#WF117 – Invasion Of The Bodyslammers
James Dixon: I have decided to try and be more generous on this tape, mainly because I enjoyed it growing up and it was one of only three I had in my collection for a long time, so I watched it over and over. I haven’t seen it since, so it might be a dog yet.
Today we are teaching Kamala how to bowl. Goodie!
Yokozuna vs. Earthquake
We start off in San Jose, California with this match from January 1993, taped the day after the Royal Rumble. That was an important show for Yokozuna, as he won the Rumble match and earned a title shot against Bret Hart at WrestleMania IX. Jim Ross is on commentary here, alongside Macho Man and Bobby Heenan. JR didn’t join the WWF until ‘Mania IX, so this is obviously post-dubbed. I have to say, this match while intriguing to look at, doesn’t exactly scream classic. Quake hits a few tackles and clotheslines, but is unable to take Yokozuna off his feet. Yoko retaliates with a tackle of his own, and Quake hits the mat. Having watched Earthquake in 1990 when he was built as a monster, it is interesting to see him getting taken apart with such ease by someone bigger. They really got behind the Yoko push, and he ran through everyone he faced. He wins this match cleanly with relative ease, crushing Quake with a splash in the corner and then finishing him with the Banzai drop in under 4-minutes. You know what, that wasn’t bad. It served its purpose and it gets a star for achieving exactly what it needed to in the right amount of time.
Final Rating: *
The Beverly Brothers vs. The Nasty Boys
Ah, the team shockingly overlooked by Hasbro, when Nailz, the Berzerker and Skinner all got figures made. They are in the category I refer to as “mid-level slugs”. I might as well explain: A mid-level slug is someone who is the size of say a Bret Hart, a Shawn Michaels or a Randy Savage. Usually guys of that size are the best workers in the company, and looking further afield at say WCW, the same is true with Flair, Anderson, etc. Then you get guys of a similar size, who are just completely average or deathly dull. We have mentioned two of them before many times: IRS and the Mountie. I class the Beverlys in the same group, because while they are technically solid and not bad in a Typhoon or Jim Duggan kind of way, they are still synonymous with boring matches and have no notable bouts to speak of. The match is nothing important, it is just generic tag team wrestling from two solid at best teams. The highlight of the whole thing is Heenan’s superb commentary, specifically when he is describing the difference between Blake and Beau. There really is nothing to tell here. Your life won’t be any worse for having seen this, but on the flip side it certainly won’t be any better either. “Coliseum Video Finish” (DQ) and this one is a draw.
Final Rating: *
Hayes gives Kamala his own personal bowling ball, and he is freaked out by it. I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t take anything from Hayes either. He seems friendly, but he is TOO friendly, to the point of being sinister.
Razor Ramon vs. The Undertaker
We got back even further to November 1992, in Dayton, Ohio and it is the day before Survivor Series ‘92. This is yet another match between these guys. Razor wants none of Taker and bails after a stare down, but Taker follows him. Back in and Razor unloads with shots, but they have little effect. Rope walk from Taker, but he gets kicked in the head when attempting a back body drop. Taker soon regains control and chokes Razor over the ropes, but Ramon retaliates by going to the eyes and crotching him on the ropes. You know, there is something a little upsetting about seeing Taker selling a crotch shot. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it disturbs me. Razor beats up Taker on the outside, then drops a number of elbow drops and clocks him with the urn. Taker kicks out and fires up, so Razor takes a walk and we have a count out. A second consecutive cheap finish, but quite a watchable match as it only went five minutes.
Final Rating: *¼
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Typhoon
We are in San Antonio, Texas for this next match, and it is early January, 1993. Bigelow had not long since returned to the company after a decent but brief spell there in the mid-80s. So, Typhoon then. My least favourite wrestler of all time. They love putting fat bastards together on this tape don’t they? Bigelow tries, throwing himself around and he moves well, but Typhoon is so comically bad that this has no chance. He makes me cringe, and embarrassed to be a wrestling fan. He celebrates like he has won the title when he bails Bam Bam to the outside. He looks so damn pleased with himself, probably in reality he was just thrilled he hadn’t botched the opening spot. Jim Ross loses his credibility by referring to Typhoon as a tremendous athlete, and Savage quickly follows by saying this has been a tremendous match. I am all for shilling, but hell, even as a child I knew this was a crapfest. Typhoon still sells like he has a fly on his face that he is trying to shake off. Savage is clearly ribbing now, as he says how exciting the action is while Bigelow has a chinlock on for a long time. When Typhoon fights out, he shows out after EVERY move, again, looking like he just won a prize for “sustained competence”. In an act of retardation, Typhoon decides against his splash finisher to win the match, instead allowing him up, so he can hit an extra splash in the corner. That is one of the dumbest and most downright idiotic things you will ever see in a wrestling match. It costs him, thankfully, and Bam Bam gets the knee up in the corner then hits the diving headbutt for the win. It stays above being a DUD due to Bammer’s effort.
Final Rating: ¼*
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. Shawn Michaels
An early match from a famous rivalry here, as we go right back to April 1992 in Syracuse, New York. Bret had won the IC belt just a few weeks earlier from Roddy Piper at WrestleMania VIII. Savage pops me early, by saying Sherri must have a cold because her chest is swollen. Her waps are certainly looking full today! Savage quickly goes from amusing me to annoying me, by commenting on how the referees have changed for each match due to the intensity of the bouts. Surely it is obvious to EVERYONE watching that this tape features matches from over the span of a year. Hell, I knew this match was out of synch when I was little, because I knew Yokozuna was never around while Bret was IC champion. Why they had to retroactively try and alter reality on these Coliseum tapes is beyond me. How is Savage going to explain when Taker works again later? We get some smooth chain wrestling to start, which Bret inevitably gets the better off, sending Shawn to the outside to regroup with Sherri. Bret brings Shawn back in and zeroes in on the arm, then takes him down with a vicious clothesline for two. You really appreciate just how good these guys are when they are shoehorned onto the same tape as the likes of Typhoon. Shawn gets a foothold in the match by sending Bret hard into the buckles, and Sherri gets a cheap shot in as well. A high knee gets a two for Michaels, and he goes to the chinlock to slow the pace down. The difference between a chinlock in a Michaels and Bret match compared to in the Typhoon match, is that they fight to make it interesting, with Bret showing signs of life and fighting out with intensity, and Shawn cheating to stay in control. Shawn hits the superkick to derail a Hart comeback, but it still wasn’t his finisher at the time so he doesn’t get a fall. Hart fights back with a reverse atomic drop, bulldog, backbreaker and elbow from the middle rope, getting a two count. There was a great intensity to the five moves sequence there, a lot of snap and speed on them, helped of course by Shawn’s great selling and movement. Both guys tumble through the ropes while Bret has a sleeper locked on, and as the Hitman is trying to return to the ring, Michaels knocks him off the apron into the rail, and thus wins by count out. I hate the spot where the challenger poses with the belt after winning on a count out or a DQ, which Michaesl does; it just makes everyone involved look stupid. I do enjoy Michaels twatting the referee for having the gall to disagree with him though. Great 10-minute match, fast and furious throughout.
Final Rating: ***½
Doink the Clown vs. Kamala
Someone please explain to me how you can go from Bret-Michaels to this!? I love the heel Doink character, but this match sums up the problems with the WWF in 1993. Doink has brought Kamala a present, how thoughtful. This match doesn’t deserve play-by-play, because it is an insult to wrestling fans everywhere. Seriously, this is why people tuned out of the WWF in droves. Vince’s head was so screwed up during the steroid trial years, that he just threw anything out there, and everyone had a profession outside of wrestling. Clowns, prisoners, cops, taxmen, voodoo practitioners and sumo wrestlers, it was a goddamn circus. The match ends when Doink stops Kamala chasing him by giving him the present, which of course in empty. Yeah, Kamala is dumb. Way to take a vicious giant and turn him into a joke Vince, great job. This was not bad, it was completely offensive.
Final Rating: -*
Papa Shango vs. The Undertaker
We go back to Green Bay, Wisconsin from the same show as the Beverlys-Nasty Boys match. At least we haven’t got two absurd cartoon matches in a row. Oh, wait… Actually I think these guys should have feuded. Shango would have made a much better opponent for Taker at SummerSlam ‘92 than Kamala. A guy practicing voodoo probably could have battled death and had a realistic chance. Plus they were good friends in real life. This just plods along until an AWESOME spot where Shango throws pyro out of his voodoo stick into Takers face. It stays awesome as Shango kicks the hell out of him outside the ring. Back inside and Shango slams Taker down three times, but Taker sits up after each one. Shango kicks him back down after the last one, then drops a bunch of elbows, before checking to make sure he really is down and is not getting back up. Taker does sit back up and hits a flying clothesline and the chokeslam, and that wins the match. Not bad for a Taker-Shango match, it served its purpose and had some kickass spots with fire. Anything with explosions is good in my book. Heenan pops me by saying Taker “looks like he hasn’t slept for a few days”, but he delivers it in such a matter of fact way that it completely breaks me.
Final Rating: *½
16-Man Battle Royal
We go to the famous Manhattan Centre for this match from Raw in February 1993 and this may be the first time a Raw match has ever featured on a Coliseum tape. It is a less than glorious start if so. I have never seen a battle royal so lacking in star power, it is even worse than the one on World Tour 1992. Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon are in there, but so are the likes of Skinner, Kim Chee, Damien Demento and Mike Sharpe. Just horrid! We end up with Razor, Shawn, Tatanka and El Matador as the final four, though it couldn’t have been anyone else. Things pick up significantly, as these four are all pretty good to great. Michaels is the star of the show, throwing himself around as if he is ribbing everyone by overselling to the max. Seriously, Mr. Perfect would be damn proud! Sadly he gets eliminated. Pretty soon after that, Giant Gonzalez interferes and beats the tar out of Tatanka and Santana, who make him look great. He eliminates both guys and Razor is the only one left, so he wins by default. Awful until the end, then it picked up and became a lot of fun.
Final Rating: *
Repo Man vs. Tatanka
Is there a less appealing match than this? This is more cartoon nonsense and it hurts my head. Repo Man, wow, what a poor gimmick. Why is he dressed as the hamburglar? Why does he have tire marks on his singlet? Repo Man was my least favourite wrestler as a kid, not because he was a good heel, but because I just thought he was the shits. The match Is actually pretty back-and-forth, with both guys targeting the arm. Tatanka catches Repo with a gut shot as he comes of the top and then chops away at him. Tatanka does the war dance and hits a few tomahawk chops, followed by one from the top, but it only gets two. Repo throws a wild punch, but Tatanka ducks and hits the End of Trail to win the bout. Actually, that was pretty acceptable, both guys deserve a little more credit than I gave them for that. It was not great, but it was watchable.
Final Rating: *¾
Kamala bowls backwards. Stitch me back up!
Ric Flair vs. Mr. Perfect
What a wonderful bonus for the last match on the tape. I had totally forgot that this was on here! There is a lot of history between these guys of course, with Perfect having previously served for a year as Flair’s “executive consultant” (manager) until he accepted Macho Man’s offer to be his partner at Survivor Series, against Flair and his teammate Razor Ramon. That all happened because the Ultimate Warrior took off and left the WWF in the lurch, but it was a great decision, because it led to some awesome matches from Perfect, even though he was better as a heel. Amazingly intense and an exciting start to this, it has been phenomenal. Perfect takes a head to the buckles like a champ, almost flipping inside out. The guy is unreal, I genuinely believe him to be one of the all-time greats. Flair goes to the eyes, and sends Perfect hard into the buckles, before laying in a hard chop, snapmare and a knee drop for two. He rakes Perfect’s face over the top rope and unloads with punches and more chops, but gets caught up top with a press slam, like he does in every match. Savage pops me big again, as Heenan argues that because Bret Hart won the WWF title from Flair in Canada, it shouldn’t count. Savage responds by saying that when Flair beat him it was on planet earth, and thus that shouldn’t count either. To me, Savage is implying that he is from this planet, but I think we all know that there is no chance of that being the case. As discussed before, he is from Planet Savage, a world full of coffee enemas and florescent colours. Flair locks on the figure four, but Perfect eventually escapes, though he has damaged his leg. They go back-and-forth, and they have a slugfest in the corner, which Perfect comes out on top of with some vicious punches. Big back body drop from Perfect, who continues selling the leg. Flair gets sent up and over in the corner and to the floor, and Perfect follows him out and meets him with a clothesline. Back inside and Perfect catches Flair with his head down, and hits the Perfectplex to win the match clean. Wow, a clean win! And a tremendous match as well, another superb use of ten minutes. Not as epic as their retirement match on Raw, but very entertaining nevertheless.
Final Rating: ***¾
Summary: This tape really highlights the curious nature of the WWF in 1993. On one hand they had some of the best workers on the planet, pulling out superb matches up and down the country. On the other, there was a plethora of over the top gimmicks that didn’t sell tickets, didn’t convince the kids who were watching, and pissed off the fans of actual wrestling. The WWF was in a bad way, but it had some great moments too, and two of them are on this tape. The Michaels-Hart and Flair-Perfect matches are not quite classics, but they are two superb 10-minute matches between four of the all time greats, and are worth seeing. The rest is bad, but never to the point of wanting to switch it off. Except Kamala-Doink. That match will make you HATE the WWF and wrestling in general.