#WF101 – Invasion 1992
James Dixon: Sean Mooney, dressed as a character from -and on a set ripping-off- Star Trek, says the WWF is going to continue to explore strange new worlds. Maybe they are going to do a show in Wales…
Typhoon vs. Hulk Hogan
What a start! Fred “Typhoon” Ottman, is among the worst wrestlers of all time, regardless of what gimmick he worked under. This is towards the very end of Hogan’s first WWF run, with the match taking place in December 1991 from Texas. Hogan has recently been stripped of the WWF title after a series of matches against the Undertaker, which had dodgy finishes. Hogan and Typhoon used to be friends, having teamed together when the latter was known as Tugboat. It is hard to describe Typhoon to those who have never seen him, and explain why he was ever allowed to set foot inside a wrestling ring. Alfred Hayes says he is not a ponderous wrestler at all… I have said it before and I will say it again. Lord Alfred Hayes: imbecile. Of course this is a ponderous start, with very little going on. Even less occurs when Typhoon locks on a bearhug in the middle of the ring. Jimmy Hart calls for Typhoon to shake Hogan while he is locked in it, instead of standing there like a plank. That would require too much in the way of effort and violates Typhoon’s “always stagnant” rule that he appears to have self-enforced, so instead he just stands there. Hogan Hulks Up, usual routine, wins. Shite. Complete shite. What a horrible way to start.
Final Rating: DUD
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. Ric Flair
This is November 1991 from Connecticut, two months prior to Flair’s WWF title win. This is also a Coliseum exclusive. Talk about a change of pace! Well, I can safely say that this will be better than the last match. Bret of course won his IC title from Flair’s “executive consultant” Mr. Perfect, in a classic match at SummerSlam 91 three months prior, adding an extra layer to things. Lord Alfred Hayes: “Bret Hart is a very genuine person and he takes a lot of interest in young people”. Erm, ok. We begin with some smooth technical exchanges, which Hart gets the better off, taking everything back to a side-headlock as he dictates the pace. Hart goes for the Sharpshooter early, but Flair bails to the ropes. They have started quite slowly, though not in a boring way, which suggests to me they might get some decent time here. Here’s hoping. Flair takes over working the arm with a few cheap shots in between. Bret fires back with some big clotheslines and a ten punch in the corner, but Flair atomic drops out of it and resumes control. Hart takes some hard whips into the buckles, but kicks out of Flair’s rope assisted pin attempts. A head of steam from Bret after a few big rights, but he gets caught in a sleeper. Bret escapes that by sending Flair face first into the top rope, but a headlock is turned into a shin breaker from Flair, and he locks on a rope assisted figure four leglock. Bret turns the figure four around, but it is quickly broken up when Flair reaches the ropes. Flair takes over again, but a suplex attempt to the outside is blocked by Bret and reversed into one of his own. Flair is up first and lays in the chops. Bret turns into Sting and stops selling them, pulling down the straps because he means business. For once, Hayes is right when he talks about the brisk pace of the match. They have slowed it down a few times, but it has been all-action. Bret goes into his routine five moves, and locks on the Sharpshooter, but it is too close to the ropes. A distraction from Perfect allows Flair to throw Hart out of the ring, but Bret floats over a suplex and rolls Flair up for a near fall. Some lovely smooth pinfall sequences are unfortunately followed by a minute of miscommunication and telegraphed spots. A few little niggling things went wrong there, which is a shame, because they hadn’t put a foot wrong before that. They end up both fighting outside the ring, and Flair beats the count, winning the match by count out at 19:18. It is a shame it had to end like that, but Bret was IC champ and Flair was being pushed to the WWF title, so they couldn’t job out either guy. Mooney ends the match by saying “they will definitely meet again”. How right he was! A really excellent match, and reason enough to get this tape…
Final Rating: ****
Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels
… Alongside this! We should be in for another treat here! What a set of matches, especially for a Coliseum release. This is actually from the same show as the opening match. Michaels was still in the Rockers, but he would actually turn heel later on during this taping; in a very famous segment on the Barber Shop he throws Marty Jannetty through a glass window on the set after superkicking his face off, in one of the all-time great memorable angles. I guess they wanted to get this match in the can before he turned, realising it was their last chance. This has another fast start, with Michaels getting the better of things, the highlight of which is an impressive crossbody into a sunset flip. Michaels stays all over Flair, whaling on him with chops, punches and a big suplex. He has looked electric. It was obvious why they pulled the trigger on pushing him. Michaels gives Flair his usual bump spots and then squares up to Mr. Perfect on the outside, but surprisingly, it doesn’t lead to an advantage shift, as Michaels delivers a suplex on the outside. Flair just cannot get a foothold in this match, and every move he does is reversed and countered by Michaels’ quickness and ingenuity. It has been a very impressive showing from both men, with Flair giving Shawn an awful lot and clearly trying to help Michaels get over as a singles guy. A boot in the corner looks to get Flair back in the game, but he gets caught up top as usual and press slammed by Shawn. A superkick from Michaels is followed by a fist drop from the top. Clothesline to the outside on Flair, but Michaels misses a plancha and looks like he will be counted out, but Flair keeps breaking the count. Marty Jannetty comes out to save Michaels from Perfect. He will regret that decision in a few hours. Michaels is just dead-selling that missed move. For no conceivable reasons, Jannetty decides to roll Michaels back in the ring, like a complete idiot. See, that is why he deserved to get thrown through a window. Flair picks up the win by pinning Michaels with his feet on the ropes, not that he needed to do that, because Michaels was out cold and had been for several minutes. Nice one, Marty. So, two genuinely great matches in a row there, which has to be a record for one of these tapes. I think that was actually better than the Hart match because of the increased pace and the lack of a long heat segment. Shame it didn’t get another five or ten minutes and get a fully clean finish, but you take what you can get with these things.
Final Rating: ****¼
WWF Tag Team Championship
The Legion of Doom (c) vs. The Beverly Brothers
I always felt sorry for the Beverly Brothers, because every other wrestler around at the time had an action figure, but they never did. Even jobbers like Repo Man and Skinner were given the Hasbro treatment, but yet not the Beverlys. I wonder why not? They were PPV regulars and were perfectly solid in the ring. For the record, this is the third match from this Texas taping, and again is a Coliseum exclusive. Lord Alfred Hayes, mental old fool that he is, is cock-a-hoop that Coliseum video are taping this “up close” and will give us the action from “right in the ring”. As opposed to the usual action from where exactly? Powerful start from LOD, but Blake uses one of Animal’s own moves, the powerslam, only for Animal to hit his own moments later. A big clothesline causes the Beverlys to bail. Hawk comes in with Beau Beverly, and shows impressive power with an effortless gorilla press. He misses a charge into the corner and the Beverlys take over for the first time. Listening to the crowd chant “LOD” makes me think of something I want to share. The tandem are always more fondly remembered and indeed revered for their work in NWA as the Road Warriors, but I actually believe that Legion of Doom is a better name. I think it is instantly more memorable when you hear it, more threatening and the acronym is easy to chant. Just a thought. A double clothesline allows Hawk to tag in Animal, who gets the better of both Beverlys before a Doomsday Device turns Blake inside out and the LOD win it. No matter how many times I see that move, I cringe. It’s a vicious manoeuvre, and I am actually surprised the WWF let them do it, considering the risks. It looks great though. The match was nothing. Standard tag stuff, not good, but not particularly bad.
Final Rating: *½
Ted DiBiase vs. Tito Santana
I like Tito Santana as a worker, but the El Matador gimmick he has here was a pile of balls. Tito actually looks a lot smaller under this guise than he did in the late 80s when he was huge. Sherri is the focus of the dreaded “manager cam” so you can hear everything she says, which is little more insightful than calling DiBiase “teddy bear” and calling Tito “taco bell”. Repeatedly! There is no commentary for the match due to the Sherri manager cam feature and it makes it difficult to watch. The lack of commentary is off-putting, but not as much as Sherri’s unbearably incessant scratchy voice begging Tito not to “hurt my teddy bear”. I like Sherri’s work, but this is a massive detriment to the match. I am really struggling to get into this, which is a shame because it could be good. The cameras are focusing primarily on Sherri, and a lot of the match is shown from strange camera angles or just missed completely. Live, it was probably a decent bout, but from this footage it is impossible to tell. For example, you only see a tiny bit of Tito’s flying forearm, because the camera is too busy watching Sherri at ringside. Who came up with this nonsensical idea? And why after doing it once, did they go on to do it again and again? The lack of quality control boggles the mind. Both guys get counted out, and post match Sherri accidentally clocks DiBiase with her shoe, before fleeing to the back. That was the worst match you will ever “see” between those two, and it is through no fault of their own. A bad idea, terribly executed. We are really rating the segment more than the match here.
Final Rating: ¼*
We get a segment where The Nasty Boys trash a video store and beat up the owner because he doesn’t stock any Nasty Boys tapes. Not that there ever were any, or ever would be!
The Big Bossman vs. Hercules
We go back to October 1991 in West Virginia. Hercules was embarking on another short lived heel singles run after Power & Glory partner Paul Roma had left the company. In late ‘91/early ‘92, Herc is a completely different worker from the one a few years before. His long tights are a poor choice and his physique is significantly smaller. He looks a helluva lot like Jake Roberts actually. He had also lost the fire that made him a star; Herc was washed up by ‘92. They start out with heavy hitting, but make a real mess of a clothesline to the outside, so Bossman back body drops Herc over the top instead. I really liked Bossman as a babyface, I think he could have been used more than he was and higher up the card, because he was over and he could sell believably. Hercules takes advantage of a Bossman mistake, and he takes him down with a few clotheslines and a big whip into the buckles. Punches back-and-forth, which Herc gets the better of before Slick gets involved and chokes his former charge. Herc holds onto Bossman’s shirt strap while nailing him with punches, but Bossman fires back with a few of his own. A bungled Bossman Slam follows soon after and he picks up the win. There was more effort than I expected and Herc got more than I thought he would, but it was still not much of a match.
Final Rating: *¼
Million Dollar Championship
Virgil (c) vs. Ted DiBiase
Randy Savage is the guest referee here, and he is dressed in his usual regalia, but in striped black and white. A nice touch. This match is from slightly further back again, in September 1991. Savage is currently “retired” after his defeat to Ultimate Warrior back at WrestleMania VII. I am glad we get another DiBiase match on this tape. Hopefully it will make up for how he was short changed with the Sherri manager cam debacle earlier. There is a long history between the guys in the ring. Virgil was DiBiase’s bodyguard for years until he revolted against the treatment he was receiving from his boss. Savage won his first WWF title by beating DiBiase at WrestleMania IV back in 1988 and Sherri was Savage’s manager for a number of years. I should point out that Savage is refereeing while wearing his hat. Of course he is. DiBiase takes over on the outside, ramming Virgil into the steel steps a few times. Back inside and DiBiase stamps his authority with a clothesline, a gut wrench suplex and a regular standing suplex, before a back body drop sends Virgil flying! He was clearly paying attention watching DiBiase take it all those years. DiBiase and Savage inevitably get into an argument, which ends with DiBiase clocking him with a right and throwing him out of the ring. He locks the Million Dollar Dream on Virgil, but Savage retaliates and hits the double axe handle from the top. Virgil covers him and gets the win. Not really long enough to develop into anything beyond decent, but it was good fun.
Final Rating: *¾
Jake Roberts & The Undertaker vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan & Macho Man Randy Savage
This is from December ‘91 on a different Texas show from the others on the tape. Savage has not long been reinstated, and he was involved in a heated feud with Roberts and Taker, stemming back to his wedding to Elizabeth at SummerSlam ‘91. Taker won and lost the WWF title in the space of a week in matches will Hulk Hogan in November. It was all going so well on paper, and then Duggan had to show up to ruin things. He was actually coming to the end of his “best” years by this point, and he did very little of note in 1992 and even less in 1993. Roberts was gone from the WWF within a few months, losing to his partner in this match, at WrestleMania VIII. Savage went from strength-to-strength and had a second run on top, winning the WWF title at the same show, and his attire became epically colourful in this era too. Jake and Taker control much of the early going, after surviving a brief Hacksaw shine and Savage comes in and goes to town on Jake, but Taker takes him out. They throw in a cute little touch with Taker standing right behind Earl Hebner, and when the ref realised, he jumped up and shat himself. Funny moment. Taker chokes out Savage and Jake takes the opportunity to get some cheap shots in as well. A missed elbow from Taker brings Duggan back in, but he is swiftly beaten down as well. Why can’t he bump a short arm clothesline? You would think he might be able to do the simple things by now. This quickly breaks down, and Savage brings a chair into play, leading to a DQ victory for Undertaker and Jake. Savage and Duggan beat them up with the chair and Duggan’s 2×4 afterwards. A shoddy match dominated by the heels, with a nothing finish. A few too many of them on this tape, but at least this one was short.
Final Rating: ½*
Summary: A strange mishmash of matches, with the workrate guys putting in some greats shifts, but surrounded by the rather more plodding pace of the giants of the era. It sums up what the WWF would become in 1992. All the muscle was quickly eradicated due to the steroid allegations, leaving just the mid-size guys who could really work, and the big fat guys who could not. Much of this tape is throwaway, with a few stinkers in there, but it cannot be anything other than recommended because of the two excellent and rare Flair matches.