WWE History Of The World Heavyweight Title
Written by: Tom Hopkins
This is a different DVD than the History of the WWE Title. This one focuses on the Big Gold Belt that was in the NWA before WWE bought it along with WCW in 2001. WWE soon used it as a second World Title for its promotion. This DVD chronicles the history of that title. It’s slightly different than the other collections of just matches – there’s an actual documentary on Disc One that starts this off.
The Main Characters
The World Heavyweight Title is one of the most sought after titles in all of wrestling. It started out as the crowning achievement in the NWA before moving to WWE when WWE bought the company in 2001. The title was dormant for a while until WWE brought it out of retirement as part of the Undisputed title before the Big Gold Belt (as it came to be known during the 90’s) became its own separate title. It’s considered the longest running title in wrestling history, dating back to 1905.
The Film (57:47)
The usual montage starts off the DVD and I love the way that these encapsulate the main idea of the film in the opening minutes. This starts with a little history of wrestling itself and I think WWE swiped some things from the history of Wrestling. Wrestling is the oldest sport and even Lincoln wrestled! It wasn’t until the 20th century that a world title was crowned. George Hackenschmidt is a very popular wrestler from the turn of the century. Hackeschmidt came to the US and defeated Tom Jenkins in both catch and greco-roman wrestling and was basically called the best wrestler in the world. He would remain undefeated until 1908 when Frank Gotch bested him in a two-hour match. At that time wrestling and boxing were the two biggest sports in America. Gotch would retire undefeated in 1913 (and died four years later). Ed “The Strangler” Lewis won the title in 1920 and he became the next big star. Lewis would travel and also lecture. Mae Young even calls him the greatest wrestler of all time. He was a boring wrestler and even wrestled a 5-hour bout.
Shoot wrestling would cause people to be hurt and sometimes wouldn’t even be an entertaining match. What was more important? Getting hurt and not making money or putting on a show and doing it with a lack of injury. Soon promotions started popping up in territories around the nation. In 1948 the National Wrestling Alliance was formed to create one national title and would travel the territories to defend the title. Lou Thesz became that champion when the man he was supposed to wrestle was injured in a car accident. Thesz was champion for 7 years straight – still a record. A lot of older wrestler/promoters on this disc talk about how great Thesz was. Part of his greatness was the fact that wrestling was now being televised. Thesz was on TV more than anyone in the early 50’s. Fans were calling for more champions and the next one to really take the mantle was the Nature Boy Buddy Rogers. He may have been the first to play a character in the ring. Rogers won the title against Pat O’Connor in front of a then-record crowd – a record that would stand until 1987 and Wrestlemania III.
Thesz would regain the title in 1963 for the 6th time at the age of 46. Gene Kiniski won the title in 1966 from Thesz. Kiniski was undefeated for three years until he lost it to Dory Funk Jr in 1969. Kiniski says he had a mental lapse and thought it was a 2 out of 3 falls match. Well, kayfabe will never die for some people. Funk held the title for 4 and a half years. He would drop the title in 1973 to Harley Race. Race actually tells it like it is. Race won the title because the two promoters didn’t want a good guy (Dory Funk Jr.) losing to another good guy (Jack Brisco). Brisco won it a month later and held onto it for two years. Jack got tired of the business and travel. He dropped the title and said he didn’t leave the house for 6 months afterwards. Terry Funk was the one who won the title (and broke the nose of the referee by mistake at the end of the bout) and he and Dory became the only brother combination to win the title. Race would win the title two years later from Funk. He became the man who ended both Funk’s title reigns. Race was chosen by the NWA committee because he made money and he was durable and worked very hard. Race would hold onto the title for 6 years (with some losses in that span) until he wrestled Ric Flair at Starrcade in 1983 in an event called Flare for the Gold.
Flair was important to the territories and they were told that if they didn’t want Flair to win they the territory wouldn’t get Flair. Flair says that really made his career. Race says he knew Flair was ready and was super-proud to be involved in the switch. Other promotions had a world title (including some promotion called WWF) but many recognized the NWA title as the real champion. A big name from the Mid-Atlantic territory was Dusty Rhodes. The two would battle many times in the 80’s and Flair calls Rhodes his best opponent he’s had (though he calls Steamboat the best wrestler) and Rhodes had a few turns with the NWA Title, too. Crocket’s company was putting on fantastic matches and events but their financial decisions were terrible and the company was sold to Ted Turner and called World Championship Wrestling. From then on the champ was known as the WCW champ.
There is a discussion on the classic Flair/Steamboat series of matches from 1989 which many call the greatest matches ever (and I am one who agrees). Others would win (Lex Luger and Sting) but Flair dominated the wrestling world in the NWA and early WCW days. Flair left WCW in 1991 and actually showed up on WWE television with the Big Gold Belt. He wasn’t officially recognized by the NWA as the champ but he never actually lost the title. So WCW had to crown a new champion and Ron Simmons was the one who eventually picked up the title. He was the first African American to win the title. Simmons had the title in the early 90’s as did Vader, Sting and a returning Flair. Luger won the title but soon WCW withdrew from the NWA and crowned its own champions like Hulk Hogan, Big Show and Randy Savage. The title changed hands very frequently with the dawn of the Ratings War (including Vince Russo and David Arquette) but the glory of the title always shone through. We see a lot of Hogan winning the WCW title. Big Show talks about winning the title, DDP remembers winning it (and compares it to winning the Oscars), Goldberg had a stint with the title during his big undefeated streak and Booker T had a run with the belt as well.
The title went through a big change when Vince McMahon bought the promotion. WCW ended with Booker T as the champion. The WWE would unify the WWE and WCW titles and Jericho was the first one to win the Undisputed Title. Jericho loves being the first one to have won it and he says no one can take that away from him, which is true. The Undisputed Title stayed on board until the brand split. Lesnar went with the WWE title to SmackDown and now Raw needed a title. So Bischoff (then the Raw GM) just GAVE the title to HHH. Over the next 7 years many WWE stars would hold the title including Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Edge, Jeff Hardy, Rey Misterio (who calls it the greatest moment of his life), CM Punk (who says that not having a wife or kids makes this one of the best moments of his life), Batista and John Cena.
This is a very short feature documentary (less than an hour) but it was very informative and it did a great job chronicling the history of the title from its inception in the early 1900’s and through the many champions. They spent a lot more time on the early part of the title which I thought was appropriate for this collection and was something that was missing in the other history of titles. It serves the collection well to get a background on the title before you go to the matches. You could also track the time when it was all about shooting and getting more into the “sports entertainment” part. I loved that Race wasn’t stuck in kayfabe like some of the people around his time are and told it like it is. That makes the feature legitimate and not just looking like some old guy holding onto a semblance of it all being real. This is a perfectly suitable documentary and it stands on its own as program.
1) Pat O’Connor(c) vs. Buddy Rogers for the NWA Title in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match (21:37)
This took place in Chicago on June 30th, 1961. The two battle over an overhead wristlock and Rogers seems to win, taking down O’Connor but O’Connor kips out of it which was surprising. O’Connor armdrags Rogers over and does a spinning armbar. The crowd is going crazy for this. The reason why the crowd loves it is because both guys are really selling the move instead of just locking it on for a rest. The two trade bodyslams and Roger gets in a big right hand. He goes for the figure four but O’Connor fights out of it. The announcer mentions other members of the NWA including Vince McMahon, matchmaker of Madison Square Garden. Rogers gets the first fall at 7:14 when he blocks a charge from O’Connor in the corner with a knee. That was an interesting way to get the fall. I guess it was a different time. O’Connor goes to work on the leg of Rogers with a spinning toe hold. Rogers kicks him off but O’Connor kips right up and is right after that foot again. Rogers tries fighting back with a dropkick but that gets nowhere. O’Connor gets his O’Connor roll (and I guess that is who it is named after) at 12:30 to even the pinfall at one each. We start the second fall with Rogers ducking a right hand and strutting around. O’Connor slams Rogers down and covers but Rogers makes the ropes. Rogers is bodyslammed again and Rogers again gets the foot to the ropes. O’Connor keeps the pressure on but all his pinfall attempts are too close to the ropes and Roger’s foot always finds the rope. O’Connor tries a dropkick on Rogers but Rogers ducks and O’Connor gets crotched on the top rope. O’Connor rolls around in pain and Rogers gets his wits and covers O’Connor for the pinfall at 19:29 and the NWA Title. This was a well-executed match. Wrestling back in these days just came off as more realistic. You didn’t really need to suspend disbelief. This was a fight and both guys were worn down and things that would cause pinfalls here did. ***.
2) Gene Kiniski(c) vs. Dory Funk Jr. for the NWA Title (4:57)
This is a Championship Wrestling From Florida match held on February 11th, 1969. This is a highlight version of the match. The great Gordon Solie is calling the match here. Funk tries a backslide but Kiniski makes the rope with his feet. Funk sunset flips him for two. This video quality is even worse than the match before. Dory backdrops Kiniski for one and bodyslams him down for another one-count. Dory keeps with that move and another bodyslam nets two. Kiniski tries a backbreaker but his back has been beat up too much and he drops Funk. Funk goes for the spinning toe hold but Kiniski kicks him off. So it’s another bodyslam (for one) and he goes for the spinning toe hold again. Eventually Dory wears down Kiniski enough for Kiniski to call it quits to award Dory the title. There’s no time listed because it was JIP anyway. There’s no rating either since it was clipped so heavily.
3) Jack Brisco(c) vs. Terry Funk for the NWA Title (4:55)
This is a Championship Wrestling From Florida match held on December 10th, 1975. This is another JIP match. Gordon Solie is again calling the action and he tells us we’re twenty minutes in right now. The two collide for a double KO spot. Brisco does a nice pinfall combination for two. Brisco backslides Funk for two but Funk comes right back with a kneecrusher. Funk works over Brisco’s knee and tries the spinning toe hold. Brisco counters and slugs away at Funk on the mat. Brisco tries for the figure four but Funk kicks him off and Brisco goes through the ropes and collides with the ringpost. Brisco comes back with a back suplex (in slow-motion for dramatic effect) and tries for the Figure Four and Funk small packages him for the pinfall and the title. We see Funk whack the referee in the face like he mentioned in the DVD. This seemed like a good match but I doubt the full version is available anywhere. Solie says this was 28:20, we saw about 4-minutes.
4) Harley Race(c) vs. Dusty Rhodes for the NWA Title (6:35)
This is a Championship Wrestling From Florida match held on August 21st, 1979. This is the third JIP match and thankfully the last one on the collection. Again we have Solie doing the commentary. Dusty Rhodes is on commentary here, too. I wonder when they recorded the commentary. This is a highlight reel package to start so there is no point to recapping the match. We do see Dusty piledriving Race, a ref bump, both guys falling to the outside, Race suplexing Rhodes into the ring but missing a diving headbutt from the top. Rhodes drops some bionic elbows to get the pinfall.
5) Ric Flair(c) vs. Magnum TA for the NWA Title (30:27)
This took place at AWA SuperClash on September 28th, 1985. We hear from Magnum before the match. Magnum promises that if he hits the belly to belly tonight there will be a new world champion. Flair’s robe is especially furry tonight. It seriously looks like brown fur. What’d he have to kill to put on his robe? We lock-up to start and Flair breaks cleanly in the corner. We get a close up of Flair’s boots with his initials on it. Magnum’s cowboy boots look a lot nicer and Magnum at least one-ups Flair in the boot department. Magnum gets early control on Flair with a hammerlock. Flair almost powers out of an overhead wristlock but Magnum bridges and powers out of it. Magnum hiptosses Flair and dropkicks him flush in the face. Flair charges but he’s press-slammed down. Flair cowers in the corner and that’s wise since it gets him a little breather. Flair chops at Magnum in the corner but Magnum comes right back with a backdrop out of the corner for two. Magnum goes back to work on the arm of Flair. Flair tries tossing Magnum through the ropes to the outside but Magnum landed on his feet and ran right back in. He fires away but misses a dropkick. Flair drops a knee, all while selling a bum back before Whoooing it up to the crowd. Flair’s butterfly suplex gets two. Flair puts Magnum in an abdominal stretch and our announcer says he’s never seen anyone last long in this hold. I have and in fact I can’t recall anyone submitting to that move. Flair has to break the hold when the ref spies Flair holding the trunks of Magnum. Magnum comes right back with a figure four. Flair eventually gets to the ropes and holds on for dear life. Magnum pulls him from the ropes and tries the figure four again but Flair is able to kick him off.
Flair tries a suplex which isn’t a great idea because he’s still harboring that leg injury. Magnum reverses to a suplex of his own for two. Magnum continues with a backslide for two. Flair pokes Magnum in the eye and tosses him outside. Flair follows with chops and he sends Magnum shoulder-first into the ringpost. Flair returns to the ring and Magnum tries a sunset flip from the apron. Flair blocks that with a right to the face. I’ve always found a punch to the face is one of the greatest counters in wrestling history. Flair works the arm of Magnum (using the ropes for leverage) and gets some near-falls out of it. Flair is caught for his misdeeds and the hold is broken so Flair puts it back on and takes Magnum down by the hair. There’s an interesting sequence where Flair pins Magnum in a crucifix type move and Magnum keeps lifting his shoulders up. Flair gives up on that and chops away in the corner. Magnum reverses a whip to the corner and Flair is caught in a sleeper on the rebound. Flair makes an escape and ends up on the mat. Magnum tries a big splash but it just finds the knees of Flair. Flair hits a kneecrusher and he goes right into the figure-four. Magnum reverses it and Flair makes the ropes. Flair goes for the figure four again but Magnum cradles him for two. The two slug it out in the corner and Magnum gets the better of that exchange. Flair is sent to the corner and he goes up and over to the outside. Magnum follows and sends Flair headfirst into the ringpost. Flair is busted open now and Magnum lays in with closed fists to really open that wound. Flair does his little flop out of the corner and Magnum covers for two. Flair is sent to the corner and Magnum backdrops him on the rebound for two. Flair fights back and covers Magnum. Magnum bridges out of it (after two attempts) and backslides Flair for two. Magnum connects with his belly to belly suplex but the leg of Flair hits the referee. He’s down just long enough that when he does make the count Flair kicks out at two. Magnum catches Flair in an O’Connor’s roll but Flair rolls through, pulls the trunks, and gets the victory at 25:47. Flair tells the Chicago crowd that they aren’t used to winning and better get used to a real champ. Of course since he’s said that all of their teams (save the Cubs) have won. This was a really good match. I think it was missing a little spark or a little bit of excitement to it that prevents it from reaching legendary status. ****.
6) Ric Flair(c) vs. Sting for the NWA Title (22:00)
This is from the Great American Bash held on July 7th, 1990. I should mention there’s this little montage that starts before all the matches. It’s a nice video but man, do we need to see it every time? This is almost like a version of a lumberjack match except the guys at ringside (Steiners, Orndorff and Junkyard Dog) are there to keep the Horsemen away. Ross says that only three times in history has the NWA title changed hands at the start of the decade – 1920, 1940 and 1980. Ole Anderson is handcuffed to El Gigante as an added precaution. Sting shoves down Flair early showing his strength advantage over Flair. Flair tries a chop in the corner but Sting no sells it. Flair tries begging off but to no avail. Sting sends him to the corner and press slams him. Flair tries bailing but he’s right in front of the Steiners and he thinks better of that. Flair does escape to the ramp but Sting catches him and clotheslines him right back into the ring. Flair is able to take advantage with a thumb to the eye. He clotheslines Sting but Sting no-sells and he catches a surprised Flair with a clothesline. Sting hits a high crossbody off the tope for two. Flair rolls to the outside for another breather. Flair comes back and boots Sting in his previously injured knee. Sting bursts out of the corner with a clothesline but he misses an elbowdrop. Flair tries the Figure Four but Sting boots him off. The two stand off and Sting eats it up from the crowd. Flair and Sting resume with Sting getting cut down thanks to a big chop. Flair works on the knee and Sting sells it by limping in the ring. Sting fires back at Flair in the corner but misses a dropkick. Flair goes right back to work on that knee. Flair misses a seated splash on that leg in the corner and Sting turns the tables – putting Flair in the figure four. Flair bails to the outside and pulls Sting out with him. Sting is sent into the barricade but he no-sells that! Flair begs off in the ring but Sting wails on him with some closed fists. Flair tries going upstairs but Sting catches him and throws him off.
Flair tries a hiptoss only to be countered into a Sting backslide for two. Sting argues about the count so Flair uses that opportunity to sweep Sting’s leg. Flair keeps his boots to the leg and tries for the figure four again and again Sting kicks off. Flair goes for his chops in the corner and Sting is no-selling it again. This guy is super-human! Sting, with a bad knee, press-slams Flair. He delivers a clothesline and covers for two. Flair is sent to the corner and he flips over to the apron. Sting suplexes him in and covers for two. Flair begs off again but it’s no use because Sting hits the Stinger Splash. Flair flops out of the corner and Sting puts him in the Scorpion Deathlock. The Horsemen run out only to be met by the Dudes with Attitudes. Flair makes it to the ropes and crawls to the apron. Flair headbutts Sting and slides in through the second rope to cover (with his feet still on the ropes). Scott Steiner runs back to push Flair’s legs off and as Flair looks on Sting rolls him up for two. Flair gets Sting with a pinfall and Sting bridges out of it and backslides him for two. Sting charges at Flair in the corner but Flair moves out of the way and Sting’s knee hits the corner. Flair goes for the figure-four only to have Sting small package him for the pinfall and the title at 16:00. The fan reaction is incredible for this. The match was really well done but I felt it was way too repetitive at points. How many times did Sting need to no-sell the offense? How many times did we need to see Flair beg off? It was a fun match with a cool ending but it felt one-dimensional. ***.
So Disc One featured the NWA Title. It looks like Disc Two is purely the WCW Title.
1) Ric Flair(c) vs. Scott Steiner for the WCW Title (22:48)
This is from the Clash of the Champions XIV held on January 30th, 1991. Flair was only a 7-time champ by this point. Jim Ross and Dusty Rhodes are calling the action and Rick Steiner is at ringside. Ric poses but Scott quickly one-ups him. Flair is shoulderblocked down so we see that Scott is indeed the stronger of the two. Dusty tells us that Scott is so successful because of the fact he went to college. Flair tries to take Steiner down with an overhead wristlock but as we saw before – Scott is too strong for that. Flair rolls to the apron but stops short of going outside because Rick’s ugly mug is there. Flair is sent to the corner and Scott backdrops him on the rebound. He continues with a sideslam for two. Flair begs off and rolls to the outside. Flair gets in some chops but Scott regains control with an armbar. There’s a nice spot where Flair sends Steiner to the corner and Whoo’s right at him only to have Steiner burst out of the corner with a clothesline. Flair heads outside but he’s suplexed back in for two. Flair takes control with a knee to the face of a charging Steiner. Flair covers (using the ropes of course) but Rick interferes to break up the pinfall. Shouldn’t that be a DQ? We head to a commercial break and come back with Steiner locking Flair in a Figure Four. Flair breaks and hits Scott with a crossbody that sends both men to the outside. Scott blew the spot and he literally had to jump a few seconds after Flair landed outside and propel himself to the outside. Outside the ring Steiner almost blows selling a knee crusher. I don’t think he was ready for the big time yet.
We hear there are 10-minutes left of TV time and since I see we are 12-minutes into a 23-minute segment I think this may be the classic TV time-limit draw to set up their PPV match. Flair works on the knee of Scotty before putting on a Figure Four. He of course cheats using the ropes and Rick tries to tell the ref of this cheating. Eventually referee Nick Patrick catches him cheating and Ric gives Rick the evil eye when Nick makes him break the hold (wow, way too many –ick sounding words in that sentence). Flair puts the Figure Four right back on him and this time he’s in the middle of the ring. Steiner reverses the hold and Flair makes the ropes to break. Steiner hits a neckbreaker and sends Flair outside. Steiner stalks him and clotheslines him down. That gives Flair an opportunity to flop down. Flair is rolled back into the ring by Rick as we hear there are five-minutes left of TV time. Scott uses closed fists in the corner and the ref tells him to stop. Steiner is distracted and Flair slugs him down. He tries for the figure-four but Steiner cradles him for two. Flair walks into a sleeper which is a good way to waste time. Flair is clotheslined to the outside by Steiner and astonishingly the ref doesn’t immediately disqualify Scott for sending Flair over the top. Flair comes back and covers Scott (with his feet on the ropes) and again Rick tells the ref of Flair’s wrong-doing. We’re at two minutes left so Flair slows things down some more with a side headlock. We have a pinfall sequence where Scott bridges out of a pinfall and hits a gutwrench powerbomb. Flair rolls to the outside and flops down again. There’s one minute left and Scott doesn’t seem too rushed to go out and get Flair and bring him in. Rick has to roll Flair in and Scott hits a flying clothesline. He still refuses to cover. He slugs at him in the corner with only half a minute left. Flair is sent to the corner and he flips over, runs to the apron, heads to the top and leaps off. Steiner catches him with a shot to the gut and as time winds down Scott looks increasingly perplexed. He hits a belly to belly suplex as time expires and he’s surprised when the bell rings before the ref counts to three. This is a time-limit draw at 21:44. I think what I said before is true. Scott wasn’t ready for prime time yet. He couldn’t control his part of the match well and his time management at the end was terrible. Flair did his best but not every broomstick works as well I assume. ***.
2) Lex Luger vs. Barry Windham for the Vacant WCW Title in a Steel Cage Match (15:00)
This is from the 1991 Great American Bash which took place on July 14th, 1991. This is the famous Flair Protest show. We immediately see the fans chanting “We Want Flair” as the match starts and pretty much throughout the match. A shoulderblock goes nowhere for either guy. The two battle over a suplex with neither gaining leverage. Windham shoulderblocks Luger down and Luger responds with a hiptoss. We’re still at the feeling out process for this match. Luger sneaks in a small package for one. Their lack of in-ring action is just spurring the fans to chant NA-TURE BOY now. JR breaks out the methodical pace line which tells you how this match is evolving. Luger is backdropped and again the two just stand around. There’s a cool spot with Windham breaking free of a headscissors and just smacking the seated Luger. Windham’s suplex attempt is blocked and countered by Luger. Luger grabs a sleeper and that sequence goes nowhere. Windham grabs his own sleeper before he’s sent into the corner by Luger. Luger DDT’s Windham for two. Luger heads upstairs but he’s tossed off. Windham drops a knee and gets a two count. Windham heads upstairs but misses a big elbowdrop. Luger gets a backdrop and he follows with a series of clotheslines on Windham. Luger puts Windham in the torture rack but drops him when Windham gets to the ropes. Windham follows that with a belly to back suplex that keeps both guys down. Luger tries a superplex but Windham pushes him off. Windham follows with a top rope clothesline and Luger actually gets up before Windham does. Windham gets another back drop and hits another lariat. Luger is bodyslammed and covered for a two. Windham heads upstairs again and connects with a single leg dropkick for two. Harley Race and Mr. Hughes make their way to ringside but they can’t get in because of the cage. Windham is distracted by Hughes as Race talks to Luger. Luger knees Windham from behind and he piledrives him down. That’s enough for the pinfall at 12:25 and Luger is your new WCW Champ. This isn’t the big gold version of the belt because Flair still had it so they just took an old belt and called it the world title. Luger walks out with Race and Hughes. This was a match with no flow and it really just went from move to move with no story being told and no one really selling anything for more than a second. The negative energy of the crowd fed into their performance and from the beginning they seemed bored and uninterested. *1/2.
3) Vader vs. Ron Simmons for the Vacant WCW Title (11:37)
This took place at Baltimore, Maryland on August 2nd, 1992. The title was vacated again for some reason (maybe Luger left? I know he debuted a few months later in WWE) and so this is the result of a random drawing of 8 names to decide which two would wrestle for the title. Simmons hammers on Vader in the corner and the crowd is going bananas. Simmons continues slugging away and he destroys Vader with a big clothesline. A belly to back suplex follows and a shoulderblock sends Vader to the outside where Harley Race meets him. Vader comes back but walks into a sidewalk slam for a two (and three-quarters). Simmons charges at Vader in the corner but Vader lifts up his boot to put an end to that. Simmons is booted to the outside as Vader reclaims dominance in the ring. Vader clotheslines Vader and suplexes Simmons. He chokeslams him down and Simmons bumps really well for it. Vader heads to the second rope and connects with his big splash. He covers but somehow Simmons kicks out. Simmons counters a suplex into one of his own but Vader is up first. He tries a short-arm clothesline but Simmons blocks and backslides Vader for two. Vader clubs at Simmons in the corner and those shots looked stiff. Vader misses an avalanche in the corner and Simmons schoolboys him for two. Simmons tries a sunset flip but Vader sits down on him to block. Vader tries a powerbomb but Simmons flips out of it. Vader charges and he’s powerslammed down. Simmons covers and gets the pinfall at 9:43. The crowd explodes, including a young black kid at ringside who goes crazy. I know it is fake but even things like having an African-American champ can mean something. This was a really good power match between the two. Both were very energetic (possibly because of the crowd), the moves were stiff but well executed and the big moment at the end with Simmons winning and the wrestlers coming out to celebrate was great. I love that this match made it on here. ***1/2.
4) Vader(c) vs. Ricky Steamboat for the WCW Title in a Human Cage Match (19:22)
This is a WCW Saturday Night bout from October 16th, 1993. I’m really interested to see what a Human Cage match actually is. Okay, the Human Cage match is just a lumberjack match. All lumberjack matches end up the same. The heels are on one side and the faces are on the other and the heels always get in their cheapshots on the face (who in this case is Steamboat). Let’s see, I see Dustin Rhodes, Shockmaster, British Bulldog, Sting, Sid, Arn Anderson, Harlem Heat, Dusty Rhodes and two other people I don’t recognize. Steamboat is pushed outside near the heels and there’s a bit of a scuffle over there with the heels trying to put him back in. Steamboat looks a lot smaller here than he did in his earlier WWE, NWA and even Dragon days of his second WWE sting. He just looks older, too. Like obviously older even though it was only a year removed from his last WWE sting. Steamboat is controlled early on by Vader. He clubs at him in the corner, hits an avalanche and clotheslines him down. Vader suplexes Steamboat for two and I just realize that Vader’s tights spell ADER. The V is covered by his underwear tights. Steamboat is sent outside (where the faces are) and Vader tries a leap from the apron. Steamboat ducks and Vader hits the barricade. Vader misses a sit-down splash off Steamboat’s sunset flip and Steamboat goes to work on the big man. Vader tries rolling outside but the human cage won’t let him. Some heel miscommunication leads to Vader colliding with Race and Steamboat takes advantage with a DDT and two splashes.
Steamboat seats Vader on the top rope and actually manages a top rope DDT (though it may have been a suplex where he couldn’t lift the big man). Steamboat locks on the figure four. Vader breaks free and misses another avalanche attempt. Steamboat fires away with some very weak looking kicks and barely lifts up Vader for a side suplex. Vader shoves off Steamboat and leaps off the second rope with a standing splash. The match continues with no flow as Steamboat comes back with a crossbody off the top for two. Vader kicks out and Steamboat ends up on the apron. Steamboat unleashes a springboard clothesline but Vader shrugs that off and he’s back in control again. Steamboat quickly comes back and fires away in the corner. Steamboat is dumped outside and the heels gang up on him. The faces interject themselves and there’s a funny spot of Sid tapping the back of Shockmaster’s stupid helmet. Steamboat tries a sunset flip and again ducks out of a sit-down splash. Steamboat tries a sunset flip for a third time and it’s third time’s a charm for Vader as this time he does hit the sit-down splash. Vader tries his second-rope Vader bomb but Steamboat rolls out of the way. Steamboat does a double stomp from the second rope into Vader’s gut and he’s feeling it. He chops away and hits a crossbody on Vader that sends both men outside. Everyone gathers near Vader except for Sid. Sid powerbombs Steamboat inside the ring and it’s elementary for Vader. His splash ends things at 18:37. Okay, this was a terrible match and really had no use for being on this collection. It did show Vader’s title reign which is cool but there was no better match? Steamboat looked off this match. His moves weren’t that crisp and he just looked out of it. I don’t know what it is. We just saw Vader in a great match with Ron Simmons of all people and I remember a previous collection where he had a **** match with Sting. This was disjointed, it had no flow and Steamboat really looked too old to be keeping up here. It’s sad but it’s true. *.
5) Hulk Hogan(c) vs. Ric Flair for the WCW Title in a Career vs. Career Steel Cage Match (27:03)
This is from the 1994 Halloween Havoc which took place on October 23rd, 1994. Ric has Sherri in his corner and Flair gets a nice reaction from the crowd. Hogan has Jimmy Hart and Brutus Beefcake with him. I don’t know if Brutus was going by a different name here (he had like 50 in WCW). Okay, Schiavone called him Brother Bruti. Hogan poses next to a guy who looks like the Huckster. Mr. T is there, too. I think he’s the special guest ref which isn’t fair at all given T’s history with Hogan. Mr. T has a Red Wings jacket on as well so I guess that mean we’re in Detroit. Hogan has a ridiculous sash on right now. Hogan starts off with his fists flying. Flair is sent to the corner and backdropped down. Hogan clotheslines Flair and stuffs his bandana down his throat. T separates Hogan from Flair and T and Hogan is befuddled. So Flair uses that opportunity to thumb Hogan in the eye. Hogan comes right back and sends Flair headfirst into the steel. Flair comes back with a boot to the knee and he weakens the knee of Hogan of a bit. Hogan is sent into the cage and then ridiculously oversells a knee-drop. Hogan comes back with a clothesline in the corner and Hogan actually sells the leg. Good for him. Hogan sends Flair into the cage via battering ram and Hogan chokes away with his sash. T separates them which is ridiculous because this is a No-DQ match. Hogan argues with T (still sporting the Red Wings jacket) and Flair connects with an axe-handle off the top.
Flair manages to suplex Hogan for two. Hogan comes back and Flair tries climbing out of the cage but this isn’t escape rules. Hogan chokes Flair using the top of the cage and then crotches him on the top rope. Hogan’s blind charge finds the boot of Flair. Flair tries the figure four but Hogan cradles him for two. Flair chops away but Hogan no-sells it. Hogan backdrops Flair out of the corner and sends him into the cage. I feel like I’ve seen that sequence already. Flair is back suplexed down for two. Flair tries leaving over the top so Hogan catches him, slams him repeatedly into the cage and chops away until Flair lumbers down. Hogan takes time pandering to the crowd and this allows Flair to connect with a knee-crusher. Well it looks like class is in session. Flair tries working the knee and Mr. T gets involved and shoves Flair down. He’s a terrible referee. This is NO-DQ. YOU’RE JUST THERE TO COUNT! Flair unwraps the bandage around Hogan’s knee and finally locks on the figure-four. The fans are popping now. Now this is No-DQ so Hogan can’t grab the ropes. Hogan starts no-selling it and he turns it around. Flair releases the hold and escapes and goes right after the knee again. Hogan slugs him but accidentally collides with Mr. T. We go to a wide-angle and there’s actually a camera-man INSIDE the ring.
Flair hits a back suplex and covers but T is still out. Hogan kicks out and Flair boots at T. Sherri starts climbing the cage but Jimmy goes up and catches her, pulling her skirt off. Jimmy is sent into the camera and Sherri tries climbing up again. This time Sting catches her. The masked man comes out and whacks Sting and Hart with a stick Sherri finally gets in and leaps at Hogan from the TOP of the cage with an axe-handle. This allows Flair to chop-block Hogan. T is hand-cuffed to the cage and Sherri gets in some shots. Hogan is sent into the masked man’s steel pipe. Flair covers but T is not counting. WTF? Hogan is suplexed down but Hogan shrugs that off and gets to his feet. Sherri and Hogan try a double team but both are clotheslined down. Flair is bodyslammed, Sherri is bodyslammed, and the two are clotheslined down again. Flair is backdropped out of the corner as Sherri tries leaving. Hogan tosses her back in and she took a tough fall. Flair gets his head smashed into the top of the cage again and he falls off. Sherri eats a big boot. Flair tries a comeback but he eats a big boot, too. Hogan drags Flair near Mr. T, hits the legdrop and T counts the pinfall. It’s over at 19:28, Flair’s career is over and Hogan is still your champion. This was quite the epic. Hogan was definitely bearable here, Flair worked a great match and I was digging the ending of the match despite it being really overbooked. ****.
6) Sting(c) vs. Hulk Hogan for the WCW Title (18:24)
We skip ahead four years to February 22nd, 1998 and Superbrawl VIII. Sting slides right into the ring and is immediately whipped by Hogan’s weight belt. He chokes Sting with it, too. Hogan puts the belt right back on and talks smack to Sting before choking him some more. Hogan also takes Sting’s coat off and chokes him with that before dumping him to the outside. The dreaded back-rakes follow. Sting is sent back and forth to the barricades before we head back to the ring. Hogan controls (which he does for the next 5-minutes) until Sting no-sells a bodyslam. Hogan flaunts to the camera and turns around to see Sting standing in his face. Sting atomic drops Hogan and he removes the weight belt of Hogan. Sting whips Hogan like a government mule. Hogan bails outside and Sting follows. Sting tries a Stinger Splash on the barricade but Hogan bails and Sting eats nothing but steel. Hogan uses a chair and we head back to the ring. Sting hits the Stinger Splash and he locks in the Scorpion Deathdrop. Hogan’s too close to the ropes and he’s able to grab onto it to break the hold. Sting tries another Stinger Splash but the ref gets bumped. Sting eats a legdrop and Hogan covers. Nick Patrick runs out and tries counting out Sting but Sting kicks out at two. Hogan argues with Patrick (who used to be on the New World Order’s Side) who is playing it straight now. Hogan gets a series of pinfall attempts but he’s getting increasingly frustrated that he’s not getting the three-count. Sting makes a big comeback (again) and hits another Stinger Splash. He does a second one and he hits a the Scorpion Deathdrop (but not before Hogan kicks Patrick down. The New World Order comes out and attacks and Sting wards them off. Savage runs in and nails Hogan from behind. Sting covers and gets the pinfall at 16:36. Sting has a can of spray-paint and he sprays WCW onto Hogan.
Oh man, this match was a mess. Hogan controlled for most of the 16-minutes, Sting came back with only two moves and it was way overbooked. This was just a terrible match. It had a good finish (WCW finally winning back the title) but everything before that was just terrible. ¼*.
7) Hollywood Hulk Hogan(c) vs. Goldberg for the WCW Title (16:51)
This is a Nitro main-event that took place on July 6th, 1998. Yes, this was given away on free TV. This is a match that would’ve made a killing but this was the Ratings War era and WWE was actually starting to beat WCW for the first time and they were desperate. In fact, the match review was taken from my Monday Night War DVD review. Side headlock starts things for Goldberg. They really do every resthold in the book, from a test of strength, a full nelson, choking, etc. Hogan bodyslams Goldberg, but twice misses an elbow drop. Goldberg responds by sending Hogan outside. More stalling. Now Goldberg is sent outside, and Hogan uses a chair in one of the most boring matches I’ve seen in a long time. Hogan with a slam, hits the leg drop not once but twice. Curt Henning walks out for reasons unknown, as well as DDP. While they were walking out, we missed Goldberg kick out of Hogan’s finisher. Hogan watches in shock as DDP’s friend, Karl Malone, hits the diamond cutter on Henning. Goldberg spears Hogan, then hits his finisher (suplex into a powerslam) for the pin and the title at 8:10. The crowd goes wild, and I am just happy this match is now over. ¼*. There was no wrestling at all. I do have to say that this was big moment for WCW and the pop at the end was incredible to see. It didn’t make the match any better but it was a rare big moment for WCW after they started losing the ratings war.
8) Jeff Jarrett(c) vs. Booker T for the WCW Title (17:10)
This is a Bash at the Beach main event held on July 9th, 2000. Was this also the show where Hogan quit and Jarrett laid down for him? This starts and the announcers do mention that you never know what to expect with WCW. Earlier in the night Jarrett was supposed to battle Hogan and Jarrett basically laid down for Hogan. Hogan covered him and “won” the title. Hogan stormed off (never to be seen in WCW again). Russo came out afterwards and did a little “shoot” on Hogan calling him old, washed up and over the hill (although not as nicely as I wrote it) and declared his title reign as null and void. Jarrett was awarded the title and this was given as our main event. This was WCW trying to go with new blood but by this time it was too late and the iceberg had already hit the boat. It was just a matter of time before the ship would’ve sunk. I don’t recall but Hogan may’ve sued WCW for what Russo said. So Booker T and Jeff Jarrett were here to show the world how great it could be without Hogan. They do a little mat-wrestling to start (headscissors that are kicked out of basically) and Booker eventually sends Jarrett to the outside. The two brawl outside and Jarrett is sent into a concrete wall. They continue brawling to ringside and Jarrett piledrives Booker over the announce table which doesn’t break.
Jarrett grabs a sleeper inside the ring. Booker breaks and gets on of his own but Jarrett breaks out of it and tries a figure four. Booker cradles him for two. Jarrett is up quickly, is undaunted and locks Booker in the figure four. Booker reverses the move and Jarrett makes the ropes. Jarrett continues softening up the leg but misses a sit-down splash off the ropes. Booker slugs away and hits the axe-kick. It’s Spinarooni time! Booker spinebusters Jarrett down and covers. Jarrett barely kicks out (though raising a hand may not really be kicking out). Booker tries another axe-kick but misses and crotches himself over the top rope. Booker gets sent into the corner and the ref is bumped. Jarrett gets the title and swings away but misses. Booker grabs it and nails Jarrett. The ref revives and counts but again Jarrett kicks out at two. Jarrett low blows Booker (in clear view of the ref) and goes out to grab a chair. He sets it up in the corner and tries sending Booker into it but Booker counters and Jarrett’s head smacks the steal. Booker covers for two. Jarrett uppercuts Booker and then does his finisher, The Stroke, on the referee. Jarrett grabs his guitar and heads upstairs. Jarrett leaps off but is caught with a Bookend. He covers and another ref runs out to count the pinfall. This time Jarrett doesn’t kick out and after 13:40 of action Booker T is your new WCW champion. I wasn’t digging the match a few minutes in (the brawling section was pointless) but once it got into the ring it was really enjoyable. The ref bump was silly but everything else was great. This was Booker’s big moment, too. ***1/2.
9) Rock vs. Chris Jericho for the WCW Title (29:56)
We come to the WCW title appearing on WWE. This is from No Mercy held on October 21st, 2001. What’s with all the October matches on this disc? A third of the matches on here are from October. This was during the whole Alliance stuff and talk of Jericho being in the ECW faction. Paul Heyman and JR are calling the action here. JR ponders if Jericho is a choke-artist like Bill Buckner. In all fairness Buckner had he caught the ball probably wouldn’t have made the play on Mookie Wilson and it would’ve tied the game regardless. Boston still had a Game 7 they could’ve won and failed to do so it’s not Buckner’s choke that cost them the World Series. After some initial locking up Rock gets a big arm-drag on Y2J that winds up going into a side headlock. Jericho returns with armdrags of his own. Jericho anticipates leapfrogging Rock but Rock holds onto the ropes and clotheslines Jericho down. Rock and Jericho both go for their finishers early and both are blocked. Rock ends up on the apron and Jericho sends him to ringside with a springboard dropkick. Jericho sends Rock to the barrier before bringing him back in and hitting a corkscrew elbow off the top for a two. Jericho hits a flying forearm for two. Jericho chops away in front of the blurred corner. The blur tem is getting really sharp with their blurring now. Rock tries his own chops but walks into a spinning heel kick for two. Jericho’s backbreaker leads to a senton. Jericho sprawls his back over Rock for a pinfall but Rock turns that into a crucifix for two.
Rock comes back with a flying forearm but gets clotheslined over the top rope. Jericho slams down Rocky and heads upstairs. Rocky makes it to the ropes and shakes Jericho down; crotching himself on the top turnbuckle. There’s a weird discussion with JR saying that would hurt unless Jericho is wearing a cup but he’ll never know the answer to that. That’s certainly an odd thing to mention during a match. Rock superplexes Jericho and both guys are down. Jericho makes it up at nine but walks into Rock rights. Rock hits a Samoan Drop for two. Jericho fires back with a short-arm clothesline but Rock kips up and slugs Jericho to the outside. Rock follows Jericho and slams him into the announce table before bringing him back in. Jericho is clotheslined down for two. Rock suplexes Jericho for two. Jericho charges at Rock so Rock sidesteps him and Jericho is sent flying to the outside. Rocky goes out to retrieve him and brings him back in the ring where he covers for two. Rock locks in a side headlock. Jericho frees himself but his dropkicked is caught by Rock and Rocky slingshots Jericho into the corner and delivers a clothesline as Jericho stumbles out of the corner. Rock seats Jericho on the top but whatever he was going for backfires. Jericho shoves off Rock and hits a missile dropkick that leads to our second double knock-out spot. Jericho hits a swinging neckbreaker and rana’s Rock over for two. Rock walks into a Rock Bottom and Jericho hits the Lionsault. He covers but Rock kicks out at two. The fans thought that may have been it. Heyman calls Jericho a choke artist since he couldn’t put Rock away right there.
Jericho bulldogs Rock and he doesn’t know what to do. Jericho does his version of the People’s Elbow but Rock moves out of the way. Jericho does a dragonscrew takedown and puts Jericho in the Sharpshooter. Jericho makes the ropes as the crowd is divided in who they should cheer for. Jericho falls to the outside in pain and Rock follows. He Rock Bottoms Jericho through the Spanish Announce Table and NOW the ref decides to count them out. Rock breaks the count before he drags Jericho back in. Rock takes Jericho’s elbowpad out of the ring which is a nice touch. Rock stalks Jericho and tries for the Rock Bottom but Jericho elbows out of it. Jericho runs into a spinebuster and it is People’s Elbow time! Jericho pulls the leg of Rock before he can hit the move and Jericho puts Rock in the Walls of Jericho. Rocky almost makes the ropes so Jericho pulls him into the center of the ring for a big pop. Stephanie McMahon runs out and tosses a chair in the ring. Jericho charges at her but walks into a Rock DDT. Rock pulls Stephanie into the ring and Rock Bottoms her. The ref checks on Stephanie and this allows Jericho to hit a forward legsweep onto the chair. He pushes the chair out of the ring and covers. The ref sees it and counts the one-two-three at 23:44 to give Jericho the WCW title. Rocky stares down Jericho after the match pretty much telling him he’s gonna get his revenge and hands him the chair to show this may not have been the cleanest win. This was a huge win for him, the fans were digging it and this was an incredible match. The finish wasn’t completely clean and it looked like the dragon screw takeover was messed up a bit but other than that this was awesome. ****1/2.
—Disc Three (3:02:26)—
1) Triple H(c) vs. Rob Van Dam for the WWE World Title (22:57)
This was a featured match at Unforgiven held on September 22nd, 2002. I think I may have been done with the WWE by this point but I can never remember my jumping off point so maybe I did see this live. Who knows why these two are feuding anyway. It sounds like RVD made fun of Ric Flair (who was HHH’s lackey at the time) and HHH responded by saying that RVD had no passion for the industry. Triple H isn’t completely bloated here. RVD starts with a side headlock take over that Triple H head scissors out of. They repeat that two more times because it was that great a combination I guess. The two continue with their feeling out process. RVD grabs a side headlock and Triple H makes it to the ropes before escaping. So RVD takes this opportunity to make fun of Triple H’s water spitting routine. Trips is pissed and he charges only to be taken down with another side headlock. Triple H knees RVD in the corner and RVD totally oversells it. RVD gets a roll-up coming out of the corner and then he almost blows a bridge out of a pin spot. RVD misses an enzuigiri but he lands on his feet and sweeps the leg of Triple H for two. RVD connects with a nice spinning heel kick that sends Triple H to the outside. RVD tries a somersault plancha but Triple H moves out of the way and RVD lands pretty much on his back. That one looked like it hurt. RVD is counted out but he only gets to eight. He looks like the referee helped him out, stopping at eight.
Triple H can go to work now on RVD. He sends RVD into the steel ring steps and slingshots him into the bottom rope. RVD comes back with an O’Connor’s roll for two. The two brawl on the outside near the SmackDown table before coming back inside. Triple H gets a high knee for two. He heads upstairs but he’s caught and tossed off by RVD. Triple H goes to the sleeper, a move he was using to put away some jobber talent during this time. RVD charges into the corner and ducks down to break but misses a blind charge. He quickly comes back with a spinning heel kick and a step-over kick. RVD’s “educated feet” keep flying and he hits a somersault splash for two. RVD monkey flips Triple H out of the corner and catches him with a second rope reverse kick (that almost missed) before hitting Rolling Thunder for two. Triple H bails to the outside so RVD follows with a suicide dive. RVD rolls Triple H back in and heads upstairs. He nails Triple H with a heel kick off the top and he covers for two. Triple H comes back with a facebuster but misses RVD as he charges and the ref is bumped. RVD superkicks HHH down and covers but there’s no ref. HHH tries for the Pedigree but RVD counters and catapults HHH into the corner. The Five-Star Frog Splash follows but again there’s no referee. RVD tries calling for the ref and this allows HHH to low blow the contender. HHH grabs his sledgehammer from under the ring. HHH walks in with it and RVD catches him with a spinning heel kick. Ric Flair runs out and grabs the sledgehammer and when people think he’s gonna attack Triple H he lays out RVD instead. Triple H pedigrees RVD and Flair finally rolls the ref in. This is RVD so he’s dead and he’s not kicking out. HHH retains at 18:20. There was a period of 5-minutes where this was really good. The first 8 minutes however were really boring and the ending was way too overbooked. Of course once RVD hit his big moves with no ref you knew there was no way HHH was going to lose. This was during HHH’s dominant runs as champ where he wouldn’t lose to anybody. **1/2.
2) Triple H(c) vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWE World Title (22:35)
This one took place at Taboo Tuesday on October 19th, 2004. Now this one I’ve never seen. I haven’t seen any of the other matches on here live, either. HBK has some sort of injury that King and JR question if it is really legit. Shawn is selling a leg injury limping very badly to the ring. Shawn is very cautious to start, staying in the corner. There’s a slugfest to start and Michaels, using the ropes to hold himself up, slugs HHH to the outside. Michaels chops down HHH upon his return but HHH decides not to play around anymore and attacks Michaels leg. He has a huge smile on his face and that’s neat to see he’s playing the heel like that. Michaels fights back with rights and lefts until HHH goes back to the knee. Triple H does pretty much everything imaginable to the knee as HBK tells the ref NOT to ring the bell. Triple H puts HBK in the figure-four and HBK sells it well. He even drags the referee away from ringing the bell. HBK eventually makes the ropes and HHH takes his time to break the hold. HHH tries posting HBK’s knee into the ringpost but Michaels pulls him forward and HHH eats steel instead. HBK chops for a bit but HHH goes back to the knee. He tries for another figure four but HBK kicks him off and HHH hits the top of the ringpost. HBK gets in some atomic drops but he still needs the ropes to stand up as he throws his rights. He slugs HHH down and covers for two. HHH tries for the Pedigree and shoves away the referee and he doesn’t see Michaels low-blow HHH. A DDT follows and Michaels instead of covering heads to the top rope. HBK connects with an elbow drop but probably does more damage to himself in the process. HBK tunes up the band but Batista runs in to break up that tuning. Triple H charges but walks into Sweet Chin Music. HBK gets up but Edge runs in and spears HBK. HHH covers and that’s all she wrote at 14:05. This was a very interesting match given Shawn’s limitations. It told a very good story and I was able to get into the match but at times it was just plain boring. ***.
3) Kurt Angle(c) vs. Undertaker for the WWE World Title (36:24)
These two fought it out at WWE No Way Out on February 19th, 2006. I watched this one a while back during Undertaker month (November 2009 for those interested) on WWE Classics.com so that’s the review you see here. Angle has a swank pair of black tights on. Tazz says it best when he says it’s the Striker vs. Grappler. Angle goes behind Taker and gets him to the ropes to the break and Taker comes out swinging, causing Angle to bail to the outside. He comes back in and gets caught in a side headlock. He breaks but he’s shoulderblocked down for one. Taker goes back to the arm, dropping a leg on it and stretching it out while seated on it. Taker tries for the ropewalk but Angle wiggles free. Taker catches Angle again and this time he hits it. Angle charges but is slammed down for two. Taker snake-eyes Angle but misses a big boot. Angle German suplexes Taker and cover for two. Angle chokes away at Taker in the corner. Taker tries a charging big boot but he gets himself crotched. He ends up on the apron and Angle charges, knocking Taker to the outside. Angle follows and sends Taker to the steps. Angle leaps off the apron but is caught by Taker and has his back driven into the post. That was the same exact spot from the Cena match. Taker props up Angle on the apron and connects with a leg-drop, another staple from the Cena match that I saw just before. Undertaker tries for a chokeslam but Angle kicks at Taker’s leg to prevent that. He clips Taker’s knee as a follow-up. Angle slams Taker’s knee into the ringpost and does the figure-four while Taker is still caught in the ringposts. Angle continues stalking Taker’s knee, driving an elbows into it before covering for one. Angle keeps at the knee but he’s caught and dumped to the outside. Taker tries another legdrop on the apron but Angle catches him and applies the Ankle Lock. They’re on the outside and Angle can’t win like that but he’s able to really do some damage. He breaks the count and he goes back to the ankle. That’s a sound strategy. Angle brings it back to the ring but he can’t get a submission. Angle keeps at the knee but gets caught in a Triangle Choke. Angle makes the ropes and Taker has to break. Angle is woozy and he wonders around to the announce tables. Taker takes the plastic covering off one of the table’s but nothing comes of that. Taker swings at Angle and Angle ducks, Angle-slamming Taker through the table.
Undertaker is almost counted out but Angle stops up the count. He wants to beat Taker in the ring. Angle fires away on the outside but he’s sent shoulder-first into the steps, but also hits his throat on the table covering that Taker had taken off previously. That had to hurt. Taker heads upstairs but he’s crotched by Angle. Angle tries a superplex but Undertaker slugs him off. Taker heads up again but Angle does his pop-up belly to belly off the top and that gets two. Taker is up quickly and boots Angle down. Taker tries for a chokeslam but Angle grabs the leg and applies the Ankle Lock. Taker rolls through and grabs a Triangle Choke. Angle counters that with an Ankle Lock but Taker rolls out and chokeslams Angle for two. Taker tries a Last Ride but Angle rolls through with another Ankle Lock. Taker makes the ropes but he’s Angle Slammed down for two. Angle gets fired up and takes down the shoulder straps but is stunned when Taker sits up. Taker tries a Tombstone but (wait for it) Angle rolls through it and locks on the Ankle Lock. He lays down this time and Taker has nowhere to go. Taker gets on his back and boots away at Angle and that breaks the hold. Angle hits the Angle slam but Taker catches him with a Triangle Choke before Angle can cover. Angle is almost out but he rolls over Taker into a cover (while still in a choke) and Angle gets the pinfall victory at 29:37. This was an epic match, but the constant use of the Ankle Lock kind of took me out of the story, as did Undertaker’s spotty selling of the leg/knee. Still, this was a great match-up between the two. ***3/4.
4) Rey Misterio(c) vs. Randy Orton for the WWE World Title (23:53)
This one was featured on the April 7th, 2006 episode of SmackDown! I think Orton would get more tattoos between now and the present day. The fans chant Eddie (in reference to the late Eddie Guerrero) to motivate Rey. Orton locks on a head scissors and a side headlock before shoulderblocking him down for one. Rey slides under Orton and literally waits for him to charge in a spot that looked either really contrived or horribly blown. Orton almost beheads Rey with a forearm uppercut. It’s almost funny how small Rey Misterio is. He runs off the ropes and leans off the middle rope instead of the top one. Rey comes back with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors that looks as silly as an airplane spin. Rey gets Orton in 619 position but Orton ducks out of it. Rey baseball slides him and follows with a springboard seated senton. Rey brings Orton in and covers for two. Rey walks into a neckbreaker and Orton gets a two-count on his cover. Orton goes back to his chinlock/reverse choke and he really grinds it in. There’s a really cool spot where Rey tries a springboard and Orton just dropkicks him as he’s leaping up to the outside. That leads us to our commercial.
We return with Orton holding his choke again. Rey makes the ropes but it isn’t too much longer until Orton puts it back on. Rey breaks but misses a dropkick. Orton tries a second rope elbow only to have Rey kick out of it. Orton ends up in 619 position but Orton is up quickly. Rey hits his springboard bulldog for two. Rey’s springboard seated senton gets two. Orton comes back with a thumb to the eye but Rey comes right back with an inverted DDT after his springboard moonsault was caught by Orton. Rey heads upstairs and leaps off but Orton counters with a dropkick. He covers but Rey’s foot makes the ropes. Rey runs into a sick lariat but Orton can only get two out of that. Orton’s incensed and his ill-advised charge leads him to post his shoulder. Rey uses that to hit the 619 while Orton’s laying there. Randy tumbles to the middle of the ropes and he eats another 619. A springboard legdrop ends this for Rey at 19:00. Randy was really one-dimensional in this match. He had two dropkicks and bunch of chokes and that was it. When he controlled the match it was fairly weak in terms of what he could do. He still seemed really green here. Rey did manage a decent match out of him. **1/2.
5) Batista(c) vs. Undertaker vs. Edge for the WWE World Title (15:27)
This one took place at Armageddon held on December 16th, 2007. Edge starts on the apron as Undertaker and Batista are in the ring. This is triple threat so he doesn’t need to be tagged in. He’s just running from the two. Edge does his best to avoid both men as Batista and Taker battle outside. Undertaker slides back in to battle Edge but Edge again bails to the outside. Batista blindsides Taker . Taker no-sells his stuff but he’s clotheslined to the outside right where Edge is standing. He grabs him by the throat but he’s saved by Batista who baseball slides him out of the way. Taker drops a leg as Batista is on the apron but that is a short-lived attack as Taker is sent into the ringpost. Edge then sends Batista into the ringpost, brings him into the ring and covers for two. Taker tries getting into the ring but he’s speared back to the outside. Batista catches Edge in a sideslam for two. Edge fights back and preps for a spear but Batista blocks with a boot to the face. He powerslams Edge and covers but Taker pulls him out of the ring to break up the pinfall. Taker works on Edge and tries a legdrop over the apron but Batista charges with a clothesline that drops Taker to the outside. Edge walks into a spinebuster and tries a Batista Bomb but Edge lowblows him and DDT’s him. He covers but Taker pulls the ref out of the ring.
Edge sees Taker coming into the ring and his look of worry is great. Even better is his reaction after Taker no-sells a right. Taker with a snake-eyes on Edge in the corner leads to a big boot for two. It’s vintage Undertaker time as he unleashes the ropewalk on Edge. Take tries for a Last Ride but Batista runs in with a spear. Edge is dropped to the outside and Batista tries for a cover. Taker wraps him in a Triangle Choke. Edge rings the bell and hides under the ring and Undertaker thinks he’s won the match. The referee tells the Undertaker he didn’t ring the bell. Edge runs in with a spear on Taker for two. When that doesn’t work Edge spears Batista for two. Edge gets a pair of chairs and brings them into the ring. He sets up a Con-chair-to on Batista but Batista kicks the other chair into Edge’s face. Edge is clotheslined to the outside by Undertaker and Taker turns around to eat a running Batista clothesline. Batista heads upstairs but Taker stumbles into the rope and Batista is crotched. Batista is superplexed off the top and both guys are now down. Taker rolls over and covers for two.
Taker tries a ropewalk on Batista but Batista pulls him down and nails him with a Spinebuster. Batista spears a charging Edge out of the ring but we see that it wasn’t actually Edge but a double. The real Edge is hiding under the ring. Taker hits his chokeslam on a second fake Edge (as the real one is still hiding near the ring.) Batista is snake-eyed in the corner but he runs into a Batista clothesline for two. Batista tries Tombstoning Batista but Taker counters into one of his own. Edge runs in and whacks Taker with a steel chair and covers Batista for the pinfall and the title at 13:00. I found this really entertaining especially thanks to the antics of Edge. This was a very short world title match and it was hard to get a good rhythm going with the three guys working mini-matches (and I mean mini). It never had an opportunity to develop into something better than just an average match. ***.
6) John Cena vs. Chris Jericho(c) for the WWE World Title (30:41)
This is a Survivor Series battle from November 23rd, 2008. Jericho enters first and that’s a big pet peeve of mine. The challenger should enter first, not the champion. Lillian does the introductions AFTER both guys have entered the ring. That’s new for the WWE. This was during Jericho’s cool super-serious phase. Cena goes right for the FU and Jericho quickly bails to the apron. Cena is shoulderblocked down and he rolls out of the ring right away and he favors that previously injured neck. Cena charges back in and takes down Jericho and he goes for an STFU. Jericho frees himself and Cena gives him a wry smile. Cena comes back with a big clothesline and he hits his Throwback neckbreaker. Cena heads upstairs but thinks better of it. He returns to the ring and he’s DDT’ed for two. I like the storyline/psychology aspect of Cena not going to the top because that’s how he got his injury last time. Cena lays on the apron and Jericho plants a boot right to his injured neck. Cena falls to the outside and the ref starts counting him out. Cena gets in at nine but he’s booted right down again. Cena is dumped to the outside and Jericho follows. Cena is sent into the steel steps and Jericho brings him in, hitting a slingshot knee to the neck for two.
Jericho stretches out his neck, a move that Cena is able to break. He tries a flying shoulderblock that Jericho ducks under. Jericho locks him in a Full Nelson but Cena breaks by backing into the corner. Cena takes a wild swing and Jericho goes back to the Full Nelson. Cena breaks and he blocks the bulldog by sending Jericho to the corner. Cena again can’t control and Jericho hits the bulldog. The Lionsault misses but Jericho lands on his feet. Cena slams him down and tries the Five-Knuckle Shuffle and Jericho does what Cole calls a “modified” Walls of Jericho but we know it as the awesome version he did in WCW where he’d lean on the guys back. Jericho adds to the awesomeness by putting a knee into Cena’s neck. Cena spins out of it but he’s clotheslined right down again. Jericho does the crappier version of the Walls (the WWE version I guess which is just a lame Boston Crab). Cena makes the ropes and he’s able to catch Jericho in an FU out of nowhere. It takes Cena awhile to revive himself and make the pin and by the time he does Jericho’s able to kick out at two. Cena charges at Jericho but Jericho elbows Cena down. The two battle on the second rope and Cena dumps Jericho to the ring. Cena heads upstairs and hits a Leg Drop from the top. Jericho comes right back with a Codebreaker for two. Jericho waits for Cena to get up and when he does he lays him out with a clothesline. Jericho does the same when Cena finally makes it to his feet again and Cena looks like he’s done for. Jericho tries another clothesline but Cena manages a drop toe-hold and he locks on the STFU. Jericho makes it to the ropes but Cena drags him back to the center of the ring. Jericho rolls him up for two but Cena muscles out of it, picks up Jericho and hits the FU. He covers and that’s all she wrote at 21:20. This was a really well-executed match. Jericho’s gameplan was perfect and it really kept the match going. Cena had bursts of offense but couldn’t manage anything because of his selling of the neck. I think that at points it got a little slow (with Jericho waiting for Cena) but it made sense in the story of the match and that’s what made it a great one to watch. ****.
7) Edge(c) vs. Jeff Hardy for the WWE World Title in a Ladder Match (30:32)
We end with this match from Extreme Rules, a PPV event held on June 7th, 2009. They do the introductions after the entrances and again the champion comes out first. Hardy clotheslines Edge in the corner and the crowd is quiet. They are just waiting for someone to get a ladder and waiting for the big spots. Edge spears Hardy in the corner and tries for a DDT. Jeff counters with a face-first suplex. Jeff heads out and gets a ladder. Edge baseball slides it into Jeff but Jeff is up quickly and he’s pounding on Edge in the ring. Edge charges but is backdropped over the top onto the ladder that was conveniently laying across the apron. Edge brings the ladder in and Jeff is sent into it a couple of times. Edge tries spearing Hardy into the ladder but Hardy ducks and Edge goes gingerly into the ladder. Jeff takes an opportunity to dropkick the ladder into Edge. Jeff tries a running dropkick but Edge ducks out of the way and Jeff’s foot collides with the ladder. Edge sandwiches the ladder on Jeff’s leg and Edge puts him in a Sharpshooter with Jeff still between the two ladder legs! Hardy is dumped and Edge makes his slow climb up the ladder. Jeff heads to the top and dropkicks the ladder sending Edge to the canvas. Jeff sets up the ladder upside down and Jeff does a front suplex onto that ladder. Edge falls onto the ladder support and that one looked like it hurt.
Jeff finds an even bigger ladder (going well above the title hanging there) and sets it up. He hits the Twist of Fate on Edge and he climbs the ladder. He’s way too far away from the title and he’s going for a big move here. Edge backs out of the way so Jeff has no big move to do. So he lets the ladder fall forward and he grabs onto the title and the ring holding it. Edge pulls down Hardy and Hardy falls down hard on his knee. Somehow Hardy ignores this injury and hits Whisper in the Wind from midway up the big ladder on Edge. Hardy takes Edge to the outside with a Cactus clothesline. Edge is up first and he sets up a ladder by laying it on the apron and barricade. That doesn’t come into play yet as Hardy moves on and throws ladders at Edge. Hardy is sent into the steel steps. Edge grabs the steps and charges but misses and Hardy sends Edge face-first into the step. Edge tries a neckbreaker on the table but Edge tosses him off and into the crowd. Hardy’s up quickly because we don’t sell injuries in ladder matches. Oh I see, Hardy hit a bulldog on the barricade and he wasn’t tossed off.
Hardy puts Edge on the ladder that was set up before and Jeff climbs up another ladder he’s set up. Edge climbs up to meet him and they both tip over and fall onto that propped up ladder. Edge’s fall actually broke the damn ladder. They end up in the ring with Jeff climbing up the ladder to the belt. Edge climbs up the bigger ladder and tries spearing Hardy off but Hardy counters that in mid-air into a Twist of Fate. It sounded cooler on paper than it came across on TV. Jeff climbs up and gets the title but Edge slugs him off. Jeff slides off and hangs Edge in between the rungs of the ladder and this allows him to go up and get the title at 20:06. Jeff’s your new World Title holder. This was what it was. You had your usual spots with little originality and the usual problem of no-selling. We had that one big spot and the unique ending but everything else came off as familiar. **1/2.
After Jeff’s won CM Punk’s music hits and he’s ready to cash in his Money In the Bank. Jeff can hardly stand. Punk hits Go To Sleep but Hardy kicks out at two. CM doesn’t know quite what to make of it. Punk tries it again but Hardy small packages him for two. Hardy can barely get to his feet. Punk superkicks him and a second Go To Sleep ends this at 1:01. Punk is your NEW World Champion. I guess we’ll go ½* for this one. I do love how the WWE added this match on here for the double switch.
This is the standard Fullscreen/Dolby Digital 5.1 offering WWE usually puts out. It sounds great and it looks great and that’s all you need. WWE always gets high marks here.
C) Packaging / Liner Notes
This is like the other history titles with its book-type opening and DVD’s housed in its “pages” The match listing is on the opposite end of the opened page.
We start with the usual array of WWE commercials (The Marine 2, WWE Home Video, Batista’s DVD [which won’t be highlighted again since he jumped ship so he can try MMA – he will fail], a National Guard spot and as usual – don’t try this at home). I kept feeling that this DVD lacked some big matches that would really put it over the top. The matches we had were decent but I don’t think were representative of the title. I know they’ve appeared on other DVD’s but a Flair/Steamboat match belonged on here. There was way too much focus on the few years it was in the WWE and not enough focus on the glory days of the NWA and even WCW. That’s not to say there aren’t any good matches. There were four that I had at four or higher but when you think about some of the Flair matches that could’ve been on here (hell, anything from 1989 would’ve done) you have a lot of potential that wasn’t realized.
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