Hogan thing. I can understand why some people were underrated or overrated based on personal taste and other factors like familiarity with a person. It’s the reason why Derek Jeter ranks so highly in Greatest Yankees lists. People can remember him playing. Not too many people remember Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle or DiMaggio. It affects your decision making and that is understandable. However, putting Hogan at #23 is like putting Gordie Howe at #23 on the list of greatest hockey players. It’s just unforgiveable! Hogan led the industry for over 10 years and is possibly the most recognizable superstar in this business. The exclusions of the Ultimate Warrior and Sting are unforgiveable.
In terms of the program itself (getting away from the ranking wrangling) I have to say it was very well done. Time was spent on each wrestler, with more focus going towards the ones at the top of the list (and rightly so). There was old footage recycled from old DVD’s and combined with new interviews. You can complain about the rankings all you want but anytime you have lists you will have problems. It happens all the time – I complain about ESPN lists all the time (Secretariat is one of the top ten athletes of all time? IT’S A HORSE!) but I can sit back and at least enjoy how the list is presented and what is said about each performer and I have to say a lot of respect was given to everyone on here. The clips chosen were just awesome, too, especially for the older guys. I love old wrestling footage and really more things about the 70’s and 80’s need releases. I know they don’t sell but I as a fan would appreciate it. In summation – it was a really good program but with a lot of faults in terms of the rankings. Having a fan vote would’ve helped somewhat.
Just for fun, here are my Top 10 Superstars of all time:
#10) Harley Race
#9) Bob Backlund
#7) Shawn Michaels
#6) Lou Thesz
#5) Bruno Sammartino
#4) The Rock
#3) Ric Flair
#2) Hulk Hogan
#1) Steve Austin
—Disc Two (3:00:44)—
1) Lou Thesz(c) vs. Argentina Rocca for the NWA Title
This is from Buffalo, NY though sadly no date is given. Judging by the black and white footage it seems to be before The Sabres or Bills won any of their championships. Thesz is booed by some of the fans. I never knew if he worked heel or not. The play-by-play guy tells us this would sell out MSG if it were there but they’re in Buffalo, not here. Based on the commentary this was a little while after Thesz won the title from Buddy Rogers. That occurred on January 24th, 1963. Interestingly enough, that title change was not recognized by the WWWF who branched off and created their own title – which would be the WWE Title right now. Thesz would lose the title in 1966 and never regain it again. When all was said and done Thesz held the title on three occasions for a total of 3,749 days. His record is better than Flair’s by about 600 days. I wonder if you add Flair’s two WWE title reigns if he comes close to that? I just checked – Flair held the WWE title for only 118 days so he’s still about 400 days away. Sammartino held his title for 4,040 days while Moolah held hers for over 10,000 days. Incredible. Thesz takes down Rocca early with a headscissors. Rocca breaks and takes down Thesz with a hammerlock which he later turns into a bodyscissors. Thesz breaks and gets Rocca into the corner. He elbows him before doing a side headlock takeover. There appears to be slight clippage – either that or the tape broke up momentarily. Rocca breaks and charges at Thesz who hides in the ropes. Rocca slaps Thesz and swipes his bare foot at him and that just draws the ire of Thesz. Thesz takes Rocca down with a cross arm-breaker though it is Rocca who manages to get a couple of pinfall attempts. Thesz is sent to the corner and Rocca actually does a sort of hurricanrana headscissors takeover which sends Thesz bailing underneath the ropes. Rocca grabs a headlock but Thesz is in the corner so he has to break. Thesz comes back with some uppercuts. Rocca shoves Thesz off to the ropes and Thesz comes right back with the famed Lou Thesz press to end this at 14:06. This was a slow-paced, technically sound type of 1960’s match. I personally liked it but your mileage may vary if you’re accustomed to the current WWE product. **1/2.
2) Jack Brisco vs. Dory Funk Jr. for the NWA Title
Jack and Gordon Solie are chatting together about Brisco battling Funk Jr. This is from Championship Wrestling From Florida but no date is given. It seems that this is a non-title match. Solie and Brisco are talking about the match as they watch the highlights of it. Feeling out process to start as we cut ahead to Funk bodyslamming Brisco. Funk tries the spinning toe-hold and Brisco counters into a Figure-Four. Unfortunately for Brisco, the time-limit hit before Funk could submit. We got about 4:15 (shown) so I can’t really rate it.
3) Fabulous Moolah(c) vs. Susan Green for the WWE Women’s Title
We’re at Madison Square Garden for this bout from June 16th, 1975. Moolah won this women’s title in 1956 and WWE recognizes no losses between then and this match (although Wikipedia lists 8 different title switches between 1956 and 1984). Incredibly, Moolah held the women’s title for exactly 10 years before she lost it in September of 1966. Sue Green is credited with holding the title briefly in the late 70’s. Vinnie Mac is calling the action here. Susan is much taller than Moolah. Moolah had actually purchased this championship and it was literally hers, much in the same way the Big Gold Belt was Flair’s. Green takes down Moolah early so Moolah just boots her in the gut and chokes away. Moolah chops away but misses wildly on one swing and Green takes down Moolah to a pretty big pop. A knee-lift gets two for Susan. Moolah wants a handshake but Green instead delivers a boot to the gut for two. Green works the leg of Moolah until missing a dropkick. Green piggybacks on Moolah and takes her down with a bodyscissors. Moolah breaks and then makes advances to the referee. I’d like to see some of the Diva heels do that now – really, I think it’s a good heel spot. Moolah misses a kneedrop and Green responds with a bodyslam and an elbowdrop. Green heads upstairs but misses a big splash off the top. Moolah gets a standing splash and that’s enough to end this at 8:39. Definitely not terrible, but there wasn’t enough here to be good. I will say this – Moolah knew how to play to the crowd and got some pretty good heat. The match is announced as 10:16 by the timekeeper which is clearly exaggerated. *.
4) Gorilla Monsoon vs. Muhammad Ali
I was excited to see this one after it was mentioned on the main program. This dates back to June 2nd, 1976 and is from Philadelphia. It doesn’t mention it is from the Spectrum but I don’t know what other arena it would’ve been in at this time. Baron Mikel Sicluna and Gorilla Monsoon are actually wrestling a match here – with Sicluna attacking Monsoon from behind. Sicluna is dumped and I guess counted out (at around 0:50) and Ali decides to get into the ring with Monsoon. What precipitated this? Monsoon picks up Ali and gives him an airplane spin before slamming him down (though protecting him a lot in the process). Ali actually leaves the ring after this. He learned his lesson! McMahon interviews Gorilla afterwards. Monsoon says that Ali is a great boxer but is a terrible wrestler. He doesn’t know a wristlock from a wrist watch!
5) Harley Race vs. Terry Funk(c) for the NWA Title
This is from the February 6th, 1977 episode of Championship Wrestling from Florida. This is JIP. Race snapmares Funk and heads up but is caught and slammed off. Funk trips up Race and works the leg. Race kicks off Funk and gets a knee breaker. Race gets an Indian Deathlock (called by the announcer) which is sort of like a combination between a figure-four and a leg grapevine. Funk calls it quits and that gives Harley Race the NWA title at 3:22. Match time was listed at about 14-minutes by the timekeeper. Can’t really rate it based on what was shown so I will go NR.
6) Gorilla Monsoon vs. Andre The Giant in a Boxing Match
This is a boxing match from Puerto Rico that was filmed on September 23rd, 1977. Alfred Hayes apologizes for the poor video quality which means that this must’ve been on some sort of WWE Coliseum Video. Hayes notes that Monsoon has the distinction of WRESTLING Muhammad Ali and BOXING Andre The Giant. This was at the famed Roberto Clemente arena, which Hayes calls the ROBERT Clemente arena. Silly Brit! Typical worked boxing match with punches that are being held back. Monsoon is saved by the bell after the first round (2-minutes each). Round 2 begins with Monsoon wailing away and knocking the Giant down. Monsoon is felled and Andre gets a butt-splash. I don’t know why he wasn’t DQ’ed for that. Andre knocks Monsoon with a big roundhouse and Gorilla makes the count back up. Gorilla cowers in the corner and is saved by the bell again. Monsoon throws haymakers at the start of the third round. The referee tries to separate Monsoon from Andre and while he’s between them Andre clocks Monsoon on the head. Monsoon can’t make the count (with the fans counting in Spanish, no less) and he’s KO’ed at 0:49 of the third round, 5:00 total. Giant knocks out Gorilla outside the ring after the match and chases Monsoon’s manager to the back. Fun stuff and I found it more entertaining than any other fixed boxing match. I’ll go ** for it.
7) Superstar Billy Graham(c) (w/Grand Wizard) vs. Dusty Rhodes for the WWE Title
This took place in Madison Square Garden on September 26th, 1977. I remember hearing about this from the Dusty Rhodes DVD. Rhodes worked two matches in the WWE at MSG both against Graham and both brought in huge gaits. Dusty is getting a huge face reaction. Rhodes shoves Graham into the corner early and often and then hiptosses Graham when he charges out. Rhodes drops an elbow and the crowd is just eating this up. Graham is bodyslammed and he takes a breather outside. Graham wants a test of strength but Rhodes is reluctant. He obliges and eventually is able to stomp the fingers of Graham. Dusty sends Graham into the corner and elbows him on the apron. This has been all Dusty so far. Graham fights back and drops knees into Dusty’s face before grabbing a chinlock. We’ve been going about 15-seconds between moves so that break-neck pace needed a slight rest. Dusty powers up and breaks but misses a splash near the ropes and ends up outside. Graham follows and sends Dusty into the barricade. Dusty is caught in a bearhug once back inside though he is able to elbow out of it. Graham grabs another backbreaker submission over his shoulder but Lucha Dusty flips out of it and drops a series of elbows. He misses the last one and Graham heads upstairs. He’s caught and tossed off. Graham charges and is backdropped to the outside. The referee goes out to check on Graham but it turns out he’s actually counting out Graham. Graham is counted out at 15:56. Dusty grabs the title and celebrates with it but we all know titles can’t change hands on a count-out. Dusty gets on the microphone after the ring announcer and tells him he came a long way to whoop his ass and he demands Graham come back out. He didn’t, but they would have a rematch later on. Boring match. The first 10-minutes featured too much stalling though I have to say the 5-minutes at the end were pretty good, crappy finish and all (need to protect your champ!). **1/2.
8) Iron Sheik (w/Freddie Blassie) vs. Hulk Hogan(c) for the WWE Title
I originally thought this was Hogan’s title win and I was like, again? It’s on another DVD? This was actually from later on that year after Hogan had won the title. This was showcased at the December 28th, 1984 Madison Square Garden show. Iron Sheik yells at the fans before Hogan is introduced. Sheik attacks Hogan from behind and Hogan bodyslams him down, all while wearing his shirt and belt. Real American is dubbed over Eye of the Tiger and as a result Monsoon was edited out of the early part of the match. Hogan clotheslines Sheik down after taking off his shirt and then takes off his headband before delivering a back suplex. Hogan suplexes the Sheik but puts his head down too soon on a backdrop attempt. A gut-wrench suplex gets two for the Sheik. Hogan starts hulking up early and runs into a powerslam. The legdrop ends this at 3:32. I’m upset – no big boot! This was probably the match before intermission if I had to guess. It was exciting, but too short. Such is 1980’s monster Hogan matches. *.
9) Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper & Junkyard Dog vs. Randy Savage, Harley Race & Adrian Adonis
Surprisingly this is the ONLY match on the whole collection I’ve reviewed before and it was from WWEClassics.com (now GreatestMatches.com) during their Greatest Rivalries month back in July of 2009. It is a real credit to those who made the match selections how little repeats there are. Here’s the review:
This was a big mash-up of Wrestlemania III rivalries from Madison Square Garden held on February 23rd, 1987. Well, I assume it is ’87 because the website states 2009. Oooh, it’s an elimination tag match. They would use this same format just a few months later and make a whole Pay-Per-View about it called Survivor Series. Slick and Gorilla Monsoon are the odd pairing on commentary here. Randy gets a pretty decent reaction here from the MSG fans. Roddy is announced as making his final MSG wrestling appearance. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. Adrian and Piper are set to start but why have a Wrestlemania match here? So Savage is tagged in. Piper takes out his frustration by slugging Race down before tagging in Steamboat. Savage immediately bails before they lock up. Savage is arm-dragged down so Savage quickly tags in Race. JYD is brought in and he slugs down Race before head-butting him on all fours. Race bails and MSG is just electric right now. Race comes back in and slams JYD down before bringing in Savage who drops a knee and covers for two. Savage heads upstairs but is distracted by Steamboat. Savage is head-butted by the Dog and Steamboat comes in with his trademark chops. Steamboat tries a back drop but is kicked in the face instead. Adonis comes in with a back suplex but misses a charge in the corner. Piper is tagged in but Adonis bails. Soon all 6 guys ends up in the ring. Savage tosses Steamboat to the outside as the heels triple-team Piper in the corner. Piper is double-suplexed by Race and Adonis and is covered, but Steamboat breaks up the pin. Savage doesn’t like this blatant cheating and tries to send Steamboat to the corner but that is blocked. Adonis is sent to the corner but catches a charging Piper with a sleeper. Piper counters into one of his own which is then broken up by Race. We end up with JYD and Savage in the ring. JYD bodyslams Savage and covers but Adonis breaks up that pinfall. Adonis comes in with some shots to the head but JYD is impervious to that. JYD charges but Adonis sends him to the outside. Soon we have all six guys brawling on the outside.
Piper uses a chair on Adonis as the two battle back to the locker rooms. Somehow Roddy makes it back to the ring and back suplexes Race in. He covers but Savage breaks that pin up. The ref rings the bell at 7:49. It seems that Adonis and JYD were both eliminated via count-out. So Race and Piper continue this wild match with Race hitting a clothesline. Savage comes in but misses a butt splash on the ropes. Race comes in to make sure Piper can’t make the tag but Race has his suplex countered into one for Piper and Steamboat is tagged in. Steamboat chops away at Race, two NWA champs, though Race was a former one by this point and Steamboat was one that was yet to be. Steamboat karate chops Race off the top and covers, but Savage breaks up that pin. Steamboat counters a bodyslam with a small package (the finish for his match with Savage!) but Savage comes in and reverses that and the ref counts him out at 11:14. So now Piper is left to take on Race and Savage. Piper takes on Race and gets the better of him until Savage comes in and turns the tide. That tide didn’t last long as Piper and Race brawl outside. Savage joins in and tries to use a chair but fails. Savage brings Piper back into the ring and I guess he’s the legal man now. He chokes Piper using the top rope before heading upstairs. His double axe-handle connects for two. The heels double-team but Piper comes back with some punches before realizing that two guys are too much for him. Race powerslams Piper for two. He tries a gut-wrench suplex but that is countered by Piper. He covers but Savage breaks up that pinfall. The heels try another double-team but heel miscommunication leads to Savage hitting his top rope double axe-handle on Race and Piper getting the pinfall at 15:16. We’re left to Savage and Piper. Did they ever work during the WWE glory years of the 80’s besides this? Piper bulldogs Savage and then bites his hand! But the DOG already left the ring? Savage responds by spitting in the face of Piper. That only angers the crazy Scot. This leads to a chase around the ring, with Savage outsmarting Piper by attacking him on the way in. Piper sneaks in a sunset flip but that is blocked by Savage. Savage connects with a really odd-looking clothesline for two. Was that supposed to be a double DQ spot? Savage drives an elbow to Piper’s throat for two. He tries a bodyslam but Piper falls on top for two. The two come off the ropes and collide. Piper fakes being knocked out as Savage falls to the outside. Savage sees Piper laying low and heads upstairs for the flying elbow but Piper had him scouted. He gets up and small packages Savage for the pinfall and the victory at 19:56. Wow, Savage lost via small package to Steamboat just a month later, too and it’s a bit of poetic justice seeing as Savage caused Steamboat to lose via small package earlier in the match. This was crazy action and aside from the booking needing to keep everyone strong, this set the standard for the elimination matches that would be showcased in Survivor Series every year. ***3/4.
10) Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Ricky Steamboat
This is from December 26th, 1987 at the WWE’s Christmas show at Madison Square Garden. I believe these two would wrestle at the 1988 Royal Rumble and it was a major snoozefest. Hopefully this one will be better. Side-headlock to start for Rude and he tries tossing Steamboat only to have Steamboat skin the cat. Heenan tries to intervene but Steamboat kicks him off and then backdrops a charging Rude. Rude takes a breather and confers with Heenan outside. Rude gets the better of a test of strength in the ring although Steamboat powers out of it and takes down Rude with an overhead wristlock. Steamboat trips on a leapfrog attempt but he gets up quickly and arm-drags Rude. That was a bit embarrassing. Steamboat keeps on the arm until Rude thumbs him in the eye. Steamboat gets a two off a crucifix and goes back to the arm. Rude misses a charge in the corner, as does Steamboat and Rude takes over with some punches and posing. Rude works the back with a camel clutch. This match is pretty boring so I think I will mention that Rude has some cool road-sign wrestling pants on. There’s a One-Way sign, a No Parking, a Yield and other ones. Rude tries sitting down for more pressure but Steamboat slides under and Rude lands on his coccyx. Steamboat tries a bodyslam but sells his back injury and can’t do it. Rude responds with a bodyslams and a bearhug. He switches to an abdominal stretch and clotheslines Steamboat coming out of the corner for two. Another Camel Clutch really slows things down. Steamboat gets to a vertical base and drops Rude down. Rude heads up high but is caught leaping off the top with a shot to the gut. Steamboat slams Rude’s head into the turnbuckles. Rude tries a cover and Steamboat bridges out of it, turning it into a backslide for two. A small package gets two for Ricky, as does a schoolboy. Rude forearms Steamboat down for two. A bodyslam gets two for Rude. Steamboat blocks a suplex and counters with one of his own for two. Steamboat tries a bodyslam but Rude falls on top of him for two. Rude misses a charge in the corner and Steamboat heads upstairs. A tomahawk chop hits but the bell rings at 20:29 for the time limit draw. Steamboat continues chopping away until the referee lets Steamboat know what happened. Heenan calls Steamboat a dummy and tells him he’s lucky the match didn’t go 5-more-minutes. Heenan then tells Steamboat he can beat him in five-minutes. Steamboat comes back into the ring and gets taken out by Rude. They are separated and we’d just have to wait to see who really would win this match-up. Way too many rest-holds for my liking, though the ending picked up a bit and it was technically sound. ** – it was better than their Rumble match by a lot.
11) Jerry Lawler(c) vs. Curt Hennig for the AWA Title
This is an AWA match from August 13th, 1988. I’m assuming this was probably Hennig’s last match with the AWA. Curt has Alundra Blayze/Madusa/whatever the hell she called herself in the AWA with him. Okay, she’s Madusa Micelli according to our ring announcer. Lawler starts with a bodyslam which sends Hennig for a loop. Hennig misses a right in the corner as both guys are still feeling each other out. Lawler lands the first big shot of the match, slugging Hennig so hard that he’s oversells and falls to the outside. Hennig sends Lawler to the ropes where he’s choked by Madusa and Hennig then initiates a criss-cross. There’s a cute spot where Lawler stops and then slides out to chase Madusa. Hennig makes the save and slugs away at the King. Lawler counters a backdrop with a sunset flip for two. Hennig boots Lawler to the outside and then knocks him off as King tries to make his way back in. Hennig follows and sends Lawler headfirst into the ringpost. Lawler is suplexed into the ring and Hennig covers for two. Hennig grabs an abdominal stretch and Lawler is able to hiptoss out of it. Madusa tosses her shoe into the ring and Hennig lays out Lawler with it. He covers but only gets two! Hennig piledrives Lawler too close to the ropes and covers but Lawler’s foot gets the ropes. Lawler schoolboys Hennig but Madusa distracts the ref and Lawler gets the visual pinfall instead. A neckbreaker gets two for Hennig. He heads upstairs but Lawler crotches him. A double right leads to a double KO spot. Hennig swings wildly once to his feet and Lawler ducks, countering with his own atomic drop. Lawler bodyslams Hennig but misses a top-rope fistdrop. Hennig grabs a sleeper and Lawler breaks by sending Hennig over the top. That draws a disqualification at 16:15. Of course, Hennig doesn’t win the title. Hennig cuts a bitter promo after the match. He’d show up in the WWE soon after this. I love Hennig but this was a sub-par match. Too slow in the beginning and a screwy ending and there didn’t seem to be a lot of psychology involved either. It was almost Memphis-like, I’d imagine, with the amount of stalling at the start. **1/2.
12) Jake Roberts vs. Ted DiBiase
It’s the annual MSG Christmas show! This time it’s from December 28th, 1989. This was the third MSG Christmas Show on the collection. I wonder when the WWE stopped doing the post-Christmas shows at MSG? (The answer to that seems to be 1992). Anyway, there are a couple of stipulations to this match. First of all, it is no disqualification. Second of all, Virgil is barred from ringside. Do you what these two have in common? Both have appeared at my local comic book shop for signing appearances! And I missed both of them! Roberts chops away early at the Million Dollar Man (who sadly doesn’t have his music yet) and works the arm. Roberts tries an early DDT but DiBiase bails to the outside. Jake pulls DiBiase back in by the arm (nice bit of psychology there) and they battle over wrist-locks. Jake gets tied up in the ropes a la Andre The Giant and DiBiase gets some free shots in. DiBiase hits a swinging neckbreaker and Jake sells it very well. DiBiase follows with a piledriver and covers but Jake is too close to the ropes and his foot is able to reach out to the bottom one. Roberts elbows out of a chinlock until he’s clotheslined down again. DiBiase misses an axe-handle off the top but lands on his feet. Roberts rolls to the outside and lures DiBiase out with him. Roberts slithers into the ring and catches DiBiase with a knee lift on the way in. Roberts sends DiBiase into the corner and charged but finds DiBiase’s knee. DiBiase grabs the Million Dollar Dream and Roberts is able to make the ropes. He’s out and falls to the outside. DiBiase heads out and argues with the referee and Jake wisely reaches through the ropes and pulls DiBiase into the ringpost. Cool! Roberts gets a high knee lift off the second rope in the ring before connecting with a short-arm clothesline. Jake hits the DDT and covers for the clean pinfall at 18:37. Roberts celebrates with the Million Dollar Belt and Virgil runs out to take it back. I thought this’d be a boring throwaway match but it was actually the best one on Disc 2! The pacing and psychology was amazing and DiBiase shows what you can do as a heel in control to keep the match interesting. Sure he used rest-holds at points but it kept with the story of the match. ****.
—Disc Three (3:00:26)—
1) Ric Flair(c) (w/Mr. Perfect) vs. Bret Hart for the WWE Title
This was taped in Saskatoon, Canada on October 12th, 1992 for a Coliseum Video. Ric Flair was the WWE champion. He was going to leave for WCW in just a few months and one day it was decided by Vince that he would just drop the title to Hart at a House Show (that happened to be taped). It was featured on the Smack ‘Em, Whack ‘Em Coliseum Video released in 1993. Hart works the arm early and Flair gets to the ropes to break. Flair locks up and pushes Hart to the corner and actually breaks clean. Gorilla and Hayes say they’d want to see Flair and Perfect wrestling. Just wait a few more months, guys. Hart blocks a suplex and counters with one of his own. Gorilla and Hayes mention Okerlund being a back-stabber which is interesting. Was that some sort of inside comment? Hart is getting an insane reaction here which shouldn’t surprise me since he’s in Canada. Flair takes a walk and gets a breather. Flair returns and tries to power Hart down with an overhead wristlock but Hart gains advantage and Flair does a nice job selling. Hart works the shoulder/arm but walks into a boot to the gut. Flair chops him down and then dumps him to the outside. Hart comes back with a sunset flip but Flair holds on and slugs Hart to the outside. Hart repeats the sunset flip and this time he uses the tights (giving us a shot of Flair’s ass – thankfully blurred by the DVD) to get two, backdrops Flair out of the corner and knocks Flair to the outside. Flair does his flop on the outside just to show how bad he is. He flops once inside the ring and Hart gets two off of that. Flair casually thumbs Hart in the eye to take control. Hart does his trademark chest-first bump in the corner setting up a kneebreaker by Flair. Flair goes after the leg now. Hart tries a figure-four but Flair shoves him off. Flair grabs a side-headlock and Hart counters with his own kneebreaker. Hart elbows the knee and locks Flair in the Figure-Four! Flair makes the ropes and rolls out of an elbowdrop attempt. Flair’s hiptoss is blocked and turned into a backslide by Hart for two. Hart grabs a sleeper which Flair back suplexes out of. Double under hook suplex gets two for Flair. Flair hits a knee-drop and then sells the previously injured knee. Hart is chopped down for two. Flair argues with the ref and is schoolboyed for two as a result. Flair connects with a kneebreaker and immediately goes to the Figure-Four. Hart turns the move around so Flair quickly grabs the ropes. Flair keeps stomping Hart’s knee and tries another Figure-Four but Hart rolls him up for two. Hart fights out of the corner but runs into a big boot. Flair heads upstairs and he’s caught and tossed off (of course). Hart backdrops Flair coming out of the corner and drops an elbow for two. Side-Russian legsweep also gets two. Flair begs off but Hart gives him a backbreaker instead. This sets up the second-rope elbow which also gets two. A Hart suplex gets two. Flair chops Hart in the corner but Hart no-sells and actually takes down his shirt straps. You don’t see Hart do that often. Hart gets a superplex and then locks on the Sharpshooter. Perfect gets onto the apron but the referee shoos him away. Flair actually calls it quits at 26:30, making Bret Hart your NEW WWE Champion. This would be his first title and the pop he got was pretty damn good. This was an EXCELLENT match. It’s a shame a match of this quality was never on a PPV because it is one that needs to be seen. Two masters of their craft doing a great job of setting up moves, selling those moves, and keeping a 26-minute match interesting. There were some slow spots (especially when Flair was just pulling Hart’s leg) but other than that this was awesome. ****1/4.
2) Rock(c) (w/Vince McMahon) vs. Mankind for the WWE Title
This took place during halftime of the Super Bowl on January 31st, 1999 and was called Halftime Heat. It used the same format as the Funk/Lawler empty arena brawl and I remember watching it during the Super Bowl 12 years ago. Of course, Mick Foley mentions a specific camera angle here that completely exposed the match which I will mention when we get there. This was actually recorded only 2 days after Rock and Mankind’s Royal Rumble match where Mankind took some unprotected chair shots. Mankind’s head is wrapped as a result. Vince is calling action here, basically complaining about having to defend the title here. It’s interesting that you can actually hear all of Rock and Mankind’s trash-talking during the match. It’s also interesting to hear McMahon on commentary again. At this time it would’ve been about two-years since he’s done commentary.Mankind drops an elbow and covers for a quick two. A Mandible Claw attempt sends Rock bailing to the outside and Mankind follows. He sends him into the timekeeper’s table and then into the announce table where McMahon complains. Mankind is sent THROUGH the barricade into the first row of seats. Rock tosses Mankind into some of the fold-up chairs and then just tosses them onto Mankind while trash-talking him. There’s a count-down on the screen that tells us that the 2nd Half of the Super Bowl begins in 15:00. It was 17-6 between the Broncos and Falcons at this point so I remember being in no hurry to watch them, especially since Elway already got his first Super Bowl the year before. Rock gets the headset to trash-talk the Rock and there’s an awesome reaction from McMahon while trying to warn Rock that Mankind was right behind him. Mankind locks in a Mandible Claw and Rock frees himself with a low blow. They fight up the steps as McMahon calls the WWE a soap opera – like the Road Runner and One Life to Live. He hypes Raw is War, at that time THE top-rated show on cable television. Rock hides behind a barrier and nails Mankind with a garbage can. He kicks Mankind who rolls down the steps in a nice stuntman bump. Rock empties the trashcan on Mankind and I have to question why there is garbage in their when it was an empty arena and it should’ve been cleaned out. Meanwhile, we hear from Kevin Kelly and Shane McMahon who are calling the Heat action. We see a replay of Mankind rolling down the steps. Cameras finally catch up with Rock and Mankind in the kitchen. Mankind is sent into the cotton candy stand. Rock steals Mr. Socko and puts him in the oven! MURDERER! He then puts Mankind into the oven, which was clearly off, but the sound effects department threw in some sound making it seem like it was on. Mankind has somehow lost a boot, too. Rock throws bread into Mankind’s face as we descend into ridiculousness. Rock sips some Jack Daniels (which Vince says is not real liquor) and is sent into some plates. Mankind takes a huge back of popcorn and slams it into Rock. They brawl into a room where the crew is relaxing. They just sit and watch on as Rock complains that the popcorn is too salty. They destroy the buffet table (great, now I got to buy dinner!) and Mankind eyes start burning from barbecue sauce. Rock tastes is and it’s only mild! Mankind tries a piledriver but Rock backdrops him onto the table. This is hysterical stuff. Rock hits Mankind with a squash, though Rock couldn’t identify what fruit it was. Mankind lowblows Rock for two. Rock pours soda on Mankind and they go to the office area. Mankind is kicked into a rolling chair in an office. The phone rings and Rock answers. Rock was great even back in 1999. Rock flaunts in front of the woman and calls her a big, fat, piece of trash. Mankind is able to attack Rock from behind and drags him to the loading dock. Slugfest ensues and they knock each other out with rights. Now here comes the ending. Mankind puts Rock out with the Mandible Claw and Mankind drops a forklift pallet on top of the Rock to stop him from getting up when he covers and here’s the spot I mentioned before – there’s a shot of Rock’s face from the TOP of the forklift – thus exposing the way the match was recorded and edited – making it more like a movie scene than a match. Rock is underneath the forklift (with no camera man on top to record those two shots!) and he stands on top of Rock to get the pinfall and the title (where did that come from) at 17:19. This was a fun, entertaining match, but it went on a bit too long and that ending was business-exposing stuff. This certainly wasn’t the brutality that Funk/Lawler was but I can understand that given Foley’s injuries just days before. Fun match, but it wasn’t as good as I remembered it. ***.
3) Steve Austin vs. The Rock vs. The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle(c) for the WWE Title
This was from the December 7th, 2000 episode of SmackDown. I am 100% certain I have seen this and the next two matches live when they happened as I was a big WWE fan from 1999-2003. I probably taped this one, too, as I taped everything from 2000-2003. Ok, a little background – Rock was hugely over, Undertaker was in his biker, won’t-sell-for-anyone phase, Austin was coming back from his bad neck injury and Kurt Angle was the best wrestler/entertainer in the business by now. I still love hearing Angle’s music hit. He’d definitely be in my Top 5 list of personal favorites – up there with Savage, Mankind, The Rock and Flair. Angle is the last one out and he’s stalked from all sides by the other three men. Undertaker rips the medals from Angle and he’s slugged down by all three guys. That’s not fair at all! The Olympic Champion is triple-teamed! He’s clotheslined down by Rock and Austin follows with an elbow. Angle wisely bails only to get trapped again. He’s sent into the steps by Undertaker and Angle’s rolled back in. Austin stomps a mudhole but forgets to walk it dry. Angle ducks a double clothesline only to walk into a big boot from the Undertaker. Rock covers so Austin pulls him off and stares him down so Undertaker tries to sneak in a cover. Austin and Rock double team the Undertaker now and clothesline him to the outside. Austin’s spinebuster leads to a cover and Rock pulls him off. They dump Angle and Rock and Austin come to blows. Undertaker returns and clotheslines both of them down and Austin is sent to the outside. Taker tries the Last Ride on Rock but Angle “trips” him up from behind and rock falls on top of Taker. Angle messed up the spot and it came off looking really bad. Rock DDT’s Angle and covers but Austin pulls him off. Undertaker and Austin exchange blows in the ring, soon to be joined by the Rock. Austin is pinballed between the two until he ducks out and Rock is the new pinball. Undertaker elbows out of a Rock Bottom and Rock bails out of a Stunner attempt. Undertaker tries a chokeslam but Angle rolls him up for two. Undertaker is sent outside but is quickly encountered by Rikishi and Triple H. Both of them were in the Hell In A Cell match the next Sunday with the other four guys. Triple H had hired Rikishi to take out Austin with a car back at Survivor Series 1999. Rock, Austin and Undertaker are laid out with a steel chair as Angle, Triple H and Rikishi celebrate in the ring. Angle knocks out Rikishi with the title and Triple H in turn knocks out Angle with a chair. He delivers a neckbreaker to Austin on a chair, too. The show goes off the air as we get the Sports Entertainment Finish at about 6:00. Tough to really rate it since it was so short and nothing really much was done during the actual 4-minute match before the interference. It did build to the PPV well, though. *1/2.
4) Undertaker, Kane & The Hardy Boys vs. Steve Austin, Triple H, Edge & Christian
This is from the April 23rd, 2001 Raw. This is a nice way to get 6 people from the Top 50 into one match. Undertaker and Kane were Tag Champions at this time so I guess this was during a time when they didn’t hate each other. Big brawl to start as Ross mentions this is only 6 days before the Backlash PPV. The Hardy’s and Edge & Christian fight it out in the ring with both E&C taking Poetry in Motion. Christian and Jeff start off the match once everyone gets to their respective corners. Undertaker and Austin tag in and Taker hits a big boot on both Austin and a charging Triple H. Triple H is back dropped and clotheslined to the outside. Kane tags in and hits a flying clothesline off the top on Austin. He knocks E&C off the apron and sets up a chokeslam but Triple H interferes. Austin goes after the injured arm of Kane and soon he’s quadruple teamed in the corner. Austin sneaks in a low-blow while Triple H distracts the ref. Kane manages to escape to his corner but all his partners are gone – brawling with E&C and Austin on the outside. Kane tags in Hardy but the referee didn’t see it. He actually should’ve put Matt back on the apron but doesn’t. I guess he figures he’s in there with Triple H so Hardy will do the job anyway. Undertaker breaks a pinfall attempt and chokeslams Triple H. E&C stop him covering and pull him to the outside. Matt takes a Stunner from Austin and sure enough he’s covered by Triple H to end this at 7:37. I certainly didn’t remember the ending but following back in the day I remember Triple H pinning everyone and Matt seemed like the obvious choice to take the loss. Fun match featuring a bunch of the participants of Backlash that was thrown together to highlight the feuds. Way too short to be worth much (take for example the Elimination Tag Match from before WM3) but it was good while it lasted. **1/2.
5) Edge & Triple H vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Jericho
This is from the May 16th, 2002 episode of SmackDown. This is 3 days before Judgment Day and again some of the big matches of that show where thrown together in tag format to build the show. Angle and Edge were feuding at the time with the stipulation being Hair vs. Hair. In fact, Angle had cut off a lock of Edge’s hair which he’s parading around right now. Jericho and Triple H would be wrestling in a Hell In A Cell Match at the upcoming PPV for Triple H’s WWE Title. Edge makes the mistake of trying to take on both guys before his teammate runs out so Triple H has to hurriedly run out – leaving us fans no chance to hear his music! Well, I am sure when he picks up the pinfall on Jericho to set up his pinning of Jericho on Sunday will allow us to hear the whole theme song as he poses in the ring. Edge and Jericho start and Jericho quickly gets knocked down by a Triple H right. Triple H tags in and pounds on Jericho in the corner. Angle comes in and immediately is downed by a high knee. Edge tags in and gets a spinning heel kick on Angle. Edge heads upstairs but Jericho distracts him enough for an Angle pop-up belly to belly suplex off the top. He covers but Triple H breaks up the pinfall. This brings in Jericho who dropkicks Edge in the back of the head. Angle comes in and gets a nice looking overhead belly to belly release suplex. Jericho misses the Lionsault but connects with a suplex and some chops in the corner. He sets up Edge on the second rope but Edge shoves him off and nails a missile dropkick. Angle tags in but accidentally knocks Edge into Triple H. Triple H gives Angle a spinebuster and covers but Jericho breaks up the pinfall only to accidentally elbow his own teammate. Triple H tries for a Pedigree on Jericho but Angle makes the save. Triple H gets a double-clothesline on both and tags in Edge who connects with a top rope clothesline on both. Jericho is catapulted to the outside. Angle is slammed down and Edge spears a chair-wielding Jericho. Edge is Angle-Slammed and Angle is then Pedigreed. Triple H, not being the legal man, covers and Jericho breaks up the pinfall. They brawl outside and the ref is bumped when Triple H shoves Jericho into the barricade. They brawl into the crowd and to the back. So Edge and Angle are left in the ring. Edge gets a nice overhead throw and tries for a spear but Angle picks up the chair and just destroys Edge with it. Angle gets the Angle Slam and covers. The ref has made it into the ring and counts the pinfall at 8:48. This was a much better tag match and better TV match than the other two that we’ve seen. It was high-octane stuff with no rest-holds, which is how it should be considering it is a 9-minute TV match with four people in it (and four people who could bring it in the ring). Man, I miss Angle in the WWE. ***1/2.
6) Eddie Guerrero vs. Big Show
This is from the April 15th, 2004 episode of SmackDown. Eddie was the WWE World Champ at this time, though this match is non-title. This was originally supposed to be Guerrero vs. Bradshaw but JBL pulled out and the Giant took his place. Michael Cole suggests that Bradshaw is yellow. Big Show attacks Guerrero as soon as he gets into the ring and chokes him in the corner. Eddie breaks with a thumb to the eye and then kicks at Big Show’s leg. Big Show shoves him away and head butts him down for two. Eddie is chopped down and Big Show works over the arm. Eddie frees himself by ripping at Big Show’s chest hair. That was kind of gross. Big Show misses a charge at the ropes and ends up outside. Eddie follows with a slingshot plancha only to be caught by Big Show. Show tries posting Guerrero but Eddie wiggles free and Show eats post. We cut to break and return with Eddie stomping Show in the corner and then waving bye-bye to him. It seems that if Show loses, he must quit the WWE. Big Show continues working the shoulder of Eddie. Eddie tries a sunset flip but Show just picks him up and puts him in a bearhug. Eddie smacks Show’s ears to break but walks into a big boot. Eddie thumbs Show in the eyes and dropkicks him to the ropes. Eddie tries charging but runs into a clothesline. He’s dumped thanks to a head butt but he manages to find a wrench under the ring and puts it in Big Show’s boot! Show takes it out in front of the ref who questions Show about it. This gives Guerrero a chance to regain momentum. He slugs Show, dropkicks him in the leg and then gives him a second-rope Tornado DDT. He covers but Show kicks out at two, powering Eddie on to the referee, knocking him out. Eddie blocks a Chokeslam attempt with a low-blow. He hits a DDT and ends with a Frog Splash at 11:52. Well, the Big Show parts of the match were incredibly boring but it is always great seeing Eddie lie, cheat and steal his way to a victory. I miss Eddie. **.
7) Kurt Angle(c) vs. Rey Misterio vs. Randy Orton for the WWE World Title
This is from Wrestlemania 22, held on April 2nd, 2006. P.O.D. is there live and they play during Rey’s entrance. Rey pops out and then goes back into the entrance. He shows up at the top with POD wearing an Indian (or I guess Pueblo) headdress. Chris Benoit’s name is actually mentioned here as the person who Orton beat to win the title. And can I just point out how cool it is that Angle is on THREE matches on this DVD? Edge is also on three matches but Undertaker tops them all with four appearances here. It looks like Angle has his actual gold medal with him – or at least one with the same green strap as the Atlanta 1996 ones did. Orton attacks Angle with the belt before the bell and Angle is immediately dumped. Orton catches Rey coming off the top with a drop kick and covers. Angle breaks up the pin and tries a German suplex. Orton blocks and catches Rey and this leads to Angle getting a German Suplex on Orton who German suplexes Rey over in a cool spot. Angle covers for two. Angle takes a neckbreaker but he immediately gets a suplex throw on Orton. Orton seems to mess up a spot around here where he’s turned around and generally looked awkward for a second. Orton is seated on the top rope and Rey sends Angle into Orton’s groin. Angle tosses a charging Rey over him right onto Orton who is still seated on the top rope. Rey rana’s Orton down and is then dumped by Angle and Angle covers Orton for two. He tries for the Ankle Lock but Rey charges in to break. Rey’s clotheslined down but gets a wicked roundhouse on Angle after blocking a sunset flip. Angle is head-scissored down into 619 position. He is caught and Angle puts on the Ankle Lock. Orton gets a chair and distracts the ref who doesn’t see Rey tap out! Angle tries for it again but Orton breaks. Orton is German suplexed down, and Rey is tossed by Angle. Angle then gives Orton another German and then Angle Slams Rey to the outside. Angle gets the ankle lock on Orton and he taps, but the referee is distracted by Rey now! Angle is 2-0 in this match! Rey breaks up a second Ankle Lock attempt with a top rope legdrop for two. The crowd doesn’t like that Angle’s been screwed twice already.
Rey is sent through the turnbuckles and is posted. Angle tries an Angle Slam but Orton frees and gets an RKO for two. Orton heads up but Angle does his patented pop-up belly to belly suplex. Angle ends up in 619 position and Rey tries for it but he slips off the apron. He finishes the move eventually and gets a seated senton for two. That’s two blown spots, one from Orton and one from Rey. Orton does a backbreaker slam on Rey for two. He stalks Rey but doesn’t see Angle behind him. An Angle Slam gets two. Rey counters an Angle Slam with an armdrag that sends Angle to the outside. 619 to Orton and a springboard rana ends this for Rey at 9:19. Rey wins his first title and celebrates with Chavo and Vickie Guerrero. This was shockingly short for a World Title match. There were a lot of good things here (his name rhymes with Wrangle) but Rey and Orton blew a spot each and were both pretty noticeable. Angle was clearly head and shoulders above the other two guys. The ending seemed a bit anti-climactic, too. I don’t know why Orton was in the match to be honest. A Rey/Angle match running 15 minutes would’ve been a lot better. And what was the reason for Angle beating both guys? He looked like the strongest one in the match for sure. It was just weird booking for Rey’s first title. *** but it had potential to be better.
8) John Cena & Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker & Batista
This is from the No Way Out PPV held on February 18th, 2007. I believe this was the Main Event since Michael Cole’s voice is almost completely shot now. Cena is both the WWE and Tag champion here. His tag partner is none other than Shawn Michaels, who comes out to the DX music. I didn’t follow the WWE at this time, but JBL is hyping up Michaels making believe he is a heel and I believe Cena is a face here – mismatched tag team champs? Okay, yeah it looks like Michaels and Cena are squaring off at Wrestlemania so it is the mismatched partners bit. I guess it could be argued Michaels was the first to do that when he won the titles with Austin during their feud in 1997. Batista is the WWE World Champ and would he be wrestling Undertaker at Wrestlemania that year? I think he was. What a weird main event. Cena and Batista start out with Batista shouldering Cena in the corner. Cena blocks a charge but gets caught with a rollover slam. Batista gets a brainbuster for two. Batista misses another charge in the corner and manages to post his shoulder. Michaels tags in and chops away but gets sent into the corner. Batista clubs him down and follows with a clothesline for two. Undertaker makes his debut in the match and works the arm of Michaels and goes vintage with the ropewalk. JBL references their 1997 HIAC match which is interesting. Usually WWE avoids their own history (such as Undertaker fighting Triple H at Wrestlemania during their build-up to XXXVII). Undertaker was only 14-0 at this point. Batista tags in, misses an elbow, and Cena is tagged in. He gets a big heel response from most of the fans. Taker charges with a big knee at Cena in the corner and covers for two. Cena trips up Taker as he tries for the ropewalk and he tries a superplex. Taker headbutts him off but Cena bounces right back up and connects with a superplex. Taker sits-up and misses an elbow drop. Michaels is tagged in and he knocks Taker down with a Flying Forearm and then nips up. Taker press-slams Michaels to the outside and Batista drops Michaels onto the steel steps for good measure. Taker misses a big boot in the corner and gets hung up but he’s able to keep Michaels away from tagging out. Taker gets a sidewalk slam for two. Batista comes in and connects with three short-arm clotheslines for two. Batista grabs a reverse chinlock but eventually Michaels is able to DDT out of trouble and make the hot tag to Cena. He gets a Rocker Dropper off the top rope and Undertaker comes in to break up the pinfall. Taker is clotheslined to the outside and Cena gets the Five-Knuckle Shuffle on Batista. Taker blocks the FU with a big boot so Michaels kicks him to the outside and tries a splash off the apron. Michaels is caught and posted. Batista slams Cena in the ring and tries for the Batista Bomb but Michaels has made his way into the ring and he chop blocks Batista. Michaels comes in with chops on the Animal. Cena misses a charge in the corner but responds with a clothesline. He covers and Taker has to make the save. Michaels comes in with an enzuigiri and he covers for two. Cena grabs a sleeper and then an STFU. JBL: “Find the fat lady and make her sing!” I like that line. Taker makes the save. Michaels tries a top-rope flying elbow drop and it hits. He tunes up the band but not before crotch-chopping in Undertaker’s direction. Batista ducks that and slams down Michaels. Batista makes the hot tag to Taker (it seems the fans are behind the SmackDown guys more than the Raw guys) and Taker cleans house. Snake Eyes for Michaels! Flying clothesline for Cena! He gets big avalanches on both guys in the corner and follows with a chokeslam on Cena. Batista gives Michaels a spinebuster, too. Batista then turns on Taker (no shock there) by giving him a spinebuster. The three other guys are laid out in the ring and Michaels is up first. He preps for a super kick and hits Taker, who falls into a Cena FU. Cena covers and this one is over at 22:11. It’s interesting how this match really featured four guys the fans like and so it is almost booked like both teams play face AND heel. They both had an extended face in peril sequence and it almost seemed like the fans didn’t know who to cheer for. Batista’s turn set up Wrestlemania so it worked in context of the match and the guys really delivered tonight. I thought it was a good main event that worked the tag formula well. ***3/4.
9) Edge vs. Undertaker
We end with this match from Wrestlemania XXIV held on March 30th, 2008. Vickie Guerrero is brought out in a wheelchair by Teddy Long, making two appearances on the match portion of the DVD by Vickie Guerrero to one for Flair. Somehow that seems unfair. Undertaker clotheslines Edge out and Undertaker chases. Edge catches him on the apron on the way back in but Undertaker is able to stun-gun him. Taker pounds away in the corner but misses a charge. Undertaker tries a rope-walk but Edge rolls through it and Undertaker then arm-drags him. That seemed odd and I am calling botched spot. Undertaker lands a high knee in the corner but falls to the outside. Again, it looks like a blown spot where Edge was supposed to duck out of the way and just didn’t. Taker makes the apron but Edge spears him off into the barricade. Edge is selling in the ring like it’s 20-minutes into the match even though we’re not even at five-minutes yet. Taker takes a baseball slide that again sends him into the barricade. Edge shoulders Undertaker in the corner and continues working the back of Undertaker. Undertaker tries a bodyslam but his back gives out on him. Edge connects with a dropkick as Cole mentions that Edge doesn’t leave his feet often. I don’t know what he’s talking about given Cole was around the company when Edge first came in and was around for his million ladder matches where he left his feet many times. Edge heads upstairs but Taker shoves him off to the outside and Edge takes a rough bump out there. Taker does his WM-trademark plancha and follows with a guillotine legdrop. Undertaker covers in the ring for two. He tries for the Last Ride and then sells the back again. He comes off the ropes and Edge gets a big boot for two. They head outside and Edge does a back suplex on the top of the barricade. That was pretty cool. Edge locks a single leg crab in the ring to really wrench out the back. Taker powers out of it and cradles Edge for two. Edge goes back to that move, almost doing a bow and arrow type move. Taker kicks him off so Edge just pounds his back. Slugfest ensues and the crowd gets into it, yelling YAY when Taker hits and BOO when Edge does. Taker avalanches Edge in the corner and gets Snake Eyes but is caught with a dropkick coming off the ropes for two. Edge counters a chokeslam into a DDT for two. Taker counters a spear with a boot to the face and a chokeslam gets two. Taker tries for the ropewalk only to get crotched. Edge superplexes him off and covers for two. Edge slugs at Taker from the second turnbuckle but Taker is able to pull him out and try for the Last Ride. Edge jumps off and gets a neckbreaker for two. Taker tries for another Last Ride and this time it hits. Taker covers but only gets two! Edge counters the Tombstone with an inverted X-Factor. Taker connects with a big boot and he tries again for the ropewalk. This time it hits. He tries a running big boot but he hits the referee instead. Edge gets an inverted DDT and talks smack so Taker grabs his throat. Edge kicks Taker down below and looks over to see the ref is still out. He grabs the camera from the cameraman and shoves him down. Edge drives the camera into Undertaker’s face and goes to revive the ref. He accidentally pushes him to the outside. Undertaker sits up to Edge’s dismay. Edge tries a Tombstone but Taker reverses it and gets one of his own. He covers, but there is no ref! Charles Robinson runs down the longest ramp ever to count and Edge is able to kick out at two! Two jobbers run out (Hawkins and Ryder) and Undertaker chokeslams one onto the other. Taker turns around and is speared down. Edge covers and Taker kicks out at two! Edge gets another spear but Taker grabs a Triangle Choke! He can’t make the ropes and he taps out at 23:49! Undertaker is your NEW champion. The first five-minutes were hella boring and I was fearing the worst but this really picked up. The psychology in the middle of the match, the hot near-falls at the end made this a real Wrestlemania classic. I have to take off for the slow beginning and the two botched spots but other than that this was really awesome. ****1/4.
This is the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 offering WWE usually puts out. It sounds great but there was an issue with the video. WWE was going to the widescreen stuff and that’s great. I’ve actually gotten used to seeing clips going from widescreen to the fullscreen with the bars on the side. If it increases the video quality of the newer stuff without detracting from the old stuff, then fine.
C) Packaging / Liner Notes
We have the usual fold-open DVD case with the three discs with a little folder, which is still empty. There are tons of pictures (head-shots) of many of the superstars (not wrestler’s) in this collection.
The usual WWE promos start off this collection (WWE Classics on Demand [still not on Time Warner Cable], WWE Home Video, the most recent John Cena DVD, Wrestling’s Highest Flyers, Knucklehead and the updated Don’t Try This At Home spot now featuring Edge). First off, the main program is rather long considering the most recent WWE documentaries and I thought that a lot of time was spent on each wrestler to certainly talk about their highlights. A lot of the guys on here have their own DVD’s now so not much time was really needed for most. You can complain about the order all you want and really someone should’ve fixed it (Hogan being so low is a joke) but the actual things said about each person was well done. It seems they took a lot of care not to bury anyone and high praise was levied for all. Like I said, Hogan being so low and Warrior not being on the list is egregious. The matches themselves were a mixed bag. I felt that most of them were just average. I know they wanted to include as many people as possible so as a result we got a bunch of mash-up matches with lots of the wrestlers that would main event an episode of Raw or SmackDown and really were just used to build OTHER matches instead of standing on their own. There were three matches that stood out – the Hart title win, the Edge/Taker match and the pre-WMIII elimination match, all around ****, which I think are must sees. In the end, the main program has its flaws, and I think better matches could’ve been included. Funk/Flair could’ve been a good choice (though I think it was on the Flair DVD) or really anything else. I believe there were too many matches of the 00’s and not enough of the 70’s and 80’s.
9.0-9.5 Near Perfect, Highly Recommended
8.0-8.5 Really good disc, Recommended
7.0-7.5 Good DVD, Mildly recommended
6.0-6.5 Above Average DVD. Mildest of mild recommendations
5.0-5.5 Decent all around disc, but catch it on TV
4.0-4.5 Great Movie but horrible DVD
3.0-3.5 Horrible movie but great DVD
2.0-2.5 There’s at least some merit to this DVD, but not much.
1.0-1.5 Horrible DVD, don’t even bother
0.0-0.5 Worst DVD ever