#WF503 – WrestleFest 95
Arnold Furious: Host for this tape is Stephanie Wiand. The Attitude Era would have eaten her alive and spat out her bloodied remains, probably still wearing something frumpy and PG-13. She’s perky. Like a dog. Enormous mouth.
The Undertaker vs. Jean Pierre Lafitte
ZOMBIE VS. PIRATE! This should be awesome! Lafitte seemed great at times during his WWF run, throwing himself over the top rope and back bumping the concrete. You have to admire that kind of dedication/stupidity (it’s a fine line). Undertaker plods through his stuff so Lafitte matches the plodding. He has cool boots; he’s from the Errol Flynn school of piracy. That’s about all the positive you’re going to get out of this match. Lafitte works a LONG ass chinlock, and this is only a five minute match, so that just kills the atmosphere. Lafitte slips out of the Tombstone, thus denying us something exciting, only to walk right into the chokeslam moments later. TV jobber match. Stan Lane calls it a “Coliseum video exclusive” although the massive RAW banner says otherwise. This was actually Lafitte’s first loss, televised, but the manner in which he lost would suggest it wasn’t his final defeat.
Final Rating: *
Yokozuna, Owen Hart & Hakushi vs. Bret Hart, Razor Ramon & Savio Vega
Early Camp Cornette, FTW! This is right on the back of King of the Ring ’95 where Savio had a good run, so he’s hanging around with the big boys. Yoko is heading up towards 700lbs so he’s at the very end of his usefulness. Tagging with Owen gave him another year in the spotlight. Everyone else in this *can* be great. Well, Savio isn’t quite there yet. All his reversals look obvious and he does rest holds when they aren’t required. In a six-man tag they should NEVER be required, especially when you’ve got Owen Hart. He wrestles circles around Razor only to get a smashmouth beating for it. Owen was just too good to win matches; he made everyone else look sensational. Bret and Hakushi is solid and Hakushi opts to head spike a DDT. I love that exclamation point sell. Hakushi comes back with the broncobuster. SUCKA MAH BALLS HITUMAN! Hakushi’s selling was somewhat limited, but he was always fun, which counts for a lot. Especially in these disposable six-man matches. They work heat on Bret, which makes a world of sense as he’s light years ahead of the other two in selling. Savio and Hakushi work some good stuff at pace after Hitman’s hot tag, with Savio even rocking a pumphandle Octopus stretch into the bout. Badass submission hold. Both Yoko and Owen make saves. The heels try to double team but Razor punches Yoko out of the ring and Owen is tripped while Savio finishes Hakushi with a clothesline. Anytime I catch one of these multi-person tags I know I’m in for a good time as long as there is talent on both sides. In this match Yoko and Razor just kicked back and let everyone else do the work. Their cameos were fine and the match delivered. Savio did somewhat drag down his segments, but saved it with the Octopus stretch. Question: why is there not a ten disc Owen Hart DVD set with everything he ever did on it? I would totally buy it. He never bores me. He’s a fantastic wrestler and a great character. I never bought into Owen at the time as much as I do now because of his win/loss record, but looking back, he was phenomenal.
Final Rating: ***¼
Shawn Michaels vs. Tom Pritchard
Shawn hadn’t long turned face and wrestled Jimmy Del Ray on a Raw around the same time. It wasn’t a great match, despite Jimmy Del Ray being incredible, because Shawn kinda ruined it with his, erm, Shawn-ness. Hopefully the Doctor of Desire can slap that bullshit out of him. Shawn wrestles like a twat and slips outside to abuse Jim Cornette. He’s all energy and non-stop entertainment, but this is a Shawn Michaels you’d love to see get his ass kicked. Legit. By Vader in a bad mood perhaps. Seeing as Pritchard isn’t getting the job done, Del Ray beats Shawn up to allow the good Doctor to slap on a Boston Crab. Shawn starts selling the back, which gives the match a storyline beyond “Shawn’s a dick… and also a babyface”. He’s good at it, the selling… and being a dick, and can’t do moves because his back hurts, which is how it should be. Because the suplex is out, he switches to a neckbreaker. Savage Elbow causes the heels to try and rush the ring, but Shawn clears them out and superkicks Pritchard for the win. The name “Sweet Chin Music” is so new that Dok Hendrix has to introduce it to us viewers and Vinny Mac. Shawn took a while to settle into his babyface role and he was insufferable to begin with. Thankfully by the time his title run came around he was slightly less of a dickbag.
Final Rating: **½
Adam Bomb vs. Jerry Lawler
There’s a girl at ringside that looks like Sarah Connor circa 1984. I keep expecting a T-800 to come through the crowd and execute Bryan Clarke for getting in his way. Obviously Lawler wouldn’t be a problem because he wouldn’t stall the Terminator, just his opponent, and would inevitably run away from any real threat. Lawler, as you’d expect, spends most of his time complaining to the ref about hair pulls or tight pulls or arguing with the fans. You hear a lot of old-timey guys accusing new talent of “not being able to work”, but in truth most of the Memphis stalling crap is best kept to a minimum. Some of Lawler’s matches in the mid-90s were just horrid. Bomb takes advantage of Lawler’s stall-tastic approach by doing nothing. Working Lawler is a night off; you literally don’t have to break a sweat. They go from stalling right into counting spots. God, I hate counting spots. It’s like some form of idiot karaoke. Lawler brings a pleasant level of comedy; pulling the straps down, balling up both fists and then face bumping. Lawler begs off, begs off, begs off and then double legs and uses the ropes for the pin. A wrestling match that contained virtually no wrestling. Fun for the live crowd to shout abuse and count to ten, but not worth putting on a video.
Final Rating: ½*
Alundra Blayze & Bob Holly vs. Bull Nakano & Hakushi
Ooooh, mixed tag. Sweet. Blayze and Nakano never had a bad match. Holly and Hakushi have awesome chemistry and I wish they’d had a PPV match. The ladies get right into it with Bull no-selling chops, but it doesn’t have the energy of their big singles matches. Holly and Hakushi rock the basics at speed. Alundra leads the “USA” chants and for once they’re accurate as you’ve got two Americans against two Japanese. Hakushi’s Irish whips bug me; he lets go too early. Some of his big moves are a bit low impact too. I’m also disappointed that both men resort to chinlocks, which is a shame because Holly works like a stiff little bastard. Alundra brings the babyface pluck and Nakano has fun beating on her. Nakano tags out but she trips up Holly, which is a difference in physicality. Nakano is badass. Alundra isn’t. Alundra and Bob hit planchas to punctuate the awesomeness. The Japanese somewhat predictably Pearl Harbor the Americans while they’re celebrating. Hakushi gets a receipt with a pescado only for Nakano to get picked off with the German suplex. This match is on the swift side and didn’t make the most of the talent involved. Too bad, because everybody is gold.
Final Rating: **¾
Bret Hart vs. Jimmy Del Ray
You can tell how awesome Del Ray is because he goes evens with Bret on the mat, which you have to remember was kinda Bret’s strength and he was one of the best mat wrestlers in WWF history. This is a Superstars squash match because Del Ray is just a tag midget with a doughy physique, but he’s the best tag midget with a doughy physique, EVER. He slips out of the majority of Bret’s moves and forces the Hitman to improvise spots. Bret was always at his very best when he was pushed. Bret blocks a monkey flip and finishes with the Sharpshooter. Del Ray was totally hanging for four minutes. 100% action. Jimmy Del Ray is probably my favourite enhancement talent in the history of the business.
Final Rating: **¾
The Allied Powers vs. Jeff Jarrett & Roadie
Wow, Jarrett and the Roadie aren’t wrestling Razor Ramon or one of his amigos. Truly a rarity. They are opposite the Allied Powers, the “can’t miss” hit for the WWF that utterly failed, mainly because Luger was utterly lazy in 1995. Gorilla starts talking about people Jeff Jarrett stole stuff from for his gimmick and at no point references Ric Flair, who strangely ceased to exist for a while there. The Monday Night Wars created these career gaps for people. Luger’s idea of working in this match is popping Bulldog’s spots. Stan Lane’s weight exaggerating puts Luger at 275lbs. Carrying the ref, maybe. He totally bosses Jarrett and puts him in the Rack, only for Roadie to come in and chop block the knee. He used that move so frequently during this run I think it counts as being his finisher. Roadie either works an “inexperienced” angle, or he’s just inexperienced. So he does dumb things, like losing contact while tagging or not working the knee he just injured. His effort levels were really high in 1995, but his actual knowledge left a lot to be desired. Roadie gets isolated and Davey finishes with the running powerslam. This match was a non-event, much like the whole of Allied Powers run.
Final Rating: *¼
Men on a Mission vs. The Smoking Gunns
This is a great match for seeing how much of a follower Bart Gunn is. He just does whatever Billy tells him to or whatever Billy just did, and this was before Billy got his career defining haircut. He’s still rocking the mullet and the rapist ‘tache. If they ever made a Smoking Gunns movie, which they never will because the Gunns were boring, then Matthew McConaughey should totally play Billy Gunn, like he played Wooderson in Dazed and Confused. Bart would be played by a lump of wood. The crowd hate this match and just ignore most of it and sit around waiting to be impressed. Spoiler: it won’t happen. As per usual most of Mabel’s offense involves falling on or laying on people or leaning on them. He works at his shitty fat boy bearhug while Gorilla bags on Jack Tunney for being useless, which is amusing as he’d end up replacing him. I’m guessing Jack had been fired by Vince McMahon already. Bart takes heat for AGES. It’s painful. Utterly boring. Mo forgets where he is, and thinks he’s back in wrasslin’ school. “You wanna be a wrassla boy?” he screams at Bart. He’s already a wrestler, you big goof. Mabel misses off the top. FLY, FATASS, FLY! That allows the hot tag. Well, it’s not hot but it’s certainly a tag and that’ll do after all that f*ck*ng heat. Billy takes the best bump of the match by running full-tilt into Mabel. The MOM attempt a double team, but Mo is squashed by his partner and Billy finishes with an inside cradle. This match is a stinker and no mistake. Men on a Mission were a shitty team and the Gunns didn’t get enough of the match to compensate for that.
Final Rating: *
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Jeff Jarrett (c) vs. Razor Ramon
Ah, that’s more like it. Jarrett against Razor, it must be 1995. Roadie has been interfering in these matches so they’ve pulled the Jimmy Hart angle and suspended him above the ring in a shark cage. Roadie, naturally, refuses to get in the cage, so he’s punched in there. They decide he’s scared of heights so Roadie starts freaking out when they pass the top rope. Razor spends most of the match throwing right hands, which is his best move. Jarrett brings variety but he’s more aggressive than usual. They start so fast that Razor is sucking down air and Jarrett has to slap him in a chinlock. It ends up as a series of comma’s in the match’s sentence. Razor is gassed, even Jarrett is sucking air in, which should show you how hard they started this thing. “Everyone down in the ring. It looks like Jonestown” – Stan Lane’s inappropriate references #1. Because a double down in a wrestling match looks like a mass suicide. Roadie tries to drop a length of chain in the ring but impartial referee Danny Davis won’t let Razor steal it. RAZOR’S EDGE and Jarrett takes a wonderful bump where he bounces out of the ring. Razor pursues and both men are counted out. This started out so fast and hard that they couldn’t even maintain it for 6-minutes. The opening was epic!
Final Rating: **½
Todd Pettengill brings us exclusive tips for Acclaim’s new videogame releases. This includes Demolition Man: The Video Game. I have no idea why anyone gave a shit about any of this, but considering the lack of internet access in 1995 I guess kids needed a sycophantic dickwad to tell them these secrets. Just to make the segment totally unbearable, we close with Alfred Hayes reminding us of the address to write to regarding Coliseum releases. I thought I was done with him forever.
Summary: A weird tape. Everything is short so nothing gets boring, aside from Men on a Mission’s heat. It felt like the matches from a series of TV shows. It also featured some of my favourite combinations. I love Del Ray trying to show up Bret Hart and almost succeeding. I love how fast Hakushi and Bob Holly were. I love anything that involved any incarnation of Camp Cornette, official or not. Jim Cornette had a weird habit of managing great wrestlers. Shame about Stephanie Wiand on links, the shitty production values and Men on a Mission. Otherwise, recommended!